Use family trips to make lasting memories before the children grow up.
From shores to slopes, many top waterfront, mountaintop and urban destinations welcome families with special experiences, affordable lodging and sophisticated dining and entertainment. These 30 weekend getaways guarantee enriching activities for all ages and will inspire your family to enjoy some quality time together.
Go golfing or enjoy the spa in Jamaica
Families in need of some rest and relaxation will appreciate the ocean view golf and massages that are part of the Unlimited Golf and Spa Your Way packages at Half Moon resort in Jamaica. Travelers can save 15 percent when staying three nights and play unlimited rounds on the Robert Trent Jones Sr. championship course, or take advantage of spa services like body wraps and sugar scrubs. Families also have complimentary use of the golf range, putting green, tennis courts and nonmotorized boats year-round.
(Courtesy of Half Moon)
Sleep in a Pullman train car in Indianapolis
All ages will be wowed by the vintage trains inside the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station. The hotel was built around 13 restored Pullman cars parked in the steel-girded rail shed, and guests who book the blue line Pullmans will still experience the exciting rumble of passing Amtrak trains. Rest up before heading to The Children's Museum of Indianapolis to check out its new Sports Legends Experience or tour the 1890s steam locomotive.
(Courtesy of Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station)
Cruise to Alaska
Summer and early fall are the best times to cruise Alaska's Inside Passage thanks to its unforgettable scenery and wildlife. Princess Cruises' ship, train and helicopter tours let families experience almost every aspect of the 49th state. What's more, crews cook seafood caught on shore excursions, organize kids activities with rangers from Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve and even bring cuddly sled dog puppies on board for cruisers to interact with.
(Courtesy of Princess Cruises)
Enjoy live entertainment at Orlando, Florida's Disney Springs
Orlando boasts hundreds of hotels, with affordable properties near fun places like Disney Springs. This themed outdoor mall also hosts free performances ranging from nightly bands at Stargazers patio to events on Marketplace Stage. When it's time for a meal, take the kids to Morimoto Asia for Asian street-style noodles or to Wine Bar George, where adults can taste 100 wines while everyone enjoys Mediterranean tapas.
(Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)
Relax at a dude ranch in Montana
Expect western hospitality plus horseback riding and children's programs on a dude ranch vacation. Montana's JJJ Wilderness Ranch offers a summer all-inclusive rate of $2,300 per adult (with discounts for teens and kids), which covers six nights in a cabin, meals, lessons, rides and entertainment. If you're not sure which ranch is right for your family, the Dude Ranchers' Association offers an online vacation planner where travelers can input their interests, budget and ideal season for a visit and see the top results from an inventory of more than 100 North American ranches.
(Courtesy of Dude Ranchers’ Association)
Delight in new attractions and games at Disneyland in Anaheim, California
Start your engines and race through the Radiator Springs Racers area of Disneyland's Cars Land. Families can take advantage of Pixar Fest to enjoy characters and relive stories from all of Disney's Pixar films. Play Disney trivia games on the free Disney Parks mobile app as you wait to catch "The Incredibles" and "Cars" stars in the new Paint the Night parade, ride the Incredicoaster in the new Pixar Pier area, or go for a high score at the Toy Story Midway Mania! 4D game.
(Courtesy of Disneyland Resort)
Get active in the Rocky Mountains in Breckenridge, Colorado
For an active and rewarding mountain getaway, challenge the family to an Epic Discovery weekend at the Breckenridge Ski Resort. High altitude fun includes slides, a zip line, chairlifts with sky-high views, hiking trails and Alpine Camp, home to a rock climbing wall and more summer recreation. In the winter, hit the slopes for skiing, snowboarding and the alpine coaster before heading into the charming town for the casual après-ski scene.
(Andrew Maguire/Courtesy of Breckenridge Ski Resort)
Appreciate the performing arts in New York City
From free performances and dance classes at the Battery Dance Festival each August to two-for-one show tickets during September's Broadway Week, keeping kids entertained is easy in New York. And year-round, you can go underground to various subway stations to appreciate upcoming stars selected by Music Under New York, an audition-based system that supports buskers. Meanwhile, older kids will love attending free late-night comedy shows.
(Darial Sneed/Courtesy of Battery Dance Festival)
Raft down the Lower Klamath River in northern California
Imagine taking a swimming break in cool, clear running water and you'll appreciate why summer is the best season to try river rafting. Kids as young as 4 can safely conquer Class II rapids on an escorted trip with a professional outfitter, such as OARS. The company's guided, three-day Lower Klamath River trip in northern California departs twice weekly through mid-August; rates start at $699. In addition to rafting, travelers will enjoy access to swimming holes, camping under the stars, staff-prepared meals, wildlife-watching opportunities and more.
