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Last Updated: May 2024

Top 10 Family Vacation Ideas for 2024

If you can't travel abroad and are looking for top vacation spots for families, check out our list of the best family vacation destinations in the US.

We find the 10 best options, so you can make informed decisions on tons of products and services.

Best Family Vacation Spots Around the US: How to Make the Most of Your Trip

Toying with the idea of a fun trip somewhere with your kids? Fabulous! Of course, we all remember some family vacations that were simply disastrous. To avoid making those kinds of memories, here are a few pointers to create a sensational getaway for you and your family:

  • Spend time planning

To play with an old saying, "Planning makes perfect." While you can't plan for every eventuality, the more you take into consideration before your trip, the smoother everything will go. Do your research, find good prices, and compare the various attractions that are available. Also, think about schedules and plan activities that fit within the limits of your family. If you have younger kids, for example, don't plan an entire day of activities without pause. Instead, figure in a few breaks throughout the day to accommodate the lull in energy levels for smaller family members. It will make an unbelievable world of difference to your entire trip.

  • Focus on what’s fun for you

Remember that you want this vacation to be an enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone. And that might not be the same definition across the board. One family’s vacation may look entirely different than another’s. So, take your friend’s recommendations in stride and realize that their idea of fun might not match yours.

A good way to ensure that everyone has a good time during your vacation is to get the kids involved in the planning stage. Obviously, you'll have the final say, and you don't want to give them carte blanche. But it can be helpful to get their input on some ideas. Pick out a handful of acceptable destinations, and let your kids choose the one they like the most from that list. Give the older kids a louder voice in this process; the younger ones will probably just enjoy being out, and they'll get their turn to call the shots in a few years.

  • Unplug

This is sometimes hard for people, and teens especially, but taking a vacation from your devices will completely transform your vacation. Everyone needs to unplug sometimes, and when you're on a family vacation, it's the best time to take the plunge. Shut off your phones, keep them locked in the safe, and disconnect in every way possible. You'll have more time, energy, and focus for your family. You'll be shocked at just how much you enjoy spending time with one another when there are no media distractions.

  • Go with the flow

No matter how much you plan, hiccups are bound to happen. Take things in stride, go with the flow, and just let life happen. The more easy-going you are about everything, the more able you will be to handle the unexpected with equanimity and a smile when it comes up. And sometimes, the spontaneous spur of the moment decisions we make on a trip are the most enjoyable of all.

Best Family Vacations in the USA: Our Top 10 Destinations

If you’ve even started your research, you know one thing for sure - there are a boatload of vacation destinations in this beautiful country of ours! From Myrtle Beach to Sanibel Island, America is packed with exciting vacation destinations for the entire family to enjoy. Here’s our pick for ten of the best getaways that the US has to offer. Still can’t decide? The good news is, there’s always next year!

1. Disney Adventures

Walt Disney left a legacy of animated films that will probably live on forever. Another thing he left behind was a massive network of amusement parks, known as Disney Adventures that no childhood would be complete without experiencing. From the Magic Kingdom to Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios, and so many more, Disney is truly a magical experience for kids of all ages to enjoy. The parks are situated across Florida and California, including Orlando and Anaheim. They offer an exhilarating potpourri of enchanting experiences with familiar childhood favorites, thrilling adventure rides, exotic animal exploration, sensational light and sound shows and parades, and international allure.

2. Yellowstone National Park

If you’re looking for a back to nature-style family vacation, you can’t go wrong with a national park. And Yellowstone is one of the most popular options in this category. Spanning three states (Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho), Yellowstone features breathtaking views, dramatic hikes and adventures, and beautiful wildlife sightings. What’s more, the park has more than half the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features, including Old Faithful. Yellowstone features hiking, camping, boating, fishing, sightseeing, and more. So, you’ll get a lung-full of fresh air, and some exhilarating memories that will last a lifetime.

If you’re looking for more of this type of experience, Yosemite in California and the Grand Canyon in Arizona are both top-rated locations, as well.

