The kids are craving an epic new experience, but getting time off work for mom and dad might not be in the cards. Don’t worry, grandma and grandpa are here! The latest trend in family vacation travel is skip gen travel—without the parents in tow! We’ve found top destinations that multiple generations will love. Scroll down to see our picks.
Boston – A Revolutionary Journey
The cradle of liberty in the U.S., Boston lets you discuss American history with your grandkids in this skip-gen travel destination. Throw tea into Boston Harbor just like patriots, climb to the top of Old North Church and explore the USS Constitution. From the Freedom Trail to Fenway, Boston is a treasure trove of history, art, music and culture. Walk in the footsteps of Paul Revere and Samuel Adams along the Freedom Trail. Ride a Duck Boat on land and laugh hysterically as it enters the waterways. Dig in to Boston Cream Pie, New England Clam Chowder and fresh seafood!
Go for the Gold in Sacramento, CA
The City by the Bay gets all the tourists but clever grandparents know that Sacramento, California is the state's real hidden gem. From affordable flights and hotels to way less hills than San Francisco, Sacramento makes a great place to explore with the grandkids. Take a trip back in time in Old Town Sacramento, where you'll find the the State Railroad Museum. Let them play to their heart's content in Fairytale Town , grab an ice cream at Vic's and catch a minor league baseball game.. Complete your trip with a visit to Sutter's Fort to learn about the discovery of gold and the pioneer history of California.
Take a Load Off in Wailea, Maui
Mom and Dad are sure to be jealous of the kids if they tag along with Grandma and Gramps to Wailea, Maui. Beyond kid-friendly beaches and restaurants that actually welcome kids, this laid-back skip-gen destination makes traveling with kids (even the littlest tots) stress-free and dare we say, relaxing for the adults.
Stay at Fairmont Kea Lani where they specialize in spacious family suites (read: you can put the kids to bed in one room and enjoy your evening in the other) and offer family amenities like cribs, poolside pack-and-plays, diaper pails, a kids club and a kids eat free program for any keikis (children) under five years old. If you ever do leave the resort, the nearby town of Kihei is a great destination to walk around (we're partial to the big portions and relaxed atmosphere of Kihei Caffe) and if you're in town during the fourth Friday of the month, Kihei hosts a town party with food, a keiki zone and shopping.
Branson – Show Them in Missouri
There’s a lot to show the grandkids in the “Show Me State” on a family vacation, like talking about how you spent your own summer vacations. Water parks, boat rides, Silver Dollar City amusement park and the beauty of the Ozark Mountains will keep you busy from morning to night. Head to Branson Landing for a little spoiling as well as retail therapy. Your toughest decisions will be which of the more than 100-family-friendly shows you want to see.
No Blues in the Windy City
Chicago has it all—art, museums, music and food! Explore the city via architecture boat tour, trolley or on foot. Check out Lincoln Park Zoo; it’s free and open every day. Root for the city’s winning baseball teams—the Cubs and Sox. Take a selfie at the Bean in Millennium Park and kick up water in the Splash Pad. Instill a love of the classics at the Art Institute of Chicago. Free admission for kids 14 and under. Create your own work of art and a customized museum tour in the Family Room. Taste Chicago’s famous pizza, pierogi’s and hot dogs (no ketchup, please.) If it’s summer/fall, celebrate at a neighborhood festival. Let Carl Sandburg’s “City of Big Shoulders” wrap its arms around you as you experience this wonderful skip generation family vacation.
Psst...looking for kid-friendly events while you're there? Check out our calendar.
It’s all about the water when you head south for a family vacation on the Texas Gulf Coast. Discover 32 miles of beautiful gulf beaches, the Schlitterbahn Water Park and Moody Aquarium. That glass rainforest pyramid you see beckoning from afar is Moody Gardens that replicates Asian and African rainforests. Take the grandkids inside to Palm Beach, a white-sand, blue-lagoon entertainment center and waterpark with a Colonel Paddlewheel boat, five-tier ropes course, zip line and lazy river. The iconic symbol of Galveston is Pleasure Pier. They claim its 200-foot-tall swing is the highest ride in Texas. Ride it together and see! For a little history lesson, walk through the Strand Historic District, just five blocks long. You’ll both learn more about their most famous pirate, Jean LaFitte at the Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast or Pier 21 Theatre.
