• Family jumping in field, Family Journeys

    Top 5 Family Vacations for 2019

    Taking a vacation with kids or teens is easy when you join us on an active family vacation. To help you choose your next family trip, we&#39;ve rounded up the top 5 family vacations for 2019. From <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/moroccofamily/" target="_blank">Morocco </a>to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-family-adventure-tour/" target="_blank">Iceland</a>, these <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/family/" target="_blank">family itineraries</a> will satisfy the curiosity, energy levels and attention spans of multiple generations.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/perufamily/" target="_blank">PERU &amp; MACHU PICCHU</a></b><br>Machu Picchu is on so many travelers’ Top 10 lists. After this family tour, your kids and teenagers will recommend it to their friends, too. You see, it&#39;s not just the wonders of Inca culture. This multi-sport vacation includes some real thrills like whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River and mountain biking in the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/perufamily/" target="_blank">Inca&#39;s Sacred Valley</a>. Our local guides introduce them to llama herders and a Peruvian family who invites them to dinner. Just when it doesn&#39;t seem like it could get any better, we ascend to Machu Picchu. This mystery city peeks out of a cloud forest, and we provide personally guided visits to suit every age. (And if you&#39;re wondering about the altitude, our highest point is about what you&#39;d experience at a ski resort.)<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/perufamily/" target="_blank"><img alt="Girl feeding Alpaca" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001boOx&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jj7K" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagosfamily/" target="_blank">ISLAND-BASED GALÁPAGOS</a></b><br>The Galápagos Islands can really push a family’s “happy buttons.” The close-up looks at penguins and iguanas and sea lions are almost too cool to believe. The landscapes are like nothing you’ve ever seen, and the climate is great. Too bad for most visitors that they tour the islands by cruise ship. Everybody can get stir-crazy in the limited space. And the fun of ship-to-shore Zodiac rides wears off after 4 or 5 trips. That’s why we prefer an<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank"> </a><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagosfamily/" target="_blank">island-based Galápagos family vacation</a>. There’s plenty of elbow room to walk, swim in our boutique hotels’ pools, and watch for blue-footed boobies out the back door. You can go sea-kayaking right from the dock outside your door. We have easy access to clear lagoons for snorkeling, great trails for mountain biking, and white beaches for lounging. Even if you weren’t bumping into a titanic tortoise or a strutting flamingo at every turn, this would still be a fantastic active family vacation. And unlike those tourists marooned on their boats, we get to hang out with the locals and get a feel for what human life is like among the wildlife!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagosfamily/" target="_blank"><img alt="Mom and children looking at an iguana in Galapagos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001boOx&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jj7P" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> <br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/moroccofamily/" target="_blank">MOROCCO</a></b><br>Our own kids say it was their best day EVER. Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/moroccofamily/" target="_blank">family vacation in Morocco</a> found us four-wheeling the Moroccan plains, then clambering onto a camel, swaying into steep Saharan dunes to watch the sun set, and settling into a Berber encampment to eat and sing and dance around the campfire before nodding off in a carpeted luxury tent. The very best day...unless you count spotting wild monkeys on a walk in a cedar forest, hanging out with shepherd families, watching the snake charmers in Marrakesh, squeezing past donkey carts in the ancient alleys of Fès, or biking along the dikes in an oasis. As adults, we love Morocco, and it&#39;s even better to enjoy family vacations in Morocco with the kids. The terrain ranges from snow-capped mountains to deep, colorful valleys carpeted with fields and date palms. You&#39;ll meet members of our extended family who welcome us onto their farms and into their homes. We stay in lovely hotels, every one with a swimming pool. And the best surprise of all is the warmth and pride with which the Moroccans welcome us and make everyone feel comfortable and well cared for.<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/moroccofamily/" target="_blank"><img alt="Children in the Sahara Desert in Morocco" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001boOx&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jj7U" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> <br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">VENICE, FLORENCE, &amp; ROME</a></b><br>Join us in these three must-see cities...to see them like most families never get the chance! In one perfectly timed week, you&#39;ll <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">discover the best of Italy</a> without feeling like you&#39;re in a rush. Our local guides know how to get you a ride in the best gondolas, find the creamiest gelato and pull strings to get kid-friendly access to Michelangelo&#39;s David and the Sistine Chapel. Near Florence, you&#39;ll live and play like a Tuscan famiglia at a countryside hotel with swimming pool, easy access to bicycles and walking paths, and a treasure hunt in Siena. We bring sprawling Rome down to size from the Trevi Fountain to the Colosseum. Best of all, you&#39;ll meet pizza-makers, art experts, and gladiator trainers whom all give Italy a happy personal spin for your family. <span> </span><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank"><img alt="Family on gondola ride in Venice" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001boOx&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jj7Z" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> <br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-family-adventure-tour/" target="_blank">ICELAND</a></b><br>Iceland may just be <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-family-adventure-tour/" target="_blank">the perfect outdoor family vacation</a> destination. How can you go wrong with volcanoes and puffins and walking on glaciers and rides on Icelandic horses? The island has a unique cultural story and a bubbling, steaming, erupting geology that’s unlike anywhere else on earth. Short attention spans do well in Iceland because there are so many fun and different things to do. If you’re not walking on a black beach, you’re snorkeling in clear-as-glass water or walking in wavy lava fields. And all of the multisport activities are included at no extra cost. In the company of your local guide, you’ll get the inside scoop on the human history and tectonic action that is constantly changing this amazing land. Family-friendly hotels include a deep country lodge named the “Best Hotel in Iceland” and a hip Reykjavik property right on the main shopping street. Prepare to be totally amazed!<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/iceland-family-adventure-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Girl petting Icelandic horse" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001boOx&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jj7e" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br> 

