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Family Vacation Ideas Perfect for Summer Getaways

Planning a summer vacation with family? Whether you’re looking for a weekend away or a longer stay, there are plenty of family-friendly vacation destinations throughout the country. Here are 11 family vacation ideas the whole family will love!

Anaheim, CA

Knotts Berry Farm Red Rollercoaster with blue sky in Anaheim, CA Photo via @coasterquest_

Photo via @coasterquest_

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 81 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $169

In the heart of SoCal and just south of Los Angeles, Anaheim is a world-class family vacation destination with many one-of-a-kind hangouts and hidden gems to explore for locals and vacationers alike. Go where dreams come true and adventures happen all day at Disneyland—explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or the newly-opened Avengers Campus. Visit the Anaheim Garden Walk and fly through the sky while safe on the ground at the Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center or play any of the 2,000 board games available at Meeples Family Board Game Cafe. Explore the many Gold Coast coves, sea caves, tide pools, ocean side bluffs, natural tide pools, and sandy beaches at Laguna Beach. Get your heart pumping with thrill rides like Knott’s Soak City Water Park and Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair at Knott’s Berry Farm. Catch a foul ball or scarf down some hot dogs while watching the Los Angeles Angels (MLB) play at Angel Stadium. Taste Southern flavors without leaving California with a Chili Mac Soul Food Bowl, Fried Catfish Po’ Boy, or Smothered Pork Chops at Georgia’s Restaurant. Craving barbecue in Anaheim? Watch wood-smoked meat fall off the bone with savory meals like Pork Back Ribs or The Santi at Jav’s BBQ Co.

Branson, MO

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 84 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $261

A picturesque town beside the Ozark Mountains, Branson is perfect for an active family adventure. Enjoy a private feeding tour while visiting the National Tiger Sanctuary. Tap into your adventurous spirit at Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-style theme park with over 40 rides, live shows, concerts, and attractions like the state’s deepest cave, Marvel Cave. Take the whole family to The Track Family Fun Parks and speed around The LumberJack, a 3-story go-kart track, or duck and crawl to get through the Laser Maze Challenge. Venture into nature with rentable boats, paddleboards, and more for a day on the water at Table Rock State Park. Stop by for a Chicken House Classic, Country Fried Steak, or Cajun Tilapia at the Chicken House. Get your fingers messy with internationally-renowned Ozarks-style BBQ in The Que, Pork Tacos, or St. Louis Style Ribs from Gettin’ Basted. Or bowl, play table games, and sing karaoke while snacking on Buffalo Chicken Wraps or Cajun Chicken Pasta at Andy B’s Bowl Social.

Chicago, IL

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 75 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $305

Want to plan the perfect summer vacation to Chicago? With cool summers, a wide variety of events, and lots of outdoor activities, it’s easy to see why the Windy City is one of the best U.S. cities for summer vacations! Pet ponies and feed cows at the Farm-in-the-Zoo exhibit at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Groove out with the whole family during festival season with neighborhood block parties and large outdoor music festivals like Chicago Blues Festival or the Millennium Park Summer Music Series. Watch reef sharks swim or learn about green sea turtle Nickel’s rehabilitation story on the Must See Tour at the Shedd Aquarium. Feel your pulse jump as you step onto the Skydeck, a see-through platform on the third-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, Willis Tower. Take your pick from any of the fun activities available at one of Chicago’s top attractions, Navy Pier—soar up to 200 feet above the ground while riding the Centennial Wheel or get hit with nostalgia while on fairground rides at Pier Park. Visit the home of Chicago’s best Italian Beef Sandwich and try meals like the Italian Soaker Sandwich or the Big Beef from Al’s #1 Italian Beef. Munch on Ginataang Guly and Croqueta Tots at independently-owned Filipino and Cuban restaurant Bayan Ko. Or savor caramelized crusts and crispy toppings on custom Chicago deep dish pizza from Pequod’s.

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Maui, HI

Dirt trail with green grass and blue sky with palm tree to the right in Hawaii Photo via @mauitacos

Photo via @mauitacos

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 71 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $225

The second-largest Hawaiian island, Maui, is home to breathtaking beaches, mountains, volcanoes, and views of the Pacific Ocean that can’t be missed on your next family vacation. Admire the Wailua Falls and smell the Jacaranda flowers on The Road to Hana. Fly above the Pailolo Channel or the Haleakala Crater during a Helicopter Tour. Unpack your snorkel for an ocean exploration with dolphins and whales at the Pacific Whale Foundation. Listen to the legends of the island and Polynesia or clap along to live performances at the Drums of the Pacific Lu’au. Fill up on breakfast foods like the Papaya Delight, Eggs Florentine, or Loco Moco at Kihei Caffe. Try Maui-Mex food like “Elen’as” Taco Dog, Ho’okipa, or La Perouse at Maui Tacos Mexican Surf Grill. Feast with your family on Lobster Deviled Eggs, Poke Tacos, or Kalua Pork & Pineapple Pizza at Monkeypod. And finish your day with sweets like Haleakala, a Sunset Beach, or No Ka Oi shaved ice at Ululani’s Gourmet Hawaiian Shave Ice.

