Best Family Vacation Destinations in the US
Thinking of taking a family holiday and looking for the best vacations in the US? Wanting to travel around the USA with kids? Below you can find a list of the best family vacation destinations in the US. Whether you are a local looking for a long weekend getaway, or heading on an overseas family holiday, make sure you check out these kid friendly destinations in the United States.
Best Family Travel in the US
Below we’ve gathered the best family holiday destinations in the USA that offer plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy and reasonable rates, if not free once there.
1. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is the perfect family vacation destination in the USA with plenty of attractions and unique adventures. Home to several thrilling theme parks, (including of course the most famous, Disney World), dinner shows, abundant natural beauty, world-class resorts and spas, and exciting sports, Orlando is not only affordable, but also one of the best locations for multi-generational families.
Your family will never run out of things to do and explore in Orlando. Whatever activity you can think of, Orlando most likely has a venue for you to discover, and all you’ll have to do is show up and dive in. From interacting with native Florida animals to shopping and going on a hot air balloon ride.
Go on one of many helicopter tours to get a unique view of the city. Learn a thing or two at one of the several museums. Watch a concert or catch a Broadway show. Be a spectator and leave breathless after watching amazing acrobats. Or live your dream as a NASCAR race car driver for a day. The list is endless.
2. Yosemite National Park
Truly a Midwest nirvana for an outdoorsy family, Yosemite National Park is home to ample waterfalls and spectacular views. Your family will do more than unplug from technology, but also come closer together as you explore some of the finest nature has to offer.
Wake up early and hike up Yosemite Falls. In fact, there are several falls your family can plan on seeing each day. Enjoy the stunning scenery and remarkable views at Glacier Point, Olmstead Point, and Tunnel View. Impress your children with giant sequoia trees.
You can go on bike rides with the full moon lighting your way and end the day at a campfire. Realize you’re a tiny dot in the universe as you stare at the vast evening sky peppered with stars. Best of all, if you have a fourth-grader, your family can enjoy the national parks for free. With the solitude, serenity, the stars, and quality family-time, what more can you ask for?
3. New York City
If you are looking for a city break, New York is a great family vacation destination in the US. It is one of the most visited cities in the world with over 13 million international visitors per year. The sheer number of tourists strolling around this concrete jungle is indicative of the countless adventures awaiting would-be travelers.
This city is laden with iconic buildings and destinations, cheap yet scrumptious meals, and interesting activities. Though it may seem daunting for a family with young kids in tow, New York is not lacking in family-friendly activities for kids to enjoy.
All family members will love seeing a Broadway show, exploring Times Square, One World Trade Center, the globally recognized skyline, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn bridge, Empire State Building, Central Park, The Highline Park, and the Natural History Museum.
No matter the time of year you visit the Big Apple, your family is sure to have a blast.
4. The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder located in Arizona that stretches 277 miles from end to end. This immense and unparalleled beauty is a sight everyone must see once in their lifetime. For this reason it is one of the best family vacation destinations in the US.
For a small fee per vehicle, your family can enjoy the outdoors, fresh air, hiking, and breathtaking views. Visitors can hike, go backpacking, camp, do whitewater rafting, and ride mules. This holiday spot also offers free ranger programs in which you can learn more about the Grand Canyon’s history and culture, geography, nature, and science.
As magnificent as this place is, it is important to note to take precautions when visiting. Remember to hydrate when visiting during the summer. Arizona can get extremely hot and there’s hardly any shade in the canyon. Also, stick to the paths and trails, watch your children, and avoid taking risky photos along the edge.
5. Washington, DC
Washington DC is home to iconic museums, striking neoclassical federal buildings and monuments, and performing arts venues. Your family can choose a traditional D.C. tour visiting classic attractions such as the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Smithsonian museums, which are all free to the public. (With the exception of the White House).
The best time to visit DC is during spring time when you can be part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, or during the fall when all the green that’s covering the city turns a beautiful hue of red, orange, and yellow. In the spring, the Tidal Basin is simply remarkable in sight as a canopy of cherry blossoms encompass the vicinity. The nation’s capital is also awash with interesting neighborhoods, vibrant restaurants and farmer’s markets, and youthful ambiance.
6. Maui, Hawaii
Maui, in Hawaii, is consistently in the top beach destinations in the world and one of the best family vacation destinations in the US for those looking for a beach getaway.
This little island in the middle of the Pacific boasts numerous incredible beaches and breathtaking sunsets. If your family enjoys taking it slow and unwinding, then visiting Maui with kids is a must. Your family can swim in crystal clear waters and learn a new water sport.
While relaxing at the beach, keep your eye on the ocean as you may witness Humpback whales leaping out of the water during the winter months. The sand around the island is like no other and comes in red, black, and white. Your family can grow closer together as you learn a new water sport, devour delicious island food, and experience Hawaiian culture.
You can also go hiking and camping to the top of the Haleakala Crater and have an out-of-this world experience under the stars. This island is not at all crowded and generally a safe place for families. Beware of sunburn though!
7. Yellowstone National Park
The fifth most visited national park in the U.S and one of our best family vacations is Yellowstone National Park. This is another location for an outdoorsy family and the kid-friendly adventures you’ll embark on are endless.
Your family can walk, run, bike, fish, swim, hike, or camp all throughout the park. There are amazing geysers to view, breathtaking sights to behold, and challenging hikes to conquer. Gaze upon buffalos, bison, elk and other wildlife as you trek around the park as well. You can also learn about the reintroduction of the wolves in Yellowstone and its effect on the ecosystem.