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  • Women sitting on patio

    Enjoy a Girlfriend Getaway on an Italy Culinary Tour

    <p>Take a deep breath and imagine yourself inhaling salty Mediterranean air and sipping limoncello. Now try to taste the hearty blend of flavors in a seafood and potato stew you made in the home of a professional chef in a small, coastal village. Listen to the clang and stirring sounds of a quaint <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank">Tuscan home kitchen while the owner teaches you and your girlfriends to make traditional favorites</a>.</p> <p>And smell the cappuccino. Oh, the cappuccino.</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italy/" target="_blank">An Italy culinary tour is the perfect choice for a girlfriend getaway</a> — especially if you love food and wine! Add a glass of local Chianti and your favorite travel companions, and the recipes you carry home and cooking skills you hone are sure to give the scenery and historical stops some stiff competition as trip favorites.<br><br><img alt="Friend&#39;s cooking" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lS&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oB0" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>These <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italy/" target="_blank">Italian destinations are sure to entice the senses of any food and wine enthusiast</a>, while traveling with a tour company can open doors to local farmhouse kitchens and guide you to trails otherwise unknown to average tourists. It’s also a great way to relinquish the planning and just enjoy the trip. Gather up your girlfriends — it’s time to get the suitcases ready!</p> <p><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank">A Taste of Tuscany</a></b><br>With cultural and historic high points like Michelangelo’s David, Ponte Vecchio and Piazza Signoria, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank">Florence is a perfect entry point to the feast for the senses that is Tuscany.</a> You and your girlfriends will love this region famed for its gorgeous hill towns and amazing food and wine, and there is no shortage of perfect local experiences — if you know where to find them, that is.</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys culinary tour</a> groups stroll through the San Lorenzo market to pick up meats, breads and olives for a country picnic, enjoy a private look at a sheep farm to learn about the cheese-making process and follow up with cooking instruction at a farmhouse cucina.</p> <p>Leaving Florence, a sprawling landscape of castles and vineyards awaits, including opportunities for leisurely strolls among the grapes. Local artisans craft terra cotta pots by hand in Chianti and the ultimate hill town of San Gimignano poses for your photos with its 14 medieval towers. Siena brings more sips of local red wine and a lesson in making hand-rolled pasta, while a visit to Cortona immerses you in the olive oil pressing process.</p> <p>Local Tuscan craftsman and culinary artists enjoy sharing their history and skills passed down through the generations. Your travel company can make these connections for you and help avoid any logistics struggles, leaving more time for relaxing and enjoying the good company and, of course, the wine.</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalficulinary/" target="_blank">Amalfi, Al Buon Gusto!</a><br>Colorful buildings carefully perched on the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalficulinary/" target="_blank">steep coastal mountains make the Amalfi peninsula especially photogenic</a>. Exquisite villas, each seemingly more beautiful and picturesque than the last, are home to quaint trattorias, lemon farmers, fisherman, coffee shops and boutiques.</p> <p>While here, a few highlights include taking time to slow down and wander the cobblestone streets. Spend a morning in a private kitchen to learn the local traditions and share a meal. Then hike off the extra calories on one of the many stunning hiking trails.</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys groups take a hydrofoil transfer to Capri</a>, the island renowned as a sanctuary for the rich and famous. Feel like a local by having an expert point out the best family-run restaurants and lookouts unknown to tourists, including breathtaking views of the entire Gulf of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius towering in the background.</p> <p>Visit a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalficulinary/" target="_blank">charming 14th-century cliffside monastery in Positano</a> to take in carefully preserved original frescoes. Then meander down the trail for a private lesson in wood-fired pizza making and wine tasting.</p> <p><img alt="Pizza making in Italy" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lS&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002oB5" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>A <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalficulinary/" target="_blank">tour of Pompeii</a> — the town buried in volcanic ash in 79 A.D. — with a personal archeologist guide is sure to fascinate. Excavations have revealed the complete original city, including beautiful villas, streets and shops to explore.</p> <p>Sounds amazing, right? <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">Get your gal pals together to plan your Italy culinary tour today!</a></p> <p><b>Choosing a Tour For Your Next Adventure</b><br>Avid travelers often enjoy the hunt for that truly local feeling, the type of experience you can’t find in any guidebooks. But there are certain experiences even the most resourceful traveler cannot access. Not all travelers know an Italian archaeologist who can personally guide them around the excavation sites in Pompeii, for instance, or a lemon farmer who can give a private tour of his orchard. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/approach/?utm_campaign=girlfriend-getaway-italy-culinary-tour&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog/" target="_blank">Tour groups can often provide access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences with long-lasting memories.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">It can be challenging to find a tour company striking the balance you’re looking for</a>— that perfect mix of engaging activities, amazing local meals and learning opportunities, but still some free time to explore. While searching for the right tour, consider the following:<br>• <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/guest-reviews/" target="_blank">Read traveler reviews on their website</a> and other travel boards.<br>• Get a feel for potential compatibility with other group members by looking into group size and the company’s target market. Are their travelers mostly families with young kids, older couples, singles?<br>• Be sure you <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/faq/" target="_blank">understand what is and isn’t included in the trip fees</a> to avoid surprises.<br>• <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank">Evaluate the guides and find a group using locals</a>, or at least long-term residents, so you get as much — and accurate! — information about the area as possible.</p>

