U.S. Vacation spots for Families of all ages 🙂
Where will you be heading this year? Traveling with a significant other, children, maybe even grand children? Here are a few spots I have personally traveled to that make great getaways for all ages 🙂 I tried to list spots on both sides of the U.S. since I am centrally located in Chicago.
1) Florida Keys / Dry Tortugas
I grew up going to the Florida Keys every March/April. There is so much to do- it’s a romantic spot for couples, there’s adventure for the soul seeker, and lots of child friendly activities. While the summer months are known for having more rain, the prices do drop significantly. Typically the rain is heaviest in June/July/August and August technically begins hurricane season (I would not let this stop you from going- instead, appreciate the price drops!), BUT I would aim for this spot between Early March-Late May if possible.
We typically stayed on Marathon or Islamorada because my father went on daily fishing charters. Islamorada is known for the historic Bud n’ Mary’s Fishing Marina. The Dolphin Research Center – Make reservations in advance – is located on Marathon. You will drive across the 7 mile bridge to get to Key West, but if you are staying on Marathon or Islamorada I suggest walking on it at night when locals are out fishing…(you may get a close up of a shark!)
Schedule in …
There are plenty of state parks down the coast of the islands with wonderful snorkeling and easy beach access to reefs. I began snorkeling when I was around 5, so it’s fit for all ages- you just decide how far out you want to go.
** Many hotels also rent small motor boats to snorkel or fish from near the hotel.
While the snorkeling is great here, most of the beaches are smaller – it’s very different than southern Cali / Miami with the wide sandy beach that typically contain a bike path. The majority of the hotels in the Florida Keys will have pools which is convenient.
The deep sea fishing is some of the best- look into what is in season during the month you’ll be vacationing and there are plenty of boats to charter — book in advance if traveling during spring break season!
Take a day trip to the Dry Tortugas – a 19th century fort surrounded by Crystal blue water about 70 miles west of Key West. There are tour companies that will take you there and back for the day, giving you the leisure to do as you please while you are on the island. Explore the grounds of the fort (your children can not escape 🙂 ), snorkel the clear blue waters and relax at the beach. This is an awesome spot for children and adults. The boat trip can be a bit rough, especially after being in the sun all day, so bring medication if you are prone to sea sickness. ** I spent Easter here when I was 9 – they set up a giant Easter Egg Hunt all over the fort, and I had a blast
My family always took day trips to Key West (I personally would stay on Key West if I head back on my own and recommend staying there as well). There is SO much to do- I never wanted to head back to the northern islands! Rent bikes or scooters to explore the island or hop on the Conch Tour Train if walking around all day is not your thing (or if you prefer to hear the island’s history), sign up for a day/half day water activity- enjoy banana boating, parasailing, jet skiing and more; visit the Hemmingway house or grab a bite to eat/drink at Sloppy joes; visit the southern most point-after all, you are 90 miles from Cuba! Dine at Sloppy Joes, shop at the outdoor markets, have your hair braided or wrapped & enjoy some Conch fritters. Remember to allow time to just sit back and relax/swim at your hotel or the beach!
Nighttime? There are plenty of bars to grab drinks at and check out Mallory Square for some outdoor fire breathing night time entertainment.
** Pack Sunscreen! Out of all my travels around the world, this is the ONLY spot I continue to get sun poisoning – every. single. time. (while wearing a minimum of 30spf)
Make sure to visit the Kinos Sandal factory- their address can be found on their website at this link : http://www.kinosandals.com/
2) Southern California
Southern California is always a winner. The relaxed beach town vibe just can’t be beat. Escape from the traffic of LA to the beaches and you’re in another world. The Beach House in Hermosa Beach is an awesome beach front hotel for families and couples. The town offers plenty to do- with shopping, restaurants, the beach and neighboring towns (spend a day in Manhattan beach, drive up to Santa Monica or head south)
3) Boca / Deerfield Beach
Boca Raton / Deerfield is a great weekend getaway for couples and families. The beach is beautiful, there are fun beach side restaurants, board rentals, nearby shopping and more. We stayed at the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort, which had great beach access. This is a perfect 3-4 day February I can’t take the snow anymore, does sunshine still exist spot.
3) Atlantis, Bahamas
Taking a trip to Atlantis on Nassau is definitely worth the hype. Swimming in a water slide surrounded by sharks? Casinos? Atlantis has it all- multiple pools, adult and teen clubs, casinos, shark feedings for the nature lovers, restaurants, pool side entertainment, a huge aquarium and a nearby shopping market on the island of Nassau that is definitely worth visiting (locals selling homemade crafts). The planning is basically all taken care of within the hotels offered activities. While I definitely suggest taking the ***Family*** to Atlantis (I went as a teen and loved it- I would not head back until I have kids of my own), the price builds up within the “hotel amenities”
Here are a few saving tips in case you want to travel on a budget….
