The desire to plan a summer family vacation generally peaks for many people when summer is right around the corner. It can be hard to find the best family summer vacation choices in the USA when there are so many options!
The phrase “summer vacation” might make them recollect the memories of time spent with their loved ones on the beach, relaxing with a good book, sipping a pina colada, cooling off in the ocean waves, or making sandcastles with the kids.
However, a unique summer getaway does not always have to be a beach vacation to be memorable. Summer family vacations come in all different forms, like exploring nature!
Thus whether you live in the United States or far away, want a sand-in-your-toes kind of vacation, or want to try something new, the USA has some of the best summer family vacation spots that you can explore this summer with your loved ones to have a great time.
Keep reading the article below to learn more about top USA summer family vacation spots and popular holiday destinations.
So let’s get started, shall we?
Top 12 Best Family Summer Vacation Choices In The USA
The mesmerizing town of Stanley in Idaho is undoubtedly one of the hidden gems in the United States and an ideal place for a summer family vacation.
Spend a minimum of 2 to 3 days in this town, and you will get amazed to glimpse that this place has something to offer for everyone.
Moreover, from a rustic and relaxing vacation to thrilling adventurous activities, Stanley is the place that holds everything in its reserve.
Also, the town is the perfect place to explore some of Idaho’s most alluring natural spots that are perfect for a summer family vacation.
The famous Sawtooth Lake, Sawtooth National Forest, and Stanley Lake are some nearby attractions where you can indulge in hiking or trek on the most adventurous Iron Creek Trail, which takes trekkers to Sawtooth Lake.
Likewise, Stanley also makes the ideal base for soaking in some of the well-known hot springs in Idaho, such as Sunbeam Hot Springs and Boat Box Hot Springs.
To make your summer family vacation more memorable, you can plan a stay in village-style resorts in town serving lip-smacking Idaho-inspired meals and cozy accommodation.
Apart from that, many prominent museums in Stanley will make you fall in love with the town’s vibrant history.
San Luis Obispo, California
Situated along the Central Coast of California, San Luis Obispo is popularly known as “The Happiest City in America.” What better of a place to spend your summer family vacation!
The city offers excellent outdoor opportunities and vibrant culture that will undoubtedly leave you mesmerized with its unmatched beauty.
Moreover, unlike other locations around the Golden State that might feel congested during the peak summer season, San Luis offers a more peaceful environment and authentic flair.
So when planning a summer vacation in town, begin your trip by exploring the quaint downtown spot and cultural landmarks such as Bubblegum Alley, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, and Fremont Theater.
If you or your family members enjoy adventurous activities, you can spend some time climbing one of the Seven Sisters, the inactive volcanic hills that encompass San Luis Obispo.
Also, if you love trekking, you can explore Bishop Peak, a 3.5-mile-long (5.6 km) moderate round-trip hike.
Apart from that, there are many fun day trips opportunities to take from San Luis Obispo, such as the town of Paso Robles (well-known for its green rolling hills and vineyards) and Montaña de Oro, a picture-perfect destination with captivating beaches and blooming buds in the spring.
Though Sedona is a quaint town, there is no lack of entertainment and attractions here, making it one of the most favored summer family vacation spots in the United States.
It is further a fantastic place for active sightseers who love spending time outdoors. Furthermore, Sedona is well-known for its captivating red rock landscapes, scenic vistas, canyons, and unique wildlife.
Also, when in Sedona, you can indulge in adventurous activities like mountain biking, hiking, and jeep touring.
The most well-known hikes in Sedona include Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and Bell Rock, one of the few International Dark Sky Communities worldwide.
Since Sedona is famous as a vortex site (a place of unique power flow), it is a legendary spot for spirituality and enlightenment.
If you want to relax your mind and put your soul at ease, there are plenty of opportunities to do meditation, yoga, and healing practices.
Moreover, when in town on a summer family vacation, do not forget to taste the local wine and food, consisting of prickly pear desserts and Tex-Mex-inspired dishes that’ll have you drooling.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
While Maui and Oahu tend to be top picks for family vacations to Hawaii, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the perfect choice if you are looking for an offbeat vacation location this summer.
This hidden UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most suitable place to witness lava in Hawaii and is also the motherland of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire.
