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Ideal Family Vacations: The Ultimate Guide to Beloved Childhood Destinations

I originally published these ideal family vacations on May 10, 2021. Initially I meant it as a tribute to nostalgic childhood vacations. However, I decided to update it to include ideal family vacations from the present as well. Hopefully it will inspire your family vacation ideas for summer 2022.

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My Own Ideal Family Vacations: Lake George, NY

ideal family vacation at Lake George NY aboard the Minnie Ha Ha steam boat
Photo from the 1980s

At the age of 9, my family began vacationing for a week each summer at Lake George. The first few years we spent these ideal family vacations in Capri Village. We joined the families of my dad’s high school friends. This was a great spot for an ideal family vacation because there were things to do for all ages.

Of course we visited tourist attractions like Story Town, (Later known at the Great Escape) and Santa’s Enchanted Forest. My dad still insists to this day that we met the real Santa Claus that day after hearing him speak several foreign languages.

At night, we would drive into the village and see the sights. We always bought salt water taffy and caramel corn. One year I bought one of those invisible dogs with the harness hooked up to a stiff wire. Another year my sister and I picked out monkey puppets that you could maneuver to look real. We spent countless hours playing mini golf and Skee ball at the arcade. Then we used our tickets to get junky prizes. The Frankenstein that wandered out front of the Wax Museum always terrified my little sister.

Later, one of my dad’s friends bought a home in Haigue, NY, towards the northern end of the lake. Uncle Marty had 4 daughters a few years older than me. So I gained tons of freedom when I was with them. As teens we would wander down the mountain to hang out at the gas station game room. We spent evenings hanging out with local teens playing Pacman, Space Invaders, and air hockey. The town was so small it only had a general store, a post office, and one or two other shops mainly for fishing supplies now that I think of it.

Childhood nostalgia

We all have ideal family vacations from childhood that we reminisce about from time to time. Often I become nostalgic about Lake George in upstate New York. Therefore I decided to ask other writers what their ideal family vacations were as children.

And now with the latest destinations, I hope you will be inspired to create some ideal family vacations of your own.

Arches National Park: Ideal family vacation spot

ideal family vacation at Arches National Park

By Meg From Fox in the Forest

Home to some of the best hikes in Utah,  Arches National Park is the perfect place for an ideal family vacation . 

So, start your visit off with a stunning, relatively easy, 3-mile round trip hike to Delicate Arch. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the park and is a perfect place to get tons of photo ops with the kids. 

Just do yourself a favor and try to start before sunrise. This way you can avoid the crowds and catch a stunning glimpse of the sun rising just behind the arch. Just be careful near the end of the trail since there is a steep drop off here.

Devil’s Garden Loop

Next take the kiddos on the Devil’s Garden Loop Trail. Yes, it’s a semi-long 7.2 miles round trip. However, you’ll get to see Landscape Arch. And you can enjoy a flat and easy hike at the start of the  trail.

Again,  be extra careful on the northern part of the loop. This section can be hazardous to small children. 

And if you need a break from all that hiking, embark on an Arches National Park 4×4 Adventure. You could either do it alone or book a 5-hour tour that departs from Moab regularly. 

Just don’t leave the park without picking up your Arches Junior Ranger Program handbook at the visitor’s center. It’s a great way to get kids involved in the trip. They get to complete fun tasks as they learn about the park as they  try to earn badges.

Then, when you’re ready to call it a night, unwind at the amazing, Red Cliffs Lodge. It’s an awesome, family friendly resort with tons of amenities everyone will love. These include an outdoor pool, tennis courts, a horse corral, a western film museum, and spacious 2-bedroom suites.

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Ideal Family Vacation in the Dolomites

ideal family vacation in the Dolomites in Italy

Contributed by Caroline from the Veggie Wayfarer

Glistening emerald lakes to jump into, endless winding roads to play “spot the yellow car” and all the pasta your heart desires. The Dolomites, in northern Italy, are an absolute dream location to spend some quality time with the family.

The active families will love the variety of different outdoor activities on offer. Try hiking, cycling, horse riding, swimming, and wild water rafting in the summer. While the winter is a wonderful time for dog sledding, snowshoeing and of course skiing. While those families looking to chill and relax will love the many lakes in the Dolomites.  The kids can play in the water, while the rest of the family enjoys some sun on the little beaches surrounding the lakes.

Book yourself into a cozy wooden hut with sweeping mountain views. Alternatively choose one of the many family-friendly hotels with a large pool and even larger breakfast buffet option.

