The author McKenna Mobley and her sister in front of a waterfall in Puerto Vallarta during one of their trips to these family vacation ideas

51 Family Vacation Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank (in 2023)

👉 Jump to: Best Family Vacation Ideas | USA Family Vacation Destinations | International Family Vacation Destinations

If you’re looking for some epic family vacation ideas that won’t break the bank, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll help you find affordable places to go for a family vacation that even the hard-to-please Scrooge family members are sure to enjoy. 

We’ll start with my personal favorite family vacation spots, then cover places to go domestically and internationally in return. We’ll cover all the most popular family destinations (like Disney World), but I’ll also spill the beans on a few unique family vacation ideas you’ve probably never thought of!

With 51 family vacation destinations, there’s an idea here for every family! 

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

51 Best Family Vacation Ideas

Yellowstone National Park

A national park rich with wildlife and sweeping views of open country.

Overlooking view at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
The “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”
Clear blue sky over a buffalo in Yellowstone National Park
A resident buffalo enjoys the morning sun

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America’s first national park is one of the best family vacation ideas. Roaming wildlife and vast expanses of open volcanic country make Yellowstone a natural playground that excites both children and adults.

Herds of bison j-walk without a care in the national park, grizzly moms can be spotted leading their cubs to natural water sources, and fleeting packs of wolves roam the park grounds. The magic of Yellowstone extends beyond the wildlife. Geologic phenomena like geysers, hot springs, and fuming fumaroles are among the top natural landmarks in the famous park.

Walt Disney World Resort

A family-friendly amusement park with 6 different parks to choose from, each offering a unique thrill-seeking adventure.

The Haunted Mansion ride from the outside in Walt Disney World Resort
The Haunted Mansion ride in decorative holiday dress

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If you want to give your kids a family vacation to remember, Walt Disney World is the place to go! The “happiest place on earth” offers families six theme parks to choose from, ranging from a Hollywood magic-centric park to a wildlife safari-themed park and two splashin’ water parks.

Because of the sheer size of Orlando’s Walt Disney World, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. Here are some top Disney World tips and tricks to put you on the right path. I highly suggest going on a trip around the world at Disney’s Epcot Park, an international experience the whole family is sure to enjoy.

A trip to the famous theme park doesn’t have to break the bank either! Explore Disney World on a budget by visiting during the off-season and bringing your own food.

Playa del Carmen

A thick jungle kingdom along Mexico’s Caribbean Sea that’s perfect for a tropical family getaway.

The author with the colorful macaw wings at the Xcaret Resort
Trying on macaw wings at the Xcaret Resort

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Playa del Carmen is easily one of the most popular family vacation destinations in Mexico. Bordered by Cancun in the north and Tulum in the south, Playa del Carmen is located in the ideal spot for fun family activities.

Try your luck surfing in the Caribbean Sea or sun tanning on a Playa del Carmen’s beautiful beaches, exploring the deep trenches of a Mexican cenote, watching traditional dances at the Xcaret Resort, or eating delicious local dishes on the main downtown drag. Playa del Carmen never disappoints with its array of fun activities.

Los Angeles

California’s most famous metropolitan destination, perfect for potential celebrity sightings.

Different items displayed in Olvera Street in Downtown LA
A colorful view of Olvera Street in Downtown LA

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Los Angeles, known as the “City of Angels,” is a popular destination on many family’s USA bucket lists. The Hollywood town is easily one of the most visited cities in America and as a result, the number of activities to do numbers in the thousands.

Hundreds of museums, the Los Angeles Zoo, live concert arenas, sports games, and public parks just scratch the surface of the top things to do in Los Angeles, making this Southern California city one of the best family vacation destinations.


A culturally-rich destination that embodies both island paradise and cosmopolitan culture.

McKenna in front of the Wat Chedi Luang temple in Thailand
Posing in front of the huge Wat Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai
McKenna admiring the view at the countryside of Thailand
Peering out over the countryside

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If you aren’t looking to spend your entire savings on a family vacation, then a trip to Thailand can be an affordable family vacation idea. While Thailand may not be the ideal family destination for little kids who don’t like long plane rides, the beauty and amount of fun you’ll have in Thailand makes up for the long journey.

Tropical turquoise island water sets the stage for one of the best scuba diving experiences in your life. 

