As a mom with six kids, planning a summer vacation can be a daunting task. It can be challenging to find a location that caters to the interests of both teens and little ones, while still being enjoyable for parents.
We actually have a fun debate every year, where each family member needs to state their case on where they want to visit this year. You can check it out here on our TikTok!
That said, we’ve compiled a list of the top summer vacation ideas that offer a variety of activities that will keep everyone entertained.
The special thing about this list though, is it includes ALL the kids favorite spots! From Hawaii, to a Disney Cruise, to Costa Rica and even New York, we have a great list and more for you below!
Table of Contents – Summer Vacation Ideas
Why Should You Take a Summer Vacation?
I always say, we only get 18 summers with our kids. We have to make each school vacation count. So, here are my top 18 FAVORITE Summer Vacation ideas for families. I have made sure to include plenty of options to appeal to every member of the family!
When you are looking for the best Summer vacation ideas for families you need to think first about the type of trip you want to have!
The Kid’s Favorite Summer Vacation Ideas
Our TikTok is full of family-friendly competition and picking the BEST place to vacation is not off the plate when our family decides where or what we will do during the summer.
That said, all 6 of them (yes, including little Jack – who we are assisting on his picks) gave us their favorite summer vacation ideas and why below!
Maui, Hawaii – Camden’s Summer Vacation Ideas
Maui is a great location for families with a variety of interests. It is also a great summer vacation spot for kids as well, which is why we compiled a list of things to do with kids in Maui.
It’s known for its stunning beaches, clear waters, and lush scenery, making it the perfect location for relaxation and outdoor activities. Camden loves Maui because of its scenic hikes, surfing lessons, and the delicious food.
Here are some activities that will keep everyone entertained:
- Snorkeling with turtles and colorful fish at Molokini Crater ($80-$100 per person, depending on tour and duration)
- Exploring the Road to Hana and visiting the numerous waterfalls along the way (Free, but a car rental is required)
- Hiking in Haleakala National Park and watching the sunrise from the summit ($30 per vehicle for a 3-day pass)
- Surfing lessons at Lahaina beach ($85-$100 per person for a 2-hour lesson)
- Visiting the Maui Ocean Center, a top-rated aquarium that showcases Hawaii’s marine life ($35 for adults, $25 for children ages 3-12)
- Visit Black Sand Beach Maui!
- Check out all the amazing food! Especially the delicious breakfast options!
- Stay at our favorite hotel in Maui, The Grand Wailea!
- Enjoy a Luau!
Costa Rica – Owen’s Summer Vacation Ideas
Costa Rica is an adventure lover’s paradise with plenty of activities that will keep teens and adults entertained. Owen LOVED the adrenaline-pumping activities in Costa Rica, such as ziplining and whitewater rafting.
Here are some must-do activities in Costa Rica:
- Ziplining through the canopy at Monteverde Cloud Forest ($50-$80 per person, depending on tour and duration)
- Whitewater rafting ($90-$110 per person, depending on tour and duration)
- Hiking to the La Fortuna Waterfall ($18 per person)
- Kayaking through the Tortuguero Canals and spotting wildlife such as monkeys and sloths ($55-$70 per person, depending on tour and duration)
- Surfing lessons at Tamarindo beach ($60-$80 per person for a 2-hour lesson)
- If you need a place to stay, we also have an amazing AirBNB list of the best places that you can check out here.
- Stay at our favorite resort, The Blue River Resort!
Oahu, Hawaii – Shea’s Summer Vacation Ideas
Oahu is a perfect family-friendly destination with something for everyone. From beautiful beaches to kid-friendly attractions, Oahu is a great vacation spot. Shea loves visiting Disney Aulani and trying the shaved ice on the North Shore.
Here are some activities to try out:
- Visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and learning about the history of the attack on Pearl Harbor (Free, but reservations are required for some attractions)
- Going to the top of Diamond Head and enjoying the panoramic view of Waikiki ($5 per vehicle or $1 per person for pedestrians)
- Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve ($25 per vehicle and $8 per person for admission)
- Visiting the Disney Aulani resort for a day of fun, including the water park, lazy river, and character experiences ($159 per person for a one-day pass)
- Trying the famous shaved ice on the North Shore ($4-$7 per cup)
- Visit Gunstock Ranch!
- Go swimming with the dolphins!
New York City – Ella’s Summer Vacation Ideas
New York City is the city that never sleeps, and there is never a shortage of things to do. From shopping to sightseeing, there is something for everyone in NYC. Ella loves the shopping and food in NYC, as well as the endless sightseeing opportunities.
