August is officially “Family Fun Month” which is perfect as families squeeze in one last vacation before the official end of summer and the start of school. Let’s take a look at some of the classic family vacation destinations across the US, reminisce about family road trips gone by, and maybe even make some plans for the future!
Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach in southern Virginia is a great place to visit year-round, but especially fun for families in the summer. The area has many beaches with fun boardwalks and entertainment for families, and campgrounds for those really wanting to enjoy nature. Along the beach are lighthouses and other cool attractions.(Map ID not defined: [vgt id=1])
First Landing State Park commemorates where the English landed before going on to settle Jamestown. It is a beautiful park full of walking trails, camp grounds and cabins, and public beaches.
Just across the bridge in Virginia Beach’s sister city, Norfolk, are the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, with beautiful landscapes, amazing blooming azaleas, and other natural wonders to enjoy.
Historic Southern Virginia
If you’re a history buff, you should vacation in southern Virginia. With many major historical sites within minutes of each other, you’ll find this an educational, and entertaining, vacation.
Yorktown, where the British surrendered to General George Washington, ending the Revolutionary War, is about 60 minutes north of Virginia Beach, and is a well preserved national park. Visitors can take a guided tour and get a a feel for the immense scale of the battle, which played such a pivotal role in American history.
Jamestown, the first English settlement in North America, is about twenty minutes from Yorktown, and is an active historical site. Archaeologists and other scientists are constantly working to excavate the original fort and understand more about what the first European settlers in the area experienced.
Just up the road is Colonial Williamsburg, which is a living history museum. The entire colonial town has been recreated and has knowledgeable staff playing roles of specific colonial individuals, right down to the attire, personality and back story.
Nearby is Thomas Jefferson’s plantation home Monticello. The Founding Father and third president spent much of his time developing his plantation, and lived out his days here after helping to organize and establish the United States.
San Diego in southern California, is a great place for a family vacation. With lots of beaches, family activities, and cool entertainment, this city is the perfect west coast destination. The US Navy has left a big imprint in the area, and there are several historic ships that you can tour at the Maritime Museum, including HMS Surprise from the film “Master and Commander”.
The San Diego Zoo is a must-see, with more than 3,500 animals, and is a pioneer in the design of open-air exhibits with natural habitats for the animals. Its amazing landscape, wide animal diversity and great climate make it one of the best zoos in the world.
Don’t forget Sea World, which is an amazing place to learn all about marine life! It’s a great place to take kids to learn about what’s going on under the water, and it’s even fun for adults.
Yellowstone is a large national park that covers land in three states. It is famous for its gorgeous mountain vistas, geysers and geothermal activity, and amazing wildlife including buffalo, moose, and bears. The park is so beautiful and easy to enjoy, even from a car. Breathtaking sites like Gibbon Falls are viewable from the road!
Old Faithful is possibly the most popular attraction. It’s a geyser that blows boiling hot water and steam about 145 feet into the air for more than two minutes on a predictable schedule. It’s truly a sight to behold, and especially enjoyable because an eruption usually happens every 90 minutes.
There’s even a hotel you can stay at right by Old Faithful, and you can see eruptions from the lobby!
Hiking in Yellowstone is a wonderful experience, and a great family bonding activity. There are hikes for all ages and abilities, and the views along the trip and at the destination are rewarding for everyone. There are several hikes that take you to mountain waterfalls, like Mystic Falls.
The Grand Canyon is the opposite of Yellowstone, with deep gorges and desert landscapes, but like Yellowstone, it’s at the top of the list of must-see sites for every family.
Visitors can hike down the basin of the Grand Canyon, and camp along the way. They need to be prepared for major temperature changes, with really hot days and very cold nights, common for the desert even in summer.
If you’d prefer to see it from a car, there are many special viewing places, including the $40 million dollar Skywalk.
If you want to stay in the Canyon, but don’t feel like camping, you can stay at one of a few hotels, like El Tovar Hotel. Staying there is pretty epic, as the hotel is just 26 feet from the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
American treasure Dolly Parton grew up in the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area. There was a small amusement park attraction for many years, but Dolly Parton became involved in the 1980s, and the amusement park has since grown to be the largest in the state and a wonderful family destination.
The amusement park complex is continually expanding, with roller coasters and other rides, theaters, museums, and a children’s interactive play area.
Pigeon Forge is a destination itself, with additional musical theaters, other entertainment, and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Truly, there is something for everyone.
Any of these destinations would make for a family vacation to never forget. And if you’re not taking a vacation this year, at least you can look through this list and make plans for next year, and every year until your bucket list is complete!