There are so many great places in Thailand to visit on a budget, which is incredibly easy to do, with street food meals averaging $1-2 and budget guesthouses sometimes as low as $20 per night. Your main budget item will be your family’s flights to get to Thailand, but you could always use Nate’s guide to getting free travel with credit card points to book those for next to nothing!

Banff National Park, Canada

A Rocky Mountain alpine fortress perfect for adventurous families.

McKenna on her way to the Victoria Glacier
On my way to Victoria Glacier
Scenic view during a hike in Banff National Park
Lush scenery along the hike

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The unprecedented beauty of Banff National Park is like what you would get if Yellowstone and Glacier National Park were combined. Banff is an international alpine park right over the U.S./ Canada border that exhibits some of the densest high-altitude natural beauty in the world.

Thousands of hiking trails are dispersed throughout Banff, leading through “grizzly country,” to crystal white glaciers, and past wildflower blooms. Be sure to purchase some bear spray at the visitor center, just in case. 

Get planning with our guide to the best things to do in Banff

Puerto Rico

A colorful island with delicious cuisine and a specific musical culture unique to the country.

View from the colorful street of San Juan in Puerto Rico
The colorful streets of San Juan

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Looking for an island paradise for a family vacation? Look no further than Puerto Rico. The laid-back Caribbean atmosphere, colonial architecture, diversity of modern amenities, and thick forest refuges of Puerto Rico puts it high on the family vacation destination list.

The rich, eclectic mix of Puerto Rico culture combines Spanish, African, Taino, and American customs, giving the country a unique blend of cultural spice. Dance with a local or indulge in the local Puerto Rican cuisine

Get planning with Vanessa’s local guide to planning a Puerto Rico family vacation

Yosemite National Park

California’s crown gem is also the perfect national park for rock climbing or backpacking families.

The author with her friend at the top of the Vernal Falls
At the top of Vernal Falls
The author during her visit in Nevada Falls at autumn season
Making my way to Nevada Falls in the autumn

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A palace of Sierra Nevada Mountain forest, Yosemite National Park is the most recognizable landmark in California. Hundreds of Yosemite hiking trails contribute to its allure, as well as world-renowned rock climbing routes and cool California campgrounds.

Famous features like El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley are the most photographed points in the national park. If you’re looking to capture high-quality wildlife photography while in Yosemite, check out backcountry trails like North Dome or Clouds Rest, both suited for hikers of all levels.

Mexico City

A Latin city that never seems to sleep, perfect for travelers who prefer exploring over a more idyl vacation.

View from the Templo Mayor in Mexico City
Templo Mayor in Mexico City’s Zocalo
The author posing for a photo in Frida Kahlo Museum
Visiting Frida Kahlo’s house-turned-museum in Coyoacan

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Mexico City may not have the best reputation as a family-friendly destination, but anyone who has actually been there will tell you Mexico City is safer than you think.

You’ll find an abundant amount of tourist activities in Mexico City, or CDMX for short. Kids will love checking out the ancient ruins of either Teotihuacan or the archaeological site of Templo Mayor, right in the heart of the Zocalo itself. The ancient capital of the Aztecs is sure to bring a chill down your spine as you gaze upon historic masonry hundreds of years old.

Joshua Tree National Park

Local Californians’ favorite desert escape is the perfect place to stay warm during a SoCal winter.

Overlooking view of the Joshua Tree National Park from the Ryan Mountain trail
A view of the national park from the Ryan Mountain trail
The author enjoying her cup of coffee at her Joshua Tree rental
Enjoying a morning cup of coffee at my Joshua Tree rental

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A sea of spikey Joshua Trees and hundreds of beige boulder outcroppings welcomes visitors as soon as they enter the national park. The magical desert oasis is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the U.S. for families, as easy hiking trails are tenfold in the park.

I recommend camping in Joshua Tree or renting a desert rental property just outside of the park when deciding where to stay in Joshua Tree. This allows early access to the popular hiking trails and the opportunity to view an unobstructed night sky, littered with millions of stars.

Get planning now with our guide to the best things to do in Joshua Tree.

USA Family Vacation Destinations

Niagara Falls

America’s most visited waterfall can be viewed from either the USA or Canadian side. 

Scenic view at the Niagara Falls

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A subtle spray of a tumbling waterfall mist is more than refreshing in the hot summer months in northeastern New York. The beauty of the ginormous Niagara Falls intersects international borders, shared by both New York and Canada.

