So, summer 2020 hasn’t turned out as you planned, has it? Maybe your kids are missing summer camp or you’re missing renting a cabin on the lake. While we can’t help you with all of your well-laid-out plans, at least you can live vicariously through our favorite family movies about vacations. From classics like The Parent Trap to little-known flicks the kids will love, these summer movies for kids are perfect for an outdoor movie night. Buy “theatre-sized” candy from the Dollar Tree, have your kids make “Now Showing” posters, pop popcorn, and dig out the blankets. It’s showtime!

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photo: IMDB

The Muppets (2011)

  • Directed by: James Bobin
  • Cast: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper and a lot of Muppets
  • Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

This is one of the best Muppet movies of all time where Walter, a Muppet fanatic, goes on a vacation with his human brother and girlfriend to visit the iconic Muppet Studios (yes, it’s a real place) only to find that the group has disbanded and moved in all different directions. This vacation ends up becoming a road trip and a fight to bring back the Muppet Theatre to its former glory.

Rated PG 

Best for ages 5 & up. 

photo: IMDB

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012)

  • Directed by: David Bowers
  • Cast: Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris
  • Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures

You don’t have to have seen the first two Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies in order to appreciate this summer flick. Greg Heffley may think that he’s having the worst summer vacation ever, but your kids will enjoy watching the hijinks that happen on a family trip to a beach house, a “wilderness weekend” scout camp and the various mishaps that happen when he pretends to be working a local country club. School can’t come soon enough.

Rated PG

Best for ages 9 & up.

photo: IMDB

Race for Your Life Charlie Brown (1977)

  • Directed by: Bill Melendez and Phil Roman
  • Cast: The Peanuts gang
  • Studio: Bill Melendez Productions

What are the chances that everyone in your neighborhood, including your dog and his bird friend, would end up at the same summer camp? Pretty good if you’re Charlie Brown. This movie plays like an extended TV special and is just as charming. Throw in a river rafting race, an evil cat and bullies from a rival camp, and you got one heck of an adventure.

Rated G

Best for ages 4 & up. 

photo: IMDB

Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007)

  • Directed by: Steve Bendalack
  • Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis, Willem Dafoe, Lily Atkinson
  • Studio: Universal Pictures

If you haven’t introduced your kids to Rowan Atkinson's alter ego, this is the perfect film to do so. The iconic Mr. Bean, who rarely speaks, has won a trip to Cannes, and in true Mr. Bean style, finds a way to make a mess of things. Here, he accidentally separates a young boy from his father and takes it upon himself to help the two reconnect. Sure, it’s silly, but it is surprisingly entertaining and sweet.

Rated G

Best for ages 6 & up.

photo: IMDB

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005)

  • Directed by: Adam Shankman
  • Cast: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Eugene Levy, Carmen Electra, Taylor Lautner
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

You may want to watch the first Cheaper by the Dozen movie, which also makes for a fun family movie night, so you’re familiar with the Baker family. Here though, the Bakers finally get a chance to get away for vacation and find themselves competing in a series of games with a rival family of eight children staying at the same campground.

Rates PG

Best for ages 8 & up. 

photo: IMDB

A Goofy Movie (1995)

  • Directed by: Kevin Lima
  • Cast: Goofy and his son Max
  • Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Goofy has mapped out the ultimate road trip for him and his son, Max, in hopes of creating some quality father-son bonding time. Max would rather stay home with his girlfriend than hang out with his embarrassing father. As it turns out, the trip becomes one that they will always cherish, and Dad proves that he’s not so bad after all in this surprisingly entertaining film.

Rated G

Best for ages 6 & up. 

photo: IMDB

The Parent Trap (1961)

  • Directed by: David Swift
  • Cast: Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara, Brian Keith
  • Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Hayley Mills stars as twins who meet for the first time at a summer camp of all things, (Parents: Do not do this to your kids.) and hatch a plan to reunite their divorced parents by trading places with each other and forcing the two parents to meet up and trade kids. The hope then is that they will fall madly in love all over again. There’s a hitch. Dad’s already engaged to a woman while his daughter was away at camp! Now, what are they going to do? They’ll think of something.