Get Lucky in Las Vegas
Vegas with the grands? You bet! This destination offers a bucket-full of memorable things to do for skip-gen travel. Share the scares at Adventuredom in Circus Circus, a 5-acre indoor amusement park with coasters, kid-friendly rides and free clown shows. Get down and dirty at DISCOVERY Children’s Museum with 3-stories of interactive hands-on exhibits. Find a real sweet spot at M&M World. Catch the Bellagio Fountain Water Show, pirate show at Treasure Island and Mirage’s erupting volcano as you stroll down the Strip, hand in hand.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our editor's picks when visiting Vegas with the kids.
Myrtle Beach – Sand, Boardwalk & Bowling
Discover more than 60 miles of fun and sun along the Grand Strand. Build a sandcastle, have a picnic and collect shells as you dip your toes in the ocean. Myrtle Beach is also the mini-golf capital of the world. So let your grandkids pick the one they want and share the laughs as you navigate the dinosaurs, pirates and jungles. Spend a rainy day at the Children's Museum of South Carolina or Ripley’s Aquarium. Bowl or experience live theatre with magic shows and the circus. The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel takes you high in the sky. At the beach, memories last a lifetime. Check out our budget-friendly tips for visiting Myrtle Beach with kids!
Nashville – Grand Ole Opry & More
Share your love of music with skip-gen travel to Music City USA. From live music to line dancing, the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame, open their eyes to the rhythm of America’s music. You could even write and record your own song! A visit to Tennessee’s state capital and Andrew Jackson’s home adds a history lesson to your adventure. Check out all the ways you can enjoy an “Only in Nashville” experience together! Nashville's an easy city to find something every grandparent and grandchild will never forget.
NYC: Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple
With its tall skyscrapers, Broadway shows and renowned cultural attractions, New York City is a treat for both grandparents and grandkids to talk about American history as well as share your personal family history. For stories about immigrant families, check out the Tenement Museum, the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for their “Start with Art” program as you travel through time seeking adventure. (Start before your visit with #metkids.) Lip-smacking food truck fare or a yummy hot dog at Coney Island await you. Then, hop on a cruise along the Hudson River for a sightseeing ferry of New York’s iconic skyline.
Pssst...visit our expertly curated events calendar to find out what's happening for kids when you're visiting New York.
Phoenix – Digging the Desert
The magical desert is overflowing with wonders and the mild climate and relatively low cost make this a great place for the grands + grandkids to visit. See it through their eyes at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park and African Bush Safari Tour. Explore statuesque Saguaro cacti together at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Beat the heat at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. For the little ones, Encanto Park will have them in giggles as they feed the ducks, ride on a merry-go-round and discover Enchanted Island Amusement Park. Older kids will be awed by Goldfield Ghost Town as they watch an Old West gun fight, pan for gold and ride a narrow gauge train. Head for hills on a Pink Jeep Tour and share the laughs as you bounce through the bumps!
Check out our editor's picks for what to do in Phoenix with kids!
Washington, DC – Watch Government at Work
Our nation’s capital is an ideal destination for a family vacation. Visiting Washington with your grandkids can generate discussion about the history of our country, great presidents and contemporary issues. Choose your way to go—bus, trolley, Segway, even by boat. Our local DC editor put together this awesome guide to the most famous monuments in the DMV. Take a Kids Adventure Tour on a pedicab or ride on bikes and stop by historic sites at your leisure. Many National Mall attractions offer free admission such as the National Museum of African American History, National Gallery of Art, National Air/Space Museum and the Smithsonian Museums. Stop by our curated calendar before you go to see what kid-friendly events are happening.
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