How to Plan a Family Vacation in the United States

A family vacation is a great opportunity to bond with your children, teach them about the world around them and create lasting memories. Whether you want to explore ancient history while snacking on gelato in Rome or go to the extremes of the planet on a wildlife-filled Antarctic cruise, a well-planned trip is an invaluable learning experience that will set your kids up for lifelong travel adventures.

Theme parks may be the most famous kid-friendly destinations in the United States, but they are far from the only ones. You can easily plan an affordable, outdoor-focused family vacation in the United States by choosing an area with a number of national park sites, like the Black Hills in South Dakota or Virginia’s Capital Trail. You can even turn your home into a mini-vacation by planning a week of fun activities to keep your kids entertained.

For a unique family vacation, consider visiting a city with a museum or other educational institutions. This is an especially good idea if you have older children, as they can learn about the history of a place from expert guides while the little ones are entertained by hands-on exhibits and activities.

Whether it’s the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC’s Smithsonian or one of America’s many museums of science, kids will love the chance to interact with the coolest objects on Earth. Many of these destinations have free admission for kids, and some have special programs that are geared just for families.

When it comes to a budget-friendly, family-friendly vacation, you can also plan a road trip and explore a number of cities in a short period of time. You can choose a specific region to tour, such as the Northeastern United States, or pick a state and visit several cities over the course of a few weeks.

Another great option is a city-centric trip, such as Seattle or Las Vegas. Seattle is a wonderful urban destination for families, thanks to its walkability, public transportation and plethora of things to do for both kids and adults. Our writer who grew up in Seattle has plenty of tips for a family vacation to this fun Northwest city. And in “Sin City,” you can take your kids to a variety of family-friendly activities, even though the city is often stereotyped as being a place for adults only.

If you’re looking for a mountain getaway, consider Lake Placid, which is the winter training ground for Olympic athletes. Your budding Michelle Kwan or Brian Boitano can work on their triple lutz at the indoor Olympic Center ice rink, and you can see future olympians train during their off season at the Olympic Jumping Complex. There’s also a great hiking trail at High Falls Gorge, which will take your breath away. And you can grab a bite to eat at Big Z’s Lake Placid Lanes or the popular Lisa G’s Pizza.