20 kid-friendly family vacation ideas
Head to Orlando
When it comes to kid-friendly family vacations, Orlando, Florida, is hard to beat. Walt Disney put Orlando on the map when he chose it as the site for Walt Disney World. After opening the Magic Kingdom Park in 1971, Walt Disney World has expanded to include four Disney theme parks, two water parks and 22 themed resorts that are designed to delight families. Orlando also has become home to other great family attractions such as Universal Orlando and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Consider the Capital
Your children don’t have to be budding policy wonks to enjoy a vacation centered on Washington, DC. Kids are often fascinated by Smithsonian museums such as the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian, not to mention iconic attractions such as the Washington Monument and the White House. As an extra treat, plan to visit over Independence Day. The annual fireworks display, backed by the National Symphony Orchestra, is a party everyone should attend at least once.
Travel back in time
For a truly unusual vacation experience, take your family to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, where actors and volunteers portray people from the 1770s to show what daily life was like just before the American Revolution. Combine this trip through living history with more fun at the nearby Busch Gardens Europe them park or the giant water park at Water Country USA.
With an abundance of surf, sand and sun, Hawaii is a great vacation spot for families with children. Snorkeling, learning to surf and playing on the beach are great activities for kids, and depending on which island you choose you can tour an historic lighthouse, spot Humpback whales and dolphins, visit a volcano or hike through lush tropical forests to find hidden waterfalls. Add a traditional luau to your vacation schedule for a taste of Old Hawaii or just kick back and watch the sun set over the ocean from your lanai.
Linger in Paris
Life in Paris, even for a short time, is exciting. The French love children, and your kids are sure to love Paris. Plan a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower for a panoramic view, book a cruise on the Seine, and check out some of the great museums the city has to offer. Take your kids to the Luxembourg Gardens and let them sail their rented boats in the large pond, tour Notre Dame Cathedral to see the gargoyles up close, and then stop by Shakespeare & Co. for some books you can read aloud back at the hotel.
Visit a national park
U.S. national parks, from Yellowstone to Yosemite, showcase America's natural wonders and provide a wide range of kid-friendly activities such as camping, hiking, boating and horseback riding. Many national parks also have educational programs for kids that teach them to identify local plants and animals and to appreciate the environment.
Take your family on a horseback adventure at one of the many guest ranches that celebrate the Old West. Most guest ranches offer accommodations that are rustic but comfortable, and equipped with modern conveniences. Hearty meals are usually served family style, and some may include an evening or early morning ride to meet the chuck wagon beside a mountain stream. Horseback riding is often the main draw, but many guest ranches also offer swimming, sports, crafts and other kid-friendly activities.
Take a cruise
Cruises offer big family fun without a big price tag to match. Many cruise lines have special packages designed to appeal to families, which often includes shore excursions that are tailored to children of various ages. Most cruise ships have multiple swimming pools, and some have water slides and other special features as well as programs and activities specifically for kids.
Rent a fully equipped houseboat and take your family cruising on one of America’s scenic lakes or rivers. Vacation houseboats are available in many states nationwide. Explore secluded coves, have your meals on deck in the open air, and go swimming whenever the spirit moves you. No boating experience is necessary for most houseboat rentals.
Try an all-inclusive resort
All-inclusive resorts are a convenient and low-stress travel option for many families. These no-hassle resorts take the guesswork out of family vacations by providing food, lodging and most activities for a single affordable price in beautiful locations such as Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and many other U.S. states.