Dream Trips for Kids
If you want a brag-worthy family travel experience, you have to go big. These kids' activities include the world's largest shark, an epic food fight, all of Hogwarts, and more.
TAKE A SPIN ON THE TRAPEZE
If jumping on the bed isn't cutting it for your little ones anymore,Trapeze Schoolmight be the answer. Kids will be surprised by how quickly they get the hang of it: During a two-hour beginner class, they'll pick up an arsenal of tricks, from simple knee hangs to the more advanced whips and splits. By the end, they'll be ready to throw caution-and themselves-to the wind, as they learn how to dismount, flying through the air 23 feet above the safety net into the (hopefully) waiting arms of an instructor. The school has branches in Boston, New York (above), Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and, most recently, Chicago.
WHEN TO GO: Classes are offered indoors year-round and outdoors in warmer weather.
WHAT TO PACK: Snug but comfortable clothing (such as yoga pants or tights).
WHO SHOULD GO: Ages 6 and older.
THE BOTTOM LINE: trapezeschool.com, classes from $47.
DANCE WITH THE NEW YORK CITY BALLET
Let's face it: Even the most promising of budding ballerinas may have trouble understanding the plot of a classical ballet. That's where the New York City Ballet Children's Workshop leaps in. Before select matinees, children can take part in a 45-minute class that offers a stripped-down, kid-friendly guide to the music, themes, and techniques they're about to see onstage. Under the guidance of a corps member, dancers learn simple choreography while donning pint-size costumes, such as a black or white tutu for Swan Lake. The best part? Classes end with a performance for family members.
WHEN TO GO: May 19, 26, June 9 at 12:45 p.m., with more dates to be announced for winter 2012/2013.
WHAT TO PACK: Leotards, tights, and ballet slippers.
WHO SHOULD GO: Ages 4 to 7.
THE BOTTOM LINE: 70 Lincoln Center, 165 W. 65th St., 7th floor, nycballet.com, $12 (both kids and adults need tickets).
SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS
There's a 60-foot sea creature lurking in the waters off the Mexican island of Isla Mujeres that makes the 20-foot great white look like a guppy. But don't fret: The whale shark-the world's largest fish-dines only on plankton. In fact, the polka-dotted giant is so gentle that the minimum age for a shark swim with Ceviche Toursis only 5 years old. Ceviche, which has been leading half-day boat tours from this Cancun-adjacent island since 2007, touts a 97 percent shark-spotting record. That means the likelihood of your child's being disappointed is practically zero.
WHEN TO GO: The 2012 season runs May 17 to September 17.
WHAT TO PACK: A bathing suit and an underwater camera.
WHO SHOULD GO: Ages 5 and older.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Tours leave at 8 a.m. from the Isla Mujeres Gas Dock (100 yards to the left of the ferry dock), cevichetours.com, six-hour boat tour with lunch $125.
GET IN AN ENORMOUS FOOD FIGHT
Start a food fight in the cafeteria and you'll earn a trip to the principal's office. Start one in Reno's City Plaza and you'll be helping charity. Based on the famed tomato melee in Buñol, Spain, the annual benefit La Tomatina en Reno has been bringing America's biggest food fight to the Biggest Little City in the World (less than an hour from Lake Tahoe) since 2009. Last year, the city hauled out 75,000 pounds of tomatoes-the event's size depends on the success of the year's harvest-which yielded a one-hour free-for-all. Past festivals have also featured a cherry tomato toss for littler devils.
WHEN TO GO: August, date to be announced (dependent
on the tomato crop).
WHAT TO PACK: Clothing you don't mind getting dirty.
WHO SHOULD GO: Ages 14 and older, with a parental waiver.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Reno City Plaza, Downtown Reno, visitrenotahoe.com, entry fee $10.
HANG OUT WITH HARRY POTTER
The books have all been published. The films have all premiered. As wizard withdrawal sets in, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London-The Making of Harry Potteris ready to fill the Hagrid-size void. The 150,000-square-foot studio (20 miles from London) where the eight movies were filmed has been converted into a self-guided playground of all things Potter. Fans can explore, photograph, and touch every nook and cranny of the Great Hall at Hogwarts, Dumbledore's office, and Diagon Alley (above). Note: Little Potterphiles may want to skip the creature-effects workshop, where Aragog the giant spider comes to animatronic life.
WHEN TO GO: Year-round; reservations are a must.
WHAT TO PACK: Comfy walking shoes-the studios are huge!
WHO SHOULD GO: All ages.
THE BOTTOM LINE: 20-minute train from London Euston Station (from $15 round trip), then a free shuttle, wbstudiotour.co.uk, adults $44, children ages 5-15 $33.