Mom Knows Best: Summer Family Vacations Across North America

Moms across the country are sharing their favorite summer family vacations. From Maine to California, planning just got a whole lot easier!

It’s the season for summer family vacations—or at least planning one. You’ve hoarded your days off and have been eyeing some free time in the sun. Or, maybe an all-inclusive resort in the mountains. Actually, what about finally seeing what all the fuss is about around Mexican beaches?

If you’re as indecisive as we are after typing that paragraph, we don’t blame you. There are so many great destinations for families out there, picking one to spend your summer family vacation is half the battle. Then you have to worry about finding the best hotels and looking up things to do in each destination.

Fear not! We’re here to help. You see, the benefit of being a travel magazine is that we’re constantly reading up on some of the most exciting destinations out there and we can piece together for you what might be the summer family vacation you’re looking for. Even better, we’ve rounded up recommendations from the experts on the ground who know what they’re talking about–moms.

So whether you’re eyeing a mountain retreat or just want to hit the beach, this list of 15 summer family vacations will set you off in the right direction.

Whistler, British Columbia: A Summer Resort Destination


Not only is Whistler a winter wonderland destination during the peak months from December to March, but there’s plenty of family fun to be had in the summer as well.

Four Seasons Whistler is a great resort destination for families looking for fun and adventure in any season. Being nestled in the heart of Whistler, there are so many activities to choose from. Summer brings exciting adventures from horseback riding, glacier hiking, biking, kayaking, bear watching, zip trekking, dog sledding, fishing, and more. Their complimentary shuttle and service cars will take you to and from any activity without the fear of getting lost. There are also outdoor pools if you just want to relax between the cascading mountains and unwind.

The rooms come equipped with your very own fireplace so that you can warm up during the chilly nights. A great additional perk of this property is that any children under the age of five get to eat for free.

A fun thing to do with the entire family is to roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate outside their camper, which has to be one of the hottest, most Instagrammable places in all of Whistler.  — Kathy Croman, Island Fever Sisters

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Four Seasons Resort Whistler

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2311 reviews)

San Diego, California: A Summer Family Vacation For Music Lovers


San Diego is a great destination for summer vacations with the family. The city has beautiful weather year-round, and in summer, there are even more family-friendly activities.

Hard Rock San Diego is great for families who love music. Decorations include rockstar artifacts and you can borrow a Fender guitar during your stay. Plus, rooms are large enough for families.

Eat at the high-end Nobu or the casual Maryjanes, both in the hotel. Of course, you can walk to dozens of restaurants nearby, too. The hotel is also walking distance to Petco Park, where you can watch a baseball game.

The hotel loans out Electra cruising bicycles for exploring the area or you can hop on the light rail, which has a stop just a block away. If you really want to stretch your legs, San Diego has hiking nearby in Torrey Pines and wonderful museums for kids. The car museum in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo are must-sees, and the Safari Park offers wild animals in natural habitats. — Judy Antell, Wheels and Eats

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Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Top rated
San Diego
8.8 Excellent (12047 reviews)

Sarasota, Florida: A Waterfront Summer Family Vacation


Minutes from Sarasota lies Siesta Key, where our family enjoys staying at the colorful waterfront Siesta Key Bungalows. The bungalows are adorned with chic furnishings, high-end touches, quaint porches, and old Florida charm. Monogrammed towels and pillowcases, attractive artwork, white wicker furniture, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries are a few of the things I appreciate most. While the accommodations are one bedroom, many have queen-size sleeper sofas.

Take advantage of free access to bikes, grills, and kayaks that are available for Inn guests. You’re also encouraged to fish off of their dock in Heron Lagoon’s pristine blue waters. There’s a large, heated swimming pool to keep the kids busy or you may prefer heading over to the three white sandy Siesta Key beaches all in close proximity.

Prepare your own meals in your full kitchen, complete with a microwave, coffee maker, and toaster to save a few dollars during vacation. Siesta Key Bungalows are minutes from popular restaurants and local attractions but off the beaten path enough to offer privacy and a relaxing vibe. The free Siesta Key trolley makes a stop at this tropical island getaway. — Melody Pittman, Where I May Roam Blog

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Siesta Key Bungalows

Top rated
8.5 Excellent (32 reviews)

Vero Beach, Florida: Plan a Beach Retreat for Your Summer Family Vacation


Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is an excellent beach retreat for families who want to relax but still crave a little Disney magic. Located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, the resort is reminiscent of a hotel you may see on the northeastern coastline of the United States.

