Top 11 Family Vacation Spots in US

11 months ago / by Habibur Shohon
Virginia Beach Virginia
Image credits: Bianca Gonzales via Unsplash

Introduction

What are the fondest memories of your childhood? They may be from a family vacation, the time when you created beautiful memories to last a lifetime. You might remember feeling a myriad of emotions when you had heard your parents announce, “We’re going on a family vacation to a magical destination.” Hearing that, you might have bombarded your parents with several questions. And, in your excitement, you probably might not have slept for days. You may still remember the amazing fun you had at the vacation spot. Now that you are a parent, you, too, should give your kid(s) the gift of magical vacation memories.

Today’s hectic lifestyle rarely has space for family time. And if you have a busy schedule, or if your job requires you to tour a lot, you may miss your family’s important occasions or your child’s (or children’s) key milestones. By taking your family on a trip to a fun destination, you get the opportunity to show that you care about them and love them. Also, when you spend time with your wife/partner and children at a new place, far away from the daily grind, you get the chance to strengthen your family bond and deepen your relationship with every family member. Family vacations also help your children learn new things, make them more creative, and become more open to new people and ideas. They also refresh your mind and rejuvenate you.  

How much fun you have and how many beautiful memories you create depend on the destination. You need to choose a family-friendly destination where everyone gets to do things of their interest. Here are the top eleven family vacation spots to make it easier to find the right place to have maximum fun with your family. 

Millennium Park, Chicago

Best Family Vacation Spots
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There is a good reason why Millennium Park is often included in the list of best places for vacations. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, this lake front, 24.5-acre park has plenty of spots for family activities. Both you and your children will also love the free events and exhibits that are held here throughout the year, such as movies, concerts, and pop-up performances.  

You can bring your picnic basket to Millennium Park and enjoy a family picnic on the grass. If it is summer, you all can splash around the two 50-foot, glass-brick towers facing one another at the Crown Fountain, and in the winter, you can go ice skating at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. The urban oasis Lurie Garden is another top attraction inside the park.   

The Millennium Park is also home to the iconic Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean.” No adult can resist the temptation of taking a family selfie in front of this glistening archway into Millennium Park. 

Every month is the best time to visit Millennium Park. It is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. This place gets crowded in the evenings and on weekends. So, it is best to visit the park in the morning and on weekdays to avoid the rush hour.  

Walt Disney World, Orlando

Best Family Vacation Spots
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You are probably committing a sin if you are heading to Florida for a family vacation without including Walt Disney World in your travel plans. This magical world near Orlando is probably on the travel bucket list of almost every kid in the world. Adults, too, can create a lifetime of family memories at this mega entertainment resort.

Walt Disney World is made of four theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Called “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” Magic Kingdom is dotted with unforgettable, enchanting attractions. It hosts some of the most incredible rides, including the classic Small World, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the Mad Tea Party. Your children are likely to squeal with delight seeing the magnificent Cinderella Castle, the symbol of the Magic Kingdom. 

Spread in an area of 500-acre, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest animal-themed park on the planet, while EPCOT has two primary themed areas, Future World and World Showcase. At the Future World, you can explore attractions related to communication, energy, environment, transport, and space exploration. And the World Showcase allows you to experience a country’s entertainment, dining, and shopping culture. EPCOT is also the spot where festivals are held throughout the year. 

Your family can also have great fun at one of the two water parks located inside the Walt Disney World, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. The other highlights of this famed family vacation spot are Disney Springs, ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex, and golf courses, which include two miniature golf courses.

The best time to visit Walt Disney World is between March and May, as the weather in Orlando is pleasant at that time.   

Miami Beach, Florida

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Miami Beach is known for its nightlife and has a party vibe. It, however, does not mean that it is not an appropriate destination for kids. It is one of the popular family vacation destinations in Florida, as it has miles of pristine shoreline, a lot of options for outdoor activities, and educational museums. Beaches are a favorite playing ground for children, as they get the freedom to do a lot of fun activities, including building sandcastles. And Miami has a good number of family-friendly beaches.  

Crandon Park Beach, Bill Baggs State Park, Matheson Hammock, Virginia Key Beach, Oleta River State Park, and South Pointe Beach are some of the beaches where you can relax on the soft sand while watching your children play in the shallow calm waters or bicycle along the beach. You can also teach your kids how to paddle-board, canoe, and kayak here. These beaches are also great spots for watching the sunrise.  

