You probably have some great memories of childhood trips, whether it was an annual vacation to the lake or a once-in-a-lifetime theme park adventure. So of course you want to create these memories for your grandchildren! Traveling with the grandkids can be one of the most joyful experiences of your life…but where should you go?
We polled more than 800 Americans over age 45, and the answers were clear: here are the best family vacation destinations, chosen by actual grandparents.
What to Do: San Diego tops the list of places to visit with family, and it’s easy to see why. It has beaches everywhere you look, the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, and oceanfront Belmont Park, which boasts a vintage wooden roller coaster. For history buffs—or just to get the grandkids a little education on their vacation—there’s the USS Midway and Old Town State Historic Park. Who says your trip can’t be fun and educational?
What to Do: The Ober Gatlinburg amusement park is a huge draw here. It has endless fun things to do with grandchildren: mini golf, an alpine coaster, rock climbing, bumper cars, a kiddie zone, and classic carnival rides. A half mile up the street, older kids will love the scenic Gatlinburg Sky Lift, and everyone can enjoy the giant playground and arcade at the Gatlinburg Space Needle. For indoor entertainment, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Ripley’s Odditorium have you covered.
Where to Stay: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Gatlinburg Downtown
What to Do: Collect shells with the grandkids along the shore, or take them out on a fishing charter for a little adventure. Rent bicycles and pedal through Lovers Key State Park to see ospreys above and manatees below. Burn off some energy on the go-karts and bumper boats at Zoomers and hit the mini-links at Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf. You can also take the fun indoors at Beach Bowl and Pelican’s Arcade. We’re sure the grandkids will agree: Fort Myers Beach is one of the best family vacations by the sand.
What to Do: Our survey revealed many train enthusiasts, and if you’re one of them, you’ll want to make a beeline for the Branson Scenic Railway. The 1880s-themed Silver Dollar City is the main attraction here—it’s got more than 40 rides, on-theme shows and demonstrations, and even a cave to explore. Teenage grandchildren will love the photo opportunities at the Titanic Museum, with its exact replica of the Grand Staircase and boiler room.
Where to Stay: Grand Plaza Hotel Branson
What to Do: State and national parks got loads of votes from grandparents traveling with grandkids, and this one is well worth the trip. Step into history when you tour Teddy Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch and Maltese Cross Cabin. Take in the incredible views from the Scenic Loop Drive and Painted Canyon Overlook, and partake in loads of activities, from astronomy nights to kids’ camps and Teddy Bear Picnics. The park is most active in the warmer months, making it a great pick for family summer vacation ideas.
Where to Stay: AmericInn by Wyndham Medora
Header Image Via Shutterstock.com/LightField Studios