There is no better way to create unique memories for your kids than spending good quality time together as a family on vacation. But you may wonder, what are the best family vacation spots that won’t break the bank and entertain the whole family?
Well, you’ve landed on the right page because I’ve got plenty of family vacation ideas for you, whether you’re looking for spring break destinations or unforgettable summer holidays.
Kids have endless energy, a natural curiosity about the world, and are always up for an adventure.
Yes, they may need more frequent breaks and have occasional meltdowns in public, but even the simplest things seem magical when seen through their eyes.
Traveling with little ones can reawaken your sense of awe and wonder, and it’s definitely worth that little extra hassle.
But of course, you have to consider each family member’s interests and budget.
With that in mind, I’ve put together this list of the best family vacation spots to create memories of a lifetime that are fun not only for your kids but also for you, the parents. (And yes, even the teenagers who may be more difficult to please.)
From family getaways to beach holidays and camping in the mountains, let’s get into it.
Best Family Vacation Spots in the US
Until you can set aside enough funds to take an adventure of a lifetime, travel to cheap destinations or close to home.
The good news is America is full of wonderful places to explore. There are countless weekend getaways that will have everyone in your family smiling.
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Best Family-Friendly National Parks in the US
Few sights in the world can compare to America’s national parks.
Camping is the number one family vacation.
Sleeping under the stars is also one of the most affordable ways to spend time traveling with your family and create strong bonds with your kids.
With camping, it’s all about team building. Everyone needs to get involved, whether it’s prepping the wood for a bonfire or learning how to set up a tent.
Plus, there is no wifi in the mountains, so you can connect with nature, spend quality time together without any distractions, and have a perfect digital detox.
Picture wildflowers, wildlife, and the fresh woody aroma of a lush forest.
Besides camping, national parks offer plenty of family-friendly activities, such as:
On top of that, taking your kids to the national park is a great opportunity to ingrain their appreciation for nature and the outdoors.
So without further ado, here are the top national parks in the US for family fun:
1. Glacier National Park
Highlights: Two Medicine hike, whitewater rafting on the Flathead river
- Half-Day Scenic Float on the Flathead River
- Glacier National Park Whitewater Rafting
- East Glacier and Two Medicine Tour
Glacier National Park is located in Montana.
This park was once home to the Blackfoot and Kootenai Indian tribes. There are several sites in the park that are considered sacred.
Glacier National Park is a pure wilderness with fifty glaciers and more than 200 lakes and streams.
Don’t be surprised if you mind your own business hiking and a deer simply crosses your path.
Make a special effort to visit Two Medicine, as the view is jaw-dropping.
There are many other hiking trails, such as Trail of the Cedars, Huckleberry Mountain, Hidden Lake, Sun Point, and Swiftcurrent Nature Trails.
2. Yellowstone National Park
Highlights: Old Faithful (geyser), Grand Prismatic spring (hot spring), Yellowstone lake
- From Jackson Hole: Yellowstone Old Faithful, Waterfalls and Wildlife Day Tour
- Horseback Ride Plus Steak Dinner
- Half-Day Kayak Tour
Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park, established in 1872. The park stretches over an enormous two million-plus acres in the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
That’s larger than some states!
Scattered throughout the park are dozens of waterfalls, campsites, hiking trails, geysers, and thermal features.
Yellowstone is home to gray wolves, grizzly bears, American bison, cougars, and many more.
Popular family activity at Yellowstone is horseback riding. You can go on a one- or two-hour wagon-riding adventure that ends with a steak dinner at a cookout site.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Gatlinburg)
Highlights: Gatlinburg, Dollywood, Smoky Mountains Fun Center, Lookout Mountain
- Nantahala Outdoor Center Tours
- Streams and Falls of the Smokies Guided Tour
- Hidden Cascade Tour in Great Smoky Mountain
Accommodation: Carolina Mountain Vacations
The Great Smoky Mountains, otherwise known as “Smokies” are located along Tennessee, Virginia, and the most western tip of North Carolina.
