VACATION IDEAS

33 Most Memorable Family Vacations

From fond memories of family road trips out West to exploring ancient Mayan ruins at an early age, our readers share the vacation experiences they'll never forget.

  1. "It was in Germany back in 1984. I met my grandparents for the first time. I didn't understand everything they were saying but with love there was nothing we couldn't understand." —Charlene Maceira

    (Courtesy joe8211943/myBudgetTravel)
  2. "I grew up on one of the most beautiful lakes in the USA, Lake George. We did not go anywhere during the summer because we hung out with our friends swimming, water skiing, sailing, and doing any other water-related activity we could think of, camping on an island, watching the fireworks on the 4th from our boat, etc. Many fond memories!" —Connie Martin

    (Teconley/Dreamstime)
  3. "Definitely Lake Tahoe: hiking, boating, beach, scenery, a perfect balance of adventure and relaxation." —@thisfamtravels

    (Engageappeal/Dreamstime)
  4. "Any annual road trip to St. Louis or to Dayton to spend time with my cousins, uncles, and aunts. The adults would spend time catching up and all the kids would spend time playing. The big family meals at home, the occasional dinner out, and the even more rare "tourist attractions" were part of the whole package."  —Jim Lee

    (Courtesy rockylup/myBudgetTravel)
  5. "Going to the Oregon coast each summer for a week. Enjoyed playing in the surf and sand with my brothers." —Judy Moats

    (Courtesy paulhurd/myBudgetTravel)
  6. "After the kids (11 and 7) had only been on one 2 hour flight in their entire lives, we just took them to Sweden to visit friends. I think their fondest memories would be that we allowed them to take the ferry by themselves to get ice cream and my fondest memory is that nobody asked for the iPad!" —Paige Scott Flotkoetter

    (Courtesy Mispahn/Flickr)
  7. "Our first family backpacking trip: Costa Rica for a week for $300. Best hostels, local buses, and free hikes to waterfalls!" —@bestintravel2

    (Courtesy mimic/myBudgetTravel)
  8. "Driving from northern Wisconsin to see Mount Rushmore. We camped most nights and I remember a terrible storm that broke our tent and all the hotels were full so we slept in the car on the side of the road. It was one of those epic road trips where our time seemed equally divided between being miserable and having a blast. Isn't that how all family vacations go?" —Linnea Nielsen

    (Courtesy biglannie/myBudgetTravel)
  9. "My family of three (kid then, aged 10) spent a summer touring Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Belize. It was great enjoying active adventure as a family. Just chilling on Little Corn Island was probably the highlight. One day we snorkelled with a nurse shark in just four feet of water! Oh, we also slid down a volcano." —Yuki Hayashi

    (Courtesy bdgray/Flickr)
  10. "Ah, the glories of the 1970s and a road trip from the Chicago suburbs to Washington, DC. My parents didn't believe in reservations, so after getting to DC we drove in circles looking for a hotel with a vacancy, as well as getting hopelessly confused by DC's street layout. Road trips are the best." —Anthony Ho

    (Courtesy vicnaire/myBudgetTravel)
  11. "My parents took us to Disneyland on our first-ever family vacation that actually involved a plane ride. 20 years later, my dad still brings up the fact that I wasted $30 of his hard-earned money when we were at Goofy's Cafeteria and I ordered food (because I was so incredibly hungry) but could only manage one bite (because I was in so much pain from strep throat)." —Jessica Collins

    (Courtesy icjp20/myBudgetTravel)
  12. "House-boating on Lake Powell. Three generations, surreal scenery, and the adventure of a lifetime!" —Catherine Bennett Kopf

    (Courtesy sue gold/myBudgetTravel)
  13. "Cabo San Lucas when I was pre-teen, got to ride horses on the beach with my Dad!" —@minimegstew

    (Courtesy gmaso/myBudgetTravel)
  14. "We rented an RV for a trip to the Olympic peninsula. Took a train to Vancouver, then rented a RAV4 to explore British Columbia and Alberta, Canada." —Charles McCool

    (Theresa Martinez/Dreamstime)
  15. "Going out west the summer I turned five. My parents took us to Carlsbad Caverns, on a horseback ride, and put us in the snow on Mount Evans in our sandals to take a picture. I remember all of these things vividly. I still have my turquoise bracelet and a señorita top and skirt that are souvenirs from the trip." —Jackie Kathary

    (John Blanton/Dreamstime)
  16. "Fishing at Hawley Lake in the white mountains of Arizona. A huge afternoon thunderstorm errupted while we were out fishing. My dad lost an oar and had to get us back to shore with just one!" —Liz Pritchard

    (Ronald Adcock/Dreamstime)
  17. "A three-week trip to Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, L.A., Hollywood, Disneyland, San Francisco, Napa, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Seattle, Olympic National Park, Vancouver, the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains, Estes Park, and more. We didn't have much money but the memories will always be treasured." —The Domestic Curator

