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Expert-led vacation trips that cater to special interests

By Kristan Schiller


Does your family share a common interest in wild animals? Perhaps there’s a favorite film that piques your son’s interest, or your daughter has a hankering to dig in the desert like an archeologist? A handful of tour operators and museums specialize in quirky and adventure-themed trips that let you leave the planning to the pros and travel with like-minded families.

So what are you waiting for? Hop in the 2014 Traverse with the kids and set your sights on one of these departure cities, from which you can then embark on a hip and hassle-free family vacation. These trips from industry-leading experts include all the amenities you’d expect, and some you won’t! As with your all-new Traverse, satisfaction unfolds with each new experience. (The following trips are scheduled for this summer; contact the specific tour operator for details on future trips.)

Colorado River Archeology (Northeastern Arizona)

This exciting six-day adventure gives families the opportunity to hike a portion of the Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park, explore rarely visited ancestral Pueblo sites outside the park and trace the recent movements of the fascinating Navajo people in northeastern Arizona. As they raft along the Colorado River from the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell to the historic crossing at Lee’s Ferry led by an esteemed archaeologist (Kim Spurr) as well as a Navajo tribal member (Jason Nez), your kids will learn about the architecture, rock art and artifacts created by the peoples who’ve lived along the Colorado River across millennia.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Orlando, Florida)

This wonderful six-day journey begins at Universal Studios. You and your children can brush up on “muggle” history through in-depth discussions with Potter experts and explore incredible sets re-created in collaboration with the movies’ designers: The trip includes visits to Hogwarts, Dumbledore’s study, Gryffindor Common Room, Hagrid’s Hut and Hogsmeade. (Recommended age: 10 and up.)

Savor the Salmon River (Boise, Idaho)

Whole Foods recently launched a new component of their brand called Whole Journeys, offering trips that focus on healthy lifestyle and education. Their family-friendly Salmon River adventure includes camping and action-packed stints in whitewater rapids, as well as downtime at the local Whole Foods Market Tap Room. It’s led by adventure-travel guru George Wendt, founder of the esteemed tour company OARS. (Children must be 7 or older to participate.)

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Kristan Schiller, a Travel Editor at Fodor’s, is also a blogger and writer whose articles have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Town & Country, Organic Spa Magazine and Entrepreneur, as well as on the Huffington Post and


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