Family vacations provide great opportunities to come together and create lasting memories. For some truly memorable escapades, why not take to the air and test your sense of adventure? With zip lining for kids, rope courses, sky bridges and freefall towers, your options for going above and beyond are endless. To help you rise to the occasion, we share some of the best treetop adventures for kids around the country. Which one will take you and your family to new heights?
Written by Karon Warren
Historic Banning Mills, Whitesburg, Ga.
Named the longest and largest zip line canopy tour course in 2012 by Guinness World Records, Historic Banning Mills features six levels of zip line tours comprised of approximately 10 miles of zip lines and sky bridges. Families will soar through trees, past the ruins of Old Banning and across the Lost Gorge at Snake Creek. Many of the zip decks are connected via rope courses and sky bridges, so the family treetop adventure never stops. Although there is no age limit for children, there are weight limits in place. For the Forest tour, guests must way at least 50 pounds, while all other tours require a minimum weight of 90 pounds. The maximum weight for women on all tours is 250 pounds; men must weigh less than 285 pounds.
While canopy tours offer a tremendous amount of fun and excitement, they're also physically challenging, so review each tour's guidelines to make sure it's a good fit for your entire family. Other activities available at Historic Banning Mills include kayaking, the Power Free Fall, horseback riding, hiking, the world's tallest freestanding climbing wall, a Falconry Arts program and a Birds of Prey show.
ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, Jeffersonville, Vt.
For guests ages 8 and older, ArborTrek Canopy Adventures at Smugglers' Notch in the Green Mountains features eight zip lines interspersed with two suspension bridges and two high rappels. Taking approximately two and a half to three hours to complete, the guided family zip lining tour - known as the Arbor's Wild Ride - is intertwined with local ecology and natural history for the area.
While ArborTrek is open year-round, reservations are required for a tour. Also, an adult must accompany children 16 years of age and under. If children are 11 or younger, there must be one parent for every child in order to participate. In addition, visitors must weigh between 70 and 250 pounds and be at least 48 inches tall.
Adventures on the Gorge, Lansing, W.Va.
Taking advantage of the beautiful New River Gorge recreation area in West Virginia, Adventures on the Gorge offers a number of exciting treetop adventures for families. Geared for adults and kids 7 years old and up, the TimberTrek Aerial Adventure Park contains five courses ranging from simple fun to insane challenges. Each course is constructed with bridges, zip lines, swings and other obstacles to take your breath away. Another unique excursion, the New River Gorge BridgeWalk takes guests age 10 and older on a guided tour on the 24-inch-wide catwalk running below the New River Gorge Bridge, 850 feet above the New River.
In addition to these attractions, Adventures on the Gorge also offers rock climbing, mountain biking, lake tours, fishing, horseback riding, cave exploring, whitewater rafting and kayaking, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, ATV/UTV tours, paintball and kids camps.
Monkey Trunks Extreme Aerial Adventure, New England
Boasting three locations - Chocorua, N.H.; Weirs Beach, N.H.; and Saco, Maine - Monkey Trunks Extreme Aerial Adventure sends visitors into the air on a series of rope courses made of tightropes, cargo nets, swinging beams, hanging tires and rolling logs. Ten zip lines also carry guests through the trees, providing great views of the area. The courses range from 10 feet off the ground up to 55 feet above the ground, so it's ideal for all ages.
Although there is no age or weight minimum, guests must be able to reach 5 feet 9 inches when standing flat-footed with arms extended above your head. Children who can reach 5 feet 4 inches in this position can participate on the courses when accompanied by an adult age 15 and older. Kids who can reach 48 inches are permitted to climb with two adults (15 years or older) who would "sandwich" the child. In addition, participants must weigh 250 pounds or less.
The Kids' Course is another kids ziplining option as it's just six inches off the ground. Kids will love the six to eight challenges on the course. The kids must be at least 5 years old and be able to reach 48 inches above the head. This kids zipline course has no time limit so the fun can last indefinitely.
Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, Spicewood, TX
Just 30 miles from Austin in the Texas Hill Country, Cypress Valley Canopy Tours takes to the air amid, you guessed it, cypress trees. Over the kids zip lining course of 90 minutes to two hours, explorers will cover five zip lines and two sky bridges, ending by rappelling off the last platform. The longest zip line is more than 350 feet long, with platforms reaching up to 40 feet high. After the exhilaration subsides, families can enjoy a picnic and take a swim in the onsite private lake. To keep the excitement level up, consider the optional lake zip line and rope swing.
Cypress Valley Canopy Tours are geared to kids ages 10 and older and between 70 and 250 pounds. Reservations are required.
TreeTop Quest, Buford, Ga.
Approximately 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, TreeTop Quest caters to families with children of all ages. Each self-guided, zip lining course for kids escalates in difficulty and age requirements. Children ages 4 to 6 with a minimum height of 3'4" can get their fill of in-air fun on the Chick'Pea course (on-ground adult supervision required). On Level 1-3 courses, which are geared toward kids 7 and older, the levels go from easy to medium zipline adventures for kids. The little adventurers can try to conquer bridges and nets in various configurations.
The Level 4 and 5 courses, which are appropriate for children ages 12 and older, are more challenging and includes such features as net walls, tightropes and bridges. The Level 5 kids zipling course is considered "very challenging." This course feature the most challenging elements at the highest distance off the ground.
When planning your visit, make a day of it and bring a picnic to enjoy under the trees.
Tree Frog Canopy Tours, Glenmont, OH
At Tree Frog Canopy Tours, you will spend up to three hours zipping through the trees, taking in the views from the sky bridges and rappelling back to solid ground. The seven zip lines for kids range from 145 to 1,100 feet for a total of 4,025 feet in the air. Each guided tour provides a great way to explore the Loudonville Mohican area of Ohio. During the fall, visitors will get an added bonus of gorgeous foliage.
Participants must be ages 10 and older, as well as weigh between 75 and 250 pounds, and children ages 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult (age 18 or older).
Mammoth Cave Adventures, Cave City, Ky.
Located just outside of Mammoth Cave National Park, Mammoth Cave Adventures welcomes families to take flight on two different courses as they take in the beautiful countryside. A perfect fit for older family members, the first course has five zip lines, two sky bridges and two ladder climbs. Explorers must weigh between 100 and 275 pounds to complete this course. For younger family members, the second course with four zip lines is ideal for those who weigh between 40 and 100 pounds.
For the daredevils in the group, Mammoth Cave Adventures offers two adventure challenges. On the Giant Super Swing, a 40-foot pendulum swing, guests will swing through the air like Tarzan until they land back on the ground. For those wanting a quick return to earth, the 70-foot Mammoth Cave Drop Tower will bring participants down in a controlled, virtual free-fall. If you want something a little more sedate, you can opt for horseback riding along a scenic trail ride.
Treetop Adventure Park, Tahoe City, Calif.
Treetop Adventure Park at Granlibakken Resort, which is the first in California, provides the perfect introduction to sky-high entertainment. With a variety of year round courses that advance in difficulty and height, this kids treetop adventure Park is for kids as young as 5 years old and at least 4'8" tall. In the Flying Squirrel Zone, children ages 5 and older can get their footing on three different kids zip lining courses comprised of staircases and bridges, with the first starting just 8 to 10 feet off the ground. The second features two zip lines in a gentle introduction to the sport.
The Monkey Courses grow progressively more challenging with five courses, making it appropriate for older children and adults of all skill levels. To participate on these courses, children must be at least 56 inches tall and maximum weight is 260 pounds.
Can you imagine any place more beautiful for zip lining than Hawaii's Big Island? This eight-line, family zipline course takes flight over Hawaiian rainforests, the Honoli'i River and breathtaking waterfalls. Plus, it features side-by-side zip lines throughout its entirety, so you can race your family members during the entire tour. This kid-friendly zipline tour is available to children and adults who weigh between 35 and 275 pounds.
Don't want to take part? No problem. Those who prefer to keep both feet on the ground can keep an eye on their families on the walk-along tour. Along the way, walkers will travel through the Hawaiian rainforest, taking in the gorgeous flora and fauna.