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Best Family Vacation Destinations for All Ages and Interests

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Trying to decide where to travel with kids? The world is full of intriguing places to explore but it can be hard to narrow down options that will please both children as well as adults. This list of the best family vacation destinations features locations that are welcoming to families, interesting for all ages, and offer a wide variety of ways to play and relax.

Oceanview from the Big Island of Hawaii

Oceanview from the Big Island of Hawaii (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

1. Hawaii

Tropical Vacation for All Ages

Hawaii’s welcoming spirit and island beauty draw vacationing families to its shores. Although Hawaii officially became the 50th U.S. state in 1959, it’s unique culture and setting make it feel almost like a separate country. The Aloha State makes a wonderful destination for new parents seeking a family vacation spot to unwind and relax on gorgeous beaches or by fabulous Hawaiian hotel pools. But this destination is great for older kids, too, with its plethora of outdoor activities like body surfing, sailing, horseback riding, snorkeling and beyond.

Each of the six visitable islands has its own feel and features, from bustling Oahu — where over 70 percent of the state’s residents make their homes — to sleepy and authentically Hawaiian Molokai. My family’s favorite isle is Hawaii itself, also known as the Big Island, where volcanoes wow visitors with lava sitings and helicopter tour views. Read my tips for exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with kids.

Little girl skiing in Keystone, Colorado

Skiing in Keystone, Colorado (Photo credit: urban_light, Depositphotos.com)

2. Colorado Ski Resorts

Outdoor Activities for All Seasons

If you’re looking for a multigenerational vacation destination that’s sure to please the kids as well as the grandparents, then you’ll love a Colorado ski resort vacation. In winter, snowy activities abound like skiing, boarding, snowshoeing, ice skating and tubing. And let’s not forget the all-important après ski!

You’ll find just as much outdoor fun off-season at ski resorts like Breckenridge, Vail, and Keystone. Think horse drawn wagon rides, fly-fishing, mountaintop yoga, zip-lining, hiking and more. Colorado Ski Resorts make a fabulous option for planning a family reunion vacation with so much to keep everyone active and content.

San Diego, California beach scene

San Diego, California beach scene (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. California

Something for Every Type of Traveler

Family vacation opportunities abound in California. Amusement park enthusiasts adore Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, and LEGOLAND California. For city seekers, there’s San Francisco with its cable cars, famous Pier 39, and some of America’s best cuisine. There’s even skiing in the Golden State at the gorgeous Lake Tahoe. Of course, beach lovers flock to San Diego and Huntington Beach for surf vibes and sand play. Take a look at the best destinations in California for families now!

The carousel and opera house on La Place de la Comedie in Montpellier, France

Central square, La Place de la Comédie in Montpellier, France (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. France

Everyone’s Bucket List Destination

Land of the elegant Eiffel Tower, delectable treats like croissants and crêpes, and the extravagant Palace of Versailles — France feels like a fairytale destination. You could spend all your time in Paris exploring famous museums and expansive parks, but it would be a shame to ignore this country’s other offerings. From the breathtaking French Alps to the vibrant college town of Montpellier in the South of France, take a peek at the 10 best destinations in France for kids according to family travel experts.

Flower garden view from Leaping Lamb Farm in Alsea, Oregon

Flower garden view from Leaping Lamb Farm in Alsea, Oregon (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Oregon

A Sampler Vacation Spot

Can’t choose between a city vacation, beach trip, or farm stay? Head to Oregon for all three! Start in Portland — a city that prides itself on being weird and delights families with its funky vibe, tasty doughnuts, and nearby hiking opportunities at the state’s highest waterfall, Multnomah Falls. Next, drive west to Cannon Beach for beautiful beaches, which are perfect for kite-flying and s’mores on the sand. Then, to truly unwind, take your brood to Leaping Lamb Farm in Alsea to meet a variety of animals like sheep, miniature feinting goats, chickens, and a donkey named Paco. What’s more, given reasonable driving distances, these family vacation spots can easily be rolled into a trip that spans across two consecutive weekends.

View of San Miguel de Allende from Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the Rosewood Hotel

View of San Miguel de Allende from Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the Rosewood Hotel (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A Different Kind of Mexican Vacation

San Miguel de Allende does not have tons of museums and sites like Mexico City, or the stunning sandy beaches that you’ll find along Mexico’s coasts. But this very walkable city boasts beautiful colonial architecture, a bustling central square, and great language and art schools. My family’s absolute favorite thing about San Miguel is its warm, patient, and happy residents. Vacationers who want to slow down and savor the good life should plan a trip to this small city in Mexico’s Central Highlands. Discover 14 fun things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Lion statue in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China

Lion statue in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. China

My Family’s All-Time Favorite Vacation Spot

By unanimous decision, my family’s number one favorite vacation ever was to China. The history, beauty, and vibrant culture won our hearts. The vast differences between China and the U.S., as well as our universal sameness, was at once fascinating and comforting. ⁣Some highlights include standing on the Great Wall of China, visiting the Forbidden City, and participating in a tea ceremony at Shanghai Confucian Temple. The cherry on top of this compelling family destination? A trip to Disney’s biggest singular park! Take a look at my tips for visiting Shanghai Disneyland.

