Planning a summer vacation can be a daunting task. With so many vacation destinations to choose from, where do you start?
It can be challenging to plan a summer vacation, even more so with all the different destinations you have to choose from. But remember: no matter where you go, you can make memories that last a lifetime!
In fact, a Harris Interactive survey found that adults remember their childhood vacations more vividly than birthdays or school events — meaning that even a long weekend away together can create lasting memories.
With this in mind, here are four ways to help you plan the best family vacations this summer, whether you’re a parent or grandparent in this scenario.
1. Let your children make some big decisions
Children surveyed agreed that the memories they make while on vacation last a lifetime.
Instead of packing up your child’s activities into one day, find a balance between these things by building an itinerary with activities or attractions just for them, along with some days dedicated to them — doing things like visiting water parks, taking art classes together, or visiting hands-on childrens’ museums. (You can see a state-by-state directory or museums for kids at findachildrensmuseum.org.)
Explore a scenic destination like Sedona, Arizona, and try a Pink Jeep Tour, or a nighttime Sedona Skygazing Tour. You can also visit nearby destinations like the Out of Africa wildlife preserve, and Slide Rock State Park.
You can also visit the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona — a family-friendly destination with activities including hiking, mountain biking, tennis, Native American programs and more.
Looking for something a little more tropical? The Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Ka’anapali, Maui, has more than 87,000 square feet of pool playground. Enjoy the family area, which includes including an interactive splash zone and an unforgettable 270-foot water slide. (For parents, there’s another bonus: an adults-only pool deck with an infinity pool and hot tub.
Nearby, you will find more fun a the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa — and on Oahu, there’s Disney’s Hawaii resort, Aulani.
2. Learn a new activity, together
If your 10-year-old has always wanted to try stand-up paddleboarding, summer vacation is the time to make it a family experience. More than two-thirds of children surveyed want to try new activities that they cannot do at home while on vacation.
Find a town within driving distance with a hotel, resort or inn that is connected to numerous outdoor activities.
There is no better place for outdoor adventure activities than Colorado. Check out the Purgatory Resort — formerly the Durango Mountain Resort — offering activities from mountain biking and rock climbing to their wild Inferno Mountain Coaster ride.
If you are looking for a beach getaway, check out Northwest Florida’s beautiful destination Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Okaloosa Island for fishing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, parasailing and other fun stuff.
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Families can visit the full-service Red Jacket Beach Resort on Cape Cod, where you can discover a wide variety of family-friendly summer activities, including on-site parasailing, jet ski and kayak rentals — plus there’s a private ocean beach and three pools.
Another family-friendly resort is the St Regis Aspen, which offers off-road Jeep tours, fly fishing and white water rafting.
3. Be local in a new locale
Rent a vacation home or stay in a local hotel (forget the gated resorts) to experience a new mountain, beach or city. Visit local eateries, encourage your children to try new foods, check out the local town history and experience local parks, farmer’s markets and festivals.
This is the perfect opportunity to bring more of the family, because more than 60% of children who traveled with grandparents on family vacations reported that they feel closer to their grandparents after they return home.
Located just south of San Francisco, California, Half Moon Bay is a seaside town perfect for a relaxing family getaway, offering activities like milking a goat, learning to make fresh cheese, and horseback riding on the beach.
Across the country, history lovers can take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg (shown below) for tours of this Revolution-era city — a sort of living museum with a Disney-style immersive feel — as well as nearby historic Jamestowne.
4. Divide and conquer
Dad wants to play golf and you want to spend the day at the spa? Instead of dropping the children at camp, take them with you!
More than half of children surveyed say that vacations are an opportunity to spend quality time with their parents.
Try a one parent-one child overnight camping trip, archery lesson, painting lesson or yoga session. Doing things together outside your comfort zone will encourage everlasting memories.
Top 10 summer vacation hotspots for families
According to the US News & World Report’s Best Family Summer Vacations roundup, these are the hottest spots:
1. Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana and Idaho)
2. Washington DC
3. Grand Canyon (Arizona)
4. Outer Banks (North Carolina)
5. San Diego (California)
6. The Bahamas
7. Anaheim/Disneyland (California)
8. Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
9. Niagara Falls (New York, on the Canadian border)
10. Boston (Massachusetts)
“For kids, a meaningful vacation is one where they get to do interesting things — and this is more important than where they stay or where they go,” says Eileen Ogintz, author of the syndicated column TakingtheKids.com.