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The Best Family Vacation Ideas: Types of Trips For Families

Family vacations are important for your family, but it can always be a challenge to decide when and where to go. Budget is obviously a major consideration, and as kids get older, time becomes more and more limited. So, you’ll want to make sure that you maximize your time by going to the best place possible. If you are looking for family vacation ideas, this post is a good place to start.

When my family is considering which destinations to travel to, we consider a variety of things. I have a family travel bucket list that I work from and using factors like budget, weather, and time available, we determine where to go. If you are building up your list, you may need some family travel inspiration.

This list of types of trips that every family should take can definitely help. Keep in mind that these don’t need to be big vacations. You can staycation to your nearest city for the day, visit a local theme park as part of a road trip, or head over to your nearest National Park for a quick trip.

Of course, if you prefer to do the same type of vacation each time, that is totally fine too. This is just a list to help you develop family vacation ideas for your bucket list.

Considering a trip to Europe? Here are some tips for how to plan a trip to Europe that is great for the entire family.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. A click-through/purchase from one of these links may result in a commission paid to us. Note that we may have traveled to some of these destinations at no cost but all opinions are my own.

Zipline over mountains

The Best Family Vacation Ideas: Types of Trips For Families

Family Cruise

It’s no surprise that I love cruising, because it’s a great way to see multiple destinations, and can be very relaxing. If you haven’t cruised before, consider a short family cruise, like the 3-day Disney Dream trip we took as our first family cruise.

You can also combine a short cruise with another type of trip, such as a theme park vacation or a city vacation. With activities already organized for you, and meals all prearranged, cruising truly does feel like a vacation from responsibilities.

When looking at various cruise itineraries, you’ll have lots of options. Look at the amenities on the ship, as well as the ports of call that you’ll be visiting. While you may associate cruising with warm weather, remember that there are cooler weather Disney cruises, like Alaska, Canada, or Northern Europe.

We’ve loved our cruises on the Disney Cruise Line. I’ve been on all five ships, and while the Disney Fantasy is my favorite, I’ve enjoyed sailing on all of them. 

Family Resorts

There are so many family-friendly resorts offering water parks, outdoor pools, fun activities, beach access, kids’ clubs, and so much more. For some great quality time with your family, you may consider staying at a family-friendly resort where you can spend much of your time. All inclusive resorts are a great option, but there are other great options as well.

One of the best family vacation spots, in my opinion, is Beaches Turks and Caicos. This all inclusive resort in Providenciales Turks and Caicos is the perfect place for a family vacation. It’s a popular destination, so be sure to book your stay well in advance.

Theme Park Family Vacation

Theme park trips are so fun for families, especially for those with younger children. My kids now love rides, but when they were younger, they really liked seeing characters. Seeing the magic of a theme park through a child’s young eyes is a beautiful part of parenting.

There are loads of theme parks in the United States, from huge parks like Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios to smaller regional theme parks like Story Land in New Hampshire. You can definitely find one that will fit into your budget and family plans. Amusement parks are also a great option.

If you have older kids, you may find that they also love theme parks. Instead of being interested in characters, however, they may prefer the thrill rides. My kids absolutely love the thrill rides at Busch Gardens, for instance.

You don’t have to plan an entire theme park vacation, however. There are lots of family vacation destinations where you can just incorporate a day or two at a theme park or amusement park, and then spend the rest of the time doing something else.

Considering a Walt Disney World vacation but overwhelmed by planning? We have lots of tips for families visiting Walt Disney World, check them out here.

The Ride NYC view of cabs and cars

City Vacation Ideas

Cities are filled with delicious restaurants, beautiful parks, historic sites, outdoor activities, and world-class museums, making them great places to visit with kids. We like to visit New York City at least once every few years, and the kids love seeing shows and exploring everything there is to see. There are also so many fun restaurants in New York City for the whole family to enjoy and even if it rains, there’s so much to do.

Our proximity to NYC makes that pretty easy, but New York isn’t the only big city worth visiting with kids. Before planning your big city trip, make sure that the kids are the right age for everything that you want to do since some museums aren’t the most kid-friendly.

Other domestic cities and popular destinations you may want to consider include the following:

National Park

We haven’t traveled to a National Park yet with our kids, but it’s definitely on our list. National Parks offer so much, from relaxing atmospheres to nature education. If you can’t make it to a National Park, state parks are another great option.

Families that enjoy camping may especially consider visiting a National Park, including Yellowstone National Park, Sequoia, Grand Canyon National Park, Zion, and Glacier National Park. You could even do a Yosemite day trip rather than stay there. Pinnacles National Park is another option.

For inspiration, here’s a list of ideas from TripAdvisor.

Family Vacation Road Trip

Most of us have some great memories of road-tripping with our families. While road trips aren’t always easy, they are such a great way to take a reasonably-priced family vacation. They also help promote family bonding.

Road trips can be a great way to take a more flexible vacation because you won’t need to worry about purchasing flights for a specific time. While you may want to book your hotels, those often have a more flexible cancellation period.

Ski Vacation

I’m not a fan of the cold, but I’ve loved our family ski vacations. They are a great way to enjoy an outdoor activity as a family.

Family ski resorts offer many different family-friendly activities, but you can also consider a day trip to the mountain. If your kids (or you) haven’t skied before, definitely consider ski school or private lessons. My kids have loved their time in ski school and didn’t want to leave.

Like theme park vacations, you may also incorporate skiing into a longer family vacation. You won’t necessarily need to ski every day. See this ski packing list if you are planning a trip.

Boardwalk path leading to beach surrounded by sea grass

Beach Vacation

I love the beach, and so our family has experienced many beach vacations. You can also combine your beach vacation with a Caribbean cruise. I prefer visiting a beach resort, which makes things convenient because you can go back to the room whenever you need to.

As much as I love beautiful beaches, I do like to visit a place that has other family attractions in addition to just a nice beach. Even something as simple as mini-golf courses, boat tours, or botanical gardens can be a nice break from spending the whole family trip on the beach.

Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore view from hotel balcony

Guided Tour Family Vacation

Another relaxing vacation idea is a guided, group tour. We’ve been on several Adventures by Disney family vacations, and have loved every one. I enjoyed the relaxing vacation with absolutely no planning responsibilities, while my kids had a great time meeting other kids.

Read more about Adventures by Disney and see links to all of our posts.

Adventure Vacations

When your kids are older, you may consider going on a family adventure vacation. Things like zip lining, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting can easily be incorporated into your regular vacation, or you can choose to take an adventure-filled vacation.

Water Parks

My kids love visiting water parks. Because we live in New England, we don’t have as many opportunities to visit outdoor water parks as we’d like. Luckily, there are some indoor water parks in the area – and we have lots of great places to visit that have water parks.

One of our favorite things to do is to visit a family resort with a water park on the property. These can include water slides, wave pools, raft rides, lazy rivers, and so much more. Of course, this type of vacation can be combined with any other type of trip, since you won’t want to spend a whole week just at the water park.

What types of trips have you taken? Anything that I missed?

Family vacation ideas with the types of trips all families should take, including cruise vacations and National Park vacations. Great inspiration for building your bucket list.

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