    (Courtesy gmaso/myBudgetTravel)
  18. "Going to England and Scotland when I was 18 with my mother and brother. We stayed in a castle, toured the Cotswolds, and watched the changing of the guard. I am forever grateful to my mom for giving us the experience of that trip." —Ami Kamara

    (Courtesy jlwelch23/myBudgetTravel)
  19. "Traveling and camping through the Maritime provinces of Canada. This included the Cabot Trail, seeing the musical Anne of Greene Gables, and having a church supper of fresh caught lobster on Prince Edward Island. It was the best family vacation I remember!" —Diane Yateman

    (Filtv/Dreamstime)
  20. "My favorite memory is exploring the Mayan ruins and temples in Mexico." —Bonnie Hise

    (Courtesy Akwinelvr/myBudgetTravel)
  21. "Back in another century, when I was 16 and my sister was 12, our family drove from Pittsburgh to Colorado for a week at a dude ranch. On my 16th birthday, I rode a horse across the Continental Divide. My little sister never forgave me because she wasn't old enough and had to stay with the kid's club." —Anne Reilly

    (Courtesy rsundeen/myBudgetTravel)
  22. "When I was 14, my parents took us on a 10-week, cross-country trip. We visited a number of Native American sites: Mesa Verde, Wupatki, Hopi, and Navajo reservations. 33 years later, I started my career as a casino marketing consultant, working with tribes all across America. To this day, I am so grateful for learning to appreciate Native American culture and people." —Toby O'Brien

    (Tudorish/Dreamstime)
  23. "Road trip in the big, green Oldsmobile station wagon to Colorado. Used to go every summer. Manitou Springs and the cabin resort that looks like little A-Frames. The resort is still there—visited it several years ago. Loved Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Royal Gorge, horseback riding, and picnics." —Jana Miller Pernsteiner

    (Jian Huang/Dreamstime)
  24. "Fishing, with just a line and no pole. Tents and warm sleeping bags. Only time I ever enjoyed pancakes, my mom did the best camp cooking. Camping was a big thing for me and my children as well. My kids had the benefit of many years experience before them. It's an inexpensive vacation that promotes family time. I loved it." —Ro O'Sully

    (Courtesy MKarpisek/myBudgetTravel)
  25. "Crystal Beach, Canada. We'd do day trips to Niagara Falls with my Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother, and cousin and go to the park and have a cold glass of coconut milk, then hot roast beef sandwiches with peas on top. I loved the roller coaster and was scared to death when I rode the 'Cat and Mouse.'" —Linda Lou Hazlett Gardner

    (Vadimpetrov/Dreamstime)
  26. "Going to Garner State Park on our Girl Scout camping trip. My favorite part was dancing to the jukebox on the pavilion. So much fun for a teenager!" —Carolyn McCravy

    (Courtesy Tara Schmidt/Flickr)
  27. "Driving from Northern Wisconsin to Glacier Park and seeing mountains for the first time. Then on to Banff and Lake Louise, Edmonton, and then home. I was enthralled with the mountains and would climb everywhere I could. The beauty and majesty were overwhelming and still are!" —Janey Byrd

    (Courtesy gmthomp/myBudgetTravel)
  28. "Going to Pompeii and Paestum in 1970 when I was nine to see the uncovered molten city. I bought a unique ceramic mask, which I still have!" —Michele Tucci

    (Courtesy debl/myBudgetTravel)
  29. "Going to our cabin in Northern Wisconsin every summer. My favorite thing was going to the dump at night and throwing marshmallows to the bears who were there looking for leftovers. One time a baby bear sat on a marshmallow and we laughed all the way home talking about his marshmallow butt." —Sari Zimdars Henley

    (Courtesy rschoeff/myBudgetTravel)
  30. "Family vacation to L.A. when I was 11. We did Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier, and Laguna Beach." —@willwrite4food2

    (Courtesy slingtraveler/myBudgetTravel)
  31. "Glacier National Park. We camped, hiked, rafted over white water. Also took a scenic bus tour over the Going to the Sun Road and stayed in a cabin on the shores of Lake McDonald. Best part? Since we live in Montana it was practically in our back yard!" —Cyndi Bowman

    (Jason P Ross/Dreamstime)
  32. "Italy. Not only because my ancestors came from there but because of the history; good and bad, the culture, the food and the warmth of the people everywhere we went." —Joanna Lopez

    (Courtesy egyptianheidi/myBudgetTravel)
  33. "The essential family vacation was road trip to the Black Hills and doing everything touristy even though we'd done it the year before. Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, Reptile Gardens, Bear Country, Storybook Island, Evans Plunge, and the Flintstones! So glad I still live in South Dakota and get to do this with our kids, too." —Ann Shoup

    (Courtesy West of April/myBudgetTravel)

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