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Family travel five: Journeys that lie ahead

                                Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City, Mich., offers miles of trails along the shore and on forested islands, including the Manitou Islands.
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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City, Mich., offers miles of trails along the shore and on forested islands, including the Manitou Islands.

In time, we’ll be on the road again, in search of compelling outdoor playgrounds in which to explore and enjoy nature’s finest. Here are five destinations to consider:

Jackson Hole, Wyo.

As a gateway to two of our most stunning national parks — Grand Teton and Yellowstone — this Wyoming paradise has long been a favorite stop for active travelers. Lace up your hiking shoes and explore amid the jagged peaks of the magnificent Teton Range, following scenic trails that hug the shores of String, Leigh and Trapper lakes. Spend a sunny afternoon picnicking, wading, floating, fishing or kayaking on the Snake River. Saddle up for a horseback ride and imagine how the early settlers might have felt upon discovering the magical beauty of the region.

Contact: wyomingtourism.org

Sun Valley, Idaho

Adjacent to the vast expanse of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, this vibrant high-altitude enclave serves as an ideal base camp for exploring the beauty of the Sawtooth Range and the nearby mountain lakes and trails. Then return to town where activities such as horseback riding, mountain and road biking, fly-fishing, tennis and golf will keep your clan engaged. Don’t miss the weekly ice skating shows at the Sun Valley Lodge featuring world-class figure skaters and Olympic medalists.

Contact: sunvalley.com

Steamboat Springs, Colo.

In the late 1880s fur trappers passing through this Colorado enclave heard an odd noise resembling a steamboat. They were pleasantly surprised to find more than 150 geothermal bubbling springs that today soothe tired muscles after skiing or a long hike. Choose from a long list of outdoor pursuits that includes rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding and fly-fishing or tubing on the Yampa River. At day’s end check out the impressive barrel racing and saddle bronc riding at the rodeo, a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Contact: steamboatsprings.org; steamboatflyfisher.com; ­colorado.com

Flagstaff, Ariz.

Just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon and close to seven other parks and monuments, this college town offers a long list of options for family travelers. At 7,000 feet, you’ll enjoy hiking and biking amid ponderosa pines, comfortable in the cool mountain air. Tap into the history that combines the nostalgia of Route 66, the historic “Mother Road” that bisects the town, as well as the rich legacy of the Old West and Native American culture. Don’t miss a tour and exhibits at the Lowell Observatory, the astronomy research center where Pluto was discovered.

Contact: lowell.edu; flagstaffarizona.org

Traverse City, Mich.

This northern Michigan city is known for celebrating all things cherry. In Julys past, music, parades, tastings and art have been part of their weeklong National Cherry Festival. Throughout the warmer months, family travelers enjoy the local freshwater lakes and streams where searching for Petoskey stones, swimming, kayaking and paddling are favorite pastimes. Visit the diverse ecosystem of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for miles of trails, shoreline and forested islands. Adults might want to arrange time to visit a handful of the more than 50 wineries in the area.

Contact: traversecity.com

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