Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Table Content

With two years of pandemic-related restrictions now mostly in the rearview at last, Americans' demand for travel is white-hot.

Treating your kids to one of the best family vacations in the US is easier than you think. Unless it’s your first rodeo, you know you have to pick a destination that offers an endless variety of entertainment options so you avoid dreaded meltdowns and tantrums. We’ve done the research to find the best family vacations in the U.S. Among the best places to visit in the country, these destinations on our list will please kids and parents alike.

From sea to shining sea, the U.S. is packed with amazing places to see and things to do—and many of them are ideal for family getaways.

If there’s one thing a family vacation is perfect for, it’s making memories that’ll last forever. The key to your dream trip is finding attractions and activities to keep every member of the family happy. Luckily, the best family vacation spots in the U.S. have it all.

For 2022, we combined family vacation ideas with a few recommendations from fellow travel writer friends. From coast to coast we’re ready to help you with our picks for the best family vacation spots in the US!

Why are Family Vacations Important?

  • Getting away helps you take a break from a high-stress lifestyle.
  • You can model successful problem-solving and planning to your kids while on vacation.
  • Family vacations provide an opportunity to learn new things.
  • Traveling together can create a bond over shared experiences.
  • You’ll create family memories that will last for many years.

How Much Does the Average Family Vacation Cost?

The cost of a family vacation varies based on many factors. Are you taking a road trip or flying? Are you planning to go to a lot of attractions with entrance fees or planning to do mostly free things. And, where are you staying? A five-star resort will obviously cost more than staying at a budget motel.

Based on my calculations, the average cost for vacation is $5,197. You can use my vacation cost calculator (in my cost for vacation post) to determine your expected costs. And you can print off my vacation budget planner if you’d like to calculate your vacation cost on paper.

What is the Best State to Visit in the US For Families?

All 50! I’m slightly joking here but honestly, I think that all 50 states offer amazing discoveries that will benefit families. I think the best state for your family vacation is based on what kind of vacation you’re looking for.

The US offers states with amazing National Parks (like Montana and California), others have fabulous beaches on both the ocean or a lake (like Florida or Michigan), and still, others offer amazing historical educational opportunities (like DC and Alabama).

You might consider helping your kids get a start on a 50 State Bucket List Challenge and visit as many states as you can while your kids are young. Families who enjoy the outdoors might also get a National Parks checklist.

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA

1. Hilton Waikoloa Village (Hawaii)

2. San Diego (California)

3. Kingsmill Resort (Virginia)

4. Yellowstone (Wyoming)

5. Tanque Verde Ranch (Arizona)

6. Denali National Park (Alaska)

7. Circus Circus (Las Vegas)

8. Sedona (Arizona)

9. Out 'n' About Treesort (Oregon)

10. Estes Park (Colorado)

11. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort (Utah)

12. Moosehead Lake (Maine)

13. Omni La Costa Resort and Spa (California)

14. Santa Rosa (California)

15. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Florida)

16. New Orleans (Louisiana)

17. Indianapolis (Indiana)

18. Door County (Wisconsin)

19. Plymouth (MA)

20. Folly Beach (South Carolina)

21. Palm Spring (California)

22. Colorado Springs (Colorado)

23. Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee)

24. Williamsburg (Virginia)

25. Branson (Missouri)

**********

1. Hilton Waikoloa Village (Hawaii)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: hawaiimagazine

In Hawaii, the Hilton Waikoloa Village promises endless activity and unprecedented luxury. Parents hoping to find a child-friendly haven can sign their tykes up for Club Keiki. During its day and night camps, kids can feed koi and swans, hunt for treasure, and explore tide pools.

The resort's tropical gardens, saltwater lagoons, and two golf courses are tempting, but the most popular retreat is Dolphin Quest. It provides guests with a variety of interactive dolphin programs, including training adventures, a family experience, and kids' quest. Meanwhile, at Waikoloa's 4-acre lagoon, water lovers can schedule kayak trips, snorkel sails, and seasonal whale-watching tours. After dark, attend the Legends of Hawaii luau to experience traditional island dancing and music, as well as a buffet dinner.

