Summer Vacation Ideas the Whole Family Will Love

Squeeze in one last trip before the school year.

School is just around the corner, so finish off summer break with a bang. A last-minute family vacation will give the kids stories to share when they return to school and memories to last a lifetime. 

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Muriel de Seze

Planning a trip for multiple age groups can be tough, but it's not impossible.

If you have teens, ask them about making a little cash and babysitting the younger kids so you and your partner can have a night out. Ask ahead of time, so they don't feel ambushed and can plan on staying in and watching a movie.

Get all the kids involved in the planning. Even if toddlers can't quite grasp the concept of the trip, it'll prepare them for the change in schedule and give them something to look forward to. Have teens research things they want to do and see, too.

As much as togetherness is important on a family vacation, teens value independence. Give them a few hours to go off by themselves - maybe when the toddlers (and you?) are napping. Agree on a designated area you feel safe about and establish a place to meet back up.

Check out more of our tips on how to make a trip enjoyable for all ages.

Where to Go

You can’t go wrong with classic family vacations like beach getaways, mountain trips or theme park visits. Browse some of Travel Channel's top destinations for families:

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Jihan Abdalla

Peter Lewis

30 Best Family Friendly Beaches

From seashores with the best seashells to pet-friendly beaches to beaches with kid surf camps, check out which sandy spots, both international and domestic, best suit your family.
Seaside, South Walton, FL

Seaside, South Walton, FL

With turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and 16 charming beach neighborhoods, it’s hard to pick just one best beach for kids in South Walton, but time and again, families flock to Seaside on Florida’s northwest coast. Enjoy biking and stand-up paddleboarding before heading to Airstream Row for food trucks serving up everything from grilled cheese to homemade custard.  960 1280

Shuvabrata Deb  

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

A favorite beach for many on Oahu, Kailua Beach Park boasts turquoise blue waters, plenty of free parking and lots of family-friendly water activities, like kayaking and boogie boarding. Kids will love watching the kite surfers, maybe even more than a trip to Island Snow for shave ice. Kalapawai Market is located at the park entrance, so pick up some deli sandwiches for an afternoon picnic on the beach. 

 

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Laszlo Podor Photography  

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Many of the beaches in Naxos boast warm waters that are gentle and shallow, particularly those on the southwest coast of the island, making them ideal for families with small children. One of the best is Agios Georgios Beach. Eat breakfast at one of the cafés on the beach for fantastic views of the bay. The beach is also an easy walk to Hora, the island’s colorful capital city.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

For white sandy beaches and calm, clear waters, St. Pete Beach is a must for families. Grab your fishing poles and sleeping bags for a camp-out right on the beach at Fort De Soto Park. Bike along a 7-mile paved trail, kayak or canoe through mangrove forests and take time to explore the historic fort. You can even take your furry pal to a dog park called Paw Playground.  960 1280

mariakraynova  

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Situated on the north shore of St. John, the calm waters make Maho Bay Beach the ideal spot for learning to stand-up paddleboard as a family. It’s also one of the best places on the island to see sea turtles, particularly on the west side of the bay where snorkelers can watch turtles and rays munching on the sea grasses. For hiking, try the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail.  960 1280

Christian Wheatley  

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

For wide beaches, a 4-acre beachfront park and plenty of space to play, even with your dog, head to St. Augustine Beach in St. Augustine. Walk along the shores where Spanish explorers landed so many years ago, then let the kids go wild at the splash park on the pier. Spend time at nearby Anastasia State Park where you can bike on the beach and paddle in a saltwater lagoon.    960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Kids can play on the white sandy beach by day and make s’mores around a bonfire by night at Carmel Beach. Pet lovers will love this dog-friendly (and leash-free) beach, so bring a tennis ball or two to make a few new furry friends. Take the free trolley into town for cheese blintzes at the Little Swiss Café or ride out to Monterey for an afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  960 1280

Elfi Kluck  

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Martha’s Vineyard is widely touted as one of the loveliest parts of New England, though kids may love the area more for its beaches than its beauty. Try Menemsha Beach, a popular pick for families in search of gentle surf, fantastic sunsets and one of the best clam shacks on the island. Crowds at The Bite line up early, so keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a beach picnic.  960 1280

Jihan Abdalla  

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

For families who want to be active from morning until night, head to Hilton Head for kayaking, tennis, crabbing, stand-up paddleboarding, and of course, splashing in the waves at Coligny Beach. Rent bikes at Hilton Head Outfitters in Palmetto Dunes. It’s the best way to explore the island. Go on a boat cruise with Pirates of Hilton Head or fly through the sky at Zipline Hilton Head.  960 1280