3. Washington’s National Mall

If you just can't get enough of our fair country, then perhaps a trip through its rich heritage will do your family some good. If that's the case, you need to visit Washington's National Mall. To begin with, you'll see some of the most famous monuments in the country here, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Constitution Gardens. Every inch of this hour-long stroll is covered in fascinating artifacts and details about American history. There are also botanical gardens that are stunning to see.

In addition, the National Mall hosts the Smithsonian Institution, a museum complex that houses 17 fabulous museums on a wide range of topics, including the National Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. And best of all, most of these exhibits are totally free.

4. The San Diego Zoo & Safari Park

If you think a zoo couldn't possibly offer that much excitement, think again. For one thing, the San Diego Zoo lets kids and adults experience animals up close and personal with guided tours, educational adventures, and a fabulous array of wildlife that includes more than 3500 animals spanning 650+ species. The zoo is clean, beautifully designed with animals in their natural habitats and environments, and packed with exciting activities for everyone to enjoy.

For another thing, the zoo offers awesome activities like the Skyfari aerial tram, 4D theater, kangaroo bus tours, and botanical gardens. If that weren’t enough, The San Diego Zoo offers daily, group, and annual passes that bundle other attractions into the cost. So, for one price, you and your family can visit more than 35 other exciting destinations in addition to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Best of all, you’ll get free entrance to LEGOLAND and SeaWorld, two of the most exciting theme parks for kids in the entire country.

5. Indianapolis Children’s Museum

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is a guaranteed day of fun for children of all ages. The massive complex features both indoor and outdoor exhibits that cover the spectrum. Indoor exhibits feature things like American POP, a tribute to exploring pop culture music, movies, fashion, and beyond, and the fascinating Power of Children exhibit.

The Children’s Museum also has an entire sports experience where kids learn about sports in the National Art Museum of Sport, walk through the Avenue of Champions, and even sweat it out playing their favorite spots from baseball to basketball, soccer, hockey, tennis, golf, track and field, and more.

6. Sesame Place & Busch Gardens

Sesame Street is a cornerstone for most people’s childhood. So Sesame Place is a must-visit destination for anyone with kids. Aside from the fact that you have life-sized Sesame Street characters walking around the streets, giving out hugs and good cheer to awestruck and completely giddy children, the amusement park is out of this world. For starters, Sesame Place has acres of family-friendly rides and attractions, including roller coasters, cloud chasers, flying machines, and the ever-popular Mini-Monster Clubhouse, a massive soft play area for little tykes. There are also awesome water slides like Big Bird’s Rambling River and Ernie’s Waterworks that kids are going to revel in every second they’re there. And that’s before you even get to the live entertainment, art shows, and, most sensational of all, the Sesame Street gang parade.

Busch Gardens, partners with Sesame Place, is an upgraded version that speaks to the adventurous and fun-loving hearts of kids of all ages, even after they've grown too old for SP. BG is in Tampa, Florida, and Williamsburg, VA. While you are in the neighborhood, you can also check out Gettysburg to see a live reenactment on the actual battlefield. And if you're into the historical vacation scene, be sure to check out Colonial Williamsburg, which is only a few hours drive from there, as well.

7. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This theme park is a no-brainer for families with kids. Who hasn’t been enthralled by the epic tales of Harry Potter and his crew? Now, kids and adults alike can experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a magic-themed world with an adventure theme park completely dedicated to the cause. Travel through Hogwarts, fly across the grounds on a hippogriff, and experience the entire world of Harry Potter through a motion simulation. There’s also a Hogsmeade trip, a rousing Triwizard rally, and a chance to eat at the Three Broomsticks. But the most exciting part of all for budding wizards and witches? You get to visit Ollivanders’ shop itself and get fitted for your very own wand!

8. Voyagaire

The Voyagaire is one of several houseboats that you can rent. And if you are looking for an unforgettable family vacation, then this quiet little secret nestled away in the middle of Minnesota should definitely shoot to the top of your list. The idea is simple but brilliant. You rent your own houseboat and navigate your own family wilderness adventure. You can travel along the water-based national park, Voyageurs National Park, to witness gorgeous waterways, ancient rock formations, and uninhabited islands. You can incorporate any of the outdoor activities into your itinerary, including nature hikes through forests and marshes, rushing water-filled canyons, and beautiful scenery. There’s also plenty of good fishing holes, golf, and more. Boats come with fully-stocked kitchens, bathrooms, grills, and of course, a water slide!