2. San Diego (California)

Among the best family vacation spots in California, San Diego is packed with kid-friendly experiences and fun places to go with kids. Budding wildlife biologists can spot everything from pandas to polar bears at the San Diego Zoo or look beneath the waves at SeaWorld San Diego, an aquarium, theme park and oceanarium rolled into one. Legoland California is a quick drive up the coast, and your kids can catch their very first waves in the warm water and gentle breaks off pretty La Jolla.

3. Kingsmill Resort (Virginia)

Stretching over 3,000 acres of Virginia wilderness, Kingsmill Resort boasts its own long list of recreational activities, as well as close proximity to the fun found in nearby Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. Active families can enjoy the resort's two 18-hole golf courses, 15 tennis courts and Sports Club, which features indoor and outdoor pools, exercise classes, personal trainers and a billiards and game room.

Stop by the concierge desk for special Junior Guest registration, and children will receive a Kids' Fun Pack introducing them to the resort. The kids' camp is the perfect opportunity for 5- to 12-year-olds to play tennis and golf, swim, fish, have theme days, and make arts and crafts. Don't forget to sign little ones up for Kids' Night Out, a pizza and game party that allows parents to have a romantic date night at one of the four signature restaurants on-site.

4. Yellowstone (Wyoming)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: visittheusa

If your family loves adventure and is rearing to be on the move, then the Yellowstone National Park is sure to be a fun family getaway.

Spread across 2.2 million acres, with its pristine lakes and stunning peaks, the Yellowstone National Park is surely a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

You can take a stroll to the Yellowstone river falls along the Grand Canyon, watch the thrilling sights of the Old Faithful erupting or trek up to Hayden Valley to see the wonderful wildlife of the park such as elk, buffalo, bison and even a grizzly or two.

And, if you love camping, then you can make the most of Yellowstone’s well-equipped campsites too.

5. Tanque Verde Ranch (Arizona)

The 640-acre Tanque Verde Ranch is a serene oasis nestled in the Sonoran Desert, near Saguaro National Park. With more than 120 horses, it's no surprise that this dude ranch offers ample riding opportunities. Specialty options available include breakfast rides (with a meal at the Old Homestead), six-hour-long day rides, and picnic rides with lunch in Cottonwood Grove. Newcomers can take riding lessons at a variety of levels.

Naturalist guides offer hikes through the desert wilds, exploring canyons, cacti and even secret waterfalls. The popular kids' program offers little cowpokes (ages 4-12) the chance to "ride 'em cowboy!" Children are divided into three age groups — the Buckaroos, Wranglers and Outlaws — and treated to riding lessons, tennis, swimming and arts and crafts.

6. Denali National Park (Alaska)

If Denali National Park isn’t on your family’s travel bucket list, add it now. You can cruise to the famous park—Disney, Carnival and other major cruise lines make the trek—or try a scenic train ride from Anchorage or Fairbanks. Be sure to visit the Husky Homestead to learn about Alaskan dog sledding, and even hold the resident pups!

7. Circus Circus (Las Vegas)

The biggest permanent big top in the world can be found rising in all its colorful glory in Las Vegas. More than 3.5 million people a year stop by to experience the live entertainment and whimsy that Circus Circus has to offer. The resort lies on 70 acres of land, and with nearly 3,800 rooms, it's the fifth-largest resort-casino in Vegas.

"Oohs" and "ahhs" fill the air every half-hour as performers engage in airborne stunts on the resort's center stage. Surrounding the stage is the Midway, an enormous carnival filled with 200 games and wandering clowns. Possibly the world's biggest funhouse, the indoor Adventuredome theme park continues the excitement with more than 20 rides, plus miniature golf and laser tag.