In Miami, other spots to visit with your family are Lummus Park, Flamingo Park, a popular sporting park in South Beach, and South Pointe Park, which is an ideal location for skating and biking. Miami Beach Botanical Garden is another place where everyone in your family can get captivated by the stunning green landscape. And you can also take your kids to the Miami Children’s Museum, where the emphasis is on playing, learning, and imagining. Both adults and children can enjoy the exhibits in the 14 interactive galleries. The museum also organizes programs for families every day. 

The best time to visit Miami Beach is between March and May. 

Huntsville, Alabama

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If a kid in your family is a budding astronaut, there is no better place to visit than Huntsville in Alabama. The city has been playing a key role in the development of space technology since the 1950s. Because of that, it is nicknamed Rocket City. It is also home to the largest space museum on Earth – the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. It exhibits a large collection of rockets and space memorabilia, which kids of all ages will find interesting; and the museum also has one of the three authentic Saturn V Moon Rockets. Your family will also enjoy the Family Aviation Training and the Family Astronaut Training offered by the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

In addition to discovering the history of rockets and space, you can also try out tons of other family-related activities in Huntsville. You can experience the views and history of the quaint downtown Huntsville by taking part in the Lucky Duck scavenger hunt. The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau has hidden 14 ducks around downtown Huntsville. While trying to find them, you also get to explore downtown. 

Huntsville Botanical Garden is another great spot for sightseeing. One of its gardens is called the Storybook Garden. Here, your children will enjoy spotting structures and objects that are like those in popular fairy tales. And if your family loves outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, Monte Santo State Park is your perfect vacation spot. It has 14 miles of biking trails and 20 miles of hiking trails, and you can also go camping and picnicking here. 

The Harmony Park Safari is another spot that is popular with families in Huntsville. You get a chance to interact with animals such as turtles, zebras, and buffaloes, and you can feed them as well. And Big Spring Park is the destination for almost all types of outdoor recreational activities. And for more fun and excitement, Point Mallard Park is the spot to visit. It offers spaces for golfing, skating, and camping.

The best time to visit Huntsville is from May to September. The springtime, or April, is your right time if you want to see Huntsville Botanical Garden in its full blooming glory. 

Empire, Michigan

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Blessed with stunning vistas, Empire is one of the top family vacation spots in Michigan. It is where you can unwind with your family members, and together, you can enjoy a number of exciting activities. Picturesque locations, high dunes, white sandy beaches, sunrises and sunsets, an uncountable number of trails, and parkways are some of the highlights of this charming little village. 

Along the shores of the gorgeous Lake Michigan, you can relax, share a few stories from the pages of your childhood at a picnic table, encourage your kids to build sandcastles, or use the playground. This clean and well-maintained public beach park also has good bathroom facilities. Empire Beach is another family-friendly beach that is worth visiting, especially to witness the spectacular sunsets. You also get to see the historic lighthouse from this beach. Like Lake Michigan, this beach, too, has a playground for kids.     

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the must-visit spot if you are in Empire with your family. The star attraction here is the perched sand dunes that tower 450 feet above Lake Michigan. Both you and your children will love climbing up the dunes. You can also make the visit more fun by rolling, running, and tumbling back down on the dunes. And, by biking or walking on the 22-mile Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, you and your family will unearth gems like Glen Haven, the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Port Oneida, and the Crystal River.         

One of the most children-friendly spots near Empire is Sandcastles Children’s Museum. It has more than 30 interactive exhibits, including a real airplane, a vet center, a hospital baby nursery, a grocery store, and a climbing wall. Kids get to learn as well as play in this museum. 

The best time to visit Empire is from May to August. Sleeping Bear Dunes are absolutely gorgeous during the summer. 

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 

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The magnificent Grand Canyon National Park features in the list of almost all the top vacation destinations. It is also a great spot to explore with the family. You get to introduce your children to one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world. And at this Arizona National Park, you can also instill in your children an adventurous spirit. 

If you have not come prepared for the long, tough hikes, you have the option to enjoy the light hikes. And then there is the helicopter tour you can book to enjoy the ridiculously scenic landscape of the Grand Canyon. Your family can also take the mule ride down the North Rim and South Rim. And a family of daredevils will love taking a stroll on Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottom bridge suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking.     

Train rides are fun when you are traveling with your family and there are plenty of snacks to munch on and soda to drink. So, when you are in the Grand Canyon area, do not miss the chance to ride in the vintage train, Grand Canyon Railways. This train journey starts from Williams, Arizona, and ends at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. And, remember, it is not your regular train journey. You may get to see the performance of live musicians inside the train. Also, when you are on your way back, you will get to enjoy a make-believe train heist.   