– Cheaper hotels nearby sometimes offer package deals with access/use of the Atlantis property.
– Bring Snacks/Head to one of the little grocery stores (the least tourist looking the better) and pick up water and other food (depending on if you have a fridge) . Everything at Atlantis is very pricey — A bottle of H20 was $6 when lying by the pool.
Hawaii is home to wonderful people and an absolutely breathtaking island. I traveled here for a week with my mother as my 8th grad graduation gift.
We stayed at the Westin on Kaanapali Beach- The resort is filled with multiple pools- including water slides, jacuzzis inside man-built caves & a section primarily for adults. The beach front is breathtaking – beautiful sandy beaches, warm, blue water- I could have stayed in the ocean all day! The resort also provided various activities- my mom and I took a lei making class, I attended a few teen nights (which were really fun), and they had many other free structured activities. There are plenty of restaurants and shopping right outside the hotel (literally a 3 minute walk– and many of the restaurants have sand floors since they are located on the beach).
What to do while there?
There is SO much to do in Maui- my biggest advice is to think about what interests you most ahead of time so you do not fall into one of the “travel agent spiels” where they have you meet at a hotel and lure you in with free breakfast and special deals- yku end up spending half your morning inside some hotel banquet room and miss out on a lot of sunshine. It’s so easy to book with companies that have great reviews on tripadvisor and not have to do any plannig while there.
– Make sure you allow AT LEAST 1 full day just to soak up the beach and pool.
– take surf lessons (it’s about a 10 minute drive south towards Lahina and there are plenty of companies offering lessons. They basically all take you out in the same spot)
– Take a boat trip out to Molokini, the crescent shaped sunken volcano. The boat takes you to snorkel inside the crescent, and then to another spot to snorkel with giant sea turtles happily swimminf out in the ocean.
– take a day trip to Hana. You will have to wake up extremely early to make the sunset, but it is SO worth it! We went with a tour company that drove us to Hana, took us to visit the black sand beaches and then we flew part of the way back in a helicopter- flying along the coast and swooping down near the waterfalls. The views were incredible.
– take a day trip to Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor, the UsS arizona and Waikiki beach.
– have dinner at a luau one evening…enjoy traditional food like poi and watch the entertaining hula dancers. Be prepared, they bring a lot of kids and pretty ladies on stage!
**This trip is great for all ages!!
– Next time? I’m heading back to Kauai and taking the helicopter tour among the Napali Coast
Grab your sombrero and bikini! I spent a week in Cancun Mexico when I was 13- with all of my younger cousins, aunt & uncle. Children in Cancun?! Like any other destination, places with notorious college spring breakers gain negative reputations as family spots- but that reputation does not hold true year long. We had a wonderful, relaxing family vacation in this scenic oasis- the ocean has warm crystal clear water, lots of lush sand and plenty of sunshine. The resorts are filled with pools and night time entertainment (from karaoke to bands to trolleys to outside bars/clubs). Staying at an all inclusive resort in Mexico provides your family with a stress and hassle free week- the drinks and food are all at your hand- you literally don’t even have to get out of the pool. These resorts offer various restaurants to choose from- from fancy upscale dining to poolside tacos.
We left the resort one day to rent Jet skis at a nearby facility, which was a blast and they had other activities (parasailing, etc) as well. Most hotels also rent snorkeling equipment, boogie boards, etc. Now, all you need is that margarita you just ordered, while floating in the warm pool with the sun shining down on you 🙂
I loved this trip as a teen because the hotels are very large, providing space to explore (but not leave the grounds), there were plenty of activities that included those under 21 and there were tons of other teens to hang out with.
I recently spend a week in Tulum as an adult, and would highly suggest visiting – with or without children. Check out my post on Tulum for more info 🙂
6) Disney World
The Summer is a great time to head to Disney if you have kids you can not pull out of school during the school year, or want to save on peak prices. The lines are shorter in the summer, and dealing with the heat and humidity and potential rain throughout the day (typically comes and goes) is not as bad as it sounds when you schedule in an afternoon swim/nap in between all the Disney hopping. Check out my Disney Post on more Disney tips!
Happy & Safe Travels!!!!! Unfortunately a few of these trips were before the days of my nice digital camera, so many of my photos have been scrapbooked and no longer have files.