51 Summer Trip Ideas - Plan Your Perfect Family Vacation

It’s time for our annual roundup of the 51 best family summer trip ideas! Whether you can’t wait to explore a fantastic summer vacation spot — or you’re concerned about keeping the kids entertained — we are all looking forward to a summer vacation.

Family reunion group watches sunset along the beach. Photo by tyler Nix for unsplash. - summer trip ideas
Your best summer vacation idea may be a family reunion at the beach. Go for it! Photo by Tyler Nix for unsplash.

Factors like inflation, rising airfares and anticipated crowds in many popular destinations should impact where to go, but not discourage us.

Where Will Your Family Summer Trip Take You?

Warm Mexican beaches, cool shades and thirst-quenching cocktails are already on Americans’ radar, reveals Allianz Partners’ Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations surveyfor 2024. International travel will be up 15% this summer over last year. Cancun leads the Top 10 international roster of global beaches, as the cities of London (always a family favorite) and Paris (likely because of the upcoming summer Olympics) join in.

Domestic travel is predicted to cool by 5%, but domestic hotspots still take the lion’s share (68%) of Americans summer itinerary bookings. Orlando, Seattle, Boston, New York, and Honolulu are the top five domestic destinations this summer.

Wherever you go, it’s wise to invest in travel insurance, particularly an annual plan. An annual (or multi-trip) travel insurance plan protects all your trips — long or short, international, or domestic, planned, or spontaneous — for 365 days. These plans are a good bet because they typically are cheaper (and definitely easier) than insuring each trip separately, especially when the trips are expensive. The annual AllTrips Premier Plan is the only multi-trip plan that Allianz offers that can protect your entire household.

Whichever plan you choose, the free Allyz TravelSmart app from Allianz Global Assistance is the perfect travel companion. Allyz TravelSmart lets you instantly access all the benefits of your AllTrips plan, whether you need help in a hurry or you just want to know what your plan covers. Travel protection provides peace of mind to travelers in moments that matter. Allianz serves as a hub that puts insurance benefits, assistance services, safety features, and added convenience at customers’ fingertips—where and when they need them most.

Whatever your budget and schedule, you will have plenty of options to choose from. Here is our short list of 51 great ideas for Summer Fun, created with our partners at Taking the Kids and Little Family Adventure.

Alaska port on a quiet day.
Plan a summer trip that visits an Alaskan port from the land side.

1. ALASKA BY LAND THIS SUMMER

Though most summer travelers opt for cruise ships, there are lots of other options to explore Alaska. The state boasts 100,000 glaciers, more bears than people, the world’s largest temperate rainforest, eagles, whales, soaring totem poles, and fascinating gold rush history.

Birdwatch, staying at a remote lodge only accessible by boat at Kenai Fjord National Park. Alaska Wildland Adventures has been offering such opportunities to get into the wilderness since 1977. See the rescued bear cubs and raptors in Sitka. Perhaps the most iconic of Taking the Kids Alaska adventures was a stay deep inside Denali National Park a decade ago at family-owned Camp Denali. It is one of just a few lodges that provide guided hikes in the trailless park because when it was established, they were outside the park boundaries. Today, they are inside the six-million-acre park and their hikes are incredible.

Or tour in an RV or camper. There are more than 400 RV parks and campgrounds. The Tongass National Forest is nearly 17 million acres, encompassing nearly 90% of Southeast Alaska. There are more than 46,000 miles of tidal shoreline, 80% inaccessible by road and longer than the other 48 states’ coastlines combined. Fish for halibut west of Homer in the Cook Inlet, or for salmon on the Kenai River. Just south of downtown Ketchikan, the Herring Cove area is home to a salmon hatchery and is a popular location for fishing and wildlife viewing.

2. ARKANSAS IS NOT TOO HOT FOR HOT SPRINGS

When looking for the perfect family vacation spot in Arkansas, Hot Springs should definitely be at the top of your list. This charming city offers something for everyone, from relaxing hot springs and spas to outdoor adventures and family-friendly attractions. 

Start your day of family activities in Hot Springs by exploring Hot Springs National Park, where you can take a leisurely hike, enjoy a picnic, and even dip your toes in the soothing thermal waters. For some thrills, visit Magic Springs Theme and Water Park, where kids and adults alike can cool off on water slides, ride roller coasters, and enjoy live shows. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the area’s history at the Gangster Museum of America or take a scenic drive to nearby Lake Ouachita for some boating and fishing fun. With its mix of relaxation and excitement, Hot Springs is sure to be a hit with the whole family!

Other notable Arkansas destinations for families include Little Rock. Take a stroll through the River Market District and enjoy delicious food from local vendors, or head to the Little Rock Zoo for an up-close encounter with exotic animals. And don’t forget about Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, which offers free admission and features works from renowned artists such as Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keeffe.

3. BALI BEACHES AND CULTURE BECKON THIS SUMMER

Fishing boats moored offshore Permuteran Beach, northeast Bali, at dawn.
Fishing boats moored offshore Permuteran Beach, northeast Bali, at dawn.

June through August is the winter holiday period Down Under, the time when Australian and Kiwi families flock to Bali, Indonesia. The island that epitomizes ‘paradise’ lured 5.2 million foreigners in 2023 and is the perfect combination of relaxation and culture for families. Bali boasts beautiful beaches, exotic temples, rich traditions, and great eats in a verdant landmass smaller than the state of Connecticut. There are dozens of family resorts along the coast, but slow roads and humid tropical weather make a central base essential. That’s why we like the cooler, central hillside village of Ubud. It is Bali’s cultural heart and the filming location for “Eat, Pray, Love.” While you can find Burberry and Cartier among Ubud’s batik and sculpture galleries, Bali is still a bargain for family jetsetters.

Book an authentic, ornate villa at one of the family-owned Alam Indah Hotels, oases of calm outside the Monkey Forest. The original Alam Indah has a central dining room where families can meet other guests. However, their beautiful cliffside pool has steps better navigated by older kids. Alam Jiwa or Alam Shanti are even more private escapes with pools among gardens and rice paddies. All have modern amenities, great service and staff who arrange cooking classes, batik-making workshops, kid-friendly guides, yoga, fishing, biking, and traditional Balinese massages.

A luxurious, hand-crafted Alam Indah villa for two or three starts is just $99/night in June. Alam Indah Hotels rates include a full Balinese, Western, Indonesian, or Australian breakfast delivered to your villa; afternoon tea with Balinese cakes; and free car service into Ubud for shopping and dining.

4. BASEBALL FANS PLAY BALL, WATCH BALL 

Whether you have Little Leaguers in your family or just baseball fans, summer is a great time to plan a trip around baseball. Visit historic ball parks like Fenway Park in Boston that opened in 1912 and is home of the Boston Red Sox. The new offices at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore are built within a historic B&O Railroad warehouse behind the outfield. The Astrodome in Houston was considered a wonder of the world when it opened in 1965 and was the first fully enclosed, air-conditioned sports stadium. Dodger Stadium in LA is the third oldest MLB park in the country.

Of course, bleacher prices have risen just as fast as players’ salaries. If Major League games are beyond your budget, check out minor league baseball games wherever you are traveling this summer. There is the Norfolk Tides, an Orioles AAA team. The Tennessee Smokies is a Cubs AA team, just as the Portland, Maine Sea Dogs feed the Red Sox. In California, we’ve had fun at a San Antonio Missions game, knowing players might soon join the Padres. Summer is a great time to also check out college players. The Cape Cod Baseball League, for example, is one of the country’s premier collegiate summer leagues with more than 1,000 former players  who have gone on to play in the major leagues.

5. BLACK CULTURE IN MONTGOMERY AND JACKSON  

Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama
The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached, welcomes visitors to its lower level.

The richness of Black culture is reversing the Great Migration and encouraging all families to visit the South. You’ll be rewarded for visiting during the hottest and most humid time of year by lower hotel rates and many festivals.

Mississippi’s capital of Jackson welcomes former residents and new visitors to a city where a majority of the population is Black and proud. The city boasts three HBCUs (Jackson State, Alcorn State and Tugaloo College), the hip neighborhood of Fahlgren packed with bars and a bowling alley, terrific Southern cooking, bookshops, and a mid-August Literary Festival that attracts thousands. This summer, spark a conversation at the remarkably candid Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Follow the state’s Blues Trail, tour Southern writer Eudora Welty’s home, then head to Belhaven Beach for a swim and a picnic in the shade.

Montgomery, Alabama is another city that has embraced its painful heritage of racism and terror against African Americans. Visit the brand new, 17-acre Freedom Monument Sculpture Park on the Alabama River, the latest project of the city’s Equal Justice Initiative. Nearly 50 sculptures by world-famous artists like Kehinde Wiley, Hank Willis Thomas, Simone Leigh and Rose B. Simpson evoke the history and repercussions of slavery in America. Victims of lynching are honored at the outdoors EJI National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Stories of the enslaved and imprisoned are highlighted at the multimedia Legacy Museum (best for older children.) More sites of significance to Black history in America may be closer to home.

6. BUDGET AIRLINES RULE THE SKIES

To maximize your family’s summer travel budget, set price alerts on sites such as Hopper, Kayak, and Google Flights when considering flying to your destination. Domestic budget airlines such as Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit, and Frontier often offer competitive prices for domestic flights and can save you significant amounts of money.

For low-cost international flights, Icelandic airline PLAY offers daily convenient flights from the East Coast (Boston, Baltimore/Washington D.C., and New York) to more than 33 popular European destinations. Other budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet also offer affordable options for traveling within Europe.

In addition to budget airlines, don’t forget about the perks of flying with credit card points or frequent flyer miles. Many credit cards offer travel rewards that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and more. Keep an eye out for special promotions or bonuses that can help stretch your travel budget even further.

Tarp set up over dining area outside two tents at campsite.
Camping 101: A tarp extends the playspace of your tent site and protects meal time from the elements. Photo c. ITUBB via pixabay.

