You look at some kids and just know they're going to spend time in the hospital. They're the ones jumping their bikes down long stairwells or skateboarding on banisters. Here are some activities to pump up their adrenaline without risking broken bones.


Most parents are reluctant to let their offspring jump out of planes, regardless of safety assurances. Indoor skydiving gives children 3 and up a chance to experience the thrill of freefall before going off to college to do the real thing without telling their parents.

After suiting up in goggles and a one piece coverall designed to catch the wind, the jumpers are given rudimentary instructions, including how to hold their head, arms and legs to get the most from the experience. Then its thrill time. The flight instructor and flyer go into a vertical wind tunnel simulating the weightlessness they'd experience jumping from a plane. The instructor will help them go higher, lower, even make a few turns. The 1-2 minute session may seem short to parents observing outside the glass, but between the noise and the surprising adrenaline surge, its quite the thrill to the diver.

In California

  • iFly SF Bay
    31310 Alvarado-Niles Rd
    Union City, CA 94587
    tel. 510/489-4359
  • Perris Valley Skydiving
    2093 Goetz Road
    Perris, California (about an hour from Irvine, 2 hours from LA)
    tel. 800/759-3483
  • iFLY Hollywood
    Universal Studios City Walk
    Universal City, CA 91608
    tel. 818/985-4359

In Florida


As the name implies, parasailing feels like simultaneously parachuting, sailing and waterskiing. A boat takes riders a few feet off the shore. Riders are secured into a harness and loop that acts as a seat attached to the parachute. The boat accelerates, and up goes the rider to enjoy an 8 minute ride between 500 and 2,000 feet above the ground. Riders never need get wet and kids as young as 2 can go tandem with a responsible adult.
Most parasailing outfits in the US are in the Caribbean, southeast, and Hawaii. To find the best, visit the Professional Association of Parasail Operators member's page and look up both the operators and the captains.

Daytona Parasailing goes higher than anyone else in the US at 2,000 feet. Prices start at $65.

Bridge Climbing

Unless they are mounting a protest, people rarely get the opportunity to view cities from the top of their bridges. Not so down under. There are several companies in Australia and New Zealand that encourage visitors to join bridge climbing tours. The most famous one, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb brings guests along catwalks and ladders to 134 meters above the harbour. There's a choice of two 3 1/2 guided walks, a basic climb and one paired with information about the history and engineering of the bridge. The minimum age for most bridge climbs is 7 if accompanied by a responsible adult.

What have you done to push the envelope on family vacations. Share your tales on our Family Travel Message Boards today.