8 Vacation Destinations for Families Who Love the Outdoors

Wednesday July 8, 2015

Are you still thinking about trying to squeeze in a family adventure trip this summer? Or are you already thinking about where to play in the snow in the winter? We love getting the whole family involved in adventure whenever we can and love it when we can combine our wanderlust with our love of swinging in the trees or playing outside.  

With a whole world to explore, we scoured the globe and turned to some of our favorite family travel experts to create a list of adventure destinations that will make you want to get packing. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole offers the perfect all-season base camp for adventure and exploration of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with chances to hike, canoe, kayak and bike through the parks. For a bit more adrenaline, families can head to the Snake River for whitewater rafting in the summer or take to the ski slopes above Teton Village in the winter to make their way down the mountain through powdery bliss. 

Big Sky, Montana

Grab your skis and head to Big Sky to experience the largest skiable area in the United States. Children under ten years of age ski free (when staying in Big Sky Resort lodging) and have access to ski schools and a kids club that gives parents the perfect chance to engage in apres-ski relaxation. Big Sky offers all season adventures for all ages – but we especially love the adventure zip tours to zip above the slopes in the winter for a unique flying experience. While you are there, be sure to take a day off from skiing to ride through Yellowstone National Park on a snowcoach tour for a national park experience like none other. 

Great Sand Dune National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Want a sand adventure unlike any beach trip you have ever taken? Head to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve for the 650-foot High Dune and 750-foot Star Dune – North America’s highest dunes —  to hike, build sculptures and sandboard or sled down a dune. Afterwards, be sure to splash around in Medano Creek to cool off (or shake off some of that sand).  

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The potential for hiking and camping is limitless at Shenandoah National Park, just 75 miles from Washington DC. The park boasts over 500 miles of hiking trails, 105 miles of scenic roadway and 75 spectacular overlooks. Children will love exploring the park with a ranger or hiking 4.8 miles to play in waterfalls in Whiteoak Canyon. 

Central Oregon

Central Oregon is a top pick for Tamara Gruber of We3Travel. The variety of activities – hiking, white water rafting, caving, rock climbing, tubing, paddle boarding, boating and kayaking – means that there is something for every adventurer in the family. Tamara suggests Sunriver as a great home base for exploring the area and a trips to High Desert Museum and Crater Lake National Park 

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is ideal for families who crave adventure, according to Holly Rosen Fink of The Culture Mom. From kayaking trips in the Wailua River to biking down Waimea Canyon to snorkeling on the Na Pali Coast to riding in a helicopter to the tip of a waterfall to mountain tubing through tropical waterways, the island has activities galore for the bravest at heart. Parents might even find a bit of rejuvenation of their own while there.  

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Children as young as six can go on a single-day or multi-day guided white water rafting trip through Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah, according to Allison Laypath of Tips for Family Travels. Laypath suggests using an outfitter like Adrift Adventures – especially when traveling with children that are new to rafting.

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama

Besides the sugar-white sandy beaches and unbelievably incredible food, Shannon Entin of 100 Routes Across America suggests Gulf Shores/Orange Beach for families. With a plethora of activities for the adventurous family like mini golf, arcades, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, parasailing, boat tours, pontoon rentals, dolphin cruising, biking and nature trails, and deep-sea fishing. There’s also a championship golf course and a big water park in the area. The real adventurous families will love zip lining with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, scuba diving to Alabama’s first purpose-sunk shipwreck, and flyboarding – hovering over the water like IronMan!