7. CAMPING AND THE RV LIFE FOR SUMMER

First thing you need for camping with kids is Eileen Ogintz’ latest Kid’s Guide to Camping. According to the KOA 2024 North American Camping Report, one out of three leisure trips include camping as more travelers seek new and unique ways to explore the outdoors. More than half of campers report they are more likely to continue camping, a 15% increase over 2023. The majority of campers, according to the report, plan to incorporate forest immersion, meditation, yoga and more as an effort to “slow down.” Use our guide to determine your family’s own camping style and needs.

RVing is also very popular. But you can’t just park your RV or pitch a tent anywhere you like. Campgrounds — especially in and around national parks — get booked early. If you can, you will want to reserve campsites either in or near the park you want to visit. KOA, with more than 480 locations in North America, has cabins and RV sites near many national parks. Under Canvas provides seasonal glamping tents, activities, and food in a growing number of locales, including Zion and Bryce Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Glacier. The 2024 Campspot Awards for the top campgrounds inspires families to get and stay outdoors (affordably!) this summer.

Those who don’t own an RV can take their pick of RVs with a peer-to-peer RV rental company like RVShare or Outdoorsy. Camping isn’t always roughing it! Autocamp Joshua Tree has a desert ecologist on staff and sommelier-led wine tastings while you sleep in Airstreams. Check out their eight camps from Asheville to Cape Cod to Zion, Utah, all featuring accommodations in modern Airstream Suites.

8. CAPE COD – YOUR MASSACHUSETTS SUMMER ESCAPE

Cape Cod, just 75 miles from Boston and 20 miles at its widest point, extends 60 miles into the Atlantic. Take your pick of beaches — there are 115 to choose from including the Coast Guard Beach in Eastham or Marconi Beach in Wellfleet famous for its dune cliffs. Take scenic Route 6A all the way into Provincetown, where a sunset SUV tour through the magnificent rolling dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore awaits. Kayak and paddle board, bike, or whale watch at the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Indulge in homemade ice cream at the Cape Cod Creamery or lobster rolls and fried clams at several “shacks.” Play mini golf, hit the dry and wet rides at the Cape Cod Inflatable Park. On a rainy day, check out the Whydah Pirate Museum, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum or shop until you drop in quaint towns like Wellfleet or Barnstable.

Opt for a rental house or cottage or a posh resort like Chatham Bars Inn or Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club. Don’t have a big budget? Head to Falmouth on Cape Cod, where 24 Hour – Stay MA  has special packages and discounts at hotels. At the Green Harbor Waterfront in East Falmouth, choose any three midweek nights and get a fourth night free, with rates from $179/night including breakfast. Watch boats enter the harbor from your outdoor pool or a chaise by the barbecue. Or camp in an air stream at Autocamp or a cottage at Campers HavenRV Resort.

Fort St. Louis and the coast of Saint Martin/Sint Martin, the half-Dutch, half-French Caribbean isle.
Fort St. Louis and the coast of Saint Martin/Sint Martin, the half-Dutch, half-French Caribbean isle.

9. CARIBBEAN ISLANDS, HERE WE COME 

Many say summer in the Caribbean is ‘family season’ because prices are lower — including for flights — and the ocean and pools are just as inviting. It is, however, hurricane season, which is why we recommend you always vacation with travel insurance.

With budgets tight this year, why not sample some of the region’s new experiences? Taking the Kids recently visited Barbados, famous for its African – British heritage and history (it gained independence from Britain in 1966), white sand beaches, food, and adventures from caving to surfing. St. Barts is making a play for families, highlighting kid-friendly accommodations at Le Sereno and Hotel Manapany touting 25% off for a five-night minimum stay.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts, in collaboration with Paramount, has new offerings at Punta Cana’s Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts, where there’s an expanded Aqua Nick waterpark. The U.S. Virgin Islands offer exclusive deals for travelers looking for breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage. U.S. citizens won’t need a passport, for example, to attend the free St. John Carnival (June 30–July 4), a colorful celebration with music, food, and the J’ouvert parade. The historic Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort on St. Croix is touting a 5th night free. The Westin Resort and Spa and Magens Hideaway in St. Thomas have special summer discounts. Curacao, one of the Netherlands’ ABC islands, is a gem still largely unknown to Americans but especially popular with Dutch tourists. At Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino, watch as resort wildlife are fed. Book the Family Experience package by June 30 to get a free day at Camp Hyatt for two, $150 market credit, beach arrival amenity, beach rafts and a $150 Spa credit.

10. CHICAGO’S WINDY REPUTATION IS WELCOME IN SUMMER

Conde Nast Traveler readers have voted Chicago as the best big city in the country for seven years in a row and it’s a great bet for cool breezes in summer. (Just avoid Aug. 19-22, 2024, when the Democratic National Convention will be in town.) We love being out on Navy Pier and riding the 196-foot-tall Ferris Wheel over the shore of Lake Michigan. Chicago is affordable, too, with awesome family-friendly museums, attractions and, of course, the great eats. You can’t leave without eating a deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwich (made especially famous on the hit TV show “The Bear”) and a Chicago style hotdog (hope you like onions, tomato, and sweet pickle relish.) Choose Chicago has launched a new show titled “The 77: A City of Neighborhoods” that explores the authentic stories, culinary traditions, and preservation efforts that define five communities.

Visit the new Bronzeville Children’s Museum, the first African American children’s museum in the country and the Museum of Ice Cream. In Lincoln Park, home to the zoo, Climb aboard the very first ‘L” elevated train car. Pack a picnic and catch live music at Millennium Park free summer music series. Stand outside one of the world’s tallest buildings at The Ledge, an all-glass balcony at Willis Tower’s Skydeck Chicago. Uncover Chicago hotel deals at the Hyatt Regency Chicago — the city’s biggest hotel and the largest Hyatt in the world has just undergone a major renovation. The Ivy Hotel is offering 25% off for advance bookings, the Hilton, and The Palmer House (home of the famous brownie) have free breakfast included in the rates. The Four Seasons has enhanced the kids’ experience complete with an in-room gamer menu, an Adventure Passport and Friday Check-in activities.

11. CONFEDERATE HISTORY IS ALIVE IN FREDERICKSBURG

May 2024 marks the 160th anniversary of the Civil War’s Overland Campaign, a 40-day battle of endurance between the Union’s Lt. Gen Ulysses S. Grant and the Confederacy’s Gen. Robert E. Lee. Plan a short road trip to historic Fredericksburg, Virginia where 19th-century highlights include  the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. While the Confederates fought to victory, more than 85,000 men were wounded and 15,000 killed in a battle that raged over four days in Dec. 1862. More Union soldiers are buried at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery than anywhere else the Civil War was fought.

Walkable downtown Fredericksburg has numerous craft and antique shops, plus many restaurants in restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings. Stay overnight and enjoy outdoor cafes and Southern charm. There are many budget options on the highways. The  Courtyard Fredericksburg Historic District in town has studios with a king bed and sofa bed, free Wi-Fi, breakfast and an indoor pool for $280/night in June. Make time for the Washington Heritage Museums, four sites related to President George Washington who spent his childhood there. Listen for the stories of former slaves on the Trail to Freedom.

12. CRUISE WITH SMALL SHIPS ON YOUR OWN FAMILY ODYSSEY

Small is in. As long as you don’t mind that there won’t be water slides, glitzy entertainment, or dozens of eateries, you can have a much more personal experience aboard a small ship. Small means you can kayak past snacking bears in Alaska, snorkel where  and when you choose in the British Virgin Islands or get up close to amazing wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. You likely will find that the costs will be the same or perhaps less than aboard megaships, as everything, including excursions, is included. In some cases, you may be able to book a boat just for your family.

AdventureSmith Explorations can arrange cruises everywhere from Alaska to the Galapagos Islands to Hawaii, the Amazon, Belize, Europe and more. Adventurous families can opt for a crewed sailing trip on a private yacht with The Moorings, everywhere from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean to Thailand. Book houseboat rentals across North America at Houseboating.org. Drive your own barge through canals with LeBoat.com in Europe, the UK  and Canada. Windstar is especially popular with families who have older or grown kids because their sailing yachts can go to less-visited ports, as Taking the Kids discovered in Greece.

13. DRIVE ROUTE 66 – THE FIRST 100 MILES

Route 66 sign marks the beginning of the Mother Road in Chicago. Photo by Tio Hugo for pexels.
Route 66 sign marks the beginning of the Mother Road in Chicago. Photo by Tio Hugo for pexels.

Route 66 celebrates its centennial in 2026, but you don’t have to wait until then to experience the iconic road trip. The first 100 miles of Route 66 found in Illinois, offers a glimpse into America’s past with its charming small towns and roadside attractions.

Start your journey in Chicago with a selfie under the route start sign at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. Enjoy your time in Chicago, but don’t stay too long because there’s so much more to see on Route 66.

Be sure to also stop in Joliet and make a pit stop at the Route 66 Welcome Center for some free travel information. Park at Joliet Prison, featured in the Blues Brothers movie and other TV shows. Then continue to Wilmington and make a pit stop at the Gemini Giant. This 28-foot-tall statue of an astronaut holding a rocket serves as the perfect photo opportunity and symbolizes America’s fascination with space exploration when Route 66 was popular.

Continue your drive through small towns like Dwight and Odell, where you can still see remnants of old gas stations and motels that once catered to the many travelers on the route. Take a moment to stretch your legs and explore these charming towns before getting back on the road.

Next up is Pontiac, known as the “Mother Road’s Memory Lane” with its Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum. Don’t miss the chance to take a photo with the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum, featuring vintage cars from the heyday of Route 66.

14. EUROPE RIVER CRUISES WHERE KIDS UNDER 16 SAIL FREE

Gondoliers paddle tourists on the canals of Venice. Photo by Efrem Efre for pexels.
Gondoliers paddle tourists on the canals of Venice. Photo by Efrem Efre for pexels.