Board a passenger boat with the whole family for a chance to experience the gushing falls on a closer scale. The mystique of visiting Niagara Falls is especially fun for families with little ones although travelers of all ages marvel at the natural wonder in their own right.


Colorado’s capital city is perfect for travelers who like a little bit of everything while on vacation.

Aerial view of downtown Denver in Colorado
An aerial view of downtown Denver

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A mining town back in its early days, Denver is now a metropolitan haven in the midst of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Not only can families enjoy major city amenities while visiting Denver on their holiday but they can also venture only a few minutes outside of town to be completely submerged in national forest nature.

Affordable housing and access to the mountains have relocated many Colorado locals to Denver and the many fun things to do in Denver bring returning travelers back year after year.

San Francisco

Northern California’s most-known destination is perfect for sightseeing.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

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The pungent aroma of seafood and slimy sea lions serve as a constant reminder of San Francisco’s role as an important port, not just a major Northern California city. 

Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the best things to do in San Francisco on a budget. Snap photos of the vocal sea lions, devour a famous sourdough soup bread bowl, enjoy the myriad of eccentric street performers, go for a San Francisco hike near the Golden Gate Bridge, or simply take a stroll along the coast.


A stunning desert destination with two national parks and unparalleled Southwestern beauty.

View of the Moab’s Arches National Park from the author's motorhome window
A view of Moab’s Arches National Park from my motorhome window

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Desert sandstone paradise can be found in eastern Utah in the trendy town of Moab. An outdoor enthusiast’s playground, Moab offers something for everyone from kayaking down the Colorado River to mountain biking and hiking in the La Sal Mountains.

Moab also boasts two famous Utah national parks, Arches and Canyonlands National Park. View more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches at Arches NP or witness an extraterrestrial view of sweeping canyon views on White Rim Overlook in Canyonlands. With so many things to do in Moab, this colorful town is worth all the hype.


One of the biggest cities in the USA, perfect for catching a broadway show or indulging in local cuisine.

View of people at the Cloud Gate in Chicago
Chicago’s landmark platinum bean (photo: Dawid S Swierczek / Shutterstock)

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“The Windy City” may seem like a business abode at first glimpse, but go beyond the surface experience in Chicago to uncover an array of family-friendly activities. From catching a live theater performance on Broadway to a double-decker bus city tour, your kids aren’t going to want to leave all the fun they’re having in Chicago. 

This Midwestern destination is one of the biggest cities in America but doesn’t feel intimidating. I recommend trying deep-dish pizza while in Chicago, the birthplace of carb-loaded delicacy. Not a fan of pizza? There are so many other cool restaurants in Chicago to try to satisfy your deepest cravings.

New York City

A buzzing collection of skyscrapers, metropolitan mayhem, and 24/7 activities for travelers who need an overindulgent dose of entertainment.

View of a big billboard at the New York Times Square
New York Times Square
View of people at the Central Park during a sunny morning
Families enjoy Central Park on a sunny day

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In a city that never sleeps, 24/7 fun can be found around almost every corner of New York City. Manhattan is a neon metropolis of marquee advertisements, over-the-top Vegas-like establishments, and wide-eyed characters lining the streets.

There’s always something to do in New York City like having a picnic in Central Park, seeing a Broadway show, or trying some delicious New York cuisine. 

Don’t forget to visit the iconic Statue of Liberty as well! If you’re not sure how to go about exploring the expansive New York City, don’t be too shy to go with an organized New York tour!


Country Music USA is the best place to visit for music lovers and history buffs.

Colorful sunset over downtown Nashville
The downtown Nashville skyline

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Music City USA, Nashville is home to small-time honky tonks and grander music venues that showcase more than just country music. Nashville is one of America’s fastest-growing towns, with a bustling nightlife scene, shops, and outdoor recreation spaces.

Teach your kiddos about country music roots at a historic museum like the Johnny Cash Museum or the Country Music Hall of Fame or pack a picnic and head to the Cheekwood botanical gardens, a great way to mix up a music-intensive family vacation.

Get planning your family vacation with Elizabeth’s guide to the best things to do with kids in Nashville.

US Virgin Islands

Experience island paradise without even leaving the U.S.

Scenic view at the St. John Virgin Island in USVI
The turquoise waters of St. John Virgin Island

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No passport? No problem! Experience a stunning tropical island paradise right in America’s backyard on the US Virgin Islands. Trade in mundane metropolitan worries for a beach-side lounge chair, some suntan lotion, and a Caribbean island beverage.