Getting around during your ideal family vacation

Getting around the Dolomites is easiest with a car. The region is pretty large. It contains more than 2000 mountains. For winter, make sure you have snow chains and winter tires as these are mandatory by law. Local drivers are courteous and usually stick to the rules, (we are in Italy after all) making driving a pleasant experience. Do note that roads are very windy. Therefore, if the kids suffer from car sickness this might not be the best region to have a road trip.

Must sees in the Dolomites include: Lago di Carreza, Lago di Braies, Val Gardena, Val di Funes, Seceda, Alpi di Suisi and Alto Pusteria. Be sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes, sunscreen and rain gear. The weather in the mountains can be very fickle.

Good to know:

Names of places are usually written in both German and Italian. Lago di Carezza (Italian) also goes by the name Karersee. Make sure to ask your hotel for the names of the places you would like to visit in both languages.

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Costa Rica: Unique family vacations

ideal family vacation in Costa Rica, walking on a rope bridge

From Stephanie with The Unknown Enthusiast

Costa Rica is a fantastic, budget-friendly family vacation spot. It has so many cool, exotic, and varied things to do. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

If you want to hang out on the beaches all day, Costa Rica has no end of gorgeous, warm, relaxing, palm-lined beaches. In particular, there are tons of cool things to do at Manuel Antonio beach, such as the Manuel Antonio National Park. Here you can observe all kinds of tropical animals in their natural habitat. Just watch out for the monkeys – they might steal your lunch!

Enjoy fresh and delectable seafood at one of the many restaurants built into the hills by Manuel Antonio. Because many of the restaurants are higher up, the views are particularly good at sunset!

Recommended for adventure travel

If you want a little more adventure, head to the city of La Fortuna, situated in the middle of the country. Here, you can partake in all kinds of interesting experiences. Hike to the Rio Celeste waterfall, a stunning milky blue cascade. Or you can trek around the semi-inactive Arenal volcano. I particularly enjoyed the views on the hanging bridges in La Fortuna. There you walk across long suspension bridges high up in the rainforest canopy. 

If you really want to get your heart pumping, you can go ziplining, white water rafting, or rappelling. Need more heart racing action? Go rope swinging into the El Salto river. For a more relaxed pace, you can visit the coffee and chocolate tours that are popular in the area. And of course, after a long day of playing, hit up one of the many hot springs resorts in the area and soak your cares away.  

If you have any sloth lovers in your family, Costa Rica will be a paradise. You can spot sloths hanging out in trees all around the country. If you’re lucky, they might wake up and start climbing slooooowwwly up the branches. I didn’t think I was a sloth lover before visiting Costa Rica. But I can’t deny that these animals really are adorable!

And, very importantly, the food in Costa Rica is top notch! Plan to drink at least one smoothie a day. They are so fresh, juicy, and inexpensive! Other delicious foods include plantains, casados (like a variety plate with meats, beans, rice, and salad), or gallo pinto (a Costa Rican rice and beans dish).  

Costa Rica is a destination that all family members will enjoy!

Walt Disney World: Best family vacations in the United States

Disney World Main Street USA, ideal for a family vacation

Explored by Cosette from KarsTravels.

Disney World in Florida, USA is a world on its own. It’s 101km² in Orlando, so a city in a city, you could say. On site are 33 resort hotels, 5 theme parks, 2 water parks and several sport facilities.

Where to stay during our ideal family holiday destination

We’ve visited Walt Disney World twice. Both times stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. It is a mid range price hotel. It has all sorts of fun really large pop icon statues on site, such as a Walkman. They also organize movie nights outside and other fun activities. There’s an arcade, a restaurant, and several pools at the hotel.

I visited Disney World with my husband and son. The first time our son was 4 and again a year later. Both ages are perfect for Disney, there’s so much to see and do for all ages.

Which Parks we Visited at our family vacation spot

We’ve visited two of the five theme parks, namely Magic Kingdom and Epcot. At Magic Kingdom we really got that magic Disney feeling. We went on rides, such as Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (many times). We watched shows and parades with Disney characters. Then we enjoyed Mickey ice cream, and just simply had the best of times.

At Epcot we enjoyed some more rides. The rides there are more computer and 3D centered, which our son loved. Of course, we also sampled foods at the country pavilions.

At last we went to the water park Typhoon Lagoon. Our son’s absolute favorite. Going on slides and playing with water is enough for hours of fun.

