Once you've saved up time off and money to take a family vacation, it's time to find the perfect destination. Many factors will go into your decision as you consider weather, price, and distance to travel, but the most important aspect is knowing where your loved ones will all have fun. Whether you prefer to stay in nature and visit a national park, tour museums, or have fun at a theme park, there's no shortage of family vacations in the U.S. that both kids and adults will enjoy.
1. Orlando, Florida
A trip to Orlando can foster many adventures, but the biggest draw is, of course, Disney World. The home of Disney in Florida is the largest in the area and sees more tourists than any other of their international ventures. Any family can find a way to have fun with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, 21 resort hotels, and eight golf courses at your disposal.
2. Washington, D.C
Few places have as much historical and modern importance as at the seat of our government in Washington, D.C. Monuments and museums can be found all over the small city, so making an itinerary for the entire family to enjoy will be an easy task.
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
If you have energetic children in tow, frolicking around the country’s largest official state park in the contiguous U.S. is a great option. Not only will your family witness some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes, but Yellowstone is also known to feature a plethora of wildlife, making your vacation into a great opportunity for educating children about the environment.
4. Hollywood, California
In the heart of Hollywood, a theme park based entirely upon the wonders of animation and film rests on a hill overlooking the city. Accessibility in Los Angeles can be difficult depending on where you stay, but luckily the metro system was built with Universal Studios in mind. And because the park is constantly updating its attractions, there will always be something for everyone.
5. Grand Canyon, Arizona
No U.S. vacation list is complete without this geological wonder. The Grand Canyon is an unforgettable sight located in northern Arizona. The park features attractions and activities to entertain and tire out even the most rambunctious little ones, such as walking, hiking, and biking trails, mule rides, whitewater rafting, the remains of an Ancestral Puebloan village, and more.
6. Sanibel Island, Florida
For an affordable seaside excursion, visit Sanibel Island. Located off the west coast of South Florida, Sanibel Island will satiate anyone’s need for sand and sun, providing a place for the kids to splash around while parents indulge in piña coladas. The area is known for its shell beaches and wildlife refuges, filled with fish, 220 species of birds, and indigenous endangered species. Kids will love collecting the many seashells that wash up on the shore.
7. Chicago, Illinois
In Chicago, you'll find landmarks such as Cloud Gate (the metallic bean sculpture) and the always-fun Navy Pier, as well as other notable stops like Wrigley Field and the Willis Tower (once known as the Sears Tower).
The Sears Tower features a famous Skydeck that makes you appear to float in the city in your selfie.
8. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Explore the natural and manufactured wonders of this sleepy yet industrial Tennessee town. The state has a few unique theme parks within its borders, with one that stands out more than others: Dollywood. If your family is not as keen to browse the authentically Southern attraction of Dolly Parton’s namesake park, Pigeon Forge also borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
9. St. Augustine, Florida
The history of St. Augustine is worth learning, as it's the oldest continuously settled city in the United States. Explorer Ponce de León took possession of it for Spain in 1513 when he was searching for the Fountain of Youth. Today, a fortress built by the Spanish in the 16th century overlooks the Atlantic and provides a historic playground for all ages.
10. Williamsburg, Virginia
The rich history of Williamsburg will satisfy all history buffs on your trip. Though it is widely accepted that Jamestown was the place where pilgrims landed, everyone moved to the nearby town now known as Williamsburg after their original home burned down (twice). It then became the capital of the colonies and today brings yesteryear to life with museums and other historical attractions, such as Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown Settlement.
11. San Diego, California
For a sunny West Coast adventure, San Diego will tick several boxes. The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest in the world, known for its open-air, cageless exhibits for a more humane experience. There is also the undeniable draw of the beach and cuisine, which is heavily influenced by its border with Mexico.
12. Maui, Hawaii
The flight to the island is long, but visiting Maui does not require a passport, making it the most accessible vacation in the heart of the Pacific. Absorb yourselves in Hawaiian culture, learning about the spirit of "aloha," which means being in the presence of breath, our life force. You'll also enjoy the local foods (poke, shaved ice, coconut, acai bowls, and more), as well as beautiful white, black, and red sand beaches.