The Best Family Vacation Spots in Every State
The best family vacation spots are those that strike the perfect balance between fun, history and plenty of relaxation. While traveling abroad may be difficult for families, there are several spots within the U.S. that are close enough to get a decent escape.
Each state has at least one vacation spot with something to offer every member of the family, and here are some of our favorites.
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Alabama – Gulf Shores
With 32 miles of virtually unspoiled white sand beaches, Orange Beach is the very definition of natural beauty — it offers turquoise water and jaw-dropping sunsets as well as fun in the sun for every member of the family.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, including dolphin cruises, nature trails, deep-sea fishing, water sports and Waterville USA, which doubles as a water and amusement park. For a little bit of history away from the beach, take the kids to the nearly 200-year-old Fort Morgan, which played a significant role in the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay.
Where to stay:Staybridge Suites Gulf Shores
Book a flight:To Pensacola
Rent a car:In Pensacola
Alaska – Denali National Park
Denali National Park is not a day trip — from Fairbanks, it’s a three-hour drive, and from Anchorage, it’s even farther at 5.5 hours. However, the journey will be worth it. You’ll experience the majesty of true wilderness in Denali’s glacial rivers, skyline and wildlife.
You’ll also see the Northern Lights swirling as a backdrop to Mt. McKinley, one of North America’s highest peaks. There are plenty of ways to explore in Denali, from bus tours and bicycles to ATVs and dog-sled tours.
Where to stay:McKinley Creekside Cabins
Book a flight:To Fairbanks
Rent a car:In Fairbanks
Arizona – Sedona
Colorful stone formations dot the desert floor in Sedona, which has been named one of the Most Beautiful Places in America by USA Today. With 1.8 million acres at your disposal, the recreational possibilities are endless.
Sedona is also a hub of all things metaphysical, and healers, gurus and inutive guides come from around the world to the area to teach their brand of spirituality. The area is also home to more than 500 local artisans.
Where to stay:Desert Quail Inn Sedona at Bell Rock
Book a flight:To Sedona
Rent a car:In Sedona
Arkansas – Hot Springs
Hot Springs is home to the oldest national park in the U.S., Hot Springs National Park, which was established in 1832 and includes 47 thermal springs located at the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain. The area also features historic Bathhouse Row (with two spas currently in operation), thoroughbred racing at Oaklawn and the Gangster Museum of America.
The Mid-America Science Museum and Magic Springs Water and Theme Park are hits with kids, and everyone in the family can enjoy outdoor activities at one of the area’s five Diamond Lakes.
Where to stay:The Hotel Hot Springs
Book a flight:To Hot Springs
Rent a car:In Hot Springs
California – Los Angeles
There are so many great family vacation spots in California that it was hard to choose just one, so we chose one that would give you the most bang for your buck. From its beaches and mountains, to Hollywood to Beverly Hills, there is something for everyone around every corner in the City of Angels.
Los Angeles is home to the Griffith Park Observatory, the LA Zoo, the TCL Chinese Theatre and, of course, the world-famous Hollywood sign. If you’re looking for cuisine, you can choose from just about every type of food you can think of, from Mexican delights to the legendary In-N-Out burger. Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and Magic Mountain are all less than an hour from the center of the city.
Where to stay:citizenM Los Angeles Downtown
Book a flight:To Los Angeles
Rent a car:In Los Angeles
Colorado – Estes Park
Estes Park is home to breathtaking Rocky Mountain National Park. Recreational opportunities, including skiing, hiking, camping and horseshoeing abound.
In this small town, you can relax in one of its many spas, stroll the Riverwalk, take in the many shops and galleries or fish in Fall River. When the weather gets warm, Estes Park also features many outdoor events, ranging from jazz concerts to wine tastings.
Where to stay:Blue Door Inn
Book a flight:To Estes Park
Rent a car:In Estes Park
Connecticut – Greenwich
Located only 40 minutes from New York, Greenwich is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, but that doesn’t mean there’s any less to do.
Take in the Bruce Museum’s mix of fine art and history, the Historic District’s classic architecture (much of which is on the National Register of Historic Places) and the Audubon Center, which features 700 acres of trails, a hardwood forest and several bodies of water, including a lake, a waterfall, and various streams and pools.
