Choosing a travel destination that will cater to different age groups can be a tricky task. When planning a trip, you have to consider activities that will make everyone happy. Regardless of whether you have little kids or more adventurous teenagers, these best family vacation destinations are tailored to match everybody’s desires.
Best Family Vacation Destinations
- Cedar Point Amusement Park (Sandusky, Ohio)
Cedar Point Amusement Park is the roller coaster capital of the world with over 10 miles of track. Ride the Blue Streak – a wooden roller coaster dating back to 1964. For those who want more exciting rides, the following are excellent options – the Millennium Force (one of the best steel coasters around), the maXair (one of the world’s biggest pendulum rides), and suspension coasters (your feet dangle from the floorless Raptor).
Meanwhile, the Kite Eating Tree and Snoopy’s Space Race are ideal for younger kids. Where to stay? Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers offers early entry into the park, while Great Wolf Lodge features an indoor water park.
More info: CedarPoint.com
- Disney World (Orlando, Florida)
If there’s one word to describe Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, it would be this – enchanting. Composed of four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Disney's Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon), numerous hotels, Disney Springs dining, shopping, and entertainment complex, this resort features iconic sights and rides such as Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, Pandora – The World of Avatar, and Toy Story Land.
Because of its popularity, Walt Disney World Orlando is usually packed with locals and tourists, meaning pathways can be congested and ride lines may be long. If you want to avoid these issues, consider visiting on a weekday. Or, stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, where guests have access to Extended Magic Hours. Also, utilizing the park's FastPass+ service can help you make the most of your time in this family resort. While each theme park has different hours, all open by 9 am and close between 7 pm and 11 pm. The water park hours are from 10 am to 5 pm. For further details, check out the website of Walt Disney World Resort.
More info: DisneyWorld.disney.go
- Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, this world-renowned beach is a good place to take a surfing lesson, thanks to its warm and relatively calm waters. Sign up for a lesson at a Star Beach Boys stand, located in front of the statue of Duke Kahanamoku (considered as the father of modern surfing). There are also surf schools like the Surfer Girl Academy and Big Wave Dave.
Embrace the spirit and culture of Hawaii with an evening of entertainment and delicious cuisine at the Paradise Cove Luau. You can learn about traditional ceremonies, participate in island games and crafts, and savor a buffet dinner while you watch musical performances and dance. While on Oahu, consider visiting the historic sites on Pearl Harbor such as the USS Arizona Memorial.
Waikiki Beach is one of the best family vacation destinations because of its beautiful scenery, wide array of restaurants, fashion stores, and high-rise hotels. If you want to enjoy an on-site pool and free breakfast, try Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. Hilton offers great deals (here).
More info: GoHawaii.com/oahu
- San Diego Zoo (San Diego, California)
One of the world’s best zoos, the San Diego Zoo is one of the few places in the United States to see giant pandas and the world’s smallest bear. We recommend visiting Panda Trek first or last in the day. Other attractions include Elephant Odyssey and Northern Frontier, where you can see polar bears and arctic foxes. Meanwhile, in the Africa Rocks section, you will see baboons, leopards, blue-eyed lemurs, etc.
Where to stay? In October, “Kids Free San Diego” offer dozens of hotel deals. Year round, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa provide water sports rentals, while the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is in very close proximity to The New Children’s Museum. Hilton offers great deals (here).
More info: SanDiegoZoo.com
- The French Quarter (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Experience a Mardi Gras atmosphere all year long in this family-friendly city. There are lots of things to see in Jackson Square, where jugglers, mimes, jazz bands, and magicians make the street their stage. Grab a table at Café du Monde which is famous for its beignets (French donuts smothered with powdered sugar). Meanwhile, a stroll along the Mississippi River leads to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Other destinations include the lovely Garden District and Audubon Zoo, where kids can feed giraffes.
Where to stay? In the heart of the French Quarter, you can find The Homewood Suites by Hilton which offers free buffet breakfast. Another option would be the Quarter House Resort, which rents suites with fully equipped kitchens.
More info: NewOrleansOnline.com
- Riviera Maya (Mexico)
Do you want to snorkel in freshwater cenotes (natural pools), swim alongside manatees, and climb ancient Mayan ruins? Then, Riviera Maya in Mexico may be the place for you. Fly into Cancun and head to Playa del Carmen. For beach time, check out the Aloha Paddle Club's water sport rentals or take a ferry to nearby Cozumel. Meanwhile, float the underwater river at Xcaret Eco Theme Park, then stay late for the musical show, “Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.” Take a taxi or bus to Dolphin Discovery in Puerto Aventuras where kids can play with dolphins, manatees and sea lions. And finally, explore the clifftop ruins in Tulum.
Where to stay? Located on prime beachfront real estate, Panama Jacks Resort Playa del Carmen is home to the Camp Jack kids club. Outside of town, Barcelo has everything from the impressive Barcelo Maya Grand Resort to the more intimate Allegro Playacar. In Cozumel, Allegro Cozumel boasts of a pirate-themed water park on site.
More info: VisitMexico.com
- Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
This gorge is 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep, with rocks that are millions of years old. Some of the fun-filled activities that you can do include hiking into the canyon on ranger-led tours and biking along the South Rim (rent one from Bright Angel at the visitor center).
Where to stay? The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon is only one mile away from the South Rim entrance. At the bottom of the canyon, you can check into a cabin at the historic Phantom Ranch.
More info: NPS.gov/grca
Parents want to share their passion for travel with their loved ones. They want trips that don’t break the bank but still offer activities and excitement to captivate children of all ages. The family vacation destinations listed above are perfect, not just for kids, but also for parents who are young at heart. If you want more tips on how to travel with a large family, check out our interview of Mom of 6, Sharon Rowley.
If you want to book a place to stay and save money, try Airbnb (click here to avail of discounts).
As always, listen to our podcast episodes for more tips on how to LOVE your trips!
Fly with Chris and Di