Pam McLean  

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

One of several popular beaches in York, Short Sands Beach has sand, surf, a playground, and even an arcade. Have a picnic at Ellis Park then spend the afternoon at York’s Wild Kingdom, the largest zoo and amusement park in Maine. Take the trolley to Long Sands Beach for views of the Cape Leddick Lighthouse before heading to the “Surfing Only” area to pick up pointers from the surfers. 960 1280

John Churchman  

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Just across the bridge from downtown San Diego you’ll find Coronado Central Beach. Kids will love building castles from sand that glistens year-round thanks to the glittery mineral, mica, which is mixed in with the sand. Walk along the beach to take in historic mansions, as well as the majestic Hotel del Coronado, the inspiration behind Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian.  960 1280

Chiara Salvadori  

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Consistently ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach has soft, white sand and gentle waters that are ideal for first-time snorkelers eager to see tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. Off the beach, kids can splash in the fountains at Camana Bay, pet stingrays at Stingray City and get up-close with green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm.  960 1280

Robin Hill  

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

There’s no shortage of things to do both on and off the beach in Virginia Beach. Walk or ride a surrey bike along the 3-mile boardwalk before snapping a selfie with the 34-foot bronze statue of King Neptune. Go horseback riding or take surfing lessons at Resort Beach, then let the kids go wild at Grommet Island Beach Park, a 100% wheelchair accessible children’s park.  960 1280

Don Klumpp  

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Stretching nearly 40 miles between Makarska and Split is the Makarska Riviera, which boasts a number of beach towns with palm tree-lined promenades, ice cream shops and pedal boats to take out onto the delightfully blue water. Book a villa or stay in a family-run campsite along the pebble beach. Off the beach, kids will love hiking around nearby Biokovo Nature Park.   960 1280

Graham Monro/gm photographics  

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach is wide and flat, offering plenty of room for kids to walk, run, ride three-wheelers or go tide pooling in search of sea life and shells. Its postcard attraction is Haystack Rock, a 235-foot tall rock, which sits on the beach near the downtown area. Kite flying is perfect at Cannon Beach since the winds seem to blow at just the right speed. 960 1280

Stephen Curtin  

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Cape Cod is a favorite year after year and Coast Guard Beach is perfect for long walks and building sand castles as a family. At the Salt Pond Visitor Center, pick up the park newspaper for the scoop on ranger-led nature walks and Junior Ranger programs. Ride bikes along one of three paved bike trails or go kayaking through the famous salt marshes.  960 1280

John Greim  

Corolla, NC

Corolla, NC

The Outer Banks of North Carolina has long been a top pick for families. Book a vacation rental right on the soft, sandy beach or park near the southernmost beach access point in Corolla for restrooms and showers. Go biking, take the ferry to Knotts Island or get hip to all kinds of water sports at Kitty Hawk Kayaks & Surf School.  960 1280

Josh Rinehults  

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

In summer, families flock to incredible beach towns in Alabama, like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Kids will have a ball swimming, crabbing and kayaking along the two-mile stretch of beach at Gulf State Park. There are hiking and biking trails, as well as a nature center that hosts guided nature walks. Just off the beach, head to Waterville USA for water slides, a lazy river and mini golf.  960 1280

Kenneth Shelton / EyeEm  

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Families with kids of all ages will love Poipu Beach Park. Look for snorkeling and surfing for the big kids, as well as a playground and a shallow wading area for little ones. Enjoy a picnic under the shade of the palm trees or go for a coastal hike along the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. In the evening, book a relaxing sunset catamaran cruise to see more of the scenic south side of the island.  960 1280

Steven Greaves  

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

The beaches of the Exumas are among the best in the Bahamas, especially for those eager to return home with beautiful shells and sand dollars. Located on the north end of Grand Exuma, Coco Plum Beach is a quiet beach with plenty of shady palm trees. For lunch, head to Big D’s Conch Stop, which serves up tasty conch fritters and salads.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

One of the most famous city beaches in Europe, La Concha Beach, is also one of the best beaches for familes. Look for a carousel and multiple playgrounds that dot the beach and the town. Take the funicular railway to the top of Monte Igueldo for unmatched views of La Concha Bay. As a bonus, there’s an amusement park at the summit complete with bumper cars and pony rides.  960 1280