8. Sedona (Arizona)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: planetware

The Grand Canyon is worthy of a visit—don’t get us wrong—but Sedona is equally beautiful and far less crowded. Take the kids on a Pink Jeep Tour of the Red Rocks, and be sure to look for Snoopy Rock, a rock that closely resembles Snoopy lying on his back! Afterward, head to Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill for dinner with a view, or catch the sunset at Sedona Airport Overlook.

9. Out 'n' About Treesort (Oregon)

Nestled into treetops and branches is one of the world's most unusual bed-and-breakfasts. This high-in-the-sky treehouse resort proves that trees aren't just for the birds. Fifteen treehouses, which sleep anywhere from two to eight people, make up the "treesort" (but because of legal issues, not all 15 are available for overnight lodging).

Guests climb stairs, ladders, even a 90-foot-long suspension bridge. At the Swiss Family Complex, a swinging bridge separates child and adult units, and a fire pole and rope swings provide kids with ground access. Luxury lovers will enjoy the Tree Room Schoolhouse Suite, which fits four and has a bathroom, kitchenette, master bedroom, sitting area and loft. Fun perks include lessons in treehouse building, horseback riding, rafting, ropes courses, pools and arts and crafts classes.

10. Estes Park (Colorado)

Estes Park, Colorado is a fabulous vacation spot for families who are looking for a National Park trip with some small-town charm and big-city day trips thrown in. Estes Park is home to Rocky Mountain National Park which is one of Mia’s favorite parks. It’s filled with fun hikes, beautiful views, and lots of wildlife.

Estes Park is a charming main street town with lots of tourist shops, including some great candy and ice cream shops. They also have a fun pika scavenger hunt that will keep kids entertained while you stroll up and down the main street.

And when you’re ready for some big-city thrills, head into Denver. It’s about an hour and a half drive and the perfect way to have a vacation with nature and city sights. If you have any NFL fans, they can even book a tour of Broncos stadium.

11. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort (Utah)

If the sight of snow gets your family excited, grab the skis and head to Snowbird for a wonderful, wintry vacation. The resort, which rests in Little Cottonwood Canyon, offers 3,240 vertical feet and 2,500 acres of mountain to explore. Thanks to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, it sees an average of more than 500 inches of snow annually.

More than forty years after being founded, the resort now features 10 lifts, 169 runs and an uphill capacity of 17,400 people. Beginners ages 3 and up can learn skiing and snowboarding at the Snowbird Mountain School. Love the outdoors but not a fan of the slopes? The resort also offers ice skating, snow tubing, snowshoe tours and luge sleds. Parents can unwind with a stone massage or herbal wrap at the luxurious Cliff Spa.

12. Moosehead Lake (Maine)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: destinationmooseheadlake

If you’re looking for a relaxing lake vacation, Moosehead Lake, Maine could be the vacation spot for you. Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, and the largest mountain lake in the eastern US.

The lake is home to many cabin rentals, offering families a home away from home that lets them relax and make themselves at home. I had a chance to stay at two on my Moosehead Lake weekend trip.

Lily Bay State Park has a great beach and campground that families will love. You can book a moose safari where you go at sunrise or sunset to go out looking for moose — we saw two! You’ll find many cabins and lodges that offer kayaks and/or canoes for paddling out and enjoying the water.

13. Omni La Costa Resort and Spa (California)

Most commonly associated with its two championship golf courses and its world-class spa, the Omni La Costa now earns itself a new reputation: family resort. Tucked among the property's rolling greens, renowned golf school and 17 tennis courts is a world of activities designed for little ones on retreat.

At the Kidtopia children's club, young guests experience the resort's magnificent facilities in a kid-friendly environment, filling their time with tennis, croquet, hiking, swimming, nature walks, crafts and pingpong. While they're making friends and having fun, parents can indulge in the body- and soul-soothing luxury that defines the Omni La Costa.

14. Santa Rosa (California)

Santa Rosa is the home of Charles Schulz, the artist, and creator of the Peanuts comic. There is a Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa that should appeal to kids and adults alike. Kids can even try to draw the Peanuts in the museum’s art room. And, there’s a skating rink and a children’s museum within walking distance.

