What Has Been Your Best Family Vacation?

Updated on July 14, 2013
R.M. asks from Cedar Park, TX
21 answers

I would love to hear what has been your best vacation. I have until Aug. 21st to entertain kiddos. Kind of at a loss as to what would be the best choice...I am thinking about driving them up to the Philadelphia area..and then touring Washginton D.C. and New York City...or the other option is to head to Grand Canyon, Utah area....or I could take them to a family camp in Colorado called Snow Mountain Ranch...just don't know. We live in Austin...so let's hear some "shout outs" as to what has entertained your kids ( mine are 6,8 and 13) Thanks!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Disney World continues to be my favorite family vacation spot. I live outside of Philly and would never go there for vacation. DC is ok if you stay at a nice hotel with great pool but the museums are kind of boring for a 6,8 and 13 yo. I love NYC in the fall but it is hot in the summer for just site seeing.

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answers from Los Angeles on

A cruise to the Bahamas then Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando was my best family vacation. I was 13.

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answers from Santa Fe on

Our very best vacations have been Hawaii (rented a house) and the beautiful beaches there. Snorkling, swimming, touring a lava tube, seeing volcanoes, going to the top of Mt Haleakala. Our kids loved it!

Maine - we rented a beach house in a small town. It was gorgeous. One beach nearby was a sand beach. The other beach you had to hike to and it was a rock/pebble beach. At low tide you could hike out to a little island and explore it. This was magical for the kids!

Camping at the Grand Canyon. The kids had a BLAST. My oldest brought his bike and rode it around the campsite. We had so much fun doing hikes, riding mules, eating good food, making a campfire every night.

We had one vacation in Moab...we went mountain biking (on easy trails bc our youngest would sit in her bike seat) which our kids LOVED. We hiked/explored at Arches Nat'l Park which our kids also loved.

We do ski vacations each winter...there are a gazillion ski areas within a day's driving distance from here. Our ski passes are good at 7 different ski areas, so we go to each one each year (if we can make it work). The kids love it. Our 3 year old was skiing on her own by the end of last year which was amazing to me.

Last summer was one of our best vacations ever. We flew to Juneau, Alaska (where we used to live). Rented a car, and took it on the ferry to Haines. Then we drove up into interior Alaska, visited my brother, camped, and saw the sights. The kids had such an amazing time...they got to canoe, pick berries, see glaciers, see all kinds of wildlife, go to national refuges and state and national parks. All of us agree the most amazing part of the trip was Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the Kennicott mine. WOW. Truly incredible.

We've been to DC a bunch (my sister lives near there) and the kdis have been to many of the museums/ monuments. They liked it but this does not really even come close to matching a more "nature" vacation like I mentioned above.

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answers from Miami on

Oregon was my favorite vacation. We toured the whole state with a rented car. Started out heading east the gorge and took the rickety train ride up the mounted. The young ones will absolutely love it. Then drove down the east coast of Oregeon. Stopped and bought freshly picked cherries. Stayed a night in Timberland Lodge. Snow in June as well. lol Stayed the next night in Mt. Bachelor. In june the was still a bit of snow on tthe ground in areas. We stayed in a cabin that was on the lake. Lots of kids to play with for my daughter. Fire pits at night with marshmellows. Next stop was Crater Lake. You can walk down and take boat ride on the bottom Then down to Medley. (Eh more of city and night stop) Then dipped down into California to see the red woods (Huge trees) and swimming in the streams. Then up the east coast of Oregon to visit Sea Lions and camping near the beach. Though you need to watch the ocean it sneaks up on you. Then up to portland to fly home. It was amazing. If you decide to do new york Dont skip the museum (YOu can take the subway to it and enter it from underground), battery park, Bryant Park (Awesome little shows around the outisde of it and a big grassy area kids can run around in the inside), FAO Schwarts, a broadway play and last but not least Central Park and the Zoo. Watch Madagascar and Night at the Museum before you go and they will be very excited to see the museum and the zoo.

