You don’t have to be a teenage girl to swoon over the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, although you’d find yourself with plenty of company if you were. Now that the first two vampire romance books (Twilight and New Moon) have been made into movies, tourism bureaus are seeing the travel potential in the main Twilight destinations. Hey, who wouldn’t – anything that promotes family vacations with excited teenagers has got to be a good thing. Who’d have thought, even 10 years ago, that vampires and romance would become a big deal in Hollywood and family travel? I know I sure wouldn’t have called that one. The Twilight themed tours should see an uptick in travel to both Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, and Italy’s Volterra.
The Olympic Peninsula and Forks
Meyer chose to set the majority of her Twilight stories in the Olympic Peninsula because it is so famously rainy there. Less sun, of course, equals less sparkle. But I went to the Olympic Peninsula over the summer, and it only rained one day! The Twilight Tour in Forks, Washington is a great way to see the highlights of the series, including the Cullen house, Bella Swan’s house (well, these home’s owners graciously allows the tour bus to stop and grateful tourists to take a hundred photos, anyway), as well as First Beach, La Push, and other settings of the Twilight books. The tour operator is personable and funny, and he really knows his Twilight lore. The rest of a vacation can be spent exploring the bountiful, lush National Park system in the Olympic Peninsula: Even if you don’t claim allegiance to Team Edward or Team Jacob, the Quinault rainforest and Mount Olympus are jaw-droppingly beautiful, and worth the trip.
The Tuscany region of Italy, and Volterra
In New Moon, Edward Cullen believes that his beloved Bella has died, so like any emo vampire, he travels to Volterra to taunt the Volturi (basically the royal family of vampires in the Twilight canon). The goal being, of course, his own death. Now, the actual town of Volterra is thankfully vampire-free, but its tourism office set up a tour package for Italy travelers: “Hot on the Trail of Bella and Edward” should boost family travel to this part of Tuscany. This New Moon Trail is a 3-day, 2-night package includes a nighttime walk through the Italian setting on New Moon, a tour of archeological remains and the somewhat-appropriate Museum of Torture, a dinner of Charlie and Bella’s pizza, and more Twilight-themed guided walks. For those family members less than enthralled with the tale of Edward and Bella, Tuscany itself is a stunning part of Italy, with medieval and Renaissance architecture and living history all around. The most famous city here is Florence. The most, and best preserved, Renaissance architecture and art in the world is in Florence; take your kids to see Michelangelo’s David at Galleria dell’Accademia, and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (and so much more) at the amazing Galleria delgli Uffizi.
Giving our families a greater appreciation for culture and art history in Italy, and a vacation in one of our National Parks, provides enriching travel experiences to last a lifetime. If it takes the promise of some Twilight vampire romance themed tours to get our teens excited to travel, so be it. It could even be the icing on the cake.