Trying to plan your next family vacation and not quite sure where to go? Allow me to make some recommendations on the best summer destinations for families in the United States.
Every destination you’ll find here is exciting, kid-friendly, and doesn’t require the use of a passport. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a relaxing mountain escape, you can find it here. Without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff.
Here are the top 22 summer destinations for families in 2022:
1. New Orleans, LA
Let me guess. New Orleans probably wasn’t the first family-friendly travel destination to come to mind for you, right? Believe it or not, New Orleans is actually one of the best places in the US for a family vacation!
From dining out and enjoying live music in the French Quarter to exploring the many museums or the Audubon Zoo, there’s a never-ending supply of things to do in New Orleans for families. That Cajun-Creole cuisine is not to be missed, trust me.
2. Orlando, FL
Many of you know Orlando as the home of to one of the best theme parks ever, but there’s so much more to this city than Disney World! If its amusement parks you’re after, don’t forget about Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and LegoLand.
In fact, Orlando is home to over a dozen theme parks. Want something else to do? There are plenty of museums, beaches, and outdoor activities within an hour of Orlando. The Crayola Experience in Orlando is also a can’t-miss (and budget-friendly!) excursion, with over 70,000 square feet of fun activities for kids and adults alike.
3. Tempe, AZ
Located just 20 minutes outside of Phoenix, the sunny city of Tempe is one of Arizona’s top family-friendly travel destinations. From incredible natural wonders and a bevy of outdoor activities to ample cultural and historic attractions, you can find it all in Tempe.
Top family attractions in Tempe include the Tempe Town Lake, Phoenix Zoo, and the Desert Botanical Garden which houses over 55,000 desert plants from around the world. For families that love the outdoors, Tempe is a must-see vacation spot with plenty of excitement to be had.
4. Williamsburg, VA
If you’re looking for a combination of education and fun, Williamsburg is the jackpot. As one-third of Virginia’s famous Historic Triangle, Williamsburg offers an up-close look at what colonial life was like through its living museum. When you step onto those cobblestone streets, it’s like stepping back in time.
You can find actors in period costumes participating in activities reminiscent of daily life during colonial times. It’s a fantastic way for kids to learn about history while having fun. As an added bonus, Williamsburg is also home to Busch Gardens, one of America’s best amusement parks!
5. Los Angeles, CA
As one of the largest urban areas in the country, Los Angeles is teeming with exciting family-friendly things to do. A trip to La La Land can actually be quite overwhelming because there’s truly so much to do, eat, and see. However, as long as you make a plan of attack, you’ll be in good shape.
For outdoorsy families, there are plenty of nearby beaches, hiking spots, and outdoor activities. Want to impress your TV-loving kiddos? Take them on a Warner Brothers studio tour. Looking for some enlightenment? Explore the many museums and cultural hotspots. Don’t forget to plan a stop at the famous Hollywood sign!
6. Seattle, WA
Seattle is one of the best summer destinations for families because it’s filled with exciting stops for both children and adults. Whether you’re in the mood to hit up a zoo, go museum hopping, or wear out the kids at the epic Play Playground, I can promise that you won’t get bored in the Emerald City.
When you’re ready for some down time (and a drink or two), be sure to stop in at one of Seattle’s many family-friendly breweries. Seattle is a treasure trove for culture, dining, and outdoor activities. There are also several awesome beaches in Seattle, so don’t forget your bathing suits!
7. San Juan, PR
If you want to visit a far-flung destination without the need for passports, then it doesn’t get much better than Puerto Rico. San Juan, the capital of the US territory, is known for its lively beaches and colorful Spanish colonial architecture.
Immerse yourselves in the wilderness of Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, kick back and relax on Flamenco Beach, or go scuba diving to discover a whole new world. For families that love nature and adventure or want a unique beach experience, Puerto Rico is easily one of the best summer destinations for 2022.
8. Anchorage, AK
Alaska is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and as its largest city, Anchorage boasts tons of family-friendly activities. With a plethora of natural wonders like breathtaking rock formations, sparkling glacial lakes, and vibrant plant life, Anchorage serves as the ultimate playground for lovers of the outdoors.
Anchorage gets between 16 and 20 hours of daylight during the summer months, which means you have ample time for kayaking, hiking, and wildlife spotting. Make sure to check out Peratrovich Park to catch one of the free live performances they put on throughout the summertime.
9. Grand Canyon, AZ
Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is easily one of the most iconic natural rock formations on the planet. Each year, tourists travel to the park from around the world to gaze at the result of millions of years of geological history.
The Grand Canyon is one of the best summer destinations for families for several reasons, including its wide selection of outdoor adventures and kid-friendly offerings like the Junior Ranger program. Go rafting in the Colorado River, take a hike on one of many scenic trails, and learn about the canyon’s history at Yavapai Geology Museum.
10. St. Thomas, USVI
If you’ve been dreaming of relaxing on a white sand beach while gazing out at some of the bluest waters you’ve ever seen, then St. Thomas is the family vacation spot for you. Less than 3 hours by plane from Miami, St. Thomas offers the ultimate tropical getaway without the need for a passport.
St. Thomas features plenty of stunning beaches for swimming and snorkeling, museums, hiking trails, ziplining, and so much more. It’s also just a short ferry ride away from the neighboring island of St. John, a popular vacation spot for many celebrities.
