Ready to roll? Use your future vacation to learn a new sport or hone your skills. Here are five ideas to consider:

1. Perfect your pickle ball skills in Arizona.

Check in to the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa where 17 lighted courts and a full-service pro shop await. New to this paddle ball sport (a combination of badminton, ping pong and tennis )? No problem. Sign up for group or individual instruction with a certified instructor. Later, the gang can cool off in the lazy river, frolic on the serpentine water slide or the kids splash pad or simply soak up the sun. Book some spa time or a round on the championship Wildfire golf course. Ask about special packages, onsite walking trails and bike rentals.

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2. Tee it up at Pinehurst.

Golf has surged in popularity during the pandemic. From coast to coast, families have been drawn to the links for outdoor fun in a scenic surrounding. Up your game with a visit to America’s largest golf resort. Legendary Pinehurst, in North Carolina, welcomes young players with junior tee markers and scorecards on all but one of the resort’s courses. Plan a multi-generational tournament on Thistle Dhu, an 18-hole putting course reminiscent of the Himalayas Course at The Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Play is free for resort guests. Book a tee time on The Cradle, a welcoming, Gil Hanse-designed par-3 short course.

During the summer and holiday weeks, course No. 8 is reserved for families after 5 p.m. Ask about family packages, clinics and free rentals for juniors.


3. Balance in Bend.

This ancient sport of balancing on a paddle board has found newfound popularity in recent years. Beginners and experts can be spotted paddling their way on the Deschutes River through the center of Bend, or on the many lakes you’ll find near this central Oregon town known for its sporting vibe. A variety of local outfitters provide lessons, gear and encouragement for interested paddlers of all ages. Sign up for instruction or a tour. Later, with experience and skill under your belt, consider a floating yoga class, take your furry friend along for a float or head out for your own independent adventure.


4. Hike in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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. You’ll find family-friendly scenic trails that hug the shores of String, Leigh and Trapper lakes. Spend a sunny day picnicking, wading, floating, fishing or kayaking on the Snake River.

Spend the night in one of 25 small, but cleverly designed (by Wheelhaus) rustic cottages where you can opt for contact-free check-in, cook dinner on your own grill, and savor s’mores around a campfire while planning your next day’s adventure.

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5. Ride on the ranch.

With an authentic and scenic setting as a backdrop, you and your family can enjoy beautiful places and learn horsemanship from experienced hands who will tailor the instruction to your skill and interest level. Opt to ride in open meadows, on mountain trails or in the desert Southwest. Will your family members choose to participate in a real cattle drive? Are you up for a horse pack trip into the backcountry? Will your youngsters be eager to learn the skills required for team penning and other arena games? Or will you be happy to relax during daily trail rides? The options are yours at working dude ranches and guest ranches across the country.


(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter lohayes, Facebook, or via

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