1. Ritz Carlton Amelia Island Resort. Amelia Island, Fla.
Join the kids in the hunt for fossilized shark teeth on the beach or learn to balance on a stand-up paddleboard while staying at this luxury, family-friendly 446-room resort located on a 13-mile stretch of pristine Atlantic coastline. Add other water sports to the mix by hopping on a jet ski, boogie boarding, kayaking and surfing. Children 5 through 12 can look forward to the Ritz Kids program that offers immersive adventures designed to introduce young people to the natural wonders of the island. They’ll learn about sand dunes and ancient forests and how recycling can make a difference through storytelling, art and even food. Hopefully, the kids won’t be too tired to appreciate story time, snacks and a tuck-in offered by a friendly pirate and his friend the princess.
2. Cactus League Baseball, Ariz.
Every spring, since 1947, Arizona is abuzz as baseball fans flock to catch their favorite teams warm up for the regular season. With 10 facilities hosting 15 teams and more than 200 games each season, the Phoenix metro area is a baseball fan’s dream destination. Under sunny skies, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies get in the groove in Scottsale at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, where kids are sometimes allowed to run the bases after the game. If you have junior fans in tow, know that many players hang out to sign autographs near foul territory before and after games. Be sure to have a Sharpie pen and some items ready to sign.
Contact www.CactusLeague.com, www.experiencescottsdale.com
3. Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lanai City, Hawaii
It’s a lush island of contrast, where seafaring activities and land adventures compete for your attention. Pairing a family-friendly attitude with well-crafted luxury, your family will feel right at home amid the towering pines, tropical flowers and brightly hued birds on the property. Spend the day at the beach where surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and turtle watching are on the itinerary. Play a round of sunset golf on the stunning, oceanside Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course, head out for a snorkel and sail adventure, or find your way to Shipwreck Beach in a high-clearance Jeep. Spa time, archery, clay shooting, hiking, horseback riding and off-roading are also options. Your youngsters will want to tap into the Kids for All Seasons program, where hula and ukulele lessons, looking for lizards, learning about petroglyphs, storytelling and lei-making add to the holiday memories.
4. Whale shark adventures, Cancun, Mexico
Swimming with the largest fish in the sea is a thrill worth seeking. Whale sharks are massive, reaching lengths of 40 feet and 15 tons. Despite their imposing presence, the gentle creatures peacefully share the warm seas with visitors who arrive via boat from the shores of nearby Cancun. Two at a time, along with a guide, you’ll don a life jacket or wetsuit and fins, before jumping in for a swim with these plankton-slurping vegetarians. No touching is allowed (the mega-fish are considered a “vulnerable species”) but you can swim alongside as they thrust forward their super-sized square jaw and begin filtering everything in their path like a water-borne vacuum cleaner.
Contact: www.Cancun.travel; www.solobuceo.com.
5. Turtle Inn, Placencia, Belize
A holiday trip to this Central American outpost offers an extraordinary bounty of experiences packed into a short time frame. This trip offers a chance to explore ancient caves, get immersed in Mayan culture and kayak through freshwater lagoons. You can also snorkel above the second largest barrier reef in the world; hang out with spider monkeys, loggerhead turtles, toucans and kingfishers; and watch the sunset. End your trip at the 25-room, Francis Ford Coppola-owned seaside refuge, where you will fall fast asleep to the sweet song of the natural world in your thatched-roof bungalow.
Contact: www.coppolaresorts.com/turtleinn; www.travelbelize.org