The perfect gateway to Smokies is Gatlinburg, with dozens of restaurants and family attractions, such as Dollywood and the Fort Fun Family Entertainment Center.
The Fun Center is an ideal escape on a rainy day. It includes attractions such as Mini Golf, Escape Rooms, Laser Tag, Bumper Cars, and more.
Dollywood is a family amusement park packed with cool rollercoasters, shops, dining options, and shows. Some people say it’s even more enjoyable than Disneyland.
4. Yosemite National Park
Highlights: el Capitan, Mariposa Grove with giant sequoia trees, Yosemite falls
- Private Yosemite Valley Discovery Adventure
- Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Hike
- 3 Day Camping Adventure in Yosemite (All camping gear provided)
Yosemite National Park in California is famous for granite cliffs, waterfalls, streams, and massive sequoia trees.
If you plan to camp in Yosemite, you should make a reservation as far in advance as possible, as they can fill up pretty fast. Some campgrounds take reservations, and others are first-come-first-serve.
When you’re in Yosemite, make sure to check El Capitan. El Capitan is a vertical rock formation and one of the most popular climbing spots in the world.
In 2017, free solo climber Alex Honnold made history when he became the first person to climb to the top of El Capitan without any ropes or safety gear.
His climb was captured on film by National Geographic.
Some film critics call the movie one of the best documentaries ever made. You could watch a movie with your family before you venture out to Yosemite.
5. Grand Canyon National Park
Highlights: Grand Canyon, Grandview Point, Trail of Time, Desertview Watchtower
- Helicopter tour of Grand Canyon
- Half-day Private Grand Canyon Tour
- 3-Hour Off-Road Sunset Safari to Grand Canyon
- Railway Grand Canyon Tour
Accommodation: Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has made its name not only in the US but in the world.
The Canyon has been shaped by the Colorado River. Its deepest point is a massive 6,000 feet (1829m) deep, and at its widest, the Grand Canyon is 18 miles (29km).
Due to its massive size, one of the best ways to view the Grand Canyon is by helicopter tour. You can feel like Maverick in Top Gun while cruising over.
Most of the crowds go to South Rim, but for a more private experience, you can take a guided tour.
To make the Grand Canyon trip for your kids even grandest, you can get on the historic Grand Canyon Railway that departs daily from Williams, Arizona, and takes you to Grand Canyon.
6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Highlights: Akaka and Rainbow Falls, black sand beaches, volcanoes, Kona coffee
- Big Island in a Day: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Sightseeing
- Small Group Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour
- Private Tour: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Eco Tour
- Helicopter Tours in Hawaii
It’s not hard to convince someone to visit Hawaii. Who wouldn’t want to spend a vacation in a tropical paradise?
One of the most exciting activities to do on the Big Island is to take a tour of an active volcano. Companies like Volcano Tours can take you close to craters so you can see them firsthand.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, visit Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls, surrounded by the lush greenery, or chill on the beach.
The Big Island is also known for its black sand beaches created by lava flowing into the ocean and delicious Kona coffee plantations.
7. Redwood National & State Parks
Highlights: redwood trees, scenic drive – Avenue of the Giants
Avenue of the Giants is a panoramic drive you won’t want to miss.
Be sure to get out and explore the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home of the largest remaining location of redwoods in the world.
The Avenue of the Giants extends about 31 miles on Route 101.
The area is perfect for a picnic, camping, hiking, or simply walking among trees. Not just any trees but hundreds of years old and hundreds of feet tall redwoods.
These giant trees are breathtaking to witness.
After exploring the redwoods, you can head to California wine country and savor some delicious food paired with wines.
Best Family Vacation Spots in the US in Summer
Sandcastles, cotton candy on the boardwalk, flying a kite, asking five thousand times, “are we there yet?” Remember those family trips when you were a child?
If you want your kids to experience the same magic, check out these America’s best family vacation destinations for the summer holidays:
8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Highlights: Military Aviation Museum, Neptune’s Park, Fredericksburg
First, visit Military Aviation Museum. Next, hit the beach and Neptune’s Park, where the kids could marvel at unique sand sculptures. The International Sandsculpting contest takes place once a year for ten days in the summer.
