It’s almost summer – time for amusement parks, summer sports, camps, and of course, summer vacation. If you haven’t planned your family summer vacation yet, you still have time. You may, however, need some family summer vacation ideas. Whether you only have a long weekend or can get away for a two-week break, there are so many fun things that your family can do. Looking for travel inspiration? Here are our family summer vacation ideas.
Note that we’ve been hosted at some of these locations at no cost. All opinions are my own.
Family 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
- Atlantis Bahamas
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, sightsee 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
While we haven’t done a big national park trip with our family, it’s definitely on our family bucket list. I have dreams of renting an RV and heading west to several of the parks. Even if you aren’t ready for a big trip like this, consider visiting a local national park so that you can enjoy the outdoors.
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.