Where to stay:Sonesta White Plains Downtown
Book a flight:To Greenwich
Rent a car:In Greenwich
Delaware – New Castle
When you visit old New Castle, you’ll take a step back into Colonial times. Much of its architecture dates back to this era, and the town itself is a National Historic Landmark. Just 6 miles from Wilmington, New Castle frequently hosts Colonial and Revolutionary reenactments and has the oldest continuous house and garden tour in the country.
New Castle also has plenty of historic and fun games and events for kids and quaint shopping and dining experiences for adults throughout the year.
Where to stay:Fairfield Inn & Suites Wilmington New Castle
Book a flight:To New Castle
Rent a car:In New Castle
Florida – Orlando
Florida, like California, has so much going for it, that it’s hard to pick just one vacation spot, but Orlando has everything a traveler could hope for. It’s home to several theme parks (Universal Studios Orlando, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and more) as well as hundreds of dining options, natural walks and tours and great shopping.
And, if you have a hankering for the ocean, you can visit the nearby beaches of Cocoa, Daytona or New Smyrna.
Where to stay:Aloft Orlando Downtown
Book a flight:To Orlando
Rent a car:In Orlando
Georgia – Savannah
Savannah is a pedestrian-friendly city that was founded in the 1700s, and its relaxed vibe will pull you back in time as you roam its cobblestone streets and take in the moss-covered trees, brightly-colored buildings and distinctly old-world charm. Here, you can indulge in some of the best Southern cuisine found in the U.S. and walk it off from one end of the historic district to the other in just a few hours.
For all you ghost hunters, Savannah has also earned the reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in America — there are ghost tours and haunted pub crawls here all year around.
Where to stay:Courtyard by Marriott Savannah Midtown
Book a flight:To Savannah
Rent a car:In Savannah
Hawaii – Kauai
The beauty of Hawaii is undisputed — you can’t go wrong on any of its islands as they all offer a feast for the senses. But if you want to see Hawaii as it was centuries ago, the Na Pali coastline on Kauai tops them all.
This stunning coastal range can only be accessed by helicopter, boat or on foot, but the rewards are plentiful once you get there. Crystal-blue waters, emerald-topped peaks and magnificent waterfalls dot the unspoiled landscape around you for 17 miles.
Where to stay:Kauai Inn
Book a flight:To Kauai
Rent a car:In Kauai
Idaho – Bruneau Dunes State Park
When you think of Idaho, you likely don’t think about miles of sand, but it’s there, smack in the place you’d least expect it. Bruneau Dunes State Park is home to some of the tallest freestanding dunes in North America, with the highest reaching nearly 500 feet. The park has many habitats — marsh, desert, prairie and dune — and each has its own challenges as well as adventures.
Climb, hike and sandboard the dunes and stay in another area of the park where you can camp, fish and swim. If desert wildlife is your thing, you’ll have to wait until dusk or dawn to see any, as it’s mostly nocturnal. The desert sky is known to be perfect for stargazing, so make sure to get a glimpse of the heavens here — Idaho’s only public observatory is also located in the park.
Where to stay:Modern Hotel
Book a flight:To Boise
Rent a car:In Boise
Illinois – Starved Rock State Park
While we know Chicago is the most popular destination in Illinois, just a hundred miles away lies Starved Rock State Park for when you want to immerse yourself in nature and get away from it all. The whole family can visit its 18 canyons, hike its 13 miles of trails and marvel at the beauty of its many waterfalls.
Novice to expert adventurers can partake in all of what Starved Rock has to offer, including the incredible views of Plum Island and the Illinois River. Just outside the park lies the picturesque town of Ottawa, which offers lodging from hotels to cottages. There’s even a mule-pulled canal boat ride with period-attired guides to take you in the footsteps of 19th-century pioneers in nearby LaSalle.
Where to stay:Fairfield Inn & Suites Peru
Book a flight:To Chicago
Rent a car:In Chicago
Indiana – Indianapolis
Get your motor runnin’ in Indianapolis! The capital city is home to the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where racing enthusiasts can take an IndyCar, pace car or shuttle tour of the facility and visit its Hall of Fame Museum.
Indianapolis is not only about motor sports — history buffs come to the “Crossroads of America” to visit Conner Prairie and the Indiana State museum to learn about the city’s vibrant history. The kids also have their choice of fun things to do in the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Zoo and the Dallara IndyCar Factory.
