10 Great Family Vacation Spots
Written by Mindy White
Photography by Photo via Notes To Sarah
It’s mid-July, which means, for some of us, the first day of the new school year is just a few weeks away. Before the summer is gone for good, maybe it’s time to think about packing up the family and heading out on a fun trip. Not sure where to go? Instead of opting for a packed theme park or congested beach, look for a unique vacation spot with lots of character, and one that offers plenty of activities and accommodations. We’re jonesing for a getaway ourselves, so we’ve sought out ten family-friendly destinations around the country, so you can stop Googling and start planning!
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
An island located south of Cape Cod, known for beautiful landscape that attracts families and celebrities to its summer colony.
Why we love it: Think picturesque beaches, cliff, boats, sun, and elegant boutiques sitting next to ice cream parlors and funky fish shacks. Get some family-fun time in at South Beach with some parasailing, deep sea fishing, whale watching, water skiing, or simply relaxing in the sun. Visit the Island Cove Adventures for a round of mini-golf, the Flying Horses Carousel (which is America’s oldest platform carousel), and sightsee the Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah. Grab a delicious breakfast at Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven and hit the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs for a romantic night out on a low-lit patio.
Where to stay: Winnetud
Rosemary Beach, FL
A privately-developed beach community between Panama City and Destin with the feel of a European village on Florida’s gulf coast.
Why we love it: This East-coast beach has long set the standard for chic, sophisticated, stress-free vacation spots and communities. It’s a family-friendly neighborhood of environmental homes, cottages, lofts, shops, restaurants and recreation. Activities are abundant, including bike, scooter, sailboat, and kayak rentals, giant pools and white beaches. Kids will love nearby Gulf World Marine Park and Miracle Strip Amusement Park. Nothing is more than a five-minute walk away from Rosemary Beach’s Town Center, where you’ll find shops and restaurants—in fact, locals ride bikes and scooters around the town instead of cars. For food, we suggest Café 30-A, an award-winning restaurant.
Where to stay: The Rosemary Beach Inn.
Located in Southern Arizona, this city is truly unique with its gorgeous weather and desert landscape.
Why we love it: This rustic city has breathtaking mountains in every single direction, endless sunshine with no humidity, and some of the best Mexican and Southwestern food you’ll ever eat. Tucson is known for its unparalleled sunsets and wide-open spaces. Fun family activities include horse-riding, swimming, mountain biking, fishing, campfires and much more. You can also hop the Sun Link Streetcar and cable your way to funky-fun downtown shops and restaurants. The Arizona-Sonona Desert Museum and Old Tucson Studios are great indoor attractions for families. As for food, we recommend Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery for burgers and ice cream.
Where to stay: Tanque Verde Ranch
Steamboat Springs, CO
A historic Colorado resort town with an inviting, laid back atmosphere for those with a love for western heritage and endless outdoor adventure.
Why we love it: Steamboat Springs has an authentic “down home” feel, where cowboy hats and ski boots are equally welcome. Known as Ski Town, USA, this fun-year-round town offers skiing and snowboarding with freshly-powdered trails in the winter. In the summer, it’s all about hiking, kayaking, hot air balloon adventures, camping, fishing, hot springs, and other nature retreats. You’ll find that Downtown Main Street offers western-style dining, shopping, and other events. Grab some food at Mahogany Ridge Grill or grab a brew at Storm Peak Brewing Co.
Where to stay: Steamboat Grand Hotel
Hilton Head, SC
A gorgeous, Lowcountry resort town located on a boot-shaped island nestled along the South Carolina coast.
Why we love it: Hilton Head Island is known as the most family-friendly destination in the world! It’s a truly luxurious beach, for the family who loves a relaxing getaway with with its 12-plus miles of white-sand beaches, high-end shopping, upsale dining, and endless activities—all in an eco-friendly development. Here, you’ll experience wildlife boat tours, zip-lining, parasailing, dolphin and whale watching, water-skiing and jet-skiing. There are plenty of restaurants, clubs, spas, and wineries for adults, and for kids, try the Sandbox Interactive Children’s Museum and Harbour Town Grill, where you can dine and watch a live band that teaches the crowd silly songs, encouraging kids to sing-along.
