If your family has been couped up for months, you are likely very ready for a vacation. You probably didn’t get one last year, so you have saved up some travel bucks, right? So, where are the absolute best family travel destinations for your next trip? Well, that all depends on what your family considers fun. Do you want a vacation that is partially educational? Perhaps, you want some outdoor adventure? Do you need to stick to a budget, or do you want to splurge? The options are limitless, and counter to popular belief, are not just relegated to the continental United States.
Don’t get us wrong, there is nothing more beautiful than a US road trip, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is the most economical or even easiest option. You might be surprised at how easy and affordable an international trip can be with your kids. Plus, you get to introduce them to new cultures, foods, and experiences. Let’s get to the list of the best places to take your family
Try a Family Scavenger Hunt
ScavengerHunt.com offers adventures in over 400 cities worldwide. Our app-guided tours provide a wonderful way to learn more about local attractions and make memories with your family. Find a city near you, or one you’re traveling to, and take your whole crew!
Family Travel Destinations
1. Washington, D.C.
The capital city of the USA is a fabulous destination for kids. The series of Smithsonian museums are not only educational and fun, but they are free! Visit the National Museum of Natural History to explore human history, the world’s largest and most beautiful gems, like the Hope Diamond, and giant animal displays from African elephants to whales and dinosaurs. Other highlights include the International Spy Museum, The Holocaust Museum, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, National Children’s Museum, and the super fun National Museum of American History. Then, take a White House tour. Stroll the National Mall and visit Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial, along with many many more. Oh, and don’t forget the National Zoo! It’s a beautiful city with tons of historical sites and plenty to keep the kiddos busy. It also makes for a great homeschool educational trip!
Explore Washington, D.C. with our awesome “Cultural Gems“ scavenger hunt! This walking tour will take you about two hours and has 20 challenges for your family to compete in as you explore the historical and cultural sights of our great nation’s capital! This tour is super fun and an idea that the whole family will love!
2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Keep the historical train rolling and take an actual train from D.C. to Philadelphia! Explore one of the nation’s earliest capitals and the life and history of honored Americans like Benjamin Franklin. On the history front, must-see include the Liberty Bell, Independence National Park, and Betsey Ross House. For fun activities, check out the Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia Magic Gardens, and Knoebels Amusement Park. If that doesn’t kick your rollercoaster craving, then hit up a few more at nearby Hersheypark and do a tour of the chocolate factory too! The pairing of D.C. and Philadelphia makes for one epic family trip!
3. Utah Road Trip
Utah is one of the most diverse and visually interesting in the USA. With five national parks and epic scenic drives, it is the perfect road trip for an active family. Visit Bryce Canyon and hike the Queen’s Garden to Navajo Loop Trail for the best views of the incredible hoodoos.
Head to Bryce Canyon and get waist-deep in the cool waters of the Narrows. Let the incredible views of Canyonlands National Park mesmerize you, and snap a few family pics under the varied arches of Arches National Park. Visit the stunning Salt Lake City. Drive through the salt flats and over the bridge to Antelope Island State Park and spot the antelope and buffalo herds, see a real ranch from the 1800s, and take a float in the Great Salt Lake.
If you visit Utah in the winter, hit the slopes of Park City. When you think skiing, you probably think Colorado, but did you know that Utah has the “largest ski resort in the US?” Ski the 7,300 acres of property on Park City Mountain Resort and explore the cute historic Main Street. They also conveniently offer ski lessons for kids and teens. If your idea of family fun is all about outdoor activities, then there is no better bucket-list destination than Utah!
4. Arizona Road Trip
If you have a couple of weeks, a great pairing for your Utah road trip is the great state of Arizona. Of course, this is home to the gorgeous Grand Canyon, which you should definitely see. However, Arizona also boasts some of the most beautiful and family-friendly hikes in the United States. We particularly love the hiking around Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona, on the Utah border.
Next, take the incredible drive down Hwy 89A, one of the most scenic drives in The States. Sedona is a stunning red-rock wonder with incredible hikes, like Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and The Birth Canal, that can be done by the whole family. Sedona has a mystique that draws many spiritualists, but it also has several art galleries, great restaurants, beautiful campsites along the river, and a new hike at your fingertips every day!
5. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is the perfect family vacation destination for American crews. First of all, it is an American territory, so you do not need to get passports for your clan! The Caribbean waters of PR are warm, with the perfect amount of fun waves to boogie board. Fly into San Juan and pick an Airbnb or resort hotel, along Condado Beach. Explore old town San Juan, with its two forts, cute tourist train, and charming Spanish Colonial architecture. The train is very convenient, as it stops at all the major sites and makes for an easy hop-on, hop-off adventure.
Rentals of every kind are available for watersports, including sea kayaking, snorkeling, and even deep-sea fishing excursions. There are so many wonderful beaches in PR, you can explore a new one every day. They range from high-end resort beaches to local beaches with that awesome Caribbean vibe. They are all white sands beaches with stunning blue Caribbean waves. There are even two smaller islands off PR, Vieques (famous for its wild horses and the largest bioluminescent bay in the world) and Culebra (famous for having one of Earth’s most beautiful beaches, Flamenco Beach.
PR has the only tropical rainforest in the United States, The El Yunque National Rainforest. It is a lush wonderland of waterfalls, dense forest, and outdoor fun. You can even zipline through the rainforest canopy at the park. El Yunque is an easy 30-minute drive from San Juan and rental cars and driving are cheap and easy in PR.
If you would like to venture out of the contiguous United States for the first time with your whole family, Puerto Rico is a really great option. It’s very affordable, as there are usually cheap flights from most major American cities. It isn’t too far from home. You will get to experience a new culture without too much culture shock or hardship. All this goodness makes Puerto Rico one of the best family vacations we can think of.
6. Branson, Missouri
When you think of Branson, you may just think of grand theatres and Elvis impersonators, but in the last few years, Branson has modernized into an awesome family travel spot. Not only is Silver Dollar City still an excellent theme park, full of rollercoasters and its own waterpark, Branson now has indoor waterparks as well! Copperhead Mountain Coaster is a standalone coaster, right off the stip, allowing you to control your own car on a gravity-powered coaster that is an absolute blast! Plus, big kids (based on height, but approximately 10+) can drive their own cart.
Branson has several mini-golf courses in every theme imaginable. The Acrobats of China show will awe and amaze you, and the whole family will love the silly antics at Wonderworks and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. The shopping, dining, fountains, and lovely boardwalk at Branson Landing, offers great views of Lake Taneycomo and is the perfect place to make your home base. In fact, the $7.5 million water feature is a must-see. It combines water, fire, cannons, lights, and music and was designed by the same firm that did the Downton Disney World water show in Orlando and the Universal City Walk in California. It’s quite a show!
Central America is a great location for a family vacation. With its close proximity to the US and reliably cheap flights, there is no better place to explore as a family. The pristine, palm-tree-lined beaches of Belize offer relaxation and fun at a great price. Belize has some of the most renowned snorkeling in the world too!
Go whitewater kayaking on the Moho River. Tour the Mayan Ruins of Lamanai. Take a helicopter ride over the famous Blue Hole. Visit Old Belize Adventure Beach and Marina. This amazing complete in Belize City sits right on Kukumba Beach and features a waterpark with an 80-foot waterslide, a train tour that takes you through several special Belize eco and cultural scenes, and an awesome restaurant!
While driving in Belize can be a bit crazy, the tourist infrastructure is great. There are guided tours available for all the major sites, leaving from Belize City. If you don’t think you would be comfortable on the mainland, no problem! Hop the ferry as soon as you land in Belize City and head for the islands. We highly suggest the golf-cart-only island of Caye Caulker for a stunning, relaxed vibe, great Airbnbs, and world-class snorkeling.
8. Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Puerto Morelos is a beautiful coastal town just 30 minutes south of popular Cancun. Not only is it the most charming place you have ever seen, but it is also the headway for the Ruta de Cenotes. This glorious route takes you through some of the most insane natural swimming holes that Mexico has to offer. These sinkholes are all over the Yucatan Peninsula and vary in size and amenities, but they are all beautiful and super fun! Book a combo ATV tour from the main plaza in town.
Puerto Morelos has a beautiful white sandy beach with perfect warm Caribbean waters, and the MesoAmerican Reef is just meters from shore. This makes it the perfect place to book a family snorkeling adventure, and you have no shortage of great choices. The town is tiny and great to explore on foot or rented bike. It’s filled with boutique hotels and nice restaurants too! Make sure to stop by Blue Morelos and grab the “Trish Taco” and their specialty margarita for mom and dad!
9. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on Earth. It is full of the most exotic wildlife tours by day or night, stunning Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, and a lush cloud forest interior. Arrive in San Jose and take the trip north for your first night in the city of Grecia. Visit Catarata del Toro and Blue Falls, before heading to Arenal and straight to Sky Adventures! The property is amazing, and they offer top-of-the-line equipment and trained staff for ziplining, repelling waterfalls, and the oh so fun, Sky River Drift, which allows you to tube down an incredible river in the Costa Rican rainforest. It is an unforgettable experience. Sky Adventures offers all kinds of tours in the area from kayaking to biking adventures, and you can trust that they have all the safety stuff covered.
Next, head for Monteverde and explore the sky bridges through the cloud forest! For a bit more adventure, check in to Monteverde Extremo Park and take the plunge from the highest bungee jump in Central America. They also have a Superman Zipline and a giant Tarzan Swing!
Costa Rica is easy to travel by car, except the Southwest corner. Another incredible stop is the Manuel Antonio National Park containing several beautiful beach and wildlife tours. If you have a 4×4, head down to Drake’s Bay and Corcovado National Park for your best chance to see tapirs, sloths, and every beautiful bird you can imagine. Costa Rica is a great place to whale watch too!
10. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is America’s oldest official national park, and it is still a champ. Kiddos and adults alike are mesmerized by the exploding geysers, epic wildlife spotting, and the kaleidoscope of colorful hot springs. The whole park is awesome, but there are a few highlights you shouldn’t miss.
Of course, stand in the crowd to see the timely Old Faithful erupt. Hike the Fairy Falls Trail to see get a look at the Grand Prismatic from above. A lesser-known, but even more incredible geyser, Lone Star, can be reached by a beautiful hike through some of the only forests on the barren park. Yellowstone is an easy park to visit, as the major sites are along the main road, and you can just road trip your way through its majesty, with a handy park map.
Be sure to stop by the ranger station or visitor center and pick up the Yellowstone Newspaper. It is filled with interesting facts and trivia to keep your family entertained between stops! Also, make sure to snag an America The Beautiful Pass which will cover all your national park entrance fees. You just need one for the whole family. You will especially want it if you decide to pair your Yellowstone trip with some hiking and rafting in Grand Teton National Park.
11. Holbox, Mexico
Holbox is a tiny island in the Mexican Caribbean that makes for the perfect beach vacation. It is just a short ferry ride from the mainland, but a world away from the luxury resorts and party-vibe of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The little boho island is one of the world’s top-rated places to swim with whale sharks and see pink flamingos! Fly into Cancun, a very cheap flight from Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, among other major US cities. Hop a bus or Uber to the ferry and soon you will be on the most beautiful white sand beaches you can imagine.
The beaches are covered in cute, quaint huts with all the amenities you need to have a great beach day. Book a kayaking tour to Yum Balam Nature Preserve, where you can see crocodiles in the wild, pink flamingos in season, and book a boat tour to swim with the whale sharks. Holbox is a great vacation idea for families who just like to chill and take it easy. Do as little or as much as your want, and if you get bored, you can always pair it with a great nearby city like historical Merida or a visit to the current Seven Wonder of the World, Chichen Itza.
The beach hotels range from local and casual to extremely luxurious. There are tons of great restaurants serving fresh, tropical foods. This area of Mexico is stunningly beautiful, very safe, and an all-around perfect travel destination.
12. Visit Disney
It wouldn’t be much of a family list if you didn’t mention Disneyland. However, did you know that there are now Disney’s in 5 countries? That’s right! If you have already been to the California and Florida versions, why not take your family to Disney in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, or Shanghai. If you love cruises, why not consider a Disney Cruise? Personally, for families, we would choose the Paris or Hong Kong versions. Both cities are easy to tackle with children and don’t have quite the people overload of Shanghai and Tokyo.
Let’s just take a minute to honor the paradise that is Hawaii … aaaahhhh! Hawaii is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Which island should you choose though? Oahu, Maui, Kauai? Well, it depends on your preferences, so do some research. However, our favorite is the “Garden Isle,” Kauai. This rugged little island is filled with natural wonders like the NaPali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Queen’s Bath. The Pacific waves of Hanalei Bay are great for learning to surf, and Secret Beach is one of the most beautiful swaths of sand you can imagine.
Take a raft tour of the iconic NaPali Coast, zooming in and out of sea caves and past waterfalls, with the craggy peaks surrounding you on one side, and Pacific blue on the other. Visit an ancient Hawaiian village and heritage site, and snorkel the crazy reefs of Kauai. This tour is so much fun, and your whole family will love it!
14. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the second-largest canyon in the United States, after the Grand Canyon, and it is the perfect family trip. The hikes are pretty easy to conquer for most kids, and the views are incredible. Palo Duro is just outside the city of Amarillo, and there are tons of adventures to tackle. Take to the skies at Palo Duro Canyon Zipline Adventure Park. Take a horseback ride on Los Cedros Ranch, and work on your graffiti skills at the weirdly fun Route 66 site, Cadillac Ranch.
Is Iceland cheap? No! No, it is not, but it is one of the few places where taking the whole family really won’t cost you too much more than a couple’s trip. The cheapest part of the Iceland trip is the notoriously low flight prices into Reykjavik. You can rent a sweet campervan from Cozy Campers and explore this incredible landscape of fire and ice. While you can drive the whole Ring Road in summer, if that sounds like too much with littles, just take the smaller and much more manageable Golden Circle trip. This will keep you within a couple of hours of Reykjavik, and you will still get to see some amazing sites.
Visit Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss waterfall. Wade the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon. Visit Laugadalur Recreation Area which features a swimming pool, zoo, ice skating rink, and playground, all right in the city. Learn all about Iceland’s History with the lifelike presentation at The Saga Museum. Visit the largest whale expedition in Europe at Whales of Iceland, where kids under 7 are free! Take in a cultural show at Harpa Concert Hall, specifically made for children! Shows vary, but they are currently featuring Harry Potter and often do shows starring Iceland’s favorite cartoon characters. Sounds like a pretty great family vacation to us!
Romania is a magical land of mountains and intense scenery. Plus, the mystical land of Transylvania is shrouded in legend and lore. Visit Bran Castle or Dracula’s Castle. Bran Castle has no historical significance to the story of Count Vlad Tepes (Dracul) or Vlad the Impaler, so don’t be fooled. It is, however, the castle that Bram based his description of Dracula’s castle on in his epic novel, so it is colloquially known as Dracula’s castle. The stunning landscape is filled with incredible hikes and fun kitschy vampire finds.
Visit the Libearty Bear Sanctuary. Take a slow ride through the North Romanian mountains on the 100-year-old Mocanita Steam Train. Get active in the air at Parc Adventura Brasov. This amazing park has 16 different trails and obstacle courses built into the treetops. They also offer jeep, biking, and scooter tours!
When visiting the beautiful, capital city of Bucharest, make sure to visit the amazing museums, but also make a stop at Edenland. This urban park is marvelous and includes archery, painting workshops, rock wall climbing, a zoo, bike rentals, and more! While it probably isn’t at the top of your bucket list, we highly recommend Romania for your next family vacation!
17. Albanian Coast
Want to visit Europe with your family on a small budget? Albania is your place. This up-and-coming travel destination gives you all the charm of Northern Greece with less than half the price. The Southern beaches of Albania are the stunning Mediterranean blue you love with the incredible foothills of the Alps in the background.
We recommend the tiny beach town of Ksamil. You won’t find any inclusive resorts here, but you will find great restaurants, the cutest bay with still waters, and a safe place for your family to land. It is just a 5-minute bus ride from the transportation hub and party town of Sarande, so it’s easy to get to. There also happens to be a world-class historic site, Butrint National Park. Butrint is one of the few places on earth where you can explore intact ruins from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian Empires, all in one site. Plus the landscape is incredible, so you get a nature day and a historic day all in one!
We also highly recommend the quiet beach town of Borsh, the historical city of Gjirokastra, and the charming and historic Berat! Albania might not be at the top of your list, but trust us, the food is fabulous. The history is multi-cultural and very interesting. The prices are awesome, and the scenery is out of this world!
18. Antalya, Turkey
Turkey is an absolutely fabulous travel destination for anyone, with world-class sites like Ephesus, Istanbul, and Cappadocia. Turkey is overall budget-friendly, safe for travelers, filled with incredible landscapes, hikes, and activities. Let’s not forget it has one of the oldest and richest cultures on earth. However, Antalya Turkey is particularly great for families.
