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One of our favorite ways to make memories as a family is to travel together and explore places outside of our small town in Louisiana. Some of our most memorable family vacations may not have been the most relaxing, but they were packed with fun activities and thrilling adventures that the whole family enjoyed and will remember for many years to come.
Our children can easily say that our family vacations are looked forward to on the same level as their birthday and Christmas, and it’s not because they get gifts and loads of candy, but it’s because they get to spend quality time with us doing fun things that we don’t normally do any other time of year.
Even if money is tight, there are ways to make these family vacations inexpensive.
This list of the top U.S. travel destinations for families will make you want to stop, freeze time and wish you didn’t have to leave:
Disney World is the ultimate family vacation! Even adults crave to go back because it never disappoints. There’s a reason that this place is called “the happiest place on earth!” Thrilling rides, delicious food, fireworks, endless shows, parades and family-friendly activities are only some of the experiences you will encounter at this epic destination.
There are also apps like My Disney Experience to help you keep track of dining reservations, wait times, show times and fast passes. This app has been a life saver, and I highly recommend you take advantage of it when planning your Disney vacation.
While you can book your Disney vacation anytime, it is generally recommended to book your reservations at least six months in advance for prime availability at some of the most popular resorts. Dining reservations can be made as early as 180 days in advance and fast passes can be reserved up to 30 days in advance. Use this link to get your fifth day free when you buy four days of Disney World Park Hopper tickets.
Our favorite Disney resort is the Wilderness Lodge because of its affordable prices in relation to its prime location only a short boat ride to Magic Kingdom. Our favorite time of year to visit is late September, early October or the week before Thanksgiving. January is also known for its low crowds and cool, but not cold temperatures.
For more information on booking your next Disney vacation, visit disneyworld.com or consult with a MickeyTravels agent like my friend Nina Fahrenholtz to get started today! You can contact her at (504) 415-0701, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her in the Facebook group here.
Hawaii is a luxury destination, and I’m sure it’s on many peoples’ bucket lists, but it is one not to be missed. Scrimp, save, scout for airline sales and do what you have to do to make this destination a reality for your family.
My daughter asks repeatedly every year to go back to Hawaii. We have been fortunate enough to take her twice and our goal is to visit each one of the islands separately in our lifetime.
The beautiful beaches, rich culture, delectable food, volcanoes and marine life are just some of the reasons to visit Hawaii. If your family loves snorkeling, then this is the place to be to see some of the most beautiful fish and maybe even swim with wild dolphins.
If you are avid Disney fans like us, then you will want to check out the Disney Aulani Resort. It is packed with things to do for the kids, such as scavenger hunts, character interactions, water slides, splash pad, fire pits for smores and beach activities. Planning a trip to Hawaii, but don’t know what to pack? See this post for my complete packing list.
Don’t miss Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor. These are not to be missed, and Pearl Harbor is kid-friendly. They even receive their own headset with easier to understand dialogue to follow along to to make the experience more relevant for them.
For more information, visit gohawaii.com.
If you are not “beach people” and prefer the views of the mountains over the views of the water, then Asheville, North Carolina, is a destination you should consider. This town is known for its hipster vibe, its majestic views, its hiking trails and rafting, and the 250-room Biltmore Estate.
Start your adventure by visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park Visitor Center to get some information on activities and excursions that may appeal to your whole family. If your family is into water sports, there are many places to ride the rapids or try tubing on the French Broad River. Other fun activities include zip lining, mountain biking, horseback riding, ropes courses, mini golf, laser tag and go-karts.
The summer months host a wealth of free festivals that are packed with crafts, good food, demonstrations, live music and activities for the whole family to enjoy. While summer time is considered peak season, you will also pay peak prices for lodging, so if summer is your only option, then opt for a weekday stay instead of the weekend.
Asheville is absolutely stunning in the fall when the leaves are changing color, so if you are looking to save a bit of money, then opt for a trip to this destination during your kids’ fall break. You will not be disappointed!
For more information, visit exploreasheville.com
This place is a surfer’s dream. With 10 miles of white, sandy beaches and ideal weather conditions, no wonder Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City.” Ten miles of uninterrupted coastline makes the perfect setting for a family vacation boasting with outdoor fun, such as beach bonfires, sand volleyball, biking, hiking, and of course surfing.