Now, 7 years later, our son still remembers it. He still wants to return to the Disney we have to fly to, not the one we can drive to. We live in the Netherlands, so we have to fly to Orlando, but can drive to Paris. He loves that one also, but he wants to play in the water park again and visit Epcot some more. We would love to visit the other three theme parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. 

Virginia Beach

Mary from Wanderu.com

Virginia Beach is located where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Chesapeake Bay. It’s an ideal family vacation destination if you’re on the East Coast and looking for some beach action. A New York to Virginia Beach bus ticket can cost as low as $20. It is within a manageable driving distance from D.C., Richmond, or Raleigh, too.

This resort city is known for its incredible beach and boardwalk. The Virginia Beach Oceanfront is the perfect spot to sunbathe, surf, or build sandcastles in the fresh, white sand. The hustle and bustle of the Oceanfront boardwalk has something for everyone. This 3-mile long stretch hosts street performers, hot dog vendors, roller bladers, outdoor restaurants, shops, and more. 

For the best ocean views, be sure to book a hotel right on the oceanfront. One of the best kid-friendly hotels is the Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach. The splash lagoon, pools, and kids’ club are sure to delight little ones in the family.

What to do besides relaxing on the beach

Beyond the beach, this ideal family vacation spot has so much to offer. Rent a boat, or book a tour from Rudee Inlet to see dolphins, pelicans, and more up close. Of course, you can also just head to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. This is home to The Adventure Park: a system of rope courses, zip lines and treetop trails surrounding the aquarium.

First Landing State Park is a good stop if you’d like to work in some education on your trip. This marks where the first British colonists established Jamestown. The park is also home to incredible scenery that you can enjoy by camping, hiking, or swimming in the area. 

Cape Henry Lighthouse on Cape Henry military base is another interesting historical pit stop. This was the first United States federal construction project after the Revolutionary War. It is also the 4th oldest lighthouse in the country! Just wait until you climb to the top and see the view.

There is no shortage of exciting attractions and activities for an ideal family vacation in Virginia Beach. There is even enough to return year after year.

Glacier National Park: Outdoor vacation ideas

Glacier national park, mountainous ideal family vacation destination

Rebecca and Korri from Whateverpacksyourbag.com

Glacier National Park is the ideal family vacation, with endless mountains and trails to explore, easily the prettiest road in the world to drive on, and amazing animals you will likely not see anywhere else you really can’t get any more ideal than Glacier.

This family vacation will be all about the outdoors and getting unplugged for at least a week will do everyone some good. First step is getting there, you can fly into Kalispell Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) and you will be super close to the park. Then you can stay in the national park, but you will need to book that 365 days out if you are going to have options of where to stay.

The lodges in the park are beautiful, and there are lots of camping and RV options as well. If you opt for the RV option, you cannot drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road with it, which is a requirement for visiting Glacier.

You can take a tour with the Red Bus Tours, they are round trip from either the west or east side of the park, but also book up in advance so make sure to book them early. You can also use the bus system through the park but be aware the park has been super busy and these buses can have substantial waits and stop running prior to sunset.

What to see during your ideal family vacation

Once you get the logistics out of the way, you can start to narrow down your amazing adventure. There are some major must hits, first is just taking your time exploring all the turn offs, and amazing waterfalls and views along the Going-on-the-Sun Road. Make sure to visit the Wild Goose Island, this spot has the most amazing views and honestly you probably have seen a picture of this gorgeous spot. Sunset from this road is not to be missed, you will be amazed by the colors on the Crown of the Continent.

You must try your best to hike to Grinnell Glacier, but this one is a bit tricky. The hike is very long and hard, and it is through bear country. So be bear aware, check the NPS Instagram to make sure the trail is open, get there early… on the trail before 6am to get a parking spot. Make noise along the trail, a bell on your bag is a great idea, and make sure you have bear spray, water, snacks, and bug spray. It is a long hike but totally worth the work.

You can ride the boats across the lakes to enjoy the views, you can hike numerous trails, see amazing and epic waterfalls, spot some of the few remaining glaciers in the continental US. If you have time, you can even cross into the Canadian side of the park called Waterton Lakes National Park and explore on the other side of the border. 

Grand Canyon: Bucket list family vacation idea

From Candice at CS Ginger

One of the best places for an ideal family vacation in the United States is at the Grand Canyon. It is one of the most popular landmarks and national parks to visit in the United States. Pictures do not do justice to how amazing a visit to the Grand Canyon is. Upon walking up to the canyon for the first time, you will be blown away by how large and beautiful it is.