Arizona sunset with kids

Arizona sunset (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Arizona

The Grand Canyon State’s Desert Beauty and Beyond

As an Arizona resident, I may be partial to my home state. But, Arizona truly is an incredible vacation destination for families. Phoenix and Scottsdale burst with family-friendly activities like water parks, the world renowned Musical Instrument Museum, and the Southwest’s largest aquarium. What’s more, prices plummet at swanky resorts, spas and golf courses in Scottsdale in summer. From the Valley of the Sun, take off to explore other treasures like Jerome (America’s biggest ghost town), Prescott (Arizona’s charming territorial capital), and, of course, the breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park. Learn more with this extensive list of things to do in Scottsdale and my tips for exploring the Grand Canyon with kids.

Son and mom atop dromedaries in the Saharan Desert in Morocco

Son and mom atop dromedaries in Morocco’s Sahara Desert (Photo credit: Travel Mamas)

9. Morocco

Intriguing Introduction to the Middle East and Africa

Looking for an exotic locale? Morocco provides westerners with an easy introduction to both the Middle East and Africa. This unique and beautiful country places high value on family and is incredibly welcoming, especially to children. Journey from the labyrinth of Marrakech’s medina, through the stunning High Atlas Mountains, to the stark Sahara Desert with this list of 25 amazing things to do in Morocco with kids.

Mule-drawn carriage ride in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

Mule-drawn carriage ride in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

A Musical Destination for Families

New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the U.S. for its musical spirit, open-minded vibe, and distinctive creole cuisine. Parents love oohing and aahing at the beautiful houses in the Garden District and listening to the city’s famous live jazz. Meanwhile, kids enjoy mule-drawn carriage rides through the French Quarter, riding coasters and other rides at Carousel Gardens, and playing at the impressive Louisiana Children’s Museum. Peruse all the kid-friendly attractions in New Orleans.

Bayou sunset in Mississippi Gulf Shores

Bayou sunset in Coastal Mississippi (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Mississippi Gulf Coast

Best Affordable Beach Destination

Mississippi’s Secret Coast offers just the right blend of nature play, adrenaline-pumping activities, and amusements for a memorable family vacation. ⁣Look for super fresh seafood, a rowdy air boat alligator swamp tour, small town charm, and water park fun. Best of all? This beach destination is surprisingly affordable for families on a budget! Learn more about visiting Mississippi Gulf Coast with kids.

Best Family Vacation Destinations

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Want even more fabulous travel ideas? Explore our wide-ranging vacation destinations directory now!

In your opinion, what is the best vacation destination for families? Let us know in the comments below!

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. The Joyous Living says

    those look like terrific destinations. i’ve been to a handful of them but would definitely like to check off the rest of the boxes like morocco.

  2. Pam Wattenbarger says

    New Orleans is one of my favorite destinations for a quick vacation. I’d love to visit France!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      If you like New Orleans, then you’ll love France! There’s a lot of French influence on NOLA. It’s probably one of the reasons I love that city so much! ❤️

  3. Gervin Khan says

    These are great recommendations, those places are really beautiful and I love the fact that not only the parent will enjoy the place but the kids as well.

  4. You’ve listed some great places here!

  5. Pati Robins says

    i would really love to visit Hawaii its a perfect place to live too

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I love, love, love to visit Hawaii but I think it would be too hard for a travel lover like me to live so isolated from the rest of the world. It’d be easier to visit Asia, though, than it is for me on the continental U.S.!

  6. Marie Phillips says

    This is such a great list! And I love that you all have the same favorite destination. I had no idea that China had the largest Disney park. I am inspired by this list and hope to travel to some of these places with my family!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Well, it’s the largest SINGLE Disney park. Walt Disney World is definitely bigger if you include all of its many theme parks and water parks. Shanghai Disneyland really is the most beautiful park, too!

  7. We would love to visit New Orleans! It’s in our bucket list for post-corona. Can’t wait to get back into travelling with the family.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Me toooooo! I’m doing so much travel dreaming for 2021! I hope you love New Orleans as much as my family does!

  8. Melanie williams says

    LOVE all of your fab holiday piccys for sure. there are so many fab ideas here that we have also visited. Love travel and missing it x

  9. Monidipa says

    France, california and arizona are my favourite destinations. Remaining I’d love to visit someday.

  10. Love you suggestions. I’ve been to Hawaii and Arizona and They were great places to go

  11. Ntensibe Edgar Michael says

    Jinja, Uganda is the best destination. You won’t regret it, I promise you!

  12. Jill Robbins says

    I would love to take my kids to New Orleans. There is a lot more for families than people realize!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Right?! It always seems like such a grown-up destination, but there’s so much in this city for families to love!

  13. Jody Robbins says

    This is a great list – love the Oregon rec. I’m only sad that there’s no Canadian destinations on it. But maybe I’m biased?

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Canada really is a beautiful country! I plan to add one new destination to the list each year, so maybe in 2021 a Canadian destination will be added?!

  14. Shahab Ud Din says

    Great places!
    I would say that We also have most beautiful places for family vacations to spend in Pakistan(My Beloved Country).

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