Summer is already around the corner, which means it's time to plan your family's next big adventure. Skip staying home to stare at your smartphones and opt for the chance to bond, explore the world and make memories that will last a lifetime. Need some inspiration? We've scouted out the top locations here and abroad that are the stuff summer vacation dreams are made of.
With 49,000 acres of untouched natural beauty, Acadia National Park is a nature-lover's dream summer getaway. Not only can your family hike endless trails, swim in the numerous crystalline tide pools and camp at one of Acadia's two campgrounds, but just outside the park's boundaries are famous villages like Bar Harbor, Bass Harbor and Seal Cove, all offering different adventures (and a chance for a famous Maine lobster roll) for your family to enjoy.
Whether you've always wanted to visit the Caribbean or you're a huge fan of Rihanna (she was born on the island), Barbados is the place to get your family's feet wet. Along with learning about the incredible West African and British culture in Barbados, visitors can enjoy the delectable cuisine (like rich conkies and tangy rum punch), pristine white sand beaches and abundant marine life. Plus, it's not only beautiful, it's also affordable, making a trip to Barbados work with even modest budgets.
If Canada's already on your dream destination list, then why not take your family on a trip to British Columbia, Canada's western-most province? Not only does B.C. have more than 1,000 breathtaking parks and protected land reserves (like Yoho National Park, seen here), it's also less than a 10-hour drive from Seattle and only 43 minutes from historic Banff, the first national park in Canada (which happens to be located in neighboring Alberta, giving your family a slice of two Canadian provinces in one trip).
Summer in the U.S. means the rainy season in Costa Rica, and trust us when we tell you that it's the perfect time to bring your family. Picture lazy, warm days spent at the beach or swinging in a hammock, followed by nights in quaint cottages listening to the rain while enjoying delicious food and exotic fruits. Sound like a dream? Picture this trip at half the normal price, thanks to the low-travel season, and you'll see why we think Costa Rica is a great summer destination.
If you're looking for a place with long, sunny days, fun city life, amazing food at a low cost, look no further than Croatia. Located just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia has gorgeous beaches, unreal waterfalls, delicious food, vibrant cities and, in the summer, between 13 and 15 hours of nonstop sunlight, giving your family the maximum time to enjoy every second of vacation. Plus, one U.S. dollar equals six Croatian dollars, making this another amazingly affordable destination.
It's kind of a no-brainer that one of the best destinations to take your family this summer is Walt Disney World, Florida. With four dedicated parks, endless entertainment and a reputation for making dreams come true, this top family destination is worth the cost (it's not cheap) during high-travel season. Plus, Disney's brought back its "Incredible Summer" park adventure, which promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.
Want a trip your family will never forget? Take them to a kid-friendly lodge in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. With local guides and endless opportunities for exploration, a trip to the rainforest is definitely off the beaten path. Not feeling the jungle? Then visit the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution. Also in Ecuador: the center of the world. That's right, 0º longitude and latitude lies in this fascinating country known for its beauty and natural wonder.
Although summer is peak travel season to the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, it's still worth every packed parking lot you're bound to encounter. The majestic landscape is a natural world wonder featuring one of the deepest canyon gorges in the known world. With miles of hiking trails from easy to expert, as well as rafting tours (for the families with older kids), a vacation to this beautiful national park is worth it for every family this summer.
There's a reason Hawaii is one of the most beloved travel destinations in the world. Not only are the islands breathtaking, but they also welcome travelers with the spirit of aloha. Honolulu, located on the island of Oahu, is one of the most popular destinations because of its striking crystal waters, soft sandy beaches, ample shopping and dining (check out Waikiki just blocks away), as well as important historical markers like Pearl Harbor and 'Iolani Palace, where ancient rulers of Hawaii once lived.
Go big or go home, right? There's no summer vacation bigger than a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Although Vegas is known as Sin City, it's also a (surprisingly) great place for families. Hosting hundreds of shows, including magic performances and Cirque de Soleil, as well as the biggest buffets in the world and numerous museums, going to Las Vegas is a guaranteed way to have all the fun this summer with your kids.
