From coast to coast, the U.S. offers a wide range of places that make ideal family-friendly vacation spots. These destinations provide plenty of activities to entertain kids, while also having tons of things for adults to enjoy. Whether you prefer a big city vacation or a beach trip, the following are some of the best family-friendly vacation spots in America.
The capital of the U.S. provides exciting activities and historical and cultural attractions for all ages. Families can visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to watch giant pandas play, and see other animals from around the world. The National Mall features several family-friendly places to visit, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Some of these have free admission, making this a budget-friendly trip as well. Kids and adults can also have fun at the International Spy Museum. Many hotels in and around Washington, DC have convenient amenities for family vacations, such as suites with kitchenettes or easy access to local transportation for sightseeing.
Gatlinburg is a premier destination for families who want a good mix of relaxation and recreation. The town serves as the gateway to the incredibly scenic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, open year-round with free admission, an accessible preserve with old forests, wildlife, trails and waterfalls. Gatlinburg is jam-packed with attractions for the kids and the grown-ups, from arcades to kart tracks, coaster rides and mountaintop restaurants, plus live music, dining and shopping galore. Families staying in luxury Gatlinburg cabins in the foothills can spend time taking in scenic mountain views from outdoor decks. Kids can stay busy indoors with entertainments and games. Hot tubs, gourmet kitchens and other amenities that come with these cabins also provide additional ways to unwind.
Outer Banks, NC
The Outer Banks is a picturesque and relaxing destination for families. The area features many miles of beaches and shoreline. Families can go kayaking, swimming, explore tide pools, or go fishing at Corolla Beach, Kill Devils Hills, Kitty Hawk, Duck Beach, or other area beaches. Carova Beach has wild horses that roam along the sands, making it a great spot for animal-loving families. First Flight Adventure Park, miniature golf, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, and other attractions and activities provide plenty of things for families to see and do. The Outer Banks features multiple kinds of accommodations, including vacation rental homes on the beach, high-end hotels, RV parks, campgrounds, inns, cottage courts, and much more.
The Windy City offers a big city adventure for families. Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, Brookfield Zoo, and 360 Chicago are just a few of the family-friendly spots to go during a family vacation. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour offers a convenient way for families to explore more of the city. LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Adler Planetarium provide fun for visitors of all ages. Chicago has a ton of restaurant options for families, from quick meals and casual dining to themed restaurants and upscale dining. Families can choose from a number of hotels and other accommodations. Some offer views of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, while others are in the heart of the city.
Yellowstone National Park, ID, MT, and WY
Families who want a rugged adventure out west can head to Yellowstone National Park. The park has many trails to explore, including Mystic Falls Trail and the Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail. Families can watch Old Faithful, see bison roaming around the plains, and spend quality time together hiking or doing other outdoor activities. The Grand Canyon, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Norris Geyser Basin are just a few of the more memorable places to visit in the park. Families can rough it outdoors at the one of the park’s campgrounds, and Yellowstone also has hotels located in the park’s borders for families who want a more comfortable place to stay.
Lake Tahoe, CA and NV
Lake Tahoe provides a beautiful place to go for a family vacation. Situated across the border of California and Nevada, the area offers water activities that the whole family can enjoy, with shallow beaches for the young ones still mastering their strokes, as well as other outdoor recreation. Families who visit when it’s warm can swim in the bright blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Those who visit when it’s cold out can hit the slopes at one of the area’s many ski resorts. The Lake Tahoe area also has several trails to explore, so families can look for local wildlife and take in stunning natural surroundings. From luxury resorts packed with amenities to rustic cabins in the mountains, families have a wide range of accommodations to choose from in the area.
Gulf Shores, AL
Gulf Shores is a beach spot that provides tons of excitement for families. The Track Family Fun Park features go-karts, while the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo offers a place for families to see over 100 animal species, including endangered species. Gulf State Park offers hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation. When it’s warm out, families can go swimming in the ocean or kayaking in the state park. The area is filled with vacation rental homes with ocean views. Other accommodations include hotels, campgrounds, resorts, condos, bed and breakfasts, and cabins.