Where to stay:Ironworks Hotel Indy
Book a flight:To Indianapolis
Rent a car:In Indianapolis
Iowa – Des Moines
The capital of Iowa is one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest and is known primarily for the Iowa State Fair, one of the largest state fairs in the country. When the fair isn’t on, kids love Living History Farms, an educational and fun trip through the history of Iowa agriculture via horse-drawn carriage, the Blank Park Zoo, and John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park with its 30 different pieces of art and picnic areas.
For older kids and adults who also love art, local culture and crafts, the Salisbury House & Gardens, the Des Moines Art Center and the farmer’s market in the city’s Downtown Historic Court District are must-see stops. Also, make sure to check out the state capital’s golden dome, which is one of the largest in the U.S. at 80-feet wide and 275-feet high!
Where to stay:Hotel Fort Des Moines, Curio Collection By Hilton
Book a flight:To Des Moines
Rent a car:In Des Moines
Kansas – Dodge City
“The Wickedest Little City In America” takes you back to the Wild West, where shootouts and gunslingers were once commonplace. While Dodge City is more family friendly today, you can revisit its past through the Boot Hill Museum and Cemetery and the Long Branch Saloon.
The kids can visit the Long Branch Lagoon, Dodge City’s western-themed water park featuring Dalton’s Plunge, the park’s thrilling boomerang slide.
Where to stay:Comfort Suites - Dodge City
Book a flight:To Dodge City
Rent a car: In Dodge City
Kentucky – Mammoth Cave National Park
Go underground to see the most stunning landscapes Kentucky has to offer — Cavelands is home to Mammoth Cave National Park, Diamond Caverns, Hidden River Cave, Lost River Cave, Mammoth Onyx Cave, Onyx Cave and Outlaw Cave. The lakes and rivers in and around the caves feature water sports including swimming, canoeing, fishing, boating and water skiing.
To take a break from the underground world, bring the kids to Beech Bend & Splash Lagoon, a water and theme park in nearby Bowling Green; Dinosaur World; and Jellystone National Park, a Yogi Bear-themed campground and resort in Cave City.
Where to stay:Galt House Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
Book a flight:To Louisville
Rent a car:In Louisville
Louisiana – New Orleans
This colorful, vibrant, artistic city has a reputation for being more adult-friendly than most, but The Big Easy is packed with kid-friendly attractions such as the Audubon Zoo, and the Aquarium and Insectarium. Art lovers can visit the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden, and can also stroll the streets of the historic French Quarter and Garden District to take in some of the city’s iconic “French Colonial” architecture.
If you’re a music lover, New Orleans jazz and blues is always red hot, and you can duck into any bar on any night of the week to catch some of the best live music you’ve ever seen.
Where to stay:Cambria Hotel New Orleans Downtown Warehouse District
Book a flight:To New Orleans
Rent a car:In New Orleans
Maine – Acadia National Park
The untouched beauty of the Maine coast in Acadia National Park is the stuff of legend, with its expanse of tree-lined mountains, ocean cliffs and hiking trails. For times when you’re not enjoying the great outdoors, the area has a family vacation center in Bar Harbor, a cute resort town full of shops, eateries and lodging.
Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor are also close, but cater to more upscale summer fun, while nearby Bass Harbor is still very much a traditional fishing village.
Where to stay:Cafe Drydock & Inn
Book a flight:To Bangor
Rent a car:In Bangor
Maryland – Eastern Shore
This Maryland peninsula offers endless opportunities for rest and relaxation over hundreds of miles between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Popular among the locals, visitors are drawn to the region’s historic towns and beautiful beaches where they can partake in water sports, bird watching, hiking and golf.
All spring, summer and fall, the Shore hosts waterfront and seafood and music festivals, regattas and races, and even arts and crafts shows.
Where to stay:Rod 'n' Reel Resort
Book a flight:To Chesapeake Beach
Rent a car:In Chesapeake Beach
Massachusetts – Salem
Salem is one of the rare places in the world that straddles the line between real history and imagined horror. The town is home to the infamous Puritan witch trials which took place almost 80 years before the Revolution. About 400 years later, the events of the late 1600s are still influential in bringing people to the city, particularly around Halloween. Autumn sees 500 spooky events, from seances to costume parties.