Finally, drive to Fredericksburg. It’s a charming town with a long history, where George Washington spent his childhood.
Historic Downtown Fredericksburg has many craft and antique shops, cute cafes, and restaurants in restored 18th and 19th-century buildings.
9. Cape May, New Jersey
Highlights: victorian homes, lighthouse, congress hall
Cape May is an idyllic beach town that’s perfect for a family vacation. The town has a lot to offer.
Whether it’s the charming Victorian homes, the iconic Cape May Lighthouse, beautiful beaches, or countless water activities.
Take a stroll along the boardwalk and explore Congress Hall, one of the oldest seaside resorts in America or go shopping at Washington Street mall.
For a unique experience, take your kids on a dolphin-watching tour around Cape May or visit the Jersey shore alpacas farm.
10. Ocean City, Maryland
Highlights: Boardwalk, wild horses at Assateague Island
One of the major attractions in Ocean City is the Boardwalk, which features street performers, inexpensive eateries, and access to the beach.
But the highlight is Assateague Island, where you can see the wild ponies.
Take a boat or kayak tour around the island and admire the hidden beauty and wildlife of the Assateague’s landscapes.
You can also explore Chincoteague Island by boat. There are also private tours available if you want to enjoy the island all to yourself.
Free beach concerts and family beach Olympics are also very popular in the summer. The Family Beach Olympics include sandcastle-building competitions and traditional games like tug-of-war and relay races. Challenge yourself as a family and win awesome prizes.
11. Cape Cod, Massachusets
Highlights: Mayflower beach, Whydah pirate museum
Accommodation: Lamb and Lion
New England‘s historic Cape Cod is located in Massachusetts. It’s known for its stunning beaches, quaint villages, and iconic lighthouses.
Go kayaking or paddle boarding on Blueberry Pond and take a stroll or bike ride along the 26-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Grab your picnic supplies and hit Mayflower beach with powdery soft white sand.
Your kids will love pirate tales at Whydah pirate museum or a dune ride exploration.
12. Half Moon Bay, California
Highlights: Lemos farm, Dinosaurs of Spanish Town, surfing, whale watching
Half Moon Bay is a coastal town about forty minutes from San Francisco.
The great thing about Half Moon Bay is even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, there are so many fun family activities; you’ll never run out of things to do.
Take pictures with the enormous dinosaurs at Dinosaurs of Spanish Town, or learn surfing with Tommy Tsunami Surf school.
Another fun idea for kids is nearby farms with petting zoos, ponies, trains, and hay rides.
If you happen to visit Half Moon Bay between December and March, be sure to take your kids whale watching. Thousands of gray whales swim south from the Antarctic to mate and nurse their babies in warm, shallow water off Baja, California, every year.
13. San Juan Islands, Washington
Highlights: Moran State park with a sandy beach, Once in a blue moon farm
Not far from Seattle is one of America’s best-kept secrets for a fun family vacation. The San Juan Islands are accessible via the Washington State Ferry. Riding the ferry to the islands is a fun experience in itself.
Not to mention incredible food, family-friendly lodging, and plenty of outdoor activities.
Orcas Island is a combination of farms, lakes, and gorgeous mountains with a bustling downtown.
Schedule a personalized tour of Once in a Blue Moon Farm, where you can feed chickens, alpacas, llamas, horses, goats, and sheep. You can also pick eggs, collect flowers and herbs, sample fruit, and help groom farm animals.
Moran State Park is a must-visit spot with over five thousand acres of forests, lakes, and hiking trails. The park also has a sandy beach where you can swim and relax.
14. Paradise Coast, Florida
Highlights: mangrove kayaking, Naples zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Marco Island, Everglades National Park
- 3-Hour Guided Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Eco Tour
- Marco Island 2-hour Dolphin, Birding and Shelling tour
- Naples Guided Electric Trike Tour
Accommodation: Ritz Carlton Naples Beach Resort
Paradise coast in Florida has warm weather all year long.