The City of Angels is also the city of major fun, especially for families with a wide variety of interests. Whether you take the kids to the fascinating (and stinky) La Brea Tar Pits to see the bones of the giant mammoths and saber-toothed cats, head down to Anaheim to spend the day at Disneyland or hit up the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame to see your favorite celebrities memorialized on the sidewalk, there are tons of fun summer activities to enjoy in Los Angeles, California.
Yes, New Orleans is a steaming sauna in the summer and yes, you will be sweaty, but there are also many reasons to brave the perspiration and take your family to this magical, historic city. The endless museums, parks and restaurants are all amazing (just try the mouth-watering beignets), but the history of New Orleans (including its slave legacy), the mystical French Quarter and swampy bayou will make the trip one your family won't soon forget.
Known as Music City, Nashville is the place where country music hopefuls go to make their dreams come true (just ask Garth Brooks and Trace Adkins). It's also a great city to take your family for a one-of-a-kind summer vacation. While you'll have to contend with the balmy heat, you'll also be rewarded with some of the coolest country music museums (like the Country Music Hall of Fame), nightly concerts (check out the Grand Ole Opry), amusement parks and world-renowned Southern cuisine.
We're not even sure we can fit in all the amazing reasons you should take your family to New York City this summer, but we'll try. There's Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, world-class cuisine, all the enclaves (Chinatown, Little Italy, Koreatown, Little Guyana and more) and some of the best shopping in the world. It's not called the Big Apple for nothing!
Located in south-central Texas, San Antonio is a mecca for families looking to have a good time while living it up, Texan-style. From the historic Alamo to San Antonio's beloved River Walk, featuring endless shops and restaurants (and a nearby Six Flags theme park), there's always something fun on the horizon. Let's not forget the food, which is worth the trip alone, featuring some of the most amazing Mexican-inspired cuisine and notoriously delicious margaritas for Mom and Dad.
Boasting year-round awesome weather, gorgeous beaches, monumental parks and museums, and some of the freshest seafood and Mexican cuisine (it's just minutes from the Mexican border), there's a million reasons a family vacation to San Diego is the best decision you'll make this summer. From Balboa Park to Coronado and everywhere in-between (like the famous sea caves of La Jolla), there are endless opportunities for fun in the sun in San Diego.
San Francisco is famous for many things: the Golden Gate Bridge, its tantalizing sourdough bread, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf and the fun cable cars. While those things are reason enough to take your family to this hilly city, there are also dozens of awesome museums, an amazing food scene, fascinating street art (check out the Mission District) and the country's oldest and largest Chinatown (which on its own is an exciting reason to head to San Francisco this summer).
Although Hurricane Maria brought devastation to Puerto Rico, the island's tourism department reports that at least 75 percent of the hotels are now up and running, giving travelers numerous options to rest their heads during their island adventures. With a lush, tropical landscape, the bluest water you've ever seen, incredible Spanish and Afro-Caribbean cuisine and an affordable price tag, Puerto Rico is a wonderful way for your family to have a piece of paradise this summer.
A summer visit to Washington, D.C., is an incredible way for families to learn about the history of our country and pay respect to the great leaders of our past. During the summer, families can tour numerous monuments (like the Lincoln Memorial), hang out at the National Mall, stop in for a visit at one of the 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries, or take a walk in the highly popular Georgetown and Adams Morgan neighborhoods, which feature endless shopping and restaurant options.
There are so many things to do and see in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, we had a hard time narrowing it down. Do we showcase their azure blue waters and white sand beaches? Or their million-year-old freshwater caves and swimming holes? What about their Spanish-colonial style buildings or awe-inspiring Mayan ruins? In the end, we knew the best part of visiting the Yucatán was the incredible hand-made cuisine known throughout the world for its unsurpassed deliciousness.
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