Rated G

Best for ages 6 & up. 

photo: IMDB

Parent Trap (1998)

  • Directed by: Nancy Meyers
  • Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Elaine Hendrix
  • Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

You’re not seeing double. Disney had so much fun creating the first Parent Trap that they decided to make a more modern version of the story with Lindsay Lohan playing the twins. While the premise of the two stories is the same, the new version is different enough and is just as good as the original.

Rated PG

Best for ages 6 & up. 

photo: IMDB

Hotel Transylvania 3

  • Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
  • Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Animation

In this third installment in the Hotel Transylvania series, most of the story takes place on the water. Dracula’s daughter surprises him and his friends with a family vacation aboard a luxury cruise ship that caters specifically to monsters. But the ship becomes a love boat for Drac when he falls head over wings for the ship’s captain, Ericka. This turn of events causes Mavis to become the overprotective parent to her father.

Rated PG

Best for ages 7 & up.

photo: IMDB

The Great Outdoors (1988)

  • Directed by: Howard Deutch
  • Cast: Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Stephanie Faracy, Annette Bening
  • Studio: Universal Pictures

John Candy stars in this comedy about a father wanting to reconnect with his family at a cabin in the woods, and he almost achieves it until his annoying in-laws show up and stay. With classic performances by John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, this is best for older kids. 

Rated PG

Best for ages 11 & up.

photo: IMDB

Up (2009)

  • Directed by: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
  • Voice Cast: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer
  • Studio: Disney/Pixar

If you can get through the first five or six minutes of Up, you’ll do just fine (Kids don’t seem to mind so much, but parents find the short story that precedes the main one to be a tearjerker.). 78-year-old Carl Frederickson laments that he never got to travel to Paradise Falls when Ellie was alive and thinks now is the time. Tying his house up with a bunch of helium balloons, he begins his journey only to find out that Russell, a local boy scout, has accidentally tagged along. It’s not the trip he dreamed it would be, but one he will treasure.

Rated PG

Best for ages 6 & up.

photo: IMDB

Camp Nowhere (1994)

  • Directed by: Jonathan Prince
  • Cast: Jonathan Jackson, Christopher Lloyd, John Putch
  • Studio: Hollywood Pictures

For every kid who doesn’t like to go away to summer camp, this movie is for them. Here, a group of junior high kids convince an ex-drama teacher to help them create their own “adult-free” camp where they can do whatever they want instead of attending the camp that their parents chose. But when the parents come to visit during the “parents’ weekend,” the kids have to scramble to get their act together.

Rated PG

Best for ages 11 & up. 

photo: IMDB

What about Bob? (1991)

  • Directed by: Frank Oz
  • Cast: Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty, Charlie Korsmo, Kathryn Erbe
  • Studio: Touchstone Pictures

Take a vacation from your problems with this classic comedy that is perfect for families with older kids. When a successful psychotherapist finally takes a break to reconnect with his family at their vacation home, Bob, an obsessive-compulsive neurotic patient is afraid to see the good doctor go, believing his life will fall apart without him. So, Bob packs up his goldfish Gil and meets up with the family, causing just a little bit of mishap along the way.

Rated PG

Best for kids ages 12 & up. 

photo: IMDB

RV (2006)

  • Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Cast: Robin Williams, Cheryl Hines, Kristen Chenoweth, JoJo, Josh Hutcherson, Jeff Daniels
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures

This silly movie will make you think twice about buying an RV. Here, Bob Munro decides to rent one for a road to the Colorado Rockies. At first, it looks like a real sweet vacation until they realize that they have to contend a bizarre community of campers along their journey.

Rated PG

Best for ages 12 & up. 

—Jeffrey Totey

Featured image: iStock 

 

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