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My husband and I were walking off the High Roller Ferris wheel in Las Vegas with our sons, who are 5 and 7, when we were approached by the cast of the male striptease show Magic Mike. While we were in Las Vegas for work, it was at that moment that it dawned on me that certain vacations are not fun for the whole family.
Sure, there are ways to find family-friendly entertainment anywhere, but the reality is some places are not ideal for kids. So, we set out on the challenge of finding the best family vacations in the United States so everyone in the family can enjoy themselves.
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Take A Road Trip To Visit National Parks
There are 63 areas across the United States designated as National Parks, many of which are on the west coast. Although Yellowstone National Park is a 2-3 day road trip for Los Angeles families, a visit to the country’s first National Park is well worth that effort. The promise of seeing hundreds of geysers, mountain scenery, and indigenous wildlife will be the motivating force as the family travels through Las Vegas, Utah, and Idaho. Multiple stops in the many options presented within these locations can make this family vacation a great way for families to experience a lot in a week or two.
Anyone who has had a kid in the car for a long time knows breaks are important – for everyone’s sanity. Visiting different state parks, national forests, and national recreation areas on a road trip from L.A. to Yellowstone gives everyone those much-needed breaks while also getting the chance to expand the family adventures.
Wilderness areas close to the route from Los Angeles to Yellowstone include Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park in California, Grand Canyon National Park and Great Basin National Park (home to the Lehman Caves) in Nevada, and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
What’s There To Do At A National Park?
National parks are for outdoor recreation. Stepping into a national park, families can leave behind the stress of city life and relax in the great outdoors. Do that by camping, bicycling, hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, and all the other things that involve fresh air and sometimes dirt. Certain parks allow horseback riding, fishing, and hunting.
Wisconsin Dells, The Water Park Capital of the World!
For families that love water parks, Wisconsin Dells is a bucket list destination. The state earned the title of “Water Park Capital of the World” because of its high concentration of water parks, with more than 20 different indoor and outdoor parks.
Wisconsin is one of the colder states, so visitors during the cooler months will likely be limited to the indoor parks. Families visiting during the summer will be able to visit the Noah’s Ark Waterpark, the largest park in the state that features 51 different water slides.
While Wisconsin Dells may be known for its water parks, they’re far from the only attractions. Visitors can also see a magic show at the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater, get close to wildlife at Timbavati Wildlife Park, or have their hearts melt at Wisconsin Deer Park. And, for families visiting in the winter, be sure to check out the ski resorts!
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Where to Stay in Wisconsin Dells
The Aloha Beach Resort & Suites is a great place to stay in Wisconsin Dells. This hotel is super kid-friendly, with indoor and outdoor pools, a lake with fire pits and grills, and a play area for kids. Plus, passes to the Noah’s Ark Water Park are included with a reservation, and there are paddle boats and canoes available for use!
Visit One of America’s Family Theme Parks
When it comes to family vacations that center around amusement parks, Anaheim, California, is at the top of our list. Anaheim is home to Disneyland, which has a lot to offer, from yummy treats to themed parks, including Disney California Adventure Park, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Alice in Wonderland, and Haunted Mansion Holiday.
Of course, Disneyland is not the only option for Los Angeles area theme parks. Minutes away are Knott’s Berry Farm and the Great Wolf Lodge. LEGOland, about an hour south of Anaheim in Carlsbad, is especially fun for younger kids. Great amusement parks in the Los Angeles area include Magic Mountain and Universal Studios.
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Where To Stay Near Disneyland
Disneyland Resort has three hotels on its property. The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa has three outdoor pools and a waterslide. Also, a pretty fancy spa for post-amusement park therapy. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is a sea-side-themed hotel with a rooftop pool and available connecting rooms. The Disneyland Hotel has Disneyland park views and family suites. It also has a monorail-themed waterslide.
Other hotels we like near Disneyland are the Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim which has a playground and a waterpark. The Cambria Hotel also has dual water slides and two pools with five onsite restaurants. Both are within a mile of Disneyland and just over $150 per night (depending on when you go).
Take An East Coast Family Beach Vacation
Two of the best family beach vacations are Myrtle Beach and Outer Banks. Aside from beautiful beaches, both of these destinations have plenty of outdoor activities and water sports.
You can’t visit Myrtle Beach without seeing the Grand Strand, which is the uninterrupted 60-mile stretch of white sand beaches that span from North Carolina to South Carolina. Other best places to visit in Myrtle Beach include Family Kingdom Amusement Park, Brookgreen Gardens, or one of the area’s 50+ mini golf courses.
Where to Stay in Myrtle Beach
For families looking for fun, even when they return to the hotel to relax, the Marina Inn at Grand Dunes makes for a perfect vacation. The hotel is on Myrtle Beach and offers easy access to the water for dolphin tours, jet ski rentals, and more. They also have an indoor and outdoor pool, beach access, tennis, and a golf course!
Like Myrtle Beach, Outer Banks is another beach getaway with so many fun activities for families that kids are going to be exhausted by the end of it. Rent jet skis for the day, or take a pontoon boat out for a fishing excursion. Other popular activities include snorkeling, surfing, and touring the history and natural beauty of Outer Banks at places like Roanoke Island, the Lost Colony, and the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.
Where to Stay in Outer Banks
One of the best places to stay in the Outer Banks for a touch of home is the Island House of Wanchese B & B. Set on Roanoke Island, this B&B offers beautiful ocean views and easy beach access. Plus, the southern-style buffet is something the whole family will appreciate as they get ready for a busy day!
Things can be replaced, but these best family vacations in the United States will create the kinds of memories that last a lifetime.
Have a Fun-Filled Vacation Close to Home in San Diego
San Diego is the perfect destination for Los Angeles families looking for a weekend family trip that keeps them close to home. Depending on where you start, L.A. to San Diego is about 150 apart.
One of the biggest attractions in San Diego is Balboa Park. The 1,200-acre historic city park is where you’ll find the San Diego Zoo, as well as attractions like walking paths, greenery, several theaters, and museums. Visitors can also spend a day at the beach watching sea lions at La Jolla Cove, explore underwater ship wreckage, or embrace their inner child at Legoland.
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Where to Stay in San Diego
There are many great options for lodging in San Diego, including the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. While it is known for its large meeting space, features families will love include a huge outdoor saltwater pool and how close it is to San Diego attractions. There’s also a breakfast buffet!
Planning Your Family’s Best Vacation
At our recommended destinations, visitors will find something for the entire family. Whether Los Angeles families are trying to spend quality time together taking in the beauty of national parks, plan a beach getaway, or vacation close to home, we’ve included something for every family’s vacation style. Start planning one of these best family vacations in the United States today!
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