Travel and family can add up to memories of a lifetime. For added inspiration, we asked 12 of the savviest travel bloggers out there for their best places to travel for family fun on their own time and their own dime. Read on for places to visit in the USA (and a few abroad) that you’ll definitely want to add to your own bucket list!
1. Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa - Oahu, HI
Travel is at the very heart of this family of seven, both in terms of growing closer and growing their family, with two of their children adopted. So it is with “five crazy munchkins” in tow that the So-Cal based Global Munchkins travel the world and report back with those great big hearts of theirs.
“Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa has become like a second home to us and is easily our top favorite resort when it comes to our personal family vacations. Located on the gorgeous island of Oahu, this family-friendly resort is packed with incredible kids activities, amazing water slides, free childcare for kids 3-12 years old at Auntie's Beach house, plus a luxurious spa and delicious eateries the whole family will enjoy. To help us afford this luxe trip we use our DVC Membership, a points-based timeshare through Disney, but folks without a membership can easily rent points for substantial savings as well.”
Find out more: globalmunchkins.com
2. Glacier National Park, MT
When this family of six (plus two dogs) decided to downsize their lives to what could fit in an RV, a Crazy Family Adventure began. Their aim has always been to deepen and enrich their family bonds through travel. If you’re planning a U.S. road trip, especially, check them out!
“Glacier National Park is the perfect place to bring your family to experience unbelievable views and to search out wildlife. This National Park is filled with hikes that take you to hidden lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers. Yes, some can be long hikes, but you can also find shorter hikes that work for the whole family. Plus, there is nothing like seeing a moose or bear and her cubs in the wild! The experiences you have, the crystal clear blue water, and driving the sun road are things that no one in the family will ever forget.”
— Bryanna, Crazy Family Adventure
Find out more: crazyfamilyadventure.com
3. St. Augustine, FL
Rob and Chris Taylor wanted to give their two sons a “broad worldview.” So these 2 Travel Dads are seeing the world, experiencing different cultures, and heading outdoors at every turn in order to do exactly that.
"We’ve been back to St. Augustine, Florida several times with the kids. They love exploring the oldest city in the USA with its tiny streets and buildings that are straight out of a pirate story. The blend of history, nature and beaches is so seamless in St. Augustine that it makes it really easy to make flexible plans that will be a hit with any age group. We plan on returning again soon because we just can’t get enough Florida fun.”
— Rob Taylor
Find out more: 2traveldads.com
4. Barcelona, Spain
When Europe-based Family Off Duty first turned to Instagram to document their travels, they found a community of “like-minded parents who love enjoying time with their children and sharing a passion for family travel.” As “citizens of the world,” these parents and young daughter have visited over 20 countries and counting with over 50,000 Instagrammers now following along.
“One of our absolute favorites is Barcelona, Spain. Friendly people, great cuisine, plenty of attractions in the city and many possible day trips, from sea to mountain. What she [their young daughter] loved the most was just enjoying the public outdoor spaces; the parks and green areas, playgrounds, and the beach. Barcelona has plenty of family-oriented attractions too such as the zoo, aquarium, interactive museums, and a theme park.”
— Thassia Dezan
Find out more: familyoffduty.com
5. San Diego, CA
Kids Are A Trip has the world covered, with posts from overseas as well as each corner of the U.S. They also have handy travel tips for packing, cruising, road tripping, and even safety-first tips about how to travel around food allergies.
“For a family-friendly vacation spot that ticks all the boxes, look no further than San Diego. The city has over 70 miles of coastline, so there are plenty of beaches. Families will love the soft golden sands of Coronado Beach and the long stretches of flat sand at La Jolla Shores. The city is home to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, LEGOLAND, Safari Park, Scripps Aquarium, and the USS Midway. Balboa Park in the heart of the city has over 1,800 acres of museums, gardens, and walking trails. A top family favorite is the La Jolla Children’s Pool, where families can see seals sunning themselves on the rocks and search in the adjacent tide pools when the water is low.”
— Kirsten Maxwell
Find out more: kidsareatrip.com
6. Washington, D.C.
Most kids grow up hearing stories about their milestones… the first time they walked, their first word. For the Worldwide Webers, visiting over 30 countries before their first baby’s first birthday will also be on that list! Now they are a globetrotting family of four and not slowing down one bit.
“Washington D.C. is a great family destination, because what does every family love? Free stuff! Everything from the National Zoo to the museums in D.C. is free. So if your toddler has the attention span of a flea, you can spend as little time as you want before hopping to the next kid-friendly activity without damaging their college fund. Along the way, you can eat some great food from food trucks around the National Mall, take the Metro all around the city, and take in a destination that’s got something for everyone.”
— Erica Weber
Find out more: theworldwidewebers.com
No list would be complete without a tip from the world’s #1 travel blog. Since departing from Perth, Australia, Travel With Bender has covered over 65 countries with over 1,000 posts, including invaluable info on travel hacks and finding cheap flights. And all since the two Bender kids were just two and three years old! Now, over 120,000 Instagram followers also travel along.