Take a short car ride to Disneyland and make a day of it at this iconic amusement park that should not be missed.
Our favorite hotel to stay at in Huntington Beach is the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. Its Spanish-style architecture, luscious gardens, spacious rooms, and a wealth of amenities makes it the ultimate family retreat. Want a little time for you and your spouse without the kids? Check out Camp Hyatt where they will be engaged in arts and crafts, sports and pool fun.
Don’t miss breakfast or lunch on the pier at Ruby’s Diner. Sit in a booth with ocean views and indulge in a delicious milkshake.
If you are visiting in July, you may even be lucky enough to catch a look at some professional surfing during the U.S. Open. You will be mesmerized by their wave-riding skills and it should keep the kids entertained as well.
For more information, visit surfcityusa.com
You will not be able to resist the beauty of this lake town in upstate New York during the summer months. Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, there is so much to do in this outdoor oasis on the east coast. This is the birthplace of the American family vacation!
Go for a morning hike, rent a boat and take your chances at fishing, lay out on the beach and have a relaxing meal at one of the restaurants with a waterfront view. Rent a car (or drive your own) a little ways north of Lake George to Lake Placid and visit the Olympic sites where you can take the lift up the mountain and slide down the slopes any time of year. My daughter loved it!
Our favorite place to stay in Lake George is the iconic Sagamore Resort, where families have been lodging for generations. This resorts boasts some of the best views and amenities, but there are also waterfront rentals, cabins for rent, bed and breakfasts and even dude ranches! Whatever your preference, Lake George will deliver!
If you are traveling in September, you will not want to miss the Adirondack Balloon Festival, which was named one of the Top 100 events in North America.
If you want your Instagram followers to be jealous of you, then you need to visit the most iconic hole in North America, the infamous Grand Canyon. Its breathtaking views are just one of the many reasons to take your kids there on a family vacation.
If you can peel your kids out of bed early enough or if they are just natural-born roosters, then you will not want to miss the beautiful sunrise, followed by a 1.5 mile hike to Ooh Ahh Point. Don’t be surprised if you see some wildlife such as elk and mountain goats along the way.
For more information about tickets, passes, guided tours, exhibits and special events, visit nps.gov/grca
Perhaps your family prefers the city scene instead of the beach or mountains. Every American should visit the most well-known city in America, also known as the “Big Apple.” There is just SO MUCH to do that it would take you multiple trips to NYC to be able to see and do it all.
Take a ride on the subway, visit Chinatown, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visit Times Square, book tickets and take the kids to see their very first Broadway show, stroll along in Central Park and visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
If you are looking to save a bit of money, there is a way to bundle these attractions for a “pay one price” for multiple attractions through CityPass and New York City Explorer Pass.
Oh, and don’t forget about the food! Here you will savor some of the most delectable eats found in America and some of these may very well be found in some of the most unlikely places (can we say hole-in-the-wall?)
For more information, visit nycgo.com to start planning your next vacation or staycation if you live close but have never really explored the city.
If you are looking for an outdoor oasis on the west coast, then these two destinations are for you. Adventure awaits in Big Sky, Montana. Only a one-hour drive from Yellowstone National Park, there is so much to do and so much to see that you just can’t go wrong regardless of the time of year you choose to visit.
Peak season is definitely the winter for the slopes on Lone Peak, but the summer boasts with adventures such as zip lining, a giant swing, bungee trampolines, climbing walls, swimming, paddle boarding, mountain biking, kayaking, ropes courses, and hiking, rafting and horseback riding. Be on the look out for wildlife such as foxes, bears, eagles, goats and the beautiful wildflowers.
Yellowstone is an adventure in itself with its geysers, mud pots, and vents. Here you will marvel at the big game wildlife such as elk, bison, bears and moose. There are several campgrounds here that are pretty economical and convenient to grocery stores, gas stations, showers and laundry services.
Not into roughing it? No problem. There are cabins and lodge rooms for rent for about $90 on up to $450/night and you can reserve your spot up to a year in advance. For more information, visit yellowstonenationalparklodges.com and bigskyresort.com
Where do you and your family like to go on vacation? Have you discovered a hidden gem that did not make this list? Tell us all about it in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.