When you are the parent of teenagers, it becomes more and more challenging to travel with kids. Gone are the car seats, and need for so many baby supplies to carry. It would seem, on the surface, to be so much easier to travel with teens.
While the travel itself is easier, actually finding a time to go can be a challenge. You’ll be dealing with scheduling conflicts from sports and other activities, as well as part-time jobs. As kids get older, these become more difficult to miss out on.
Teens also have a very difficult time missing school, because it can really put them behind on their work. As a result, you may find that summer is really the best time to go on vacation. For my family, our summer vacation is really our big vacation for the year. We spend so much time deciding where to go, and it’s really a great time when we go.
If you are looking for some fun family summer vacation destinations for your next summer vacation, here are some of our favorite places. I did exclude some of our favorite destinations that are not great in the summer, because of the weather.
Disclosure: We received complimentary stays for some of these destinations, through press trips or individual trips. All opinions are my own.
With the current regulations entrance to some of these destinations could be limited. Please check in advance.
Summer Vacation Ideas for Families
Visit this North American city, which feels like a quaint European town. It’s loaded with delicious restaurants, quaint shops, great hotels, and fun museums.
This beautiful city is the only walled city in North America. In 1985 it was designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Just wandering around the gorgeous and quaint cobblestone streets is a treat. But there are also so many great things to do in Quebec City with kids.
Home of the famed River Walk, the Alamo, Sea World, Schlitterbahn, and more, this Texas city offers lots of activities for families.
The bustling city of Portland Maine is known for its vibrant arts scene, trendy shops, delicious restaurants, beautiful waterfront, and modern breweries. Located about 2 hours from Boston, Portland Maine is an easy city to get to.
North Conway, NH
One of my favorite places to visit in New England is North Conway, New Hampshire. This town is located just past the scenic Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains National Forest right in the heart of the White Mountains. It offers outdoor activities, shopping, and other family-friendly activities.
Located about 2 hours by plane from Boston, MA, Bermuda is an easy destination for a family vacation. This English-speaking country features a number of family-friendly activities, and offers beautiful pink sand beaches, delicious food, and wonderful resorts.
This European city is one of the best to visit for a first-time European family vacation. Because there is no language barrier, it’s an easier place to visit and isn’t as far from the East Coast of the US as other European cities.
The City of Lights is known as the most romantic city of the world, but Paris is also very kid-friendly. When we were deciding where to go on vacation this past summer, my kids (aged 12 and 13) definitely wanted to visit Paris. My daughter especially wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in person.
New York City
New York City should definitely be on your family travel list, and the summer can be a great time to visit. While you are there, enjoy taking a Circle Line Tour, seeing a Broadway Show, and visiting the number of museums and other attractions the city has to offer.
With beautiful temperatures year round, you never have to worry about it getting to cold or too warm in San Diego. There are also lots of things for families to do there.
Raleigh, North Carolina
I was so impressed with my first visit to Raleigh, North Carolina. It was an easy flight from my home in Boston, and the city offers lots of great free museums and fabulous outdoor activities.
My home city of Boston is absolutely beautiful in the summer, and is filled with so many wonderful family activities. Be sure to take advantage of the summer weather by spending some time near the waterfront.
Mystic Connecticut, located between Boston and New York off of route 95, offers more than just pizza. Other great activities in Mystic include Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, and Olde Mistick Village.
This often underappreciated city is a must-visit for history and music lovers. During my visit, I was so impressed with the Henry Ford, a museum featuring so much rich history. There’s also Motown, where you can learn about that period of music history.
Growing up in Rhode Island, I always loved visiting Newport. This seaside town offers lots of family activities including the Fort Adams State Park, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Newport Mansions.
Summer was really the best time to visit the Emerald City and the Pacific Northwest. The weather is generally warm but not too hot, and the rain isn’t usually a problem. The weather we experienced in July was absolutely perfect for our visit. It was generally in the low 70s with almost no humidity.
I absolutely love Atlantis in Nassau/Paradise Island. This resort is a destination in itself, and you could absolutely spend the whole time there. You can enjoy the beaches, pools, water park, and so much more.
The first time I visited Grand Cayman, it was July. We absolutely loved the weather on the island, as well as the warm Caribbean Sea. There’s so much to do in Grand Cayman, including the Cayman Turtle Farm, Stingray City, and the gorgeous beaches.
General Summer Vacation Ideas
Visit a Family-Friendly Beach
Beaches and summer vacations are practically synonymous, so consider visiting a family-friendly beach town. While you will probably want to spend a lot of time on the actual beach, beach towns often have lots of other great activities including children’s museums, science centers, water sports, and aquariums.
