Traveling with kids is no easy feat—there’s no denying that. Between the constant “He’s on my side!” complaints and “Are we there yet?” inquiries from the backseat (and the fact that, unfortunately, wine tasting is off the table for a few years), sometimes a family trip ends up being more work than vacation. But while we can’t offer you a solution for the aforementioned problems, we can present you with 5 of the best family vacation spots that will ensure that, at least for a few moments at a time, everyone will enjoy themselves.
1. The Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Not only is The Grand Canyon an active and adventurous travel destination, but it’s also an essential spot to take your children while they still live under your roof (because odds are they’re not going to spend their college Spring Breaks scoping out natural landmarks). While the natural beauty of the national park—which, for the record, is the 15th largest in the country—might go over the heads of younger children, they are sure to appreciate the opportunity to release some of that Duracell Bunny-esque energy by running, hiking, climbing and, as kids tend to do, throwing rocks. If your kids are a bit too young for days of hiking, they'll love taking a 65 mile majestic tour of the area while traveling on the historic Grand Canyon Railway. If you're traveling in December, you don't want to miss the most magical trip of the year when the Railway turns into a real-life version of the Polar Express and heads to the "North Pole". Later in class, when your kids are asked to raise their hand if they’ve ever been to The Grand Canyon, they’ll totally thank you.
2. Disneyland: Anaheim, California
The smaller, more charming (and—bonus!—less humid) version of its Florida cousin, Disneyland has a spot on every childhood bucket list. Rides range from classics for the little ones like Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Mad Tea Party to roller coasters like California Screamin’, which promise fun for everyone over 48 inches. And the blast to be had doesn’t revolve around these attractions alone. The most noteworthy aspect of the park—which any family can easily spend days upon days exploring and enjoying—are the character experiences, the delight of which applies to not only children, but adults as well. Somehow Mickey manages to appeal to all ages.
3. Hilton Waikoloa Village: Waikoloa, Hawaii
A favorite family vacation destination of The Travel Channel, this resort not only has the benefit of natural beauty and an atmosphere that could easily be equated to heaven on earth, but they have what’s basically a babysitting service as well, in the form of Camp Menehune and Dolphin Training Adventures. These day and night camps are perfect for providing children with experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives (animal interaction and treasure hunting, to name a few), while simultaneously presenting parents with the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy a mai tai or two…without mediating sand castle debates.
4. Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas
The name of the island says it all: this place is paradise. Atlantis Resort is practically a city within itself, offering enough activities to appeal to anyone and everyone. Dolphin Cay, which sits on 14 acres and contains seven million gallons of sparkling seawater, grants guests the opportunity to swim with dolphins and interact with sea lions. Meanwhile, if you’re not interested in water activities involving animals, Atlantis Paradise Island is also equipped with its own water park with water slides, 20 swimming areas, a giant kids water-play fort and other awesome aquatic options. Meanwhile, if parents are in need of a little adult entertainment (no, not that kind), there’s a sprawling 18-hole golf course and spa services as well. Oh, and let’s not forget that the resort also has pottery classes, rock climbing, a movie theatre and much, much more. You know, if anyone in your family is into the whole fun thing.
5. Beaver Creek Resort: Avon, Colorado
If you want a family-friendly spot where you can hit the slopes, look no further than Beaver Creek, which was ranked the number-one ski resort for families by Forbes. While moms and dads who are advanced skiers can enjoy the perks of a big, beautiful mountain, children have multiple large, creative areas to learn and practice—including one right at the base. There’s also the Buckaroo Express, a gondola that, while it’s designed especially for kids, doesn’t discriminate against adults. And after passing few tests, kids can move on up to a larger, more advanced ski area—that even includes a faux gold mine. Just keep in mind that after a long day of skiing, your little snow bunnies are going to require one thing: copious amounts of hot chocolate.