Naples is a small city with pristine beaches within walking distance from downtown.
Many resorts here have kids’ programs and child care. The Ritz-Carlton Naples Beach Resort has an eco-themed program just for kids called Nature’s Wonders. Their aquariums feature sharks, crabs, turtles, alligators, eels, and more.
For a unique experience, take a mangrove kayaking tour. Explore the hidden mangrove tunnels and watch wildlife along the way.
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15. Grand Strand and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Highlights: Huntington Beach State Park, Wonderworks. golf courses
- Hollywood Wax Museum Ticket
- Two Hour Guided Segway Tour of Huntington Beach State Park
- Murder Mystery Dinner Show
- Surf Lessons
Water parks, family entertainment, hundreds of affordable dining options, and lodging have drawn families to Myrtle Beach for decades.
They even offer yoga and surfing lessons.
When you get enough of the beach and waterparks, you can spice up your family trip with Pirate’s Voyage Dinner and Show or spend the afternoon in the Hollywood wax museum, where your kids can snap a photo with their favorite superstar.
At Wonderworks, with hundreds of hands-on exhibitions, you can feel 84mph hurricane–force winds, make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab, do Astronaut Training, experience zero gravity, and more.
Huntington Beach State Park in Myrtle Beach is a must-visit for any nature lovers.
However, if you prefer a relaxing vacation with fewer crowds, Hilton Head in South Carolina might be better suited for you and your family.
16. Outer Banks, North Carolina
Highlights: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Hatteras National Park, Crystal coast, Beaufort, Cape Lookout National Seashore
One particular highlight of visiting the Outer Banks is a trip to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and climbing it.
The Southern side of the Outer Banks is called Crystal Coast. It has maritime villages, fresh seafood delivered straight from the boat, and pristine beaches.
Visiting the town of Beaufort is like stepping back in time. The streets are lined with oaks and many waterfront cafes and historic buildings. If you get lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the wild horses of the Outer Banks.
The Cape Lookout National Seashore is definitely worth the visit. It consists of 56 miles of undeveloped beach and is only accessible by boat. You can also stay here overnight and camp on the beach.
17. Oahu and Maui, Hawaii
Highlights: Waikiki Beach, surfing, snorkeling, Diamond Head State Monument, Haleakala National Park, and Iao Valley
Hawaii is a perfect family vacation destination. The two islands of Oahu and Maui have endless options of family-friendly activities, sights, and cultural attractions to choose from.
On the island of Oahu, visit Waikiki Beach for swimming and surfing or hike up Diamond Head State Monument to get some amazing views. You can also take a snorkeling tour.
On Maui, check out Haleakala National Park and Iao Valley. Both offer beautiful nature views, great hikes, and plenty of wildlife. There are also many snorkeling spots off the coast for an underwater adventure.
You can even take a submarine tour on Maui to see the amazing underwater world or go ziplining through the jungle.
18. Whitefish, Montana
Highlights: Whitefish lake, Glacier National park
Accommodation: Lodge at Whitefish
One of the most pristine lakes in the US can be found in the Montana town of Whitefish.
The Whitefish lake’s water is crystal clear, making it perfect for fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, or kayaking.
Lodge at Whitefish is a lovely lakefront, family-friendly resort nestled in the mountains. Despite its large size and all the amenities available, it has a cozy mountain feel.
The Lodge is only a five-minute drive to Whitefish’s charming western downtown with a great selection of cafes and shops and just thirty minutes to Glacier National Park.
In winter, you can hit the slopes at Whitefish Mountain resort or ice skate on the lake.
19. Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho
Highlights: water activities, hiking, Minnetonka cave
Bear Lake, at the borders of Idaho and Utah, has a nickname, the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its turquoise waters.
With 2 miles of beach, there is enough space for you to relax and sunbathe while kids hang out in the lake.
There are also plenty of hiking trails to explore in the Rockies. If you’re not a fan of hiking, you can rent an ATV at Marina rentals in Garden city and make it more fun.
Minnetonka cave is only about 40 min drive from the lake.
