Vacationing with your family can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity for your kids to learn something new about a different place or culture. But not every destination is as family-friendly as the next.
Here are some of the best family vacation destinations that will give you and your family the amenities you need so you can focus on having more fun with less stress.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
To locals, home is called OBX. It’s a beautiful strip of coast along the outer edge of North Carolina. In some places, it’s less than a mile wide and you can see water on either side of you if you’re standing in the middle.
A series of tiny towns dot the narrow stretch of land, each one with its own quaint, small-town charm. From making your own concoctions at Duck Donuts to the site of the Wright brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk, you’ll find plenty to do.
The seafood is beyond compare, and not to mention – affordable. From delicious southern food to exciting and educational attractions, you’ll be busy for at least a week.
If you’re into relaxing on the beach, it’s the perfect destination throughout most of the year. The summer is warm, but delightful while the spring and fall require just a light jacket.
OBX avoids tourist attractions like the plague, so you won’t find crowded souvenir shops or tourist traps. Instead, you’ll find friendly local businesses and unique boutiques with original merchandise.
And of course, no family vacation is complete without a fun afternoon of go karts, mini golf, and frozen yogurt.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
If you enjoy being outdoors, this is definitely the vacation destination for you. It’s beautiful for hiking and exploring the mountains. There’s plenty of camping if you feel like roughing it, or you could rent a log cabin and enjoy the gorgeous ambiance.
It’s an affordable place to visit for sure, so you won’t spend a fortune. You can visit the Garden of the Gods for amazing rock formations jutting towards the sky. There’s a lot of opportunity for pictures, climbing, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Don’t miss the cliff dwellings for a lesson in native tribes and how they built their homes in the side of the mountains.
If you’re feeling super brave, drive to the summit of Pikes Peak. Just keep in mind you won’t make it all the way to the top in the winter. If you get a bit squeamish, you may not be able to handle the tight switchbacks.
Canon City and the Royal Gorge are close enough to be worked into the same trip if you find you need more things to do.
Enjoy some more southern hospitality in Tennessee, where there’s almost too much to list. Nashville is the country music capital of the United States, so it’s a great place to learn about music history.
Visit the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. There’s also a Johnny Cash museum, a beautiful downtown area, and lovely architecture. There’s a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, Belmont University, and plenty of lush, green parks.
If you’re more of an Elvis lover, visit Memphis for a tour of his home at Graceland. Stroll the lobby of the Peabody Hotel and feed the ducks or chow down on some famous Memphis barbecue. Dirty, southern-style is their forte.
Gatlinburg is a wonderful mountainous region where you’ll get spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For free. It’s covered in a lovely, mysterious haze with plenty of fishing, camping, white water rafting, family venues, and live entertainment.
Cooperstown, New York
Baseball lovers will find a haven of rest in Cooperstown, with a small-town, family-friendly atmosphere and tons of baseball history. Unless you’re into large crowds and you want to see a player induction, avoid it during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend.
Don’t miss Schneider’s Bakery for the best rolls you’ve ever had. Tour the Baseball Hall of fame, catch Doubleday Field, and experience a true bat-making process at Cooperstown Bat Company.
Kansas City is most famous for its barbecue, but there’s a whole lot more to do, too. With dozens of superb barbecue places to choose from, you can eat it every day without running out of choices.
The City of Fountains also has dozens of these marvelous water attractions, so you could spend a day finding your favorites. All have running water thanks to generous donations and the city of Kansas City water department.
There’s a rich jass heritage to explore inside the museum at 18th & Vine. For more baseball lovers, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.
If you love art and culture, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is free for everyone, and the shuttlecocks on the front lawn are famous worldwide.
The remodeled historic Union Station is directly across from the National WWI Museum and Memorial, where kids can make their own propaganda posters. Also be sure to go a few blocks over to Crown Center, the Hallmark Cards visitor’s center, and Kaleidoscope.
You can also visit the Rivermarket for the Steamboat Arabia Museum, the American Royal, or the Crossroads Art District. Make sure you have a car because Kansas City is not known for having great public transit.
Disneyland in California and Disneyworld in Florida are both great family destinations, but they’ll cost you a pretty penny. They’re typically always busy and overwhelming, but if you enjoy all things, Disney, you may want to check these out.
There’s also a lot of other things to do in both places. Southern California has the San Diego Zoo, the pier in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and Hollywood. Orlando is also home to SeaWorld, Epcot, and Universal Studios.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is beautiful and historic. Teach your kids about the Alamo, take a walk on the RiverWalk, and hop on a boat for a cruise. There are also tons of shopping and beautiful botanical gardens.
This state is full of stuff to do. Mt. Rushmore has tons of history, Devil’s Tower is mesmerizing, and the rolling Black Hills are gorgeous. Sturgis is nearby if you’re into biking, Wall Drug is one of the largest pharmacies in the United States, and the Mitchell Corn Palace is made entirely of corn.
The Crazy Horse Memorial features a mountain carving of the Native Americans who demonstrated excellent leadership skills and care for his people. It’s a huge work in progress, so it’s not done yet, but you can contribute to its completion and learn about its story.
While this trip may also be a little pricey, you’ll find it easy for your family to get around using the “L” train. Thankfully, you won’t have to rent a car and mess with traffic or parking. Tour the art museum, shop Michigan Avenue, and ride to the top of Willis Tour.
The aquarium is also fun for kids and there are plenty of great places to get donuts and coffee or eat great food for dinner.
For American history buffs, this is a must-see. Boston is home to the Freedom Trail, where you’ll journey back in time to where Paul Revere lived and hung his lanterns. You’ll also see the site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill, and the USS Constitution.
Carry some cash with you so you can visit the cash-only Mike’s Pastry and drive a few hours up the coast for some excellent lobster rolls at the Portland Lobster Company in Maine. Just make sure you bring your stroller because there’s a lot of walking here.
No matter where you decide to go, you’re sure to have a great time. Make sure you pack all of your necessities. If you’re traveling with a toddler, you may want to invest in a travel toddler bed to make your accommodations easier.