What is your favourite childhood memory? Chances are it’s one of the many summer vacations with your family. A majestic hill station in the north or a calm and serene hill side in the south. So how about giving your kids some memories to cherish? Here’s our pick of the top summer holiday destinations for families.
Udaipur & Mount Abu, Rajasthan
Udaipur & Mount Abu make great weekend breaks from both Rajasthan and Gujarat. So how about making it a family road trip? Take in the beautiful palaces of Udaipur and City Palace Museum. Go boating on Lake Pichola. Then head to Mount Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station. Nakki Lake is perfect for boating and there are many activities around it to keep the kids occupied. Don’t forget to visit the magnificently carved marble temples of Dilwara. When in Mount Abu, take a moment to watch the beautiful sunset at the mountains.
Nainital & Bhimtal, Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand’s Lake District boasts of several picturesque lakes and Nainital is certainly the queen of them all. Surrounded by the Kumaon Himalayas, this lake is most popular with families for boating and has various game parlours and food stalls around it. Walk along the Mall Road and check out the shops or go to the other side of the lake – the quieter thandi sadak. Take the cable car up to Snow View from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the snow-clad Himalayas. The lesser-known Bhimtal is also an attractive holiday spot. Due to its unusual terrain, it offers a so many trekking trails. Because of its unpopularity with the tourists, its quiet and serene. So if you are looking for a cheap mountain holiday in Uttarakhand, Bhimtal is a place to look forward to.
Shimla & Manali, Himachal Pradesh
The British made Shimla their summer capital for a reason – the pretty little town is perfect for a holiday. The Mall Road and the Ridge have several shops and restaurants. Christ Church on the Ridge is also quite impressive. Kufri and Chail are the nearby places you can pay visit while you are in Shimla. In Manali, there are many easy treks that kids can do, not to mention riding a yak! The Hadimba Devi temple is also worth visiting. Make an excursion to Rohtang Pass, which connects further to the Lahaul & Spiti valleys and is open between May and November. If you’re lucky you may just encounter some snow here. You can also go for river rafting in Beas river with your kids as there are fewer rapids and is completely safe for the kids. A ropeway ride and a horse ride at Solang Valley is also recommended whileyou are in Manali.
The erstwhile Himalayan kingdom is known for its scenic beauty and adventure tourism. Go trekking or visit one of the many mountain passes such as Khardung La. Don’t miss the surreal beauty of the Pangong Tso Lake, as well as the Buddhist monasteries that dot the landscape. When you plan your Leh-Ladakh trip, make sure that you allow enough time for the kids to get acclimatised
Ooty & Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
The state of Tamil Nadu is also amongst the top 10 summer holiday destinations for families. The Princess of Hill Stations, Kodaikanal is perfect for kids. The star-shaped lake in the city is a must-visit as are the various parks and waterfalls around; boating, horse riding and cycling are popular activities. You can trek to the forest nearby as these are small treks easily trailed by kids. In Ooty, visit the Botanical Gardens and Doddabetta Peak, with amazing views overlooking the valley below. Also visit the Pykara Lake and the cascading Pykara Falls. You must also pay a visit to the wax and sand museum. A ride on the toy train is highly recommended if you are planning a trip to Ooty with your kids. Make sure you get your fill of the famous Ooty chocolates before you leave!
Darjeeling & Gangtok, North-East
The North-East of India is relatively unexplored and has some great summer holiday destinations for the family. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’s ‘Toy Train’ is sure to be a hit with the kids. Rise early and go watch the sun rise at Tiger Hill; then visit Ghum, which has several colourful gompas (Buddhist monasteries). If your children are older, you can even consider going white water rafting on the Teesta River. You can also head to Mirik if you are up for a horse ride in the mountains. In Gangtok, Sikkim’s pretty little capital, head to Tashi Viewpoint and Ganesh Tok for a panoramic view of the Kanchenjunga. Visit Enchey and Pemayangtse monasteries to see their collection of priceless antiques and Chogyal’s Palace, which is open to visitors during Pang Lhabsol – the festival of the mountain god. The Botanical Garden and Tsomgo Lake are also worth a visit. Head to Changu Lake for Yak ride and amazing momos. Remember to visit Nathula Pass( Pass bordering India and China) and Baba Harbhajan Singh ka Mandir on your way.
Paro & Thimphu, Bhutan
Bhutan is another country where you will not need a visa, so it makes a perfect family vacation outside India. In Thimphu visit the Simtokha Dzong with its 300-odd slate carvings, and Changangkha Lhakhang, a 12th century fortress-like temple perched on a ridge. You can also get sweeping views of Mt Everest and Kanchenjunga from Thimphu. In Paro, hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, with its picturesque cliff-side location. The ruins of Drukgyal Dzong fortress and monastery are also worth a look.
Munnar & Thekkady, Kerala
Munnar is most famous for its never ending tea gardens. Apart from visiting tea plantations, head to Echo Point and Lakkam Waterfalls where you can go for nature trails and treks. The Mattupetty Dam is great for boating. In Thekkady, visit the Periyar Lake and Sanctuary, which is a tiger and elephant reserve. You can also go on a boat cruise here. The 1000-year old Managala Devi Temple, just 15 kilometres from Thekkady, can be visited with special permission of the forest ranger.
Srinagar & Gulmarg, Kashmir
Kashmir, the crown of India, is famous for its spectacular natural beauty. In Srinagar take a shikara ride on the massive Dal Lake. Visit the Shankaracharya Hill Temple and the beautifully landscaped Grand Mughal Gardens. Your kids will love the experience of staying on a houseboat in Srinagar. In Gulmarg, a cable car ride up to Khilanmarg snow point is a must-do. The town is also a popular ski resort. Go to Kashmir for your best family vacation.
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