If you need a break from things that go bump in the night, there’s also Salem Willows, one of the oldest seaside parks in the U.S., and Pickering Wharf, where you can shop, eat or watch the tide roll in.
Where to stay:Hawthorne Hotel
Book a flight:To Salem
Rent a car:In Salem
Michigan – Mackinac Island
You can truly get away from the hustle and bustle of modern times on Mackinac Island. Cars aren’t welcome here — transportation is limited to bikes, horses and your feet, which allows visitors to enjoy the island’s old-timey feel.
Most of its homes are Victorian-era architecture, and most of the island is parkland, with more than 70 miles of trails. It’s busiest in summer, but locals still visit in the winter months to enjoy cross-country skiing.
Where to stay:Bear Cove Inn
Book a flight:To Mackinaw City
Rent a car:In Mackinaw City
Minnesota – Minneapolis
“Minnesota nice” — a friendly characteristic of people who live in Minneapolis — is one of the reasons visitors find this Midwest city such a charmer. The “Mini-Apple,” as it’s affectionately called, has an infinite amount of things to do for visitors in terms of sports, culture and the arts.
Catch a Twins, Vikings or Timberwolves game around the downtown area. If you’re a music fan, visit Paisley Park, Prince’s former home-turned-museum, and First Avenue, where “Purple Rain” was filmed. Minneapolis is also a world-class art city and features esteemed museums in the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Where to stay:Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot
Book a flight:To Minneapolis
Rent a car:In Minneapolis
Mississippi – Biloxi
Settled by the French in 1699, Biloxi has always been a favorite summer destination, with its beautiful beaches and endless options for outdoor recreation. In 1992, the state legalized dockside gaming, and there are now casinos dotting its shores, which added a whole new level of fun for the entire family in entertainment, shopping and dining.
Newly built MGM Park is also home to minor league baseball’s Biloxi Shuckers, should you wish to watch one of America’s favorite pastimes.
Where to stay:Hotel Legends
Book a flight:To Biloxi
Rent a car:In Biloxi
Missouri – Branson
If entertainment is your thing, the town of Branson has more than 100 live shows and 53 theaters to choose from on any given day, but that’s not all. There are more than a dozen museums, four theme parks and countless shopping and restaurant experiences.
When you need to get some air and stretch your legs, the nearby Ozarks offer hiking, fishing and water sports at Table Rock and Taneycomo Lakes.
Where to stay:Savannah House Hotel
Book a flight:To Branson
Rent a car:In Branson
Montana – Glacier National Park
This breathtaking expanse of land borders the U.S. and Canada and, at 16,000 square miles of pristine wilderness, it’s a wilderness lover’s paradise. Rare and endangered animals make up much of the park’s population, as do unique flowers and plants.
There’s an array of camping options, hundreds of miles of hiking trails and a scenic drive on Going to the Sun Road that spans more than 50 miles. You’re bound to see some grizzlies, but don’t get too close.
Where to stay:Towneplace Suites
Book a flight:To Kalispell
Rent a car:In Kalispell
Nebraska – Omaha
One of the biggest draws in Omaha, particularly for kids, is the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, which features 20 different animal habitat areas and thousands of species more than its130-acre space, which can be traveled by tram, train or chairlift ride (the Skyfari). Ranked as one of the best zoos in the world, it is known for its conservation efforts and boasts the world’s largest indoor desert.
Omaha is also home to Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (also known as Bob) linking it and Missouri, so you can put your feet in both states at once. Families can also explore the Joslyn Art Museum, stroll Ohama’s Old Market area and learn about the city’s history at the Durham Museum. In the warmer months, you can catch outdoor performances at Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s botanical center featuring more than 100 acres of horticultural displays.
Where to stay:The Peregrine Omaha Downtown Curio Collection by Hilton
Book a flight:To Omaha
Rent a car:In Omaha
Nevada – Las Vegas
Las Vegas used to have a reputation as a 24-hour adult’s playground, and while that’s still true, Vegas is now family-oriented, with fun adventures for kids like Cirque du Soleil, the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, the Aquarium at Caesars Palace and Hershey’s Chocolate World, not to mention residencies by some of today’s top pop artists.
For outdoor activities, take the kids to nearby Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon National Park or the Lion Habitat Ranch.