Santa Rosa is also home to the Safari West wildlife park. Families who are interested in learning more about African animals can visit and go on a jeep tour. You can even stay onsite in one of their glamping tents, where you’ll fall asleep with the sounds of birds and lemurs calling into the night.

Santa Rosa also offers parents plenty of opportunities to enjoy wine tasting. Wineries are family-friendly, and some even offer activities on-site to keep kids entertained while parents sip away.

15. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Florida)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: fodors

At Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, families experience the thrills of an African safari without ever leaving their hotel. If a trip to the Serengeti is out of your price range, a visit to this wild lodge will more than suffice. Strolling throughout the property's 33 acres of savannas, guests will see more than 200 animals representing 100 different species, including antelopes and gazelles.

Rooms are decorated with a traditional African ambience: earth-tone walls, handcrafted furniture, tapestries and mosquito nets. But true historical value can be found in the 4,000 native handicrafts placed throughout the lodge. When it's time to dine, experience the tastes of Africa at one of the resort's inspired restaurants, including Jiko, which features wood-burning ovens, and Boma, a buffet under a thatched roof.

16. New Orleans (Louisiana)

New Orleans may be best known for beads and Bourbon Street, but there is another family-oriented side to this Louisiana city. Creole cuisine and live jazz aren’t just for grown-ups, with lots of kid-friendly restaurants and music venues. Festive king cakes drizzled with Mardi Gras-colored icing and beignets doused in powdered sugar are tasty local treats for all ages.

Kids will especially love playing at the Louisiana Children’s Museum, which was completely redesigned and reopened in a new location inside City Park in 2019. This expansive park is also home to Carousel Gardens and Storyland theme parks, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, and the City Putt miniature golf course.

17. Indianapolis (Indiana)

With dozens of ways for children to learn, build and explore, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis makes this city one of America’s top kid-friendly vacations. But don’t stop there—Indianapolis is packed with other kid-friendly attractions. Older kids can test their wits against an escape room game, everyone can lay down beats at Rhythm! Discovery Center and the whole family will get in on the action while exploring Indianapolis on a self-guided scavenger hunt.

18. Door County (Wisconsin)

Door County, Wisconsin is one of all-time favorite family destinations. Located just two hours north of Milwaukee, Door County is actually a peninsula surrounded by Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other. Families will love the year-round outdoor activities available, beautiful scenery, and laid-back atmosphere.

In the warmer months, families can enjoy picking fresh fruit, zip-lining through nature preserves, kayaking on the lake, and visiting the area lighthouses. They can even watch the latest movies at the local drive-in. In the fall, Door County is one of the top places for foliage with spectacular colors and Highway 42 is one of the most beautiful drives in the country.

19. Plymouth (MA)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: getawaymavens

Discover the history of the voyage of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower and the establishment of the Plymouth Colony at Plymouth.

Plimoth Plantation gives you a realistic view of the life of the Pilgrims with costumed interpreters, livestock and the life-size reproduction of the Mayflower.

After you’ve soaked in the history of the place, you can take an excursion to watch whales or catch lobsters, go to the petting zoo, take a tour of the cranberry bog or simply build sandcastles on Plymouth Beach.

You could also take a ferry to Provincetown and explore the monument where the Pilgrims first set foot before they moved on to Plymouth and see the stunning Cape views.

20. Folly Beach (South Carolina)

Folly Beach in South Carolina is a friendly beach island just 25 minutes from Charleston, SC that’s perfect for families. It has plenty of rental properties and hotels right by the water, and the ocean is shallow enough for little ones to play in. For adults, there is astoundingly high quality and variety of food and nightlife. The overall vibe is relaxed and welcoming, and there are numerous water activities (we took an excellent boat tour out to an island with a lighthouse!) as well as biking, strolling, and being one with nature.

21. Palm Spring (California)

Palm Springs has it all for a family vacation: sparkling pools, room to spread out, a relaxed atmosphere — and plenty of adventure available to those who seek it. Don’t miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — the world’s largest rotating tramcar — for a white-knuckle ride with knockout views. Take the kids to the nonprofit Living Desert Zoo & Gardens in neighboring Palm Desert. Stay at the Hotel Zoso, which recently reopened with new nibbles at the Kitchen and pool plus an overall refresh.

