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Best family vacations for 2019 — besides Disney

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This year’s rad family travel USA destinations

You may not recall what an average day in fourth grade looked like, but dollars to donuts you fondly remember that family vacation that permanently etched jaw-dropping experiences in your brain forever.

Ready to make life-long memories with kids of all ages? Make magic happen when you take them to any of the following destinations. From hiking to snorkeling, mountains to beaches, cities to national parks, here are places to go with kids in 2019.

Florida Keys

Marathon, Florida

Why go? Caribbean warmth and sunshine, possibly within driving distance, depending on where you live. What’s not to love?

What to do? Snorkeling, fishing, boating, swimming, seafood, play on beaches, catch lobster, and more.

Where to stay? We stayed at a wonderful vacation home called “Salty Fare,” part of the Coral Lagoon Resort in Marathon, Florida in the middle keys. A waterfront home, with a boat slip included (rent or bring a boat!), this home is perfect for six to eight guests. Plus, the resort’s heated, in-ground pool with poolside seating in both the shade and the sun is just steps away from this home. Check out this dreamy, affordable vacation home here.

Learn more:


Glacier Mountain National Park


Why go? Incomparable mountain views, fresh air, abundant wildlife, and as much solitude you can handle. 

What to do? Hiking, camping, get your junior ranger badge, take a guided tour, drive the Going Down the Sun Road, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and more.

Where to stay? Sunset Magazine recently showcased Kalispell, Montana as a fun, funky town to base your family when visiting Glacier. Or rent an RV to save hundreds on your national park adventure!

Have a fourth grader at home? Learn how to get your free national park pass here!

Learn more:

Thanks to my sweet friend, Sara Mauk, for sharing the above photo of her kids in Glacier National Park!


Grand Canyon


Why go? Jaw-dropping vistas, painted canyons, wonderful sunsets, hikes, and more.

What to do? Hiking, rafting, biking, photography, Ranger programs and more. Our favorite way to experience the Grand Canyon was hiking down through the Havasupai Reservation (in the physical Grand Canyon but not part of the national park itself) and camping by Havasu Falls for three nights.

Where to stay? If you’re not into camping, and you’re just checking out Grand Canyon for the day, the old Route 66 town of Williams offers great lodging on the south side, or Kanab, Utah offers sweet spots on the north side. Or, bundle your accommodation and transportation all into one with RV rental in Phoenix - a great option for adventurous families!

Learn more:


Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Why go? The capital of FREE, there are 100+ free things to do in D.C. with your kids. Magical in any season, America’s front yard is filled with history, cool neighborhoods, and delicious eats.

What to do? Hop on a bus for a night tour of D.C.’s monuments and memorials. Or consider a hop-on, hop-off trolley. Do not miss the Arlington National Cemetery, Smithsonian, National Museum of African American History & Culture, Holocaust Museum, Mount Vernon, tour of the White House and/or the Capitol, Air & Space Museum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Museum of the Bible.

Where to stay? Crash at a spiffy hotel downtown or check out these handy vacation homes in the heart of D.C.

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Yosemite National Park


Why go? Waterfalls, family nature hikes, mighty vistas, wildlife, and more in this iconic national park where Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir conversed about protecting and preserving national parks for the enjoyment of the people.

What to do? Hike, bike, float, climb, swim, fish, paint, sketch, camp, and enjoy timeless serenity. Spy El Capitan, climb up the backside to Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, hike to waterfalls (our favorite: the Mist Trail!), drive up to Glacier Point, and more. All our tips for what to do with kids in Yosemite here.

Where to stay? If you want to experience Yosemite in all her glory, we say CAMP! If camping just ain’t your gig, stay in one of the lodges, and if you’re willing to splurge, go all out at the Majestic Hotel, also right in the valley, the heart of it all.

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Maui, Hawaii

Why go? Beaches, water sports, warmth, sunshine, waterfalls, and hiking. Unforgettable quality time with the kids.

What to do? View the sunset on the beach, hike to famous craters, tantalize your tastebuds, take the back road to Hana, go whale watching, paddle-board, snorkle, scuba dive, surf, plus drink in history and culture.

Where to stay? Travel with another family and then renting a house is the way to go! Discover the best vacation homes to stay in on Maui here.

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Ozark Mountains

Big Cedar Resort

Why go? Near Branson, Missouri, this gorgeous, rustic retreat in the Ozarks called Big Cedar is easily accessible from the midwest and even parts of the south. Be forewarned: a family vacation here will have your kids begging to return every year, no matter the season. Case closed.

What to do? The free resort shuttle lets you easily pool hop among the resort’s numerous swimming pools. Plus, ginormous, family-friendly Table Rock Lake allows for all the fishing, boating, water skiing and tubing you can handle. Big Cedar also now has indoor bowling, laser tag, and a brand new spot.

Where to stay? Big Cedar Resort of course. We’re fans of staying in a timeshare —that we don’t own— on the Wilderness Club side of Big Cedar. Here’s how to book a timeshare without owning one.

Learn more:



Seattle, Washington

Why go? Unsurpassed natural beauty, world-famous attractions, major sports teams, an eclectic arts and culture scene, there’s something for everyone in Seattle. Plus, two national parks are within easy reach.

What to do? Visit the Space Needle, ride the monorail, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), Pacific Science Center, spend a day or more at the Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, the Aquarium, Museum of Flight and so much more. Bonus: Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades National Parks are all within 2-4 hours of Seattle.

Where to stay? Check out these vacation homes in the city, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, live out of a vintage VW camper van for the week!

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Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, CO

Why go? Thrilling outdoor adventure at or above 6,000 feet. Colorado Springs is home to Pikes Peak and cultural and educational experiences for all ages.

What to do? Reach the tip-top of Colorado Springs fourteener, Pikes Peak! Lose yourself in Garden of the Gods, hit up parks and trails, soar over or ride the train through the Royal Gorge (just an hour away!) spend the day at one of the nation’s best: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, tour the Olympic Training Center or the Air Force Academy, play the Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs and so much more.

Where to stay? Spread out in one of these family vacation homes found in Colorado Springs. Or if you feel like splurging, the world-famous Broadmoor Hotel or family favorite Great Wolf Lodge never disappoint.

Learn more:


Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah

Why go? Utah’s first national park, we loved Zion so much, we’ve visited twice and plan to go again. Trod where native people and pioneers of old built their dwellings and lives. Gaze at God’s matchless artistry and enjoy all kinds of outdoor adventure among red, orange, and pink sandstone towers and cliffs.

What to do? Hike the Narrows, canyoneer in the Kolob Terrace, spy bighorn sheep, camp, hike numerous trails to experience one-of-a-kind sunsets and vistas, or bike along the Virgin River. Learn about history and wildlife at Zion National Park Visitor Center. Enjoy a sweet small town packed with culture, good eats, and excellent lodging.


Where to stay? No matter how you slice it, Springdale does not offer cheap lodging unless you’re lucky to snag a campsite in the park. But, staying in town is worth very penny, as you can easily walk the main street sit down to local eats in the canyon. If saving money is a must, consider cool nearby Kanab.

Learn more:

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