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is the right combination of fun and relaxation. Rooms are spacious and offer plenty of room for large families. Accommodations consist of inn rooms (located in the main building), deluxe studios, one-and-two-bedroom villas, and three-bedroom beachfront cottages. Rooms can be booked with cash (with the exception of the beachfront cottages) or Disney Vacation Club points.

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is bustling with activities for the whole family, including pool activities, beach rentals, and nighttime campfire sing-alongs. During the summer, you may be lucky enough to see baby sea turtles make their way to the sea from the resort’s sandy beach. They also offer a variety of restaurants that appeal to all members of the family. Whether it’s having breakfast with Goofy or enjoying an elegant seafood dinner, there’s a dining experience to satisfy your appetite. But the best part of staying here is that the most difficult decision you’ll ever have to make is whether to go to the beach or the pool. — Lisa Cameron, Home is Where the Mouse Is

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Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Top rated
Vero Beach
8.9 Excellent (144 reviews)

Kapolai, Hawaii: A Disney Summer Family Vacation


The Disney Aulani Resort & Spa is a one-of-a-kind family adventure. The expansive resort is a vast playground designed to delight all of your senses from the second you walk in, complete with Disney’s unmatched customer service.

When it’s time to play, make sure to grab lounge chairs by the giant waterpark, then take a break to grab a Dole whip before playing in the private ocean lagoon that looks like a scene from Moana. Little ones will love running through the splash pad while older kids won’t want to miss snorkeling in the Rainbow Reef. Just make sure you race your kids down the waterslides and lounge in the lazy river, all while waving at your favorite characters or being surprised by Mickey and the gang appearing for an impromptu dance party poolside.

With everything from grab-and-go snacks to sit-down dinners, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to book the character breakfast in advance, because you won’t want to miss their faces when Minnie blows them a kiss. Plus, you can take a short walk across the street to grab a cup of coffee at Island Vintage Coffee or enjoy a slice of scrumptious strawberry pie at the Monkeypod Kitchen. — Erica Jabali, I Spy Fabulous

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Aulani, A Disney Resort And Spa

Top rated
9.7 Excellent (844 reviews)

Princeville, Hawaii: A Dreamy Escape for a Summer Family Vacation


Kauai is a dreamy place to take the family for a relaxing summer vacation. Kids love playing on the beach, spotting sea turtles and monk seals, hiking through the tropical landscape, and enjoying a refreshing shaved ice to cool off.

The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort, perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific along the lush North Shore, is our favorite place to stay. The stylish villas have full kitchens, private lanais, and the option for multiple bedrooms if Mom and Dad want their space.

The resort itself includes paved, stroller-friendly paths for evening strolls (we loved going for a walk as the tiki torches were being lit at night), and multiple private pools, including a “Keiki” kids pool with a water slide and giant plastic turtles spouting water. The breakfast buffet is free for kids under three and serves Hawaiian twists on kid-friendly favorites, like pancakes with coconut syrup and tropical fruit. The location is great as well — you’re minutes away from top attractions like Hanalei, the Kilauea Lighthouse, and Anini Beach (our favorite beach to take toddlers — the waters are calm and the snorkeling is great). — Aileen Allen, At Home In Love

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The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (2480 reviews)

York, Maine: An Iconic Summer Family Vacation


I’ve been doing summer trips to Southern Maine since I was a little girl. The crisp, cool air, delicious lobster, and easy living keep calling me back; and now I take my own girls.

Last summer, our Maine tradition took a wonderful turn when the iconic Cliff House resort reemerged after a stunning renovation. The property is located on beautiful cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and picturesque vistas abound. And now, the resort’s amenities match those views.

Hotel rooms and common areas are beautifully appointed, modern, and nautically chic. And there’s plenty to entertain the kids. The Cliff House boasts a large, dedicated family pool and hot tub (kept at a lower temperature), a bounce house, cornhole, giant chess board, and infant toys. The resort also offers a daily calendar of family-friendly activities — including kids’ movies at the hotel’s theater, s’mores, and a weekly firework display.  Parents can also put their kids in the resort’s kids’ club, and then jet over to the swanky adult pool to relax with a frozen drink or visit the resort’s spa, gym, or on-site artisanal coffeehouse. — Marissa Millman, Donuts at the Disco

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Cliff House Maine

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (1786 reviews)

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: A Favorite Summer Family Vacation


Baja California Sur has our hearts as a favorite family destination for summer vacation. It can be a relaxing, low-key lounge-on-the-beach trip or full of adventure – you choose.

Chileno Bay Resort in Cabo was perfect for our family of seven. We have five kiddos between 6 and 14 and there was something for everyone. The resort itself is beautiful and the staff was incredible. My kids made fast friends with them all.

