Constantly asking “why,” “how,” and “what for,” children are by nature inquisitive creatures. For many parents, though, nurturing our kids’ curiosity as energetically as we’d like can be daunting. Thankfully, a handful of expert outfitters has done some of the work for us, creating experiences that will engage minds, open eyes, and raise as many questions as they answer.
An eight-day trip with a tour of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and off-roading in Monument Valley. Stays at resorts and hotels.
Outfitter Adventures by Disney
Cost* Adults, $2,700; kids under 12, $2,430
Contact 877-728-7282; abd.disney.go.com
*per person, unless otherwise noted
Twelve days starting with a ride on the Alaska Railroad, then five days of whale watching and sea kayaking from a research yacht. After a stop in Anchorage, it’s Denali National Park for field hikes plus fishing and relaxing at Camp Denali.
Outfitter Wildland Adventures
Cost Adults, from $6,300; kids, $4,500–$5,000
Contact 800-345-4453; wildland.com
Appalachian Mountains Backpacking, Rock Climbing & Whitewater Canoeing
Teens ages 14 to 16 spend three weeks hiking and canoeing through North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, focusing on no-impact camping and teamwork.
Outfitter Outward Bound
Contact 866-467-7651; outwardboundwilderness.org
Lewis and Clark Canoeing Trip
Traveling in 16-person canoes, groups retrace Lewis and Clark’s journey through the White Cliffs of Montana’s Upper Missouri River, stopping to swim, look at Native American rock art, and camp on the banks.
Outfitter Row Adventures
Cost Adults, $1,485; kids, $1,250
Contact 800-451-6034; rowadventures.com
Children’s Space & Aviation Adventure
This six-day camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, uses real NASA simulators. Lodging is on the center’s campus.
Outfitter A&K Space
Cost Kids 10–12, $2,930
Contact 800-554-7016; akspacetravel.com
In residence at the center’s Colorado campus, teens help archaeologists unearth Anasazi artifacts.
Outfitter Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Cost Three weeks, $3,950; one week, $1,175
Contact 800-422-8975; crowcanyon.org
San Juan Islands Family Multisport
Families spend six days cycling, sea kayak-ing, and walking the coastal paths on these islands—home to eagles, harbor seals, and orcas—in Washington’s Puget Sound. Stays at seaside inns.
Cost From $2,600 per person
Contact 800-462-2848; backroads.com
Heli-Hiking in the Bugaboos
Helicopters ferry families from the chalet-style Bugaboo Lodge to the Canadian backcountry for four days of hiking along glacial lakes.
Outfitter Canadian Mountain Holidays
Cost Adults, $2,285; kids, $1,710–$2,020
Contact 800-661-0252; canadian mountainholidays.com
A 15-day excursion of sea kayaking, white-water rafting on the Penobscot River, hiking in Baxter State Park, and sleeping in tents or under the stars.
Outfitter Williwaw Adventures
Contact 800-585-2523; williwaw adventures.com
Ambassadors of the Environment
Created with Jean-Michel Cousteau, this program at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman teaches kids about reefs, mangroves, and island culture.
Cost From $65 a day per child; rooms from $700
Contact 345-943-9000; ritzcarlton.com
Kids Sea Camp Grand Bahama
At this weeklong program on Grand Bahama Island, children snorkel, scuba dive, and encounter sea life with marine biologists. Accommodations at Pelican Bay at Lucaya.
Outfitter Kids Sea Camp
Cost From $2,200 for a two- bedroom condo, plus $700–$1,000 per child
Contact 800-934-3483; kidsseacamp.com
Sailing through the British Virgin Islands’ Sir Francis Drake Channel, groups of up to 12 live aboard 50-foot yachts, learning seamanship, earning PADI open-water scuba diving certification, and spending time water skiing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing.
Cost $4,170–$4,970 a session
Contact 800-317-6789; actionquest.com