Still deliberating over what to do this summer? I’ve asked family travel experts from around the Web for a list of their favorite summer destinations. The question isn’t if, it’s where! This is a great list— a big thank you to everyone who participated for this awesome brainstorm for families with children of all ages and interests.
We absolutely loved Iceland in June. The weather was great and there was so much to see, including a puffin tour, with 23 hours of sunshine. Read more about Iceland with kids.
We had a wonderful time in Copenhagen two summers ago. The weather is absolutely lovely at that time of year (mid-70s and lots of sunshine). And unlike many European cities in the summer, it was not crowded at all, with plenty of really fun activities for children. Read more about Copenhagen with kids.
Our favorite region in France, the Dordogne has dinosaur parks, prehistoric caves, zip lines, castles and quaint villages, which make this a perfect summer destination. The temps are warm and it’s not bursting at the seams with crowds of tourists — it sets the bar for our summer family holidays. You have no idea how much fun it is to get lost driving among sunflower fields until you try it. Read more about the Dordogne with kids.
Most people associate Whistler with its bustling ski resorts and know it as a fantastic winter destination, home to the 2010 Olympics. The truth is, as amazing as it is in the winter, it’s even more fun in the summer. Enjoy comfortable mountain temperatures and pure mountain air while relaxing with the family and enjoying the various outdoor and indoor activities Whistler has to offer. Getting there is half the fun, especially if you take the scenic train from Vancouver and enjoy coastal and mountain views. Read more about Whistler with kids.
Summer in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most magical times of the year. The rain goes on vacation in the south, leaving sunny skies to shine down and warm air rushing across the flat sands of Cannon Beach. Families can revel in the awesomeness of Haystack Rock, which Goonies fans will recognize with no problem. The small town has plenty of food and beverages to keep Mom and Dad happy, while the kids will be spoiled for choice in multiple candy and ice cream shops. Don’t mistake the Pacific ocean for the perfect place to cool down, though. You may get more than you bargained for. The ocean in Oregon never warms up enough that you don’t need to wear a wetsuit — unless, of course, you are a crazy kid who is impervious to the chill of those roaring ocean waters. Read more about Cannon Beach with kids.
Jackson Hole may be known for world-class skiing, but don’t overlook this outdoorsy Western town in summer. Families can explore the beauty of Grand Teton National Park, float the Yellowstone or Snake Rivers, take in a rodeo, and ride horseback on a dude ranch. Read more about Jackson Hole with kids.
Over the past few months, Nicaragua has really caught my attention, as the destination has received accolades from around the world for authentic travel experiences. This will be our first trip here, and I’m finding prices to be affordable and tour operators to be readily accessible. We can’t wait to explore the unique landscapes, from volcanoes to deserted beaches. Read more about our upcoming trip to Nicaragua with kids.
Hawaii is one of those places that truly has something for everyone. Families are catered to, and there is so much to explore. Each island is unique and, although they all offer stunning vistas, relaxing beaches, and amazing underwater life, the Big Island has more authenticity and diversity than any of the other islands. Read more about Hawaii with kids.
Martha’s Vineyard is the quintessential New England vacation destination, attracting everyone from the Obamas to the Kennedys in the summer. When you arrive on the island by ferry, you leave everyday life behind and can enjoy old-fashioned fun: eating lobster, watching the sunset at Menemsha Beach, jumping off “Jaws” bridge, taking in the view at the Aquinnah Cliffs, body surfing at South Beach, or splashing in the salt pond at Long Point Wildlife Refuge. Read more about Martha’s Vineyard with kids.
Crystal River is one of the only places in the world where you can actually swim with manatees in the wild. Even my teens were excited to get up before dawn, don wetsuits and slip into freezing (for us Southerners) water. Read more about Crystal River with kids.
Prince Edward Island is relatively quiet most of the year but comes alive in the summer, when families flock to the island for vacation. Beautiful red sandy beaches, the Confederation Trail, delicious lobster dinners, fun amusement parks, lively ceilidhs, Anne of Green Gables and Cows Ice Cream keep families coming back summer after summer to enjoy the casual island fun. Last summer marked our eighth family trip to PEI and I have no doubt that there will be many more in the future. Read more about Prince Edward Island with kids.
