Try Somewhere New This Winter—Inside or Outside

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

There are so many ways to explore inside and out in the year ahead. Here are five ideas to consider.

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Encouraging curiosity and celebrating questions, this is the place to see a German submarine, understand how tornadoes and avalanches happen, learn about explorers who climbed Mount Everest and explore the structure of the eye in a hands-on lab environment.

Discover the mathematical patterns that surround us every day in the natural world—from the delicate nested spirals of a sunflower’s seeds to the ridges of a majestic mountain range in a compelling exhibit called Numbers in Nature. Then make your way to the Whispering Gallery to understand how sound travels in different environments. A theater and hands-on exhibits further enhance the experience.

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Dog sledding, Fairbanks, Alaska

Journey aboard Alaska Railroad’s Aurora Winter Train to see the snow-covered Last Frontier and embark on a dog-sledding voyage. Travel from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, near the Gates of the Arctic National Park, to learn about caring for a sled team above the Arctic Circle. In the summer, helicopter in to the majestic Chugach Mountains and onto Punch Bowl Glacier to enjoy a scenic ride powered by sled dogs.

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The Lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, Colorado

It’s family time when you travel to this Rocky Mountain getaway 65 miles from Denver. Here, the lodge folks encourage kids to use their “outside voices” because that’s where they will want to spend their time. Whether the junior set is exploring on foot, horseback, cross-country skis or fat tire bikes, there is plenty of country to cover on this 5,000-acre ranch where rustic charm meets luxurious comfort. Grown-ups may opt for some spa time while the kids get to know other youngsters in the Cowpoke Camp. The junior set will be engaged with active games, mountaineering and orienteering as well as learning about Native American culture.

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Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California

Founded in 1984, this world-renowned organization’s mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s oceans. Through a variety of interactive activities and exhibits designed for young children and families, your crew will learn about the delicate balance that exists in our seas today. The youngest visitors will be drawn to the 40-foot-long touch pool for an up-close look at curious creatures like sea stars, urchins, kelp crabs and abalones. They’ll enjoy the playful antics of southern sea otters, learn about the world of mud flats and marshes, and observe a master of disguise, the Giant Pacific Octopus.

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Skytop Lodge, Skytop, Pennsylvania

A top spot for family reunions, this Poconos Mountain resort has been welcoming guests to their 5,500-acre playground since the 1920s. A member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America, the Lodge’s rich history encourages families to create their own traditions in this Pennsylvania destination. In winter, sled, ski and chat by the fire. As the weather warms, plan for golf, canoeing, kayaking, biking, naturalist led hikes and paintball. Adventurers will be eager to take on the Tree Top Adventure course. Expect high-energy fun that includes zip lines, suspended bridges, nets, swings and an aerial surf board. Ask about the Camp in the Clouds for kids.

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Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via Copyright 2022 Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Tribune News Service

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