On a rainy day, you can visit Pickleville Playhouse. The playhouse performs two musicals a day from June until September. You can buy popcorn, drinks, and delicious homemade cookies.
If you love raspberries, you should visit the lake in early August. You’ll be just in time for the raspberry harvest and popular family festival of the Raspberry days.
Best Family Vacation Spots in the US in Winter
I’ve covered all the summer fun, but winter also provides countless winter family activities – from ice skating to skiing and dog sledding. You can breathe fresh mountain air as you glide through snowy powder.
There are many ski resorts in the US that cater to families with kids.
So let’s look at the best family vacation spots in winter.
20. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
Highlights: Snowcat dinner, skiing,
Accommodation: The Little Nell
Aspen Snowmass ski resort in Colorado caters really well to families with its extensive child program, ski schools, and childcare facilities.
You can breathe a sigh of relief as you hit the slopes, knowing your kids play at the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center with a climbing room and other built-in discovery zones.
Smaller kids can play at the Hideout Children’s Center.
After a fun-filled day at the ski slopes, enjoy a Snowcat dinner or a family Chuckwagon Dinner at a cozy cabin.
21. Stowe, Vermont
Highlights: resort spa at Spruce peak, skiing, Snow Adventure center
Accommodation: The Little Inn
Stowe ski school begins at age three. Kids will love the Snow Adventure center with its climbing facility.
While kids learn to ski at the Ski School and climb like monkeys under the supervision of instructors, you can pamper yourself at the Spa at Spruce Peak.
22. Park City, Utah
Highlights: Canyons village, snowmobiling with Summit Meadow Adventures, tubing at Woodward park, Deer Valley ski resort
Accommodation: Newpark Resort
Park City in Utah is a great option if you’re looking for a winter getaway that offers something for everyone in the family. With world-class skiing and snowboarding at nearby Canyons Village and Deer Valley Resort, as well as plenty of other winter activities, Park City is sure to be a fun family trip.
If your kids are not into skiing, the Deer Valley Children’s Center will keep them entertained all day. With supervised childcare and plenty of fun activities, your kids will never want to leave.
The guided snowmobile tours include spectacular views of the surrounding mountains while taking you through the backcountry trails.
Head to Woodward Park for some thrilling tubing action.
After a day of winter activities, check out Park City’s historic district for a delicious meal.
23. Beaver Creek, Colorado
Highlights: Beaver Creek Ski resort, Red Buffalo Park, Cookie Cabin, Sleigh ride dinner
Accommodation: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort
Beaver Creek is an alpine village that turns into a wonderland in the winter.
Beaver Creek’s Red Buffalo Park is ideal for beginners and families with kids’ adventure zones, snow sculptures, and the cookie cabin where you can savor their cookies.
Besides skiing, there are plenty of other ways to dash through the snow in winter and have fun.
Spend an afternoon tubing at Adventure Ridge, and in the evening, head over to Blue Moose for family pizza night.
Another fun, kid-friendly activity is the horse-drawn sleigh ride, dog sledding, or ice skating at Beaver Creek’s rink.
Once you get enough of Beaver Creek, you can also explore nearby Vail village.
America’s Coolest Family-Friendly Cities
From small towns to American metropolis, there are a variety of family-friendly cities across the US that you and your family can explore.
24. New York City, New York
Highlights: the Statue of Liberty, Empire State building, Central park, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway show
- NYC One-Day Guided Sightseeing Tour
- Skip the Line – Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Official NYC Horse Carriage Rides in Central Park since 1979
You shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Brooklyn Bridge.
Your kids are going to love Chelsea Piers. It’s a huge sports complex facing the Hudson river. Chelsea Piers includes a golf club, health club, sky rink, maritime center, and more.
No visit to New York would be complete without experiencing a Broadway show and eating traditional NY-style pizza.
25. Boston, Massachusets
Highlights: Boston‘s Children’s Museum, seafood, Freedom Trail, Boston museum of science
Boston is a great destination for family vacations. It has plenty of attractions that are fun for both kids and adults.
