The Best US Vacations With Teenagers

Whether you're looking for a vacation that lets your teens be independent or one where you can all spend more time together, we have the teen-friendly getaway for you.

Parenting teens can be a bit of a rollercoaster. Often, they’re just a blur on their way to and from the refrigerator, a vision in the next room texting their friends. Occasionally they make an appearance to ask for a ride (or the car keys, or money). One day they’re surly and searching for independence and the next, they want to recreate their favorite childhood moments and are looking for your company.

Honestly, what parent wouldn’t need a vacation after all of that?

Depending on your teens, you may find that you need a space that allows them to be independent, or conversely, creates an atmosphere where you all spend more time together.

When it comes to getaways with my own teen son, I like to change up the options, sometimes staying at self-contained resorts where he can have some autonomy and other-times picking vacation destinations where we can explore together or learn a new skill.

Here are eight of my teen favorite destinations around the country.

Teens can Hang Ten in SoCal

Right on the beach in “Surf City USA,” you can’t get closer to the sand, waves, and surf scene of Huntington Beach than the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort. For teens with even a passing interest in learning to ride the waves, this is a prime setting – just two blocks from a surf school on the beach where the California surf scene began. The modern Shorebreak is also just a block from teen-magnets Main Street and Huntington Beach Pier, where gift shops and burger stands come with sea views and beach breezes.

The Shorebreak has lots to impress parents, too, including complimentary daily “social hour,” beach cruisers to explore the neighborhood, and nightly s’mores around the fire pit, plus coastal cuisine and cocktails at the Pacific Hideaway restaurant. Another perk of staying at the Kimpton Shorebreak: some of the most spacious room setups we’ve seen, including reasonably priced suites with two king beds!

Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort, an IHG Hotel

Top rated
Huntington Beach
9.3 Excellent (2320 reviews)

Funky Downtown Vibes in Austin

Austin, Texas offers a unique mix of nightlife and nature, all with a funky, artsy vibe. Downtown near Rainier Street, the Kimpton Van Zandt in Austin is perfectly positioned for you and your teens to sample all the city has to offer. Nearby is the Rainey Street District, a more compact — and less raucous — option to the nonstop party on 6th Street; I felt comfortable taking my teen son out here. (One spot to try: Bangers, with live music on the outdoor patio, solid food, and craft brews.)

It’s a quick bike ride from the hotel to the trails around Lady Bird Lake. You can take a 10 minute drive to Barton Springs, a great place for a fresh water dip on a hot day, or cool off at the Van Zandt’s fourth floor pool deck, where you’ll have views of both the lake and downtown.

Another treat for teens here is the all day café where they can purchase a snack anytime the mood strikes. There’s also live music, drinks, and a locally-inspired menu at the onsite Geraldine’s restaurant.

Hotel Van Zandt

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (540 reviews)

Snow Day Deluxe for Teens in Colorado

For families who love powder days and mountain slopes, it’s hard to beat the ski in/ski out access of Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Colorado. Not only is this Vail Resort set next to the lift, it’s also nestled right in the midst of Beaver Creek Village – a compact ski resort town with myriad dining and recreation options. You can easily let your teens explore on their own after a full day of downhill adventures without worry, since there’s no place to head outside the confines of the village.

This is also a top spot in the summer, with a year-round outdoor ice skating rink and a full range of summer outdoor activities on site — including hiking, mountain biking and mini golf. An outdoor heated pool and five hot tubs are available year-round too. Plus, there’s a serene spa for some grown up relaxation time as well.

Extra bonus for families with big kids: You can choose a room with two queen-size beds (instead of two doubles), so you’ll have plenty of room to stretch out.

The Residences at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

9.2 Excellent (1835 reviews)

Teen-Friendly Activities for Days in the Green Hills of Virginia

Looking for a spot where teens can be busy round the clock with zip lines, horseback rides, tennis lessons, archery, and even axe throwing while you unwind in the spa or have a tasting of local wines? Then the Salamander Resort & Spa, in bucolic Middleburg, Virginia, is a can’t miss destination.

Just 90 minutes south of Washington, DC, it’s an easy city escape. While it’s a 5-star property with fabulous service, it’s still a great bet for teens since the setting on 340 lush green acres in the middle of Virginia’s horse and wine country gives the property a relaxed vibe. The resort even offers adjoining rooms, so you and your young adults can each have private, but connected space.

Salamander Resort and Spa

9.2 Excellent (687 reviews)

Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

A hipster hangout in the midst of all the downtown New York City action, Crosby Street Hotel will thrill fashion-savvy teens who want to feel like a stylish local in the Big Apple. The hotel is at the crossroads of shopping and dining in SoHo, with shops like surf-centric Bonobos and the resin artistry of Dinosaur Designs just a few yards away.

Back at the hotel, lounge on the sunny outdoor terrace, get an adult beverage at the swanky cocktail bar, and then surprise the big kids with a movie night in the state-of-the-art private screening room for a cool NYC night to remember.

Crosby Street Hotel

Top rated
New York
9.5 Excellent (72 reviews)

Say Aloha to a Tropical Hawaiian Paradise for Teens

Located on 23 oceanfront acres right on Kaanapali beach with direct views of iconic Pu’u Keka’a (Black Rock), the Sheraton Maui is the ideal Maui spot for teens. They can do everything from snorkel at one of the island’s top water spots, right in front of the hotel, to explore the local shops at Whalers Village, just a few minutes walk down the beach. The Sheraton offers a wide array of cultural activities for them to try, too, including hula lessons, lei making, Polynesian tattoos (only temporary, we swear), and even fire knife demonstrations.

When you’re ready to relax, the Lagoon Pool is surrounded by lushly-landscaped gardens and offers floating beanbag chairs, a lazy river, and a waterslide. Another highlight for families: The extra-large Ohana (Family) Suites with two double beds and a deluxe Murphy bed.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

7.7 Good (2780 reviews)

Home on the (Dude) Ranch in Montana

Sometimes, it can feel like a chore to get your teens to spend time with you. If that’s the case, take them to 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, where the remote location will give you all the perfect excuse to unplug and reconnect.

The Ranch offers activities that you can all try together, including horseback rides into the surrounding mountains and fly fishing in the pristine Gallatin River, plus “Old West” wagon rides and chuck wagon dinners. Before you head to your two-bedroom cabin, spend some time looking at the stars around the nightly bonfire for some quality unplugged teen time.

320 Guest Ranch

Top rated
Gallatin Gateway
9.4 Excellent (1582 reviews)

Roller Coasters and Gelato in Orlando

My favorite parenting trick? I can magically turn a surly teen into a joyful kid again — all it takes is a trip to an Orlando theme park. For parents weary of park burnout, I have another trick up my sleeve: a stay at the Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando that will make you feel as though you’ve been transported far beyond the bustling parks to the relaxed Italian seaside.

I couldn’t believe how faithful the re-creation is, down to the parked Vespa, gondolas in the water, and delicious pizza, pasta, and gelato food options. The hotel also offers spacious accommodations with plenty of space to spread out, a great grown up pool for parents, a separate beach pool for families, and a swanky spa. There’s also easy access to Universal, which teens love for the giant coasters and Harry Potter attractions, and a stay here grants valuable skip-the-line Universal Express Unlimited ride passes.

Universal's Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (4082 reviews)