11. Kauai, HI
Kauai is without a doubt my favorite family vacation destination in the world. From the dreamy beaches and picturesque waterfalls to the exhilarating activities and mouth-watering local cuisine, Kauai offers the perfect escape from life in the big city.
Truthfully, I could go on for hours about how amazing Kauai is, but you really have to experience it for yourself. With so much to do and see, there’s something on this beautiful island for every member of the family. You’re guaranteed to fall in love.
12. Yellowstone National Park, WY
Yellowstone of the most popular national parks in the United States for many reasons—glittering alpine rivers, dramatic canyons, and colorful hot springs among many others. If you’re looking for summer destinations for families that love the outdoors, this is easily one of the best choices out there.
From hiking and biking to kayaking and wildlife spotting, Yellowstone National Park is a haven for adventurers of all ages. If your kids love animals, be sure to head over to Lamar Valley to spot herds of bison.
13. Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod is one of the country’s most popular summer destinations for families for its charming villages, family-friendly beaches, and mouth-watering seafood. The laidback vibe of the peninsula is great for inspiring a relaxing, peaceful vacation with kids.
Aside from kicking back on the sandy beaches, there are plenty of sources of entertainment for kids in Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Inflatable Park is awesome for getting your blood pumping, while the Heritage Museums and Gardens offer stunning sculptures and kid-friendly exhibits to keep you busy for hours.
14. Tybee Island, GA
Tybee Island is Georgia’s most popular beach destination for all types of travelers, including families with young children. Located around 30 minutes from historic Savannah, Tybee Island is home to clean beaches, lighthouses, and tons of attractions.
If you’ve got kids who are interested in marine life, you can’t miss the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. It’s home to an incredible underwater park that’s teeming with a vibrant array of aquatic life. This Tybee staple is a huge hit with the kids!
15. Scottsdale, AZ
The desert city of Scottsdale is best known for its luxury resorts, fine dining, and breathtaking landscapes. There are plenty of exhilarating outdoor adventures like off-road jeep tours, hiking, and boating.
Old Town Scottsdale is home to an eclectic variety of shops, bars, and restaurants to explore. If you’re able to get some time away from the kids, take advantage of the world-class golf courses and spa experiences.
16. Mackinac Island, MI
Located in Lake Heron, Mackinac Island is a charming island that boasts historic sites, family-friendly beaches, amazing food, and exciting attractions. One of the coolest things about the island is that since 1898, it has banned the use of motor vehicles on the island.
The whole island is incredibly walkable and embraces a slow-paced way of life that makes it easy to relax. While you’re there, visit Fort Mackinac. This historic military fort dates back to the War of 1812 and allows guests to explore fort life through interactive games and living exhibits.
17. Estes Park, CO
Estes Park is known as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, with jaw-dropping mountainscapes everywhere you turn and plenty of kid-friendly activities to enjoy with the family.
If you’re looking for a mountain getaway, Estes Park is easily one of the best summer destinations for families. From hiking and horseback riding to kayaking and wildlife safari tours, there’s something here for everyone.
18. Portland, OR
Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is known for its thriving art scene, eco-friendliness, and stunning natural beauty. It’s also a fantastic destination for families looking for a unique getaway with a mix of fun things to do. No matter what your kids are into, there’s something in Portland that’s bound to excite them.
You can take your kids to the Oregon Zoo, Oaks Amusement Park, Portland International Raceway, or one of the many kid-friendly museums in Portland. For magnificent city views, the Portland Aerial Tram offers an unforgettable experience.
19. Key West, FL
The vibrant island city of Key West has been a fan favorite for families from around the country for years. Known for its incredible coral reefs, Key West boasts some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world.
With family-friendly attractions like the Key West Aquarium, Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, this popular cruise stop features fun for the whole family.
20. San Diego, CA
Best known for its sunny weather and fantastic beaches, San Diego is one of California’s most popular summer destinations for families. The city is home to ample museums, art galleries, amusement parks, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
There’s truly no shortage of exciting things to do and see here. I’ve dedicated a blog on fun things to do in San Diego with kids. As the nation’s largest urban park, Balboa Park makes a phenomenal starting point for your trip, featuring 17 museums and countless arts venues.
21. Charleston, SC
Founded in 1670, the historic city of Charleston boasts an amazing combination of history and excitement. The cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages will allow you to step back in time as you enjoy the many award-winning dining options, museums, and shops.
Downtown Charleston is incredibly walkable and features tons of sights to explore with kids. Not only that, but it’s just a short drive away from some of the best beaches in the United States.
22. New York City, NY
Would a list of the best summer destinations for families really be complete without the Big Apple? This is a bustling city that needs no introduction and has long been one of the top tourist spots in the country.
New York City is packed with a wide variety of entertainment for people of all ages, from Broadway shows and museums to a food scene that guarantees to delight even the pickiest of eaters. NYC is a wonderland for families and is more kid-friendly than many people realize. Want to make your kids’ jaws drop? Take them to the FAO Schwarz in Rockefeller Plaza.
I hope this guide to the best summer destinations for families in 2022 has given you some inspiration for your next trip! If you think I left an amazing family vacation spot off the list or have anything else to add, be sure to let me know in the comments.