Two of this summer’s best offers are the Family Club Cruises and Multigeneration Cruising from the France-based river cruise line CroisiEurope. They are offering special pricing for kids and multigeneration families traveling together throughout summer 2024. Cabin, all meals, beverages, onboard entertainment, and activities are included in rates which begin at US$1765. The best of the Family Cruise program perks is that children up to 16 years old travel free or at reduced rates. Additionally, they waived the single supplement for parents or grandparents in their own cabin. Adjacent cabins are available on request. Plus, enjoy healthy and delicious menus for all ages.

Many families enjoy CroisiEurope’s Family Club cruises in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and Croatia. Spend six days in Portugal and Spain on a Porto, the Douro Valley and Salamanca itinerary. On a 6-day Timeless Venice adventure, sail from Venice across the lagoon to Burano and Mazzorbo. Start in the Alsace region of France and cruise the Rhine River through Germany on a 6-day cruise, among many other options. All the above European river cruises welcome kids ages 16 and under free.

The CroisiEurope Multigeneration Cruising discount offers savings for grandparents, parents and kids travelling together on a European river cruise in summer and beyond, and the discounts can be applied on Family Club cruises.  The second cabin receives a 20% discount and kids under 16 travel free.

We highly recommend these river cruises, by barge or small river boat, because they reduce your workload. Forget about finding affordable hotels, buying museum admissions, or booking transportation during the busy Europe summer season. Cruise experts run daily cultural shore excursions free of charge with local guides fluent in English, French, Spanish or your native language. There’s no excuse not to make a Europe adventure a rich learning experience for all ages. Get more information about CroisiEurope’s Family Cruise program and book your next family vacation at the CroisiEurope website.  It’s a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to meet families from around the world.

15. FESTIVALS. SUMMER. EXCITEMENT.

Wherever you are visiting, see if a local festival, fair or outdoor concert is taking place. Some favorites include Silver Dollar City’s award-winning Bluegrass & BBQ Festival. Discover many of the nation’s top bluegrass artists at the 1880s-themed Branson, Missouri amusement park and succumb to the aroma of smoked barbecue, May 2-27.

In June, Pride Month, look for festivals everywhere from San Diego to Seattle to Miami, with most taking place the last two weeks of June. The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival brings together more than 150 musical performances in Manchester, TN, about an hour’s drive from Nashville and Chattanooga from June 13-16.

July means the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan (June 29-July 6) complete with carnival rides, pie eating contests and more. Most of Calgary’s 1.6 million residents celebrate community during Canada’s Calgary Stampede. Turn up July 5-14 for bucking broncos, all varieties of food and the chance to try out your inner cowboy at one of the area’s many ranches. Cowboys also love Frontier Days, celebrating its 108th year in Cheyenne, WY (July 19-28.) It attracts a half million people to see championship bull riding, country music, Western art shows, Native American performances and more.

Bonney Lake’s Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire brings together pirates, elves, fairies and knights just outside of Tacoma the first three weekends in August.

All summer, there are free outdoor concerts in San Francisco’s parks and neighborhoods, including Golden Gate Park’s “Illuminate Live” concert series at the bandshell and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. The Philadelphia Chinese Lantern Festival runs June 20–Aug. 18 in Franklin Square, where the Franklin Square Fountain Show dazzles with daily performances every 30 minutes starting at noon.

16. FLORIDA’S UNSPOILED SANCTUARIES IN FORT MYERS, SANIBEL, CAPTIVA

The Fort Myers area is home to more than 100 barrier and offshore islands. This Gulf Coast region is where the entire family can play on the beach, kayak, paddleboard through mangroves and more. (In inclement weather, take the kids to see inventions and antique cars at the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.)

Make sure your visit supports sustainable tourism at these fragile destinations damaged by Hurricane Ian (September 2022.) On the hard-hit barrier island of Sanibel, some bridges, bike paths and the fishing pier aim to reopen by summer. The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge has seen an incredible amount of wildlife resilience. Join Tarpon Bay Explorers to canoe or kayak past new eagle nests, gopher tortoises and other marine life. Both Sanibel and Captiva Islands are featuring special nightly rates on vacation rentals and condos as they recover fully.

The Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, home to a diverse family of rescued, rehabilitated, and non-releasable animals, is another worthwhile stop. Support their master renovation plan to house animals ranging from Florida alligators and flamingos to beautiful macaws, pythons, turtles, tortoises.

17. FRANCE OLYMPICS EXPERIENCES BEYOND PARIS 

French Legion of Honor Medal awarded to US veteran Vernon Mitchell,  now 102, ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Photo c. Wayne Mitchell
French Legion of Honor Medal awarded to US veteran Vernon Mitchell, now 102, ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Photo c. Wayne Mitchell

Certainly, Paris will be packed for the Summer Olympics. But there are plenty of other options where you can avoid the crowds — and even take in some of the Olympics action for soccer, sailing, basketball, and surfing. Nine destinations outside the metro region are also hosting events.

Lille is hosting basketball (July 27-Aug. 4). Bordeaux, famous for its wine, is hosting soccer games (July 24-Aug. 2) as is Nantes (until Aug. 8.) Soccer or ‘football’ as the French say, comes to Lyon, the gastronomic capitol of France (July 27-Aug. 9) and to the Riviera in Nice (July 24-31.) Marseille hosts windsurfing and kitesurfing (July 28-Aug. 8).

Don’t forget this June is also the 80th anniversary of the Normandy invasions and a visit is a great place to help make history come alive for kids and adults alike. Besides all of the history and lessons on the cost of war, you can cycle through the countryside’s small villages, visit a cheese factory, see cider being made, enjoy a sausage at a farmer’s market or oysters right from the ocean. Leave time to ogle the famous 230-foot-long Bayeaux Tapestry that dates back to the 11th century at the delightful Bayeaux Museum.

18. GOLF LESSONS MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE A PRO NO MATTER YOUR AGE

Why has golf seen a resurgence among young players? Experts cite three reasons: Golf relieves stress. It’s a safe, non-contact sport. Golf is said to improve mental acuity. All solid reasons why parents and grandparents are planning multigenerational golf vacations together. Before you invest in pint-sized gear and lessons, try the sport locally at a putting green. For a more serious sample, consider enrolling ages 5+ in a day class at a US Sports Camp near you.

In good news, rates at several high-end resorts in the hot zones of Florida, Hawaii, and Arizona, actually fall in summer. We found more than a dozen top resorts that transform into top family golf resorts with kids’ camps, special academies and family-together clinics. Did you know the Kids Golf-4-Free program at select Marriotts allows kids 15 and under to play for free after 3pm – with free clubs and a lesson — when accompanied by a paying adult? At the Hilton Waikoloa, play nine holes together after 3pm and ages 6-17 pay only $25 and get free club rentals. Follow our tips on how to teach kids golf successfully and develop a new sport you’ll all enjoy this summer.

19. GREECE – BIRTHPLACE OF OLYMPIC GAMES

Although the 2024 Olympics occur in Paris, why not journey to where the games began back in 776 BC? Greece offers a unique blend of ancient history and modern charm. 

Athens is a must when planning a family trip to Greece. This ancient city is not only rich in history and culture but also offers a variety of activities for all ages. Visit the Acropolis to marvel at the Parthenon, explore the charming Plaka neighborhood, and don’t miss the interactive exhibits at the Acropolis Museum. From Athens, venture to the lesser-known Greek Islands for a more laid-back and authentic experience. Islands like Milos, Folegandros, or Astypalea offer stunning beaches, traditional villages, and a glimpse into Greek island life away from the crowds. Whether it’s relaxing on pristine beaches, exploring ancient ruins, or enjoying delicious Greek cuisine, a family trip to Athens and the lesser-known Greek Islands promises an unforgettable experience.

When it comes to accommodations in Greece, there are plenty of options to choose from. The St. George Lycabettus, a boutique family-owned hotel in Athens goes above and beyond for guests.

 Or for a quieter island stay, opt for a modern apartment or suite at the Iphimedeia Luxury Hotel & Suites in Naxos. This hotel offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea and is just steps away from the nearby village and Laguna Beach.

Top tour operator Alternative Athens has designed self-guided road trips to the Peloponnese, Mainland, Crete and beyond. Families get route maps, activity and restaurant suggestions from a custom app, and hotels with breakfast included. Rates for the three-day Highlights of the Peloponnese – good with kids because drive times between sites and beaches are short – starts at 308 Euros per adult. 

Opt to sail away on a Celestyal Cruise around the Greek Islands, a  perfect way to explore multiple destinations while enjoying the luxury and comfort of a cruise ship. With stops at popular islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, and Corfu, you can experience the diverse beauty and rich history of Greece in just one trip. Plus, all meals and entertainment are included in the price, making it an affordable and stress-free vacation option.

20.  GROWN KIDS TRAVEL TOO

Just as grade schoolers lead parents and grandparents in unexpected directions on vacation, so do adult children… maybe to a brewery, a distillery, a local club, or pop-up restaurant. Increasingly, the post-college crowd is traveling with their parents.

Eileen met several mother-daughter duos on the adult-only (18+) Virgin Voyages cruise. Backroads now has an entire list of trips designed for parents to share with young adults in their lives. Taking The Kids did a Backroads bike and river cruise trip with a daughter and son-in-law. If you have the budget, opt for an all-inclusive, adult oriented cruise like on Regent Seven Seas with a decided focus on food. Visit an adult-only all-inclusive resort (Sandals resorts are 18+.) Look for a women-only trip to share with adult daughters like from REI Women’s Adventures, AdventureWomen.com or Intrepid Travel.

Or enjoy bringing younger grandchildren along. Planning a multigenerational trip can be a big headache for whoever is in charge. If your group is a dozen or more, organize a trip just for you whether you want a private yacht in Alaska, a national parks adventure, tours of European cities or more. Companies including Abercrombie & Kent, Backroads, Austin Adventures and OARS are among those that can organize a trip for your family, complete with a kid-friendly itinerary and staff to help entertain the kids.

The key is to have the “kids” of any age involved in the planning — and then be flexible enough to allow them to lead the way.

