Top 25 Most Beautiful Vacations for Family in the U.S
It’s simpler than you might imagine to take your family on one of the top family vacations in the United States. You know that to avoid the dreaded meltdowns and tantrums, you need a destination that offers an endless variety of entertainment options, and this is probably not your first rodeo. We have found the top destinations in the United States for family vacations. Our recommended locations are among the best in the country, and will be enjoyed by the whole family.
From coast to coast, the United States is bursting at the seams with exciting tourist destinations, many of which are perfect for family vacations.
A family vacation is the ideal opportunity to create bonds that will last a lifetime. The key to your dream trip is finding attractions and activities to keep every member of the family happy.
If you’re a kid or a husband, you can come up with a special present for mom and wife. A watch, necklace, mother’s ring, etc., that holds special meaning because of a trip is all it takes.
The fortunate news is that the best family vacation spots in the United States offer everything.
We merged suggestions from family and friends who are also travel writers. We’ve got you covered with our recommended destinations across the United States, from coast to coast.
There are a lot of variables that affect how much a family vacation will cost. How do you plan to travel there and back? Do you plan on visiting many paid attractions, or will you be sticking primarily to free activities? And, where are you staying? Staying at a five-star resort will, of course, be more expensive than at a cheap motel.
Our research indicates that the typical cost of a vacation is $5,197. Use the vacation cost calculator I provided in my vacation planning post to get an idea of how much money you’ll need to set aside for your trip. If you’d prefer to do the math for your trip the old-fashioned way, you can print out my vacation budget planner.
All 50! I’m joking a little bit, but I do believe that people in each of the 50 states can find amazing discoveries that are good for their families. Depending on your vacation goals, I think different states offer different opportunities for fun as a family.
States like Montana and California have fantastic National Parks, others like Florida and Michigan have fantastic beaches on both the ocean and a lake, and still others like Washington, DC and Alabama have fantastic historical educational opportunities.
While your children are still young, you should consider taking them on as many trips as possible to fulfill the requirements of the 50 State Bucket List Challenge. Families with an interest in the outdoors might also benefit from a checklist of National Parks.
• Getting away helps you take a break from a high-stress lifestyle.
• You can model successful problem-solving and planning to your kids while on vacation.
• Family vacations provide an opportunity to learn new things.
• Traveling together can create a bond over shared experiences.
• You’ll create family memories that will last for many years.
There’s no shortage of fun and relaxation at Hawaii’s Hilton Waikoloa Village. Club Keiki is a kid-friendly hangout where parents can enroll their children. Campers at both the day and overnight sessions can enjoy activities like scavenger hunts, pond dipping, and koi and swan feeding.
The resort’s two golf courses and tropical gardens are popular, but Dolphin Quest is where most guests go to relax. It provides guests with a variety of interactive dolphin programs, including training adventures, a family experience, and kids’ quest. Meanwhile, water enthusiasts can schedule kayak tours, snorkel sails, and whale-watching tours at Waikoloa’s 4-acre lagoon. Attend the Legends of Hawaii luau in the evening to feast on a buffet while watching traditional island dancers and musicians perform.
San Diego is one of the best places in California to take a family because it has so many activities and attractions that children will enjoy. The San Diego Zoo is a great place for aspiring wildlife biologists to see everything from pandas to polar bears, while SeaWorld San Diego is an aquarium, theme park, and oceanarium all in one.
Your family can take a short drive up the coast to visit Legoland California, and then surf the gentle waves off the coast of picturesque La Jolla.
Kingsmill Resort, situated on more than three thousand acres of Virginia’s natural beauty, offers a wide variety of entertainment options in addition to its proximity to popular attractions like Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. The resort has two 18-hole golf courses, 15 tennis courts, and a Sports Club with swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor), fitness classes, personal trainers, a billiards room, and a game room for the kids to play in.
Junior Guests can sign up at the concierge desk and receive a Kids’ Fun Pack as an introduction to the resort. Activities at the kids’ camp include tennis, golf, swimming, fishing, daily themes, and arts and crafts for campers aged 5 to 12. Don’t forget to sign little ones up for Kids’ Night Out, a pizza and game party that allows parents to have a romantic date night at one of the four signature restaurants on-site.