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  • Street View of San Gimignano, Italy

    Don't Take a Tour of Italy Without Visiting San Gimignano

    <p>It’s hard to imagine that quaint San Gimignano boasted an impressive 72 skyscrapers before the Renaissance age. But way back in the 1300s, well-to-do families wanted a tower like today’s families want a five-bedroom home in the Hamptons.</p> <p>Most of those towers crumbled, but the few that remain stand tall as a tribute to San Gimignano’s powerful, prosperous history. Any tour of Italy should include a trip to visit this charming hillside village. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italy/" target="_blank">Despite its bustling, hot spot reputation, there are quieter times to take in the breathtaking scenery, and Classic Journeys takes advantage of this on our tours.</a></p> <p>Nestled along a medieval pilgrimage route, San Gimignano sits high on a hill in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">the Siena province of Tuscany</a> — a bustling area centuries ago. From medieval times through the Renaissance, San Gimignano and surrounding cities prospered from the trade that spanned Mediterranean and continental Europe.</p> <p><img alt="San Gimignano" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002mzM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>During this boom time, the newly rich wanted to show off. Because the intimate confines of San Gimignano couldn’t hold a bunch of palaces, they built towers. These merchant families even competed with each other to see who could build the highest and most elaborate tower.</p> <p>Unlike <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italy/" target="_blank">expansive palaces in nearby Florence and Siena</a>, the towers contained many narrow rooms with few windows. Two-meter thick walls kept the structures cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.</p> <p><img alt="San Gimignano" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lT&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002mzR" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Most towers contained workshops on the first floor, bedrooms on the second and a kitchen on one of the higher levels. If something in the kitchen caught fire, residents could easily escape.</p> <p>The ancient skyscrapers served as status symbols and watchtowers, but also had other so-called advantages. One local expert says that the towers provided a good vantage point for pouring boiling oil on people. Yikes!</p> <p>San Gimignano flourished until the mid 1300s, when the plague decimated two thirds of the population. After that, the town steadily declined economically and retreated into Florence’s shadow. Architectural and cultural activity stopped. The towers fell or were torn down. Another plague in 1631 reduced San Gimignano to only 3,000 inhabitants.</p> <p><b>Signs of recovery</b><br><br>San Gimignano turned a corner in the eighteenth century. Agriculture increased, which brought more people to the city. Locals rediscovered San Gimignano’s artifacts in the early nineteenth century. They repaired and renovated many ancient buildings in the city’s center.</p> <p>Today, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">San Gimignano remains an unspoiled town of about 8,000</a>, its economy bolstered by tourism and the production of D.O.C.G. Vernaccia white wine. <a href="http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/550" target="_blank">The historical center is now a registered UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.</a></p>

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