A whopping 88 million Americans have taken or plan to take vacations in 2019. A huge chunk of that percentage includes vacationers who will tote their family along.
According to AAA, of families who have or will take a trip this year, 35 percent plan to visit an international destination – a nine percentage point increase from just two years ago. AAA predicted the top five most likely international destinations for families:
Benefits of taking a family vacation
Obviously one of the most beneficial reasons for taking a family vacation is that you’ll make some amazing memories. Here are a few other reasons for getting away with the kiddos:
- You’ll likely catch some R&R. If you’re lounging on the beach, it’s a given. If you’re roughing it in the mountains, at least you’ll be able to sit on a… rock… for a few minutes and relax.
- It’s educational. No matter where you go for your vacation, there’s so much to learn. If you’re flying, grab a book about airplanes. If you’re driving, learn about each state you’re crossing.
- You can get in touch with nature. A trip to the seashore will teach your kids about the tides. Your kids (and you!) will be wowed by alpine animals and plants in the mountains.
- There’s something magical about vacation. Whether you see the northern lights or a few fireflies dancing on the lawn, the magic your kids will come home brimming with stories to tell.
How we decided on the best of the best
We decided on these “bests” simply through our own experiences. We’ve been there, done that, and yes, all ten showered us with magical moments.
Things to ask yourself before you go:
- Would we be okay getting out of our comfort zone? (Heading to the country even though we live in the city, etc.)
- Am I taking into consideration the ages of my kids? (Washington, D.C. museums might be a bit of a stretch for a two-year-old.)
- What are my kids’ needs? Will those needs be conducive to the vacation I’m considering? (Think naps or potty-training.)
We know you know your kids, so here’s a fresh list of A+ family destinations. (We decided to stick to the States and nix the international destinations so you can potentially sneak one of these in before school starts again.)
Best overall: An Alaskan cruise
Go now. Seriously. Those calving glaciers may not be around during your (or especially your kids’) lifetimes! The adventures that beckon in Alaska are unmatched.
Even if you’re the most seasoned of family travelers, Kodiak grizzly bears and the sights of Denali will make you drop your jaws in wonder. Check out Crystal Cruises for a great Inside Passage option.
Best for splashing in the ocean: The Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras National Seashore get our nod for best destination for ocean fun. The Outer Banks, the 200-mile-long string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, is a swim-happy kid’s dream. Endless beaches and fun abound.
Best for climbing mountains: Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is stunning. There’s no other word for it. If you haven’t seen the Rockies in Montana, put it on your bucket list, pronto.
Everyone can enjoy the incredible Going-to-the-Sun Road (such a great name!) but if you like to hike and you want to take one of the best 14-mile hikes in the country, park at Logan Pass and hit the Highline Trail. It’s nothing short of incredible.
Best educational experience: Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg makes history un-boring almost immediately. Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. Over 300 acres features more than 40 historic sites and trades, four historic taverns, and two world-class art museums.
Your ticket will get you into the Wythe House, Geddy House, Peyton Randolph House, the Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury. Trust us, your kids will be fascinated by it all.
Best amusement park vacation: Cedar Point Amusement Park, Ohio
There are also a number of other attractions that make Cedar Point an excellent location for family vacations. Waterparks are one option that you can enjoy, and the lodging at Cedar Point is also a great option for family fun.
Best waterpark vacation: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells is called the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” for good reason. Your kids will be barely able to contain their excitement when you drive into town and see the behemoth waterslides peeking out from your hotel. This town in Wisconsin boasts the largest concentration of outdoor and indoor water parks on the planet.
Best lakeside vacation: Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks is a great place for fun in the sun. Located in the heart of Missouri, there’s boating, golfing, shopping, fishing, restaurants, state parks and other recreational activities. Your kids (especially if they’re part fish) will love it.
Best dude ranch vacation location: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole has awesome proximity to dude ranches. The Tetons form a jagged, jaw-dropping panorama in Jackson Hole, and a dude ranch is the best place to experience the mountains and the wonder of “living” on a ranch. Check out Goosewing Ranch for an unforgettable adventure.
Best great outdoors vacation: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the thundering feet of bison crossing the road twenty feet away at Yellowstone National Park. Your kids will be delighted. Geysers, fumaroles and mud pots won’t mean a thing to you until you actually go to America’s first national park. Tie our vacation in with a stopover in Jackson Hole, and your kiddos would be set with things to do for a month.
Your kids will be delighted. Geysers, fumaroles and mud pots won’t mean a thing to you until you actually go to America’s first national park. Tie our vacation in with a stopover in Jackson Hole, and your kiddos would be set with things to do for a month.
Best city vacation: Washington, D.C.
For kids who are ready, what could be more American and educational than Washington, D.C.? D.C. Trail’s Hop On Hop Off Tour allows you to do just that: hop off a coach if and when you’re ready to explore. Or hoof it through the Smithsonian museum, the National Mall or the National Gallery. If you’ve got youngsters, check out the free National Zoo.
Where to go from here
If you grew up vacationing with your parents and siblings, chances are you’ll remember some incredible moments. Why not bestow those opportunities on your kids?
With a little bit of planning and patience, make it a trip with memories that will last for the rest of your lives.
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