Guide Becky leads our group in exploring Mission San Jose in south San Antonio.
Guided biking group explores Mission San Jose in south San Antonio.

21. HISPANIC HERITAGE AND CULTURAL LANDMARKS

Take time this summer to celebrate our common ancestors who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Climbing out of his boat in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the US. In addition to telling the story of 16th-century exploration, Cabrillo National Monument west of San Diego is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources.

By the 17th century, the Spanish established trading roads called “camino reals” in what is now Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico, laying the foundation for art, architecture, language, and food that define the region today. Visit Texas’ El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. At El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail in New Mexico, experience this rich history.

Learn more at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of the American Latino at the National Museum of American History. The new facility tells the stories of Latinos and Latinas who shaped the culture of the US Presente! in a look at immigrants from Latin American countries.

Be inspired at the César E. Chávez National Monument in California, by the man who organized farm workers and supporters in the establishment of the United Farm Workers of America. From 1962-1974, Miami’s , the Freedom Tower, also known as El Refugio, was considered the “Ellis Island of the South.” Explore the National Historic Landmark, now a gallery at Miami Dade College, to understand the Cuban exodus experience.

22. HOUSEBOATS AND VOLCANOES IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA  

Going house boating is a super laid-back vacation option for families. A good place to set sail is Lake Shasta in Redding, California, where you can also tour Shasta Caverns. Exploring this cool cave complex, the site of many weddings, will intrigue the kids. The average houseboat looks like an RV mounted on twin pontoons. Rentals range in length from 44 to 75 feet and sleep up to 12.

Lake Shasta is now about 90% full after the West’s heavy spring rains, ideal for watersports and salmon, trout, bass, crappies, and bluegills fishing. The local Holiday Harbor Marina rents paddleboards, ski boats, inflatables, all the gear you’ll need to explore the lake’s 30,000 acres. Find bargains during the April/October low season or the May and late August value weeks. The smallest houseboat starts at $730 for two nights, double that for mid-summer. Campsites begin at $56.50/night.

For some real heat, catch the volcano action at Lassen Volcanic National Park. It’s a lesser-known park, with 10% of the visitors that Yosemite gets, but totally spectacular for lava lovers. Drive the 50-mile highway to the north entrance (Volcano Peak Scenic Byway) or enter south from Volcano Legacy Highway for a fun mini-road trip. The dormant and snow-capped Mount Lassen seems to keep the park cool. Drive the park’s 30-miles of scenic vistas amid fields of pumice stone, glacial lakes, fumaroles, and bubbling smoke pots. Watch for signs and occasional the road closings due to the 2021 Dixie Fire, which cleared a million acres. Great all-ability hiking trails abound — note that some, like the famous Bumpus Hell Trail, often remain under snow till June.

23. JAMAICA MEANS ONE LOVE

Beach and Montego Bay shoreline at Half Moon Beach Resort at sunset.
Beach and Montego Bay shoreline at Half Moon Beach Resort at sunset.

If the terrific “Bob Marley – One Love” film starring Kingsley Ben-Adair makes the family want to learn more about the reggae star, his band the Wailers, and their cherished home – it’s time to go to Jamaica.

Where to stay is no problem with all-inclusive resorts, private villas with staff to cater to every need, posh beach resorts and GoldenEye, where Ian Fleming famously wrote the James Bond books. Fleming  was inspired by the turquoise water, lush tropical plants, and friendly people, and built a villa not far from Ocho Rios. Today, people rent the Fleming Villa (it sleeps 10), among the 40 villas, cottages, and beach huts at the 52-acre resort. Goldeneye has proved a muse to others as well. Sting wrote the hit “Every Breath You Take” and Bono wrote the theme song to the “GoldenEye” movie here.

Jamaica’s Half Moon Resort in Half Moon Bay has been welcoming guests including movie stars, writers, and politicians since the 1950s. JFK famously vacationed here before his inauguration. Today, spread out on 400 manicured acres, there are 210 rooms and suites along two miles of beach. Another 27 1-to-7-bedroom villas come with a butler, cook and housekeeper and a golf cart to tool around the resort. There’s everything from water sports to an equestrian center. Summer offers plenty of deals if you stay more than two nights. Enjoy up to 30% off and get a free golf clinic, yoga session and non-motorized water sports, access to racquet sports (tennis, squash and pickleball), the children’s village and pony park. Children 10 and under dine free at any of the resort’s buffets.

24. LGBTQ+ TRAVEL WITH KIDS

Traveling as an LGBTQ+ family with kids can be a rewarding and enriching experience. We recognize the hesitation LGBTQ+ parents and those with trans children might feel when planning a family vacation without clear guidance. It’s essential for everyone to vacation in places where they feel welcome and at ease. 

The travel industry strives to become more inclusive and welcoming for every guest. Provincetown in Cape Cod, along with cities like Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles, have long been cherished as popular destinations within the LGBT+ community. Visit a city during a Gay Pride celebration—there are many throughout the summer.

In recent years, a growing number of travel companies and accommodations have been catering specifically to LGBTQ+ families, providing resources and support for a safe and enjoyable vacation experience. From family-friendly hotels and resorts to LGBTQ+-owned small businesses, there are plenty of options for families to choose from. IGLTA is the world’s leading network of LGBTQ+ welcoming tourism business, offering advice, LGBTQ+ friendly accommodations, destinations, travel agents and more in 80 countries. With that in mind, we present a roundup of eight terrific same sex couple resorts that cater to families AND were nominated as the best of the best by the Gay Travel Awards. Even better, they’re affordable.

Father - daughter selfie with the Tower Bridge in the background on a London vacation.
Father – daughter selfie with the Tower Bridge in the background on a London vacation.

25. LONDON ON A BUDGET FIT FOR SUMMER 24

London is often the first overseas city American families visit. There is no language barrier (once you understand British colloquialisms.) The city offers plenty for families, too, from many free museums, cheap theater, fun festivals, and parks to the stellar “Making of Harry Potter” studio tour just outside London.

Visit London touts 25 free don’t miss free sites and attractions. Free museums include the fantastic Imperial War Museum, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Gallery, and the Museum of London. Take a free stroll through Hyde Park. Window shop at markets including Old Spitalfields, Camden Market and Portobello Road for souvenirs. Borough Market is known for terrific but cheap eats. Besides eateries and artisans, Covent Garden Market features a roster of street performers.

Book discount London theater tickets on Londontheatre.co.uk or at TKTS London in Leicester Square. Travel back in time and explore the 1,000-year-old Tower of London where you can also see the crown jewels. Meet local families and more than 750 species of animals at the London Zoo. Fly up the Thames River on the Thames Rockets speedboat past iconic London landmarks and under the Tower Bridge. Take a tour of Buckingham Palace, (only open July-October), with a special coronation exhibit. This summer, in July and August, the East Wing, which includes the famous balcony where royals stand for big events, will be open for guided tours.

Plus, there are many budget places to stay, including American brands like the hotel Indigo (IHG), Canopy by Hilton, Travelodge London City, Holiday Inn London-West and many more. The UK’s first residents club, the Other House South Kensington, has just opened, offering apartment-like accommodations with hotel services and a private members’ club starting at $250/N.

26. LOS CABOS AND PACIFIC MEXICO

Los Cabos — from the airport at San Jose del Cabo to the Baja Peninsula’s southern point at Cabo San Lucas – is booming. No one seems to mind the dry heat at what’s considered one of Mexico’s safest tourist destinations. Rates are not as cheap as they used to be, although many inexpensive places can be found. Checking Priceline Los Cabos hotel rates for June, we’re seeing the popular Solmar for $106/N including breakfast for two. Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, a waterfront all-inclusive, has junior suites from $459/N.

At the 5-star Grand Velas Los Cabos, families build sandcastles, party with water balloons and foam, enjoy movies under the stars, cultural performances, a daily kids club and more. Pack lightly! The Baby Concierge provides everything from baby bath amenities and cribs, to strollers, childcare and gourmet baby cuisine. Summer all-inclusive rates mean kids stay free, teens pay 50%, you get half off the airport transfers and a $50 spa credit per night for adults. Here are other favorite Cabo family hotels.

This Pacific paradise is known for its marine life, so put a swim with dolphins encounter on your wish list. Cabo Adventures runs them daily for ages 4+. Book online and save 30% off rates or choose two daytrips with them (the zipline and UTV tour is fun) and save 40%.

27. MAUI TOPS HAWAII WISH LIST FOR SUMMER

Staff making leis with guests at teh Wailea Marriott Resort on Maui. Photo c. Marriott Resorts
Staff making leis with guests at teh Wailea Marriott Resort on Maui. Photo c. Marriott Resorts

The current M?lama Maui program, Care for Maui, is helping this Hawaiian gem recover from last summer’s wildfire that killed nearly 100 people. Visit now. Although the historic port of Lahaina remains closed, there is plenty to see and do around the island. Support locals by booking a snorkeling or sailing trip. Viator has several options for luaus and whale watching as well. Opt for local restaurants. Take the famously winding road to Hana and stay awhile.

Thoughtful touches such as family lawn games, introductory Scuba lessons, nightly fireside s’mores and Mo’olelo (Hawaiian storytelling) make the Wailea Beach Resort our Maui pick. Four pool complexes and the longest waterslide on Maui are tucked into 22 acres wrapped by two gold sand beaches, Get out of the sun at their unique GameSpace. This family entertainment lounge, all free, features a variety of arcade games, board games, billiards, foosball, and shuffleboard. A family of three can book a junior suite including breakfast from $766/N.

Take the teens to see the Four Seasons Maui, where the first season of the HBO dramedy “White Lotus” was filmed. Try an Amaro Spritz at Ferraro’s while they enjoy the house made pizzas and ocean views. Maui locals and Hawaiian officials know your tourism dollars will rebuild communities. Review the Hawaii Tourism Authority page on how you can help.