But the kid-friendly amenities will quickly grab their attention. There’s pinata making, pajama parties, crafts, seashell collecting, and even spy night. The food here is also top-notch. We highly recommend grilled pineapple pina coladas, fresh guac, fajitas, and churros de la casa to top it all off. Plus as we were dining on the shore, whales were jumping all over the place right in front of us. Needless to say, it’s a memory we won’t soon forget. — Kalani Watson

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Chileno Bay Resort Residences

Cabo San Lucas
9.5 Excellent (104 reviews)

Mackinac Island, Michigan: A Family-Friendly Island Summer Getaway


Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island is a fantastic family summer getaway. It’s located near gorgeous sites including Arch Rock and Lake Huron, where you can take in the views in one of the many Adirondack chairs, and it has no shortage of family-friendly amenities.

They have their own bike rentals with different types of bikes for each person, including bike trailers for children, which is perfect for biking the eight scenic miles around the island. They also offer evening glow golf, which is very kid-friendly and fun for the whole family. Mission Point has a pool and hot tub and their concierge is happy to provide ideas of what to do around the island.

Mission Point has casual restaurants, such as Bistro on the Greens as well as upscale dining at Chianti for Italian Cuisine. All are very family-friendly and the waiters are accommodating to families with children. (The breakfast buffet at Round Island Bar and Grill shouldn’t be missed with its delicious options for all kinds of eaters.)

Mission Point is located about half a mile outside of downtown Mackinac Island, which is the perfect location because it’s quieter but there’s still plenty to do. Considering all the family-friendly amenities, it’s no surprise most of the property’s guests consist of families. — Amanda Hernandez, Nutritionist Reviews

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Mission Point Resort

Mackinac Island
7.7 Good (87 reviews)

Nisswa, Minnesota: A Summer Family Vacation with Cozy Cabins and Cottages


Minnesota has more than its fair share of excellent lakeside resorts, but Grand View Lodge is one of my favorites. It combines all the classic elements of a traditional Minnesota lake vacation (like fishing, swimming, sunset pontoon rides, and roasting marshmallows over a crackling bonfire) with upscale amenities like two championship golf courses and a luxurious spa.

The setting is gorgeous, all sandy beaches and towering pines. The resort’s eight restaurants offer regional favorites, scenic views, and pretty patios with lush gardens and waterfalls. Every lodging option — from cozy cabins and cottages to rooms in the historic Main Lodge and a brand-new boutique hotel that’s opening July 2019 – offers easy access to the Northwoods landscape that’s been drawing families to Nisswa since 1916.

It’s almost ridiculously easy to have a good time here. There are activities offered from dawn to dusk, from morning yoga to wine and beer tastings. Bring the family to the pools, beach, game room or waterpark, explore more than 125 miles of bike trails or brave the zipline. Kids Club and Kids Night Out programs offer crafts, games, and outdoor fun for kids aged 3 to 11 (and babysitting is available for children under three), so parents can slip away for guilt-free cocktails, golf lessons, couples spa treatments, and dinner dates. — Alicia Underlee Nelson, Prairie Style File

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Grand View Lodge

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (1280 reviews)

Niagara Falls, New York: Two Blocks from the Falls


Niagara Falls, New York is a great family destination that brings learning and family fun together. There are many attractions on the United States’ side of the Falls that cannot be missed.

When choosing a hotel in Niagara Falls, proximity to the Falls is key. The Sheraton Niagara Falls is a two-block walk to Niagara Falls State Park where all of the attractions are located. Just park your car in their parking lot (for free) and you can walk to just about everything. Once you are inside Niagara Falls State Park, hop on the Trolley to take you to each attraction.

If you need some downtime, you can do that back at the Sheraton. Go for a dip at The Reef Beach Club and Pool. You can even check out beautiful fish and sharks in the tanks that surround the pool. If Mom or Dad needs some relaxation, stop by the HydroSpa, where you can create your own unique spa experience with six individual automated treatment zones.

You don’t even have to leave the hotel for your meals. Located inside the Sheraton Niagara Falls are two restaurants, T.G.I.Friday’s and The Rainforest Cafe, along with Starbucks. While you wait for a table, the kids can pop into the Arcade located between the restaurants to pass the time.

If you are looking for even more to do, the Sheraton Niagara Falls is directly connected to the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. The shortcut offers quick and convenient access to even more restaurants and shopping. — Stephanie Glover, A Grande Life

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Sheraton Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
7.9 Good (4831 reviews)

Concorde, North Carolina: Escape the Heat on Your Summer Family Vacation


If you prefer staying indoors away from the heat during your summer family vacation, try Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, North Carolina. Not only does the lodge offer a waterpark for every age, but they also have a cool game that kids can play at night, called Magic Quest. This allows families to bond as they try to solve the questions in the game.