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answers from Houston on

We have been to a lot of the places already mentioned and I love Philly, NYC & Washinton, D.C. but we went there when we had family living there and it was either before kids or when they were babies. They are all big walking cities so keep that in mind if you go--if your kids are big on walking lots of places to see things then it will be great! We have been to several National Parks--Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, etc. and I cannot pick a favorite--they are all so unique and wonderful! My (extended) family goes to the Snow Mountain Ranch sister camp, YMCA of the Rockies, every year and it is fantastic for families but books up early (cabins at least but you might still be able to get something in the lodges. The Snow Mountain Ranch is nice too (we have been there in winter) but way more low-key than the Estes Park location in terms of what they offer. I like to describe YMCA camps as a cruise on land--there is so much to do there is something for every one. Only thing is meals are not always included-LOL! We are big on history and nature so tend towards the National and State parks.....

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answers from Detroit on

Disney World and every Disney cruise (3 so far) we've ever been on.

Also love Cape Cod and Block Island (off the Rhode Island coast) - we have a timeshare there and it's nice being able to return the same week every summer, year after year.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We've only taken one really big vacation as a family of four and it was a Disney Cruise. It was AWESOME! So awesome in fact that I just booked another one for next summer. : )

This summer, we are spending a week in Boston. We'll be visiting family, but also hitting up some of the museums and tourist spots. A couple of other friends have done Boston recently as well and both said their kids had a blast (our oldest kids are all 6). There are a lot of different things to see and do, plus public transportation is pretty easy.

Southern California (where I live) also has a ton to offer. You kind of need to choose between San Diego and LA/Orange County, but you could do a few nights in one and then switch hotels and go to the other. San Diego has Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park and some great beaches. There's also an old aircraft carrier down there that I think does tours. Skip Legoland - only your 6 year old would like it.

Orange County has Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. We have great beaches, malls if you like to shop, and more movie theaters than I can count. Laguna Beach has amazing art programs in the summer - the Sawdust Festival, the Festival of the Arts, and Pageant of the Masters. Pageant is an INCREDIBLE show where they create living art pieces and I would say don't come to OC and skip it. Plus, Laguna Beach has a great beach, lots of restaurants, and fun/funky shops.

Then, of course, LA has a ton of stuff to do. Santa Monica with the famous pier and the nearby Venice boardwalk, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Griffith Observatory, good museums, and tons of great restaurants and shopping. And so much more.

So, if a Disney cruise is out of the question for this summer (or any cruise really), I would say come to So Cal and you'll have a blast. It's not nearly as hot and muggy as the east coast (or TX).

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answers from Dallas on

We've really enjoyed hitting the Florida Beaches. (We go to Panama City Beach, or Destin.) We also LOVED Gulf Shores Alabama.

I think the 6 year old is really too young (and perhaps, the 8 year old) to enjoy touring Philadelphia and DC.

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answers from Dallas on

Just to caution you about going to CO. I have friends that go up there every year but with the fires the air quality is poor in the area they stay. Check out the air quality before you go to CO!

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answers from New York on

My 5 year old son would be bored going to NYC, DC or Philly. We love the beach? You are so close to Mexico, Florida, and the Caribean? There is always Disney, but I have never been. We don't like camping so nature vacations are not fun. We like to relax but have fun at the beach. What about the Atlantis?



answers from New York on

Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby, Colorado. OMG the best vacation ever.


answers from Boston on

We love the water. We've loved Cape Cod for many, many summers - easy access to water, and a choice of bay, sound or ocean water. We've done hotels with kids programs (to give the adults a little time off) and we've rented houses and done family beach things, with options for museums and mini golf and go karts and fishing and coastal cruises or seal/whale watches. We also enjoyed a resort on Lake Champlain from the time I was a teen and going through my years with my stepkids and then our son. There were different activities for different age kids, which makes it great for your family if everyone's willing to go off on their own and meet new kids. We also did the Jersey short a few years, and friends did the Delaware beaches. Being able to get cooled off is fantastic in the summer!

New York, Philly and DC offer so many cultural and historical sites, they are great. NYC is very expensive, with Philly and DC right behind. All these cities are hot in the summer, with high humidity. Budget for mass transit (with lines and heat) or taxis.

