10 of the best vacation spots for kids and the top family vacation destinations you’ve got to take them to while they are still young! We travel a lot as a family and have visited some incredible places on road trips and out of state. These are my children’s picks on the best family vacations ever.
10 of the best vacation spots for kids we have found were quite by accident, or those we weren’t quite sure they would enjoy….but turned out to be the most memorable experiences ever + a few of our favorite family resorts too! Like many families we take at least one big vacation a year, usually during the Summer break. We love exploring the United States with our kids and road trips are the best ways to really connect with your kids, see the scenery, and find spots you never would have known about had you been on an airplane. We share even more resources for family travel on our road trip blog. (originally published 3/15)
Let me start by saying that we are a family of 5 and I’m frugal.
With that said I am sure there are wonderful and elaborate places to visit outside of the country but for us (and many others living in middle class society) that is not in the cards for us.
The whole purpose for us to go on week long vacations is to connect with each other, explore, and experience things we wouldn’t normally do living in the suburbs.
To start with here are a few helpful resources when you are road tripping with kids:
- Road trip busy bags – a must I tell you!
- Packing for a road trip – all the things you need that you may not think about.
- Road trip games for kids – you’re welcome in advance 😉
- Road trip checklist – printable for getting your car prepared
- If you aren’t a fan of driving here is how to get free airline tickets to get to your destination!
With that said here are a few helpful tips if you’re going to road trip with your kids, and 10 of the best vacations we’ve had with our kids…..I’m sure we will add more as the years go on!
Best vacation spots for kids
- Yosemite National Park – We had such a great time camping at this great National Park! Well, actually we stayed just outside of the park to save some money….plus it is hard to get a site reservation unless you plan about a year ahead. Nevertheless we stayed in tents, “roughed” it and I would highly recommend it with kids! There are SO many things to see that you and your children will remember forever and you will not run out of trails to walk, scenery to see, activities to do, even after a full week there. Here is a pic. of us at the top of one of the mountains after a day of hiking and taking an open tram ride around the park! If you decide to camp here are tons of easy camping recipes and a free printable meal planning sheet to help out too.
- Mount Rushmore – If you are able to make the trek to Mount Rushmore it is truly a beautiful site to see! It can be a great destination point and you can find other great nooks to visit before you get there too. It is something you just cannot describe and shows pure determination and dedication of the creator that you can have a discussion about with your kids. It almost seems impossible that it was created by a human, but it is true and is a great example of what can be accomplished if you really dream and want something to be done.
- Great vacation spot to bring your kids and there is TONS to do outside of the actual monument like going underground 115 feet at Black Hills Caves too.
- The Grand Canyon – We have been to both sides of the Grand Canyon. I went to college in Flagstaff so I visited this site a few times while I was there, but on our last vacation we went to the North Rim and it was almost like a different place! Yet again, this is something you just cannot describe to children, even adults really. The distance from one side to the other which you cannot even see if it is foggy or snowy outside (were there in the snow once and you couldn’t see much more than about 5 ft. in front of you) is truly incredible!
- There are tons of hiking trails and things to see at the top of the canyon, or on the bottom if you are looking for a lot more adventure. There are great places to stay just outside of the Grand Canyon whether you’re looking for a hotel or you choose to tent it! See how we travel for free here and other places year after year!
We have visited the North and South rim and I will tell you they are totally different! So if you want to visit more than once make sure you plan a trip on both sides to see everything, visiting at different times of the year is vastly different too.
- Zion National Park – This is a great location just inside of Utah with a free tram that takes you all over the park and drops you off wherever you’d like. We spent 2 full days inside the park riding this tram and stopping at well known locations as well as streams where we hiked back, set up our lawn chairs, the kids took their shoes off and my husband and I relaxed while the kids waded in the stream….some brought bathing suits and took a swim in it too!
- There are places to stay within the park if you make a reservation way ahead of time but we found a family friendly place called Ponderosa Resort just outside of the gate that had activities for the kids too. We spent a day enjoying the beautiful scenery and zip lined, rode ponies, took out a rhino to off road a bit, and swam in their pool there…it was really affordable for families!
- National Parks are always the best vacation spots for kids because there’s just so much to do. I’d say all five of us agree that these are the top and best vacation spots for kids and we are on a mission to visit them all!
- Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone is our next destination this Summer. My husband cannot say enough about it’s beauty and I agree that it is another place like Grand Canyon that you just cannot describe and there is a lot of wildlife around which will be incredible to see since we live in the suburbs. With lots of camping and lodging options we plan on taking a road trip and staying in a cabin a few nights and then camping the other nights. There are affordable cabin options for less than $100 a night which is what we look for when we plan a vacation, if not it gets quite pricey.