9. Hershey Park

We would think that a theme park dedicated entirely to chocolate would make anyone squeal with delight. Hershey Park's biggest attraction is its Hershey's Chocolate Tour, where you'll learn all about how these delicious chocolates are made, make your very own candy bar, enjoy a 4D chocolate mystery simulator show, and of course, get your own samples to delight in.

But Hershey Park offers even more than that with exciting roller coasters like the Candymonium, Dry Gulch Railroad, and the Convoy, water rides, bumper cars, and other fun-filled amusement park attractions. And you can meet all of the Hershey characters, including Kisses, Jolly Ranchers, Kit Kats, and the iconic Hershey’s chocolate Bar.

10. US Space & Rocket Center

If you're on the lookout for a special family vacation that is out of this world, then you are going to want to visit the US Space & Rocket Center. Explore the thrilling expanses of our solar system and beyond in this fascinating museum dedicated to giving kids a hands-on, interactive space experience. Visit exhibits called Moon Crater, where kids can see a mock-up of the Apollo 11 landing site, the Spark! Lab where kids can learn using their hands how to build, design, and manipulate technology and science to solve an assortment of fun challenges, and Mars Climbing Wall where kids can learn about this rocky planet and use their muscles to climb the realistic planetary wall.

The US Space & Rocket Center also has a fabulous planetarium featuring an 8K star show on a digital dome that uses Christie laser projectors for a seamless show and a host of simulators that will plunge you into an immersive outer space experience no one will soon forget.

Domestic Vacationing, The Budget-Friendly Way to Have a Blast

People might seem surprised that you’re planning a vacation within the United States. For some folks, it’s not a vacation unless you board a plane and need your passport when you land. But with the current health climate and strict rules dictating travel, domestic vacations are the up and coming trend. And believe it or not, people are loving the shift. Domestic vacations are easier to plan, require less travel time (that means more actual vacation time for you), and best of all, domestic vacation destinations ensure that you cut back on the costs without cutting down on the fun.

A study found that Americans spent five times as much when traveling abroad than they did during domestic vacations! Staying in the country can cut back on your vacation costs when compared to going abroad in a number of ways, including:

  • No currency conversion charges

  • Flights are much cheaper

  • So are other transportation costs for the trip

  • You’re not getting ripped off by foreigners just because you don’t speak the language

  • You spend less on food when in the States

And if you’re looking to save money on your US family vacation, here are a few smart pointers:

  • Comparison shop for deals

Part of the planning stage should include a good amount of time on comparison shopping. You can save a significant amount of money, just making a quick comparison. What's more, there are dedicated coupon sites like Groupon or Jetsetter that offer amazing deals on vacation destinations and activities.

  • Get all-in-one deals

There are also plenty of hotels and resorts that can offer a thrilling vacation for families. All-inclusive vacation destinations like Snow Mountain Ranch, Smuggler's Notch, The Main Mindjammer Association, and Greenbrier provide activities for every age group. So, everybody can find something fun to do. If you're looking to save, bundling your accommodations with your activities can often cut down on costs like transportation and entrance fees.

If you're looking for the best site for hotel deals, we've ranked the very ones. 

  • Consider local getaways

Sometimes, the absolute best vacations are the ones right in our own backyard. Obviously, if you want to get away, you should aim for slightly farther. There are no set rules saying that you need to travel hundreds of miles to enjoy some much needed R&R. Try camping in a nearby forest, visiting a few museums or tourist attractions near you that you simply never had the time for, or try out some fun activities that are just a state or two away. For example, if you are from New Jersey or Connecticut, Central Park can provide a fun-filled day for kids and parents, featuring 21 playgrounds, the Loeb Boathouse, and ice skating rink, and amusement park. Plus, you're not far from the incredible Bronx Zoo.

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How we created this
Compiled from “Best of” lists published by the world’s most trusted sources, and with our own recommended brands peppered in - this Top10 list aims to help consumers make smarter decisions.