It can be as relaxing a vacation as you want – plan on a few beach days mixed with some indoor activities to help you avoid too much sun exposure.
Here are some ideas of places for a beach vacation:
- Virginia Beach
- Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard
- Myrtle Beach
- Amelia Island
- Fort Walton/Destin
- Sarasota and the nearby barrier islands
- Clearwater Beach
Experience a Water Park and/or Resort with Water Park
My kids love water parks – they can be so much fun for a family. When planning your summer vacation, consider visiting a place with a water park. You’ve got lots of options – from hotels with water parks to a stand-alone water park in a fun destination. Make sure the water park is appropriate for the age range of your children.
Because there are so many choices, you’ll probably find one that is absolutely perfect for your family. While I love indoor water parks, I prefer to visit them in the cooler weather. So choose an outdoor water park and enjoy some sun (bring along plenty of sunscreen though)!
Here are some places with water parks:
- The White Mountains of New Hampshire
- World Center Marriott
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire
- Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort
Take a Family Cruise
We’ve loved the cruises that we’ve taken in the summer. There are so many itinerary options available in the summer – with ships leaving from a variety of different ports. Whether you want to explore Alaska, visit the Caribbean, sightseeing in Europe, or head north to Canada, you’ll find a cruise that’s perfect for you.
A cruise is perfect for a stress-free vacation – once you are on the ship you won’t have to worry about arranging meals or entertainment. Just be sure to book your excursions well in advance so that you don’t have to worry about that on your trip.
Some cruise itinerary ideas:
Go to a National Park
Taking a road trip to a National Park (or several National Parks) can be a great way to spend the summer. Activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, exploring, and more. Here are some options:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Zion National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Glacier National Park
Stay at a Family-Friendly Lake Resort
I absolutely love kid friendly lake resorts. There’s something about them that makes it feel like a quintessential summer vacation – almost like summer camp. These are especially great trips with younger kids, because the gentle lake will be easier for kids to wade in. Many lake resorts also offer kids’ clubs and other activities, so you’ll have more to do than just swim in the lake.
Some lake resort ideas:
- Migis Lodge in Maine
- The Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, NY
- Although it’s not a lake resort, Smugglers Notch in Vermont has that same nostalgic feel.
Get Your Thrills at an Amusement/Theme Park
My kids love amusement and theme parks. I thought they wouldn’t like them as much as they have gotten older, but they actually like them even more. They’ve just switched their interests from kiddie play areas to thrill rides. For your summer vacation, consider incorporating an amusement park in your plans. Whether you want to visit a huge theme park like Walt Disney World, or would rather go to a small local amusement park, there are plenty of options.
Here are some ideas for theme parks to visit:
Explore the Bright Lights of a Big City
Cities can definitely be hot in the summer, but there’s usually so much going on! Summer can often be the best time to visit a big city, especially those in the northeast that are typically so cold in the winter. You can plan so many great activities, including baseball games, zoos, sightseeing, and more.
Here are some ideas of cities to visit:
- Things to do in Cleveland with kids
- Things to do in Detroit
- Boston with Kids
- New York City with Kids
- Washington DC
Go on an Adventure
Older kids will love adventure trips. Consider a trip that includes adventure activities like a jet boat ride, zip lining, and white water rafting. You can definitely combine these type of activities with other activities as well, depending on how adventurous your family is. If you’ve never done this type of vacation, it might be best to just incorporate one of these activities into your vacation, see how it goes, and then maybe do a more adventurous trip next summer.
Head to Europe
The past three summers, we’ve decided to visit Europe with our family. Of course, loads of other families have the same idea – so things tend to be busy and a bit more expensive. However, we’ve found that those negatives are worth the positive. Good weather, and the option to spend more than one week exploring definitely make the summer a good time to travel. If you are thinking of traveling to Europe this summer, be sure to make your plans now. Many popular hotels book up well in advance.
- One day in Lisbon
- Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort in the Algarve, Portugal
- Adventures by Disney Greece
- The Amalfi Coast with kids
- Florence and the surrounding area with kids
Visit a Smaller City
Smaller cities can be perfect for a summer family trip. We’ve visited several of these over the years, and have always loved all of the great activities that we can do. From science and art museums to outdoor activities, you are likely to fill all of your days with great things to do. While these locations will all be near airports (of various sizes), you may be close enough to one of them to consider driving.
Here are some ideas of smaller cities to visit on your family summer vacation.
Plan a Family Road Trip
The summer can be the perfect time for a family road trip. Load up your car, SUV, or van and head out on the road. Because summer can be busy, you’ll probably want to plan your destinations and hotels. But be sure to leave some room for spontaneity, which can be the best part of your trip! Here are some posts that can help you plan your trip.