According to some of the latest travel statistics, 100 million Americans are planning to enjoy a vacation with their families this summer. Whether you’re in the process of putting together a trip for you and your loved ones during the warmer months of the year or perhaps you want to take advantage of lower off-season rates by planning a vacation in the spring or fall, these ideas are sure to get you inspired.
The Black Hills, South Dakota
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of South Dakota’s Black Hills is probably Mount Rushmore, but this lush western region of the state offers a ton of other family-friendly attractions. Just minutes from the national monument is Custer State Park with its abundant wildlife that can easily be spotted with a drive on Wildlife Loop Road. Watch for elk, pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, a large population of bison and the infamous “begging burros,” the descendants of burros from the area’s booming gold rush days who often come right up to cars in hopes of a treat. The park is also home to some beautiful lakes, including Sylvan Lake which was featured in 2007’s “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” Families can enjoy swimming, renting a paddle boat to explore its shores, picnicking, hiking, camping and more.
In nearby Hill City, ride a historic 1880 steam train to relive the days of the Wild West and watch old fashioned shootouts in the streets.
New York City, New York
If you aren’t fortunate enough to already own Manhattan real estate, taking a family-friendly vacation here is a great way for the kids to have fun while soaking up the culture and learning about the country’s history. Walk in the footsteps of the millions of immigrants who came through Ellis Island and visit the Statue of Liberty. The massive National History Museum covers two square blocks and showcases incredible gems and minerals like the 56-carat India sapphire, a giant blue whale and a favorite among visitors, the dinosaurs. Just strolling through Central Park can make for a good time with its wide range of performers and attractions, including a zoo.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
You’ll want to book well in advance to visit Yellowstone in the summer, or plan to come in late spring or early autumn when there will be fewer visitors yet little chance of snow. Either way, it’s worth the trip to experience the country’s first national park with its awe-inspiring geothermal features, more than any other place on the planet, Marvel at the impressive geysers like Old Faithful, hot springs in brilliant hues of red, orange, yellow, blue and green; colorful paint pots and more. There’s plenty of wildlife to watch for too, like bison, elk and Bighorn sheep.
Grand Cayman Island
Summer is the off-season on Grand Cayman Island and while the Carribean is subject to hurricanes this time of year, the Cayman Islands rarely take a direct hit and you’ll be able to enjoy a more affordable family trip. It’s a water sports paradise with some of the best snorkeling and diving in warm, crystal-clear turquoise water. At the shallow sandbar known as Stingray City, you can wade out into the sea where you’ll be surrounded by gentle stingrays – you can even feed them by hand.