Myrtle Beach, SC

Ariel photo of the beach with ferris wheel to left and ocean to the right photo via @mymyrtlebeach

Photo via @mymyrtlebeach

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 88 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $141

Searching for affordable beach vacations in the U.S.? Myrtle Beach is one of the best budget-friendly vacations for families! Miles of shoreline mean never-ending swimming, jet skiing, and parasailing opportunities. Try reeling in Black Sea Bass with your anglers-in-training and enjoy dolphin sightings on Voyager Deep Sea Fishing and Dolphin Cruises. Go ziplining 50 feet up, navigate through a three-story, glow-in-the-dark ropes course, or challenge your family to laser tag at WonderWorks. Race through the seven available go-kart tracks or step off the track and challenge the kids to a round of mini-golf at Broadway Grand Prix Family Race Park. Looking for golf on a larger scale? Myrtle Beach is one of the best cities in America for golf. Tee off at Meadowlands Golf Club or go for a birdie at the True Blue Golf Course. Devour Stuffed Shrimp with Crabmeat or Scallops Wrapped in Bacon at Angelo’s Steak & Pasta. Taste the sea inside freshly-prepared Naruto Paradise rolls or Maguro Crunchy sushi at Lil Tokyo Steakhouse & Sushi Bar. Or put on a brave face and try one of the Double Dog Dare Ya Burgers, like the “Kitchen Sink” Burger Platter, at the River City Cafe.

Ocean City, MD

overhead shot of beach with colorful umbrellas and ocean photo via @cstone710

Photo via @cstone710

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 80 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $133

A summer beach vacation with the family isn’t complete without white sand beaches. Relax by the water in Ocean City! Escape the crowds and spot wild horses splashing in the waves on a Sunrise or Sunset tour of Assateague Island. Stroll down the three-mile Ocean City Boardwalk for amusement rides, arcade games, or classic snacks like funnel cakes and cotton candy. Experience the bizarre and mysterious like animal skeletons and shrunken heads at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium. Take a guided Ghost Tour through Ocean City’s Boardwalk and Baltimore Avenue with Chesapeake Ghosts. Get a taste of Ocean City with Eastern Shore fares like Blu Crab Dip, Steamed Shrimp Pot, or the Maryland Crab Cakes at Blue Crab House. Indulge in the Crispy Pork Belly or Shrimp & Lobster Bisque while overlooking the bay at The Restaurant at Lighthouse Sound. Chow down on a Mexican Cheesesteak or Pit Ham & Cheese sub at Fat Daddy’s Sub Shop. Or share a plate of Nachos Grande or Mary’s Hot Honey & Blue at “open pit” kitchen Bull on the Beach.

Outer Banks, NC

White building with red roof in center of wooden pier photo via @caleybradley

Photo via @caleybradley

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 84 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $120

For the perfect family vacation, take a break from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With quaint towns, shorelines stretching over 100 miles, and a culture focused on the lost colony of Roanoke, OBX has plenty of family-friendly activities to explore. Spend the day in the sun and sand at one of the Outer Banks’ beaches, or venture to nearby towns like Duck for dog-friendly beaches or Hatteras Island for shopping and dining. Head over to Roanoke Island & Dare County Mainland where you can view the Elizabethan Gardens, designed to entertain Queen Elizabeth I during her reign. Sit and enjoy a performance of The Lost Colony, the story about attempting an English Settlement in 1587. Climb the steps up the tallest brick lighthouse in North America and take in the surrounding views at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Learn about aviation and STEAM-based activities, or help your little ones become junior pilots at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Pick at Chicken Tenders, a Pork BBQ Sandwich, or Surf & Turf Plate at Carolina Bar-B-Que Company. Be part of the local food scene by eating Zorba, Philly Chicken Subs, or Garden Pesto Pizza at Dare Devil’s Pizzeria. And get your sweet fix with ice cream or Hawaiian shaved ice flavors like Pink Bubble Gum, Cappuccino, Coconut, or Egg Custard at Booty Treats Ice Cream & Shave Ice.

