colosseum in romeTake the kids on the vacation of a lifetime. You’ve been there/done that, Disney-style, and now it’s time to get moving and see the world. Perhaps a jaunt around one of the oldest cities in the world is in order, or a mule ride down the Grand Canyon—or how about a cruise through the glaciers of Alaska? It just takes a little creativity and planning to find a vacation that’ll change your lives.

1. Rome, Italy

Uncover layers of history on a Roman adventure. Bring good walking shoes, because there is a lot to see in this ancient city.

Think it’s a strange place to take the kids for a vacation? Consider the excellent food, art and culture, the enormity of the city’s structures and the overall energy of the city. Also, it’s home to the Colosseum, which is part of National Geographic’s “Top 10 World Heritage Sites for Kids.” Spirits of gladiators, beasts and spectators whisper stories of battles and chariot races. Take a kid-friendly tour followed by Gladiator School.

Other recommended Roman tours include the Roman Forum and the Pantheon. Relax in one of the numerous parks and piazzas and grab a pie in a real Italian pizzeria.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Unfortunately, most kids see this enormous wonder in an hour, tops. They stop at an overlook, “ooh” and “ahh” and pose for pictures, and if they’re lucky they’ll get to see the sunset behind the majestic rocks. Fortunately for your kids, a hike below the rim gets them a little deeper into the history and mystery of the Grand Canyon.

A day hike or an overnight mule ride opens the doors for kids and parents to experience a different type of history. There are fossils hidden in the layers of rocks, wildflowers, lizards and other flora and fauna, explains Keith Bellows in his best-selling book, “100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life.” It’s important to the earth and humanity to expose our children to these types of unique, nature-loving experiences.

3. The Alaskan Fjords

Glaciers are at the forefront of discussion these days when it comes to global warming, and what better place to take the kids than the true American wilderness? Experience the Kenai Fjords and their throngs of sea life, clown-faced puffin birds, bald eagles, falcons, harbor seals, sea lions, otters and Orca whales. Just onshore you might see moose and black bears. National Geographic explains the best time to visit is in the summertime, because the days are long and the seas are calm.

Cruising with kids enables them to experience vast, unspoiled land they can usually only see on television. But, at the same time, they can play XBox, sing karaoke and play on water slides with their new-found friends on board.

Teach your kids to appreciate history and nature, and it will open their minds, give them insight and spark a love of lifelong learning.

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