Aruba: No Longer Just a Gambler's Paradise | My Family Travels
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While Aruba's glittering casinos have drawn adult tourism for years, many resorts are implementing family packages and kids' programs to "family-friendly-ize" the island. Despite the lack of lush vegetation on Aruba, there is an abundance of clean, exhilarating air and a seven mile stretch of white-sand beach. The island is making strides to transform this traditional "honeymooner's paradise" to toddler and teen terrain as well.

Aruba offers family allure with snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and practically every other watersport available. Most of these activities can be arranged on hotel-front beaches or through the resorts' reservations desks.

In addition, Tira Koochi Park (open daily from 4pm – 6:30pm), is a playground for children near the west coast of the island, and Kibaima Miniature Village and Park is a whole-family adventure that features miniature versions of typical Aruban houses and buildings, along with exotic birds, animals and tropical plants. Paintball survival games are also available for your thrill-seeking teens. At the island's busy marinas, merchants come to sell fresh fish and produce right off the boats every morning.

Jeeps are available for "drive-yourself" tours of the island, but be forewarned, as driving is on the left. You'll want to take at least a mental photo of this island's landscape — of the pastel washed houses surrounded by cactus fences and the divi-divi trees blowing in the wind to stud the barren countryside.

A family amusement park called Aruba Fun City recently opened at Palm Beach Plaza.  The 2,000 square meters recreation facility features video games, climb wall, laser tag, 4-D encounters and Flow Rider, a flowriding simulation.  There is also day-care available with a playground and a baby gym.  Youngsters and adults alike will also enjoy the Blue Parrotfish Water Park on De Palm Private Island.  The water park recently underwent technical renovations that will promote better water conditions through an auto-pilot chlorination system. 

A new park, the Aruba Linear Park, is now under construction and will be appoximately 10 miles long reaching from Reina Beatrix Airport to Arashi Beach.  The park will feature cycling path, walking path, sheltered areas, parking, public restrooms, kiosks and activity spaces.  The park is expected to open by the end of 2011.

The Tamarijn Aruba All-Inclusive (207/594-7888), Aruba Marriott (297/586-9000) and Holiday Inn Aruba (297/586-3600) are just a couple of the resorts that have added kid-friendly features in Aruba as part of a program called "One Cool Family Vacation." Participating properties offer family vacation packages with programs and facilities including complimentary children's activities, evening babysitting services, free breakfast and snorkel adventures for children and lots of activities for the entire family – check individual resorts for specifics.

To learn more about Aruba's other "Cool Family" resorts, for more information on Aruba's family oriented activities, or to request a Family Guide, call 800/TO-ARUBA or visit www.aruba.com.

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