Pack Your Bags
By Meda Kessler
You’ve booked your dream trip to Italy and the annual sojourn to the grandparents’ house, but you still have a couple of dates left on the vacation calendar. Here are three options for family-friendly destinations that are a little closer to home.
BROKEN BOW, OKLAHOMA
Only a three-hour drive away, Broken Bow is a year-round hot spot for Texans seeking an easily accessed getaway. The small city (population less than 5,000) is the gateway to Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park, both part of the Ouachita National Forest, as well as home to a booming vacation rental industry. While you can find a traditional cabin experience, especially if you manage to book one at the state park, you also can find properties that sleep 16, have their own pools and feature modern decor. Flatscreens, Wi-Fi, fire pits, hot tubs and other amenities also are available, but the star of the show is nature. Hiking trails in the state park offer views of waterfalls, rivers and mountain peaks. Boating (from canoes to motorized watercraft) is available from local vendors. Or you can pack up your favorite family board games and enjoy conversation and company.
CIBOLA CREEK RANCH, TEXAS
This remote West Texas oasis offers plenty to do in a setting that defines the beauty of the Big Bend area. It’s definitely outdoorsy, but you won’t be roughing it thanks to the ranch’s many modern amenities. It is remote enough (read: spotty cell service) that you’ll have to/want to disconnect from your cellphone during your stay. There’s history, too: Cibolo was built in the 1800s, and the “forts” on the 30,000-acre property have been restored and reconstructed with nods to their Spanish and Mexican heritage. There’s a pool and plenty to see around the main property, but you can book mountain tours where you’ll see native wildlife, beautiful Native American petroglyphs and breathtaking scenery. You can check out the ranch by foot, horseback or mountain bike or chill out while bird-watching or taking a yoga class. Meals are served family-style on communal tables in the dining room, and the bar lounge is open all day. Accommodations vary, from a private cottage to a self-contained building that can accommodate up to 25 guests. And Cibolo is pet-friendly, too. You can drive to the ranch, or shorten your hours on the road by flying to El Paso or Midland and picking up a rental car at the airport.
97139 U.S. Highway 67, Marfa, 866-496-9460, cibolocreekranch.com
JW MARRIOTT SAN ANTONIO HILL COUNTRY RESORT & SPA
If you’re the trip planner who wishes to keep everyone happy, this 600-acre resort with recently refreshed guest rooms and suites should be on your destination list. The property boasts everything from Topgolf and two PGA-approved golf courses to a spa, sports courts for pickleball, tennis and basketball, and biking and hiking trails. Plus, there are water features galore, perfect for the Texas summer. Check out the hotel’s 9-acre River Bluff Water Experience with multiple pools, including one for adults and one for kids, plus a beach, water slides and a “lazy river” for floating and bobbing. Rent a private cabana that seats eight and provides shade and lounge chairs, a refrigerator and a private server for food and drinks. There’s enough to do to wear out everyone in the family, but if your group is looking for even more to do, San Antonio and other attractions are nearby.
23808 Resort Parkway, San Antonio, marriott.com/satjw