“Picking one destination is like asking a parent to choose their favourite child! Each one has it’s own unique attributes and elicits different reactions. But if I had to pick one relaxing destination, it would the Greek Islands. The slow pace of life, beautiful beaches and delicious food make for an idyllic family getaway. I’d suggest stringing a few islands together into one vacation—Kythnos, Sifnos, Milos and Ios. It would suit someone looking for an experience that is as different from the U.S. as you can get, without being too far out of the comfort zone (a lot of people in the Greek Islands speak some English). My kids enjoyed playing on the beach (what kid doesn’t!), trying new foods, taking boat trips and swimming in hotel pools. I found the family time this place created was priceless.”
— Josh Bender
Find out more: travelwithbender.com
Photo: Josh Bender of Travel With Bender
8. Zion National Park, UT
Founded by Oregon-based travel writer, editor, and mom Amy Whitley, Pit Stops for Kids offers just what its name implies, from farms and festivals to restaurants and roadside attractions. Its team of contributors has covered all 50 states and countries galore and dishes out awesome advice, itineraries, and reviews of cities, road trips, kid-friendly resorts and more.
“Zion National Park may burst with visitors in the peak summer season, but come during spring break or even in the heart of winter, and your family will have the park to themselves with plenty of wilderness and nature to explore! Take a walk through The Narrows in winter to see the frozen waterfalls and hike through the canyon to see the way the winter light plays off the rock!”
— Amy Whitley
Find out more: pitstopsforkids.com
9. Central Oregon
This family of three is based in Rhode Island and exploring the world. Their premise is that making the trip a family affair, from its planning stages to its ultimate execution, ensures a richer experience for all. The Grubers of We3Travel share their destination guides, tips, and reviews, and also offer trip-planning services.
“Central Oregon has so much to offer families that enjoy the outdoors. From the vacation resort community of Sunriver, you can go whitewater rafting, caving, hiking, boating, and even rock climbing. The landscape is diverse, from the barren lava fields to the high desert plains to the gorgeous mountain lakes and the wild Deschutes River. A visit to Crater Lake National Park is not to be missed as the brilliant blue of this massive lake simply cannot be fully appreciated until you see it in person.”
— Tamara Gruber
Find out more: we3travel.com
10. Tulum, Mexico
Poshbrood, born of the travels of these five Thorpes, operates on the motto: “Offspring. Don’t Leave Home Without Them.” With that guiding principle, they offer travel perspectives on city, country, and coastal destinations (cruises too!), including green travel and “budget queen” options as well.
"We love the Riviera Maya region for family travel for several reasons:
1. Direct flights to Cancun are available from all major US cities and are usually affordable.
2. It is on the Caribbean side of Mexico and has one of the most beautiful stretches of beach and the world’s second largest coral reef. There is no current and is very safe for swimming.
3. If the kids are ‘bored’ at the beach, there are plenty of activities including zip lines, waterfall tours, exploring denotes and Sian Ka'an, a designated biosphere reserve.
4. The Riviera Maya offers diverse landscapes—mangrove swamps, cenotes, soft white sand beaches and jungles.
5. Mayan history—there are several significant ancient archaeological sites in the Riviera Maya including Tulum ruins, Chichen-Itza, and the Coba Ruins.
6. There is lodging for every family budget (Our favorite spot is Amansala!) and vacation type, from eco-chic and family friendly to luxurious all-inclusive resorts to villa rentals to boutique hotels along with all the major chain hotels for those families saving up points.
7. Tequila for mama."
— Elizabeth Thorp
Find out more: poshbrood.com
11. New York City, NY
Based outside Toronto, Gone With The Family has already logged 20 years of travel time since their eldest daughter was all of four months old. Their mission to show their kids the world “one trip at a time” now provides a bountiful travel archive of tips and reviews, with plenty in particular for Disney and Harry Potter travelers.
“My favourite family-friendly destination in the United States is New York City. We have visited nine times in the past eleven years, and a weekend in NYC has become our family’s annual back-to-school tradition. We are a theatre-loving family so Broadway shows are always top of our to-do list, but we love all of the other family-friendly attractions in the city as well—enjoying world-class museums, taking in the view from atop the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center, spending hours in Central Park, visiting the Statue of Liberty and eating frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity!”
— Lisa Goodmurphy
Find out more: gonewiththefamily.com
12. Traverse City, MI
One of the main reasons we travel with our kids is to teach them something about another place or another culture. Wandering Educators and its “global community of educators, sharing travel experiences” is an ideal resource for travel guides and services as well as information about education abroad.
“Traverse City, Michigan is an excellent destination for families. Home to the most beautiful place in the USA, Sleeping Bear Dunes, this area is full of beautiful natural experiences. Hike up the dune (and down!), check out lighthouses, and swim in Lake Michigan at one of the area’s countless beaches. Grab some ice cream at MOOmers, crazy flavored popcorn at Popkies, or cherry pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company. Check out the Dennos Museum and the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, which have plenty to do inside. Any time of year, Traverse City is the perfect playground for families.
— Dr. Jessie Voigts
Find out more: wanderingeducators.com
What’s in the top spot of your family travel bucket list? Share in the comments.
— Jennifer Massoni Pardini