The closest major city to the Grand Canyon is Flagstaff. If you are flying into your Grand Canyon vacation, you can fly into Flagstaff, Phoenix, or Las Vegas. Phoenix and Las Vegas are about four hours away from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Where to go while on your vacation to Grand Canyon

The first place you should stop at the South Rim is the Visitor Center. If your family participates in the junior ranger program you can grab your booklet here. There are lots of interesting displays introducing you to the fascinating history of the park, the native people, plants, and animals in the area. You can also watch the interesting IMAX movie – Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets.

From the Visitor Center, there is a short walk out to the first lookouts of the Grand Canyon. You can also walk the Rim Trail from here to explore more of the canyon and see some other popular viewpoints.

Another fun place to explore in the park is the Desert View Watchtower. It is along Desert View Drive about 35 minutes away from the Visitor Center. The Desert View Watchtower is a replica of a native tower with a beautiful overlook of the canyon.

Another fun educational opportunity at the Grand Canyon is participating in ranger-led programs. Their programs are free, and the rangers have so much knowledge to share about how interesting the Grand Canyon is. No matter what your family is interested in, you can find a program to fit. They have programs discussing geology, animal life, and more.

The Grand Canyon Village is a great place to stay and is minutes from the canyon. It will keep you close to all of the fun things to do in the Grand Canyon. Arizona Luxury Expeditions and Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel are two great options to pick from.

Acadia National Park: Amazing family vacation spot

Contributed by Kassidy from Kassidysjourney.com

When searching for the ideal family vacation, look no further than Acadia National Park.

This is the only national park to be found in the northeastern United States. It’s kid friendly as well as a best adult family vacation spot.

For scenic views of the park without having to put in much effort, drive the Park Loop Road. This is a 27-mile loop around the entire park.

Pull off at many of the stops alongside the road for easy to access views of the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

You’ll also pass many trail heads as you make your way down the road.

Best spot for those with adventurous teens

The Beehives hike is the most popular within the park, but it’s rated as difficult and isn’t suitable for young children. For thrill-seekers, it’s perfect and offers phenomenal views.

For families, hike Ocean Path. This easy, flat hike alongside the ocean is perfect. In total, this hike is 4.5 miles, but you’re able to shorten it, if you choose.

The Bubbles is another fantastic hike, rated as moderate. It’s fairly easy, except for a few boulders to climb around.

Cadillac Mountain is a must while in Acadia National Park. If you’re able to get everyone out of bed early enough, be sure to catch the sunrise here!

It’s one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise each morning.

There’s no hiking required at Cadillac Mountain. Just show up and look around for great views of the park and ocean.

Thunder Hole is another great sight to see while visiting Acadia National Park. It’s a small inlet in the rocks that creates a thundering sound when the water hits it.

Enjoy lunch and world-famous popovers at the Jordan Pond House. Be sure you’re prepared to wait because the lines are typically long. But it’s worth the wait!

Kiddos may enjoy swimming at the popular Sand Beach. It’s the only sand beach on the ocean in the park. Though the water is chilly, it’s a beautiful spot to take a dip!

For sunset, head to the popular Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. You won’t be the only people there, so plan ahead. But it’s worth the fantastic views when the sun goes down.

Overall, Acadia National Park is such a great location to have ideal family vacations. There is something to do for everyone, plus beautiful views to enjoy.

Cape Cod: Traditional family vacation destination

By Julie, www.familytripsandtravels.com

My husband spent every summer vacationing on Cape Cod since the day he was born.  It is a place that holds so many memories and good feelings.  When we started dating it was the first vacation he took me on.  I love hearing about his cherished memories and seeing the nostalgia it brings to him.  We have since spent every summer taking a vacation there.  It has been so much fun watching our kids play at the beach and create the same memories that my husband cherishes so deeply.

Where to Stay on your family vacation in Cape Cod

Most of the major hotel chains will be located in Hyannis, MA.  Often referred to as the capital of the Cape due it being a major transportation hub and having a more commercial feel to it.  You can find other hotels and resorts throughout the rest of the Cape, but will need to book early since they fill up fast.

Many people opt for the home rental option.  The Cape has a large selection of home rentals.  You will easily find a place that fits your needs.  This could be a budget rental, a luxury rental, a place on the beach, or with a pool.  There are so many options to choose from and many offer some great amenities like beach chairs and bikes to ride.