Yellowstone National Park is a fantastic destination for active families who enjoy the outdoors.
Yellowstone National Park is a paradise for hikers and campers thanks to its pristine lakes and breathtaking peaks across its vast 2.2 million acres.
Hike up to Hayden Valley to see the fantastic elk, buffalo, bison, and even a grizzly or two, or take a stroll to the Yellowstone river falls along the Grand Canyon for breathtaking views and geothermal activity.
You can also take advantage of Yellowstone’s well-equipped campsites if camping is your thing.
Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert close to Saguaro National Park, the 640-acre Tanque Verde Ranch is a tranquil oasis. There are plenty of opportunities to go horseback riding at this dude ranch because they have more than 120 horses. Choose from six-hour day rides, picnic rides with lunch in Cottonwood Grove, or breakfast rides with a meal at the Old Homestead. The riding school offers lessons for beginners of all experience levels.
Hikes led by experts in the natural history of the desert’s canyons, cacti, and hidden waterfalls are available. Young cowpokes (aged 4 to 12) can “ride ’em cowboy!” on this popular kids’ show. Activities such as horseback riding, tennis, swimming, and arts and crafts are provided to children of the Buckaroos, Wranglers, and Outlaws age groups.
Denali National Park should be on every family’s list of places to visit. Disney, Carnival, and other major cruise lines make the journey, or you can take a scenic train ride from Anchorage or Fairbanks to the famous park. Come learn about the history of dog sledding in Alaska and pet some adorable husky puppies at the Husky Homestead.
Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest permanent big top, which can be seen rising in all its bright glory. More than 3.5 million people each year visit Circus Circus to enjoy the live shows and unique atmosphere. The hotel occupies 70 acres of land and is the fifth-largest resort-casino in Las Vegas, with nearly 3,800 guest rooms.
“Oohs” and “ahhs” fill the air every half-hour as performers engage in airborne stunts on the resort’s center stage. The Midway, a massive carnival with over two hundred games and wandering clowns, surrounds the stage. More than twenty rides, as well as miniature golf and laser tag, keep the excitement going at the indoor Adventuredome theme park, which may be the largest funhouse in the world.
The Grand Canyon is worthy of a visit—don’t get us wrong—but Sedona is equally beautiful and far less crowded. Take the kids on a Pink Jeep Tour of the Red Rocks, and be sure to look for Snoopy Rock, a rock that closely resembles Snoopy lying on his back! Afterward, head to Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill for dinner with a view, or catch the sunset at Sedona Airport Overlook.
Nestled into treetops and branches is one of the world’s most unusual bed-and-breakfasts. Trees aren’t just for the birds, as this luxurious treehouse resort in the sky demonstrates. Fifteen treehouses, which sleep anywhere from two to eight people, make up the “treesort” (but because of legal issues, not all 15 are available for overnight lodging).
Visitors scale stairways, ascend ladders, and cross a suspension bridge 90 feet in the air. A swinging bridge connects the kid- and adult-only sections of the Swiss Family Complex, and a fire pole and rope swings let youngsters play at ground level. The Tree Room Schoolhouse Suite is a luxurious option for families of four, as it features a separate living room, kitchenette, master bedroom, and loft. Treehouse construction workshops, horseback riding lessons, whitewater rafting, obstacle courses, swimming pools, and art classes are just a few of the exciting extras.
For a family vacation that includes visits to both small towns and large cities, Estes Park, Colorado is an excellent choice. One of Mia’s favorite parks is Rocky Mountain National Park, which is located near Estes Park. It’s teeming with wildlife, has stunning scenery, and has great hiking.
Estes Park’s charming downtown has numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops catering to tourists, many of which sell delicious treats. While you shop around on the main street, keep the kids busy with the pika scavenger hunt they have set up.
And when you’re ready for some big-city thrills, head into Denver. It’s about an hour and a half drive and the perfect way to have a vacation with nature and city sights. You can even arrange a tour of Broncos stadium for your group if any of them are NFL devotees.
If the prospect of a white Christmas excites you and your loved ones, pack the skis and head to Snowbird for a memorable winter getaway. Located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the resort features 3,240 feet of vertical drop and 2,500 acres of mountain terrain. Because of its location so close to the Great Salt Lake, it receives an annual snowfall of more than 500 inches.