The best times to visit the Grand Canyon are between March and May and September to November.      

Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Virginia Beach is one of the good family vacation spots in Virginia. Home to sun, sand, and surf, this place is a perennial favorite of both adults and kids. Along with attractions on the beach, there are multiple other fascinating spots to explore in this beach town. One such spot is the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which hosts over 10,000 animals representing more than 300 species. Sea turtles, sharks, jellyfish, rare Southeast Asian animals, and other animals make this underwater world a lively and enchanting place. You get to explore more than 800,000 gallons at this aquarium.   

In Virginia Beach, thrill-seeking families congregate at the Boardwalk Amusement Park, also known as the Atlantic Fun Park. They get to choose from a wide range of thrill rides, including the Gravitron ride, and there are also special rides for kids. Virginia Beach’s biggest Ferris Wheel is also part of this amusement park. 

And if you want to ignite the interest of your children in History, Military Aviation Museum can be the starting point for that. The military aircraft displayed here are the World War I- and World War II-era airplanes. All of them restored to their prewar condition.

The main highlight of Virginia Beach is, of course, the beach. Sandbridge Beach is the perfect beach to spend a quieter time with your family. You can also kayak and surf on the gentle waters here. And if you do not mind the crowd and the sound and noise, Virginia Beach Boardwalk is the destination to visit in Virginia Beach. Lined with three beautiful beaches, the boardwalk has biking and walking trails. Almost every day, street performers can be seen entertaining visitors with their mesmerizing performances. Both you and your family will love the fun atmosphere at the boardwalk.

The best time to visit Virginia Beach is from late May to early October. 

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Best Family Vacation Spots
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Hot Springs National Park is one of the perfect family vacation spots in Arkansas. This park is a little different from other national parks, as it mainly consists of a row of historic bathhouse buildings, which are located in the middle of the city of Hot Springs. And behind the bathhouse row, you will find ancient thermal springs, striking mountain views, 26 miles of hiking trails, and plenty of creeks.    

Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the park’s visitor center. You all can take a tour of this bathhouse and learn about the water therapies used in the nineteenth century. And you and your family can relax in the thermal water inside two bathhouses that are still operational. As the thermal springs are piped directly into the Buckstaff Bathhouse and the Quapaw Bathhouse, you get to enjoy an authentic hot-spring experience. Buckstaff is the only bathhouse that has been in continuous operation since its opening in 1912.

If your children are very young, they will probably love walking up and down the street, looking at the nine-bathhouse row. You can also show your family Hot Springs bubbling from Earth – such a spot is located behind the visitor’s center. And from the Bathhouse row, you can climb up the mountain, or drive up, to reach the Mountain Tower. You will get to see the stunning landscape from the tower. Hiking trails on Hot Springs Mountain and North Mountain also offer you the opportunity to enjoy the scenic view of Hot Springs National Park.  

The best time to visit Hot Springs National Park is between August and October and from February to April. 

San Diego, California

Best Family Vacation Spots
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California’s San Diego is the ultimate family vacation destination. Every member of your family will find something interesting to do in this city that has 70 miles of beautiful beaches. And there is a dazzling array of activities that you can enjoy as a family. And you all will love spending time at one of the beaches in San Diego, especially if you are an ocean-loving family. Some of the city’s most family-friendly beaches include Coronado Beach, Torrey Pines State Beach, Del Mar Beach, and the long and wide La Jolla Shores Beach.   

LEGOLAND California, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Balboa Park, and SeaWorld San Diego are the famed, non-beach spots in the second largest city of California. LEGOLAND California is a fun and colorful theme park, which will captivate you along with your children. Its Miniland area has towering structures that are built using LEGO bricks. You will also enjoy interactive family rides, live shows, and building workshops at LEGOLAND. 

One of the main attractions in San Diego is the 1,200-acre urban cultural park, Balboa Park. It has more than 16 museums, several performing arts venues, glorious gardens, multiple trails, and a plethora of other recreational spots. It is also home to San Diego Zoo, a hugely popular family destination. Spread in an area of 100-acre, the zoo’s lush green, natural habitat is the dwelling place for more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing around 660 species and subspecies. It also boasts of a rich botanical collection, with more than 700,000 plants. 

