“Skip generation” getaways – aka skip gen vacations and also referred to as “gramping” – are becoming more and more popular. Haven’t heard of them? The idea is a planned vacation with grandparents taking the grandkids.
So not the old take-the-kids-to-the-grandparents-house-so-the-parents-can-get-a break trip. Skip gen vacations are all about grandparents exploring new places and creating memories with their grandkids.
In 2019, around 15 percent of baby boomers reported they were already planning a skip generation getaway, according to a national survey from AARP Travel. If you’re a grandparent looking for a good spot that will appeal to both you – and your grandkids – or maybe you’re a parent who wants to nudge grandma to take the kids on a holiday – here’s a few places to add to your list.
Fly a biplane at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan
The Air Zoo is home to over 100 air and space artifacts and several hands-on exhibits. Want to fly? Let your grandkids do rolls and dives in a flight simulator. There are indoor amusement park rides, too, including a Flying Circus Biplane. Opt for the real thing with biplane rides offered May through September. For a royal experience, stay at the historic Henderson Castle Inn and start your morning at local hotspot Sweetwater’s Donuts Mill.
Lift off in an 1859 balloon in Hamilton County, Indiana
Spread over the 1,000 acres, Conner Prairie welcomes visitors to step back in time. Grandparents can take the grandkids through the outdoor 1836 Prairietown, where they’ll encounter settlers dressed in 1800s attire. There’s also a four-story Treetop Outpost and an 1859 Balloon Voyage ride that rises almost 400 feet into the clouds. Other area attractions include the scenic railroad ride aboard The Nickel Plate Express and the 750-acre Strawtown Koteewi Park (horseback riding, anyone?).
Dig for dinosaur bones in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Known as KidsBURGH, Pittsburgh boasts a lengthy list of kid-friendly activities grandparents will enjoy, too. For starters, wannabe paleontologists can uncover dinosaur bones at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (one of four Carnegie museums here). Another favorite? Highmark SportsWorks – grandparents can sit back and watch the kids master the hands-on sports exhibits. Round out your trip with a riverboat cruise aboard the Gateway Clipper Riverboat or spend some time at The Andy Warhol Museum.
Visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
Introduce grandkids to music greats like B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and, of course, Elvis at the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the blues. Meander through the Graceland property and the Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Center (think exhibits, museums, restaurants and more). Add to the Elvis theme by staying at The Guest House at Graceland, which offers a Peanut Butter & Jelly Station at 10 p.m. every evening.
Go to the Grand Canyon by train
Forget the headaches of airline or car travel and go by rail to the Grand Canyon aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. The train departs from various stations, including Chicago, St. Louis and others. The six-day roundtrip adventure includes the train ride to the Grand Canyon’s iconic South Rim, along with a narrated motor coach tour of the various scenic overlooks, overnight hotel accommodations and time for sightseeing.
Stay in the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado
Nearly surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park, the YMCA of the Rockies takes the work out of vacation planning. The 860-acre property offers two- or three-bedroom cabins (so everyone has their own space!) and affordable day camps for ages 3-18 so kids can have an adventure-filled days, while the grandparents venture into nearby Estes Park. Family activities are also available like roller skating, an indoor swimming pool with slide, a dining hall and more.
Try tide pool hopping in Laguna Beach, California
Let the grandkids dip their toes in the surf along the seven miles of Laguna Beach’s coastline. This tucked-away oasis of Southern California charm is dotted with 30 beaches and coves, along with plenty of tide pools. The Surf & Sand Resort offers a special gramping package that includes a one-night stay and a backpack full of surprises for the grandkids (think playing cards, area maps).
Learn about Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron in Cooperstown, New York
Grandparents and grandkids can share their love of America’s favorite pastime while visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. Open since 1939, the museum includes a variety of exhibits and artefacts highlighting sports greats, like Detroit Tigers’ Ty Cobb. To stay close to the museum, overnight at The Cooper Inn. If you have time, head to The Farmers’ Museum, featuring a 19th-century Historic Village with interactive exhibits and farming demonstrations.
Float down a scenic river in Texas’s Hill Country
Spend the day lazily floating down Uvalde County’s Frio River, part of the 1,774-acre Garner State Park. In the summer, crowds gather each night for a jukebox dance at the park’s concession area – something they’ve been doing since the 1940s. The park offers cabins or campsites (and an amazing view of the night sky). Take a day trip to nearby 1849 U.S. Calvary post Fort Inge Historical Park, open weekends.
Have a close encounter with bears and wolves in northeast Minnesota
Get to know Axel, Grayson, Boltz and other wolves at the International Wolf Center, which is dedicated to the survival of wolves and educating visitors about them. About a 10-minute drive away, make your next stop the North American Bear Center. Watch as resident bears lumber through their 2.5-acre bear enclosure. Find out more about bear behavior while making your way through exhibits.