Start your journey with a visit to Boston’s Children Museum, which provides an educational experience for all ages.
If it’s a food you’re after, take the family to Quincy Market for some delicious fried clams or try the famous chowder.
The Freedom Trail is a fantastic way to explore the city and learn some of its history. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walking tour that will take you past 16 historical sites like Paul Revere House, Old North Church, and Faneuil Hall marketplace.
If your kids like science, don’t miss the chance to check out the Boston Museum of Science. There are plenty of interactive exhibits here that will keep your kids entertained for hours.
For a unique kid-friendly experience, hop on the Boston Duck Tour and see the city’s sights from land and water. And you can also top off your family vacation with an underground donut tour. I mean, who doesn’t love donuts?
26. Philadephia, Pennsylvania
Highlights: Independence National Historical Park, Sesame Place, Legoland Discovery Center, Franklin Institute Museum
Philadelphia is full of incredible food, history, and culture.
Your little ones will love Sesame Place and the Legoland Discovery Center. The interactive exhibits never seem to end between The Franklin Institute Science Musem and the Please Touch Museum for kids under age 8.
A visit to Philadelphia wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Independence National Historical Park, where you can see the iconic Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
You can also take a Historic District Segway Tour to explore the city in a fun and unique way.
27. San Francisco, California
Highlights: Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Japanese Tea Garden, Walt Disney Family Museum
- Golden Gate Bay Cruise
- SF Golden Gate Bridge Seaplane Tour
- San Francisco: Golden Gate Bike Tour and Alcatraz Ticket
One of the most iconic sites in San Francisco is Golden Gate Bridge. You can explore the bridge by walking, by seaplane, by a boat ride, or by taking a biking tour.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, you can take your kids to Alcatraz Island to explore this famous prison island.
I don’t know a kid who doesn’t love at least one Disney movie. So be sure to check out Walt Disney Family Museum with its amazing collection of animation art, artifacts, and behind-the-scenes stories.
For something a little different, head to the relaxing Japanese Tea Garden or take a stroll in Golden Gate Park.
28. San Diego, California
Highlights: La Jolla Cove, Coronado beach, Mission beach, Balboa park, San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Fleet Science center, USSS Midway Museum
- Skip the Line: USS Midway Museum Admission Ticket in San Diego
- San Diego Sunset Sailing
- Intro to Mexico: Tijuana Day Trip From San Diego
Speaking of California, San Diego is another wonderful family beach vacation. From La Jolla cove and Coronado beach to Mission Beach, your family will be spoiled for choice when it comes to fun in the sun.
There are even surfing schools available.
You can visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and its impressive aquariums in Balboa Park. The young ones will love to explore the many museums like Fleet Science center and USSS Midway Museum.
For a unique family excursion, take your kids on a tour to Tijuana and savor some Mexican cuisine.
29. Denver, Colorado
Highlights: Colorado Rocky Mountains, Denver Zoo, Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the EDGE at Castle Rock
- Half-Day Rocky Mountain Escape
- One Hour Light Show in Denver
- Downtown Denver Food Tour
- The EDGE – Epic Sky Trek
Denver is a great destination for a family trip. With its beautiful Rocky Mountains, Denver Zoo, and the Children’s Museum of Denver, your kids will have plenty to explore.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is sure to keep your little ones busy with its interactive exhibits.
For an outdoor adventure, check out The EDGE at Castle Rock which is only about 30 minutes from Denver. You can spend an adrenaline-filled day that includes zip lines, treetop courses, and more.
30. Branson, Missouri
Highlights: live music entertainment, Silver Dollar City amusement park/waterpark, Table Rock Lake, Wonderworks, Titanic museum, Branson Ferris Wheel, Aquarium at Broadwalk, Ozark mountains
Tours & Shows:
- Reza Edge of Illusions
- The Haygoods: Branson’s Most Popular Show
- Escape Reality Branson Magic Dinner Show
Think world-class live shows, lots of amazing food, and stunning attractions, including the 1880s theme park Silver Dollar City and the Titanic museum. It’s also much slower-paced and more family-friendly compared to Las Vegas.
