As families move apart from one another, travel becomes a way to create memories and celebrate milestones together.
It is often the elders who pay the majority of the travel bill (proving that no matter how old kids are, they still love it when their parents pay). However, my rule is, if you're paying you get to decide where to go. And what I hear from trip-planning grandparents is that their main criteria when choosing a destination are beautiful scenery, a new place to discover, and opportunity for rest and relaxation.
With all that in mind, here are three of my favorite destinations to celebrate life with the people who make yours invaluable.
1. San Diego, California
California tops many lists as the most desired U.S. state to visit. No wonder. It has nine national parks, some of the world's best amusement parks, mountain majesty and the glorious Pacific Ocean.
But within this massive state, one city really sets itself apart. With pleasant temperatures year-round and an attitude that's part laid-back surfer, part urban player, San Diego is a great destination for the whole family.
There is plenty to do for kids — Legoland, SeaWorld and the incomparable San Diego Zoo among the sites. And there is plenty to do for adults who know how to bribe their kids to behave, including the Botanical Building and the gardens at Balboa Park, and the San Diego Museum of Art, as well as an enchanting day trip to the suburb of La Jolla.
The whole family will enjoy the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the center of downtown nightlife — but go before dark. It offers 16 blocks of shops and restaurants, a children's museum and a trolley service that will take you all to the Balboa gardens and the zoo.
There's also Seaport Village, a walkable 14 acres along the water with beautiful views and unique (non-mall) shops, plus free concerts on Sundays. Kids may not care about those bay views, but they'll love the Candy Shack and a hand-carved carousel from 1895. Also a hit with the toddler set: a face painter and balloon artist.