I’m an expert traveler and mom of five with recommendations on some epic family vacation spots to discover in summer 2023 and beyond!
This round-up features several family vacation ideas, including popular cities, charming towns, and national parks throughout the US. I also share a few hidden gems and destinations abroad that I highly recommend.
Plus, I give helpful family travel tips to make your vacation a success!
Table of Contents
- 31 Best Family Vacation Spots
- Orlando, Florida
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Monterey, California
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Denver, Colorado
- San Diego, California
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Lava Beds National Monument, California
- Niagara Falls, New York, and Canada
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Lake Tahoe, California
- Galveston, Texas
- Los Angeles, California
- Bend, Oregon
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- Washington, D.C.
- Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- US Virgin Islands
- New York City, New York
- Mystic, Connecticut
- San Francisco, California
- Quebec City, Canada
- Puerto Rico
- Chicago, Illinois
- London, United Kingdom
- Prince Edward Island, Canada
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- FAQs About the Best Family Vacation Spots
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31 Best Family Vacation Spots
Spend a few days exploring the theme park capital of the world.
Theme parks are one of the best things to do in Orlando! Families can build a Disney World itinerary, and check out Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando as well. You’re also about an hour’s drive from the beach if you need a day to relax and reset.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Admire gorgeous scenery, geothermal activity, and an abundance of wildlife.
Gaze upon amazing mountain views and see the legendary bison that roam Yellowstone National Park, one of the best US national parks. You’ll get beautiful scenery here, along with fascinating volcanic activity. Don’t miss iconic sites like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring!
Visit one of the best aquariums in the U.S. and see creatures in the wild.
Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best in the country! I love the sea otter exhibit, and there are vantage points where you can try to glimpse otters outside in the bay. Enjoy the beaches near Monterey as well, and head to Point Lobos to spot sea lions and investigate tide pools.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Enjoy an affordable beach vacation with the family.
Looking for cheap family vacation spots? You can’t go wrong with a trip to Myrtle Beach. Beach vacations allow older siblings and adults to relax with a good book or a walk, while younger kids can build sandcastles and explore the tides.
The Myrtle Beach area also has the Wonderworks Science Center and Brookgreen Gardens if you want a day that’s less sun-intensive.
Explore nature, learn Wild West history, and engage in a variety of entertainment.
There are plenty of things to do in Denver, no matter your family’s interest! Hike in the green foothills, bike along the river, and see bison backdropped by the Mile High City skyline.
Visitors can also engage in plenty of cultural experiences. Sample tasty dishes at some of the best Denver restaurants, catch live performances, and learn about the city’s rough-and-tumble history at one of many Denver museums.
San Diego, California
Witness exotic animals at a popular zoo and frolic on the sandy shore.
Explore Balboa Park in San Diego and take in the animals at the San Diego Zoo. You can also go whale watching, visit the beach, or try a number of other things to do in San Diego.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Admire the grandeur of this impressive formation and try hikes for all levels.
Find a hike for any ability at Grand Canyon National Park, one of the best places to visit in Arizona!
Flat, easy hikes are found along the rim. There are also trails to the bottom of the canyon — but be prepared with your Grand Canyon essentials and in shape for a strenuous hike! Visitor and nature centers, as well as ranger talks, will keep the entire family engaged.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Surf, snorkel, and see unique wildlife on a family-friendly vacation in the Riviera Maya.
Have a tropical holiday full of family fun in Playa del Carmen! Relax on the beach, try family surfing lessons, or go snorkeling together. You can also check out the Croco Cun Interactive Zoo or visit Xcaret Eco Park. There are tons of things to do in Playa del Carmen!
Lava Beds National Monument, California
Explore lava tube caves and other nearby natural attractions.
Explore Lava Beds National Monument, found on the border of California and Oregon. It’s a lesser-known monument featuring lava tube caves — my favorite is the ice floor in Skull Cave!
See three impressive waterfalls spanning two countries.
Get up close and personal with one of the best waterfalls in New York! You can view the falls from both the U.S. and Canadian sides, but the best view is from Canada.
Adventure lovers can zipline above the falls or take a helicopter tour, or you can cruise near the falls and hike at the park.
Explore a Southern mountain town outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Visit the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the best places to visit in Tennessee! Gatlinburg has its own space needle, an aquarium, and lots of quaint shops and restaurants. You can also take a day trip to nearby Pigeon Forge to take in more of the region.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Check out New England’s only national park featuring rugged coastline and summit hikes.
Take in the rugged beauty of Maine’s coastline with a drive along Park Loop Road. Or, get your legs pumping with a hike up Cadillac Mountain or to Jordan Pond. You can tailor your hiking trails to the people in your family with an unforgettable family vacation to Acadia!
Lake Tahoe, California
Hike a nature trail, spend an afternoon boating on the lake, and end the day with casino fun.
Choose from the many different activities at Lake Tahoe, one of the best family vacation destinations! Tahoe has boat rentals for a day of water skiing or parasailing. There are quieter nature trails and strenuous treks up nearby mountains.
It has casinos where adults can unwind and gamble or grab a cocktail. In winter, it also has some of the best skiing in the country. There’s truly something for every family member to do at Lake Tahoe.
Unwind by the beach or enjoy theme parks and aquariums.
Paddleboard the quiet waterways of Galveston State Park on a unique paddling trail. Or head to Moody Gardens to visit the aquarium, Rainforest Pyramid, or golf course. There’s plenty for family trips in Galveston, whether you want a slow time to hang with family or an active trip!
Los Angeles, California
Visit celebrity hangouts and hike in the warm LA sunshine.
Thrill the family with rides and character meet-ups by planning a Disneyland itinerary! This iconic attraction is just a short drive from Los Angeles.