(Courtesy of Josh Miller Photography)
Go on an off-road adventure in New Hampshire
Explore the lush mountain scenery of New Hampshire's Grand North, about three hours from Boston, in an all-terrain vehicle. Outfitter Bear Rock Adventures rents two- to four-seater vehicles so you can ride along one of the world's best interconnected ATV trail networks, or head into Vermont to visit a maple syrup farm. Alternatively, book a Slingshot from $200 per half-day, and two can ride in style to visit the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort.
Soak up culture and savor tasty cuisine in Albuquerque, New Mexico
In New Mexico's capital of cool, visitors quickly learn the difference between red, green and Christmas chile at classic eateries like El Pinto. Pueblo-style jewelry, Hispanic art and more than 70 breweries, wineries and distilleries make Albuquerque a multicultural destination young adults will love. For an authentic stay, bed down at Hotel Chaco, near Old Town, where an outdoor pool, cactus garden and library complement a Native American-inspired, adobe reception area.
Tee off at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas in the Dominican Republic
With 7,000 landscaped acres, a hotel, villas, beaches and a replica Mediterranean village full of restaurants and shops, this Caribbean resort will keep all family members busy year-round. Novices can enroll for free in twice-weekly golf clinics, while more serious golfers can book the Train in Paradise package. Travelers can tee off with daily lessons and golf on any of the resort's Pete Dye championship courses. Accommodations, breakfast and a golf cart to get around are included in the rate, which starts at $499 per night for two (for a minimum three-night stay) through Dec. 21, 2018.
(Courtesy of Casa de Campo Resort & Villas)
Take in the mountains at Mont Tremblant in Quebec
When Mont Tremblant Ski Resort sheds its snowsuit, visitors revel in scenery, hiking and boating. The base village's entertainment lineup includes outdoor concerts and the nightly Tonga Lumina, an audiovisual sensory experience that leads visitors along an illuminated mid-mountain forest path. Year-round, there's indoor fun at the Aquaclub La Source pool, laser tag and an escape room. When snow returns, count on world-class skiing and riding, dog-sledding, steamy outdoor spas and base village entertainment over holidays and weekends.
Learn about African American culture in the District of Columbia
Revisit the civil rights struggle on this 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination and put it in context for children. The most fascinating place to do that is at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington. Even better, all of the Smithsonian museums (many of which are concentrated on the National Mall) are free to enter and enjoy. While spring is the high season, hotel rates fall in August and mid-winter.
(Alan Karchmer/Courtesy of Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture)
Get out on the water in Montgomery, Alabama
Hop on a stand-up paddleboard in Montgomery's Riverfront Park and paddle along the Alabama River while taking in views of the city's skyline. Travelers can arrange private rentals through local vendors, or adventurers can head north of the city to check out the whitewater rapids. The Coosa River offers Class II rapids that visitors can navigate on canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Coosa River Adventures organizes excursions, including transportation from nearby hotels.
(Courtesy of Montgomery Convention and Visitors Bureau)
Be a revolutionary in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is an ideal city for history buffs. Independence National Park encompasses Independence Hall – where politicians debated the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution -- as well as the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross' house and the city's historic district. To take in all Philadelphia has to offer, catch a guided tour or do it on your own for free. You won't want to miss the Museum of the American Revolution, which offers interactive experiences and engaging collections.
Laugh out loud at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York
The National Comedy Center, opening Aug. 1, 2018 in Lucille Ball's hometown of Jamesport, is the first nonprofit cultural institution focused on the art of comedy. Begin your visit by answering questions that will analyze your sense of humor, then explore more than 50 interactive exhibits or try your act as a stand-up comedian. From hologram performances of classic routines to an adults-only Blue Room where raunchier material is on display, there is enough humor to make all ages laugh out loud.
(Courtesy of the National Comedy Center)
Camp and canoe in Minnesota
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a pristine wilderness that's changed very little since the glaciers melted. Visitors of all skill levels can explore more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes crossing the dozens of lakes and streams within the 1 million acres of land. Permits cost $16 per adult and are half-price for children. Several outfitters can set your family up for multiday paddle trips, with campsites or cabins to stay the night in.
(Gary Hamer/Courtesy of Explore Minnesota)
Spend quality time with family and pets in San Francisco
Enjoy cable cars, an exciting waterfront and The Exploratorium while beating San Francisco's sky-high rates. The historic Westin St. Francis Family Package (with code FAMPKG25) starts at $249 per night and includes 25 percent off a second room and complimentary meals for kids 12 and younger when dining with parents. What's more, the hotel welcomes one dog (weighing less than 40 pounds) for free. That means kids can enjoy their own room and the pooch gets a Westin Heavenly dog bed.
Soak in healing waters in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Teens can develop lifelong healthy habits on a budget wellness getaway in Truth or Consequences, a New Age spa town. Imagine deep soaks in the famed healing waters and healthful dining. The rustic Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa offers a Rest & Relaxation Package, which starts at $670 for three nights with double occupancy and includes continental breakfast and a $250 spa credit. Or, stay at the stylish Blackstone Hotsprings resort, where rates start at $85 a night for a studio room with a kitchenette and an in-room hot spring bathtub.
