Family Travel (Cool For Adults Too)

The Best Travel-Themed Board Games

Travel is one of the best gifts an adult can bestow upon a child. Unfortunately, as gifts go, travel is expensive. And time consuming. And involves potentially painful car and/or plane trips. Which is why travel-themed games are so great — they can introduce kids to an aspect of travel in as little as 30 minutes, without leaving the house, packing a bag or applying for a passport. Games can help also prepare kids for real-life trips by providing knowledge and building excitement.

With that in mind, here’s a review of our three favorite travel-themed great board games. As with all games and toys reviewed on this website, each of these three games are ones that adults can enjoy playing too.
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The Roller Coaster Stairway To Nowhere

Try not to think about the fact that you are above an enormous mound of industrial waste.

There are more than a handful of tourist attractions that feature great staircases. Among those that immediately to mind: the stairs that spiral up the Loretto Chapel in the Vatican, the stairs leading down to the ritual bathing areas along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India and the stairs that ascend Mexico’s Chichen Itza temple. But the world’s coolest set of stairs don’t go anywhere at all. For those you’ll have to visit Angerpark in the town of Duisburg, in the Ruhr area of Germany.

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Badeschiff: Berlin’s Floating Pool

Swimming in Berlin’s Spree River is not something most people will want to do. But swimming in a pool that is in the Spree River—now that’s cool!

And that’s exactly the experience the Badeschiff offers.

The German word translates to “bathing ship,” which is as good a short description as any. The Badeschiff was fashioned from an old river barge cargo container filled with 400,000 liters (about 100,00 gallons) of chlorinated fresh water. The whole thing literally floats in the river, tied to a dock in the same way one might moor a houseboat.

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See Cirque du Soleil—For Free

Want to see Cirque du Soleil? A single ticket to a live performance of the impossibly acrobatic dancers will set you back as much as £85 in London. You’ll have to part with S$148 in Singapore. In Las Vegas, you’ll pay $359 for a center seat vaguely close to the front of the stage. But in Quebec City, Canada you’ll pay C$0. At current exchange rates, that works out to US$0, €0 or ¥0.

And there’s no gimmick. You don’t have to win a contest, hear a sales pitch for a timeshare or creatively acquire someone else’s ticket. Anyone can show up at a Cirque du Soleil performance in Quebec City and watch it—for free.

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The Waterfalls Restaurant

Spot Cool Stuff has been to many restaurants that are next to a waterfall. We’ve even been a few that are above a waterfall. But we’ve only seen one restaurant that’s in a waterfall.

At the uncreatively-named Waterfalls Restaurant near the city of San Pablo in the Philippines, the Labasin Falls literally flows through the eating area. The water tumbles down nearly on top of the diners, passes below the (strongly bolted down) tables and then continues flowing on its way down a river.

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The Cupcake ATM

The cupcake ATM has its own Twitter account with over 1,800 followers

In the Los Angeles area, there’s something even better than money that you can get out of an automated teller machine: cupcakes!

At the Sprinkles Cupcake shop in Beverly Hills, California there’s a public, street-side ATM that provides access to gourmet cupcakes 24 hours a day.

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Climbing the Tokyo Skytree

Since 2012, Japan has been the home to the world’s tallest tower. That’s when the top section was added to the Tokyo Skytree; it reaches up a breathtaking 634 meters (2,080 ft) above the Japanese capital. Visitors can now go up and check out the view.

How high is 634 meters? It’s twice the height of the Eiffel Tower. On a clear day you can have lunch in the Skytree’s lower observation area and gaze out—way out—to Mt. Fuji on the horizon. From the upper observation deck you can distinctly see the curvature of the planet!

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Isla Holbox: The Un-Cancun

Most vacationers flying into Cancun International Airport head directly to the glamorous shopping, high-rise beach resorts, bustling nightlife and traffic-filled streets found in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera. But there’s a nearby destination that includes none of that — but so much more.

On Isla Holbox, an island north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the shopping consists of a few shacks peddling jewelry, sandals, beer and the like. The island’s handful of hotels are small and don’t rise much higher than palm trees. The nightlife revolves around quiet beach bars where barefoot patrons are as likely to sit on swings or hammocks as they are on seats. As for the traffic, the island has no cars. However, we’ve been told that on occasion two of the island’s golf cart taxis meet up at an intersection.

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