Where to stay: Omni Hilton Head
Cave Junction, OR
A quaint, nostalgic town in lower Oregon where families can truly “unplug” and experience the beautiful outdoors.
Why we love it: Surrounded by wilderness and mountains, you can zip-line, ride horses, lounge in canopies and teepees, go canoeing, camping, and more. This rustic community provides many explorable caves, rivers, museums, a zoo, a winery, and a number of historic sites. One of the must-see spots is Oregon Caves National Monument, which is a 480-acre area of hiking trails and caverns. There’s an amazingly-cool resort consisting of only treehouses! This bed and breakfast treesort offers 18 different treehouses (some 40ft in the air), child size forts, swinging bridges, rope swings, and swimming pools fed by rivers. For dinner, the Chateau at the Oregon Caves is highly recommended.
Where to stay: Out ‘n’ About Treehouse
Coronado, also known as Coronado Island, is an upscale resort city located in San Diego County, California, across the San Diego Bay.
Why we love it: This kid-friendly island is the home to America’s number 1 beach! Coronado offers every kind of activity imaginable for adults and kiddos, from world-renowned attractions (like well-known LEGOland and SeaWorld), endless outdoor recreation and water sports, sightseeing tours, arts and culture, wineries and breweries, shopping, and award-winning restaurants. Many of the hotels offer a kids’ day camp with exciting activities, so mom and dad can spend a romantic day or night at a beach. Dine at Brigantine and Mootime Creamery for dessert.
Where to stay: Hotel De Coronado
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, which covers an area of nearly 1,200 square miles, resides within Northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
Why we love it: By simply standing in Yosemite, you’re surrounded by more breathtaking natural wonders than you’d ever see in an average day, like waterfalls, granite cliffs, clear streams, ancient giant sequoia groves, glaciers, deep valleys, grand meadows, bears and other wildlife. This is another wonderful vacation spot for nature lovers. Spend your getaway hiking, water rafting, skiing, biking, rock climbing, swimming, horseback rides, and spending the night in starry campgrounds. Grab a bite at one of the highly-rated restaurants at the resort, which are both elegant and kid-friendly.
Where to stay: Tenaya Lodge
This luxurious destination is located in the eastern part of Arizona, neighboring the Greater Phoenix Area.
Why we love it: Take in some amazing scenery and adventure while learning about Native American history in upscale AZ. Scottsdale is loaded with serene pools, waterparks, spas, museums, high-end shopping, and fun outdoor activities like the Desert Botanical Gardens and the Phoenix Zoo. Embrace the western life with a pair of boots and some local goods. Hit the trails in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, where you’ll find wild cacti, wildflowers, and fragrant desert plants. Tour the well-known Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art and hit the town for shopping, dining, live music, and star-filled skies. Taste the flavors of Southwestern cuisine at Roaring Fork.
Where to stay: The Phoenician
Lake Of The Ozarks, Missouri
Located in the Northern part of the Ozarks in central Missouri, this lake and community is the Midwest’s premier lake resort destination.
Why we love it: This is a beautiful escape for the outdoorsy-type, surrounded by 60,000 acres of water and shoreline, with state parks reaching across 1,000 acres of land. There are plenty of options to have fun on or off the water with paddle boats, helicopter rides, cave exploring, parasailing, horseback riding, fishing, and more. The little ones are sure to enjoy the Big Surf Waterpark, Bridal Cave/Thunder Mountain Park, and for adults, try the Shawnee Bluff Winery or the Ozark Distillery. Shopping is also encouraged, as there are dozens of antique shops, flea markets, a major outlet-mall, and small, unique boutiques. For food, dine at JB Hooks, which includes unique, waterfront dining experience.
Where to stay: The Lodge
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