In addition, one of the most prevalent things to do at the park is driving through the Crater Rim. This driving path has numerous picturesque attractions, selfie spots, hiking trails, and attractions.
Also, if you have time to spare, you can explore the Thurston Lava Tube along the trail. It is where lava moves through the mountain, making a tunnel.
While there are tons of comfortable lodges inside and outside the national park, camping is also a popular option for people who love spending time close to nature.
If you wish to get a European vibe in the United States, look no further than Solvang, a small quaint town in Santa Barbara County in California.
Popularly known as the ‘Danish Capital of America’, Solvang is where you can glimpse captivating Danish-style architecture, several Danish-inspired bakeries, cafes, and gorgeous wineries.
Downtown Solvang further houses impressive architecture with a European atmosphere, such as the Round Tower, Little Mermaid Fountain, and the wooden windmills. This is certainly a unique spot for a summer family vacation.
There is also an abundance of small eateries and cute bakeries downtown. So when in town for a summer vacation, do not miss out on tasting the famous Florentine cookies and Danish waffles from Mortenson’s Danish Bakery!
Another mesmerizing place to glimpse in Solvang is Hans Christian Andersen Park, a must-visit picnic spot if you visit the place with kids.
Also, in this park, you will find a small playground, a music-making system making chimes, and a climbing wall like in fairy tales.
Furthermore, your summer family vacation to Solvang would also be incomplete without visiting its impressive wineries. Buttonwood Farm Winery and Rusack Vineyards are two famous ones where you can relish some award-winning wines.
For adventure enthusiasts, the city of Kanab in Utah is one of the stunning places to spend a summer family vacation in the United States.
One of the best things when vacationing in Kanab is to hike to The Wave (Coyote Buttes North), an exceptionally spectacular sandstone rock formation.
However, remember that you will require an elusive pass through a lottery at the Bureau of Land Management Office in Kanab to glimpse this captivating attraction.
In addition, Kanab is one of the few spots in Southern Utah with an authentic food lover scene. It is perhaps a relief if all you’ve feasted while traveling the rest of Southern Utah is full of Subways.
Kanab is further famously known as “Little Hollywood”, and it is an ideal shooting location for numerous Western movies, which may spark your interest if you are a movie buff.
Kanab in Utah is not far from Zion National Park and other famous spots, so if you are planning a road trip with your family through the southwest, this town is the perfect place to set up your base camp.
There are also other captivating hiking trails in Kanab, such as White Pocket, Coyote Buttes South, and the Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch, to make your vacation experience unforgettable.
North Bend, Washington
North Bend is one of the magnificent and off-the-beaten-path United States summer family vacation spots.
The Snoqualmie Valley area in North Bend offers numerous picturesque vistas, lakes, and a wide variety of uncrowded hiking trails.
This small town’s allure and serenity undoubtedly make it an excellent place for maximum relaxation.
While tourists should spend at least two to three days in North Bend, there are enough sightseeing spots and activities in the town to keep travelers busy for a whole week.
One of the most picturesque hiking trails in North Bend is the John Wayne Pioneer Trail meandering through the valley. If you are an adventure lover, you can make your hike more challenging by moving up to Mount Si, a track that takes you up 3,100 ft (944 m).
Apart from trekking and hiking, you can also tour the local Train Museum, which offers rides on their remodeled dining cars and gives you a royal experience.
If you are a wine lover, you can stop at the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery or the Twin Peaks locations in the area if you love this T.V. show.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, famously known as Carmel, is a peaceful coastal town that looks magically stunning.
As one of the most beautiful places to visit in California, it remains adored by Bay Area residents but is not as popularly known outside of the California state.
While there are many scenic attractions in the town, Caramel is famous for its restaurants serving lip-smacking food, stunning art galleries, and a beautiful State Beach.
Also, other fun things to try when on a summer family vacation to Caramel include strolling down the Carmel Meadows Trail, enjoying local wines, or visiting the famous Carmel Mission Basilica Museum.
Carmel further remains close to numerous fantastic tourist attractions and hikes, such as the Garrapata State Park, Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-Mile Drive, and Point Lobos State Park, which houses pristine beaches, sea lions, and tons of birds to watch.
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Nestled in the corner of the Utah border near eastern Nevada, Great Basin National Park offers acres of stunning terrains to explore.
Given that many tourists have never even heard of this quaint place, it’s one of the best summer family vacation spots in the United States in a captivating environment where you can witness nature at its best.
