10 of the Best Family-Friendly Summer Vacations

The family vacation is a time-honored tradition, with millions of families departing to destinations of their choice throughout the year. The array of destination possibilities seems almost endless when the entire world is at your fingertips, but some vacation destinations are just more suited to travel with the entire family than others. These are ten of the best vacation ideas for families, some of which can even be pulled off without excessive travel time from just about anywhere in the United States.

  1. Historical Vacations – There are sites of historical significance scattered all across the nation, which means that you can easily find a region full of interesting history that’s a reasonable traveling distance from your own home. Look for living history museums within driving distance of your destination, as this up close and personal look at history is a surefire hit, even among kids that aren’t budding historians.
  2. Nature-Focused Vacations – From encouraging ecologically responsible behavior to fostering an interest in the natural sciences, vacations focused on nature can be the perfect solution for families that can’t decide on an ideal destination. You can camp in a state park or stay in a hotel at night after spending the afternoon on hiking trails, and kids are sure to be in hog heaven.
  3. Amusement Park Vacations – There’s little to no educational value in a vacation centered on a trip to an amusement park, but who’s to say there’s anything wrong with a little bit of pure, unadulterated fun from time to time? Whether you’ve set your sights on The Happiest Place on Earth or are trying to keep your selection a bit more local, spending a few days enjoying the rides and shows at an amusement park may be just the stress buster that over-scheduled, overworked families need.
  4. International Vacations – Unless you live on the border of Canada or Mexico, international travel will require a bit more planning and funding than a vacation destination that’s closer to home. Still, seeing the world and immersion in other cultures can be an enriching and eye-opening experience for kids.
  5. Adventurous Vacations – Whether your family is into zip-lining across canyons, spelunking in dark caves or hitting the ski slopes, adrenaline junkies are sure to find that an adventurous, daring vacation satisfies everyone more than a few days of lazing around on the beach.
  6. Museum Tour Vacations – The great thing about a vacation built around the idea of touring museums is that you can fit in a visit to one museum each day catering to the specific interest of one particular member of the family. In cities with large museum districts, you can make sure that the budding scientist, avid athlete, virtuoso musician and visual artist all spend a day indulging their whims.
  7. Rustic Retreat Vacations – After a long, stressful year of balancing over-stuffed schedules and never seeming to get enough rest, a peaceful, rustic retreat might be just what the doctor ordered. These types of vacation are also ideal for families that want to break a dependence on technology and reduce collective screen-time: just ban electronic devices for the duration of the trip with an exception for emergency situations.
  8. Resort Vacations – One of the many reasons why so many families opt for a vacation at an all-inclusive resort is that there are so many programs in place for the younger members of the family. From group activities to on-site childcare, it’s easy to make sure that the kids are entertained and engaged while enjoying an adults-only meal or night on the town.
  9. Beach Vacations – Some people find very little about the idea of sun, sand and surf appealing, while others revel in all the trappings of a beach vacation. If you’re in the middle of the country and traveling to the coast isn’t an option, you may still be able to replicate the experience by spending your vacation at a lake or other large body of water that accommodates vacationers.
  10. Group Vacations – Traveling with another family or two adds an entirely new dimension to the idea of a family vacation, but can give kids the chance to spend time with more kids their age than just their siblings while providing a built-in group for adults. Splitting large vacation rental homes can even be cheaper than spending money on individual rooms, making it possible to pull off vacations that would otherwise be far out of your budget.

Choosing the perfect destination for your family requires more than a bit of research. It’s also important to take the individual interests and hobbies of each member into account when making your plans. A kid obsessed with science might be over the moon at the prospect of a museum tour, but cold on the idea of spending a week soaking up sun by the beach or touring historical monuments. Finding a middle ground is the key to the success of your family trip, so weigh everyone’s interests carefully before making your final decision.

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