28. MIDWEST ROAD TRIPS FOR BEGINNERS

Packing the car and hitting the road is a classic American vacation, and the Midwest offers some of the best routes for families looking to explore. Pack some healthy road trip snacks, fill up the tank, and get ready for an adventure through charming small towns, scenic countryside, and iconic landmarks. Here are some easy road trip planning tips if you need them. 

Why not start with the historic Route 66 which runs from Chicago to LA? This iconic highway is a must-see for any road trip enthusiast. Explore the nostalgia of roadside diners, neon signs, and quirky attractions as you make your way through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

For those looking to escape the city life and get back to nature, consider driving along the Great River Road that follows the Mississippi River from Minnesota all the way down to Louisiana. Along the way, you can stop at charming river towns such as Galena in Illinois or Natchez in Mississippi. You can also enjoy stunning views of the river and its surrounding bluffs while picnicking at one of the many scenic overlooks.

Another popular route is the North Shore Drive in Minnesota which takes you along the shores of Lake Superior. This scenic drive offers breathtaking views of the lake, as well as opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing in the nearby state parks.

For those who prefer a mix of city and nature, consider taking a trip through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. You can start in Denver and make your way through scenic mountain towns like Aspen and Telluride before ending at the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the way, you can take in the beauty of the mountains while also experiencing urban activities such as dining at trendy restaurants or attending cultural events.

29. MILANO, ITALIA FOR THE FASHIONISTA, ARTISTA AND CULINISTA

Camparino, an exclusive aperitivo spot in Milan where familes are welcome to join in this happy hour ritual.
Camparino, an exclusive aperitivo spot in Milan where familes are welcome to join in this happy hour ritual.

According to the 2024 Allianz Partners Vacation Confidence Index, Americans are set to spend upwards of $221 billion on summer vacations. Although the Paris Olympics has pushed Italy out of this year’s Top 10 International Destinations, that doesn’t mean our favorite city of Milan has anything less to offer. Even if you only have a few days, your Milan itinerary should include couture fashion design, fresh pasta and Leonardo’s “The Last Supper.” Top it off by celebrating your finds with that Milanese ritual, the aperitivo. Yes, it’s true – even children are welcome to snuggle up to the bar at the city’s famous Camparino aperitivo bar, where light appetizers and beverages are served to stimulate the appetite.

The reserve-ahead Camparino lounge is on the second floor of the colonnaded Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. This must-see, glass-domed arcade was constructed between 1865-77 to making shopping easy for the city’s elite. It still does! Start here for a taste of designers Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Zegna, Etro and more gems from the Milan’s runway mafia. Then explore the area around the Duomo, the city’s central cathedral and Europe’s largest Gothic church. Bet the kids will be impressed with the enormous video billboards covering the facades under restoration. When they’re ready to run around, walk over to Castello Sforzesco, the private estate of the Sforza family, one of the city’s Renaissance rulers. In addition to several small museums and the famous La Pieta Rondanini, Michelangelo’s last sculpture, there are gardens and grounds to run around.  Last minute planners can arrange entry tickets to “The Last Supper” with Tourist Italy by joining their excellent guided tours.

Most Milan attractions are compact enough to explore on foot or on the efficient electric trolley system. One neighborhood we love is Navigli, where you can still see the original grand canal. The Hotel Maison Borella is right on its banks. Since rates drop in the heat of mid-summer, when Italians vacation, you can book a non-refundable Maison Privee with breakfast for four at just 226 euros/N.

30. MOUNTAIN TOWNS IN SUMMER: BEST OF COLORADO

Free is always a good bet. Kids up to 18 are free at the Denver Art Museum and the History Colorado Center, a great choice for first time visitors to Colorado with plenty of interactive activities. Denver’s just-reopened Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab offers multimedia presentations that address global security issues and tools to prevent terrorism in our communities. Everyone is encouraged to “Do Colorado Right” and embrace the state’s interpretation of responsible tourism — showing care not only for destinations but for visitors and the people who call Colorado home.

Visit a hot spring like the famous Glenwood Hot Springs Resort between Aspen and Vail. It has the world’s largest hot springs pool with a new expansion expected to be finished this summer. The Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop showcases 23 of the state’s premier hot springs. Get away from the lights at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, famous for its night skies. Discover archeology at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Some of the most sought-after whitewater in North America resides in the Centennial State at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (Salida.)

Wander the entertaining Pearl Street Mall in Boulder or catch the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Boulder’s new multi-use trail system “North Sky Trail” is part of its push forward as one of America’s most bikeable cities. The city of Colorado Springs (Olympic City USA) is home to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. Don’t just watch the Paris Games, experience them in Olympic City USA at Downtown Summer Fest (July 27).

And while Colorado mountain towns may not be the bargain they once were in summer, there are plenty of free attractions, not counting the amazing hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing and more. Seven National Wildlife Refuges are free and open to the public for spotting everything from moose to bald eagles.

There are plenty of options for camping and glamping. Pagosa River Domes is the state’s first geodesic dome destination with 14 modern domes offering an eco-friendly retreat with all the essentials in Pagosa Springs. Campfire Ranch Wash Gulch is a new backcountry lodging option opening for its first summer season in Crested Butte. Rustic Rook Resort near Great Sand Dunes National Park offers fully furnished glamping tents, five upcycled grain bin glampers and five vintage RVs.

31. MUSEUMS FOR KIDS, FUN AND GAMES

There are nearly 500 children’s museums in the country, and many offer a window into their home city as they are aimed at local children. Learn how communities tackle important issues in age-appropriate ways. Did you know New York’s Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the oldest in the country, dating back to 1899? Their unique collection, mostly 19th and early 20th century objects, invites conversations about race, culture, and colonialism.

The National Children’s Museum in Washington, DC has just launched its Climate Action Heroes exhibit in partnership with Nickelodeon Our World. Through this project, children’s museums and science centers across the globe will be able to receive complimentary access to climate education resources in informal learning settings with beloved Nickelodeon characters such as Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. 

In Kansas City, the new Rabbit Hole brings to life a century of American children’s literature for visitors of all ages. Visitors become explorers in an immersive, multi-sensory, narrative landscape spanning three floors. Stories include Curious George, Babar the King, Strega Nona, Caps for Sale and many more. There are also book-making workshops, writing labs, professional opportunities for educators, exhibit-related performances, national and local author events, residencies, and a multitude of hands-on, literature-based art making activities.

The massive Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the world’s largest, is often ranked number one as the best for kids. At the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience, experience more than a dozen sports from basketball to soccer to football and hockey to a pedal car racetrack. Each miniaturized sport provides age-appropriate equipment and hands-on activities, fostering teamwork and family bonding.

The Chicago Children’s Museum’s Play for All initiative creates a community for visitors of all abilities. Circusville (through Sept. 7) encourages different experiences whether you enter the center ring, backstage and more as kids play dress-up, try juggling or balancing on a tightrope.

The You, Me, We! exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum encourages families to connect around questions of fairness, stereotyping and discrimination. Explore soil, leaves, veggies, worms and more at the Fenway Farms, a replica of Fenway Park’s rooftop garden at the museum. Kids can learn about local plants and share their own gardening and food stories.

Check the association of children’s museums to find one near where you plan to visit.

Nurse shark at The Sanctuary for marine animals
Nurse shark at The Sanctuary for marine animals in the Baha Mar complex. Nassau, Bahamas

32. NASSAU, BEST OF THE BAHAMAS

Nassau, the vibrant capital of the Bahamas, is a perfect summer destination with its crystal-clear turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Indulge in delicious Bahamian cuisine at local eateries or try fresh conch salad at Arawak Cay. For adventure seekers, snorkeling at the famous Blue Hole or swimming with dolphins at Blue Lagoon Island are must-do activities. And don’t miss out on shopping for unique souvenirs at the Straw Market or luxury goods at the high-end stores in downtown Nassau

The OSPREY (new summer 2024) offers beachfront accommodations and 400 feet of direct beach access on Great Harbour Cay, a short flight or ferry ride from Nassau. With on-site dining options, a spa, and various water activities available, this resort is the perfect place to relax and unwind in the Bahamas.

For those wanting to stay closer to the city, The Cove at Atlantis on Paradise Island offers a luxurious escape with its private beach, nearly a dozen pools, and over 235 dining options. For a more budget-friendly option, the Comfort Suites Paradise Island offers spacious accommodations and complimentary access to resort amenities at the nearby Atlantis resort, making it the perfect choice for families.

33. NATIONAL PARKS OVERTOURISM ALERT.

Be part of the solution to overtourism this summer. If you have a fourth grader with their own Every Kid Outdoors family pass, please ask them to select a lesser-known national park for your free summer visit. You may be disappointed if you try to plan a last-minute trip to the most popular national parks. Arches and Glacier, Haleakala in Hawaii, Rocky Mountain, and Yosemite National Parks are among those requiring Timed Entry passes costing $2 per vehicle. Others require reservations only for certain scenic roads. (All timed entry permit reservations need to be purchased ahead of time from Recreation.gov.)

For the first time ever, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state will implement a pilot timed-entry reservation system for vehicles entering through the Paradise Corridor and the Sunrise Corridor. Outside has a guide to the latest reservation requirements.

Still, there are plenty of ways to avoid the hassles and the crowds. There are 429 national park sites in the U.S., though just 63 have the “National Park” designation in their names. Choose a National Battlefield, National Monument or National Seashore to visit. Consider the less-visited National Parks  including North Cascades National Park in Washington state, Great Basin National Park in Nevada  or Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. 

Grand Canyon West is a good alternative, a few hours’ drive from the famous hikes at Grand Canyon National Park. Did you realize this million-acre “park” is the tribal land of the Hualapai Nation, and was developed by them for tourism? Check out the thrilling Skywalk, a 15-year-old glass bridge cantilevered out over the Grand Canyon’s west rim. The views are tremendous.

