The Atlantis Resort offers your teens a unique opportunity to swim underwater with dolphins, and to learn how they are trained.

The Best Vacation Spots for Families With Teenagers

by Maria Scinto

Teens can be a tough sell when it comes to a family vacation. Easily bored, not too thrilled to be seen in public with the parents or dreaded younger siblings...and don't even mention sightseeing. If you mix in a little extreme sports or clubbing, however, preferably in a teens-only resort setting, you may have a winner on your hands -- a vacation that's so much fun, they may even forget to text their friends every 5 minutes!

1. Water Sports

At the Turtle Bay Resort, on Oahu's North Shore, surfing is the main attraction for teens who've always wanted to hang ten. Surf lessons are offered by the resort's own Hans Hedemann Surf Center, which also offers coaching for more advanced surfers as well as guided trips to catch the island's finest waves. The Franklyn D. Resort in Jamaica has a scuba diving adventure just for teens, as well as snorkeling lessons and a glass-bottom boat ride. On dry land, the resort's teens program also offers a game room, disco nights, bike tours, dance classes and supervised teens-only trips.

2. Animals

At the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, animal-loving teenagers have the opportunity to swim with dolphins and sea lions in the resort's 14-acre Dolphin Cay. A special deep-water swim experience allows adventurous teens to go underwater alongside their finny friends with a hand-held water scooter, and teens interested in working with animals can sign up to be a trainer for a day. If your teenage kids prefer horses, they can spend all day in the saddle at Colorado's C Lazy U Ranch. The ranch offers a teen program for ages 13 through 17, where teens will explore the surrounding mountains on horseback, learn real-life cowboy skills such as cutting and roping, and even participate in a rodeo.

3. Clubs

At the Beaches Resorts in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, teens can learn to mix, blend & scratch music on CDs, iPod or even old-school vinyl. Beaches Resorts also feature the under-21 Club Liquid, offering technicolor lights, state-of-the-art sound equipment, guest DJs and non-alcoholic "mocktails." The Grand Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit, Mexico also offer nighttime entertainment for teens only, featuring a disco with special lighting and surround sound and karaoke with over 45,000 songs in many different languages. During the daytime, these high tech teen lounges offer air hockey, foosball, billiards, arcade games, Xbox, PS3, and big-screen TVs.

4. Extreme Sports

The Smuggler's Notch resort in Vermont offers an all-day High Adventure Experience camp for teens and tweens ages 9 to 17. During this five-day adventure, teens will experience a treetop obstacle course, rock climbing walls, a climbing tower and a waterfall, and go bungee jumping, river kayaking and geocaching. Virginia's Wintergreen Resort has its Discovery Ridge Adventure Center, with facilities such as zip lines, a bungee trampoline, a climbing wall and a tubing park. Rainy-day indoor fun for teens takes place in a lounge featuring Xbox 360, Kinect and Wii gaming systems, foosball, skee ball, air hockey, plasma TVs and even a mechanical bull.

About the Author

I am a former librarian turned freelance writer and researcher - I got my start writing for writeforcash.com, and this was when I first learned I could turn my talent for research into writing articles on just about any topic. Parenting is my favorite topic - I am the homeschooling work-at-home single mom of a four-year-old son. I also enjoy writing about pets (I have a Chow/Husky mix, 2 orange-striped kittens, and a hermit crab - unless he died since I last checked - and I used to have a fish but the kittens ate him), food (I like to cook, like to eat out, just plain love to eat), dieting (my metabolism isn't so crazy about all this eating), TV (my son and I are up on all the latest cartoon series). I have regular gigs writing about political questions (for askquestions.org) and all things Virginian (for Northern Virginia Magazine) and also work as a fact checker, web editor, and data annotator.

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