Your family can rent an RV and stay for a couple of days in each part of the park or you can also stay in cabins or hotels nearby. Interestingly, there is a beach at Yellowstone. A beach! It’s not like Hawaii beaches, but imagine laying out and swimming at the beach with the mountains as your backdrop. The Mammoth Hot Springs and Grand Prismatic are also among the most unique spots where your family can make the most unforgettable of memories.
O’ahu is the third largest island in the state of Hawaii and the most visited. This vibrant island offers the best of nature that will surely leave your family wanting more.
Most tourists stay in Honolulu and Waikiki and they never leave the compounds of their hotels or resorts with beach access. However, the best way to get most out of your vacation in O’ahu with kids is to rent a car and drive. Your family can start on the Southern coast in Waikiki, follow the road to the Eastern shores, then end your day in the North Shore.
One week is most likely not enough to explore each part of O’ahu as your family will not run out of things to do and eat. O’ahu is rich with luaus, challenging and easy hikes, beautiful beaches to snorkel and waves to catch. The weather is always pleasant, and the aloha spirit is abundant.
9. Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is a fantastic family vacation destination in the US for any family. Located in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach boasts 60 miles of gorgeous, sparkling water, white sand beaches. When your family is all sun-kissed and tired from all the water fun, you can enjoy some entertainment and fine art events at WonderWorks, Ripley’s Aquarium, Priate’s Voyage, Alabama Theatre, or Medieval Times. Another elevating attraction is the SkyWheel, which is a stand-alone observation wheel that towers nearly 200 feet in the air.
Myrtle Beach is also not lacking in quality golf courses, shop ‘til you drop boutiques and malls, night life, and mouth-watering seafood and local restaurants. There are several activities, not to mention lodging, for every budget. With its Southern charm and eclectic community, your family is definitely in for one entertaining trip!
10. The Outer Banks
The Outer Banksin North Carolina separate the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland and is one of the best beach destinations your family can head to on the East Coast. Their open-sea beaches, local history, lighthouses, shipwreck diving sites and state parks make them a sought-after destination for tourists and locals alike.
The Outer Banks offer a more secluded and less commercialized beach experience than most other beaches on the East Coast. At Kitty Hawk, your family can bond at hang gliding school, over surf lessons or Jetpak lessons. Your family can also visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial and get educated about the birth of flight. During the late summer or early fall is when the crowds are slowly leaving, yet the weather is simply perfection.
Chicago is an industrial metropolis and the largest city in the American Midwest. Enchanting visitors from far and wide, its stunning skyscrapers that form the Chicago skyline are not the only sights to see in this bustling city. From learning something new at one of the several museums to taking a walk at parks or along Lake Michigan, there is always something for kids and kids at heart.
The Ledge at the Willis Tower is an exhilarating experience your family can’t miss. Located 1,353 feet up in the air and juts out from the 103rd floor, this glass box will get your family’s heart racing all while taking in the mesmerizing view of Chicago at your feet. This place is also a melting pot of culture with its large ethnic communities such as Greektown, Chinatown, and Ukrainian Village. To top it all of, your family can devour genuine deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches for every meal.
Williamsburgin Virginia is a great place for families who are looking for something other than beaches, theme parks, or skyscrapers. Nestled in a peninsula between the York and James rivers, Williamsburg’s biggest tourist draw is its history. Colonial Williamsburg, along with Jamestown and Yorktown, is part of the “Historic Triangle,” where your family can expect to step back in time. These three historical sites are living history museums where residents and workers alike dress up, act out, and depict the lifestyles of colonists and settlers from the 18th century.
Fall season is probably the best time to visit Williamsburg with magnificent fall foliage and everything pumpkin abound.
13. Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a famous tourist spot everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime. The City of Angels is also known as the entertainment capital of the world. Among the biggest tourist attractions are Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Disneyland, Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Santa Monica Pier.
With its intoxicating atmosphere, vibrant culture and night life, and food fusions galore, your family will never be bored.
14. San Diego
San Diego is another fantastic family vacation destination in the US and a lovely city located on the Pacific Coast in California that is undeniably worth the trip. San Diego flourishes with diverse cultures and cuisines, beautiful beaches, history, nightlife, stunning views, and kid-friendly activities such as museums, Sea World, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Not too far from San Diego to the south is Mexico and to the north is Legoland.
The gorgeous weather is simply the best, and the relaxed lifestyle wins this place a spot on your family’s bucket list. There are also some of the best beaches in California close by.
15. Zion National Park
Zion National Parkin Utah has an amazing tapestry of landscapes that your family can get lost in forever. The geological formations and iconic natural scenery that stretch 229 square miles will blow your mind.
Your family can enjoy the view on a drive along the scenic highway or a hike up one of the many trails. There are waterfalls and mountain goats and countless bonding and memories to last a lifetime. Zion is justly a unique and spectacular destination for the whole family.
Even with a tight budget, anyone with the right tools can find and explore a new destination and go on an adventure of a lifetime. Add that to the list of benefits that travelling brings to a family like cultural appreciation, global experiences, enhanced learning, family bonding, and enriching lives by creating life-long memories.
Best Family Vacations in the USA
We hope this list of the best family vacations in the USA gives you inspiration for your next trip with the kids. Whether you are looking for a beach getaway, an adventurous vacation, or a city trip, there is plenty of ideas to choose from.
Author: Regine Orme is a writer and mother of 3 young children based in DC. She traveled extensively before children, and now continues to do so with her family. They have been living in and exploring Washington, DC for the past 7 years.