Planning a getaway when you have kids can be often difficult. You need a place that caters to not only your kids but also to you and your partner. In other words, you want something that has plenty of activities to keep your children busy, but options that don’t include spending the entire day at a splash pad. Also, a pair of helping hands to take the kids off your back for a bit would be a bonus too.
Below we have put together a list of the best vacation spots for families. While two of these are obviously beach centric (which if we’re honest, are some of the most popular vacation destinations), we have added others to our list that can be enjoyed year round. After all, every family is different so what works for one might be something the other would find boring. Plus not everyone wants to get away for the summer; sometimes it’s nice to switch things up and take a vacation just for the fun of it.
We’ve also made sure to include some vacation destinations that are right here in the USA. So if you’re not into boarding a plane with kids, luggage, and digging out your passport every few minutes (and keeping up with your childrens’), you’ll be happy to see some of the US places. And of course we’ve made sure that they’re all family friend and have something for all ages.
So while some of these places are traditional in the sense that they’re the bread and butter beach getaway, we have also included some truly unique places that both you and your kids will love exploring.
1. Atlantis, Bahamas
Atlantis is on the top of our list and for good reason: it’s fun for everyone. There are a variety of activities that cater to visitors of all ages. Atlantis also continuously receives awards for its hotels, attractions, dining, and more so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
Atlantis offers all of the usual water attractions. The pristine waters offer some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. You can also rent jet skis, parasail, swim with dolphins, get up close and personal with sharks, or just soak up the sun on the white sand beaches. In short, if it’s water related you can find it at Atlantis.
Seeking thrills and want to entertain the kids? Head over to the world-famous Atlantis waterpark. This waterpark is 141 acres of water slides, pools, and river rides. Here you can ride their infamous slide that takes you through a shark tank for a unique experience. Not your thing? Relax in one of their many pools or chill out on a soothing river ride.
If you’re looking for something a little more laid back and educational, check out their open-air marine habitat. It’s the largest in the world and home to over 50,000 marine animals in 15 exhibit lagoons.
Picking a hotel can be difficult, especially since Atlantis have five distinct ones to choose from. What you pick will ultimately be up to you, but we highly recommend the Harborside. Unlike the Cove, its pools welcome children and the hotel’s location is right in the hub of shopping and fine dining.
2. Beaches (Jamaica and Turks and Caicos)
So in all fairness, Beaches isn’t necessarily a vacation spot. It’s an all-inclusive resort that caters to families. Because of their all inclusivity and variety of family friendly activities, they deserved a spot on our list.
You can pick from one of two family centric properties: one in Jamaica and one in Turks and Caicos. Both locations are notoriously expensive so for those looking to save money, often avoid these places; especially Turks and Caicos. Beaches Resorts however makes these destinations very budget friendly.
Beaches also has an exclusive deal with Sesame Street. This means that there are a lot of opportunities for your children to spend time with their favorite characters. The Sesame Street group also offers a variety of daily activities that are fun for the whole family. There’s story time with Elmo, staged shows, and weekly parades where all the characters can be found.
Don’t feel like spending time with Elmo? Drop your kids off at the kids’ camps that offer a variety of fun activities for children of all ages and hit up the beach for some sun and water.
There are also a number of water parks, water sports, swimming pools (some of which include kids-only pools), luxury family suites and of course delicious food that’s been included in your original price.
Since Beaches offers its own resorts (you’ll pick the destination, not necessarily the hotel), we thought we would discuss the luxury family suites. The resorts offer a number of rooms that comfortably sleep families and there are even rooms that will sleep a family of 5 with plenty of space.
3. San Diego, California
While there are a ton of family friendly activities in San Diego, our primary focus is the San Diego Zoo. It’s one of the largest and most interactive in the United States and if you’re never been, we highly suggest going! And there’s plenty there to keep you busy; enough to spend to more than just one day exploring the zoo.
You can see a variety of animals at the San Diego Zoo. You can expect to see pandas, polar bears, giraffes, elephants, meerkats, big cats, and more. Want to get up close and personal with some of the animals? Hop aboard their safari that goes through the park and is reminiscent of an African expedition. Keep in mind that there are still fences that separate you from the animals so it’s completely safe.
Craving more adventure? SeaWorld is another cool stop that will keep kids of all ages entertained. Here you can check out their aquarium, theme park, oceanarium, and watch shows. And if SeaWorld left you wanting more sun and water in your life, you can always head to La Jolla for some warm water and gentle breaks.
We should also mention that Legoland is here as well, which is always a family favorite. Here your kids can interact with their favorite Lego heroes and villains, hop on some fun rides, explore the water park, and catch some really cool shows.
