10 Top Family Vacation Spots to Try This Year!
10 Top Family Vacation Spots to Try This Year!
“Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion” – Anonymous
What does your dream family vacation look like? A beach getaway, mountain retreat, fun things to do in Orlando, FL, a resort, a historical location, something relaxing, or maybe adventurous (how about the best kayaking in Florida?) Or maybe, the where doesn’t matter as long as your family has fun together! Vacations create a great supply of lifelong memories and good use of ‘me-time,’ but some amount of research and planning are important if you want to find that sweet spot that is the right fit for you and your clan.
Best Family Vacation Spots
One thing’s for sure, there are plenty of amazing family vacation options to choose from in the cities and towns across the country that fit different budgets and preferences. This is where I come in - to breakdown amazing destinations that offer a little bit of everything for families with kids, teens (or both), multigenerational members, or whatever your family looks like. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly, fall, winter, spring break, or summer getaway in a small town, big city, national park, or sand beaches, dive into these top 10 family vacation spots to try this year!
1 | Las Vegas, NV | Las Vegas, Entertainment Capital of the World! Most of us would shudder to think of taking kiddos to Sin City, but surprisingly, there is a plethora of family-friendly adventures that are G-rated, educational, safe, and stimulating for little eyes and ears. Take for instance the Grand Canyon – just a short helicopter ride away from the city. As one of the seven wonders of the world, this natural geologic beauty is full of educational lessons, outdoor exploits, and great weather to make any daytrip perfect for kids and grownups of all ages. Even the helicopter ride to the Canyon is a bonus that keeps on giving and comes with sweet surprises. From the panoramic views of the famous Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, to picture-worthy shots of the cityscape, this ride will take your breath away even if you’ve been there a million times.
Another great reason to visit Vegas, is the world-famous Bellagio Fountains on the Strip. The meticulously choreographed display of water, light, and music appears every half an hour. Pro tip: The free attraction is popular among tourists and locals alike. Be sure to arrive early and secure a nice spot, so you don’t miss a thing!
After your fill of awesomeness from the iconic fountain, head to The Playground at Las Vegas Children’s Park, another fantastic attraction which is the perfect symbiosis of entertainment for the kiddos and retail therapy for the grownups. As the little munchkins explore the tree house, stay busy with rock wall climbing, fountain sprinklers, hedge-maze, and the bakery café playhouse, mom and dad can take turns to shop at retail giants like Saks Fifth Avenues, Armani Exchange, and the GAP, just to name a few…
2 | Orlando, FL | It seems like just about every kid on earth (and many grownups too) dream of going to the Happiest Place of Earth where whimsical fairies, beautiful princesses, and a certain mouse who talks, bring imagination to life. This makes Walt Disney World a top contender on our list. If theme parks are your jam, there’s also Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Gatorland, and Legoland to ponder – and if they’re not, Orlando also has plenty of non-touristy things to do too!
Of course, no visit to the Sunshine State can be complete without a trip to the best shark tooth beach in Florida and other nearby beaches, so pack the camera, flip-flops, and sunscreen, Orlando could be a big winner that the kids will love!
3 | Sanibel Island, FL | If your family loves the beach, consider adding a day trip to Sanibel Island, FL to your list. As if the sun, sea, and beautiful weather weren’t enough, there are also plenty of family-friendly things to do. First up, Sanibel Island Lighthouse on the east end of the island. If you prefer privacy and seclusion without the swarms of tourists walking around, the area where the lighthouse sits is perfect for a quiet and relaxing beach day.
Built in 1884, the structure offers a history lesson of itself – and if you look carefully while exploring, you may catch a glimpse of dolphins and other sea creatures jumping, flipping, and showing off.
If your family enjoys shelling, you’ve landed on the #1 Shelling Beach in North America. Due to its east and west location that creates a curved shape which acts like a shovel and traps shells from the Gulf of Mexico, there are plenty of shells waiting to be discovered. Just imagine the hours of fun family time searching for shells and identifying the sea creatures that made them!
4 | Gatlinburg, TN | Looking for an adventure with plenty of family fun, nature, outdoor adventures, and fresh air to clean the lungs? A Smoky Mountain vacation is the perfect elixir for the family looking to experience unforgettable sights and larger-than-life adventures! Enjoy a scenic drive on wheels or hike along 850 miles of trails on foot. Splash in creeks, lakes, waterfalls, and streams, and stop for a picnic lunch. Bring your camera for snaps of wildlife like deer, raccoon, birds and so much more – whatever you do and whichever way you turn, you’ll have a blast together and make memories in this national treasure.
Outside of the Smokies, there are also plenty of things to do in Gatlinburg like Ober Gatlinburg, Anakeesta, Gatlinburg Skylift Park Gatlin’s Laser Tag, and More which are family favorites.
5| Myrtle Beach, SC | Down for frolicking on a sandy beach with the fam? Myrtle Beach is perfect for a multigenerational vacation! There’s something truly memorable about a family beach vacation that even the pickiest family member will love. With 60 miles of beach, white sand and surf, your family can frolic, make sandcastles, play beach volleyball, hunt for seashells, kick back and relax in the sun, and of course make waves, boogie board, and splash all day long. And if you think this trip to the not-too-rough waters of the Grand Strand is just about the sea and sand, let’s walk you through some of the family-friendly things to do in Myrtle Beach that will keep everyone happy and entertained.