Disney World is a great option but the summer crowds are tough and the weather is oppressive especially waiting in line. Neighbors just came back and said the same. They rented a house with a pool and were back there by 3 PM every day to cool off and veg out. We loved Disney but were fortunate to go during the Massachusetts April vacation which rarely lined up with nationwide vacations - even so, lines were long.

So it depends on the interests of the kids and what everyone likes to do, and how many adults are involved, plus the budget.

Given your kids' ages, you can certainly travel for a distance. Whatever you do, turn the travel portion into part of the experience, not just something to endure until you reach your destination. I think so many kids are plugged in so much that they don't get to experience classic things like road trips, license plate bingo, and so on! Don't be afraid to go "old school" on some of this stuff!


answers from Grand Forks on

We love going to YMCA Family Camp. The one we go to is on an island. We get our own cabin. They provide transportation, meals and snacks. Mornings and evenings are family time, and afternoons the kids get to go with the counsellors (if they want). Activities include canoeing, kayaking, sailing, swimming, water trampoline, hiking, sports, zip lining, rock climbing and a high ropes course. You can do as much or as little as you want. It is so fun, and so easy not having to worry about meals and driving!


answers from Dallas on

The best was Hawaii. We stayed at a nice resort on the beach, went whale watching which was the most exciting experience and so many other activities we loved.

Others were Disneyworld. We started going to Disney when our daughter was about 2 and we went every 2 years until she was about 16. On 2 different Disney trips, we met family there, had rooms close to each other and had a blast. We always stayed at the Polynesian and used the boat taxi to MK and at night watched the fireworks from our patios at the hotel. LOVED the Polynesian.

Have fun!


answers from Washington DC on

We live near DC and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. There is never nothing to do. We stay at National Harbor a few times a year and that is right outside of the city. Easy access, safe, and beautiful.

I want to do the drive out west SO badly! We are supposed to go to Denver next summer, and I'm considering doing it as a drive instead of flying. But I also want to get the kids to Boston (my home) and NYC next spring if possible. Lots of choices!

Our best family vacation was the cruise we took in January. We flew to Miami, then went to the Bahama's, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turks - amazing experience! We are looking into another one for 2014/2015.


answers from Hartford on

We'll be heading to the White Mountains and staying in Mount Washington Valley in North Conway, NH in a few weeks. We used to go every single summer with my parents growing up. My girls are so excited and are already planning the itinerary... I don't think we'll have nearly enough time to do everything!



answers from Chicago on

Gatlinburg, TN.....white water rafting, horseback riding, tubing down lazy river, smoky mountains hikes and drives, drive to Ashville, NC to go to Biltmore Estates mansion. Loved it



answers from Killeen on

Disneyworld is our best one to date as well. Wish I was there now!



answers from Los Angeles on

For us, the best family vacation was Disneyworld. We took two weeks off and spent the entire time at Disneyworld and the other attractions around Orlando. Two swim parks and Universal Studios, Sea World, and Disney World. My kids talked about it for years.

The second best was a week we spent at the boy scout camp, Philmont. All of our kids had a wonderful time. We "camped" in a wooden floored tent. The kids went on hikes and all kinds of things.

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Tulsa on

We went to Zion and Bryce Canyon a few years before we became parents and I can't wait to take our son there when he is big enough. It's gorgeous country, completely different to the rest of the nation. Big cities are more interesting when you are older in my opinion, and assuming you make it to downtown Austin every now and then the big buildings won't be that cool until they've seen them in movies and learned about them. We're outdoorsy people (hubby more so than me) and there were hiking trails for all ages and levels. plus horse tours, ATV tours, etc. The Grand Canyon and Arches are also in the same general area, we knew when we were there we would be back someday! Have fun, wherever you choose!



answers from Austin on

Disney World or Disney Land of course!! Little kids will be bored in Washington DC or New York!! Amusement parks are where kids wanna go. We go to Disney World 2 times a year. Disney Cruise is awesome too. We go on one every summer, so fun!!

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