We suggest the Legoland California resort. One of the best parts of this hotel is that kids stay AND play for free. Yes, you read that right: kids can stay here for free. The resort rooms are also spacious and very comfortable so if you’re looking to stay in luxury, then this is your hotel. Plus it’s located within the park so you’ll spend more time at Legoland having fun and less time traveling.
4. Branson, Missouri
When planning your next family vacation, Missouri probably isn’t on the list and if it is, you’re probably considering St. Louis or Kansas City. Both of these are great choices, but you’re seriously missing out if you don’t at least give Branson a Google search.
This eclectic travel destination offers some seriously cool stuff to see. Home to the World’s largest toy museum, it’s no wonder why families flock to this gem. The toy museum is hands on too so if your kids are easily bored by museums, then they’re going to love this one! History buffs will also enjoy this as it includes a lot of information regarding toys of the past.
We also suggest that you check out Hollywood Wax Museum. Pictured above, this stop is as fun and funky on the inside as it is on the outside. Upon arrival, you’ll find a massive King Kong clinging to the building above a Hollywood sign. In addition to wax celebrities, you’ll also find a photo op where you or your kids can climb into King Kong’s hand for a truly memorable picture.
You’ll also find water parks, amusement parks, and beautiful state parks that offer fishing, swimming, and water activities.
While there’s a lot of good options, Welk Resorts Branson Hotel is hands down the must stay place. Not only is it incredibly budget friendly, but the rooms are truly luxurious and spacious so you won’t feel cramped. The best part? There’s a miniature water park inside that features a slide, splash pad, and a large pool.
5. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Okay so if you thought Branson was a weird place to suggest as a family vacation destination, then you’ll be equally surprised by this one. After all what comes to mind when you think of Wisconsin? For us, we think of the Wisconsin Cheeseheads and that’s about it. It’s an easily “forgotten about state” but if you don’t at least give this place a lookover, you’ll regret it.
Our focus however is on the Kalahari Waterpark. Unlike traditional waterparks, this one is located inside so it can be enjoyed year round. So if you’re like us and crave the water even though it’s cold outside, Kalahari is a dream come true. You can also enjoy some of the outdoor water parks if you’re visiting in the summer and kids are sure to love both!
Want to stay dry? Check out the kid-friendly zip lining tours or Mr. Marvel’s Wondertorium. Both of these are great for kids of all ages and you and your partner will also enjoy them!
This state is also absolutely beautiful and borders two of the Great Lakes so if you’re looking for water sports and activities without the traditional sand and saltwater, then this is a great place to visit.
American Resort and Tree houses offers visitors a unique stay. The resort has 78 rooms and suites; all of which are themed so your kids will get a kick out of it.
Looking for something other than the semi traditional hotel rooms? Check out one of their 12 tree houses, 15 cabins, or park your RV at any of their 45 full hookup sites. The tree houses are definitely the most popular and your kids will love them!
You can also enjoy their two indoor pools and hot tubs, as well as complimentary entry to Noah’s Ark Waterpark and Timbavati Wildlife Park courtesy of the resort.
6. Yellowstone Park
When you think of Yellowstone Park, you probably don’t consider it a “kids of all ages” friendly destination spot. While your older children will definitely enjoy the park more, even your little ones will find the area interesting. Old Faithful is especially interesting to children. It’s no secret that this geyser is one of the park’s biggest attractions and even the smallest ones in your family will love watching it erupt.
However if you do plan on bringing little ones such as toddlers, make sure you bring a stroller or are prepared to carry them at points. The park is really large (over 3,000 square miles to be exact) and even if you’re just heading out to the geyser it’s quite the trek and kids can get tired (and bored) easily.
Besides Old Faithful, you’ll see gorgeous peaks, pristine lakes, multicolored hot springs pools, thick forests and large expansive meadows that your kids will enjoy playing in. The multicolored pools are also a big draw for kids; we overhead one call it “a jawbreaker” and someone else called it a “rainbow pool.”
WorldMark West Yellowstone is our favorite hotel in the area. It’s the closest to the park and is located one block from the west entrance. This means you won’t have to load the kids into the car for a long drive to get to the park.
During the winter, this hotel looks like something out a ski resort magazine. The gorgeous resort looks like its own little ski village with its gorgeous wooden structures and large windows. At night, the amber glow of the hotel is incredibly inviting.
Vacation destinations that you and your kids will remember for years to come
So which of these places on our list is your must-visit and which one(s) have you and your family been to? We’d love to know what your experiences were if you’ve been to any of the ones on our list. Did we leave out a destination spot that you think belongs on the list? Then let us know! We’re always looking for great getaways that are perfect for the entire family.