Parents looking to get their kids out of the house this summer have lots of family-friendly vacation options. However, narrowing down the list to a truly kid-friendly, affordable destination everyone agrees on can be a challenge. These family summer vacation ideas are just what you need for an awesome trip! Plus, you can set up your family for a fun summer vacation by taking time to plan ahead.
Enjoy Lake Life
Rent a house (ideally with an outdoor shower and grill on the deck) to enjoy warmer weather and calmer surf than an oceanside destination.
Take a trip to Lake Michigan. From Chicago at the southern end to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the north, Lake Michigan offers a variety of landscapes to enjoy with kids. Hike, build sandcastles and explore museums on this Great Lake’s shores.
Explore the Finger Lakes. Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes all offer campgrounds, rolling hills and kayak rentals. There are 11 Finger Lakes total and they’re all close enough to explore in a single trip.
Head to SoCal’s Big Bear Lake. Bike trails, year-round chairlift rides, a nature center and boat tours make Big Bear Lake an excellent family summer vacation destination. Plus, this charming lake town is close enough to both Los Angeles and San Diego for a day trip.
Connect with Nature
Both national and state parks offer fun summer vacation options. You don’t necessarily have to tent camp either; many of these family summer vacation ideas have fully-stocked cabins or onsite hotels.
Head north to Custer State Park. South Dakota’s Custer State Park, part of the vast Black Hills National Forest, has interesting rock formations, easy hikes and multiple lakes. The kids may even see some cool animals, including buffalo, prairie dogs and mountain goats.
Cook by campfire at Silver Falls State Park. Take your family vacation in the northwest this summer and make yourselves at home in Silver Falls State Park. Beautiful waterfalls and a natural play area are more than enough to keep kids busy.
Become Junior Rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park. This park caters to families on summer vacation with a cool Junior Ranger program, the ability to drive to the park’s peaks via Trail Ridge Road and lots of lakes.
Not every summer vacation has to mean sweating on a crowded boardwalk or busy city street. If your kids love spending time outdoors, try a cooler destination.
Drive up the coast of southern Maine. The charming New England towns along the southern coast of Maine are fun for the whole family. There are quiet beaches, nature preserves, convenient hotels, amusement parks and more!
Hike, bike or boat in Yellowstone National Park. This family summer vacation destination is a classic for a reason. Kids of all ages (and kids at heart) will love how many different ways there are to explore the park.
Explore the PNW from Seattle. Seattle—home to tons of kid-friendly museums and parks, as well as the Seattle Great Wheel—is the perfect home base for exploring the Pacific Northwest, including Olympic National Park and San Juan Islands.
Lay on the Beach
For some families, a great summer vacation always includes a beach. The best seaside destinations include plenty to do beyond the sand and offer captivating indoor activities for when you need to get out of the sun.
Fill your itinerary in the Outer Banks. If your family likes to stay busy, this summer vacation destination is for you. There’s so much to do in the Outer Banks, including museums, mini-golf and lots of lighthouses.
Enjoy island life in the Florida Keys. A fun summer vacation for kids isn’t always parents’ idea of a good time. However, the Florida Keys have something for everyone, with incredible marine life, beautiful beaches and great food.
Combine city and sea in San Diego. For a beach vacation with all the amenities of a city destination, try San Diego. This family summer vacation idea is filled with charming neighborhoods, amusement parks, and Balboa Park.
Plan a Staycation
Stay close to home for all the fun of summer vacation without anyone asking, “Are we there yet?”
Book a hotel with a pool. Enjoy a night or two of ice-cold air conditioning and splashing in the pool at a nearby hotel. Room service and a good movie make for an extra special family pajama party.
Visit a new museum. Is there a museum you keep meaning to visit with the whole family? Make a day of a trip to a museum with a picnic lunch or dinner out. Because you’re so close to home, you can have the kids invite friends along.
Bring home a new game. Whether it’s a brand new game or just new to your kids, a family-friendly game can keep kids busy for a few afternoons. Board games and lawn games are good candidates for multiple ages.