Choose from three major islands, many outlying minor islands, and even a national park for the ultimate American vacation. Be up-to-date with these helpful US Virgin Island travel tips before you dip your toes in the refreshing Caribbean Sea.


The Pacific Northwest city is only a short drive from some of the tallest snow-capped mountains in the Cascades.

View of the ferris wheel at the Seattle’s Waterfront Park
Seattle’s Waterfront Park

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America’s Pacific Northwest (PNW for short)  is known around the world as a mystical, foggy woodland with steep scenery and even steeper hiking trails throughout the Cascade Mountains. Seattle is better known as the capital of the PNW, surrounded by the iconic mountaintops of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens.

Seattle is the perfect place to set up base camp for adventurous families. Lace-up your Gore-tex hiking boots (as you’ll likely be hiking through mud or rain), and hit the national forest trails.

Get planning your Seattle family vacation with Chelsea’s local guide to what to do in Seattle.

Las Vegas

“Sin City” has loads of fun family activities to choose from.

View of the famous welcome sign in Las Vegas
The famous Las Vegas sign welcomes city newcomers

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Although Las Vegas is known as “Sin City,” Vegas isn’t a destination reserved for only adults. There are plenty of fun things to do in Las Vegas for kids, contrary to popular belief. Venture downtown so your kids fly down the Downtown Vegas zipline or head over to the strip to have some fun exploring museums and theater performances.

Love is one of my favorite shows to see in Vegas, and it makes for a fun family vacation idea. The eccentric theatrics are enough to entertain children, even if they aren’t the world’s biggest Beatles fan. The Blue Man Group is another entertaining show that’s sure to dazzle the whole family. 

San Diego

The most recognizable California beach town is the ideal family vacation spot to perfect your surfing skills.

View of a cliff on a beach in San Diego, California

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Visit one of America’s most famous beach towns next time you’re traveling throughout California’s Pacific Coast. Only 2-3 hours outside of Downtown Los Angeles, San Diego is one of the coolest family vacations on the west coast.

Visit La Jolla Cove to witness wild sea lions in their natural habitat or visit the Gaslamp Quarter with the older kids in the group for a night out to remember. The San Diego Wild Safari Park is another top San Diego attraction and gives families the chance to get up close and personal with uncaged wildlife.

Acadia National Park

An East Coast national park that offers the best coastal views east of the Mississippi.

Aerial view of Frenchman Bay during autumn season
Frenchman Bay experiences autumn

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The only national park in New England, Acadia National Park offers park goers one of the best coastal views on the East Coast. Start off with a whale-watching tour on Bar Harbor before visiting historic museums on the island, a must-see while in town.

 Don’t forget to bring your fishing rod, as the fish are surely a’plenty in Acadia National Park!

👉 Always Forget Something? Just reference our handy family vacation packing checklist.

Universal Orlando Resort

Experience some of the wildest rides at this major Florida theme park.

View at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort
The town of Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (photo: ADVTP / Shutterstock)

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Sometimes, a trip to Disney World isn’t enough to satisfy the family’s theme park cravings. Good thing Orlando offers so many more amusement parks like Universal Orlando Resort. 

Here, you’ll find wilder rides and diverse worlds like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando ticket prices are more affordable than other nearby theme parks, meaning you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to take the family to the Hollywood-themed park.

Zion National Park

Utah’s most famous desert national park is the ideal holiday destination for families that like to hike.

A cup of beverage on the grass field in Zion Lodge
Enjoying an adult beverage on a hot day outside of the Zion Lodge
View of the running water in Zion’s Virgin River
Zion’s Virgin River

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It’s impossible to arrange a trip to the Southwestern state without exploring top Utah national parks. Zion National Park takes the cake for Utah’s most visited national park due to its ideal location, quintessential desert beauty, and high-quality hiking trails.

The Zion Narrows is the perfect summer hike, as hikers are half-submerged in the Virgin River for the majority of the trek. Angels Landing is another popular Utah hike, straddling the ridge of a high Zion cliff before plateauing atop one of the best overlooks in the park.


A rural East Coast state that offers the most vibrant display of autumn colors.

Aerial view of a church in Vermont during fall season

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There’s no better place to witness the annual transition of deciduous autumn foliage than in the forested state of Vermont. Bold red barns contrast a sea of yellows, oranges, and rust-colored forests in the heart of Vermont, a famous fall destination.

