Where to go? Where to go? Where to go? Sure, you have been socking away that extra hard-earned money all year. Now, it’s time to figure out where to take the family for the summer vacation destination. But, sometimes you just need a little inspiration. I’ve been planning our family vacation and here are my top 5 destinations suggestions – Boston, San Francisco, New York City, Yellow Stone National Park and Monument Valley – Four Corners.
Boston, MA I’m not sure you can get more American than Boston, Massachusetts. Home of the Boston Tea Party, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and the shot heard around the world when the rifle fired to start the American Revolution, Boston is the perfect destination to take the kids for a little bit of American history. A hike along the Freedom Trail takes you along 16 historical sites in a 3 hour walk. It covers 2 and a half centuries of Boston history and is a must see for any visitor to Boston.
Not much into history? Boston has several museums which includes the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Visit the Institute of Contemporary Art that includes works by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe and others just to name a few. There’s also the Paul Revere House, Old State Museum, the U.S.S. Constitution, and the Boston Children’s Museum.
Maybe you are more into sports what a better sports destination than Boston. Check out Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. The New England Patriots stake their home in Boston, as well. For those connoisseurs, check out the oldest restaurant in America, the Union Oyster House (est 1714), the oldest bar in the United States the Bell in Hand Tavern (est 1784), and there’s also the infamous Cheers from television fame. Boston has so many activities that they are just too numerous to list. I’ve only touched on a brief amount of things to do if Boston is your destination for your summer plans.
Yellowstone National Park When you think of the phrase “family vacation,” I’m sure the word “Yellowstone” immediately came to your mind. Established in 1872 as the United States’ first national park by Teddy Roosevelt, there’s no better way to spend quality time with your kids and family than exploring Yellowstone National Park. The park boasts the world’s largest collection of geysers, and haven’t we all stood in wonder watching Old Faithful erupt every 90 minutes or so. The beauty of the park alone is breathtaking and will create a lifetime of memories. Take plenty of cards for the digital cameras so you don’t miss the elk in the background of Old Faithful.
From bears to bison, mountain meadows to cold, rushing streams, biking to hanging out camping Yellowstone National Park is a must see for everyone. The park’s website has a park trip planner to help you make the most of your visit. Younger children can become a Junior Ranger and the family can take guided tours with Park Rangers and outside vendors. Remember to pack a variety of clothes, since weather at the park changes quickly. Plenty of rechargeable batteries for your camera is also a requirement because you will want to take photos of everything!
Four Corners Region – Monument Valley Aside from Yellowstone National Park, there is nothing more breathtaking than Monument Valley. I believe that most of us who watched the old west movies of John Wayne can immediately recognize the land formations that are now icons of the old west.
I visited this spot recently on a “great American tour” that I took and it was very surreal to see these sandstone land formations rising from the horizon. I did opt to take a guided tour through the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and it was money well spent. I strongly suggest this option, as to drive through the park requires a 4 wheel drive. Led by a Native American Navajo guide, we went to the various formations and he pointed out both popular movie locations from John Ford movies, as well as different locations that John Wayne shot scenes.
However, the most interesting part of the tour was when our guide explained how the land is infused with Navajo culture and tradition. The park is located on Navajo Nation. The Navajo raise sheep, and in turn, the wool is woven into beautiful rugs sold throughout. The methods are passed down from generation to generation and are still made the same way today.
Also in the area is Four Corners. This is the only place in the United States where four states, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, come together in one location. Kids get a great kick out placing their hands and feet in four separate states. This monument is also on the Navajo Nation and there is a small admission fee. There’s also a small visitors center and a Four Corners gift shop. Another stop that is well worth the time getting there and making more family summer vacation memories. Four Corners is located right next to Monument Valley, so these two destinations are not to be missed!
San Francisco Street cars, hills, Rice-a-roni, the Golden Gate Bridge. What a beautiful city, and like other destinations on my list, San Francisco has a ton of things to do. Early in the morning (dawn), you can go check out Fisherman’s Wharf and all the sea lions that hang around Pier 39 before heading back out to sea later in the day. If you can’t get your family up that early, you can still check out all that Pier 39 has to offer for dining, spectacular views of the bay, shopping, the aquarium and other attractions in this area. You can also take a cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and circle Alcatraz.
Take a tour on one of the world renown San Francisco Cable cars. You can hop on and off at will, and what a better way to tour the city. Be sure to make it over to the Golden Gate Park. Be sure to visit the Conservatory of Flowers and for the kids, there is a huge playground with a circa 1912 carousel.
To round out the highlights, do NOT forget to go see the Golden Gate Bridge in all its glory. And, if it isn’t too foggy or windy, makes for a beautiful walk across the engineering marvel. No matter what your tastes, budgets, or time frame, there is a ton of things to do in San Francisco and can make for a great family vacation!
New York City What can I say about New York City. It is one of the most exciting places that I have ever been. From Central Park, to the Bronx Zoo, to Ellis Island your family could spend a month here and still not see all this city has to offer. Going into Manhattan to Times Square, Wall Street, Broadway, MoMA, and all the iconic New York City destinations are always worth your trip. However, if you can only do one thing in Manhattan do take in the Empire State Building, The view from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building is breathtaking. To avoid the lines, go early or during lunch or dinner hours. There is a charge, but it is well worth the money to view New York City at your feet.
No visit to New York City would be complete without a trip to Ellis Island. Since many of us have ancestors who first came to the United States through Ellis Island, it is a good way to feel your roots. What a better way to show your kids how their great-great-grandparents immigrated into the country. A perfect family history destination.
Just walking around New York City itself is an experience. During our last visit to Manhattan, we did just walk around and absorbed the energy the city have to offer. We had no specific destination in mind, but happened along many spots we recognized from movies and television. The city certainly has a life of its own. Whether you choose to visit just Manhattan or the other boroughs, be sure you plan what you want to do well in advance. Planning ahead will be worth the time and energy to ensure your trip goes smoothly.
Planning for your trip is something that you must do, including arriving refreshed and with a clear mind at the airport. If you book at any of the ParkSleepFly.com airport hotels listed, you can get a great park sleep and fly package. Think of this – Getting up at 3 AM, pile cranky kids in the car and drive the hour and a half to the airport to make that 7AM flight. After a couple of road construction delays, you race to the airport only to spend 30 minutes trying to find a space in the airport parking lot. Scramble to the shuttle, throwing your bags in the door with your crying kids and barely make your flight.
By booking a park and stay hotel, you can stay the night before your flight. Get a decent night’s sleep, transportation to the terminal, and parking for the duration of your trip. You may even have enough time to grab something from the breakfast bar at the hotel!
If you are thinking of going to any of the destinations I listed above, did you know that ParkSleepFly.com also has airport hotel packages too? You get the same great rate at an airport hotel, but with no parking. So, if you are going to Boston, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, or New York City check out our rates for airport hotel rooms, as well. Just select “airport hotel” when submitting your itinerary on the ParkSleepFly.com page. You may be pleasantly surprised at the prices.
If you have other great destinations you are considering for your Summer Vacation plans, let me know. I’d love to hear your suggestions. There’s so much traveling, and so little time!
- Vacationing In Yellowstone National Park (answers.com)
- Going To Yellowstone? Get This App! (kidfriday.com)
- Boston Attractions: Boston Sightseeing Tours & Tourist Attractions (fairmont.com)