I remember every trip I’ve ever taken with my family growing up. The Oregon Coast, Disneyland, Mount Rushmore—not only do I remember them, but my four siblings and I have countless stories and inside jokes that we laugh about when we’re together.
We talk about seeing the ocean for the first time and how we jumped up and down screaming, unable to contain our excitement as each wave crashed upon the shore. We laugh about one 12-hour road trip when my youngest brother had the smallest bladder ever. It seemed like we pulled over every fifteen minutes for him. One impromptu potty break on the side of the road in Oregon deposited us right in front of an abundant blackberry patch and we all jumped out and gathered as many fat, juicy blackberries as we could fit in the gathered fronts of our t-shirts.
Don’t be fooled—we fought on those family vacations too. I’m sure my parents wanted to leave us at a gas station or two along the way. Once on a trip to Disneyland we got lost in Los Angeles, tensions growing as my mom tried to navigate my dad through L.A. traffic with an enormous fold-out map. But now that we’re all grown, those are the times that we all look back on. Those family vacations are what we treasure and the time we spent together exploring new places created a family bond that only grew stronger with each trip.
If you’re looking to create special memories with your family, here are some of the best family-friendly travel destinations that your crew will never forget.
The 12 Best Family Vacation Destinations
1. Southern California
There’s no escaping the fact that Southern California is a place where magic happens. It’s the home of Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, several professional sports teams (the L.A. Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Rams, etc.), and some of the best beaches on the West Coast. You can head down to San Diego and visit Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park.
2. The Oregon Coast
I would, and have argued that the Oregon Coast is even better than Disneyland. The reason? There are many, including the astounding natural beauty and opportunity for exploration. The Oregon Coast is a more mellow family vacation, with a go-at-your-own-pace approach. You can start at the top and work your way down, finding inexpensive hotels along the way. There are lighthouses, whale-spotting, tide pools, sand dunes, and the freshest seafood you can imagine. Each town along the way is charming and worth a stop.
While the Oregon Coast is incredible, it is on the cooler side. If you want a family vacation that is warm, incredibly fun, and surrounded by natural beauty, Hawaii is the place. I would take my four kids there in a second. Oahu is home to Honolulu, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, and more. Maui is a top hot-spot for good reason. Check out all of these Maui musts.
Similar to Anaheim, Orlando, Florida is the family mecca of the East Coast. Families could easily spend a week or more in Orlando playing at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World Orlando, and the beach. You’ll find plenty of golf in Orlando and surrounding areas and can even take a day trip to the Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, or spend a few days in one of my favorite places in the world, St. Augustine, Florida.
5. Cabo San Lucas
Located on the Southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is a great place for a family vacation. It’s warm, relaxing, and surrounded by beautiful beaches for the kids to play on. Make sure to bring snorkel gear as there are schools of tropical fish to see. You can get crazy-good deals on four and five-star resorts in Cabo San Lucas for over 50% off through wholesale travel. Check out this deal below for seven days in Cabo!
Wholesale travel is awesome! It’s a membership club that gives you access to all kinds of travel for wholesale prices. You can try it out with a free buddy pass and get half of the savings, or buy a membership ($50 one-time fee and $25 a month) to have full access to all wholesale prices that the general public doesn’t have access to.
6. Yosemite National Park
If your family enjoys being outdoors, Yosemite National Park is one incredible playground. Home of the famous El Capitan (the most sheer rock-climbing surface in North America), you can see rock climbers scale this impressive face. There are several lodging options in Yosemite from camping to bed and breakfasts. And as far as things to do, check out all of the must-sees in Yosemite, including bike trails, tours, and hikes.
7. Hershey, Pennsylvania
The East Coast may not have a Disney theme park, but it’s got something even sweeter: Hershey, Pennsylvania, home of the famous Hershey chocolate company. Many visitors report that the town even smells like chocolate. It’s a great place to take your family. You’ll enjoy Hersheypark, a fun theme park with 14 roller coasters and 70 attractions. You can hit up the boardwalk there and take in the total sensory experience. The town of Hershey also has great dining, shopping, golf, concerts, a hockey team, and Hershey Gardens. Plenty of things to see and do.
