12 Adventure Vacations for Families and Thrill-Seekers Alike

Vacation is a great time to get adventurous and experience some more exciting aspects of the world on your time off. Call your boss and get your time off request in soon, because you’ll want to take at least 1 (or all 12!) of these adventure vacations.

1. Snorkel with manatees

While you’ll find adventure in standard Orlando attractions like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Theme Park, you can find a whole lot more outside of the park. One of those adventures is a day trip along the Crystal River that features a stop where you can snorkel with manatees. This is a great family-friendly adventure that you’ll be talking about for years to come. The tour, ran by Florida Dolphin Tours, also includes breakfast, lunch at a manatee sanctuary, an airboat tour of the Homosassa River and an excursion into Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Bookings and more information is available from TripAdvisor.

2. Become a race car driver for a day

Got a need for speed? Take a ride in the driver’s seat of a real NASCAR vehicle with Rusty Wallace Racing Experiences at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. You’ll start out with a short training session before you get behind the driver’s seat. Packages range from 3 to 50 laps around the same track your favorite NASCAR drivers race on in Texas. Check out Rusty Wallace Racing Experiences for package and booking information.

3. Zip line over a wilderness preserve

Check out one of the nation’s most incredible zip line course with Empower Adventures in Tampa Bay, Fla. This zip line course will take you on a series of zip lines over water and land at the Mobbly Bayou Preserve, plus a 200-foot wood suspension bridge. The views are as beautiful at the course is thrilling. The extra-adventurous can add a “Leap of Faith” free fall into their tour as well. Reservations are required and are available online from Empower Adventures.

4. Go white water rafting or kayaking

If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure, head to the U.S. National White Water Center in Charlotte, N.C., to go white water rafting or kayaking. Rafting can be scheduled ahead of time or daily on a first-come-first-served basis. You’ll want to make sure to wear a bathing suit and bring a change of clothes.  When you’re done, you can also check out the ropes course, zip line tours and mountain biking trails as well for even more adventure. Check out the package and booking information.

5. Go horseback riding in the Wild West

Dust off your cowboy boots and unleash your inner outlaw with a horseback riding excursion in the deserts outside of Las Vegas. Wild West Horseback Adventures offers a breakfast ride, a lunch ride or a sunset ride. While the sunset ride might be romantic, the lunch ride will take you on trails ridden by some of the most infamous outlaws of the American West, including the Ol’ Spanish Trail. All rides include a meal and a chance to see the wildlife in Nevada. Book your excursion with Wild West Horseback Adventures today.

6. Ride an ATV through the Arizona desert

Interested in exploring the desert but not into horseback riding? Hop onto an ATV from Arizona Outdoor Fun. Choose from guided and unguided tours through the Sonoran Desert, with options for a stop at a private shooting range. No matter which package you choose, you’ll enjoy your time exploring the Bradshaw Mountains, where you’ll find wildlife, mountain panorama views and even Native American ruins. Booking information is available on the Arizona Outdoor Fun website.

7. Skydive along the Florida coast

Get a view of the Florida coast from 13,000 feet on a tandem skydive with Southwest Florida Skydive Club in Punta Gorda, Fla. First time skydivers will go on a tandem dive with a trained professional. After jumping out of the plane, you’ll enjoy a freefall for about a minute before the parachute is pulled, then you’ll have 5 to 7 minutes of exhilarating views while descending to the ground. Landings vary from easy to rough, but the adrenaline and views are worth it all. Book your skydive online.

8. Go rock climbing in downtown Chicago

You know you can rock climb at indoor parks in Chicago, but did you know there’s an outdoor park now too? Head to Maggie Daley Park (located near Millennium Park in the Loop) where you can traverse one of the largest outdoor climbing parks in the world. The wall is 40 feet high and has a total surface area of 19,000 square feet. The park also has auto-belaying to provide a safe experience for climbers of all experience levels, including people who have never climbed before at all. Check out Maggie Daley Park online for ticket information.

9. Drive a Porsche … any Porsche you like… at the official Porsche track

Car lovers will want to cross this adventure off their bucket list. Porsche’s American headquarters in Atlanta welcomes visitors to drive their choice of more than 75 new Porsches at their 1.6-mile track. Drivers can choose multiple vehicles to drive on the course and will be accompanied by a certified Porsche Drive Coach for the entire 90 minutes they’re behind the wheel. There truly is no substitute for this one-of-a-kind experience. Book your Porsche Driving Experience.

10. Go ice fishing on the lake between Michigan and Canada

Not all fishing trips are particularly adventurous, but ice fishing definitely is — especially when it’s ice fishing on Lake St. Clair, the lake that separates Michigan from Canada. You’ll find anglers up there all winter long looking for pan fish and yellow perch to take home to cook, and there’s plenty of fish to be found. When you’ve caught your fill for the day, you can also go ice skating or play ice hockey on the rinks at the Lake St. Clair Metropark or take the family to the sledding hill on the West Playfield. Find out more information about ice fishing and other winter adventures on the Lake St. Clair Metropark website.

11. Kayak on the waters between Minnesota’s Twin Cities

Get away from waterparks and enjoy views of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., from the rivers and creeks that run through the Twin Cities with Minnesota Adventure Company. There are three different tours to choose from that take you along different routes, depending on your experience level (and how adventurous you’re feeling). No matter which you choose, you’ll have a great time and see beautiful wildlife and views of these Midwestern cities. Some tours include an optional tour at a local brewery. Check out Minnesota Adventure Company online for booking information.

12. Jet ski the Hudson River

That’s right — you can be like Will Smith and Eva Longoria in Hitch and take a jet ski ride in New York City’s Hudson River. Take a thrilling ride past famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island and more. There are guided tours that will take you along the best routes. Check out Jetty Jumpers, Sea the City and New York Harbor Jet Ski Tours & Rentals.

All of these adventures and more are only a flight away with South Bend International Airport. Book your flight for your next great adventure today!

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