Alex Lapuerta  

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Just south of Charleston, explore nature, wildlife and beautiful South Carolina coastline on Kiawah Island. Kids can sing songs and take art lessons at Kamp Kiawah, as well as splash and play at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, a quiet beach that’s well-suited for small children. Rent bikes to explore the island or take classes to become a Junior Naturalist.  960 1280

Ash Lindsey Photography  

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

Dig for razor clams or take in the views of the Pacific from the half-mile wooden boardwalk located on the Long Beach Peninsula. Explore nearby lighthouses with the kids, hike along the Willapa Interpretive Art Trail or get your game on at the Funland Arcade. Work up an appetite paddling at Willapa Bay before indulging in a milkshake at Hungry Harbor Grille.  960 1280

photo by p.Folrev  

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

With more than 25 miles of paved trails, Sanibel Island is a fantastic place to explore by bike. Look for warm waters and gentle surf, as well as more than 300 kinds of seashells. Enroll the kids in Sanibel Sea School to learn about marine conservation before hopping a ferry to Cayo Costa State Park. Families will especially love Bowman’s Beach, which has a playground and magical sunsets.   960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Nearly 38 miles long, the Assateague Island National Seashore is a protected wildlife sanctuary. Stay in nearby Chincoteague or camp out on the beach of this barrier island. Kids will love hiking, clamming, crabbing and fishing on the beach, but the main attraction is the wild ponies, which have roamed the beaches and saltwater marshes since the 1600s.  960 1280

Trina Dopp Photography  

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Known for soft, white sands and gentle waters, Wingaersheek Beach is the place to take the kids at low tide where you’ll find loads of clams, shells, even sand dollars, all over the beach. Pack a picnic lunch or grab a bite at one of several snack shops that that dot the beach. Parking isn’t cheap and you’ll need to get there early but you will be rewarded with kids who can’t wait to go back.  960 1280

Garry Black  

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Kids and families love Eagle Beach in Aruba. It’s a beach where you can easily spend the entire day relaxing in a beach chair and splashing in the turquoise waters. Walk along the beach in search of the island’s famous Divi Divi trees. Water sports are popular, so rent a jet ski, a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard, or get set up to go snorkeling or parasailing.  960 1280

Holger Leue  

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach is one of a handful of spots on the east coast where you can see the sunset from the beach. Come for the Victorian homes, the free parking and the crab cake sandwiches at the Sunset Beach Grill. Kids will love splashing in the surf and hunting for Cape May diamonds (quartz pebbles). Bring a camera to snap photos of the S.S. Atlantus, which sits just offshore.  960 1280

chrisstadlerphotography  

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Located in one of the most scenic parts of the Scottish Highlands, you won’t go wrong camping near Camusdarach Beach and taking sea kayaks out into the water to explore the coves. Children will love playing in the sand and the calm, clear waters on the beach. Collect shells and enjoy the views of the Isle of Skye before settling in for the evening sunset.  960 1280

Peter Lewis  

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Pier 60 is the place to be in Clearwater Beach for spectacular sunsets and a nightly sunset festival that includes live music, magicians, stilt walkers and local artisans. The crystal clear, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes this a great choice for families. Book a dolphin cruise or take to the sky for parasailing. Look to nearby Caladesi Island State Park for great shelling.  960 1280

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Lake Louise, canada, water, mountain

By Benefactor123 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0],

8 Family Mountain Vacations

Head for the hills in breathtaking Banff or picturesque Pike's Peak. Whether you plan to camp in a tent or staying in a swanky resort is more your speed, there's something for every family waiting in the mountains.
Banff National Park

Banff National Park

Explore the pristine shores of Lake Louise, a luxurious base camp for a tour of the Canadian Rockies. 960 1280

By Benefactor123 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0],   

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Kids can explore Maine's rugged coast at Acadia National Park and set off on nature walks on the park's many trails. 960 1280

By Kim Carpenter (Near Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park 8911) [CC BY 2.0],   

Stowe Mountain

Stowe Mountain

Families can try trout-fishing at Sterling Pond, zoom down the Stowe Alpine Slide and sample Vermont's most famous dessert, Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
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Pike's Peak

Pike's Peak

The 14,000-foot Pike's Peak isn't Colorado's tallest mountain, but it inspired "America the Beautiful."
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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Park rangers provide plenty of educational adventures in the great outdoors at Yosemite National Park.
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By chensiyuan (chensiyuan) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

Asheville is surrounded by towering mountains and national parks, including Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
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Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest

Take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Asheville, and pack a picnic for lunch at Pisgah National Forest.
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By Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us(personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