In the Northwest, instead Olympic, head to Deception Pass State Park near Seattle, whose high bridge and steep cliffs entrance the locals. There’s even a chance to hike through Kukutali Preserve on Kiket Island, which is co-owned and co-managed by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

34. NEW HAMPSHIRE, HISTORY, CULTURE, AND OUTDOOR FUN

New Hampshire is a fantastic destination for family summer vacations, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and outdoor fun. Families can explore the White Mountains, home to stunning scenery and outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and even zip-lining. 

The state’s rich history can be discovered in places like Portsmouth, a charming city with historical sites, museums, and beautiful architecture. Don’t miss out on exploring the quaint town of Hanover, home to Dartmouth College and a vibrant arts scene.

For a dose of seaside fun, a visit to Hampton Beach is a must, where families can enjoy the sandy shores and various water activities. And no trip to New Hampshire would be complete without a visit to the iconic Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast and a popular spot for hiking and scenic drives.

Bretton Woods touts a 3-hour zipline with sweeping views of Mount Washington. Nearby, the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort has everything from golf, spa and mountain biking to disc golf and guided hikes. 

But perhaps one of the best things about visiting New Hampshire with your family is being able to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. With over 70 state parks, families can spend their days exploring waterfalls, swimming in lakes, or relaxing

Also, the Lakes Region with its crystal-clear lakes is perfect for a relaxing family getaway with opportunities for boating, fishing, and lakeside picnics. Or hike in the Chesterfield Gorge Natural Area and enjoy the Monadnock Music Festival. 

Breathe New Hampshire, the state’s tourist offers, features a handy Summer 24 New Hampshire Fun Pass Discounts page full of savings for families.

35. NEW MEXICO FOR NUCLEAR SCIENCE FANS

Students compete and learn at the annual Los Alamos Science Fest. Photo c. ScienceFest
Students compete and learn at the annual Los Alamos Science Fest. Photo c. ScienceFest

Has the Academy Award-winning movie, “Oppenheimer,” piqued your family’s interest in this fateful time in human history? New Mexico’s science and research center at Los Alamos, part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, was where the atomic bomb was developed. The park’s rangers and visitor center provide insights into World War II, atomic science, and the people behind the bomb. With school-age and older kids, follow the self-guided walking tour. Go through the History Museum campus and down the legendary Bathtub Row, where Manhattan Project scientists and Nobel Prize winners lived. Nearby, the award-winning Bradbury Science Museum houses replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Kids feeling inspired? The Los Alamos Science Fest shows off STEAM projects July 12-16. This year’s theme is Creative Energy, spawning several new exhibits. The free Tuesdays at the Square series brings live bands to town each week from June through July. Plan your Los Alamos hotel stay on Booking.com. To get the most out of New Mexico’s history with the bomb, follow our Nuclear New Mexico guide to the Trinity Test site. There’s a fascinating, free exhibit in Carlsbad about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), which is celebrating 25 years of operations at the nation’s only deep, underground geological repository for disposal of transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste.

36. NEW ORLEANS SIZZLES IN SUMMER 

Focus your summer trip idea around the Campains of Courage Pavilion at the stunning National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
Focus your summer trip idea around the Campains of Courage Pavilion at the stunning National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Dubbed “The Big Easy” and “The Most Interesting City in America” depending on your viewpoint, New Orleans family attractions will not disappoint. This charming Southern belle boasts a culture that is truly unique. The music is inspiring, the cuisine is to die for. It’s the only place as famous for its Mardi Gras parties and vibrant multi-ethnic culture, as for its jazz and other musical genres. And New Orleans family attractions are as unique as they come.

Come in early June for top summer events and nosh at the annual Wine & Food Experience (June 5- 9), march at the Pride Festival (June 7-9), and buy fresh Creole tomatoes and dance at the French Market Creole Tomato Festival (June 8-9). Juneteenth is celebrated June 19 in Armstrong Park/Congo Square. Gal pals and fans of the hit comedy “Girl Trip” arrive for the 30th Essence Festival, being held in the city July 4-8. Dress in your summer best for White Linen Night (Aug. 3), when Julia Street becomes a block party and Arts District galleries and museums open their doors to showcase the city’s art scene. Satchmo Summerfest promises wonderful classic NOLA jazz and blues performed in tribute to native son Louis Armstrong. By the way, tell your foodies that August is Coolinary time, when the city’s top restaurants serve three-course feasts for just $30.

37. OHIO’S HOCKING HILLS FOR EASY HIKING

Hocking Hills State Park, just 50 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio, draws generations of hikers and Native American history buffs. That’s because easy hikes welcome visitors – even the disabled have some paved paths — to explore the scenic former home of Shawnee, Delaware and Wyandot tribes. From June 14-Sept. 1, treat the kids to “Tecumseh!” the dramatic play about a Shawnee chief fighting to defend his homeland during the 1700s.

Families seek out the more unusual, eroded rock formations, wooded trails, river kayaking and ziplines in and around the park. In addition to letting yourselves explore forest bathing, try night moth lightings, rock climbing, a scenic railroad, hands-on butterfly experiences, visits to artists’ studios, pontoon boats and more. Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Farmers Market is always an impressive outing. The nearby John Glenn Astronomy Park does star-gazing programs on weekends. Have fun selecting a one-of-a-kind lodging. From glamping in geodomes, treehouses, container homes and rustic tipis, there are more than 1,000 wildly diverse quirky choices.

38. OKLAHOMA CITY WHERE THE LAND IS GRAND

Oklahoma City, also known as OKC, is no longer just a flyover city in the heart of the US. With a booming economy and revitalized downtown area, it has become a must-see destination for families looking to explore along Route 66.

One of the main draws of OKC is its unique blend of modern technology and natural beauty. Families can experience both worlds by visiting attractions like the Science Museum Oklahoma and First Americans Museum, or enjoy one of the many nearby lakes for outdoor adventures.

There are fun things to do in OKC  for all ages, from the interactive exhibits at the Oklahoma City Zoo to thrill rides at Frontier City Six Flags theme park. And for sports enthusiasts, cheering on the OKC Thunder basketball team or OKC Dodger baseball team are a must.

But what really sets OKC apart is its strong sense of community and rich culture. From the vibrant arts scene in Bricktown to the iconic cowboy culture in Stockyards City, there’s always something new and exciting to discover.

For families looking to save money while still having a blast, OKC offers plenty of affordable options. The OKC Venture Pass  OKC Venture Pass, just $34 when you use the code NICKY, provides discounts on many area attractions and is ideal for both visitors and locals alike.

39. RIVER RAFTING, RIVER GAMES, RIVER FUN WITH OARS

Kids jumping off rocks into the Green River at the Gates of Lodore, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah on an OARS rafting trip. Photo by John Webber for OARS
Kids jumping off rocks into the Green River at the Gates of Lodore, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah on an OARS rafting trip. Photo by John Webber for OARS

OARS has been a trusted name in river running and adventure travel for 55 years and has many family-friendly guided adventures with guaranteed fun times for those of all ages, including kids as young as four. Maybe it’s rafting the Green River through the Gates of Lodore in Utah’s stunning Dinosaur National Monument, running exciting Class III whitewater on the Rogue River in Oregon, or playing river games with your teens on the beaches of the Lower Salmon River in Idaho.

With so many options for making lifelong family memories – even on adult kids river trips — it’s no wonder more than 1,000 families choose OARS for their family adventure vacation every year. Learn more and request your free guide to planning a multi-day family rafting trip today!

40. ROAD TRIPS FOR THE RESTLESS   

Packing the back seat with kids is always a great bet wherever you want to venture, as long as you keep their needs (and attention spans) in mind. With young ones, anchor yourself somewhere affordable and take short driving forays rather than a cross-country trip. The best of the Rockies, some say, can be seen right outside Denver. This Denver to the Rockies itinerary for example, highlights a day trip at altitude from Colorado’s capital to one of America’s most popular parks.

Or, choose from eight tiny road trips from the San Francisco Bay area. Explore California’s coastline, Sonoma’s vineyards and easy hike and bike trails through the countryside. Plan carefully because during summer, many activities require timed tickets. Engage the kids in planning what you want to see and do. Print out maps so they can plan pit stops and snack breaks every two hours. Speaking of food, healthy road trip snacks are an essential no matter how far you drive.

The Catskills Mountains, a vintage resort area a few hours’ north of Manhattan, is another region packed with budget lodging and easy road trips. Stroll through the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Go boating and swimming at White Lake, hike with alpacas, race go-karts and follow the history of the Borscht Belt, when the region was packed with resorts and summer camps catering to Jewish families.

Can’t resist a big road trip? Try one of the super scenic Top 10 road trip itineraries we’ve designed for America’s greatest roads.

41. SAN DIEGO FOR SUN, SAND, ANIMALS GALORE

Nine people in workout gear are doing a spin cycling exercise class on stationery bikes parked outside the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego.
Swimming, beach walks, yoga, tennis and the spa are among the many wellness recreation facilties available at the Del Coronado, A Curio Collection by Hilton resort in San Diego. Photo c. Hilton

San Diego, a wintertime family favorite destination, is hot again this summer. Local theme parks, SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California (a Certified Autism Center) always please with new delights. You can build your own LEGO-themed raft at the Water Park. Seaworld’s Arctic Rescue, reputed to be longest and fastest straddle coaster on the West Coast, puts you on a snowmobile racing through the Arctic at 40mph. Don’t miss the Penguin Encounter! Sesame Place San Diego is the city’s newest theme park. Belmont Park is San Diego’s long-time amusement and entertainment center complete with its historic Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and new Shipwreck Cove, a pirate-themed play area.

In animal news, China has pledged a pair of pandas for the San Diego Zoo, though they may not be here by this summer. Meanwhile, there is a new Wildlife Explorers Basecamp for the youngest zoo visitors. Check out San Diego County Fair, the largest in California and watch pods of blue whales on their way to North Pacific feeding grounds in summer.