The Silver Dollar City theme park offers over 70 amusement rides, roller coasters, attractions, and water slides. You can easily spend here two full days.
After you run out of all the popular shows and theme park attractions, you can visit Wonderworks, an interactive science museum, or take a ride on the Branson Ferris Wheel for amazing city views.
For something a little more outdoorsy, you can go boating on Table Rock Lake or hiking in the Ozark mountains.
31. Bar Harbor, Maine
Highlights: Acadia national park, Shore path, whale watching, Asticou Azalea Garden, Bar island
Bar Harbor in Maine is another wonderful family getaway. This small town, located on Mt. Desert Island, offers plenty of activities for every family member to enjoy.
Start with a visit to Acadia National Park. You can walk miles of hiking trails and dramatic coastline or even take a guided rock climbing tour if you feel more adventurous.
The Shore Path is a pleasant walk that takes you through Bar Harbor along the island shore.
Whale watching is another must-do activity in Bar Harbor, especially during summer when you can spot humpback whales.
32. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Highlights: Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, Mirror Lake State Park, Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park
Wisconsin Dells is famous for its epic resorts with indoor waterparks. Your kids will love all the splashing fun.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark is the largest in the USA. It features 51 water slides, wave pools, four kids’ play areas, a lazy river, and much more.
In addition to waterparks, there are plenty of other attractions for kids – like amusement parks with go-karts, bumper boats, and mini golf.
Mirror Lake State Park is a great spot to spend the day outdoors. It even has sandy beaches on its lake.
The Tommy Bartlett Exploratory is also a great place to visit with its interactive science displays and live shows.
33. Niagara Falls, New York
Highlights: Niagara Falls, Prospect Point Observation Tower, Cave of the Winds, Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Aquarium of Niagara
Niagara Falls is one of the most epic waterfalls on Earth. You can get an unobstructed panoramic view of the falls from the Prospect Point Observation Tower.
I recommend getting up close to Niagara Falls via the Cave of the Winds. Experiencing the falls from a deck and feeling the power of the water as it thunders down around you is an unforgettable moment.
Another popular tourist attraction is taking a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat, which takes you through a section of the falls from just below the cascading waters.
If you’re looking for more outdoor activities in the area, take a walk along Niagara Gorge and explore its scenic trails and hidden rock bridges or go to Devil’s Hole State Park.
For kids, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is a great place to learn about the history and ride old-fashioned wooden carousels.
The Aquarium of Niagara is also popular with its marine animals and interactive displays.
Best Theme and Amusement Parks in the US for Family Fun
There are thousands of theme parks, amusement parks, and water parks to visit in the US, so I’ve narrowed down a few of the top ones to make your research easier for you:
34. Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
Orlando is home to some of the world’s most famous amusement parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal.
Walt Disney movies are timeless and a big part of everyone’s childhood. Disneyworld is one of the best places for families with kids, where all the popular cartoon characters come to life – from Mickey Mouse to Chip and Dale and Starwars Stormtroopers.
The atmosphere is magical and playful, with endless attractions.
Don’t miss out on classic Disney treats like beignets, Dole whip, and churros.
Yes, it can get a bit crowded, but it’s totally worth it.
Make sure to take tons of cute, memorable family photos at Cinderella castle and wait for the night fireworks.
35. Universal Orlando Resort, Florida
Universal Orlando Resort includes the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, as well as a water park.
Universal Studios brings in some of the biggest blockbuster films, such as Harry Potter and Jurassic Park, with thrilling rides inspired by those movies.
At Islands of Adventures, you can find your favorite comic book characters, such as Hulk, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. And at Volcano Bay, you can hop on rides like Krakatau Aqua Coaster and Honu Ika Moana.
On top of that, Universal has plenty of shows, eateries, and shopping options to make sure you get a full day’s worth of entertainment.
36. Disney California Adventure Park, California
Disney California Adventure Park is sure to be a fun-filled day for the whole family. Here you can dive into classic Disney movies with interactive amusement park rides and attractions – from Cars Land to Pixar Pier and Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout.