Each summer, the narrow roads leading to Cape Cod are flooded with cars filled with families. Falmouth is one of the first towns they will reach, as it’s located on the “Upper Cape.” Right in Falmouth is Old Silver Beach, where families can enjoy a perfect day at the beach. Old Silver Beach has a beautiful stretch of sand as well as beach amenities. Arrive early, as the parking lot fills up (or stay at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, located right on the beach). Read more about Falmouth with kids.
A one-of-a-kind experience, this expedition is fun and enriching for the entire family. Cruising the dark waters of the Rio Negro, deeper into the jungle, feels like entering another world — a place where you can truly connect with your family and nature, and learn about a different culture. We love the varied activities, such as nature hikes, fishing for piranhas, learning about turtle conservation with the locals, or just relaxing on a hammock with a book. And perhaps best of all, skip the crowds and enjoy your own private beach, surrounded by the rain forest. Simply magical. Read more about Amazon Cruise in Brazil with kids.
Once you get past the heat, New Orleans is an amazing place to visit in the summer. The streets are flooded with happy people, and everywhere you go you are shown new cultures and beliefs. The shaved ice at Mardi Gras World is a must-try cool-down treat, and as a bonus, there’s a beautiful deck overlooking the Mississippi river right out back. The best piece of advice I can give is not to get suckered into Bourbon Street; if you’re looking for great New Orleans nightlife, head over to Frenchmen Street. It is like Bourbon Street without the smells and grossly inflated prices. Read more about New Orleans with kids.
Summer is the ideal time to visit Alaska, with its warmer weather and plenty of seasonal sunshine for exploring. This chillier state can provide a welcome reprieve from hot weather for those of us who reside in excessively hot locales (like my home state of Arizona). Even if your summer weather is divine, Alaska makes a fabulous family vacation destination for its gorgeous scenery, memorable wildlife-spotting opportunities, and outdoor adventures the whole family will love. Read more about Alaska with kids.
Ireland is magical — a place of rainbows, deep greens, history, friendly people, and landscapes so beautiful you blink to make sure they’re real. Our favorite place in Ireland is the Ring of Kerry, the most scenic drive in the world. There is much to see and do here, but our favorite part is the Gap of Dunloe. It’s a narrow mountain pass that unfurls treasures as you head within. Here’s what kids will love: You can take a pony cart through! Imagine clip-clopping along, discovering painted sheep hidden amongst rocks, coming upon five different lakes, making a wish on the wishing bridge, looking for trolls, and winding up at an old hunting lodge for a break. Read more about Ring of Kerry with kids.
The island of Penang in Malaysia is a fabulous place to spend the summer. There are varied attractions, an interesting cultural mix and some of the best food you will find anywhere. You can visit bird parks, butterfly farms, magnificent temples, beautiful national parks and enjoy the colonial architecture in Georgetown. The best part is that it’s incredibly good value, with low prices for everything. If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some great things to do in Penang with kids.
It is no surprise that Italians flee the big cities and head to the mountains in the summer. The fresh air of the Alps makes for a perfect family adventure, especially in charming towns like Cortina, home to the 1956 Olympic games. Cortina offers something for everyone, from a historic town center that lures young and old to take a stroll each evening, to hiking and mountain biking trails that range from green pastures dotted with wild flowers to former Olympic downhill trails. Foodie families will enjoy scouting for wild strawberries along the trail during the day, and the taste of rich polenta and schnitzel with views of the Tofana mountain group in the evening. Read more about Cortina D’Ampezzo with kids.
You simply can’t pass up Croatia for your family vacation this year. Of course there are crystal-clear beaches, but during summer there are also Jeep safaris, water parks, windsurfing schools, waterfalls you can swim under and eight stunning national parks. Read more about Croatia with kids.
Visiting Washington, D.C. in the summer is a great way to support what the kids learn in school throughout the year. Tour the Supreme Court or U.S. Capitol to learn how laws are made, or immerse yourself in one of the 17 Smithsonian museums. Walk around the Washington Monument and memorials in the cooler evening hours for a memorable night that will add perspective to those history lessons. Kids love riding in a paddleboat on the Tidal Basin when you need a break from touring. Read more about Washington, D.C. with kids.
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