A mountain vacation is made for summer: outdoors, fresh and clean air, naturally adventurous and high chance of wildlife. Here are some our favorite mountains for getaways with your kids this summer.
Pick Colorado for a wild west mountain vacation
Colorado is the ultimate destination for any adventurous family during the summer. The old mining towns scattered around the state (Steamboat, Telluride, Crested Butte, Ouray to name a few) make the perfect base for families looking to have some high-altitude fun.
This is also the true home of the dude ranch and even if your kids can’t ride, western-style is easy to pick up for the whole family. Plus learning to lasso, rope and herd cows on horseback is an incredible experience. The Rocky Mountains also offer endless possibilities on the water, from stand-up paddle boarding to white-water rafting. You can even go fishing in the crystal-clear lakes and rivers on this mountain vacation.
What to do in Colorado
- Start in Denver with and cheer for the home team at a baseball, basketball or football game.
- Go canyoning in Ouray where children over 12 can rappel, jump, swim, scramble and slide through canyons at Angel Creek.
- Become a cowboy at C Lazy U Ranch, which offers luxury camping and ranching experiences for families.
- The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs has three ziplines and offers a bird’s eye view of the South Cheyenne Canyon.
Vermont is the sweetest way to the top this summer
Vermont is an often overlooked summer state, but it’s actually an under-the-radar gem for family vacations. Catch Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express from New York, ride along the shores of the Hudson River and you’re in the otherworldly Green Mountains in no time. Added bonus for kids? This is the home of Ben & Jerry’s!
What is summer fun in Vermont
- Kids will love dirt road biking, fly fishing and horse riding in Vermont.
- Don’t miss Jay Peak’s Pump House waterpark in Jay – it’s Vermont’s only indoor waterpark.
- Hit Stowe Mountain Resort in Spruce Peak Village for epic ziplining.
- Wild swimming in the crystal-clear pools of Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest is another must.
- Almost 50 state-recognized natural swimming spots in Vermont include Bristol Falls between Mad River and Lake Champlain Byway.
Try a far-flung mountain vacation in the wilds of Serbia
If you’re looking for a mountain vacation further from home, Serbia is a great option. You’ll find four different ranges worth adventuring round here: the Dinaric Alps and the Carpathian, Balkan Mountains or Rilo-Rhodope Mountains. Plus the country’s home to five national parks including Tara National Park in the west, a favorite destination for incredible views and occasional bear spotting.
What to look forward to in Serbia
- 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 56 miles from Belgrade in the Gradac River.
- Visit the hauntingly beautiful stone pyramids of Djavolja Varos (Devil’s Town) on the slopes of mount Radan.
Spend some of summer in the awesome Austrian Alps
Sunshine, flower meadows and the gentle chime of cowbells, this is a summer mountain vacation in Austria. Buzzy ski resorts turn on the charm when the snow line retreats. Quite a few are amazing playgrounds for families and Austrian hospitality has to be experienced to be believed. Huge buffet breakfasts and four or five-course dinners are standard. But you’ll need the sustenance since Austria is teaming with mountain activities from rafting and canyoning to rock climbing and hiking. It’s also home to many natural hot springs, so after a strenuous day you can chill in the local waters.
Fly direct to Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol, and explore the romantic old town. Then take Nordkettenbahnen lift near Imperial Palace to the top of Seegrube mountain (6,500 ft) in just 20 minutes.
What’s amazing about Austria
- Just 11 miles from Innsbruck is the magical Swarovski Crystal Worlds, a mystical and fabulous family day out in Wattens.
- Go riding in Ötztal Valley on Haflinger horses at the highest riding stables in Austria, the Edelweiss & Gurgl Riding Stables in Obergurgl.
- Visit Ebbs Stud Farm, a leading stud farm in Austria and learn the history of Haglingers.
- Horn Park in St Johann is the largest aerial forest in the Kitzbühel Alps with eight courses including a zipline canopy tour.
- Get close to Austrian wildlife at Innsbruck Alpine Zoo, high above the city.
Adventure Auvergne on a French mountain vacation
If you’ve heard of Auvergne, it’s likely because of its famous mineral water, bottled in this volcanic region of central France. Treat your family to an incredible mountain vacation in this unique rural landscape, exploring volcanoes and swimming in the many natural lakes and dams. There’s cycling, horseback riding and walking options aplenty, and you can stay on a farm, in a vacation home (called a gîte in France) or at a variety of campsites.
What to get up to in Auvergne
- Vulcania theme park at Saint-Ours has several volcano-themed play areas, a 3-D dinosaur movie experience and a geyser that spews water 65 ft into the air.
- Climb inside an extinct volcano at Lemptégy near Volvic.
- Catch the view to beat all views at Puy de Dômes, the highest peak in Auvergne.
- Enjoy an adventure in any one of a number of forest adventure parks, such as Acrofun and Prabouré.
- Take a donkey ride along The Stevenson Trail, the 150 mile path walked by Robert Louis Stevenson and his donkey.