You have saved up your time and money to take a family vacation, so the hard part is over. The remaining stress lies in finding 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.
Fun is, of course, a relative concept, and unless you plan to make the trip a surprise for all, everyone should have a say in where they would like to go. The ideal destination will be a compromise but should feature something that both kids and adults will enjoy.
The majestic wonder of nature can be found at protected national parks across all 50 states. Museums and guided tours are no kid’s first choice for fun, but they can be entertaining if their personal interests are piqued. The same can be said for adults, especially when their enthusiasm overlaps like with, say, the American Revolution or dinosaurs; plenty of natural history museums and tours of quaint sites can be found across the country.
Secondary necessities like stroller accessibility or a nearby spot to get a good cocktail will make an average family vacation unforgettable. While there is no correct way to travel together, doing research ahead of time will keep your focus on relaxation instead of anxiety. For a guaranteed happy time had by all, check out the best family vacations in the U.S.
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 layered atop one another 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 tool 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
We cannot omit this geological wonder, either; the Grand Canyon is an unforgettable sight located in northern Arizona. The park features other attractions and activities to entertain and tire out even the most rambunctious little ones.
6. Sanibel Island, Florida
For a more 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.
7. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has been America’s biggest transportation hub since the industrial revolution and remains a great city to visit too. There are 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), which features the famous Skydeck to make you appear to float in your selfie with the city.
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 may stand 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
Though U.S. history tends to skirt over Florida until it was made a state in 1845, the history of St. Augustine is worth learning. The lesson may be new to everyone in your party, making it a new memory that your whole family can cherish. 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 historically accurate attractions.
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. Hawaiian culture and the serenity of the beach are just two of the reasons your family may ask to make this trip an annual tradition.