The other place where you can see animals wandering around is San Diego Zoo Safari Park. America’s only two platypuses also swim and splash in this park. Families are drawn to this park to enjoy an immersive, hands-on wildlife safari experience in an urban space. Mission Bay Park is another favorite of families. Often called the “Crown Jewel” of San Diego, this aquatic park is spread across 4,600 acres, making it the largest park of this kind in the country. It is divided almost equally into two parts: land and water. More than the sandy beaches and parks, you and your children will love getting up close and personal with exotic marine life at the famous SeaWorld San Diego.   

The best times to visit San Diego are from March to May and between September and November.

Branson, Missouri

Best Family Vacation Spots
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Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, the charming town of Branson is one of the best family vacation spots inthe Midwest. It is often called the “Family-friendly Las Vegas,” as it is home to many popular kids-approved attractions. Museums, amusement parks, nature-blessed spots, and shopping centers offer you the opportunity to enjoy some classic family time in Branson. 

Branson’s original amusement park Silver Dollar City is where you and your kids can have maximum fun. It has more than 40 thrilling rides and attractions. Live shows and concerts are regularly held here, enhancing the lively and happy atmosphere of the park. Branson water park is also a major draw for families visiting Silver Dollar City. It offers you the opportunity to explore 2 million gallons of fun and 13 acres of water rides, slides, and waves. This old amusement park also has a new Fireman’s Landing area, featuring six rides and four interactive play zones for kids.

Located along Table Rock Lake, the Table Rock State Park is another ideal destination for families that you can access from Branson. Said to be the natural getaway of Branson, the park offers its visitors endless options for outdoor activities. You can go hiking and biking on the paved trails here. There is a trail for mountain biking as well. You can also go boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing on the lake, which is also a premier bass fishing destination. Described as the fisherman’s dream, Table Rock Lake is where you can teach your children how to fish. 

If you are visiting Branson for a family vacation, The Haygoods is a must-have experience. Performed by 1 sister and 5 brothers, this family music show can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages. The other popular family shows you can watch here are Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Reza Edge of Illusion Magic Show, Oak Ridge Boys, and Legends in Concert.  

The best times to visit Branson are from November to December and between June and August.

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Best Family Vacation Spots
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Kids of all ages are curious about dinosaurs. Younger children love to read stories about these prehistoric reptiles and play with their miniature forms. Pre-teens and teenagers love to dig up interesting information on them. And all of them will love to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas. It is the spot where you can see the real footprints of dinosaurs. They can be found in the Cretaceous limestone of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose. 

The Ballroom Track Site is another popular dinosaur track site. It is believed to have hundreds of footprints, and the site is named Ballroom because it seems like the extinct giants left them when they were dancing.  

Your kids will enjoy exploring and following the huge tracks across the park. And both you and your children will also love taking selfies with the giant dinosaur models, the 70-feet Apatosaurus and 45-feet Tyrannosaurus Rex. Dinosaur Valley State Park also has 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. You can also go fishing, swimming, camping inside the park.

The best time to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park is between March and November. And the footprints of dinosaurs can be seen more clearly inlate summer.

Travel Guide for a Perfect Family Vacation

Family vacations offer you the opportunity to bring home treasure chests of beautiful memories. Sometimes the trip may turn out to be a big disaster as well. If you want to prevent your family vacation from becoming a mega disappointment, you need to plan well in advance. Also, you need to get everyone involved in the planning, including your children. Here are a few suggestions to help you ensure that you enjoy every moment during the family trip and create a lifetime of memories along the way.   

Choose a Family-Friendly Destination 

Some adults do not consider their children’s interests when planning a family vacation. You should not make that mistake, as a family-friendly destination means a kids-friendly destination. When you are researching family vacation spots, read travel books and online travelogues and reviews to determine whether they have space for kids’ activities. Everyone from the eldest to the youngest member of the family must have something interesting to do at the vacation spot. Also, it should be a safe place.

Your children will also love the beautiful scenery. Picturesque landscapes, however, may not be their idea of a fun vacation. If you want to see them engaged, interested, and excited, you have to take them to a destination where they can try out different activities, including water sports, hiking, and biking. And younger kids will love a place even more if they can go picnicking and camping there. 

Involve Children

You have to empower your children. They need to be involved at every stage of your planning. If your kids are pre-teens or teenagers, ask them about the places and attractions they are interested in seeing or where they would like to go. You can also allow them to design a part of the travel itinerary. When you involve your kids in the decision process, you make them feel important and make the trip that much more memorable for them.

