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.
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:
Seaside, South Walton, FLWith 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
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.
Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, GreeceMany 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
St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FLFor 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
Maho Bay Beach, St. JohnSituated 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
St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FLFor 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
Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CAKids 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
Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MAMartha’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
Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SCFor 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
Short Sands Beach, York, MEOne 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
Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CAJust 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
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman IslandConsistently 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
Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VAThere’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
Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, CroatiaStretching 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
Cannon Beach, ORCannon 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
Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MACape 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
Corolla, NCThe 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
Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, ALIn 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
Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HIFamilies 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
Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, BahamasThe 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
La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, SpainOne 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
Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SCJust 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
Long Beach, WADig 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
Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FLWith 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
Assateague Island National Seashore, MDNearly 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
Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MAKnown 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
Eagle Beach, ArubaKids 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
Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJSunset 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
Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, ScotlandLocated 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
Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FLPier 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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