Here are some must-do activities in the Big Apple:
- Visiting the Empire State Building and taking in the view from the observation deck ($45 per person)
- Exploring Central Park and renting a boat to row around the lake ($20 per hour for a rowboat rental)
- Taking a ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ($25 for adults, $14 for children ages 4-12)
- Catching a Broadway show or visiting a museum such as the American Museum of Natural History ($25-$150 per person for a Broadway show, $23 for adults, $13 for children ages 2-12 for museum admission)
- Walking through Times Square and taking in the sights and sounds of the city (Free)
Disney Cruise – Olivia’s Summer Vacation Ideas
A Disney Cruise is the perfect vacation for families with young children. With endless activities for kids and parents alike, a Disney Cruise is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
This was Olivia’s #1 choice because of the kids’ club activities, the pool, and of course, the Mickey ice cream bars. If you do end up planning a Disney Cruise for the summer, make sure you check out our Disney Cruise Packing list!
Here are some activities to try out on a Disney Cruise:
- Taking part in the kids’ club activities, such as scavenger hunts and talent shows
- Splashing around in the pool and going down the water slide ($0, included with the cost of the cruise)
- Indulging in Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars (Free)
- Watching movies in the Buena Vista Theater and enjoying popcorn ($0, included with the cost of the cruise)
- Taking part in family game shows, such as Disney trivia and karaoke (Free)
- Decorate your door on the Disney Cruise with fish extenders! It is very fun to see how other guests decorate as well!
Read our Disney Cruise Reviews!
Orlando, Florida – Jack’s “Favorite Summer Vacation Ideas”
Orlando is known for its theme parks and family-friendly attractions. From Walt Disney World to Universal Studios, there is no shortage of things to do in Orlando.
Jack may be too young to participate in some of the activities in Orlando, but he certainly enjoys the theme parks and water parks.
Here are some must-do activities in Orlando:
- Visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios ($110-$125 per person for a one-day ticket)
- Exploring the different lands at Walt Disney World, such as Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom ($109-$159 per person for a one-day ticket)
- Cooling off at one of the many water parks, such as Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach ($69-$79 per person for a one-day ticket)
- Visiting the Kennedy Space Center and learning about space exploration (Adult tickets start at $57, child tickets start at $47)
- Finally, you also have to check out Legoland in Orlando!
More Summer Vacation Ideas
Now that we showed you all the summer vacation ideas that our children loved, here are some additional ones you should consider when planning!
San Diego, California
Known for its beautiful beaches and family-friendly attractions, San Diego is a great destination for families. Some activities to try include visiting the San Diego Zoo, enjoying Sea World, exploring Balboa Park, and soaking up the sun at La Jolla Cove.
We love San Diego so much, that we created a list of the best things to do with kids in San Diego! Believe us, there is SO MUCH to do in this gorgeous city!
Here are all our articles about why San Diego is an awesome choice for your summer vacation!
- Visit The San Diego Zoo
- Explore The San Diego Tide Pools
- Experience the Roar and Snore San Diego Safari Park
- Best AirBnBs in San Diego
- Best San Diego Beach Houses
- Best Beaches in San Diego
- Best San Diego Hikes
Traveling to London is a great place for a summer vacation for families and kids. London is a city full of history, culture, and fun activities for all ages.
There are world-class museums, gorgeous parks and gardens, many kid-friendly attractions like visiting the London Eye and Madame Tussauds or even the Sea Life London Aquarium. There truly is something for everyone in the family to do in this vibrant city!
If you do plan to go to London, check out our 3-day itinerary to get some ideas for planning!
If you have been following us, then you know one of our favorite destinations is the Maldives, specifically the resort Soneva! Soneva Maldives is a luxury resort located on the pristine island of Kunfunadhoo in the Maldives.
While it may be on the pricier side, it is definitely worth it for families who are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime summer vacation experience. They have many experiences like snorkeling, delicious food and many family-friendly activities.
If you want to visit the Maldives and are interested in other hotels, check out our list of favorite hotels in the Maldives!
Louisville, Kentucky may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a summer vacation, but it is actually a great destination for families, especially those with kids.
Here are a few reasons why Louisville is a great place to vacation during the summer:
- Kentucky Kingdom: Kentucky Kingdom is a theme park located in Louisville that offers rides and attractions for all ages.
- Louisville Zoo
- Waterfront Park: The park offers playgrounds, fountains, and plenty of space to run and play.
