FaceBook Icon
Follow TravelSmartest on Twitter
Top Family Vacations Updated for 2017
Our Best Family Destinations Ranked
Website Designed by QuickBizWebsites.com
Family vacations are some of the best memories you and your kids will ever have, but they can also be quite stressful. If you have little ones, you know exactly what I'm talking about. We have traveled on both road trips and long flights with kids and have learned a few tricks. Try these on your next trip.

Activity Backpacks - Before leaving on your trip, stop at a dollar store and buy some cheap toys and games for an activity backpack. Depending on their age, a kid's attention span will last about an hour, so if you have a 5 hour trip, buy five small items for each child. Be sure to wrap them like gifts. Half the fun for kids is opening a new toy, just like Christmas or their birthday.

Portable Movies - Bring a portable device that plays movies or TV shows. In this new electronic age there are lots of small portable players from IPads, IPods, DVD players and Sony PSPs. Many of these devices will enable you to download several episodes of your child's favorite TV shows. If you only have one player, try to download shows that would appeal to all of your kids. On a long trip, these devices can bring hours of fun.

Make Up Your Own Games - I know this sounds crazy, but it works. When we travel on long road trips we often make up games like finding road items that begin with certain letters and working through the alphabet. We also like to play "I Spy" where you pick something and tell them a color and your kids have to guess what it is. This also works well for "Twenty Questions". Here is a great site with some excellent ideas Momsminivan.com.
Traveling With Kids - "Are We There Yet?"
When choosing a family vacation there are lots of things you need to consider including climate, available vacation time, how much you want to spend and whether you want to fly or drive. If you only have a short weekend, you might want to consider a quick city getaway or even a short three or four day cruise. We have done both, and they can really give your family a nice break from the daily grind. With short weekend trips you may even want to consider options where you can drive instead of flying. Flying can be quite a hassle these days, and if your time is short, you may not want to risk spending 8 hours in an airport while your flights are delayed.
Choosing The Right Vacation For Your Family
Below, my family has ranked out Top 10 family vacations in the US. We have included a similar topic within the the International Travel and Camping/RVing sections. Where possible, we have provided you some excellent links. We have ranked this based on first hand knowledge.

1. Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida
Disney World is a fantastic vacation for all family members. With 5 theme parks, 2 water parks, Downtown Disney and much more, there is something for everyone here. You will find all Disney parks are very clean, well laid out with lots of places to take a break for a meal. We have been many times and would go back again in a heartbeat - and our son is 16 now. Disney World website.

2. Cruising - Caribbean or Alaska
Cruises offer you one of the best vacation experiences for your money. My family loves cruising, mainly because you can travel to many ports-of-call but don't have to unpack each time. Please see our Cruises and Cruising page for more information.

3. Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming
Yellowstone is the best national park my family has visited. The park is enormous but has some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see. We saw lots of wildlife, including a black bear, which was exciting. My family actually camped here in our RV at Grizzly RV Park, but there are many hotel options. One of the nicest we saw was Old Faithful Inn located right next to the famous geiser.

4. Hawaii
Aloha!! Hawaii is a wonderful chain of islands that is geared for tourists. Each island is different from the next, with the active Kilaeua Volcano on the Big Island, the beaches on Oahu and Maui, and lush scenery on Kauai. Some of our favorite sites included walking near the Kilaeua Volcano, snorkeling at Molokini Crater off of Maui, and driving around the the beautiful Kauai. Here is a link to the Hawaiian Islands.

5. Washington DC
Washington DC is an excellent family vacation destination. With all of the monuments, the US Capitol, the White House and of course the Smithsonian , there is lots to do here. Remember, all government buildings including all of the Smithsonian museums are completely FREE. TIP: If you want a tour of the White House or access to the Senate and US Congress galleries, you need to book these in advance with the office of your Senator or member of Congress. Here are links to help you - US Senate and US Congress.

6. Dude Ranches - Bandera, Texas
City Slickers here we come. If you kids love the whole cowboy and horses scene then we recommend you consider a vacation at a dude ranch, also known as guest ranches. In Texas, there are several located in the Hill Country but there are ranches all over the USA including Colorado and Wyoming. Your days are filled with horseback riding, pitching horse shoes, trail rides, fishing and of course eating some wonderful country breakfasts and BBQ dinners. Here is a link to the Dude Ranchers Association.

7. Destin, Florida
Destin, Florida has probably the most beautiful beaches in the entire US mainland. We would compare these beaches to the likes of Bermuda and the Caribbean. Destin is a wonderful seaside town about 50 miles east of Pensacola, Florida. The sand is a brillant white color with clear blue water. There are lots of hotels, condos and several campground to choose from here. Here is a link to the City of Destin.

8. Hershey, Pennsylvania
Where better to take your kids to than Hershey, Pennsylvania. This is a small town east of Harrisburg that offers some wonderful vacation options. The town itself is decorated with candy kiss light poles and you can smell chocolate in the air all over town. There is an amusement park called Hershey Park. While in Hershey you should also consider visiting Amish Country in Lancaster County. Here is a link to Lancaster County.

9. Boston, Massachusetts
If your family are history buffs then you must head to Boston. Boston has some excellent museums like the Museum of Science which has 500 hands-on exhibits and the Boston's Children's Museum. You can also take the Freedom Trail or visit Faneuil Hall which both offer a view of Boston's history. Oh, and don't forget to eat some clam chowder... its to die for.

10. Seattle, Washington
You may not think it, but Seattle is a great city to take a family. The downtown area is beautiful and offers some excellent sites like Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and an underground tour showing the city from below. And don't forget there are tours of the Boeing Everett Factory and the Microsoft Campus.
Top 10 Family Vacations Destinations Updated for 2017
With a week or more of vacation time, you can do almost anything... within reason. There are excellent vacation packages and hundreds of cruises to choose from that leave on both Saturday and Sunday, making it very convenient. You will also find that many hotels offer you a package rate when you stay an extended period. Look for hotels that give you free nights when you stay 3, 4 or 5 days. Disney ran an offer of 'Pay For 5 Nights and Stay 7'. The offer even came with a $100 Disney Card that we used to pay for food in the parks. Even if you don't see it when you're booking, be sure to ask. I always say, "Good things come to those who ask."

TIP: Many hotels and cruise lines offer local resident discounts. For instance, my family recently went on a cruise, opting for a Galveston, Texas departure port, as its only 200 miles down the road. Almost all of the major cruise lines were offering a "Texas Resident" discount. Hotels and cruise lines know that a large portion of their customer base comes right from their own backyards. Be sure to ask, as they may not always advertise these resident rates.

If you have the vacation time, you may want to consider an international trip. This is the perfect time to visit Europe, Asia or the South Pacific. One good thing about this down economy is that the US dollar exchange rates are at their all-time best. If you are interested in international travel please see our
International Travel page where we rank our top 10 international destinations.
We've Got Your IPhone Travel Apps
Copyright 2017 Smart-Travelers.com.. All rights reserved. By Bill Cooper