Destinations with thrills and spots to chill

Kick back or go all out? These vacation spots let your family or friends choose their speed.

There’s a lot that goes into planning a vacation, and traveling as a big family or with different travel personalities can complicate things. 

If half your crew wants to kick back and half is seeking adventure, you’ll need a destination with spots to chill and plenty of thrills. So, whether you and your family or friends prefer a beach nap or an adrenaline rush, here are our top recommendations: 

Airplanes fly just overhead at Maho Beach.

St. Maarten

This dual-country island packs twice the punch.

For Thrills: 

Looking for excitement? You can’t go wrong with a zipline, especially the steepest one in the world! You can take a chairlift to the highest point on the Dutch side, St. Maarten, enjoy stellar views, then race back down on the Flying Dutchman Zipline at 56 miles per hour!  

To Chill: 

Even relaxing has some unique excitement at the famous Maho beach. While you enjoy clear blue waters and white sanda, passenger planes fly just 60 feet overhead! 

On the northern French side, St. Martin, there’s a pristine marine reserve around Pine Island that’s packed with sea creatures, so you can leisurely snorkel and wave “bonjour” to the local sea turtles.  

For real Alaskan thrills, hop behind a dogsled!

Alaska

The Last Frontier has plenty of dramatic landscapes. How will you take them in?

For Thrills: 

Think you’re adventurous? How about helicopter-to-the-top-of-a-glacier adventurous? A chopper is the quickest way to get you ice trekking in the mountains, and the journey is part of the thrill!

If you want to stick to the ground, you can still get your heart pumping with the local sport, dogsledding. It doesn’t get “mush” more authentically Alaskan than this!

To Chill: 

There are more relaxing ways to take in the wild wilderness of Alaska, like touring to the Yukon by train. Starting in Skagway, Alaska,  you can ride a railroad that dates back to the gold rush. It takes you deep into the mountains, where you’ll see rushing rivers, bald eagles, and maybe even a moose or elk. 

You can also take in the coastal beauty in cities like Juneau. Go on a boat ride to see some big ocean creatures, like humpback and orca whales!  

Bermuda beaches: A top spot to chill.

Bermuda  

Sometimes forgotten in the Atlantic, this British territory is worth the visit: 

For Thrills: 

Most people don’t equate “scenic lighthouse” with “thrills,” but at Bermuda’s Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, you can climb up 185 feet and stand in extreme gusts of ocean winds as you take in the view.

Or you can head underground into the Crystal Caves, where you’ll see impressive limestone stalagmites and stalactites as you cross a floating bridge. 

To Chill: 

Stroll or bike part of the Bermuda Railway trail, an 18-mile path that’s almost as long as the island! It winds along the coast, through towns, forests, and everything in between. (Don’t worry, trains no longer use the railway.)  

Bermuda is also famous for the pinkish sands of Horseshoe Bay beach. It’s a unique place to kick back and the color comes from finely crushed shells.  

Galveston’s historic pier has rides galore.

Galveston, Texas 

Galveston has many sharks—safely behind glass and one you can ride!

For Thrills: 

The warm weather port of Galveston is known for Gulf waters and the 1,100 foot Pleasure Pier, where thrill seekers can brave the twists, turns, and loops of the Iron Shark roller coaster. 

To Chill: 

Moody Gardens amusement park hosts a 1.5-million gallon aquarium pyramid where visitors can stroll past jellyfish, penguins, and of course, sharks!