Things to Do

The beaches on Cape Cod are perfect for ideal family vacations.  Families with young children will love the calm waters of the bayside beaches.  They can relax while watching the kids splash around in the tide pools that stretch for miles.  Families with older kids will love the thrill of the ocean side.  They can bring their boogie boards to ride the waves in the Atlantic Ocean.

If you aren’t in the mood for the beach there are plenty of other activities at your disposal.  Cape Cod is home to the Rail Trail, a stretch of 114 miles of bike path going past picturesque landscapes and views.  There are many locations to rent or borrow kayaks to take through the Cape Cod Canals

After a long day at the beach, seafood is a must from one of the many delicious locations around the Cape.  After dinner activities can include mini gold, watching the sunset, or catching a baseball game.  Do any of these while enjoying some homemade ice cream from one of the many boutique ice cream shops.

Cape Cod as Your Ideal Family Vacation

This coastal destination has it all.  It is filled with so many families coming back year after year to create wonderful summer memories.  Whether it be your favorite beach or ice cream shop, there are so many ways to create vacation traditions with your family.

San Diego, California

Contributed by Denise,  of Chef Denise

With one of the most temperate climates in the U.S., San Diego is great for ideal family vacations any time of year. The summer months rarely exceed the low 80’s and the average winter day will usually have highs in the 60’s. So, it’s not surprising, many of the best things to do in San Diego are outdoors.
Situated on the Pacific Ocean, San Diego beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country and offer more than just a typical day at the beach. On the north end in La Jolla, families can enjoy snorkeling in the Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. Explore the nearby coves in kayaks, or walk the paved path on the cliffs to view seals and sea lions in their natural habitat. 

In addition to the Pacific Coast, San Diego’s, Mission Bay Park, the largest aquatic park of its kind, offers 27 miles of shoreline and over 2,000 acres of land. The park’s activities include everything from water skiing and windsurfing to picnicking and volleyball.

A little to the west, back on the ocean, Mission Beach is home to Belmont Park. While you must pay to go on the rollercoaster, bumper cars, and other rides, this beachfront boardwalk amusement park with its ocean view dining venues and souvenir shops is free to enter and open to the public. 

Just a mile away you’ll find another family favorite, Sea World. And if the kids love animals, the world famous San Diego Zoo is housed in Balboa Park. This 1,200 acre park also contains gorgeous gardens, restaurants, an amphitheater, and 17 museums including the Fleet Science Center and the New Children’s Museum.

For history buffs

More museums and historic buildings are part of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, considered the birthplace of California. Tour the restored sites which include original adobes, restaurants, and shops, and learn how San Diego transformed into an American settlement from a Mexican pueblo. The park is free to enter. History fans should visit the oldest California mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá located in Mission Valley. The mission still acts as a church with daily masses, and tours are available Monday through Friday.
The history of the Gas Lamp quarter in downtown dates back to 1850 and today is a lively area for shopping, dining, and nightlife. To see the best views from this vantage point, checkout one of the rooftop bars like, The Rooftop by STK. For the best views of the downtown San Diego skyline, take the 15 minute ferry ride to Coronado Island.

Colorado Springs

By Daria from The Discovery Nut

Colorado Springs is one of the best spots for ideal family vacations, if you are looking for under-the-radar destination with plenty of outdoor activities.

While many Colorado visitors head to the state’s most famous mountain towns, Colorado Springs is a perfect alternative as it doesn’t feel as crowded as some of the other most popular destinations in the Centennial State.

Located just over one hour south of Denver, Colorado Springs is the second largest city in the state that is home to several state parks, hot springs and cultural landmarks.

What to see in Colorado Springs

While Colorado Springs is mostly known because of the Garden of the Gods, the iconic natural landmark that offers some of the best hiking trails in the Colorado’s front range, against the backdrop of snow-powdered mountains. Garden of the Gods is free to the public year round.

But there’s a lot more to Colorado Springs than just that. For example, you can make your way to the Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s most popular “fourtneeners” – mountains with the altitude of 14,000 feet. 
Pikes Peak has a paved road which means you don’t have to endure the excruciating hike to enjoy the magnificent views. Another option is to take Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest locomotive-carrying railway in the United States – a fun ride that will treat you to some incredible views.

And of course, no trip to Colorado Springs is complete without a stop at Bradmoor Falls, one of the seven waterfalls located in the narrow box canyon just outside Colorado Springs that is often called one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Colorado.

