There's not a one-size-fits-all vacation. Some families love high-energy trips filled with adventure while others prefer getaways that are laid back and relaxing. Some look forward to their annual beach trip while others crave a new destination to explore.
When it comes to finding the right vacation for your family, it can be overwhelming. Before creating unnecessary stress in your life, read through the vacation ideas below. You may discover an option you didn't know existed or you may find a fascinating twist to a traditional vacation.
Not everyone loves going on adventures during vacation, but for those who do, make these ideas a reality or add them to your bucket list.
- Is there an amusement park that you know would provide your family with hours of fun? Perhaps the largest indoor theme park or one that smells like chocolate! Here's a list of amusement parks organized by state, coast to coast.
- Go whitewater rafting! Choose a river based on the whitewater classification, find a nearby hotel, track down the local's favorite hotspots . . . and you got yourself an adventure! Here are the nine best whitewater rafting adventures in the United States.
- Stay at a dude ranch. Oh yeah. It's a thing. If you want a taste of the wild west and everything that goes with it, check out DudeRanch.org to find the coolest one.
- Remember, you don't have to go far to have fun. Any staycation can have elements of adventures woven into it. For instance, your family could take a hot air balloon ride, tour an underground cavern, go horseback riding, or enjoy a zip-lining adventure. Do a little digging to find out what adventures are near you.
Historical family vacations are a great way to blend education with the thrill of experiencing a new place. Take your history buffs to these must-visit historical destinations.
- Visit Gettysburg, PA, the town and battlefield that witnessed the turning point of the Civil War. Tour the battlefield located in Gettysburg National Park, walk through soldier encampments, visit museums, watch reenactments, learn more about Presidents Lincoln and Eisenhower, and so much more.
- Spend a week in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and played a significant role in the American Revolution. Its center is Colonial Williamsburg, a historic district and living-history museum where actors in period costume depict daily Colonial life in the streets, stores, and workshops.
- Tucson, AZ, offers a mix of Native American, Spanish colonial, and Old West history. Feed your spirit in the city's museums and galleries, travel through time discovering Tucson's unique cultural legacy, explore the architecture of Mission San Xavier del Bac, take in the 300 vintage-to-modern aircraft illuminating a century of military and aerospace history.
- San Fransisco, CA, is known for the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Victorian houses. In the bay sits Alcatraz Island, site of the notorious former prison. Visit the original plaza of the first Spanish settlement, Portsmouth Square, and see Sutter's Fort, where the first gold of the "Gold Rush" (1848 – 1855) was discovered.
There's nothing quite like experiencing the breathtaking sights, sounds, and wonders that nature offers.
- Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York. Take a tour of the falls up close, but before you do, read its incredible history.
- There are so many amazing National Parks in the United States. Pick a few and put them on your family's "must visit" list. They boast 76,000 archaeological sites and nearly 2,500 national historic landmarks. National parks are also home to some of the most stunning landscapes. The Redwood National Park in California has the tallest trees on Earth, and over 2,000 natural stone arches live at Arches National Park in Utah.
- Chincoteague & Assateague Islands are brimming over with wildlife, walking trails, back bays, and marshlands. These islands are best known for their 100-year-old wild pony population. Evidence suggests that the ponies you see today are the descendants of the survivors of a Spanish galleon which wrecked off the coast of Assateague. Take a boat ride tour and see these wild ponies with your own eyes.
- Go camping. Take a bike ride. Plan a hike. Cook on a camp fire. This campground map shows all the public camping sites in the United States. It Includes all National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, and most regional and county campgrounds. Have you considered hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail?
Spend your vacation in a new and exciting city! You’ll have time to see the sights and take in culture, but you’ll also have time to do other things—like eat great food!
- New York City, NY, is among the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers. Its iconic sites include the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Flatiron Building, Central Park, Broadway, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square, and many more.
- Philadelphia, PA, is a major historic city that houses the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed) and other American Revolutionary sites. Don't miss the Philadelphia Museum of Art or its steps which immortalized Sylvester Stallone’s triumphant run in the film "Rocky."
- The current tourism tagline for Chattanooga, TN, is “Best Town Ever.” In 2012, the New York Times named Chattanooga one of the "Top 45 Places to go" in the world! This city, tucked between the mountains of Southeast Tennessee and along the beautiful Tennessee River, is breathtaking and filled with culture and fun. Try taking a cruise on the river or check out the city on a duck boat tour or double decker bus.
- Houston is a large metropolis in Texas. Houston is home to the Space Center Houston, the visitor center at NASA’s astronaut training and flight control complex. The city’s relatively compact Downtown includes a theater district and a historic district which features 19th-century architecture and restaurants.
If you're looking for a lesser-known destination, visit a vibrant and totally underrated US city.This list only scratches the surface. For even more ideas plus helpful vacation planning tips, download Start Family Vacation Planning By Asking Yourself These 4 Questions.