After spending a day at the indoor waterpark and waiting for the bucket drop, families can relax in the lounge areas of the lodge. They can take in one of the nightly shows and eat dinner at the on-site restaurant. There’s also the added feature of having a nightly treat delivered to your room by one of the Magic Quest characters at the lodge.

With so many things offered inside the lodge, there’s no reason to venture out for food or shopping. If that wasn’t enough to make you want to stay there, the rule to not roam the halls after 10 p.m. is a blessing. — Melissa, Adventures Frugal Mom

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Great Wolf Lodge Concord

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (2020 reviews)

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina: Kids Eat Free at this Summer Family Vacation Destination


If you dream of sweet memories of your kiddos shoveling pails of sand, collecting stark white seashells in the never-ending sunshine, or squealing with delight at the squawks of a parrot, then book your summer vacation at the Holiday Inn Resort Wilmington E-Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. Kids eat free at the on-site Oceans Restaurant and everyone can enjoy the glistening pool with fruity drinks and yummy snacks from Lazy Daze Poolside Bar and Grill.

Better yet, the resort is just steps away from the roaring waves of the Atlantic. With special events like “cookies and milk” nights, plus a complimentary shuttle to take you around town, this resort is every parent’s dream. You and the kids can splash in three pools, sink into the warmth of two hot tubs, get fit in on the volleyball court, rent bikes to explore nearby Wilmington or chase each other around the playground.

When the sun sets, save a comfy lounge chair for a great view of the giant pool-side cinema screen. If you need a break, drop the kids at the Oceanfront KidSpree Vacation Club room for games, crafts, and movies while you enjoy the music at Gabby’s Lounge. — Kelsie Kleinmeyer, Currently Kelsie

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Holiday Inn Resort Lumina on Wrightsville Beach, an IHG Hotel

Top rated
Wrightsville Beach
8.8 Excellent (2101 reviews)

Pacific City, Oregon: A Summer Family Vacation with Vast Beaches


It’s hard to beat the Oregon Coast for an epic summer vacation for families. The vast beaches and sleepy Northwest vibe make this a hot spot for families who want a relaxing vacation while building family memories.

Our favorite kid-friendly hotel on the Oregon Coast is the Inn at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon. They have an O’Neill Suite where kids can stay in bunk beds that look like an authentic VW surf van and families can borrow complimentary beach cruisers. Plus, the beach is right across the street, there’s a market next door, and there’s an amazing coffee shop downstairs.

Kids will go nuts for the beach where the water is calm and they can spend the day building sand castles. Plus, you can roast hot dogs or make s’mores at a beach campfire. (Make sure to grab some complimentary beach chairs and towels from the hotel.)

Nearby, there’s a scenic Oregon Coast train ride, where kids can spot rock formations, fishing boats, and incredible views. The train stops at a cute town with candy shops and a playground.

But, one of the coolest family attractions is the Tillamook Creamery. They have an interactive, self-guided tour in their new visitors center where kids can milk a fake cow and taste lots of cheese samples. They also serve the creamiest, most flavorful ice cream. — Marcie Cheung, Marcie in Mommyland

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Inn at Cape Kiwanda

Pacific City
9.2 Excellent (987 reviews)

Kiawah Island, South Carolina: Golf Courses and Family-Friendly Pools


For a family summer vacation in a paradise setting that truly offers something for everyone, the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is our choice (and the kids’ choice) year after year. Located just 45 minutes from Charleston, Kiawah offers pristine beaches, gorgeous marshland and lush forest landscapes.

The resort offers tons of activities from bike riding to dolphin spotting to paddleboarding. They also have incredible amenities that include golf courses, tennis courts, and family-friendly pools. Our younger kids love Kamp Kiawah, which fills their days with fun activities and the chance to make new friends. Teens have plenty of choices as well, including Capture the Flag and Bonfire nights. Family events, like the 4th of July Bike Parade, the Family Talent Showdown and Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ, add to the bonding experience of this summer family vacation.

For a true luxury experience, stay at The Sanctuary at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the gorgeous beach-side, AAA Five-Diamond Hotel and Spa. Villas and private homes are also available to rent through the resort. The beauty of the island and the plethora of activity options for children and adults will continue to bring us back to memory-making Kiawah for years to come. — Tamara Farias, Lights Camera Family

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The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort

Top rated
Kiawah Island
9.6 Excellent (310 reviews)

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