While it can be tempting to think of vacations with children in terms of family fun at theme parks and zoos, there are other possibilities you can explore. Theme parks are fine but what exactly can children learn from them? They already know how to have fun, so perhaps a family vacation spent at some of the globe’s historical hotspots might be a more useful educational exercise.
What are vacations for?
Most children, unlike their parents, lead stress-free lives, so a vacation is not a time when they need to unwind, but rather a time when they can enjoy a change of scene. So if theme parks and zoos do not appeal to your more adult tastes, then why not indulge your passion for history and educate your children at the same time with vacations spent in historical cities?
You will find you do not need to travel far to find historical holiday destinations. For example, in America, you could take your family to visit important Civil War sites, such as any of the many forts that were built during the war, like Fort Sumter, Fort Taylor or Fort Warren. However, if you prefer going back further in time, then you could head for New Mexico and visit the fascinating remains of the Puebloan civilization at the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Your children will be able to tour the ruins of a twelfth-century house that once held five hundred rooms. Many rooms still have intact structures and some have original timbers on show. You can also walk around the visitor center that displays items found during excavations.
If it is a truly diverse range of historical sites you are interested in showing your children, then you need to head for Europe. England, for example, boasts historic sites that predate recorded civilization, such as the world-famous Stonehenge World Heritage Site near Salisbury in the county of Wiltshire. The Stonehenge visitor center has recently undergone a revamp and the exhibition allows you to learn about the impressive structure, its origins, the people who built it and the sacred landscape it occupies.
Nearby there is a recreation of a Neolithic village that you and your children can enter to discover how the ancient Britons lived. Salisbury itself is an ancient town and its mediaeval history can still be seen in its streets and its stunning cathedral. Go to London the UK capital and your family can explore royal and political history in a number of palaces, such as Buckingham Palace the official residence of Queen Elizabeth, the Tower of London with its bloody history and on the bank of the River Thames the Palace of Westminster where the two houses of the UK Parliament meet.
If it is small and interesting that tickles your fancy, you should head for the Netherlands, in particular, its capital, Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a big city in microcosm, having all the attractions of a big capital but being much quieter and having little traffic. This makes it a perfect holiday destination for families who may be concerned about dangerous traffic and noisy tourists. There is plenty of family friendly accommodation available here too, and if a hotel does not suit your family’s needs, you can always look for city center apartment rental in Amsterdam to find accommodation that is both affordable and comfortable.
Historical attractions in Amsterdam include the house of Anne Frank, the famous young diarist of the Second World War, the house of the master artist Rembrandt, famous for his exquisite portraiture, and the Van Gogh Museum, where more than 200 of the artist’s paintings are kept, along with other artwork from the nineteenth century.
If ancient history is a particular favorite, then travel to Italy and to Rome to see some of the most impressive architecture from the Roman period. You and your children can visit the Colosseum, where gladiators, criminals and wild animals fought to the death before a baying crowd, or the ruins of the Forum, which was the center of Rome in ancient days. Explore religious, historical architecture in Vatican City at St. Peter’s Basilica and explore the many Vatican museums. Here you can see famous artwork by Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, and of course you can enter the Sistine Chapel. Rome is a busy and noisy city that is hot and humid in summer, but children will enjoy the food and learn so much about the ancient and mediaeval world that was once governed from the city.
History shows us where we came from and can help us shape the future, so it is important that children on vacation visit sites of historical interest as well as destinations filled with more modern fun.