To finish your day, head to Manitou Springs, a picturesque town about 15 minutes away from Colorado Springs where you can enjoy some of the best hot springs in the area and recharge after a day of activities.

Key West: Ideal climate for a winter family vacation

By Inna from Planet Dreaming

This heavenly place is filled with an atmosphere of happiness and serenity which simply just makes you enjoy yourself without being distracted by architecture and monuments. However, Key West is ready to offer a lot of interesting attractions for those who are looking for more than just a carefree beach vacation. 

Key West is definitely very adult-friendly with all the fun bars and dining options, but speaking of ideal family vacations, there are just so many fun activities to do with kids! Some of my favorite ones include:

Hemingway Museum and House

It is impossible to visit Key West and skip the famous writer’s house. He was definitely  the most famous resident of the city, and of the entire archipelago. He came there to visit out of curiosity, and ended up buying a small house with a garden.

Key West Shipwreck Museum

This unique museum reveals the secrets of the deep sea to its visitors. If your kids are fascinated by tales of sea adventures and pirates, then the Key West Shipwreck Museum will be one of the most interesting excursions during your visit. 

Audubon House & Tropical Gardens Key West

The Audubon Museum gives you a great idea of nobility and the classics of past centuries. Here you can firsthand see unique art collections, old drawings and portraits, household items which breathe the spirit of the past

Key West is surrounded by many secrets and mysteries. You can literally plunge into the lives of the people who once lived here. Pay attention to rich house decorations that are a symbol of wealth and the social status of the inhabitants of Key West.

Smathers Beach

This piece of paradise is located directly west of the airport and is a go-to spot for beach leisure in the region. This place is named after the historical figure – Senator George Smathers who served in the Florida Congress for eighteen years.

Younger kids will enjoy splashing in the water and beach games, while teenagers would love water sports: choose between jet skis, windsurfing, parasailing and…you name it. There is a great snorkeling area where the whole family can see the colorful fish and corals. 

Overall, the vibe in Key West is very chill, that’s why it feels like time has stopped at some point in history. As for places to stay, the housing on Key West is plentiful and varied. You can stay in large hotels offering standard service, or (which is more interesting) in a guesthouse, a secluded cottage or maybe a restored Victorian mansion that provides all the necessary amenities. For example, Historic Hideaways – private apartments with a swimming pool in the historic part of the city. Depending on the number of people in your party, 1-4 bedroom accommodation is available. If you are into eco-friendly travel, there are a lot of sustainable housing options to choose from as well.

Ideal Family Vacation: Monkey Mia, Australia

ideal family vacations at Monkey Mia shows dolphins coming up to be fed
Photo courtesy of Rochelle Harrison

Rochelle Harrison from Love Family Life Travel writes of her ideal family vacations in Australia as a child.

My childhood vacations are the bedrock of my happy childhood. Those trips are some of the best memories of my life. My favorite childhood vacation was in Monkey Mia, a small beach on the north west coast of Australia, on the Shark Bay peninsula. Shark Bay is listed as a world heritage site.

Changes Over Time

Nowadays Monkey Mia has a resort on the beach run and managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. But when I was a kid, it was remote with just a dirt track leading down to the beach. The dolphins that live at Monkey Mia have been coming into the beach to interact with the people for over 40 years. Today, the DPAW Rangers manage how many fish a select few people are allowed to feed to the dolphins.

When I was a kid, there was a guy who walked up and down the beach with a tin bucket who would sell you fish to feed the dolphins. My parents bought my brother and I a fish each. A pelican promptly flew over to us and ate my brother’s fish, its huge beak appeared to swallow his whole arm. At four years old he started crying, he was so upset. I walked into the water with my fish and a couple of my cousins. The pod of dolphins surrounded us, and we fed them our fish. Then one of the dolphins playfully bit my cousin on the bum. We laughed so hard as she yelped and jumped.


Today, Shark Bay is still my favorite place in the whole of Australia. While I believe it is a good thing that the area is now managed and regulated for the benefit of the dolphins, a part of me is grateful that we were there when it wasn’t. It was such a magical experience to be surrounded by dolphins and interacting with them so closely.

Ideal Family Vacations: The Island of Corsica

View of Corsica a site for ideal family vacations
Corsica

Christian Petzold, the managing editor at  Avid Voyagers, creates new ideal family vacations by returning to a favorite childhood spot.