Stowe, Vermont is one of the best places to visit on a family vacation during the fall, as seasonal events like hayrides and pumpkin patches keep kids entertained and apple cider tastings quench every visitor’s thirst.


California’s Pacific Coast is one of the most beautiful sites in the state, including the fishing town of Monterey.

View of a cypress tree in Monterey
(photo: Tupungato / Shutterstock)

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The beauty of the California coast increases as you travel north. Monterey is one of the most significant California ports, with a colorful fishing town spirit and the freshest seafood on the whole west coast.

Visiting the Monterey Aquarium is one of the ultimate best things to do in California with kids. You’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth at one of the biggest aquariums in the U.S. and your kids are sure to learn more about maritime sea culture; a true win-win.

Redwood National Park

A forest fortress with the tallest trees in the world, perfect for families who like to camp fully submerged in nature.

View of trees at the Redwood National Park

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Experience the grandeur of some of the biggest trees in the world as you weave in and out of top hiking trails in Redwood National Park. Your kids are sure to have a grand time stepping inside a hollow coniferous giant and balancing on top of fallen trunks.

This redwood playground is one of the most unique family vacations you can have in California. With the Pacific Coast right outside of the national park, you can go for a swim in the morning, hike in the depths of a redwood forest in the afternoon, then camp under a sky full of stars in the heart of the national park.


Never run out of city activities in Oregon’s main city.

View at the Portland’s Japanese Garden
Portland’s Japanese Garden in Washington Park

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The fun never stops in Portland. Enjoy big city amenities like old-timey movie theaters and two-story shopping centers or venture into the green landscape of Washington Park or the nearby Cascade Mountains.

Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon, is only 1.5 hours outside of Portland. Try your luck shredding down the slopes of the Mount Hood Ski Resort or daringly strap on some crampons and begin an epic expedition up the glaciated mountain.

Everglades, Florida

A swampy sanctuary of alligators and other creepy crawlers.

View of an alligator found in Everglades
An alligator spotted in the Everglades

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Crikey! Was that just an alligator in its natural habitat? In Florida’s Everglades, it’s very likely that you’ll encounter more than one wild gator, so keep an eye out!

Visiting Florida’s swamplands is a unique experience not offered in many other places in the USA. Board an iconic airboat, get your cameras ready and be on the lookout for resident Florida alligators, the state mascot.

O’ahu, Hawaii

The most elaborate display of island scenery can be found on this bustling Hawaiian island.

The author's family during their trip in Kapolei Beach
On Kapolei Beach

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Aloha and welcome to paradise! O’ahu is home to the famous Honolulu capital, Waikiki Beach, and the site of Pearl Harbor on the west. There are so many more fun things to do in O’ahu like visiting the Disney resort, attending a traditional luau, or resting on the quiet beaches of the northern shore.

As one of the most population dense locations in Hawaii, O’ahu offers plenty of dining, accommodation, and entertainment options. I highly recommend renting a surfboard and try your luck hitting the waves. 

New Orleans

A culturally-rich city comes alive each fall, with elaborate displays of festivities.

View of an establishment in New Orleans French Quarter
The New Orleans French Quarter

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While New Orleans is a great place to visit year-round, the most popular time to experience the bustling Louisiana city is in February for Mardi Gras. This event is more commonly known as an adult celebration, but the city comes alive with other special events around town and child-friendly parades.

The live music, delicious food, and abundance of free public spaces like museums and parks contribute to the allure of New Orleans for families.

Get planning with Meg’s local guide to the best things to do in New Orleans

South Dakota

A less-traveled nature destination with some of America’s top landmarks.

Overlooking view of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota
Badlands National Park

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South Dakota is a top place to visit for families who don’t like to stick to the popularized tourist track. Famous South Dakota sites include Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Wind Cave National Park. 

A trip to South Dakota is a great way to save some serious cash on a family vacation, skip the tourist crowds, and receive a similar “wow factor” trip. 

Washington, D.C. 

The political capital of the U.S. is ideal for history-loving families.

The D.C. Capitol Building from the outside
The D.C. Capitol Building alongside blooming trees

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America’s political capital is an ivory community of grand European-style architecture and impressive expanses of important political establishments. A family trip to Washington, D.C. is sure to be an educational trip, the perfect option for families with kids on summer break who still want to exercise brain power.

Some top sites you can’t miss while in Washington, D.C. include the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian Museum, the National Mall, the United States Capitol building, and the Washington Monument.

