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Family travel 5: Get ready for your next adventure

Cliffs ring the coastline in Santa Barbara, California's Isla Vista neighborhood. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Are you ready for a new adventure? Here are five ideas to consider.

Sample sports at Sand Valley Resort, Rome, Wisconsin

Set among tumbling prehistoric sand dunes, Sand Valley Resort is a year-round retreat offering an expansive menu of outdoor adventures paired with farm-to-table culinary experiences. Three, distinct, award-winning golf courses serve as the centerpiece of the resort, including a family-friendly 17-hole, par-3 Coore & Crenshaw design. Additional outdoor activities include hiking, fat-tire biking, bocce ball, bird watching, fishing, yoga, tennis on grass courts and star-gazing. During the cold-weather months, plan for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, ice skating and sledding. Get cozy in luxurious (and dog-friendly) cottages complete with full kitchens and a screened porch or check in to guestrooms at the Lodge where you’ll be just steps from the first tee at Mammoth Dunes.

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Channel history at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Historic Park, Maryland

Once a lifeline for those who lived and worked along the Potomac River, the C&O Canal is now a pathway for steeping in our rich history while enjoying the surrounding natural beauty. From April through November, families can learn more about life in the 1870s aboard a boat pulled by mules. Presenters in period clothing provide a glimpse into a time gone by for the people living, working, and floating on the canal. Your crew will also learn how locks were used to navigate the waterway and how coal and agriculture products floated their way to markets. In the same area, consider interpretive walks and the popular Billy Goat trail. (Always check for current trail conditions.)Be on the lookout for herons, hawks and bald eagles along the Potomac River.

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Turn back time at Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

All “adventurers, learners, makers and doers” are encouraged to visit this 3,000-acre site, home to the country’s largest private collection of original 19th-century buildings (including 34 original Shaker structures) and is the largest National Historic Landmark in Kentucky. The whole family will want to beeline to the farm to meet four-legged friends, and to walk the garden while collecting sustainability and organic gardening tips from the farmers or listen to a solo performance of a signature Shaker hymn. Be sure to access the 40-miles of family-friendly trails where bird observation blinds and Shaker mill sites provide added interest. Ask about self-guided and professionally-led tours, wagon rides and riverboat excursions. Activities and programs throughout the Village change seasonally. Overnight lodging is available.

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Bike through Bears Ears

Explore the 1.3-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument via a five-day mountain bike tour in southeast Utah. During the 80-mile adventure, riders will travel through a broad expanse of red rock, juniper forests and high plateau, while learning about early human and Native American history. The trip gets underway at Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding, Utah, a 19th century Mormon settlement, and climbs high into the Abajo Mountains. Highlights include an array of archaeological sites and ruins including The Notch, Duck Lake, Sego Flat, Reef of Rocks, Maverick Point Overlook, The Causeway, and Jackson Ridge. Wildlife is abundant and views atop the Abajo Mountains extend for 75 miles in all directions. Additional family-focused biking tours are also possible.

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Hike Santa Barbara, California

Home to the most national parks in the country, scenic coastlines, and endless deserts and mountain ranges, California has long been considered a top destination for families seeking outdoor adventure. While the more remote regions may be compelling, easier to access options abound. For example, Santa Barbara, known for its beautiful beaches, also offers scores of walking, biking and hiking trails. Consider Seven Falls, a 2.5-mile round-trip hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall and natural swimming hole. For a more challenging endeavor, La Cumbre Peak is 10 miles round trip and the stunning ridge, Santa Barbara’s highest peak at 3,995 feet elevation, offers panoramic views of the coast. Extreme adventurers can test out their rock-climbing skills at Cathedral Park, which entails a 4-mile round-trip hike and 3,000-foot elevation gain. Take a break at the Butterflies Alive! exhibit at the Sprague Butterfly Pavilion during the summer months. Expect a dazzling variety of nearly 1,000 butterflies, from local favorites to exotic tropical species, in a beautiful garden setting. Later, enjoy sea breezes and a magnificent Pacific sunset.

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