Adirondack Park

Adirondack Park

Head to northern New York for an Adirondack vacation with mountain views, zip-line tours and swanky resorts.
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By en:User:Mwanner [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

florida, attractions, orlando, disney, wizarding world of harry potter, hogwarts

Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images

florida, attractions, orlando, everglades, historic, national park
Robin Hill / Getty Images

16 Top Florida Attractions

Between beaches, theme parks and national parks, is there anything the Sunshine State doesn't have? Explore Everglades National Park, say "hi" to your favorite Disney characters or hit one of the many top-rated beaches for all kinds of family fun.
Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

The purported happiest place on Earth, Disney's Magic Kingdom is sure to entertain the kids - whether with one of their parades or classic rides like Space Mountain. 960 1280

Bloomberg / Getty Images  

EPCOT

EPCOT

Travel around the world without leaving Orlando in EPCOT Center's World Showcase. You can also take a ride through the future as imagined decades ago in the famous golf-ball shaped dome, Spaceship Earth. 960 1280

Danielle Gali / Getty Images  

Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando, next door to its roller-coaster-laden cousin, Islands of Adventure, is a must for movie fans. Where else can you experience an attack from Jaws, save New York from aliens along with the Men in Black, or hang out with Beetlejuice? 960 1280

John Greim / Getty Images  

Islands of Adventure

Islands of Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure is the go-to place for those with a need for speed. Thrill seekers will especially enjoy Dr. Doom's Fearfall and the Incredible Hulk Coaster. 960 1280
Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom features more than 500 acres of grounds where animals can roam freely. Guests can roam in open safari vehicles, watching out for giraffes, hippos, lions, and more. 960 1280

Alan Solomon / Getty Images  

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Of course, the most popular attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Fans will be treated to plenty of performances, a dragon-themed roller coaster, and even (non-alcoholic) butterbeer. 960 1280

Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images  

Silver Springs Amusement Park

Silver Springs Amusement Park

The glass bottom boats at Silver Springs allow you to get up close and personal with local wildlife, like alligators, turtles, and if you're lucky, a manatee or two. 960 1280

Smithlandia Media / Getty Images  

SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando

See all your favorite aquatic animals in one place ' SeaWorld Orlando. See interactive shows with killer whales and experience thrilling roller coasters and water rides. 960 1280

Jan Kopec / Getty Images  

Wet 'n Wild Orlando

Wet 'n Wild Orlando

Spend the day at one of the biggest water parks in Florida. Wet 'n Wild has over 30 acres of slides, flumes, surfing and more. Founded by Sea World creator George Millay in 1977, the park was honored by Aquatics International as being the first true water park in America. 960 1280

Godong / Getty Images  

Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove

Located in Orlando and partnered with SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive getaway where visitors get up-close and personal with the park's animals. Take a day or 2 to swim with dolphins, experience an underwater tropical reef and visit Explorer's Aviary to see and hear tropical birds from all over the world. 960 1280

Toni Salama / Getty Images  

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona International Speedway

In Daytona Beach, NASCAR fans can enjoy one of the most famous racetracks in the world, the Daytona International Speedway. 960 1280

Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images  

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

About a 2-hour drive from downtown Orlando, Tampa Bay is home to Busch Gardens. The main feature is SheiKra, a roller coaster with "floorless" cars giving the riders a unique view at 70 mph. 960 1280

Joe Raedle / Getty Images  

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Florida's Everglades National Park is known by many as the place to see alligators and ride airboats. This National Park is home to thousands of species of birds, reptiles, mammals and, best of all, beautiful Florida sunsets. 960 1280

Robin Hill / Getty Images  

John F. Kennedy Space Center

John F. Kennedy Space Center

If you're a fan of space travel, the Rocket Garden at the John F. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex just outside of Cape Canaveral, FL, is a must. Visitors can stand under the massive rockets that first put NASA astronauts into space and much more. If you spend an entire day at the Kennedy Space Center and there happens to be a night launch, stick around ' it's a must-see. 960 1280

Images Etc Ltd / Getty Images  

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

The southern-most tip of the US main land, the Florida Keys are known for beautiful beaches, boating, fishing, Key Lime Pie and Margaritaville. The Keys were also the onetime home to Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemmingway. Pictured here is Mallory Square, the center of Key West's historic waterfront. 960 1280

Corey Jenkins / Getty Images  

Holy Land Experience

Holy Land Experience

Orlando's Holy Land Experience is surely a unique Florida attraction: visitors can have the Last Supper with Jesus and disciples (actors, of course). 960 1280

John Greim / Getty Images  

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