6 stunning mountain destinations for summer adventure

Last updated 14th June 2017

Fresh, unpolluted air, long days spent outside with beautiful scenery, wildlife and adventure — there’s not much to dislike about summer holidays in the mountains. Ski resort prices tumble during the summer months, locals become even more welcoming and there are adventures galore to be had on foot, by bike or on the rivers that tumble through the majestic peaks. To help you plan your adventure holiday, we’ve compiled a portfolio of the best mountain destinations so that you can enjoy a myriad of family activities this summer.

1/6  Colorado

The Wild West is the ultimate destination for any adventurous family with teenagers during the summer. The old mining towns scattered around the state (Steamboat, Telluride, Crested Butte, Ouray to name a few) make a superb base for families keen to have some high-altitude fun. Colorado is also the true home of the dude ranch — even if your kids can’t ride, Western style is easy to pick up for the whole family and learning to lasso, rope a cow and herd cows on horseback is immense fun. The Rocky Mountains also offer endless watery possibilities; from stand-up paddle boarding and white-water rafting to fishing on the many crystal-clear lakes and rivers that tumble through the peaks.

Top activities

Start in Denver with an all-America baseball, basketball or American Football match. Go canyoning in Ouray – children over 12 can rappel, jump, swim, scramble and slide through canyons at Angel Creek. Become a cowboy — C Lazy U Guest Ranch offers luxury camping and ranching experiences for the whole family, with cattle-pushing clinics, ranger tours and riding. Or go zip-lining at Colorado Springs. The Broadmoor, a family-friendly resort, has three zip lines and two suspension bridges offering a bird’s eye view of the South Cheyenne Canyon below.

Book it

Scott Dunn offers a multi-destination trip to Colorado and California including a night in Denver, six nights at Smith Fork Ranch, three nights in Snowmass and four nights in Hollywood Hills for £5,630 per person.

Find out more about family holidays in Colorado with Scott Dunn.


2/6  Vermont

The US state of New England is an under-the-radar gem in summer for UK families. Fly to New York and catch Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express along the shores of the Hudson River and you’ll soon be relaxing in the old-worldly Green Mountains. And it’s the home of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so you can’t go wrong with the kids.

Top activities

Kids will love the dirt road biking, the fly fishing, the horse riding and top attractions such as Jay Peak’s Pump House Waterpark and the Zip Tour Adventure at Stowe Mountain Resort. But wild swimming in the crystal-clear pools of Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest might just trump them all. This wonderful Famous Five style experience offers waterfalls, caves and gentle pools in which to paddle, leap or dive deep. There are nearly 50 state-recognised wild swimming choices in Vermont, with The Guardian recently placing Bristol Falls (located between the Mad River and Lake Champlain Byway) among its top 10 in the world.

Book it

America As You Like It has a 14-night summer holiday to Vermont from £7,390 for a family of four (two adults and two children, 2-11 years), including return flights on Virgin Atlantic to New York, one night room only in Manhattan, Amtrak train from New York to Rutland, four nights room only at the Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden (including transfers from the station), 10 days intermediate SUV car hire, three nights room only at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, three nights room only at the Jay Peak Resort in Jay and three nights room only at The Essex Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa in Burlington, and flight back to New York.

Find out more about family holidays to Vermont with America As You Like It.

Serbia Mountain views

3/6  Serbia

If you’re looking for a mountain adventure off the beaten track, Serbia is a great option With a flight time that’s under three hours, families will find great value for money, a warm welcome and have the chance to explore a country that few have yet to discover. Serbia is largely covered by mountains in four different regions— the Dinaric Alps, the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkan Mountains and the Rilo- Rhodope Mountains. It is home
to five national parks, with the 19,175-hectare Tara National Park in the west a favourite destination for incredible views, adventures and spotting bears. From walking, hiking, horse riding, rafting, boat rides, sailing and rowing to cycling and nature walks in the 60 different nature reserves, it’s all here for the taking.

Top activities

Take a boat ride along the Tara River Gorge or a train ride on the Šargan Eight, the narrow gauge railway that, from 1925 until 1974, connected Belgrade to Sarajevo. Join an adventure camp with Wild Serbia, just 90km from Belgrade in the Gradac River, to try kayaking, abseiling, orienteering, caving and zip-lining. Visit the hauntingly beautiful stone pyramids of Djavolja Varos (Devil’s Town) on the slopes of mount Radan in the south– there are more than 200 of them between two and 15m tall (

Book it

Wild Serbia offers a seven-day action-packed family trip from £950 per person, including hiking, caving, boat rides, kayak tours, 4×4 jeep safari and a day sight-seeing in Belgrade — as well as all meals, accommodation and professional guiding.

Find out more about family holidays in Serbia with Wild Serbia.


4/6  Austrian Alps

Sun, lakes and mountains, fresh air and meadow flowers, the chime of cowbells — this is summer in the mountains in Austria. Ski resorts that buzz during the winter turn sleepy, charming and even more welcoming by summer, offering a playground for families that is easy to reach from the UK. Austrian half-board accommodation has to be experienced to be believed. You’ll never go hungry here – huge buffet breakfasts and four- or five-course evening meals are standard. This is just as well because Austria’s mountains are teeming with activity – from white-water rafting and canyoning to mountain biking, rock climbing and hiking– for all ages. Austria is home to many natural hot springs, so after a strenuous day of activities, be sure to relax in local healing waters.

