Many of us spend years comfortably living in our small towns or big cities, on the East Coast, the West Coast or anywhere in between and yet never explore our own backyards. We see photos of friends and their children happily playing on far off beaches, hiking in magnificent national parks or exploring our country’s heritage yet when it comes time to planning our own USA family trips we often overlook the true beauty of this spectacular country.
If you are finding yourself dreaming of exotic places but are not ready to make the leap into international travel or just need a little inspiration for a short getaway we have you covered! The USA is full of world-class cities, extraordinary coastlines, phenomenal museums and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world! Although its always difficult to narrow things down here is our list of the top 5 family trips you NEED to take in 2018!
This spectacular state which is most famous for soft powder and amazing ski resorts of Park City and Deer Valley often gets underestimated by tourists. Travel during the summer or early fall for gorgeous hiking, off peak prices and spectacular scenery. Then venture further out to the incredible National Parks of Zion, Arches, Bryce and Canyonlands. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Although people of all ages will appreciate the otherworldly scenery and outdoor recreation USA family trips to UT would be best enjoyed with school age and teenage children who are able to participate in longer hikes, camping adventures and horse back riding tours.
* Contact BTA for special access to historical, archaeological and Native American sites; private vehicle & air charter services.
Where To Stay: There are loads of options from 5 star hotels, to campgrounds, glamping and everything in between. Some of our favorite hotels include:
Amagiri With 34 suites and one 4-bedroom Mesa Home, situated on 600 acres in the middle of the Grand Circle of National Parks and Monuments this hotel offers a diverse adventure program with excursions such as hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, canyon tours, boating trips on Lake Powell, rafting trips on the Colorado River, scenic flights by helicopter, small plane or hot air balloon, and day trips to the nearby national parks such as Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. It also has a 25,000 square foot Aman Spa which offers treatments based on the ancient healing philosophies of the Navajo.
Waldorf Astoria Park City The hotel’s Frostwood Gondola provides simple access to Canyons Village, boasting over 7,300 acres of recreational terrain. Spend a day in the mountains hiking, biking or horseback riding. Try out the fantastic ski slopes outside our front door, or take advantage of complimentary transportation to the Park City Base Area, Deer Valley Resort, and downtown Historic Main Street.
Sundance Resort Owned by Robert Redford since 1969, this hotel is a perfect year round mountain escape. A place where art and recreation come together, Sundance is nestled in the foreground of 12,000 ft. Mount Timpanogos. Enjoy downhill and cross country skiing in winter and mountain biking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, art classes and as of recent the 3rd longest zip-line in the country in the Spring, Summer and Fall.
Things To Do:
Canyonlands National Park Explore the awe-inspiring landscape of Chesler Park. This full-day tour by 4WD visits remote sections of the pristine wilderness with rugged off-road tracks to highlights such as Elephant Hill, Devil’s Kitchen, Devil’s Lane and SOB Hill.
Arches National Park Take 4WD tour that features spectacular sandstone arches and access to areas that most visitors don’t see. An expert guide will maneuver your 4WD past red rock highlights such as Marching Men, Tower Arch and Eye of the Whale. This 5-hour tour even includes a stop to see fossilized dinosaur tracks.
Highlights Tour See the desert landscapes of the Western United States! On this three-day tour, depart from Las Vegas to see Arizona’s Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, and Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.
When To Go: Most popular travel time for Skiing is Dec- March. Visit April through October for National Parks, hiking and fishing.
4) San Juan Islands, WA
This string of emerald islands off the coast of Seattle and British Colombia provide a plethora of family activities for all ages. An ideal destination for group travel and multi-generational USA family trips the scenery will leave you speechless, while the kayaking, beach combing, biking, hiking, shopping, art galleries and unique restaurants will keep everyone entertained. Did you know that Orcas Island is home to several pods of Orcas who are often spotted by kayakers swimming and playing close to shore? Now that is an experience your kids will NEVER forget!
Where To Stay: San Juan island is the largest island with many hotel and lodging options while Orcas island is a good choice for families looking for a bit more peace and quiet with easy access to town and activities.
Tucker House Inn Just 7 minutes’ walk from Port of Friday Harbor this charming bed and breakfast offers free bicycle and kayak hires. A sumptuous 3-course breakfast is served daily. Free Wi-Fi is included in all guest rooms. Cable TV is featured in all rooms at Tucker House Inn.
Outlook Inn on Orcas Island Showcasing bay views Outlook Inn on Orcas Island features an on-site restaurant and bar. Free WiFi is included in all guest rooms. Mount Constitution Moran State Park is 9.6 km away. Each room is comfortably furnished. Select rooms feature a fireplace a spa bath and views of the bay.