Antalya is in Souther Turkey, at the end of the famous Lycian Way Hike. The beach city is chalked full of fun activities for kids. Near Konyaalti Beach is the Antalya Aquarium, which claims to be the world’s biggest tunnel aquarium. The Oceanride XD Cinema inside lets your family sail the world’s seas. There are 40 separate aquariums, a reptile house, and a snow and ice museum! It’s a blast. If you don’t have time to see the real deals, take a tour of Antalya Minicity, a themed park with downscaled recreations of the most legendary historic sights in Turkey. Multiple sandy beaches, likes Patara (the mythological birthplace of Apollo), offer perfect days in the cool waters of the Mediterranean, and the scenery couldn’t be any more beautiful. There is no blue quite like Mediterranean blue!
In the South Caribbean Sea, like the beautiful little island of Tobago. Tobago is the epitome of laidback Caribbean cool. There are no high rises here, just cute boutique hotels, perfect for families. The shallow, calm waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There is always the lingering sound of a steel band in the air. Fresh fruit, street food huts, and handmade juices are available everywhere, and it just feels good!
You can feel safe in Tobago, as the crime rate is almost non-existent. There is no malaria and no poisonous snakes, so you can explore the lush green island without too much fear. Land-based adventures include horseback riding on the beach, ziplining, and biking. Tobago is so lush and relaxing, none of you ever want to come home.
20. Antigua, Guatemala
Guatemala sometimes gets a bad wrap, and that is mostly because of Guatemala City. For a family, we would steer clear of the city, but UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua is a whole world away. Hop an Uber from the airport and you will be in beautiful Antigua in just 30 minutes. The Spanish Colonial city is absolutely gorgeous and has every tourist activity and amenity you need for a great family vacation.
Antigua has several boutique hotels that will keep your family safe and happy. The cobblestone streets, gorgeous cathedrals, and local markets are great for history lessons and cultural learning. La Tortilla Cooking School offers family-friendly courses, where you will learn to cook a traditional Guatemalan meal together. Chocomuseo is a chocolate museum and factory, where you can make your own chocolate from scratch, following it from bean to finished candy bar! Don’t forget to visit the incredible local craft market!
Perhaps the best part of Antigua is outs outdoor activities. From Antigua, you can easily book professional tours to climb dormant volcano Volcan Acatenango, which will give you a front porch view of the continual spewing of active neighbor, Volcan de Fuego. It is an absolutely unforgettable day trip from Antigua, where you will camp out on the mountain and return the next morning. We guarantee it will one of your all-time favorite family memories.
Lake Atitlan is another day trip that can be booked from Antigua. Canoeing and resting by this incredible lake, nestled in between dormant green volcanoes is just incredible. A little farther from the city, but still doable, is arguably the best theme park in Central America, Xetulul. The combination amusement and waterpark has won several awards and is sure to keep your whole crew entertained!
Antigua also has its very own New Zealand-like hobbit town, Hobbitenango! So, if you can’t swing the big plane ticket to New Zealand, you can still take your family for a night’s stay in a hobbit hole! We must say, the view is pretty incredible.
We absolutely love this area of Guatemala! Active volcanoes, stunning lakes, tons of fun tours, and extremely low prices, what could be better? We can’t think of a much greater family getaway.
We love the scenic landscapes and clean, beautiful cities of Bulgaria for a family trip! Sofia and Plovdiv are excellent cities to explore as a family with stunning architecture, free walking tours, and parks filled with fountains for the kids to run through!
The mountains of Bansko provide a perfect location for a quiet camping trip, complete with epic hikes or skiing in the winter. Plus, the area is teeming with luxurious hot springs spas and cute, traditional restaurants.
We also love the beautiful beaches of the Black Sea. Go explore the super cute village of Sozopol. You won’t regret it! We recommend Bulgaria for older children. While there are some children’s activities, like the incredible Action Aqua Park in Sunny Beach, it really shines in the historical and landscape departments that will be better appreciated by older kids and teens.
That’s it, guys. We hope you have now found your next family vacation. Let us know in the comments which destination you have chosen!
Wanna take your next trip without the kids? Here’s our list of “The Best Places For Couples To Travel For Fun, Adventure, and Connection.“
Need something fun to do until you trip? Here’s our list of “15 Virtual Scavenger Hunt Ideas” to keep your family entertained all winter!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are so many great destinations to explore as a family. Check out ziplining in Costa Rica, snorkeling in Belize, or hiking in Romania!
There is nothing more scenic than a road trip through the western portions of the U.S. When it comes to family travel destinations, consider hitting up the national parks in Utah, Arizona, or Wyoming.