If you could pick 10 dream destinations to visit over a lifetime with your family, what would they be? We made a list and checked it twice.
Some take you across the country, others around the world—and, in our opinion, each of them takes you to one of the most exciting places on the planet.
Our top beach vacation pick is Kauai, with its sail and snorkel tours, airplane tours, plus stunning natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. The magical Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens are a don’t-miss spot for families. And of course there are the beaches—oh, the beaches!
This island in Lake Huron transports you to another era—a more gentle , car-free era. Stay at the Grand Hotel in grand old style. Arriving via ferry, you’ll be transported to the hotel by a horse-drawn carriage . Spend your days at the huge, serpentine pool, enjoy the view from the world’s largest porch, tool around the island on bicycles built for two, and eat fudge to your heart’s content.
The ideal vacation for those of us who want to nurture future Anglophiles. Take your family to visit the Tower of London with its crown jewels, Westminster Abbey and the Globe Theater (even if it’s not the original).
Not to be missed for school-age kids, this city breathes life into the stories from American History textbooks. My personal favorite is the Air and Space Museum, with the largest display of air and spacecraft in the world. Don’t miss a ride to the top of the Washington monument!
For older kids, Rome is a living history lesson. Don’t miss exploring that marvel of engineering, the Coliseum. Follow it up with breathtaking religious sights including Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
Most kids love wildlife, and an African safari is the ultimate. You can take children from the very youngest ages, but given the length of the safari outings and the possible heat, it might be best enjoyed by kids 8 and up. Northern Tanzania, with the vast migratory plains of the Serengeti, the most famous and spectacular safari country in the world, is our #1 safari destination for families.
We’d recommend keeping it simple, with just two cities on your itinerary (but with enough amazing sites to last a lifetime). Start in Beijing, where you can visit both the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, then make the short trip to Xian, with it s ancient walled city and terracotta warriors.
Wyoming Dude Ranch
What could be more relaxing than a vacation that has your family on horseback, traversing mountains and fields of wildflowers, all with a river running through it? (And fly fishing for those who have the patience!). Whether you’re trotting around barrels, going on a trail ride or cooking s’mores, make sure to pick a ranch close to Yellowstone for a classic American family vacation.
Walt Disney World
There’s a reason the trip to central Florida is a rite of passage: Disney is pure magic. Our top pick for accommodations is the Polynesian Resort, a tropical paradise where you can hop on the monorail that whisks you directly to the park. Aloha!
Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon
Sedona boasts some of the most dramatic landscape in our beautiful country, best viewed by hiking, riding the Pink Jeep tours or hopping aboard a biplane. Play on Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon, then head north to the Grand Canyon, where fit families can hike to the bottom and back.