(Ron Bozeman/Courtesy of RKR Media)
Go fishing or canoeing in Hampton, New Brunswick
All ages and abilities are welcome on New Brunswick's Kennebecasis River aboard Zephyrus, an electric pontoon boat that accommodates wheelchairs and scooters. The two-hour outings cost around $75 for a family of four, and travelers can enjoy fishing, bird-watching and swimming. Zelda's River Adventures depart daily from the Lighthouse River Center, where you can also learn about local history and the surrounding UNESCO-designated Stonehammer Geopark. Canoeing along the river is another fun activity families will enjoy.
(Courtesy of New Brunswick Tourism Board)
Chill at a fun resort in Scottsdale, Arizona
At top resorts like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, refreshing waterplay makes you forget about Arizona's heat. The resort's facilities include posh rooms, six swimming pools (some with waterslides), a white sand beach, two golf courses and a spa. The Fun in the Sun package, available through Dec. 31, 2018, welcomes families to enjoy this oasis in the Sonoran Desert, with rates from $199 a night that include a luxurious room and a $50 per night resort credit to apply toward recreation or use at one of the resort's five restaurants.
(Courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess)
Spend quality time exploring Mexico City
Enjoy this historic capital by making the luxurious St. Regis Mexico City your casa. Some of the hotel's Family Traditions activities include a visit to San Juan Market to shop for groceries and guided bike tours of local sights. Plus, the kids club offers a supervised spot for arts and crafts, movies and karaoke. As for accommodations, parents can book an in-suite glamping experience for children ages 3 to 9 where instead of sleeping in a rollaway, they can rough it in a tent stocked with kid-friendly amenities.
(Gregory Woodman/Courtesy of St. Regis Mexico City)
Take a family tour to Cuba
While a recent Allianz Global Assistance Survey found interest in travel to Cuba was declining, it's still on many travelers' bucket lists. Discover Corps runs family-focused, escorted trips that combine fun beach visits and local tours in Havana's fleet of classic cars with hands-on projects, art workshops and interactions with Cuban families that support the locals. Four-day Havana weekend trips start at $1,995 per adult and $1,695 per child.
(Courtesy of Discover Corps)
Feed hummingbirds in Ohio
Partake in the unique experience of hand-feeding ruby-throated humming birds at Ohio's Lake Hope State Park. Naturalist Kaylin Callander trains birds when they migrate in early spring by placing sweet water feeders around the park. She trains visitors to draw them by holding a nectar-filled tube with a red pipe cleaner. The hummingbirds may descend and drink from a hand that is kept perfectly still – a rewarding lesson in patience for little ones.
Have a fun-filled mountain getaway in Lake Placid, New York
For a woodsy, breezy Adirondacks experience, Lake Placid's all-suite Whiteface Lodge offers room rates at a good value. The resort's Kids Eat Free getaway package includes daily breakfast and two free kids meals per day for children ages 3 to 12 with the purchase of one adult entree. Children of all ages will love the in-house movie theater, game room, two-lane bowling alley, nightly s'mores and on-site catch-and-release pond (with fishing gear available). The resort also offers Kamp Kanu, a seasonal kids club for ages 3 to 14.
(Courtesy of Whiteface Lodge)
Learn to cook in the Cayman Islands
Relax on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman while the kids learn to cook supper at one of several cooking classes or participate in culinary tours offered by various resorts and tour outfitters. And consider the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa for your stay: The hotel offers kayaks, sailboats and paddleboards for families to enjoy, as well as the Camp Seafire kids club for ages 4 to 12. Book a bungalow with a kitchen to allow your family chef to shine.
(Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels)
Snorkel in Hawaii
With unusual snorkeling venues ranging from a volcanic crater islet to crystal-clear Honolua Bay to the protected Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve, Maui is a great learn-to-snorkel destination. Book the Hyatt Regency Maui's Ultimate Maui Family Vacation package (code UMF134) by Nov. 30, 2018, which includes a rental car and complimentary self-parking, a room, daily breakfast, half-price luau tickets and a free child's snorkel trip to get started.
(Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui)
Build sandcastles on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Anyone who wants to refine their sand sculpting skills should enroll at Sand Castle University on Alabama's Gulf Coast. Sand Castle University professors will meet you on the beach in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Fort Morgan, Alabama. Groups can participate in the Sand Castle 101 class for $120 (for up to 10 students) and get plenty of tips and tools to use, plus a free time-lapse video of your efforts.
(Courtesy of Sand Castle University)
Hit the water parks in Williamsburg, Virginia
Take 50 percent off wet and dry thrills, plus meal plans, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA if you book tickets by July 29 (to be used by Sept. 9, 2018) with the online Mid-Summer Flash Sale. The theme park reopens with weekend Halloween and Christmas specials during autumn. Use the savings to add a day at Colonial Williamsburg, where you can stay in a Colonial home and watch costumed interpreters bring 18th-century events to life.