The island of Corsica is located in the Mediterranean Sea and is politically one of the 18 regions of France. Its regional capital is Ajaccio. Most of Corsica is mountainous. A northwest-to-southeast crystalline massif splits the island in half. 

My husband and I visited this beautiful place with our kids. The truth is, anybody can love and enjoy Corsica regardless of one’s age.

Corsica is my favorite childhood destination, so I was eager to show my kids the reason why by taking them here with us. 

We had an awesome stay at Hotel Villa l’Oriu in Calvi, Corsica. We chose this villa because it was beautifully situated in Calvi, with wonderful grounds and a nice pool area that is ideal for families (our main reason for choosing this hotel – family-friendly). 

What to do There

We got a chance to visit the La Maison Bonaparte Museum and there we discovered about Napoleon, born and devoted to his childhood in Ajaccio. The museum holds countless portraits and medals, furniture, and artifacts of the famous ruler, creating an exciting journey through history. 

People say that Corsica has some of the cleanest beaches in France, not to mention some of the most beautiful shorelines. Our kids loved running on the warm white sand and swimming in azure water on the beach. 

We planned this vacation and visited this island in the month of May. May is a great time to visit based on our research, because the weather is not too hot, the places are not as crowded, and tourists can spend more time mesmerized by the beautiful places during day time. I have to say: it’s all true! 

Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, kids have a great experience here. This is a natural park that protects endangered species. A number of endangered species, including two hoofed mammals and the Corsican red deer, happen to live within the Park. Additionally, Parc Naturel Régional de Corse offers views of the highest mountains on the island, so it’s well worth a visit. 

Fun For Adults Too

Our perfect day will not be complete without going to a vineyard. We picked Domaine Orsini, close to Calenzana which is regarded as among the best. And it doesn’t let us down! Nielluccio is the local grape variety that’s often referred to as Tuscany’s Sangiovese’s cousin. They make white wine from this grape, as well as Sciacarello, a unique red grape to the island.

Old towns situated in mountain passes; unspoilt beaches with mountain backdrops; picturesque ruins of medieval castles decorated with wildflowers and palm trees. That’s why they call it “the Isle of Beauty”, the entire island is a picture-perfect exemplar of natural beauty. No wonder everyone loves it, right? 

Ideal Family Vacations: Borkum in Northern Germany.

beach tent on Borkum, part of an ideal family vacation in Germany
“Beach tent on Borkum” photo courtesy of Stefan Liening through Pixbay

Ilona Bicker from Top Travel Sights recounts details of her ideal family vacations as a child.

When I was a child, I spent many of my summers on the island of Borkum, in the German North Sea. My parents took my brother and me there every year, and I always loved coming back.

While we didn’t always have perfect summer weather on Borkum, we found many things to do. On sunny days, we would build sandcastles and chase crabs on the beach.

My parents always rented a beach tent. These colourful tents, which also come in a variety that resembles a giant wicker chair, are famous all along the German North Sea Coast. My brother and I would build a wall around the tent to “mark our territory”, though, by the end of three weeks, we’d usually have trampled it so much that it was barely recognizable anymore.

On rainy days, we’d splash around in an indoor saltwater pool or try drinking salt water mixed with orange juice. Supposedly, it has healing properties, and many people travel to Borkum for its climate and spas.

Sometimes, we’d walk out to the sandbanks. Here, we’d observe the seals that live just off the island, but we’d always have to be careful to go back in time. When the tide comes in, the sandbanks get cut off from the beach and eventually disappear.

One of the highlights was taking a boat tour to fish for shrimps. The fishermen always hauled in a few kilograms of tiny shrimp, which they would then cook onboard. Finally, we’d all assemble around a table to peel and eat the seafood while it was still hot.

A UNESCO Site

Borkum is part of the UNESCO site “Wadden Sea”, and we never went to Borkum without going for a walk in the mudflats. With a guide who knows the area well enough, it’s possible to explore areas that get flooded with the high tide.

As children, my brother and I would sink in up to the knees, and we’d always get excited about the black mud covering our legs. The guides usually found lots of animals living in these flats, from mussels to birds and worms.

The mixture of beach, exploring and seeing animals in the wild made for perfect childhood holidays that I still fondly remember today.

Ideal Family Vacations: Galtur, Austria

Austrian Alps
photo courtesy of Tristan Sassenberg

Where Tristin Sassenberg from Traxplorio went on his ideal family vacations.