You can also spend a day hiking Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park, and stop at the observatory. Head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to find your favorite actor’s star.
People of all ages love riding the 118-year-old Angel’s Flight funicular railway, and it’s one of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles!
Relax in this Cascade Mountains town where biking, hiking, and rafting are popular pastimes.
Go mountain biking or hike through historic lava flow areas in Bend. Raft on the Deschutes River. Or head to downtown Bend and enjoy the boutiques, antique stores, and restaurants in town. And, of course, save some time to enjoy Bend’s craft breweries!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Be amazed by red sandstone formations and camp under starry night skies.
Go sightseeing at Bryce, one of Utah’s best national parks! It makes a great family vacation spot, and you can adjust your hikes and exploring to suit the energy levels of your group. Camp in the park, or stay in nearby Panguitch.
Explore an island paradise featuring volcanoes, black sand beaches, and an incredible culture.
Snorkel near the shore on the island of Hawai’i for an up-close look at the brilliantly-colored fish and sea life! You can also learn more about the volcanic activity — and cross a national park off your list — at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
See unique black sand beaches. And watch hula dances and learn about the importance of the different dances to Hawaiian and Polynesian people.
Watch geysers, learn about geothermal activity, and soak in the Blue Lagoon.
Chase volcanic activity and geysers on a trip to Iceland! Iceland is a great destination for active families who want to hike and see the island. Be sure to catch a show featuring Icelandic horses, and spend some time at the Blue Lagoon as well.
Visit historic sites and see the seat of government on an educational family vacation.
You can see landmarks like the Washington Monument when you visit D.C. Head to the White House and the U.S. Capitol to see where government officials live and work. See the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Frolic at the Waterpark Capital of the World.
Have hours of aquatic fun in Wisconsin Dells! You can spend the day at Noah’s Ark Waterpark near Lake Delton, or enjoy Great Wolf Lodge or Kalahari Resorts. Spend the day on Lake Delton or take a boat tour to see the rock formations on the Wisconsin River.
Engage in Caribbean culture and swim in unbelievably turquoise water — all without a passport.
Head on a Caribbean family vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands! Families can snorkel and beach comb on these islands’ pristine beaches. Learn about Caribbean culture and don’t miss Virgin Islands National Park.
New York City, New York
Explore the city that never sleeps, home to some of the most iconic US sites.
Entertain the entire family on a trip to New York City! Visit family favorites like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Take some time for a sobering reminder at the 911 Memorial.
See historic buildings like Trinity Church. Then walk through the cemetery to see the graves of figures like Alexander Hamilton. And, of course, save time for places like Times Square, Central Park, and experiencing a Broadway show!
Learn about maritime history in a charming East Coast fishing village.
Visit the historic buildings and landmarks in this fishing village to learn more about the Eastern Seaboard. The Mystic Seaport Museum is a key attraction. It’s a living history museum that resembles a 19th-century fishing village on the East Coast.
San Francisco, California
Walk the city’s famous hills, explore museums, and enjoy a massive ice cream sundae.
There are countless things to do in San Francisco, California! Explore a world-class zoo, try hands-on exhibits at the Exploratorium, and visit my husband’s off-beat favorite: the Cable Car Museum. Reward yourself for a day of tackling those hills with a sundae at Ghirardelli Square.
Quebec City, Canada
Enjoy the feel of a European city in North America.
Explore Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best places to visit in Canada! Admire breathtaking waterfalls and amazing suspension bridges. You can also enjoy beautiful parks in town and nearby, along with the beach at Baie de Beauport.
Celebrate a variety of cultures in this Caribbean paradise.
Investigate the many things to do in Puerto Rico, one of the best family vacation spots there is! Make sure to take in San Juan’s historic homes and fortresses if your family loves history. Nature lovers should head to El Yunque’s rainforest for wildlife and waterfalls.
Spend time in the Windy City, full of cultural experiences and delicious eats.
See the Crown Fountain with its images of people spouting water at Millennium Park. And enjoy making faces in the mirror of the Cloud Gate sculpture, more commonly known as The Bean.
Bring storybooks to life as you tour palaces, abbeys, and a famous train station.
Want to reconnect with your childhood? Experiencing the many places from children’s books and fairytales is one of the most magical things about London.
Visit castles inhabited by monarchs for centuries. Drive by Big Ben and imagine Peter Pan flying overhead. Or catch a train at Paddington Station where one adorable bear got his name. London is the perfect spot for family vacations with so many wonderful things to do!
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Visit a historic village, go deep sea fishing, or enjoy the maritime towns.
Speaking of children’s literature, anyone who loved the Anne of Green Gables novels will appreciate a trip to Prince Edward Island. Visit the Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place and enjoy the sea by crabbing or spending a day at the beach. There are tons of things to do on Prince Edward Island and so many places worth visiting!
Take in castles, a visitor-friendly energy plant, and one of the world’s oldest amusement parks.
See the colorful houses, plentiful flowers, and green spaces that seem plucked straight from a fairy tale in Copenhagen! You can also visit Tivoli Gardens for theme park rides and beautiful gardens and architecture. CopenHill is an eco-conscious energy plant built with a ski run and climbing wall on the grounds.
FAQs About the Best Family Vacation Spots
Where is the best vacation for a family?
How do I make a perfect family vacation?
How do I decide where to take my family vacation?
You can decide where to take your family vacation by considering your budget and researching places your family has a personal interest in. The best family vacations have activities for the whole family. Destinations like Washington, D.C., and Grand Canyon National Park may resonate with your hobbies or what kids are studying in school.
I hope this guide to the best family vacation spots has inspired your next trip! Safe travels and enjoy making epic memories with your loved ones.
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