Where to stay:Circa Resort and Casino
Book a flight:To Las Vegas
Rent a car:In Las Vegas
New Hampshire – Portsmouth
Only a half an hour drive from Boston, Portsmouth is the perfect blend of history and modernity. Strawbery Banke, a living history museum, preserves the city's oldest neighborhood with structures from the 1690s that you can stroll through any time of the year.
There’s also ice skating on Puddle Dock Pond, and for more modern pleasures, travelers can take a cruise on the Piscataqua River, go art-gallery hopping or see a show at the city’s historic Music Hall, built in 1878.
Where to stay:The Hotel Portsmouth
Book a flight:To Boston
Rent a car: In Boston
New Jersey – Wildwoods
Home to one of the highest-rated beaches in all of New Jersey, the clean white sands in Wildwoods stretch for 5 miles and are perfect for soaking up the sun, surfing, swimming, sailing and every other water activity you can imagine.
Just next to the beach is Wildwoods’ fun-filled boardwalk, which offers more than 100 rides, attractions and eateries. The boardwalk has festivals and events for the whole family to attend all year around.
Where to stay:Icona Diamond Beach
Book a flight:To Atlantic City
Rent a car:In Atlantic City
New Mexico – Roswell
We’ve all heard the legend of an alien crash landing in Roswell in 1949. While that turned out to be more myth than fact, the city co-opted the tale to give the town a bit more mystery and bring in tourism. For those of you who believe something is out there, you can go on a Roswell UFO walking tour or visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center to draw your own conclusions.
If little green men aren’t your thing, you can also partake in outdoor activities at Bottomless Lake State Park, Spring River Park or take in any one of the city’s museums, including the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art and the General Douglas L. McBride Military Museum.
Where to stay:Roswell Inn
Book a flight:To Roswell
Rent a car:In Roswell
New York – New York
New York State also has so much to see and do, it was hard to pick just one place, but you can’t do better than Manhattan — everyone should visit at least once in their lives. From the lights of Broadway and Times Square to charms of the East Village and the magnificence of the Statue of Liberty and Central Park, there’s a buzz to the “City That Never Sleeps” that cannot be replicated in any other place in the world.
New York used to have a reputation for not being family friendly, but that has diminished in recent years. Kids partake in and learn from places like the Natural History Museum, the Highline Park and Walking Path, the New York Hall of Science and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
Where to stay:The Marlton Hotel
Book a flight:To New York
Rent a car:In New York
North Carolina – Linville Caverns
Even if you think you have, you’ve likely never experienced total darkness. It is only said to exist in two places on Earth — the bottom of the ocean and in Linville Caverns, 600-feet underground. Don’t worry, any trips into the caverns are by guide only, and your journey will be well lit.
Open to the public year round for guided tours, the privately owned caverns in Humpback Mountain have captivated visitors since the 1930s with an underground stream filled with blind rainbow and brook trout, bats, stunning rock formations and a sandbar that once kept Civil War deserters hidden from the outside world.
Where to stay:Linville Falls Lodge & Cottages
Book a flight:To Linville
Rent a car:In Linville
North Dakota – Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Otherwise known as the “Northern Badlands,” Theodore Roosevelt National Park is lesser known than South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, which means there are fewer crowds. A favorite of locals, you can easily hike its uncrowded trails and see plenty of wildlife, including bison, wild horses, elk, deer and coyote, and pronghorn.
Stay in the nearby Old West town of Medora, and enjoy stagecoach rides along the Little Missouri River, or visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Where to stay:AmericInn by Wyndham Medora
Book a flight:To Bismarck
Rent a car:In Bismarck
Ohio – Cleveland
The second-largest city in Ohio, Cleveland was a hub of industry in America’s early years, as it was once a vital canal port.
Today, the city flaunts a vibrant cultural scene filled with diverse, award-winning eateries, theaters and museums, including the world-renowned Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and USS Cod Submarine Memorial, among others.
Where to stay:The Westin Cleveland Downtown
Book a flight:To Cleveland
Rent a car:In Cleveland
Oklahoma – Grasslands
A little more than 100 miles from Oklahoma City lies the Black Kettle National Grassland. This vast 30,000-acre prairie offers big sky, wide-open spaces and indigenous wildlife with several museums and exhibits dedicated to Native American and westward expansion history.
