If you’re feeling stir crazy, let this list of the best vacations in each state be your inspiration. And, some of them may be in your back yard! These are the 50 best family vacations in America. Keep in mind that COVID-19 restrictions vary by state, it is best to keep a mask or some sort of face-covering on you at all times.
1. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Beautiful beaches and vacation rentals galore—that’s what makes Gulf Shores an ideal vacation destination for families. If you can peel the kids from the sand, make a trip to historic Fort Morgan, and when everyone gets hungry, head to LuLu’s. There’s a guaranteed wait at the restaurant, but that’s half the fun considering this local institution offers a giant sandbox and even ziplining!
Recommended Hotel: The Beach Club
2. Denali National Park, Alaska
If Denali National Park isn’t on your family’s travel bucket list, add it now. You can cruise to the famous park—Disney, Carnival and other major cruise lines make the trek—or try a scenic train ride from Anchorage or Fairbanks. Be sure to visit the Husky Homestead to learn about Alaskan dog sledding, and even hold the resident pups!
Recommended Hotel: Denali Bluffs Hotel
3. Sedona, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is worthy of a visit—don’t get us wrong—but Sedona is equally beautiful and far less crowded. Take the kids on a Pink Jeep Tour of the Red Rocks, and be sure to look for Snoopy Rock, a rock that closely resembles Snoopy lying on his back! Afterward, head to Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill for dinner with a view, or catch the sunset at Sedona Airport Overlook.
Recommended Hotel: Sky Rock Inn of Sedona
4. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
While you can’t actually soak in the famous springs that drew people to this area in the 1700’s, you can certainly touch them. Beware they reach temps of 142 degrees Fahrenheit, though! Other activities in Hot Springs National Park include hiking, biking and picnicking.
Recommended Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs
5. La Jolla, California
La Jolla, just outside of San Diego, is the California you’ve dreamed of visiting with your children—beautiful beaches, swaying palm trees and a pack of sea lions creates the perfect backdrop for your family vacation. The area has ties to a certain author named Dr. Seuss, too. The late writer’s Truffala tree in The Lorax was inspired by the trees in La Jolla, in fact! Bonus: La Jolla is close to Coronado and Carlsbad.
Recommended Hotel: La Valencia Hotel
6. Colorado Springs, Colorado
You don’t have to be a family of skiers to enjoy Colorado, especially in Colorado Springs. Located 1.5 hours from Denver, this area offers outdoor adventures galore, wildlife sightings and even a castle (Glen Eyrie). Not to be missed is a drive through Garden of the Gods Park, and a ride on Pikes Peak Cog Railway, located in nearby Manitou Springs. It is the highest cog railway in the world! Note: Pikes Peak Cog Railway is closed until 2021.
Recommended Hotel: Cheyenne Mountain Resort
7. Mystic, Connecticut
Visit Mystic Seaport to see what a 19th century shipbuilding village would have looked like, complete with a ship provisioner and pub. Every building has been restored to look like it did hundreds of years ago. Boat rides out of the seaport are available, too. Of course, no visit to Mystic is complete without a slice at Mystic Pizza, which inspired the movie with the same name starring Julia Roberts.
Recommended Hotel: Taber Inne & Suites
8. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Rehoboth Beach is the quintessential beach vacation for families, with a beautiful stretch of sand and surf, and a boardwalk with old-school amusements and delicious eats at family-owned Funland.
Recommended Hotel: The Bellmoor Inn & Spa
9. Key West, Florida
You can’t get any closer to the Caribbean than this. In fact, Key West is where the Southernmost Point in the U.S. is located. Stop by the landmark for a family photo, then stroll the historic streets lined with pastel-colored homes. Be sure to spend an evening at Mallory Square, and don’t miss Blue Heaven for breakfast (or the area’s famous key lime pie).
Recommended Hotel: Southernmost on the Beach
10. St. Simons Island, Georgia
The unspoiled beaches of St. Simons Island beg families to dig their toes in the sand—and do little else. But if you want to explore, rent bikes, go fishing, visit St. Simons Lighthouse or head to nearby Savannah.
Recommended Hotel: King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort
11. Oahu, Hawaii
It’s hard to pick just one destination in Hawaii—but with world-class beaches like Waikiki Beach and the history of Pearl Harbor, it’s hard not to visit this storied island. Other highlights include tours and Dole Whips at the Dole Plantation, and eco and movie tours at Kualoa Ranch, where Jurassic Park was filmed. Of course, no visit to Oahu is complete without a visit to the North Shore, a surfer’s paradise.
