Family-Friendly US Destinations For a Perfect Summer Vacation - Full-Time Travel

Family-Friendly US Destinations For a Perfect Summer Vacation

Family-Friendly US Destinations For a Perfect Summer   

By Esme Benjamin

If you’re dying to take a trip with the kids, but your go-to place abroad is still a no-go, we’ve got you covered with family-oriented destinations that are closer to home. Offering a blend of outdoor adventures and culturally engaging activities, complete with child-friendly (but still cool) hotels and restaurants, these U.S. destinations tick all the right boxes for a carefree summer break. 

Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine | By Benjamin Rascoe

The pretty coastal town of Camden is everything you want from Maine: rugged coastline, sparkling lakes, a bustling harbor dotted with schooners, and plates of fresh-from-the-ocean seafood everywhere you look. The town’s population explodes every summer when seasonal residents and tourists flock to Camden to spend their days island hopping, perusing antique stores and soaking up sounds at the annual Harbor Arts and Camden Jazz Festival. Make Whitehall – a boutique inn that’s a 10 minute walk to town – your base, then get out on the water as quickly as possible. Take a kayak tour, learn to fish or charter a local schooner at sunset. When you’re hungry, grab a meal at Waterfront, a local seafood restaurant boasting the best harbor views in town. 

San Diego, California

San Diego | By Ammer Basheer

Easy breezy San Diego is Californian cool at its best. A trip here spans activities like surfing with the pros, hiking the Torrey Pines trails and entertaining the little ones at the San Diego Zoo or Belmont Park – an amusement park with a beachfront boardwalk and rides. Stay at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar – which rents bikes to guests for free and has in-room yoga mats and videos – for easy access to the city’s best attractions, and be sure to make a reservation at Farmer & the Seahorse, a farm-to-table restaurant with lawn games for the kids and happy hour for the grownups. 

Buena Vista, Colorado

Buena Vista, Colorado | By Alyssa Teboda

If your family is forever in search of a new adventure, look no further than the Colorado city of Buena Vista. This pretty mountain destination nestled at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks is the perfect place to get your adrenaline pumping and then bring it right back down again. Try mountain biking, hot air ballooning, whitewater rafting and horseback riding, then relax with an outdoor concert on The Lawn or a soak at Mount Princeton Hot Springs – an expansive resort with six pools, a spa, a lazy river and a 400-foot water slide. When you’re ready to hit the hay, head to the Surf Hotel, an elegant European-style property with a top-notch restaurant and views of the Buena Vista Whitewater Park. If you’re traveling with a large group of extended family, the hotel’s sister property, Surf Chateau – an assortment of stone cottages encircling a shared central courtyard – is a smart option. 

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island | By Drew Darby

Skip Orlando’s Disney World and take your family to the idyllic Floridian island of Sanibel instead. Nature is the main attraction here, and you’ll discover endless ways to help your children explore it. Go hunting for seashells on one of Sanibel’s immaculate beaches (shells are a thing on Sanibel – there’s even a museum dedicated to them), take a dolphin spotting boat tour, cycle the island’s 25 miles of car-less trails, kayak through mangrove swamps or learn about marine conservation at Sanibel Sea School. Book the Pink Shell Beach Resort on nearby Fort Myers Beach for tons of on-site activities, from nightly campfires complete with oozing s’mores, to movie nights and tie-dye T-shirt classes. 

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks, North Carolina | By Kyle Calhoun

The gentle rhythms of life on North Carolina’s Outer Banks encourage exactly the kind of relaxation most of us need following 2020. Fly a kite from the top of Jockey’s Ridge State Park (the tallest active sand dune system in the country), explore the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (home to hundreds of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species), spot the island’s famous wild horses roaming the beach or take your flashlight onto the beach at night for some ghost crab spotting. Shape your perfect getaway with the activities on offer at the Sanderling Resort, from golf to yoga and from hang gliding to horseback riding. 

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona | By Omer Nezih

For a trip none of you will ever forget, head to the majestic Grand Canyon this summer. Whether you choose to see it on foot, from the back of a mule, from an inflatable raft floating down the Colorado River, or out the window of a helicopter, you’ll wish you packed a pro-level camera. After an action packed day exploring one of the world’s most spectacular places, bed down at Under Canvas – a glamping operation set amid piñon and juniper forest, just 25-minutes from the South Rim entrance. Book the suite which comes with an adjacent kids tent and enjoy an en suite bathroom, luxury linens and a wood burning stove to keep you toasty-warm at night.