Broadway on the Beach is a hot favorite and not-to-be-missed spot. Just imagine a super complex with entertainment, shopping, and dining in an amusement park atmosphere all rolled into one. From fireworks to family festivals, water parks, neon lights, and restaurants galore, it will be easy to see why this free attraction is a family favorite and crowd pleaser.
Always a hit with the kiddos, Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach is another popular spot for families. After a day at the beach (or if you prefer to skip it altogether), the 340-foot underwater tunnel offers a different perspective of the ocean with educational opportunities galore. From sharks, tarpons, green moray eels, puffer fish, horseshoe crabs, stingrays, behind-the-scenes-tours, and a state-of-the-art interactive Discovery Center, this outing is definitely worth your time.
6 | New York City, NY | In the famous words of Frank Sinatra, “I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps…” If this sounds like you and you’re looking for somewhere with plenty to do around the clock, add the Big Apple to your list of potential vacation spots. There’s no shortage of family-friendly attractions in this amazing city.
The iconic Central Park is a top pick! The urban oasis covers 843 acres filled with outdoor performances, quirky sculptures, architecture, and horse drawn carriages that add to that distinctive New York magic. Plan a visit to the Central Park Zoo, stop by the world-famous Bethesda Fountain, explore Belvedere Castle, snap pics in Shakespeare Garden, take a boat ride on Central Park Lake… And there’s still plenty more to do at just this one spot, we’ve only scratched the surface for you.
7 | Williamsburg, VA | In this new age of remote learning, more and more families are striving for educational vacation ideas that offer equal components of educational opportunities along with fun. If this is your goal, it doesn’t get better than Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living museum.
Experience the Revolutionary City and time period yourself in a setting with 100 original and renovated buildings from the 1700s. You’ll meet townspeople, artisans, shopkeepers, and folks who bring impressive authenticity to the recreation. Watch reenactments of militia drills, trials, and political meetings. Soak up historical facts from guided and self-guided tours, shop for authentic wares from the era, dine on 18th century inspired cuisine, and enjoy carriage rides to places of interest. Whether you’re a history buff or just trying to find a unique family bonding experience, Williamsburg is ideal for an educational vacation.
And even if education is not on your radar, Williamsburg also has many modern-day surprises to make your family trip feel like a great adventure.
8 | Branson, MO | It doesn’t get more family-friendly than Branson, MO. What makes this an exciting spot is the swimming, sailing, hiking, fishing, kayaking, biking, paddle boarding, surfing, watersports, ziplining through the Ozark Mountains, and just about every outdoor activity you can think of doing. This therefore makes Branson the ideal fit for a family with kids or if you’re looking to stay active and spending your downtime outdoors. There are lakes, trails, and amazing views that allow a nice escape from the busyness of life.
And if you’re looking for a different type of experience, Branson has those too! Spend a few hours at Silver Dollar City or rock out at a live show of country, jazz, rock, gospel, R&B, comedy - after all, this is the Live Show Capital of the World! Explore historic caves, watch the Fountains at Branson Landing (like the Bellagio in Las Vegas) shoot water and fire synchronized with music to create an awesome spectacle…You’ll never run out of things to do in Branson, MO.
9 | Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo | Everybody loves the River Ranch. It’s one of those all-in-one Dude Ranches that has something to entertain everyone. Looking for a unique experience to scratch off your bucket list? Check! Searching for a vacation that will keep the kids busy and entertained minute-by-minute? Check! Wanting to experience the great outdoors with a twist of imagination? Check! Check! Check! All roads lead to this real-life dude ranch in the Florida wilderness, just an hour outside of Orlando.
Expect an award-winning rodeo every Saturday night, horseback riding, boat rentals, bungee jumping, mini-golf, rock climbing, swamp buggy rides, mechanical bulls, archery just to name a few on the long list of things to do.
Unlike classic hotels, sleeping accommodations go beyond a room with four walls. In addition to cabins, lodges, and cottages, there are also Luxe Conestoga Wagons (literally designed like luxury wagons on broad wheels - but without the horses of course…!). There’s also glamping (as in glamorous and luxury camping tents), luxe teepees (yes - just like those you’ve probably seen in old cowboy westerns), RV and platform camping. All types of accommodations are inspired by an old wild west/ranch theme and outfitted with the comforts of home.
10 | Park City, UT | Park City is well known as a world-class ski destination, home of the Sundance Film Festival and refuge for the rich, famous, and who’s who in Hollywood. But the town voted one of America’s prettiest by Forbes Magazine is also the perfect choice for a family vacation any time of year.
During the wintertime, great options for families with or without kids include mountain zip lines, sleigh riding, forest camps, winter hiking, tubing, ice skating, snow biking, and the Alpine Coaster.
During the summer months, Park Silly Sunday Market, hayrides, hiking, biking, boat riding, kayaking, paddleboarding, river rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, local festivals, and even summer bobsledding are favorites when the weather warms up.
Closing Thoughts About Vacations to Try This Year!
This list is by no means exhaustive, there are plenty of amazing destinations that can provide your family with the perfect blend of everything you are looking for to keep everyone happy, engaged, and fulfilled. As I mentioned, research will take you closer to finding the sweet spot with everything you need, so keep reading our Travel Blog for great vacation ideas, tips, and tricks.
* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.