Recommended Hotel: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
12. Silverwood, Idaho
Recommended Hotel: La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Sandpoint
13. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has it all, from beautiful views at Skydeck Chicago (Willis Tower) to delicious eats in Greektown. Of course, you can’t miss “The Bean” and Navy Pier. Chicago also has a beach along Lake Michigan!
Recommended Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
14. Santa Claus, Indiana
Yes, that’s the name of the town! Santa Claus, Indiana, is home to one of the most lovable amusement parks in the South: Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari, a family-owned amusement park that’s especially fun for young kids. Other themed attractions in town include the Santa Claus Museum and Village.
Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Jasper
15. Lake Okoboji, Iowa
Lake Okoboji, Iowa, is a popular summertime retreat for families in the Midwest, with beaches, lake swimming, water sports, and nearby Arnolds Park Amusement Park (a small, family-owned amusement park on the water) among the offerings. Don’t miss The Barefoot Bar at Okoboji, where you can sit outside and enjoy casual eats and music while the kids play on an inflatable slide in the water.
Recommended Hotel: Bridges Bay Resort
16. Overland Park, Kansas
The second largest city in Kansas, Overland Park is a mecca for all things outdoor adventure. Among the highlights are the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead and Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
Recommended Hotel: Sheraton Overland Park Hotel at the Convention Center
17. Louisville, Kentucky
Home of the Kentucky Derby, families will enjoy a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville—whether they’re attending the annual event or not. Have baseball fans in the fam? Be sure to check out the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, too! It’s home to the “Big Bat,” the largest baseball bat in the world (and an exact replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger).
Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Regency Louisville
18. New Orleans, Louisiana
Think New Orleans isn’t kid-friendly? Think again! Family-friendly highlights include the Louisiana Children’s Museum, Carousel Gardens (a mini-amusement park), Story Land and even a kid-friendly tour of the French Quarter (French QuarTour Kids). No trip is complete without beignets and a face full of powder at Cafe du Monde, and a dinner cruise aboard the Steamboat Nachez.
Recommended Hotel: The Roosevelt New Orleans
19. Acadia National Park, Maine
Two words: Cadillac Mountain. Drive your way to the top of Acadia National Park for breathtaking views your family won’t soon forget. On your way back down, stop at Pink Sand Beach before heading into downtown Bar Harbor for dinner and a stroll for ice cream.
Recommended Hotel: Bar Harbor Grand Hotel
20. Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City, Maryland, is a fantastic family vacation destination. Find a hotel on the beach or rent a house for your extended family to share. Be sure to check out Jolly Roger Amusement Park on the Ocean City Boardwalk (one of the best in the U.S.), and plan a day trip to nearby Assateague Island National Seashore to see the wild horses roam.
Recommended Hotel: Francis Scott Key Resort
21. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Recommended Hotel: Sea Crest Beach Hotel
22. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Climb the towering dunes, relax on the beach and explore the the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You can camp at the park, or stay in nearby Traverse City, the “Cherry Capital of the World” and another place worth exploring with kids.
Recommended Hotel: Harbor Lights Resort and Marina
23. Bloomington, Minnesota
Bloomington, Minnesota, is home to the Mall of America, which houses Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor amusement park! MOA also has a SEA LIFE Aquarium, Crayola Experience and simulated FlyOver America ride.
Recommended Hotel: Radisson Bloomington by Mall of America
24. Biloxi, Mississippi
In Biloxi, relax on the beach and climb the area’s namesake lighthouse. Try a Biloxi Shrimping Trip, too—an interactive experience in which the whole family will learn how to shrimp like pros! There’s also a fun Mardi Gras museum in town.
Recommended Hotel: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino Biloxi
25. Branson, Missouri
Branson, Missouri, is as family-friendly as family-friendly gets. Enjoy classic family fun in the great outdoors, from hiking and biking in Table Rock State Park to kayaking on Lake Taneycomo. Plan to spend some time at Silver Dollar City, too, with offers rides, attractions, shows, and food for families of all ages and interests. It’s especially festive at Christmastime!