Friday Harbor House No car required here. Ride the ferry through the the Salish Sea to San Juan Island then walk two blocks to the Friday Harbor ouse hotel. With 23 modern guest rooms and suites, Arts and Cras furniture, fireplaces, and oversized jet tubs, this hotel is sure to please. One bonus; most rooms have views of the harbor and pine-covered islands, but book early as hotels on the islands sell out months in advance.
Spend a few days in beautiful Seattle before or after your trip to the islands and enjoy a stay at one of our favorite properties.
Hotel Andra Be transported from bustling downtown neighborhood to a warm urban environment. Ideally located in the epicenter of the city, on the seam of the Belltown and South Lake Union neighborhoods and the thriving retail core, Hotel Ändra is perfectly situated for guests to engage in the quintessential Seattle experience.
Fairmont Olympic Hotels Recently renovated but originally built in 1924, Seattle’s premier hotel offers nearly a century of luxury service standards, while melding classic elegance with mid-century modern room décor. New rooms and corridors, as well as an updated gym, makes this classic a must-experience hotel in Seattle.
Things To Do:
Friday Harbor to Seattle’s Lake Washington Seaplane Enjoy a breathtaking one-way flight aboard a classic 6-passenger seaplane. Experience views of the Puget Sound, the Seattle Skyline, and the San Juan Islands.
Orcas Island Whale Watching Small group whale watching tours on the fastest boats in the region with Guaranteed Whales! See whales with us or come again for free.
San Juan Island Whale and Wildlife Tours Join Captain Hobbes for a chance to see the local “Southern Resident” salmon-eating orca whales in their natural environment. You’ll also likely see seals, sea lions, porpoise, eagles, seabirds, and maybe even humpback and minke whales.
Enjoy this experience from a 7-passenger boat, with seating inside and out, a heated cabin, and restroom.
When To Go: June-August provides long sunny days, warm weather
and summer crowds. Go in May, September or early October for better deals, slightly cooler weather and fewer visitors.
3) Charleston, SC
Full of history and charm, Charleston maintains its Southern roots and traditions while preserving and honoring the reminders of darker times. If you are looking for USA family trips with both R&R and enrichment this destination is must.
The city is beautiful, colorful and more reminiscent of old Europe than modern America. While the pristine, white sand beaches and warm water may entice you to spend the days lazying away, both parents and children of all ages will enjoy exploring the city.
Popular walking tours include the nightly ghost walks and historical treasure hunts. Older children may be interested to visit important American historic figures’ burial sights in haunting cemeteries, museums and civil war artifacts. Families with school age children will have a meaningful experience touring nearby plantations and seeing the paradoxical ways that slave owners and their slaves lived and worked for hundreds of year
Where To Stay: There are many beautiful and historic properties in Charleston, along the Battery, in the historic parts of the city and further along the coast. Here are a few we recommend.
The Dewberry This luxury hotel which offers old world charm juxtaposed with a distinctive modern edge. Founder and owner John Dewberry describes this as “Southern reimagined”. It is their hope that The Dewberry will inspire today’s experiential seeking, globetrotting traveler. The ideal downtown location overlooks Marion Square on Charleston’s historic peninsula.
Belmond Charleston Place Historic Charleston hotel just minutes from famous homes, museums, and churches. World-class luxurious accommodations including a full-service spa, “The Club” private concierge level, rooftop pool and bar, award-winning dining, and an exclusive collection of boutiques in the heart of downtown.
Beach Club at Harbor Resort & Marina Perfect blend of southern charm and modern luxury, this newly built 92 room boutique hotel has been meticulously designed with two seaside, heated pools, The Estuary Spa, fitness center, private beachfront, bocce court, beach games, and complimentary bike rentals. The resort provides easy access to the historic district via water taxi or on the complimentary resort trolley.
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort Located along the pristine shores of Kiawah Island this exquisitely designed luxurious oceanfront hotel is thirty minutes from downtown Charleston. Experience a grand and romantic seaside mansion for an unforgettable escape.
River that survived both the American Revolution and the Civil War. It is one of the oldest plantations in the south and is also known as America’s most beautiful Garden.
Scavenger Hunt Turn Charleston into a giant game board with this fun scavenger hunt adventure! This challenge combines the excitement of the Amazing Race with a 3-hour city walking tour. Guided from any smart phone, teams make their way among well known and overlooked gems of the city, solving clues and completing challenges while learning local history.
When To Go: The best time to visit Charleston is from March to May to witness the blooming of colorful azaleas or from September to November when temperatures cool down and the weather is mild. Easter holidays bring lots of tourists and winters can be rainy and chilly.