Forty years after opening, the resort has 10 lifts, 169 runs, and the ability to accommodate 17,400 people on the mountain at once. The Snowbird Mountain School offers ski and snowboard lessons to beginners of all ages, starting at the tender age of three. You like the great outdoors but you hate skiing, right? The resort also has snowshoe tours, luge sleds, and ice skating rinks. At the Cliff Spa, tired parents can unwind with services like stone massages and herbal wraps.
Moosehead Lake in Maine is a great destination for those in search of a tranquil lake vacation. The largest lake in Maine is also the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States; its name is Moosehead Lake.
Many cabins are available for rent near the lake, providing a comfortable place for families to unwind and feel at home away from home. When I went to Moosehead Lake for the weekend, I stayed at two different places.
Families will enjoy Lily Bay State Park’s fantastic beach and campground. We saw two moose during our safari, which left at either sunrise or sunset. Many lodges and hotels in the area provide guests with kayaks and/or canoes so they can get out on the water and have some fun.
The Omni La Costa, previously known primarily for its two championship golf courses and its world-class spa, is now also known as a family resort. Kids will find a world of retreat-specific fun among the property’s 17 tennis courts, golf academy, and rolling greens.
Kidtopia is a children’s club at the resort where young visitors can play tennis, croquet, hike, swim, go on nature walks, make crafts, and play ping pong in a kid-friendly setting. While the youngsters are busy making new friends and having a blast, their parents can enjoy the soothing comforts of the Omni La Costa.
Charles Schulz, the artist and creator of the Peanuts comic strip, lives in Santa Rosa. Both young and old will enjoy the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. In the museum’s art room, young visitors can try their hand at drawing the Peanuts. In addition, a skating rink and a children’s museum are conveniently located nearby.
The Safari West animal park is located in Santa Rosa. Those with children who are curious about Africa’s wildlife can take a jeep tour together. You can even spend the night in one of their glamping tents on the premises, surrounded by the nocturnal calls of birds and lemurs.
Santa Rosa is also a great place for parents to go wine tasting. Some wineries even have games and other activities for kids to enjoy while their parents relax with a glass of wine.
Without leaving the hotel, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge gives guests the thrill of an African safari. Visit this wild lodge instead of the Serengeti if that’s out of your price range. More than 200 animals, representing 100 species, can be seen by guests strolling the 33-acre savannas of the property.
Rooms are decorated with a traditional African ambience: earth-tone walls, handcrafted furniture, tapestries and mosquito nets. The lodge’s 4,000 native handicrafts, however, are the true historical treasures. The resort’s restaurants, such as Jiko with its wood-burning ovens and Boma, its buffet under a thatched roof, offer authentic African cuisine for guests to enjoy during their stay.
Beads and Bourbon Street may get all the attention, but there’s a more family-friendly side to New Orleans than meets the eye. There are many places where children are welcome to enjoy Creole food and live jazz. Beignets dusted with powdered sugar and Mardi Gras-themed king cakes are two crowd-pleasing local specialties.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum, which was relocated to City Park for its 2019 reopening, features a brand-new interactive play area that is sure to be a hit with young visitors. In addition to the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the City Putt miniature golf course, this huge park is home to Carousel Gardens and Storyland.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of the best places in the United States to visit with children, as it provides them with a wide variety of interactive exhibits to learn, construct, and discover. But don’t stop there—Indianapolis is packed with other kid-friendly attractions. Everyone can get down to the beats at Rhythm, while the older kids can try their hand at an escape room game. Explore Indianapolis with the kids and the Discovery Center on a self-guided scavenger hunt.
One of the best places for a family vacation is Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is a peninsula just two hours north of Milwaukee, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages will adore the region’s abundance of year-round activities, stunning natural beauty, and easygoing vibe.
In the warmer months, families can enjoy picking fresh fruit, zip-lining through nature preserves, kayaking on the lake, and visiting the area lighthouses. The local drive-in theater even shows the newest releases. Door County, Wisconsin, is widely regarded as one of the best places in the United States to view breathtaking autumn foliage, and the drive along Highway 42 is widely regarded as one of the best in the country.