Recommended Hotel: Big Cedar Lodge
26. Glacier National Park, Montana
Hop on a red Jammer (the most authentic way to get around Glacier National Park) to experience the park’s most iconic route: Going-to-the-Sun-Road. The narrow, winding road offers lookout points with stunning vistas, and actually crosses the Continental Divide (at Logan Pass)! Other highlights inside the park include playing on the beach at Lake McDonald and hiking at Hidden Lake. Outside of the park, you’ll enjoy the town of Whitefish, where there’s great restaurants, breweries, distilleries, shops, hotels and a ski resort, Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Recommended Hotel: Kandahar Lodge
27. Omaha, Nebraska
The Henry Doorly Zoo, alone, makes Omaha a must-visit city for families. Other attractions include the Omaha Children’s Museum and Fun-Plex, a small amusement park—both of which are geared toward tiny tykes.
Recommended Hotel: Residence Inn Omaha Downtown/Old Market Area
28. Las Vegas, Nevada
There’s plenty for families in Las Vegas, from kid-friendly shows to family-friendly hotels. There’s also a wealth of free activities, including the famous Bellagio Fountains water and light shows. Of course, a day trip to the Grand Canyon is a must, and for Instagram-worthy photos, check out Seven Magic Mountains.
Recommended Hotel: Venetian Resort Hotel Casino
29. North Conway, New Hampshire
Take the kids to Story Land amusement park, go kayaking on the Saco River, and whatever you do, don’t miss a ride aboard the Mountain Washington Cog Railway for views of the famous Mount Washington Valley. Bonus: There are some pretty cool hotels in North Conway, too, including Adventure Suites, which features themed guestrooms.
Recommended Hotel: Red Jacket Mountain View Resort
30. Long Beach Island, New Jersey
The Jersey Shore offers a wealth of family-friendly beaches, each with their own distinct character. But when it comes to families, Long Beach Island (LBI) reigns supreme with families. The beach is clean, calm and hardly ever feels crowded, and a small amusement park (Fantasy Island) and water park (Thundering Surf Waterpark) are at the ready come summertime.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel LBI
31. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe offers a diverse array of offerings that particularly appeal to budding artists, including Meow Wolf, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. You can also ski at nearby Taos Ski Valley, or visit White Sand Dunes National Park, designated a national park in 2019.
Recommended Hotel: Residence Inn Santa Fe
32. Rochester, New York
It’s tough to choose a favorite destination in New York, where iconic destinations include the Catskills, Cooperstown, Lake Placid and of course, New York City. But we especially love Rochester for families. Located in the Finger Lakes, Rochester is home to the award-winning Strong Museum of Play (known to have the world’s largest collection of toys!). It’s also home to a very important part of women’s history: the National Susan. B Anthony Museum and House, as well as the Mount Hope Cemetery, where the late activist was laid to rest. If you like skiing, check out Bristol Mountain. Fun Fact: New York has more ski resorts than any other U.S. state!
Recommended Hotel: Woodcliff Hotel and Spa
33. Outer Banks, North Carolina
For families, nothing beats a vacation in the Outer Banks, where you’ll find some of the best beaches in North Carolina. Here, it’s all about relaxing—whether you spend the day at your vacation rental pool, relax on the beach, or both. Other highlights include Jockey Ridge State Park (bring a kite!), Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, H2OBX water park, and Duck Donuts.
Recommended Hotel: Sanderling Resort
34. Fargo, North Dakota
The largest city in North Dakota, Fargo offers everything from museums to outdoor excursions, plus a downtown area (it’s a college town, after all), with shopping and dining. It’s great for a weekend escape with the kids.
Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN PLUS Kelly Inn & Suites
35. Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point—otherwise known as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World”—is located in Sandusky, Ohio. So are a wealth of water parks, including Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari. It’s a must for any family, plain and simple. If you have time, cross over to the Lake Erie Islands for more adventures.
Recommended Hotel: Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky
36. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Catch a game at ONEOK Field, go ballistic at—Go Ballistic (an activity center)—and even visit the “Center of the Universe” in Tulsa. Tulsa—the second largest city in Oklahoma—also features a wealth of outdoor parks and venues, including the epic Gathering Place. Opened in 2018, the free-admission Gathering Place spans more than 100 acres and features a five-acre playground, water play areas, green spaces, trails and more.
Recommended Hotel: DoubleTree at Warren Place
37. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Rent a car or bring your own to take in the scenery of the Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland, Oregon. Make the trek to Mount Hood, stop at Multnomah Falls, and/or follow the “Fruit Loop,” a trail that will take you to the area’s fruit farms and vineyards. In the summer, windsurfing is fun to watch (or try!) in Hood River.
Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN PLUS Hood River Inn
38. Hershey, Pennsylvania
The “Sweetest Place on Earth” calls for a family trip to experience Hersheypark, The Hershey Story Museum, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and more. The other bonus of visiting Hershey? You’re close to Lancaster and Gettysburg for more adventures.
Recommended Hotel: Hershey Lodge
39. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island, is perfect for a weekend getaway with kids, especially in the fall. Stroll the historic downtown area, take a ghost tour and attend one of the town’s many festivals, including the annual Newport Seafood Fest in October.
Recommended Hotel: Newport Beach Hotel & Suites
40. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Another classic beach destination, Myrtle Beach has a fantastic boardwalk with rides and amusements that include a giant Ferris wheel. The area offers a wealth of affordable hotels with pools and full-on water parks, too.
Recommended Hotel: Dunes Village Resort
41. Black Hills, South Dakota
Visit the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota to see wildlife up close; a Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour through Custer State Park is a must! Also be sure to check out the town of Deadwood for an authentic Wild West experience.
Recommended Hotel: The Lodge at Deadwood
42. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dollywood is just one of the many things you can do in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with kids. Other highlights include the Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show, The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, and WonderWorks Pigeon Forge. We highly recommended a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just 20 minutes away. It’s the most visited national park in the U.S.
Recommended Hotel: Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort
43. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio‘s RiverWalk beckons families to stroll the shops and restaurants that line it. Don’t miss the guacamole at Boudros (and be sure to make a reservation)! You can also take a boat ride along the canal, visit the Alamo and check out the trendy Pearl District.
Recommended Hotel: Omni La Mansion del Rio
44. Zion National Park, Utah
One of several national parks in Utah, Zion National Park is a favorite for families, with plenty of kid-friendly hiking trails (Watchman Trail, Riverside Walk, and Par’us Trail, to name a few), wildlife sightings (tarantulas!) and scenic drives (Zion-Mount Carmel Highway and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive).
Recommended Hotel: Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
45. Swanton, Vermont
Why Swanton, Vermont, you ask? Because it’s home to Tyler Place Family Resort, one of the best all-inclusive family resorts in the U.S. Located on Lake Champlain, the resort offers countless activities for guests of all ages, from water play for infants to spa treatments for adults. Unique to the resort is separate dining for kids and adults, allowing kids to get out with the camp counselors as early as they like while parents enjoy a quiet meal alone. (Family dining is also an option).
Recommended Hotel: Tyler Place Family Resort
46. Williamsburg, Virginia
Unique to Williamsburg, Virginia, is Colonial Williamsburg, a living history playground with attractions, museums and events that bring the 1700s to present day. Your kids will be awed by the reenactments and demonstrations—performed by actors in period dress—at the shoemaker, wigmaker, and even the Public Gaol, where prisoners once lived (and died). Bonus: Busch Gardens Williamsburg is located nearby.
Recommended Hotel: Kingsmill Resort & Spa
47. Seattle, Washington
Seattle has a little bit of everything—museums, farmers’ markets (we’re looking at you, Pike Place), festivals, hip neighborhoods and even beaches along Puget Sound. Of course, a visit to the Space Needle should be tops on your list, too, for views of Mount Rainier National Park in the distance.
Recommended Hotel: Silver Cloud Hotel – Seattle Broadway
48. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is an outdoor lover’s dream, with ample opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, ziplining and more. Rent a cabin in the woods to make it a true getaway, or stay at a budget motel for savings. Bonus: Harpers Ferry is close to Frederick, Maryland, another quaint town.
Recommended Hotel: Quality Inn Harpers Ferry
49. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells is the “Water Park Capital of the World,” with more than a dozen water park resorts on offer (many of them offering both indoor and outdoor water fun). If you can manage to pull the kids from the pools, head to downtown Wisconsin Dells for shopping and dining, or take a boat tour through the Dells!
Recommended Hotel: Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells
50. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park lives up to every bit of hype you’ve heard. One of the best national parks for kids, Yellowstone features otherworldly landscapes, wildlife sightings galore, geysers and our favorite, the gurgling painted pots. Encourage the kids to get involved in Yellowstone’s Junior Ranger Program (offered at all national parks). It’s a great way to explore the park, famous for its Old Faithful Geyer that erupts often.
Recommended Hotel: Canyon Lodge & Cabins
What to Pack for Your Next Trip
Girl’s Camping Outfit
Boy’s Camping Outfit
Mom’s/Women’s Camping Outfit
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