Today I am very happy to share one of my favorite childhood memories with you! The best part is, this trip is even nowadays mostly hassle-free possible and mostly corona-proof. So let’s get right to it.

We used to drive to Austria very often – to Galtür to be precise. Galtür is a beautiful mountain village in Tirol, in the west of Austria. This idyllic village is surrounded by impressive mountain landscapes and beautiful hiking trails. Not uninteresting for all adults – the world famous ski resort (and party paradise) Ischgl is right next door. My parents traveled here with me especially because of the wonderful air quality and the proximity to nature. Galtür was even the first air health resort in Tirol! Especially recommended for allergy sufferers.

Where did we Stay?

The family-run Hotel Zontaja was our first choice. The owners are particularly warm and I was able to romp around a bit and do some silly things as a little boy 🙂

What is my favorite memory?

I just loved the hikes to the many alpine huts. The Menta Alm, for example, also has its own playground. But the highlight was always the local animals. I can still remember when I played with 8 little puppies in a barn. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I love dogs so much today 🙂

In addition, there are also hikes to beautiful mountain lakes where you could swim in an adventure pool with many great waterslides!

We traveled to this place one more time 2 years ago and I fell in love all over again. Nearby is also the Silvretta Mountains and the Silvretta High Alpine Road, where you have an incredible view of the breathtaking mountain panorama. This time I prepared myself for hiking and explored the beautiful surroundings – by the way, I also drank a delicious beer at the Menta Alm like my father used to.

Ideal Family Vacations: Road Trip Western USA

Picture courtesy of Canva

Karee Blunt from Our Woven Journeys tells of her ideal family vacations traveling through many U.S. states.

I have such wonderful memories of time spent on vacation with my family when I was a child. Growing up in Texas, most of our trips centered around tent camping in either Arkansas or Colorado. However, when I was a teenager my parents took my two brothers and I on a three week vacation that was chock full of history, national landmarks and many great memories!

Colorado

We started our journey in Dallas and headed northwest toward Colorado Springs. Two things in particular stand out in my memory: the hair pin curves winding our way up and back down the road on Pikes Peak Mountain and riding the Alpine Slide. That’s a 3000 foot ride down the mountain on a bobsled and is definitely something to be remembered!

We spent some time walking through the Garden of the Gods while we were in the area. What a fascinating place! We also had a chuck wagon style dinner at the famous Flying W Ranch in Colorado and oh my goodness, that place made such an impression on me. The after dinner concert was so much fun!

Wyoming

From there, we headed north to Wyoming and spent time exploring Yellowstone National Park. That was the first time I saw Old Faithful. We stayed in a cabin right by a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of the Grand Teton Mountains. I know somewhere in our family photos, there’s also a picture of me standing in front of one of the Antler Arches in Jackson Hole. 

Montana

We continued on toward Montana, seeing all kinds of wildlife and staying in some of the coolest mountain lodges along the way. It’s funny how some of the seemingly smallest details can stand out, isn’t it? I remember how big the wooden rocking chair was on the front porch of a restaurant we had breakfast at. They served the biggest blueberry pancakes I’d ever seen!

South Dakota

In South Dakota, we visited Mount Rushmore. As I’ve studied American history over the years, I’m so glad we went there and I was able to see it myself. I went again later with my husband and it was just as amazing to see the second time around. 

We also visited the Crazy Horse monument. (Who could have known that all these years later it still wouldn’t be finished?) We journeyed on through the Black Hills National Park toward the Badlands. If you’ve never been there, I’m not sure there’s any good way to describe it! 

As we headed south back toward home, we drove through Nebraska and Kansas, past miles and miles of corn fields. Even with as much as I’ve traveled since then, when I think of the “heart of America,” my mind pictures those fields. 

With three weeks to spend on vacation, my parents could have taken us just about anywhere in the US. I’m so grateful for the itinerary those chose and for the lifetime of memories it created!


I hope these stories inspire you to create your own family memories whether trekking around the world or visiting historic places in the U.S.


Thank you to the wonderful writers who have contributed to this post. I hope these stories of ideal family vacations will inspire readers to create their own unforgettable family memories.

3 thoughts on “Ideal Family Vacations: The Ultimate Guide to Beloved Childhood Destinations

  1. What a great look back at people’s favourite family vacations. As a kid, we did little vacation travel. But when our kids were young, we sure made up for that. They will have a long list of favourite family vacation ideas. I love the range of family vacations shown here – from outdoor adventures to history trips.

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