5 Best Family Vacation Spots in the US

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Let’s be honest. There are many bucket list destinations in the US – beaches, mountains and everything in between. Let’s talk about why you should take a vacation and then list 5 best family vacation spots in the US.

Why take a vacation?

The answers are endless! Everything from taking a break from the daily grind, recharging your batteries to spending more time as a family.

Vacations are good for you. Not only do most people come back being more productive, but they also relieve stress – something we have way too much of.

Are you a beach person or a city person?

This list has both! See if one of these family vacation destinations in the US calls your name.

Bridge and mountains in the background with white clouds; palm trees and people in a grassy area in front of the lake
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

5 Best Family Vacation Spots in the US

1. Southern California

Between San Diego and Los Angelas, you could spend 2 weeks here and only hit the highlights.

San Diego boasts near-perfect weather and plenty of beaches. Take a harbor cruise, go snorkeling or enjoy a whale watching adventure.

If you prefer dry land, the San Diego Zoo is one of the countries best. Don’t forget about Sea World either.

Into amusements parks? Near LA, visit Disneyland and California Adventure if the Mouse calls to you. There is also Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

Speaking of studios, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour was the absolute best tour I have ever taken. Of course, I was (and still am) a big Friends fan and, at the time, they were still on TV. Please note that children must be at least 8 to take this tour.

Prefer being in the mountains? Read 7 Things to do in  Palm Springs with Kids.

Large bronze lion statue with hind legs in the air over a green sign that reads San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo entrance
Man and little girl standing by a silver rail looking out into a forest
San Jacinto Peak in Palm Springs

2. San Francisco

Yes, California has so much to offer. While more compact than Southern California, there are awesome places to take the family here.

Start downtown and take an iconic ride on the cable car. Remember to get that photo of the kids hanging on to the side!

Ride across the Golden Gate bridge at the top of a double-decker bus. Little K thought this was the best thing ever. It was so windy and bouncy, she likened it to a roller coaster.

If you love museums, there are plenty to go around. From the Walt Disney World Family Museum, the Cable Car Museum to the San Francisco Railway Museum, there are plenty of unique sites the family will enjoy.

Do you like gardens? We visited the Japanese Tea Garden and thought it was right out of Japan. So beautiful and tranquil. There is also the Botanical Gardens and Golden Gate Park.

California, itself, is really one of the best family vacation spots in the US because there is just so much to do!

Man hugging little girl in hot pink jacket posing in front of Japanese styled trees and a red tea house
San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden
Red double decker bus in front of a large sign in the shape of a ships steering wheel that says Fishermans Wharf of San Francisco
Tour San Francisco by bus
Little girl in pink shirt and shoes sitting in front of a mermaid statue with water fountain in front of Ghiradelli building with red bricks and lots of windows
Who doesn’t want chocolate or ice cream at Ghiradelli Square?

3. Chicago

If traveling to the west coast isn’t on your agenda right now, stay in the Midwest and visit Chicago.

Both adults and kids alike will have a blast at Navy Pier. There are plenty of rides, restaurant, stores and a museum. Plus, take one of the many cruises that depart from the Pier.

Enjoy the hop-on, hop-off bus in Chicago. With so many sites to see, the bus provides a great alternative to a taxi, Uber or the train.

Chicago’s Museum Campus encompasses 57 acres right next to Lake Michigan and is home to the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History.

If those museums weren’t enough for you, head a little further to the Museum of Science and Industry. This is one of my favorite museums in the entire US. It’s interactive, kids have a ball and you can take an optional experience in a gold mine or submarine.

The Chicago Zoo is just north of the downtown area right on the lake. And it’s free! Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the zoo and admire the downtown views.

We go to Chicago often as there is so much to see and do. Read Things to do in Chicago with Kids for detailed examples and reviews of what to do.

Little girl in pink short sleeve top standing next to a brown gated railing over a river with a ferry boat and tall glass buildings surrounding it.
Take an architecture cruise on the Chicago River
Little girl in pink shirt in front of a park with a pond with tall buildings of a city in the background
Enjoying the Chicago Zoo

4. Boston

Do you have older children who love history? If yes, then Boston is where to go. Read 24 things to do in Boston with kids.

Walk the Freedom Trail and see the Massachusets State House, the Old Corner Bookstore, Paul Revere’s house, and USS Constitution.

The New England Aquarium will delight the youngest ones, especially with their penguin exhibit. Sixty penguins reside here and are fun to watch.

See the famous Boston Tea Party ships and museum. Tour the ships, walk through the interactive museum, see a 3D reenactment of the tea party and then sit down to enjoy a cup yourself at Abigail’s Tea Room.

Man dressed in 1800's attire with purple vest, orange sweater and a black hat next to a bronze horse statue with a little girl resting on the statues' neck
Learn some history on The Freedom Trail walking tour
Man in beige shirt and little girl with black backpack walking next to a large black and white ship with tall masts with the signage USS Constitution
Touring the USS Constitution

5. Orlando

How could I not include Disney World as one of the best family vacation spots in the US?

But, Orlando is much more than the Mouse himself. Besides the 4 Disney Parks, there is Universal Studios and Sea World.

If you are not into the amusement park scene, there is still something for you. Take an airboat tour through the Everglades and see if you can spot any eagles, wild turkeys or alligators.

Do you like Ferris Wheels? Head over to the Orlando Eye and catch a view from 400 feet. It’s breathtaking at night when the sky is clear.

For a true Florida experience, take the kids to Gatorland! Here’s the ultimate Gatorland Florida review. Definitely a must-read before you go.

There are so many things to do in Orlando, don’t think Disney is the only game in town.

However, if you do decide to go to Disney, take a minute to read some helpful tips:

Red and yellow seats in an airboat on the water with a little girl in yellow life vest and man in aqua tshirt on the boat
Taking an airboat tour in the Florida Everglades

Best family vacations spots in the US

Did any of these whet your appetite for travel? Where do you want to go on your next family vacation? Let me know in the comments!

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Deep blue sky with mountains in the back and tall palm trees in the front

Japanese green trees surrounding a wooden tea house with white text reading best family vacation spots in the US

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