8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The beach will always be one of the most fun and memorable places for a child. If you want to make some fun beach memories, head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The beach vibe here is fun and energetic. It’s great for families and you’ll love visiting the many piers along the beach for lunch or ice cream. Make sure to hit up Barefoot Landing and Broadway on the Beach for amazing shopping and dining. Kids will love the Broadway Grand Prix family race park where you can go-kart and sky coaster. And if you want an even richer experience, take a day trip to Charleston where you’ll feel like you just stepped back a hundred years to the charming South.
9. Destin, Florida
It’s no secret that we love Destin, Florida. It’s one of those incredibly beautiful, relaxing beach vacations that you can do with the whole family, your girlfriends, or your significant other. The white sand beaches are pristine and Destin has a very clean, resort feel. Considered part of Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin is such a family-friendly place where you can go snorkeling, play on the beach, shop, and schedule time away from the kids at one of the amazing spas there. Check out the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park where kids can get up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins and tropical birds.
10. Zion National Park
Outdoor-loving families will love Zion National Park in Southern Utah. The gorgeous red rocks are one of a kind and incredible arches and rock formations dot your path along the many hiking and biking paths. Kids can easily hike the Emerald Pools, a simple 3-mile round-trip hike with a gradual slope suitable for strollers and wheelchairs (with some assistance). The trail leads to majestic waterfalls and sparkling pools. In the spring and fall, the weather is around 70 degrees and the perfect time for visiting the park. Summers get extremely hot, so plan on hiking in the morning.
11. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Right in the heart of the Smoky Mountains rests Galtlinburg, Tennessee, a beautiful city that’s rich in rustic history. You can visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hike any of the 150 mountain trails or take a scenic drive through any of its 500,000 acres. (Check out RV rentals in Nashville) The views are astounding and you’ll see waterfalls, untouched back country, and even some mountain wildlife. After enjoying the natural wonders, head into Gatlinburg where you’ll find Ober Gatlinburg, a combined ski resort and amusement park. Make sure to visit Westgate Wild Bear Falls, a huge indoor waterpark, and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
12. The Grand Canyon National Park
There are a few natural wonders you absolutely owe it to yourself to see in your lifetime and the Grand Canyon is one of them. Grand Canyon National Park is located in Northern Arizona and is a geological phenomenon. Standing on the precipice of a canyon that is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and over 6,000 feet deep will make anyone feel small. Once there, all of the trails are free to hike and you can stick to the North Rim and see the incredible sights above or take the 10-mile, definitely worthwhile trek to Havasu Falls. Here’s a great guide of the best things to do while you’re at the Grand Canyon.
13. Yellowstone National Park
I remember visiting Yellowstone National Park as a kid and seeing Old Faithful erupt. It was cool, but I definitely didn’t appreciate the insurmountable wonder of Yellowstone National Park until I was an adult. Definitely plan for two to three days to see the park; it is immense. One full day of driving will get you through the park at a rushed pace and you most likely won’t see it all. Plus, you have to account for the inevitable traffic jam due to buffalo. No joke, we’ve been held up for an hour waiting for an unconcerned herd to get out of the road. While at Yellowstone, make sure to see these five things. And if you can get tickets to the Playmill Theatre in advance, it’s one of my favorite things to do there.
Make Sure To Get Your Hotels at Wholesale Price
Family travel gets expensive. Make sure you’re not over-paying for hotels and travel excursions by using Wholesale Travel. Never heard of it? Here’s all the info you need to know about Wholesale Travel!
When you think the drive is too long, or the expense too much, just remember that every ounce of time, money, and energy you put into your family vacations is 100% worth it. Not only are you creating lasting memories, but stronger family bonds. Your children will remember those times and talk about them for years and years down the road, and that is priceless.