- Muhammad Ali Center: The Muhammad Ali Center is a cultural and educational center that celebrates the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali.
- Kentucky Science Center: The Kentucky Science Center is a hands-on museum that offers exhibits and programs on science, technology, engineering, and math.
Canada is a vast and diverse country with plenty of activities to keep kids and families entertained during the summer. Here are some reasons why visiting Canada is a great summer vacation option:
- Canada’s Natural Beauty
- All the wildlife viewing available
- Many festivals and events
- Cultural Expereinces
- Overall some of the most friendly people we have ever met!
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is a fantastic summer vacation destination for families and kids, and as a mom of 6 with a husband who loves the 49ers football team, I can attest to its appeal!
From marveling at the Golden Gate Bridge, to learning and exploring Alcatraz and to even watching a 49ers game (Yes, Mike that was for you!) San Francisco is a great summer vacation idea for you to consider!
Lake Arrowhead, California
Lake Arrowhead is a wonderful summer vacation destination for families with kids of all ages. This beautiful mountain resort town is located in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, just a short drive from Los Angeles.
We added Lake Arrowhead to our list of the best summer vacation ideas because it not only has amazing outdoor activities for families they also have awesome shopping in their village.
If you do plan a trip to Lake Arrowhead, make sure you check out our list of the best AirBnBs in Lake Arrowhead.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is an iconic American landmark and a great summer vacation destination for families with kids. Besides the Grand Canyon’s natural beauty and amazing wildlife there are many more reasons why this is a great destination to take kids and families for the summer.
Here are some reasons why the Grand Canyon is a great place to take kids and families for the summer:
- Hiking Trails: The Grand Canyon offers numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty levels.
- Ranger Programs: The National Park Service offers a variety of ranger programs for families, including guided hikes, Junior Ranger programs, and evening programs.
- River Rafting: Families can take a guided river rafting trip down the Colorado River, which offers a unique perspective of the canyon from below.
- Lodging Options: There are a variety of lodging options within the park, including campgrounds, cabins, and hotels. If you want to rent an AirBnB while you are visiting the Grand Canyon, you should check out our top list!
Seattle is a great summer vacation destination for families with kids. From all the museums, to touring the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Marina and to top it off the natural beauty from the Olympic Mountains, Seattle is truly an amazing place.
As a mom of 6, I highly recommend Washington DC as a great summer vacation destination for families with kids. The city is filled with historical and educational sites that are perfect for children of all ages.
The Smithsonian Museums, for instance, offer a range of interactive exhibits that make learning fun for kids. From the National Air and Space Museum to the National Museum of American History, there is something for everyone.
If you are planning a visit to Washington DC, check out our 4-day itinerary to give you some ideas!
Hilton Head, South Carolina
There are SO MANY things to do in Hilton Head, which is why I highly recommend it as a great summer vacation destination for families with kids. This beautiful island off the coast of South Carolina has something for everyone.
Hilton Head’s beaches are some of the most pristine in the country, with gentle waves and soft sand that make them perfect for young children. Families can spend their days building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, or simply lounging in the sun. Check out our entire list of things to do in Hilton Head here.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a fantastic summer vacation destination for kids and families. The park offers a unique opportunity to experience nature up close and personal, with its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife.
Kids will love seeing bison, elk, and even bears roaming around the park, and they will have a blast learning about the different geothermal features, like the iconic Old Faithful geyser.
Frequently Asked Question – Summer Vacation Ideas
Where is the coolest place in the US during summer?
If you are interested in a place that is cooler temperatures during the summer months, then places like the Pacific Northwest, such as Seattle or Portland, or higher elevation areas like Colorado or Montana may fit the bill.
What state stays cool in the summer?
Several states in the US are known to stay relatively cool during the summer months, either due to their location or elevation.
For example, states in the Pacific Northwest such as Washington and Oregon generally have cooler temperatures and mild summers. States with higher elevations, such as Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, also tend to have cooler summers.
What is the most popular summer destination in the USA?
Some of the most popular summer destinations in the US include beach destinations such as Hawaii, California, and Florida, national parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, and theme park destinations such as Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
If you enjoyed our article about the best summer vacation ideas, you might also enjoy:
15 OF THE BEST SUMMER VACATION SPOTS IN THE US FOR FAMILIES
SUMMERTIME LAKE OR BEACH VACATION PACKING LIST + FREE PRINTABLE
23 AMAZING SPRING BREAK IDEAS FOR FAMILIES YOU’LL LOVE!
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