There is nothing like enjoying the great outdoors in North America with your family. Not only are the kids learning about the world that we live in, there are huge health benefits too.
Of course it can be difficult to get everybody out in the fresh air, but one of the best ways to motivate and engage the children is to go on an ‘animal adventure’. Big kids will love the thrill of getting up close and personal with all manner of creatures, and smaller kids will love ticking things off on their spotter sheets.
Here are some suggestions to make your family trip in America an animal adventure!
Riding the Range
Do the kids love Cowboys and Indians? Did you?! Travelling across North America on horseback will give your family the perfect opportunity to see what life was like on the open plains! There are options to ride through the Redwood forests near San Francisco, around the cactus and mountains of Arizona or alongside glacial lakes in Canada. Wildlife spotting opportunities abound, from deer and elk to moose and caribou. On most rides you will join a cattle rancher, working as a team to get the cattle moving – a fantastic experience for any family.
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise… well it’s not quite a teddy bears picnic, but North America offers some fantastic opportunities to spot the Black Bear or the Brown Bear – the famous grizzly! Depending on the species and location, you will need to head to different habitats for each. Black bears love climbing trees and live mostly in forests, so head to Yellowstone, Alligator River or Tofino for sightings of this playful creature. Grizzly bears occupy a wide range of environments and can be seen in North-western Montana, Northern Canada and the Rockies. Whichever type of bear you spot, give it plenty of space. They can be aggressive if they feel threatened.
Polar Bear Express
Canada has 60% of the world’s biggest bears, but they also live in Alaska. They are the world’s largest carnivore and are extremely dangerous to humans. Any trip to see a polar bear must be taken with a qualified guide. There are options to spot bears from cruise ships or on a walking safari, but to get the best view of them diving and fishing in the ice floes, a zodiac boat gives you an incredible view. If you head to Churchill, Canada, you can head out in a tundra buggy – a bus with high ground clearance that affords heart-stopping close encounters when the bears stand on their hind legs to take a look inside! Your family will be filled with adrenaline for weeks!
The American alligator may look like a menace, but the 150 million year old amphibian is at the heart of one of the biggest success stories for endangered animals. Not only has it been saved from extinction, it is now thriving in the swamp and wetlands of the south eastern United States. Children will be able to learn all about the importance of preserving species and about the alligator itself. Did you know it goes through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime? There is no doubt that ‘gators are incredibly dangerous, but if you head out to the Everglades on your family adventure holidays, there are boat trips you can take with experts. This is the closest thing to dinosaurs in the modern world, and both children and adults will love watching this prehistoric beast glide from the bank into the water.
A Bugs’ Life
The little critters could easily be forgotten in a list of animal adventures, but grab a magnifying glass and these tiny creatures become endlessly fascinating. There are thousands of insect and spider types, all providing perfect fodder for photography, observation and education. And it’s not just a daytime activity – the whole family would love a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a camp out surrounded by the twinkling lights of fireflies.