Camping and recreational activities such as hunting, hiking and horseback riding are all popular, as are fishing the area’s three lakes — Dead Warrior, Skipout and Spring Creek.
Where to stay:Country Inn & Suites By Radisson, Okc Bricktown
Book a flight:To Oklahoma City
Rent a car:In Oklahoma City
Oregon – Portland
Portland’s unofficial motto, “Keep Portland Weird,” hints at its quirky charm, and while that’s indeed true, its beauty is unmatched in the Pacific Northwest. People like to get outside here and explore Portland’s many hiking trails in Forest Park (one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.) or stop and smell the flowers in the International Rose Test Garden (with more than 650 varieties of roses), the Portland Japanese Garden, and the Portland Art Museum and Sculpture Garden.
For kids, the Oregon Museum of Science, the Portland Zoo and the Portland Children’s Museum are a must, and when it’s raining and you just feel like curling up with a good book, Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, features a scrumptious coffee bar.
Where to stay:Radisson Hotel Portland Airport
Book a flight:To Portland
Rent a car:In Portland
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia
Take a historic walking tour around the Old City where Founding Fathers George Washington, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin once walked. The city is also home to Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed) and the famously cracked Liberty Bell.
Modern Philadelphia is no slouch either. Filled with vibrant neighbors with names like Fish Town, Bella Vista and East Passyunk, it has welcomed generations of immigrants from all over the world who make it the friendly melting pot it has become. The “City of Brotherly Love” is also home to major sports teams (in the Phillies, the Eagles, the 76rs and the Flyers), the Morris Arboretum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) made his iconic run in the 1976 movie of the same name.
Where to stay: Philadelphia Marriott Old City
Book a flight:To Philadelphia
Rent a car:In Philadelphia
Rhode Island – Providence
As the smallest state (at 37-miles wide and 48-miles long), you can visit all of Rhode Island in a relatively short time, but if you set your sights solely on Providence, you won’t be disappointed. It has history, a thriving waterfront and WaterFire, the city’s main art installation blending music, dance and plenty of flames on the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck and Providence rivers during the summer.
Providence is also active during winter with additional art events and festivals put on by WaterFire Providence as well as permanent museums in the area, including the RISD Museum, the Children’s Museum and the Stephen Hopkins House.
Where to stay:Omni Providence Hotel
Book a flight:To Providence
Rent a car:In Providence
South Carolina – Myrtle Beach
This popular beach features pristine sands and plenty of seaside pleasures. Take a ride on the SkyWheel, high above the beach and boardwalk, or visit Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach’s entertainment venue, which features fun for the whole family in rides, mini golf, movies, shopping and dining.
Myrtle Beach has several hotels and resorts, beach homes and waterfront campgrounds for you to choose from. Don’t forget to visit Waccatee Zoo, Ripley’s Aquarium and Brookgreen Gardens when you’re in the area, especially during the winter months.
Where to stay:Hilton Grand Vacations Club Anderson Ocean Myrtle Beach
Book a flight:To Myrtle Beach
Rent a car: In Myrtle Beach
South Dakota – Mount Rushmore
There’s no way to see South Dakota without visiting this iconic American sculpture in the Black Hills that features presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Walk the Presidential Trail to see the sculpture up close, and visit sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s studio, which features fascinating information about the construction of Mount Rushmore.
You can go to Rushmore in the off-season (it’s open all year around) to beat the crowds. When in the area, visit nearby Custer State Park, which is home to more than 1,300 bison and the Sylvan Lake campground. There’s also Sylvan Lake Lodge, should you decide you don’t want to tough it out.
Where to stay:Comfort Inn and Suites Mt Rushmore
Book a flight:To Rapid City
Rent a car:In Rapid City
Tennessee – Nashville
Home to the legendary Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville is as much the country music capital of the world as it ever was. Take a look back at country music history at the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, or visit the Fontanel Mansion, once owned by singer Barbara Mandrell.
Nashville has also become well known for its hip culinary scene — from barbecue to brunches and food trucks of all kinds, there’s something for every palate!
Where to stay:Radisson Hotel Nashville Airport
Book a flight:To Nashville
Rent a car:In Nashville
Texas – Austin
Austin is also known for live music, so if your family loves the arts, they will see some great acts locally that have yet to break anywhere else and can also see legendary, established acts at the Austin City Limits or South by Southwest festivals.