Get planning with Seychelle’s local guide to the best things to do in DC.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Experience a blast from the past at this historical American town.

Aerial view of downtown Williamsburg at night time
An aerial view of downtown Williamsburg

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One of America’s most historic towns, Williamsburg, is a town frozen in time. The old-world charm of this historic Virginia city takes the cake as the colonial capital of the East Coast.

Just 15 minutes outside of Williamsburg is Jamestown, the first English colony in North America. This is the perfect place to spend your family’s summer break to learn more about how the USA got its colonial start. 

Boulder, Colorado

A college town with a lively downtown scene and plenty of surrounding trails.

The author smiling for a photo during her hike in Boulder
Going for an evening hike just outside of Boulder
The author admiring the view in Boulder, Colorado
A panoramic view of the outskirts of town

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One of my personal favorite towns in Colorado, Boulder is a conglomerate of hipster breweries, cafes, and surrounding hiking trails. Among the fun activities to do with kids in Boulder are Eldorado Canyon State Park, Sunflower Farm, and Valmont Bike Park.

Boulder typically experiences below-freezing temperatures in the winter and early spring months but warms to the perfect summer temperature, ideal for exploring the forest trails and hosting picnics at the quad of CU Boulder.

Grand Canyon National Park

One of the most fascinating geological wonders of the U.S. can be found in northern Arizona.

The author with her family, all smiling for a picture in Grand Canyon National Park
With my family at a rim overlook

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The biggest gorge west of the Mississippi is one of the most astonishing natural phenomena in the United States. The geological sensation otherwise known as the Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the nation.

Various viewpoints of the wide-open chasm dot the gorge perimeter, donkeys patiently wait to be hired to carry adventurous visitors into the canyon, and backpackers daringly venture into the Grand Canyon by foot to hike the 26-mile one-way Rim-to-Rim hike.

Homer Alaska

Thick alpine forests only begin to describe this nature city, perfect for families who like to get down and dirty.

Aerial view of a beach in Homer Alaska

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Known for its natural beauty, Homer, Alaska is also a hotspot for fishing and taking the ferry to Kodiak Island. This is the perfect place to set up base camp for a few days before embarking on the 9-hour journey to one of the most famous islands in Alaska.

Rather than flying in from Anchorage, I highly recommend driving to Homer on an ultimate road trip to fully take in the sights of the boundless beauty Alaska has to offer along the way. Homer is one of my top towns in Alaska.

Lake Tahoe 

Indulge yourself in a crisp alpine plunge into one of the largest lakes in North America.

Aerial view of Emerald Bay with snow dusting
Emerald Bay is covered by a light snow dusting

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With so many kid-friendly activities in Lake Tahoe, it is easily one of the most unforgettable family vacation spots in California, especially for outdoor enthusiast families.

Famous ski slopes, a long-distance thru-hike around the lake’s edge, mountain biking trails, and hiking trails just scratch the surface of fun activities to do in this Sierra Nevada Mountain town, one of the coolest mountain towns in California.

International Family Vacation Destinations

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the few places where you can lounge on the beach under a jungle canopy with local monkeys swinging overhead.

The author posing for a photo during sunset in Costa Rica
Posing in the ocean during sunset in Limon

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Calm-water beaches, lush tropical foliage, mouth-watering fruit, and adorable wildlife like sloths and macaws can all be found in the radiant country of Costa Rica

There’s something for everyone in this Central American paradise; parents can relax in an ocean-side lounge chair with an adult beverage as kids hit the waves or go on a ziplining adventure of a lifetime.

From the Pacific Tamarindo side to the Limon Caribbean coast and everything in between, there are so many amazing destinations in Costa Rica worth considering if you want an international family vacation.


Europe’s main metropolitan hub boasts plenty of pubs, landmarks, and other famous sites to see.

Aerial view of big ben in London

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London is a world-famous city soaked in rich history and historical landmarks like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Tower Bridge. The number of entertaining activities in London matches or bests that of Los Angeles, providing something for each family member.

While the British Pound may be one of the strongest currencies on the market today, it’s still quite possible to visit London on a budget if you take the local transit, stay outside of Central London, and visit during the low season.

Puerto Vallarta

Experience remote Mexican coastal beauty at Puerto Vallarta, an affordable beach getaway destination.

