Let's Go Gramping: Time to Leave the Parents at Home
No, gramping is not a new type of camping holiday. It's a chance for grandchildren and grandparents to enjoy some quality time together on holiday. What could be better?
Not to be confused with glamping: gramping is a growing trend in which grandparents take their grandchildren on holiday, without the parents. Grampers (perhaps it’ll catch on if we keep saying it) can bring a tent if they desire, but camping is definitely not necessary (that’s a relief).
If you’re looking for a destination that’s more chic than rustic, read on for Plum Guide’s expert destination recommendations. And speaking of chic, Plum Guide’s professional home critics spend their days finding the very best vacation homes (with a 3% pass rate – they’re very picky). So if you choose to book a Plum home, we can guarantee your experience will be the polar opposite of camping.
So, without further ado, here's our list of the top place to go gramping.
Portugal’s tight-knit family culture makes it a sensible choice with young children in tow. Bringing kids to restaurants past bedtime is part of the deal – and it’s not uncommon to see children out with their families late into the evening. Lisbon in particular offers both city culture – with pretty old trams and funiculars, excellent dining and galleries – and you needn’t travel far to find a good stretch of coastline, either. We recommend balancing a visit to the National Museum of Ancient Art or São Jorge Castle with a trip to see the critters in the Lisbon Oceanarium – and then taking a day out at Carvalhal or Figueirinha beach (both are delightfully sandy).
Let the grandkids marvel, slack-jawed at London’s iconic sights (Buckingham Palace, the red buses, beefeaters, hackney carriages) during a gramping trip to London. Show them Trafalgar Square, the River Thames, Parliament and the London Eye from the top of a double-decker. And if it all gets too much, retreat to one of the city’s beautiful green spaces: the gardens in Regent’s Park should do the trick. Follow that with a trip to London Zoo: the animals here run the gamut from sloths and penguins to lions and other African safari big-hitters. And then, if you’re up for the walk, trundle up the Regent’s Canal to Coal Drops Yard in the now unrecognisably gentrified King’s Cross. Here you’ll find restaurants and shopping in revamped Victorian industrial buildings – and if it’s a hot day, the kids will enjoy the fountains in the adjacent Granary Square.
Ever met a child who doesn’t like the beach? Us neither. Let them splash around in the sea in between jaunts to Tel Aviv’s cultural spots. Give them (and yourself) a history lesson in the Old City of Jaffa; then take them to the souk to practice their negotiation skills and possibly even to try their very first falafel. (Speaking of falafel, a food tour of the city is guaranteed to please all parties.) Habima Square, home to institutions such as the Culture Palace, Habima Theatre and Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, is also worth the visit to people-watch and be entertained by lively buskers. Grandparents will love the submerged flower garden where classical music is played around the clock, and grandchildren will very likely enjoy the Bubble Parade, on the first Friday of every month. Aaand back to the beach.
Busy, brash New York City isn’t the most obvious place to go gramping, but consider this: where else in the world can you find world-class museums and easily procure birthday cake ice-cream at a moment’s notice? Precisely. NYC’s age-appropriate treasures include the American Museum of Natural History, for dino skeletons, and the Empire State Building for the skyline views. We also love the High Line: take a walk, enjoy the public art, and let them loose in the play areas or the kid-friendly water feature at the Diller - von Furstenberg Sundeck. A visit to Hudson Yards will also be mutually appreciated: the impressive architecture of the honeycomb-like staircase should appease you, while they’ll love the array of technicolour sweets from Dylan’s Candy Bar. Any fussy eaters in tow will hopefully be happy that New York’s signature dish is, of course, pizza.
If a city break with your grandchildren seems more stressful than it’s worth, Devon makes a compelling case for a visit. All those sandy beaches mean it’s particularly child-friendly, not to mention all the wide open green spaces where they can burn off all that excess energy. There’s also fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast, Babbacombe Miniature Village, several zoos, castles – and all the cream teas you can eat (it’s cream first, then jam in these parts, by the way). Try Lynton and Lynmouth for quaintness in spades (they call it Little Switzerland) and proximity to Exmoor, or head south to the English Riviera for swish seafronts and an Agatha Christie literary trail.