Take the beautiful flight directly into Innsbruck, the historic capital city of the Tyrol region. Explore the old town on foot to wonder at the imperial buildings, then let children run around in the playground or enjoy a game on the giant chess boards within the open space of Imperial Gardens. The Nordkettenbahnen lift goes from near Imperial Palace, taking passengers to the Seegrube (2,000m) in just 20 minutes.

Top activities

Just 17km from Innsbruck is the magical Swarovski Crystal Worlds, a mystical and fabulous family day out in Wattens. If your children like horses, go riding beneath the majestic glaciers of the Ötztal Valley on home-bred Tyrolean Haflinger horses at the highest riding stables in Austria — the Edelweiss & Gurgl Riding Stables in Obergurgl. Or visit Ebbs Stud Farm, a leading Haflinger stud farm in Austria and learn the history of these golden horses in its museum.

Horn Park in St Johann is the largest aerial forest in the Kitzbühel Alps with eight courses that have varying levels of difficulty for everyone, aged three up – including the Flying Fox, a zip-line canopy tour that has you flying through the air and over a mountain lake. Get up close and personal with Austria’s native animals at the Innsbruck Alpine Zoo, high above the city. Here you can peer into habitats of native species including ibexes, brown bears, otters, golden eagles and wolves and younger kids can mix with pigs, chickens and goats in the on-site farm.

Book it

A week at the Robinson Amp wang resort, including food and all-inclusive activities such as night-time hiking, cycling and archery, costs from £2,579 for a family of four ( flights not included).

Find out more about family holidays in Serbia visit with Robinson.

Auvergne mountains

5/6  Auvergne, France

You may have heard of Volvic, but perhaps not of Auvergne. The famous mineral water is bottled in this ancient and volcanic region of central France, and filtered through layers of volcanic rock under Chaîne des Puys. Treat your family to an incredible adventure in this unique rural landscape, exploring volcanoes and swimming in the many natural lakes and dams. There’s cycling, horse riding and walking options aplenty, and you can stay on a farm, in a gîte or at a variety of campsites ( Auvergne now has new direct flights from London Luton to Clermont Ferrand with Fly Kiss ( y- from July 2017, Ryanair also plans to start a direct flight.

Top activities

Vulcania, an educational theme park and museum at Saint-Ours, opens a new volcano-themed play area for younger children this year. Climb inside an extinct volcano at Lemptégy near Volvic or savour a view to beat all views at the Puy de Dômes, the highest peak in the region. Enjoy an adventure in any one of a number of forest adventure parks, such as Acrofun and Prabouré, where you’ll find climbing routes and zip lines. Take a donkey ride along The Stevenson Trail, the 252km path walked by Robert Louis Stevenson and his donkey.

Book it

Brittany Ferries offers seven nights’ self-catering in a two-bedroom gîte between Bourges and Clermont-Ferrand, from £946 for a family of four, including ferry crossings from Portsmouth to Caen with a car.

Find out more about family holidays to Auvergne and how to get there with Brittany Ferries.


6/6  French Alps

Once the snow has melted, and the ski lifts have stopped, visitors will experience a quieter side to the French Alps, making it the perfect base for a family summer holiday. Prices are lower than in winter and there’s every activity under the sun on offer— from mountain biking and rock climbing to adventure parks, hiking and walks, pot holing, bungee jumping, white-water rafting and supervised kids’ clubs. If you haven’t tried it, summer skiing is glorious — think warm and sunny mornings on the slopes in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Tignes and Les Deux Alpes both offer glacier skiing during the summer months. Chamonix is great for kids, with plenty of activities from white-water rafting to summer luge — while rainy days are catered for at the Richard Bozon Sports Centre with its heated pool.

Top activities

A popular activity at Chamonix for kids aged 10 and over is rafting on the Arve River – it’s reasonably priced and goes right from the centre of town. The Chamonix Amusement Park is another must – activities include trampolines, toboggans and electric motorcycles. Tour the Mer de Glace at Montenvers, arriving by train, and walk into the glacier and soak up information at the new exhibition centre. Explore the local wildlife at the Merlet Animal Park or try the up-and-coming sport of mountainboarding in Valloire.

A little further afield, Chamonix All Year has a minibus that takes guests to Le Châtelard VS Attraction Park in Switzerland, 19km away, for a journey to the Emosson Dam. Attractions include the steepest funicular in the world (with a gradient of 87 per cent) and you can take a walk across the top of the dam, explore the dinosaur trail or visit the dinosaur footprints at Vieux-Emosson.

Book it

Chamonix All Year offers a week’s holiday in Chamonix for a family of four from £375 per person. Price includes airport transfers, accommodation for seven nights in a self-catered apartment, four days lift pass, entrance to the adventure tree park and rafting in Chamonix.

Find out more about family holidays in Chamonix with France Montagnes