Orient yourselves to decide between visiting the Gaslamp District, the beach at Coronado, Del Mar and its shops, the Petco Park stadium, home of the San Diego Padres. The USS Midway Museum offers the chance to relive nearly 59 years of world history on the longest-serving US Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

Chase the Summer Fun in San Diego with special deals whether you want a luxury resort, historic hotel, vacation rental or a bed and breakfast. Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa completed a property-wide, $26M renovation and added a new pool complex to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. Or relax in flip-flops at the 235-room Margaritaville Hotel San Diego Gaslamp Quarter and just chill by the pool.

42. SEATTLE’S SUMMER FAMILY TREATS

Seattle doesn’t disappoint with its museums, good eats, and outdoor experiences. Maybe you’re taking a cruise or sampling the Amtrak Cascades line service between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. through river and mountain vistas in Washington and Oregon. Whatever the reason for your visit, VisitSeattle has links to current discounts for summer visitors. Here are some of our favorite Seattle things to do.

Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry highly anticipated Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks will open just in time for Memorial Day weekend and will be at the museum through Sept. 22. In the interactive Build Zone, construct your own skyscraper, bridge, or cityscape using thousands of LEGO bricks, and see your creations come to life alongside those of other builders. The Museum of Flight opens Home Beyond Earth July 8 that showcases the human experience living in space. Digital tokens allow visitors to make their own journey and personalize their ‘life” in the space station of their choice.

Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection is the first comprehensive public display of 48 seminal works from every decade of American artist Alexander Calder’s career through Aug. 4 at the Seattle Art Museum. When it opens soon, Seattle Aquarium’s new Ocean Pavilion will focus on tropical species from the Coral Triangle in the Indo-Pacific. It should connect Pike Place Market with the Waterfront promenade via publicly accessible observation decks, stairways, and an oculus window that allows passersby to observe sea life from below.

Chihuly Garden of Glass never fails to amaze. Located next to the Space Needle, the exhibition features eight galleries and a lush garden from glass artist Dale Chihuly. Check out the Bar at Chihuly Garden and Glass with seasonal menus, regional beer, and wine and 25 of Dale Chihuly’s personal collections.

Ride the Seattle Great Wheel on the waterfront. Hit the waters of Lake Washington from REI’s two boathouses offering kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes. Cruise Puget Sound on a Washington State Ferry. (There’s a tidepool right at Golden Gardens Park for free viewing, just don’t disturb the old tires.) Kids and parents alike love the Woodland Park Zoo with its Living Northwest Trail focusing on animals of the Northwest, Western Canada, and Alaska and the Zoomazium, a petting zoo area.

Seattle’s beloved theatrical cirque experience Teatro ZinZanni has a residency at the Lotte Hotel Seattle with one-of-a-kind performances in the hotel’s grand ballroom. Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle recently underwent $25 million worth of renovations, just in time to celebrate its 100th year anniversary in 2024 while the historic  Arctic Club Hotel, built in 1916, has been restored with a nod to heritage associated with the Klondike Gold Rush. End the summer at Bumbershoot, the Seattle-celebratory arts & music festival over Labor Day weekend.

43. SMOKY MOUNTAINS SUMMER FUN

Deep Creek Adaptive Hiking program seves teh disabled at Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo c. NPS
Deep Creek Adaptive Hiking program seves teh disabled at Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo c. NPS

Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are three fun Tennessee cities set amongst the backdrop of the nation’s #1 visited National Park — Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plan your days around countless hiking trails, river rafting, fishing, wildlife viewing, biking, camping and glamping. In great news for this summer, the very popular Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to motorists every Wednesday so bicyclists and pedestrians can take over. Additionally, adaptive programs for the disabled have been expanded to include three opportunities for hiking, two for biking, one for kayaking and one overnight camping trip.  

Gatlinburg is an ideal base for families who want lots of attractions mixed in with park visits. Regional adventure parks, a world class aquarium, arts n’ crafts festivals, restaurants, and music venues are surrounded by the great outdoors.

Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood, the Appalachia themed amusement park founded by Dolly Parton. The local Pink Jeep Tours runs guided expeditions into the Smoky Mountains to understand their history, geology, flora, and fauna. Summer specials at the two Dollywood resorts – DreamMore and Heartsong – include passes to the waterpark and a Timesaver Pass for five expedited entries to any participating attractions or shows, as well as one-hour early admission.

Before you go, check out Eileen Ogintz’s “Kid’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains” and be sure to order your NPS parking pass. The Park It Forward program launched last year collects $5 per day to raise revenues for the park, which is admission-free.

44. SUSTAINABILITY COMES TO CRUISING

Once again, this summer the best value summer cruises are found on Caribbean and Mexico itineraries. One reason travelers are trying or returning to cruises is the advancement the industry has made in becoming more environmentally friendly. While more than 78% of travelers surveyed have said they would pay more for sustainable travel vacations, with cruises you won’t have to.

The progress made in alternative fuels such as biofuels and liquified natural gas (LNG) and operating efficiency can be seen aboard MSC cruises, whose ships sail the world. Sleek new hull designs, special frictionless paint and robust waste management systems have been implemented on large parts of Carnival Corporation’s fleet. The Onboard culinary teams have even figured out how to reduce food scraps by 30% which has a big impact on garbage – and some is processed into compost that benefits land communities. Carnival Cruise Line has found great success with Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal’s videos that encourage guests not to waste food. On the newer ships, most of the water onboard is produced sustainably from seawater. Since many Americans live within 500 miles of a cruise port, your family can reduce its carbon footprint by driving instead of flying to the point of embarkation. Here are some other ways your family can travel more sustainably.

45. SHAKESPEARE ON STAGE

Outdoor evening staging of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo c. Travel Southern Oregon (2017)
Outdoor evening staging of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo c. Travel Southern Oregon (2017)

Take advantage of this extended school holiday to enrich your family’s cultural outlook with some Shakespeare. The famous Bard’s works come to life from March to October at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The OSF in beautiful Ashland is America’s largest non-profit theater. Their eight annual productions include new, old, and global works; Shakespeare and other classics; musicals and contemporary theater. If you have kids or grandkids interested in drama, music, literature or any performing arts, there’s no better introduction than a visit to family-friendly Ashland. Make the small and walkable southern Oregon town your base for outdoor adventures along the Rogue River, and day trips to spectacular Crater Lake National Park.

The Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada presents 12 productions in four theaters from early May through the end of December. Catch top quality productions of Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night and even La Café aux Folles. Options like kids’ prices and special Pay What You Wish performances — whatever you can above $10 — make it affordable for all. (Tip: Stratford offers a round trip express bus from Toronto, making it easy to add a bit of Shakespeare to a city visit. Plus, Toronto has a great live theatre scene.)

Another option that dramatic kids will enjoy is the Utah Shakespeare Festival, part of Southern Utah University in Cedar City. This festival of Shakespeare, contemporary plays and a variety of dramas takes place in its own replica of England’s classic Globe Theatre to add to the fun. Between June and October, catch any of the eight productions by the Tony Award-winning regional theater company.

To be or not to be with The Bard this fall? They say all the world’s a stage and this roundup of the top Shakespeare Festivals proves it.

46. TEXAS BEACHES WORTH THE HEAT

This summer, families should consider visiting the beautiful Texas beach towns of South Padre Island and Galveston for a fun-filled vacation. South Padre Island offers pristine beaches perfect for sunbathing and water activities like snorkeling and parasailing. Families can also visit the Sea Turtle, Inc. conservation center to learn about marine life conservation efforts. 

In Galveston, families can explore the historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, relax on the beach, and visit Moody Gardens to see exotic wildlife and plants at the Rainforest Pyramid. The island also offers a variety of water sports such as jet skiing, surfing, and fishing. And for those looking for some educational activities, the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum provides an interactive experience to learn about the oil industry.

Visiting the best beaches on the Texas Gulf Coast is not just about sunbathing and water activities. These seaside towns also offer a mix of urban experiences that are worth exploring. From trendy restaurants serving up fresh seafood to cultural events showcasing local art and music , there is something for everyone on the Texas Gulf Coast. And if you’re a history buff, be sure to check out the historic Pleasure Pier amusement park, where you can ride classic carnival attractions and take in stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.

A hybrid wood and steel roller coaster thrills fans at Six Flags Over Georgia. Photo c. Six Flags
A hybrid wood and steel roller coaster thrills fans at Six Flags Over Georgia. Photo c. Six Flags

47. THEME PARKS NEWS

Expect crowds! IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, forecasts more than 300 million visits this year. Also expect more family attractions including new family coasters like Good Gravy at Holiday World in Indiana and Penguin Trek at SeaWorld Orlando.

They’re also much more inclusive. All of Orlando’s major theme parks – Universal OrlandoWalt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando, and LEGOLAND – have specific programs and services for those with special challenges. Download their guides to learn how they accommodate guests who may struggle with extended wait times or loud surroundings. Peppa Pig theme parks are certified autism centers. A second Peppa Pig Theme Park is set to open in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year.

Sustainability is a hot topic too. All 27 Six Flags theme and water parks across the US, Mexico and Canada are open with environmental protocols, like compostable packaging and recycling initiatives. Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom have had solar panel arrays installed to help power their attractions. Magic Mountain, home to Wonder Woman flight of Courage, is being transformed by a solar carport energy and storage system.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay cares for more than 200 species of animals in an accredited zoo setting among exciting thrill rides. Sea World’s Discovery Cove has a new Flamingo Mingle to allow visitors to feed the birds and learn about conservation. SeaWorld Orlando is also home to a state-of-the-art Coral Rescue Center which provides a meaningful way to view living corals up close through interaction with biologists, learn more about conservation and understand the steps everyone can take to make a difference in ocean health.

A budget alternative is Tennessee’s 67-acre Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay in Louisville. Among more than 70 attractions are six crazy roller coasters, two giant wave pools and an impressive number of just-for-toddler rides. Currently, Season passes start at $79.99. Don’t miss their free Pre-K season pass for ages 3-5, being distributed through June 30. Our best advice – look into the heavily discounted season passes at a park near you and see if there’s reciprocity at other parks. You’ll save and enjoy extra benefits right now and can plan weekends to sister parks at no extra cost.