Book Tickets and Rooms in Advance  

Once you have got everyone excited about the trip, you have to make sure that the family flies out on the scheduled date. For that, you need to purchase your flight tickets in advance, especially if you plan to visit a place during its peak vacation season. You may not get flight tickets if you try to do last-minute purchasing. Canceling a family vacation due to no tickets can make you a baddie in your children’s eyes. 

Booking tickets in advance is also recommended because discounts are usually available when you purchase them months before the scheduled travel date. It may cost you more if you buy tickets a week or two before the trip.   

As you are traveling with your family, you cannot stay anywhere in a new place. It should be a family and children-friendly accommodation. Also, you need to ensure a comfortable and safe stay. And for that, you need to book rooms in advance and in the right hotel or resort. It has to be located in an area that offers easy access to attractions you plan to visit with your family.

You will not get rooms in a reputable hotel if you try to book them after reaching the destination – especially if it is the peak vacation season. And because of that, your family may have a nightmarish experience.    

Pack Essential Things 

Travel light is the rule when you are going on a vacation. But when you are traveling with your kids, you may have to add more essential items to your bag – especially if they are very young. Here is a list of things you may need during the trip.

  • Visa, passports, and identity cards
  • Toiletries
  • Well-stocked, first-aid kit containing prescription medication, pain, stomach ache, and fever relievers, allergy medication, gauze, bandages, antiseptic, anti-diarrhea medications
  • Insect repellent, after-bite remedy, anti-allergy cream
  • Ready-to-eat food, snacks, and chocolates
  • Bottles of drinking water and beverages that your children love to drink
  • Blankets, weather-appropriate clothes, pajamas, comfortable footwear
  • High-power torchlight
  • Toilet paper and wet wipes
  • Masks and hand-sanitizers
  • Chargers and power bank
  • Books, comics, and other entertainment items.

If you are traveling with a toddler, you will have to pack extra clothes, diapers, diaper cream, wipes, a changing pad, additional bags for soiled diapers and clothes, and food items that your little one eats.  

Be Prepared for Medical Emergency

Kids can fall sick during a trip or there can be a medical emergency. So, along with carrying the necessary medicine, you need to make sure that you know which hospitals are nearest to where you are staying. Also, do memorize the emergency help number. If possible, do get family travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.

You also need to avoid visiting spots where there is a risk of getting injured.

Introduce Your Children to New Culture and Cuisine

Family vacations offer you the opportunity to introduce your children to a new culture, which will make them appreciate new things. Also, they will become more open toward people who do not look or talk like them. 

Before visiting a destination, do read about its history and culture. Tell your kids about that when you are exploring its popular spots. You can also introduce them to a new taste and food item by eating at restaurants where local cuisine is served. And, as you have their undivided attention, teach your kids’ new things and educate them about the environment, important aspects of life, and how to become good citizens and travelers.    

Don’t Forget to Click Photos

After returning home from a family vacation, your kids may want to show their friends where they went and what they did. And by taking photos during the trip, you give them the proof of how much fun they had during the trip. Also, years later, these photos will help you and your grown-up kids reminisce about the most memorable moments of your lives. So do make sure to click a lot of photos that feature your family and the top attractions of your vacation destination. Take a lot of selfies as well.   

Remember: Things May Go Wrong

No matter how carefully you plan every aspect of your trip, your family vacation may not be completely stress-free and hassle-free. A lot of things may go wrong and your kids may throw tantrums. Do not let the bumps spoil your mood or blemish your family’s memories. You need to accept that challenges and stumbles are all part of the vacation adventure, and they add to the excitement and fun. So, enjoy your family time without worrying too much about things that are going wrong or will go wrong. 

FAQ

What is the most affordable family vacation?

Miami Beach, Florida

Huntsville, Alabama

Empire, Michigan

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Branson, Missouri

What is the best family vacation?

The best family vacation is when every member of your family, including your children, get to explore attractions of their interest and enjoy outdoor activities. San Diego is one such destination in California. It is a place where both adults and kids can find something interesting to do.

Where should I go for a 3-day family vacation?

Millennium Park, Chicago

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Huntsville, Alabama

Empire, Michigan

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Branson, Missouri

What is the nicest family vacation spot in the United States?

Walt Disney World, Orlando

San Diego, California

Millennium Park, Chicago

Huntsville, Alabama

Empire, Michigan

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Branson, Missouri

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Which is the safest family vacation spot?

Empire, Michigan

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Branson, Missouri

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Huntsville, Alabama

Virginia Beach, Virginia