Austin is also great for nature lovers, as most outdoor activities can be done throughout the year. Lake Travis and Lake Austin offer watery fun all year round, as do the manmade Deep Eddy and Barton Springs Pools. Food trucks and festivals are very much a part of city culture, and there’s something to please every palate. For an area that’s even a little more eclectic, check out the SoCo District for its funky mix of boutiques, bars and restaurants.
Where to stay:DoubleTree by Hilton Austin
Book a flight:To Austin
Rent a car:In Austin
Utah – Zion National Park
With its stunning rock formations and miles of untouched land, Zion National Park’s otherworldly beauty is unrivaled. Canyoneer and hike the Virgin River and its many tributaries, get an aerial view of the park via helicopter, golf, fish or go horseback riding.
You can also simply camp and enjoy the views. Whatever your outdoor skill level, there’s something in Zion for everyone to enjoy.
Where to stay:Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park
Book a flight:To Las Vegas
Rent a car:In Las Vegas
Vermont – Stowe
When you imagine the quintessential Vermont town, it’s likely Stowe that comes to mind. During the summer, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing Stowe Recreation Path and Moss Glen Falls. But it’s the changing leaves people come to Vermont for, and Stowe has some of the best autumnal views along Smugglers' Notch State Park.
Winter is also busy with skiing at Stowe Mountain, and when you’re off the slopes, learn more about the sport’s history at Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. Also make sure to check out Ben & Jerry's Waterbury Factory (yum!)
Where to stay:Field Guide Lodge
Book a flight:To Stowe
Rent a car:In Stowe
Virginia – Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg has long been a family favorite for educating the modern populace through its reenactments, historical tours and architecture with good reason — you are walking in the shoes of those who built this country.
Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Smith and even Pocahontas all once trod the cobblestone of it and neighboring Jamestown. For a bit of modern-day fun, you can also visit nearby Busch Gardens theme park or Water Country USA.
Where to stay:Wedmore Place
Book a flight:To Williamsburg
Rent a car:In Williamsburg
Washington – Seattle
Scenic, rainy Seattle is so iconic, it holds the top spot for places to visit in Washington state. The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Center, the Museum of Pop Culture and the Seattle Art Museum are just a few of the places to see here. Foodies, coffee lovers and craft beer drinkers are known to be spoiled by the number of palate-satisfying choices available.
The town is also known for its musical history — if you’re a fan of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, you can even take a grunge history tour.
Where to stay:The Alexis Royal Sonesta Hotel Seattle
Book a flight:To Seattle
Rent a car:In Seattle
West Virginia – Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry is rife with history and natural beauty. Located where the Shenandoah meets the Potomac, the town of Harpers Ferry is home to some historic buildings, monuments, landmarks, one of which was the site of an abolitionist raid led by John Brown that led to the Civil War.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park has plenty of educational exhibits and programs and, for fun and fitness, more than 20 miles of hiking trails and river tubing excursions.
Where to stay:Town's Inn
Book a flight:To Dulles
Rent a car:In Dulles
Wisconsin – Baraboo
One of the more unusual spots on this list, Baraboo is home to Circus World, a 50-acre park where the circus is always in town. With historical props, costumes, circus wagons, aerialists, clowns and elephants, you can relieve the spectacle and magic that you remember under the big tent with your kids every summer.
For outdoor activities and fun, Devil’s Lake State Park and Mirror Lake State Park are also nearby.
Where to stay:Ringling House Bed & Breakfast
Book a flight:To Madison
Rent a car:In Madison
Wyoming – Grand Teton National Park
The jaw-dropping landscapes of Grand Teton National Park conjure up a multitude of emotions at first sight and have served as the backdrop for many a wedding or family outing. Raft the Snake River, horseback ride, fish, take a boat tour and camp under the stars — Grand Teton has some of the best Alpine scenery in the world. No matter what you do, you’ll feel its majesty everywhere in the park.
It even features a ghost town in the Mormon Row Historic District, which was founded as a Mormon ranch settlement in the 1890s.
Where to stay:The Lexington at Jackson Hole
Book a flight:To Jackson Hole
Rent a car:In Jackson Hole