On top of that, there are lots of fun shows and parades to watch throughout the day.
If you’re up for a challenge, you shouldn’t miss out on Radiator Springs Racers, Incredicoaster, and Soarin Around the Word.
The city of Anaheim also has another amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm, with the longest and fastest wood coaster on the West Coast.
37. Silverwood Theme Park, Idaho
Silverwood Theme Park, with 70+ rides, water slides, shows, and other attractions, is a wonderful place to spend a hot summer day with your family without breaking the bank.
This theme park has something for everyone – from world-class roller coaster rides to children’s attractions, enjoyable scenic train rides, and live comedy shows.
There is also an amazing waterpark.
If you love Halloween, I recommend visiting Silverwood around October when the park turns into Scarywood.
Other popular theme parks in the US that are worth visiting:
- Dollywood, Tennesee
- Cedar Point, Ohio
- Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas
- Six Flags Magic Mountain, California
Best Family Travel Destinations Worldwide
With traveling more accessible than ever, the world can turn into one big playground. Here are some of the fun family vacation spots ideas to get your ball rolling:
38. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, UK
If your kids are fans of the Harry Potter series, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in London should definitely be on your list.
Explore Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley by stepping into the world of magic with replicas and recreations of scenes from the movies. Visit Hogwarts and explore its grounds inside and out.
Within Hogsmeade Village, there are many shops and restaurants that are themed after the films. You can even taste here the famous Butterbeer.
Needless to say, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a dream come true for any Harry Potter buff.
While in London, you should also check out Platform 9 and 3/4 and buy some cool Harry Potter-themed souvenirs to bring home.
Sightseeing in London itself will keep you busy for another couple of days.
39. Banff National Park, Canada
The stunningly beautiful Banff National Park in Canada is a great spot for an outdoorsy family vacation.
You can explore and admire the natural beauty and wildlife of the Canadian Rockies while hiking on many jaw-dropping trails.
The Banff National park is gorgeous no matter what season. In summer, the most popular tourist attraction by far is canoeing on the turquoise crystal clear waters of Lake Louise or Lake Morraine, while in winter, the Rockies turn into a ski paradise.
It’s especially magical to visit the Rockies around Christmas time.
The historic downtown of Banff is also fun to explore. There are many charming boutique shops and cafes. Make sure to try traditional Canadian beaver tails and poutine.
40. Riviera Maya, Mexico
- Five Cenotes Jungle Experience in the Riviera Maya
- Tulum Ruins & Cenote guided private tour from Riviera Maya
Mexico has it all – culture, historical sites, delicious food, and beautiful white sand beaches. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the best family holiday destinations for Americans.
And the best part is that it is pretty inexpensive and not far from the US.
You can start your Mexican family adventure at Dolphin Discovery in Puertos Aventuras, where the kids can swim with dolphins, manatees, and even sea lions.
Further inland, take a day trip tour to the legendary Chichen Itza.
For active beach time, you can rent surfs or paddle boards at Aloha Paddle Club in Playa del Carmen or take the ferry to nearby Cozumel.
41. Central Valley, Costa Rica
- Hanging Bridges, La Fortuna Waterfall, Typical lunch and Arenal Volcano Hike
- Full day Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall and Hotsprings
Do you like the outdoors? If yes, then you’re gonna love Costa Rica with its beautiful beaches, lush greenery, and abundance of wildlife – from playful monkeys to sea turtles, exotic toucans, and sloths.
Costa Rica is a family travel playground filled with adventure for kids of all ages.
The Original Canopy Tour Costa Rica offers exciting zipline rides right in the heart of the jungle.
Spend a day exploring wildlife in Manuel Antonio National Park with its stunning beaches and trails.
Although this list of best family vacation spots is extensive, it is definitely not complete. There are many more places to go on a family vacation.
Let me know if you have any other family vacation ideas. What are your top family vacation spots?
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, FOX, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more. When she’s not traveling, she can be found at hockey arenas all over BC cheering on her two young sons.