Here’s a peek at just one amazing spot there, Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone that our kids loved:
- Disneyland – Ok the next 2 are adventures we took while on vacation with our kids that I would highly recommend. Luckily we live in SoCal so traveling to Disneyland isn’t too difficult and we generally don’t stay in a hotel when we go. We don’t go often since it is pricey for 5 to go but it is something your kids will Always remember!! My “baby” was 6 before she went for her first time but this shirt she is wearing below is still her favorite shirt because it reminds her of her experiences there. There is something magical about the characters, the rides, and just the feeling you get when you are inside Disneyland….it is nothing you can describe and you won’t get it anywhere else (except maybe Disney World).
- Usually on the top of most children’s best vacation spots for kids list. 😉 It is worth a trip! Check out how to get into Disneyland for free here!
Of course it is fun to go to any amusement park but even if you only go once it’s a must do in our opinion, and if you’re closer to Disney World then go there!
- The Polar Express – Like I said these two are experiences we found to be quite incredible and our children have remembered over the years as our best vacations ever! The Polar Express experience is held in several locations, we experienced the one just outside the Grand Canyon in Williams, Az. It is held in late Nov. and Dec. and has an incredible Christmas theme! You board “The Polar Express” train wearing your pajamas (yes I am serious), sit in seats that look similar to the ones in the movie, a conductor comes to punch your ticket, you’re served hot chocolate and a HUGE cookie, and you go on your way to “The North Pole!” After about 45 minutes on the train you pull to a stop where Santa’s house is. You look out the window at this brightly lit area where there are reindeer (real) outside his house, and he boards the train too!!! Santa travels from seat to seat asking the kids what they want and if they’ve been good, gives them a big bell like in the movie, and it is SO neat to do this with your kids!! Even my oldest (11 at the time) thought it was pretty neat!
- This is one of our favorite vacation spots for kids because this little town is close to so many things!
- Go visit Sedona if you’re staying in or around Williams, head over to the Grand Canyon for the day
- Visit Bearizona with bears roaming free as you drive your car through
- And our favorite spot (okay I am bias because I’m an alumni) is Flagstaff where Northern Arizona University is located….Lowell Observatory is pretty awesome too.
- This is one of our favorite vacation spots for kids because this little town is close to so many things!
The Polar Express has expanded and now they have it in a variety of other states so check the one you are in and it is definitely worth a trip especially if you have kids under the age of about 7 or so.
It is something my kids (even my oldest) remember from our trip to Arizona that year and it is great if you can get all the cousins/family to all go together!
- Washington D.C. – Visiting the Capitol building is a great trip especially when your kids are in the 4th or 5th grade and are really getting into talking about politics, government and whatnot. There is obviously a lot of history in Washington D.C. and having a first hand experience learning about everything that goes on in our system is a great way for children to gain an interest in Government issues and understand things a lot better when they are discussing everything in their History and Government classes as well as creating an interest in these areas.
- New York – This is one trip we took when we just had our oldest daughter and she was about 8. We had friends living there and enough frequent flyer miles to get there for free so we took the opportunity to take her there. Neither one of us had been to New York and wanted to see all the popular attractions there, a trip we will never forget.
- We took her to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, took a double decker tour of the city, did a lot of walking and just sightseeing in Manhattan and went to the Ground Zero Museum….I thought this was an important stop and one that none of us will forget. I was in tears after watching the video they showed us and the memorabilia that was saved from the rubble that was in glass cases for us to look at was a great reminder that life is short and you should appreciate every minute. Every thing we did there was something we will never forget and even now that she nears 15 yrs old she reminisces about this trip and is by far her favorite one!
- San Francisco – There are so many things to do in San Francisco! I took a road trip with my Dad when I was in high school and it is something I will always remember. From the Golden Gate Bridge, to Lombard street, to visiting Alcatraz Island and watching all the fisherman catch fish right before your eyes it is a fun place to visit. It kinda’ reminds me of New York with the hustle and bustle of things and so much going on.
- When on a road trip there there are many great places to visit before you get there like Hearst Castle….incredible and great tours they offer! Morro Bay is great too and has an aquarium there if you want to visit that on the way too. Monterey and Carmel aren’t too far either so you can take day trips to see other places from San Francisco, or stay in one of them and visit the city during the day. One of the best vacation spots for kids as far as having a lot to do in such a small area.
- If you’re looking for something local to do with your kids, some of our best family vacations were when we went camping. It doesn’t have to be a long distance away and you can just do it for the night but kids love the outdoors and it will surely be a memory they’ll never forget.
To see all the places we’ve visited go to the travel section of our blog and see what peaks your interest.
Those are our top 10 best vacation spots for kids! If you have a favorite spot let us know below….we are always looking for new ideas.
For a more of the best vacation spots for kids check out this book full of 500 places to take your kids before they grow up!
For more easy recipes, tips and crafts please LIKE The Typical Mom on Facebook and follow me on Pinterest! You can also sign up for my free weekly newsletter which is packed with goodies I know you’ll love. 😉