22. Colorado Springs (Colorado)

Located just 90 minutes from Denver, families should put Colorado Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak Region on their radar for their next vacation. Family-friendly activities include a visit to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Within its 40 acres, kids will enjoy several up-close-and-personal animal experiences including feeding the giraffes.

Give your kids a taste of the Old West with a visit to the Ghost Town Museum. There’s nothing more magical to kids than visiting Santa, and families can do that from May – Christmas Eve at The North Pole – Home of Santa’s Workshop. All aboard Pikes Peak Cog Railway for year-round stunning views of the mountains. Load the family in the car for a scenic drive or hike at the always-free Garden of the Gods.

23. Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee)

Top 25 Best and Most Beautiful Family Vacations in The USA
Photo: vromanticasheville

Got a family full of nature lovers? Head to Gatlinburg, a mountain town known as the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (three park entrances are conveniently located right downtown). Here, you’ll find all the outdoor activities your family could want, with miles of trails perfect for hiking, walking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, as well as whitewater rafting and kayaking. Keep your cameras at the ready for shots of local wildlife like elk, deer, and even the occasional black bear.

Closer to town, you’ll find a plethora of kid-friendly activities. Take in a live performance at the Sweet Fanny Adams Theater, or marvel at the penguins, sting rays, and sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Browse the galleries and studios of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community for local artisanal products and artwork to take home as souvenirs. For the best views in town, climb to the top of the 407-foot Gatlinburg Space Needle, or take a ride above the treetops on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway.

24. Williamsburg (Virginia)

For a family trip that combines fun with education, Williamsburg can’t be beat. Carefully renovated historical areas bring the past to life in Colonial Williamsburg and nearby Yorktown and Jamestown. Climb into a horse-drawn carriage and tour the streets lined with restored buildings from the era of the American Revolution. Spend a day in these living history museums, where you’ll see what life was like in the days of the Framers of the Constitution at sites like the Yorktown Battlefield.

For some creepy fun, take the Williamsburg Ghosts Tour or the Williamsburg Witches and Pirates Tour. The Jamestown Glasshouse offers a glimpse into the area’s artisanal glass industry; here, you’ll see artists at work and have the chance to buy your own hand-blown pieces. Take a break from learning about the nation’s past and ride the roller coasters at Busch Gardens Williamsburg or careen down the water slides at Water Country USA.

25. Branson (Missouri)

If your family loves music and live performances, Branson offers one of the best family vacations in the U.S. This Missouri city is famous for its live musical entertainment, with venues such as Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, and many more. It’s the perfect place to take in a show or to enjoy dinner theater. Kids of all ages will love the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, as well as the rides at Silver Dollar City, Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park, Bigfoot Fun Park, and Fritz’s Adventure.

But there’s so much more to experience in Branson. Hop on the Spirit of America—a 148-foot catamaran—or the Showboat Branson Belle for a sail around Table Rock Lake. Bike, hike, or horseback ride through miles of trails in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Take a ride through the Ozarks forest on the Branson Scenic Railway, a historic train with cars dating from the mid-20th century. For more indoor fun, venture to Beyond the Lens to try cutting-edge gaming systems, or experience the world’s most famous boat at the Titanic Museum.

Why Do Americans Not Use Their Vacation Days? Why Do Americans Not Use Their Vacation Days?

More than half of Americans don’t use all of their time off to take vacation days. Why? Find out the answer to this tricky question ...

Which States Are The Richest And Wealthiest in The US? Which States Are The Richest And Wealthiest in The US?

What are the richest states in the USA? Find out the country’s richest states with the top 10 in this article!

How to Stay Healthy During Your Vacation? How to Stay Healthy During Your Vacation?

A vacation can turn into a burden thinking about the hurdles one must jump over in order to stay healthy. The good news is that ...