Families are going on holiday to visit loved ones and tour the world’s most scenic destinations now more than ever. Forbes reports that road trips and beach getaways are dominating 2023 American travel trends, signaling the return of the classic family summer vacation.
Planning a family excursion can be challenging as you consider everyone’s unique travel preferences and needs. While there’s no such thing as the perfect travel destination, not all vacation spots are created equal.
This guide to the top 22 family vacation destinations in the United States and beyond highlights adult and kid-friendly locations that cater to young ones, teenagers, and grown-ups.
The U.S. is home to numerous pristine beaches that families flock to yearly. These U.S. beaches provide relaxing and exhilarating experiences for every family member.
Hawaii is home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, and the second-largest island of Maui is packed with family adventures. From majestic beaches where you can lounge under a canopy of palm trees to crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling and kayaking, Maui is an outdoor lover’s paradise. This breathtaking Hawaiian getaway is popular year-round and guarantees a vacation to remember.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks area of North Carolina is a series of small islands that make the perfect setting for a family getaway. Kids and adults can stroll the breathtaking sand dunes, snorkel in the mild ocean waters, and enjoy the region’s delicious local eateries. Whether you’re traveling for relaxation or adventure, the Outer Banks won’t disappoint.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach’s 60 miles of coastline are some of the top family vacation spots along the East Coast. Myrtle Beach is ideal for laidback travelers, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 20 places to live in the United States. Families will enjoy this South Carolina city’s fresh seafood cuisine, nature trails, and warm Atlantic waters.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Located about 220 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island is one of the best summer vacations for families. With endless white sand beaches, historic buildings, and a massive wildlife refuge teeming with animals, Hilton Head is full of fun activities and family attractions.
Cities offer a fun escape for families who want to dive into a specific region’s local culture and history. These U.S. cities are popular with families thanks to their unique attractions, natural beauty, and kid-friendly atmosphere.
San Diego, California
500 miles south of San Francisco and about 380 miles south of Los Angeles, lies the bustling town of San Diego, California. San Diego is a top vacation pick thanks to its warm and mild climate, thriving community of artists, and family-friendly attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and Legoland. Publications like Travel and Leisure often rank San Diego as one of the top family vacation locations in the U.S., and it’s easy to see why.
New York City, New York
As the largest city in the U.S., it’s no surprise that New York City is a hub for family-friendly activities. As you explore the city’s neighborhoods and boroughs, you’ll be within walking distance of world-renowned museums, cultural landmarks, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For this family vacation, swap your bulky beach bag for a chic purse (we recommend Polene bags), and maybe even sneak away for a Big Apple date night with just you and your partner.
Niagara Falls, New York
The city of Niagara Falls is home to Niagara Falls State Park, a classic family vacation destination. This area’s towering series of waterfalls straddle the line between New York and Canada, providing jaw-dropping views that are some of the most iconic in the country. Niagara Falls is great for families because it offers hiking trails, boat tours, and bike paths.
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Bring the past to life by visiting the quaint town of Colonial Williamsburg, a 300-acre historic living-history museum in Virginia. The streets of Colonial Williamsburg are lined with 17th-century buildings and ruins where costumed employees teach visitors about the area’s historical significance. Toddlers may not enjoy the slower pace of Colonial Williamsburg, but it’s a great family vacation idea for older kids and tweens.
U.S. National Parks
National parks ranked high on USA Today’s list of the top family vacation ideas for 2023, and growing annual visitor numbers reported by the National Park Service (NPS) support this trend. Outdoorsy families wanting to experience some of the country’s best wilderness areas should consider visiting these iconic U.S. national parks.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park, located on Maine’s Atlantic coast, is ideal for family vacations. With almost 50,000 acres of rocky beaches, mountains, and forests, Acadia has no shortage of sightseeing opportunities. As one of the country’s most-visited national parks, Acadia is becoming an increasingly popular outdoor destination for families.