Learn more about the Mayflower’s historic voyage and the founding of the Plymouth Colony.
Plimoth Plantation’s life-size replica of the Mayflower and its costumed interpreters bring the colony’s history to life.
After you’ve had your fill of history at Plymouth, there are plenty of other things to do, such as visiting the zoo, the cranberry bog, the petting zoo, or just playing in the sand on Plymouth Beach.
You could also take a ferry to Provincetown and explore the monument where the Pilgrims first set foot before they moved on to Plymouth and see the stunning Cape views.
Folly Beach is a family-friendly island in South Carolina, only 25 minutes from Charleston. The ocean is shallow enough for children to play in, and there are numerous hotels and vacation homes to choose from right on the shore. The bar and restaurant scene is surprisingly active and exciting for adults. There is a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, and there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water (we went on a fantastic boat tour to a nearby island with a lighthouse!) or get in touch with nature through cycling, walking, or meditation.
Palm Springs has it all for a family vacation: sparkling pools, plenty of space to spread out, a laid-back atmosphere — and plenty of adventure for those who seek it. Don’t miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tramcar, for a thrilling ride with breathtaking views. Visit the non-profit Living Desert Zoo & Gardens in nearby Palm Desert. Stay at the Hotel Zoso, which recently reopened with new bites at the Kitchen and pool, as well as a general refresh.
Families should consider Colorado Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak Region for their next vacation because they are only 90 minutes from Denver. A visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the family-friendly activities. Kids will enjoy several up-close-and-personal animal experiences on its 40 acres, including feeding the giraffes.
Visit the Ghost Town Museum to give your kids a taste of the Old West. Nothing is more magical for children than a visit to Santa, and families can do so at The North Pole – Home of Santa’s Workshop – from May to Christmas Eve. All aboard the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for year-round mountain views. Load the family into the car for a scenic drive or hike through the Garden of the Gods, which is always free.
Do you have a nature-loving family? Visit Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (three park entrances are conveniently located right downtown). There are miles of trails perfect for hiking, walking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, as well as whitewater rafting and kayaking, so your family will have plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Keep your cameras ready to capture images of local wildlife such as elk, deer, and even the occasional black bear.
Closer to town, there are numerous kid-friendly activities. Visit the Sweet Fanny Adams Theater to see a live performance, or Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies to see penguins, sting rays, and sharks. Browse the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community’s galleries and studios for local artisanal products and artwork to take home as souvenirs. Climb to the top of the 407-foot Gatlinburg Space Needle for the best views in town, or take a ride above the treetops on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway.
Williamsburg is unbeatable for a family trip that combines fun and education. Colonial Williamsburg, as well as nearby Yorktown and Jamestown, have carefully renovated historical areas that bring the past to life. Climb into a horse-drawn carriage and tour the streets lined with restored American Revolutionary War buildings. Spend a day at these living history museums, where you can see what life was like in the days of the Constitution’s Framers at sites like the Yorktown Battlefield.
Take the Williamsburg Ghosts Tour or the Williamsburg Witches and Pirates Tour for some spooky fun. The Jamestown Glasshouse provides an insight into the area’s artisanal glass industry; here, you can see artists at work and purchase your own hand-blown pieces. Ride the roller coasters at Busch Gardens Williamsburg or careen down the water slides at Water Country USA to take a break from learning about the country’s history.
If your family enjoys music and live performances, Branson is one of the best places in the United States for a family vacation. This Missouri city is well-known for its live musical entertainment, with venues like Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, and others. It’s the ideal setting for a performance or dinner theater. The Aquarium at the Boardwalk, as well as the rides at Silver Dollar City, Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park, Bigfoot Fun Park, and Fritz’s Adventure, will appeal to children of all ages.
But there is so much more to see and do in Branson. Sail around Table Rock Lake on the Spirit of America, a 148-foot catamaran, or the Showboat Branson Belle. Bike, hike, or horseback ride through Dogwood Canyon Nature Park’s miles of trails. Ride the Branson Scenic Railway through the Ozarks forest, a historic train with cars from the mid-20th century. For more indoor fun, visit Beyond the Lens to try out cutting-edge gaming systems, or visit the Titanic Museum to learn about the world’s most famous ship.
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