San Diego, CA

picture with paraglider above ocean photo via @visitsandiego

Photo via @visitsandiego

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 75 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $183

If you’re looking for a family getaway with endless adventure, look no further! San Diego is one of the best family vacation destinations on the West Coast for kids and parents alike. Not only are there beautiful beaches, delicious restaurants, and famous museums like the Comic-Con Museum, but the moderate San Diego weather makes this family vacation spot ideal for trips year-round. Use the Go City All-Inclusive Pass to save on San Diego attractions like Sea World, San Diego Air & Space Museum, and more. View breathtaking sunsets, swim in the open water, or go snorkeling and deep-sea scuba diving at La Jolla Cove. Soak up the sun, boogie board, and play sand volleyball at Coronado Beach, or join the party at the lively boardwalk on Mission Beach. Reserve a table at Panama 66 inside the San Diego Museum of Art and order a Grilled Cheese & Soup Combo or the Kids Almond Butter & Nutella Sandwich. Try Frittura di Paranza Antipasti or the Pomodoro Fresco at Cesarina Italian Restaurant. Or treat the kids to some bao buns and unwind with an Orchid of Asia cocktail when you visit Underbelly, a Japanese-style ramen house.

Sandusky, OH

beach with people and thrill rides to the right with blue sky Photo via @cedarpoint

Photo via @cedarpoint

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 77 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $66

Sandusky could be your next great family vacation in the Midwest! Whether you want to ride roller coasters or see the city, Sandusky offers a perfect family weekend getaway in Ohio. As the “roller coaster capital of the world,” Sandusky is home to the top-rated amusement park Cedar Point and is a prime destination for families who love thrill rides! Go 120 mph on the Top Thrill Dragster, or opt for a two-minute rush on Millennium Force. Cool off with splash zones perfect for toddlers, big slides for older kids, and cabanas for the whole family at Cedar Point Shores Waterpark. Rent jet skis and kayaks or stick to building sandcastles on the shores with your little ones for another family vacation idea in the water at Lake Erie. Have a boatload of fun discovering the maritime history of the Sandusky Bay area or view the Underground Railroad Exhibit at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky. Head to Berardi’s Family Kitchen for local dishes that were perfected over 75 years like Hot Shredded Beef and Choice Rib-Eye. Feast on French-inspired cuisines like Hudson Valley Foie Gras or a Meat & Cheese Board at Zinc Brasserie. Order a Veggie Heaven, Panther’s All Meat Special, or Rockets Roasted BBQ pizza for the whole family at Chet & Matt’s Pizza. Or grab a scoop of Black Raspberry Chocolate Chunk, Cherry Vanilla, or Peaches n’ Cream ice cream at Toft Dairy Ice Cream Parlor.

Washington, DC

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 83 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $181

A family trip to Washington, DC offers unlimited activities for children of all ages—plus, free museum access can make this an inexpensive vacation spot for families on a budget! Spend days exploring all that the Smithsonian has to offer. Check out exotic animals at the National Zoo, or take a tour of the National Air & Space Museum. Of course, no trip to our nation’s capital is complete without a stroll by the White House or the gorgeous Library of Congress. Take the kids for a walk around the National Mall, or pop inside to stare up the iconic Washington Monument. Stop for a paddleboat ride at Tidal Basin. Looking for interactive fun in DC? Find the perfect backdrop for art classes, live concerts, or carousel rides at Glen Echo Park! Build your own Mediterranean meal to fit your tastes at CAVA. Find baked goods too cute to eat like The Duffin or Panda Pops at Baked by Yael. Browse the seasonal menu for plates like Uncle Buck’s Beignets or Glazed Bacon Lollis at The Founding Farmers. Or challenge your family to a game of ping pong while you wait for your Cheesus Crust pizza at Comet Ping Pong.

Williamsburg, VA

  • Average High Temperature in Summer: 84 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $105

Not only can you relax on a family vacation, but you can also learn how the first settlers lived while visiting Williamsburg! This family trip destination in Virginia is a historical playground that brings the past and present together. Go back in time to Colonial Williamsburg where reenactors welcome you to the largest outdoor living museum in the country. Tour the Governor’s Palace and the Capitol, or ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Explore 17th-century Virginia with the arrival of the English at the Jamestown Settlement with reenactments, history lessons, and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Have an action-packed day at Busch Gardens, a European-themed adventure park with the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster, Pantheon. Splash around at Virginia’s largest water park and visit the kid’s water playground, H2O UFO, or try to stay dry while riding Big Daddy Falls and Vanish Point at Water Country USA. Break apart homemade loaves like a Rosemary Fig, Maze, or Vegan Turkish Pita from Lokal Café. Drown Pecan Pancakes, Bacon Waffles, or Cinnamon Sugar Waffles in syrup at Capitol Pancake House. Or taste Italian cuisine like Spinach Stuffed Shells, Eggplant Parmigiana, or Shrimp Scampi at Antonio’s Ristorante.


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Travel and weather statistics from Budget Your Trip and U.S. Climate Data

Family Vacations: 11 Best U.S. Destinations

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.