48. SKI IN SUMMER   

Some diehard skiers and riders like to brag about hitting the slopes in the morning and golfing in the afternoon. That’s certainly possible at several places this summer. Palisades Tahoe, for example, opens through May 27. California’s Mammoth Mountain, plus Mt. Bachelor and Timberline in Oregon also stay open through May. Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin will tentatively stay open until June 4.

You can also head south to world-class South American mountain resorts open for skiing and snowboarding in Chile and Argentina. Choose Valle Nevado, easy to get to from the Santiago Airport, for its buzzy apres-ski scene and Andes views. At Bariloche in Argentina, the famed Cerro Catedral is closed for mountain repairs this season. However, at smaller Argentine Patagonia resorts, you can still enjoy a glass of Malbec because children under age 5 have free daycare included with their lift tickets.

Is that too much of a journey? Woodward, a pioneer at teaching action-adventure sports skills, runs eight overnight adventure camps in America. Each summer, young extreme athletes can hone their skills and bond with other campers they will soon ride pro with. Check out the schedule at Woodward Copper and inquire which of their other destinations will be able to feature snow sports this year.

49. TRAIN TRIPS FOR UNFORGETTABLE, SUSTAINABLE AND EASY VACATIONS

Family with beach gear aboard Amtrak's Downeaster train going to Maine for summer vacation.
A family with beach gear rides Amtrak’s Downeaster train to Maine for an eco-friendly summer vacation. Photo c. Amtrak

With the emphasis on reducing carbon emissions through sustainable travel, grand journeys by rail are now on many family’s bucket lists. If you’re heading for a Western train trip, book Amtrak’s overnight Sunset Limited in either direction between Louisiana and California. Watch the Bayou Country, Mexican border, arid Southwestern deserts, and California mountains pass by your window. This route runs three times a week and is a great way to appreciate the scenery without confining the kids to car seats or sweltering out in the sun.

Families based in the mid-Atlantic will find several great Eastern train trips. If you splurge on the high-speed Amtrak Acela, even fidgety kids will love the remarkable views of Chesapeake Bay enroute to DC, expert railfan Ralph Spielman says. Why not take the train to Strasburg, Pennsylvania? This locale boasts The Strasburg Railroad, The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the National Toy Train Museum and The Red Caboose Motel, where the family can stay together in one of 38 cabooses. Don’t miss the Casey Jones café, too, a major stop for kids both large and small!

The mother of all train trips may be the Alaska Railroad, which turned 100 in 2023. Among Family Travel Forum’s top Alaska activities, it’s a unique adventure. Expect some fun on the 270 miles of tracks between Seward and Fairbanks. You might even have some huskies climb all aboard. Little cruise-goers can opt for a mini-ride on the White Pass Scenic Railway from Skagway. The 40-mile roundtrip adventure on this historic, narrow-gauge railroad includes jaw-dropping hairpin curves, towering trestles, and glacier views reminiscent of what the Alaska Railroad offers.

50. TRAVEL WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE

Traveling with family members or children with special needs can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to plan ahead and consider the specific needs of each family member to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. For assistance in planning vacations for families with special needs,  new resources for assisting those on the spectrum.

Organizations like Special Needs Group and Flying Wheels Travel specialize in providing services and equipment tailored to individuals with disabilities. Travel agencies like Travel Able Vacations and Magical Storybook Travels, both started by moms with children on the Autism Spectrum, specialize in accessible travel. Autism on the Seas, offers “staffed cruises” on Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruises, plus resort stays catering to families with children, teens and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

If you are flying, the TSA Cares helpline assists travelers with disabilities, as long as you call (855-787-2227) 72 hours before your flight. You can also download a TSA notification card, which can help you get whisked through screening without waiting in long lines. Airlines also have special accessibility teams to assist with boarding and navigating the airport. Some even offer sensory kits for travelers with autism, which include noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, and calming cards.

When it comes to accommodations, many hotels now offer accessible rooms equipped with features such as wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and lowered countertops. Be sure to call ahead and request these accommodations when booking your stay. 

51. WISCONSIN, THIS YEAR’S HIDDEN GEM

Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse on the coast of Door County, Wisconsin. Photo by Dan Schulze for pexels.
Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse on the coast of Door County, Wisconsin. Photo by Dan Schulze for pexels.

Wisconsin is a hidden gem for family summer vacations. The state offers a perfect blend of beautiful natural landscapes, vibrant cities, and welcoming communities. From the stunning shores of Lake Michigan to the picturesque Door County, Wisconsin provides a diverse range of activities for all travelers. 

In Door County, families can explore lighthouses, indulge in delicious cherry picking, and go on scenic hike including the famous Ice Age National Scenic Trail that spans over 1,200 miles. Peninsula State Park is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy camping, fishing, and kayaking. The Dark Sky Park at Newport State Park is also a must-visit for stargazing and experiencing the night sky like never before.

For those looking for a city getaway, Milwaukee offers a vibrant cultural scene with museums, art galleries, and delicious food options. Families can take a tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum or visit the Milwaukee County Zoo to see over 2,000 animals from around the world. The Historic Third Ward is also a great place to explore with its charming boutiques and unique restaurants.

And let’s not forget about Wisconsin Dells, known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World.” Families can spend their days at various indoor waterparks, amusement parks, and even zip lining through treetops. And of course, no trip to Wisconsin would be complete without trying some famous cheese curds or enjoying a bratwurst at a summer festival. 

Is there a 52nd idea you want to share with us? Please do so in the Comments Field.

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32 Replies to “51 Summer Trip Ideas – Plan Your Perfect Family Vacation”

  • Celeste Hedequist

    Summer vacations are a canvas for unforgettable family adventures. From exploring Alaska’s glaciers to savoring Parisian cuisine the possibilities are endless.

  • Celeste Hedequist

    Summer is a great time to plan a family vacation. There are many options to choose from, such as visiting national parks, theme parks, water parks, cruises, all-inclusive resorts, group trips, or staycations. Happy travels!

  • vor

    Thank you for sharing with us, I think this website truly stands out : D.

  • Duncan

    Excellent post – thank you – there is a lot to digest. We did the Alsace tour last year, which was fantastic, to tour the Rhine too. It is stunning in summer, which I hadn’t anticipated – I’ve always seen it in photos, beautiful in winter with the snow all around.

  • zor

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw great design. “Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.” by Harold Bloom.

  • Praveen D

    Looking for a summer vacation that will keep the whole family entertained? Check out the list of 51 great family summer vacation ideas in this blog. Whether you’re looking for something outdoorsy, historical, or just a relaxing getaway, this blog has covered. From beach trips to amusement park adventures also there’s something for families vacation in Klamath. So whether you’re planning your dream vacation or just dreaming it up, be sure to check out this blog.

  • o poder

    Congratulations on the content. Interesting..

  • Rasmussen

    your article is so unique and very good

  • Madeleine Desselle

    Excellent blog post. I definitely love this site. Thanks!

  • guest

    I have noted these ideas and will follow them this summer vacation. cause last time have enjoyed https://www.goldenbustours.com/new-york-to-niagara-falls-bus-tours/ and that was cool experince for me.

  • bookanyboat

    Best Family Summer Vacations. Bookanyboat helps you search for boat rentals, yacht charters and sightseeing cruises in 3 exciting destinations, including: Dubai, Ibiza and Miami. bookanyboat.com

  • freeindexer

    Exactly what I was searching for, thank you for posting.

  • XE8

    Great info. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).

    I have bookmarked it for later!

  • Sarah Bilal

    i love it.. This is amazing information
    Thanks

  • I am glad we are able to travel this summer and the COVID thing is somewhat under control. Thanks for the great article, will share it on social.

  • If you are ever at a loss for things to do in Michigan’s Upper Thumb, you found the right spot. We went looking for a dozen neat and interesting things to do and came up with this list of free things to do in Michigan’s Thumb.

  • Thomas McGee

    wow ! this is really amazing and thank you for giving enough details . this is going to be very helpful . After this lockdown situation I will visit Europe.

  • C

    Known as “Kidsburgh” thanks to all the family-oriented activities in the area, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is an affordable and fun pick for families. Book tickets to popular attractions, like the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, on the VisitPittsburgh

  • efekt dunninga-kruger

    A very good article! Thank you

  • estaservice.us

    Must say that you have share some really interesting information and the list has many options for one’s family vacation. And the images that you have used in the article are amazing too! US is such an amazing place. Thanks for sharing these ideas with us, it was a good read.

  • Line-Magazine.com

    Minneapolis, Minnesota is a great pick for outdoor-loving families thanks to kid-friendly (and free) favorites like the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to more than 40 outdoor works of art

  • Ixbalanque

    Hi,
    Great article. The lists were amazing. I would also recommend visiting few Central American countries like Guatemala, Honduras. Honduras has some best family stay accommodations and its way cheaper to learn Spanish while you are travelling. Check our website to know how one can study Spanish while travelling around the country ixbalanquespanish.com/important-learn-spanish-honduras

  • Alex

    Hi, thanks for the huge list of good ideas! I reconnected with an old childhood memory of travelling on house boats.

  • Alex Smith

    Excellent post, Firsta! I enjoy reading about your travel experiences! Can’t wait to read your next blog post!

  • Paul Belly

    Hi,

    I am Paul from Cheapfaremart. I like your Article. If you always travel in Group then you can book cheap flights for Group travel like Family group, Students or business Group.
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  • Pradish

    I would definitely go for JURASSIC DINOSAUR DIG. Thanks for suggestions

  • Lucian

    So many good suggestions! It will be hard to choose but surely through these we will have the most beautiful memories in this summer vacation!

  • French Campsites

    Camping holidays in France are extremely popular and you’ll find some fantastic family friendly campsites with a whole host of activities including some brilliant swimming pools.

  • Misty

    For great prices on water rafting, cruise, zip line, and horseback riding activities, you can check out: http://www.mauiticketsforless.com

  • Indeed Caribbean islands are popular with families in the summer because of less rates than in winter, and the beaches and cultural attractions are just as appealing.

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