The author's family enjoying their day on an infinity pool in Puerto Vallarta during sunset
My family members enjoy the remainder of the sunset from an infinity pool
McKenna posing for a photo in front of a colorful building in Puerto Vallarta
Me, posing in front of a colorful building in Puerto Vallarta

📍 Google Maps | Best Hotels in Puerto Vallarta | 👉 Browse Puerto Vallarta Hotels on Booking

I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta multiple times and can confidently say I’d happily go back in a heartbeat. The vibrant seaside culture of this coastal Mexican town has it all- from a bustling downtown area and popular public beaches to jungle-secluded resorts and private abodes.

Among the top family activities in Puerto Vallarta are ziplining through the dense jungle at the Predator movie site, whale watching, going on a boat tour to adjacent islands, eating delicious local cuisine, and lounging on the beach.

Dominican Republic

This rich island country is one of the best places to visit for an eclectic cultural experience by the beach.

Aerial view of an island in Dominican Republic

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Dominican Republic Hotels on Expedia

One of the best places to travel to without a passport from the U.S. via cruise ship, the Dominican Republic offers vacationers a Latin island cultural experience, blending colonial architecture with white sand beaches and Indigenous customs.

Santo Domingo and Punta Cana are the most popular tourist destinations and are worth checking out for a day or two, but I recommend traveling further into the country for a true local experience to Semana or La Romana.


You aren’t going to want to leave the relaxation haven otherwise known as Jamaica.

A local totem in Jamaica

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Jamaica Hotels on Expedia

Jamaica is one of the most visited Caribbean Islands, thanks to its rich culture and deep blue tropical waters. The laid-back vibe of the Island culture is mesmerizing in Jamaica. Even if you spend your whole vacation simply laying by the ocean side while sipping a tropical beverage, you’ll still feel a sense of family vacation accomplishment.

Sometimes, family vacations don’t need to be go-go-go. Even kids enjoy relaxing on the lackadaisical beach or going for a dip in the refreshing island waters. Most family-style resorts are in Kingston, where half jungle meets half cosmopolitan and nightlife paradise.  

👉 Read Next: 50 Family Vacation Travel Tips


Pristine clear waters give this Mediterranean country a reputation as a top European getaway.

Blue waters of Dalmatia and the blue sky over it in Croatia
The old architecture and bright blue waters of Dalmatia

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Croatia Hotels on Expedia

Croatia gives tropical Caribbean islands a run for their money. Thousands of miles of idyllic Mediterranean coast bring travelers to Croatia year after year to escape the northern European cold. 

Rust-colored terracotta roofs intersect with the vibrant Mediterranean Sea, creating one of the most picturesque seaside views in Europe. Before you slip into total relaxation in the calm waters, take a hike above your ancient seaside village for an aerial view of the fairytale-like towns of Hvar, Mljet Island, or Dubrovnik.

There truly isn’t a bad time when to visit Croatia, a country with great island hopping opportunities and many more fun oceanic activities in Croatia.


Escape heavy tourist crowds with a retreat to a unique architectural Eastern European country.

The Courtyard Royal Castle in Budapest from the outside
A courtyard in Budapest

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hungary Hotels on Expedia

Wes Anderson-style architecture can be found all throughout Hungary, an Eastern European architectural paradise. Odds are, if you visit Hungary you’ll most likely visit Budapest, the most popular town in the country. Architectural tours, cruising down the Danube at night, and historic sites put Budapest on the radar as one of the most up-and-coming towns in Europe.

Other smaller towns like Eger and Tihany are also worth the visit. Venture a bit off the beaten path to explore the cobblestone streets of these ancient cities. Hungary is one of the best family vacations you can have without overwhelming tourist crowds, not to mention it’s incredibly affordable!


Dramatic coastal cliffs define the coveted landscape in this Latin European country.

Overlooking view of the Algarve Beach
Algarve Beach, Portugal

📍Google Maps | 👉 Browse Portugal Hotels on Expedia

Europe’s hidden gem, Portugal is ever-rising in popularity among backpackers and family travelers. The gorgeous, cliffside coast is hard to beat and the top beaches in Portugal are among the best in all of Europe.

Explore rugged beach wilderness, surf some of the most intense waves in the world, visit charming colonial cities, or try mouthwatering petiscos (the tapas of Portugal). 


Venture off the beaten tourist path to this lesser-visited country with warm locals and unforgettable attractions.