Glacier National Park
CNN ranked Montana’s Glacier National Park the tenth top-visited U.S. national park in 2022, and it’s easy to understand why. Glacier’s kid-friendly NPS programs help young visitors learn about the park’s rugged landscape through fun and engaging activities. Glacier has outdoor fun for the whole family, from hiking and fishing to biking and stargazing.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is considered one of the world’s seven natural wonders, making the Arizona national park a popular family vacation spot. Jaw-dropping scenery and rich local history make the Grand Canyon a fun and exciting destination for tourists of all ages. The whole family will love visiting this park, but bring your favorite sunscreen and moisturizer because the Arizona weather gets very dry and hot!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of the best places to take the family on vacation is America’s most popular national park, the Great Smoky Mountains. This pristine natural area lies on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. The fascinating culture, incredible range of native flora and fauna, and endless recreation opportunities make these mountains a can’t-miss spot for families.
Yellowstone National Park
Regarding the best U.S. national parks for families, Yellowstone is hard to beat. America’s first national park comprises Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho lands, receiving millions of annual visitors. Families can discover hot springs, towering geysers, and diverse wildlife species throughout this rugged recreation area.
Yosemite National Park
California is home to Yosemite National Park, a striking destination where towering granite peaks, dense forests, and alpine rivers await. Known for its iconic sequoia trees, waterfalls, and awe-inspiring El Capitan and Half Dome cliffs, Yosemite is an ideal pick for adventurous kids and adults.
U.S. Amusement Parks
For decades, amusement parks have been a classic choice for family vacations and show no signs of slowing down. The U.S. has some of the world’s top theme and water parks that ensure an unforgettable family trip.
Kalahari Resorts Sandusky, Ohio
Among the unassuming Midwest plains of Ohio, you can find Kalahari Resorts Sandusky, the largest indoor water park in the U.S. This Kalahari Resort boasts over 170,000 square feet of lazy rivers, slides, and lagoons. Kalahari Sandusky’s selection of rides and attractions will entertain kids for hours.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Wisconsin
With the title of America’s largest outdoor water park, Wisconsin’s Noah’s Ark Waterpark guarantees fun for the whole family. This kid-friendly destination has over 80 activities ranging from thrilling water slides to easygoing wave pools. Noah’s Ark is a classic summer vacation choice that draws visitors from all over the country to the charming town of Wisconsin Dells.
Universal Orlando Resort, Florida
Universal Orlando Resort is an over 500-acre Florida theme park with entertainment for kids and families of all ages. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top-visited theme parks, Universal Orlando has mastered the art of family fun. Ride the resort’s impressively themed coasters, meet some of your favorite television and movie characters, and prepare for an unforgettable family vacation.
Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
A guide to the top family travel ideas would be incomplete without Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort. Since 1971, this resort has been a popular destination for families thanks to its incredible theming designed to give guests a magical experience. The massive Disney resort is home to four theme parks that cover almost 25,000 acres.
Grab your passports for these family vacation destination ideas! International travel provides an excellent opportunity for families to experience new cultures and areas of the world in a fun and engaging way.
Alberta, Canada, is a beautiful destination for families who want to explore the great outdoors. Home to stunning Banff National Park, Alberta is a picturesque province with endless opportunities to hike, bike, boat, and more. Vibrant blue lakes, jagged mountain peaks, and dense forests comprise most of Alberta’s diverse landscape. Active families who enjoy hitting the trail together will love this beautiful area of Canada.
While you might think of the Bahamas as an ideal honeymoon destination, the Caribbean vacation spot is great for families, too. The Bahamas are home to many all-inclusive, family-friendly resorts where you can escape the chaos of daily life. These family resorts often host kids’ clubs to entertain little ones while adults sail, dive, or visit the spa.
Another scenic destination that’s earned a reputation as a top family vacation spot is the Central American country of Costa Rica. Pack your sandals (we love these Hermes sandals dupes to feel fancy on a budget) and hit the beach, or lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore Costa Rica’s lush jungles and volcanoes. Costa Rica has everything you need for a laidback vacation or an adrenaline-pumping travel experience.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
The picturesque coastal town of Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya strip of the Yucatan Peninsula is an unforgettable beach vacation spot. Known for its vibrant coral reefs, sprawling coastline, and all-inclusive resorts, Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s best destinations for families.
Best Family Vacation Destinations
We hope this guide to the top 22 family vacation destinations in the U.S. and beyond inspires you to plan a family getaway! Whether you want a relaxing trip to unwind and reset or a thrilling adventure to get your heart pumping, there’s a vacation spot out there that’s perfect for the entire family.