One of the prominent highlights of the Great Basin is the Lehman Caves, developed by water rushing through limestone.
However, remember that to view this famous cave, you must make a reservation and take a ranger-guided expedition.
Also, while visiting these caves, it is best to glimpse the caverns full of stalagmites and stalactites. There are many excellent hikes in the Great Basin, where you can trek across different magnificent terrain.
The trails include an effortless hike to some alpine lakes and a challenging one passing through ancient bristlecone pine trees to the base of a glacier.
If you are more of an adventure lover, you can even attempt the thrilling hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak, the second-highest cliff in Nevada.
Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Oregon is famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, and this is rightly justified by the awe-inspiring beauty of the Silver Falls State Park. It is a perfect summer family vacation spot close to busy Portland.
Located merely an hour south of Oregon’s biggest town, travelers find a plethora of cascading waterfalls and dense greenery that is the ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of your city life.
To witness all ten prominent waterfalls in the state park, drive on the 12.5 km (7.8-mile) loop, perfectly named Trail of Ten Falls.
This route is a moderate hike at 800 feet (243 m) of elevation with plenty of choices for shortening the length.
This hike is the topmost point of Silver Falls State Park and the reason to make the trip from Portland.
To get a more memorable experience, wind your way through the woods and take a brief detour to Double Falls, which at 178 ft (54 m), is the tallest waterfall in this state park. Once you visit the North Park, trek along the Rim Trail to complete the loop.
Redding is one of the most beautiful places to travel with your friends and family in the United States.
This city, located in Northern California, houses six breathtaking waterfalls, two volcanos, and the largest artificial lake in California with some caverns.
Unless you are a California resident, you might have never even heard of Redding as a summer family vacation spot, making it one of the most peaceful vacation spots in the States, ideal for all nature lovers.
Since Redding remains located at the northern end of California’s extensive Central Valley south of famous Shasta Lake, the town serves as the perfect base for witnessing the nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen National Park is renowned for its massive volcanoes, including the magnificent Mount Lassen.
Travelers visiting this national park can take numerous trekking expeditions here, including a hike along Kings Creek to a waterfall.
In addition, there is a seamless one-day driving track from Redding that will take you to five stunning waterfalls, including McArthur-Burney Falls, famously termed the “the Eighth Wonder of the World” by renowned American Politician Theodore Roosevelt.
While McArthur-Burney Falls is not the tallest of all the state’s waterfalls, it might just be the most captivating one where you can enjoy boating on Shasta Lake.
In addition, there are many other things to do in Redding, and you must plan at least a 3-day visit to this city.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park is a dream getaway if you wish to reconnect with nature.
With more than 500 miles of hiking paths and the famous Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the most mesmerizing backdrop, Shenandoah is one of the most suitable East Coast national parks.
While this place draws a reasonable amount of travelers every year, its sheer size makes it a comfortable place to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Also, when visiting this national park in Virginia, you can hike the 6-mile (9.6 km) track to witness Rose River Falls and Dark Hollow Falls. The latter is a famous waterfall hike that attracts a higher number of tourists.
However, if you want to spend some peaceful time in the lap of Mother Nature, head straight to the Rose River Falls, and do not forget to take your bathing suits to take a plunge in the small pools beneath the falls!
Apart from this track, you can also hike the famous 9.2-mile (14.8 km) Old Rag Mountain Trail. However, be prepared to climb, scramble, and crawl through boulders when heading on this track.
Nonetheless, when you glimpse the mesmerizing bird’s eye view of the Shenandoah Valley, your hard work and sweat will be well worth it.
If this rugged hike is a bit much for you or your loved ones, the leisurely 1-mile trek to Blackrock Summit is an ideal option with just as stunning vistas of the valley.
A 3-hour drive along the vibrant Skyline drive is another must-do activity where you can watch the scenic overlooks, shop your heart out or head on short hikes along the way drenched in vivid autumn hues.
There you go! Now that you have a comprehensive list of summer family vacation spots in the United States, it is time to plan your family trip and head straight to these locations to make your next dream vacation memory for a lifetime.
Take these ideas and use them as a springboard for your next summer family vacation! If you’re planning to visit these summer family vacation destinations by camper or car, check out our ultimate guide for road tripping in 2022.