Beach view from a balcony in  JW Marriott Phu Quoc Resort
The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Resort is themed like a college campus

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Vietnam Hotels on Expedia

If you’re looking to have top-tier family fun without breaking the bank, then a trip to Southeast Asia should be in order ASAP. Vietnam is one of the most underrated family vacation spots with both bustling cosmopolitan arenas and isolated island beauty.

Visit Ho Chi Minh City to experience the best of Vietnam culture and cuisine before visiting the rice terrace countryside surrounding Hanoi. Take the family on a cruise through Bai Tu Long Bay, where you’ll wake up to giant island karsts passing your window. 

For a unique family vacation spot, check out Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island. There’s a famous family-friend resort there that is themed like a university. See Nate’s JW Marriott Phu Quoc Resort Review to learn why it’s a special place worth planning a trip to Vietnam around. 

Sri Lanka

Experience magnificent Sri Lanka without overpopulated tourist crowds before it’s too late.

Panoramic view of elephants in Sri Lanka
An elephant jeep safari

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Sri Lanka Hotels on Expedia

Visit Sri Lanka now before an over-booming tourist economy takes over. Isolated stretches of beach, thick jungle laden with local wildlife like elephants, and rich cultural sites and temples contribute to Sri Lanka’s charm. This safe, colorful country appeals to family members of all ages, and the myriad of outdoor activities and affordable prices make it one of my top choices.


A Southeastern Asian country laden with golden shrines and deep forests.

A Tao temple from the outside at the Genting Highlands
A Tao temple in the Genting Highlands

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Malaysia Hotels on Expedia

Malaysia is often overshadowed by Thailand to the north, but we’re not complaining! The resurgence of popularity of its Southeast Asian counterpart has left Malaysia less traveled, preserved, and authentic.

Similar Thai beaches and lush tropical jungles can be found in Malaysia, as well as a rich cultural history, mountaintop temples, and giant golden statues lining the country. 

Check out the many family-friendly activities to do in Penang, a beautiful tropical island with a UNESCO-designated historic downtown area. 


Some of the friendliest locals in the world can be found in Armenia, a country that’s ideal for family vacationers on a budget.

The author at her base camp in Mt. Ararat
At my base camp on Mt. Ararat after a night of snowfall
View of the base camp in Mt. Ararat without the snow
The same base camp the day before without snow

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Armenia Hotels on Expedia

Ancient monasteries and churches are famously photographed in Armenia, a country with a rich religious past. I’ve never encountered warmer, friendlier locals than in Armenia, and cannot recommend the welcoming country more.

If you have the time and the physical capability, try your luck on the 4-day ascent of Mount Ararat, a mountain hotly contested as both Armenian and Turkish. The views from the nearly 17,000-foot summit extend into Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia, making this one of the best viewpoints in the whole area.


The diversity of Bolivian ecosystems and cultures is hard to find elsewhere in the world.

The author posing for a photo at the Bolivian salt flats
Bolivian salt flats

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Bolivia Hotels on Expedia

Bolivia is one of South America’s lesser-visited destinations, but is also one of the most beautiful. The diverse landscape of Bolivia offers both below-sea-level salt flats and mountains that soar over 20,000 feet into the sky.

The colorful Indigenous culture of Bolivia is one of my personal favorite aspects of the country. Traditional dress, food, and events make Bolivia one of the most appealing countries to visit on a family trip. 

It definitely makes for a unique and off-the-beaten path family vacation spot. 

FAQs About Family Vacation Planning

What are good activities for a family vacation? 

Some activities that are popular for family vacations include adventure activities like hiking, wakeboarding, snowboarding, skiing, surfing, ziplining, rock climbing, snowboarding, and hiking. Good destinations to experience these activities include Lake Tahoe, Banff, and Joshua Tree National Park.

Where are some good places to go on a family vacation? 

Some of the best places to go on a family vacation are Yellowstone National Park, Walt Disney Resort, Playa del Carmen, Los Angeles, Thailand, Banff, Puerto Rico, Mexico City, and Joshua Tree. These family vacation spots top my list of the best places to go on a family vacation.

How can I plan a family vacation on a budget?

You can plan a family vacation on a budget by picking one of the affordable family vacation spots on this list, and then making a budget for accommodation, food, activities, and transportation. Cooking meals at home, tent or RV camping, and visiting destinations during the off-season are great ways to save money on an epic family vacation.


Thanks for reading my ultimate guide on the top family vacation ideas. For more family travel inspiration, check out our top 50 places to travel in 2023 guide.

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