2) Avalon & Stone Harbor, NJ
This is the quintessential, All-American beach town you may never have heard of. While tiny in comparison to the more popular and chic East Coast meccas of the Hamptons and Nantucket Island and lacking the kitschiness of the stereotyped Jersey Shore, these two towns share a barrier island called Seven Mile beach.
You won’t find carnival rides or boardwalks here but this 7 mile long and 2-3 blocks wide island is home to dozens of phenomenal restaurants, quaint ice cream parlors, old school salt water taffy stores and seemingly more surf shops than people. It also has some of the most expensive and coveted real estate in NJ. USA family trips to this part of the Jersey Shore will bring you to some of the most beautiful, well cared for, clean and (relatively) uncrowded beaches in the country. With its grand beachfront mansions, large sand dunes begging to be explored, giddy children and seemingly perfect families this town has been a well kept secret for in-the-know Philadelphians, escaping the summer heat for decades. Nearby Margate City and Cape May also offer beautiful beaches, quaint shopping and additional lodging options.
Things To Do:
Cape-May Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise Join the captain and his seasoned crew as your cruise into the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean for a 3-hour whale and dolphin watching experience. The Delaware Bay
Estuary is a sanctuary for many species of marine life, including humpback whales, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, thresher sharks, hammerheads, harbor porpoise, seals, northern gannets, great shearwaters, laughing gulls and a plethora of fish species.
Offering private, group and camp instruction. they have a variety of experienced surf instructors who provide surfing instruction at a level that meets your needs and surfing experience.
Tennis Lessons and Camps Take private lessons or put the kids in mini-camps at the Stone Harbor Rec Center.
Where To Stay: There are only a few hotels on this tiny island and they tend to book out months in advance for peak season. Many people opt to rent vacation homes, which go for a well deserved premium in the Summer and most require weekly or monthly rentals.
Check out: The Reeds at Shelterhaven for a unique experience on the water.
When To Go: June-August is when the town is buzzing with activity, children are off school and families flock to the beach for some hard earned R&R. Travel in May or September for beautiful weather, fewer crowds and deals on lodging.
1) Carmel and Monterey, CA
Home to Clint Eastwood and the setting of the hit show “Big Little Lies”, Monterey and its posher sister Carmel boast gorgeous hotels and spas, the world renown golf course of Pebble Beach, nationally acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium, imposing California coastline with ruggedly stunning beaches and the expansive mansions of Silicon Valley elite along 17 mile drive. The famous sights of Seal Rock and Cypress Point offer incredible family photo-ops and make for gorgeous stops.
Families will be hard pressed to fit in all the activities these little towns have to offer, but whether you fly in for a long weekend or stay for a week this destination never disappoints.
Things to Do:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Dive into an underwater world of mystery, beauty and awe at the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of the stunning California coastline. With your all-day admission ticket, you’ll come face-to-face with ocean animals from sharks and rays to penguins and jellyfish.
Monterey Half Day Whale Watching Meet at Fisherman’s Wharf to begin your whale watching experience at 9am. Monterey Bay is considered to be a premier destination for whale watching year round as these animals are often spotted there. Your whale watching trip will be narrated by a marine biologist or naturalist, who will provide you educational and interesting information about marine wildlife.
Private Sailing Share the wonders of sailing with your family and friends on this 2-hour private sailing cruise on Monterey Bay. Keep your eyes peeled, and you may spot grey, blue, and humpback whales, who spout water and breach as they migrate with their calves.
Sea otters, dolphins, and vocal sea lions also frolic through one of the most pristine areas in the Pacific. All sailors are offered a chance to take the helm and discover the grace and beauty of a boat under sail. Choose a captained cruise for a more relaxing voyage in the world’s second largest marine sanctuary.
Where To Stay: Monterey tends to have more affordable lodging options while Carmel boasts several 5* resorts with incredible views, spas and dining options.
Carmel Valley Ranch Carmel Valley Ranch has embarked on an exciting transformation, and emerged as a completely new style of resort that encourages guests to play, engage and connect. Taking full advantage of nearly 500 acres of magnetic landscape, the resort includes scores of programs and activities such as beekeeping, early morning hikes, fitness classes and horseback riding.
The Ranch offers a rich array of amenities including a Pete Dye championship golf course, tennis courts, bocce ball and basketball courts, swimming pools, hot tubs, an organic garden and vineyard, kids’ splash zone and playground, meeting rooms and a bevy of swings hanging from majestic 300 year old oaks.
When To Go: Although a year-round destination, with a mild climate, winters can be rainy and chilly.
Thank you for reading our blog. We hope you will follow us along on our journey and contact BTA to book your next vacation in the United States or elsewhere!