10 best summer vacations in the U.S. for families this year – USA Today 10Best

School’s out for summer, even if your kids didn’t attend a single day of in-person learning this year. A family vacation may be a welcome opportunity to help put the past year’s monotonous homebound routines in the rearview mirror.

Children under 12 are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine for COVID-19, so choosing your family’s next getaway wisely is key. Destinations nestled in nature with plenty of breathing room and easy access to fresh air are trending. Here are 10 family vacations with an eye towards the great outdoors.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Soak in scenery at a national park

Hickman BridgeHickman Bridge — Photo courtesy of Visit Utah

Sharing Mother Earth’s restorative power with your family at a national park never goes out of fashion.

These pristine places of majestic beauty are experiencing a big surge in popularity. Thanks to its remote Utah location, Capitol Reef sees light crowds. Its Waterpocket Fold is a 100-mile geological wrinkle in the earth’s crust. Formed millions of years ago, erosion continues to create colorful cliffs, spectacular slot canyons and graceful arches. Hiking, canyoneering and night sky viewing are popular pastimes.

Capitol Reef Resort sits on Capitol Reef’s doorstep. For a novel overnight, sleep in one of their traditional Conestoga wagons, based on an original 19th-century design.

Chebeague Island, Maine

Island retreat

Be surrounded by water at Chebeague Island InnBe surrounded by water at Chebeague Island Inn — Photo courtesy of Chebeague Island Inn

An island getaway gives a sense of seclusion that’s a fit for these times. Maine’s coastline is dotted with lighthouses and hidden coves, with hundreds of sparsely populated islands offshore. On Chebeague Island in Casco Bay, life moves at a pace set by wind, weather and tides, just as it has for centuries.

Catch the ferry and spend a few days soaking in the yesteryear vibe at Chebeague Island Inn. The property’s verdant grounds offer lawn games, golf, tennis and a nightly bonfire featuring gooey s’mores.

Getaway cabins – Multiple locations

Digital detox

Cozy CabinCozy Cabin — Photo courtesy of Getaway

After a year or more of online school, even tech-crazed teens may be ready to unplug. For a deeper communion with nature, consider disconnecting on your next vacation.

Staying at a Getaway cabin is purposefully low-tech, with no Wi-Fi and limited cell phone reception. Getaway has 15 outposts located within two hours of major cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas. Each has dozens of cozy cabins with serene views from big picture windows.

Compact and custom-built, each is air conditioned, with a full bathroom and kitchenette.

Woodloch Resort – Hawley, Pennsylvania

Everything’s included

Sailing on the lakeSailing on the lake — Photo courtesy of Woodloch Resort

All-inclusive resorts provide a hassle-free way to travel, a bonus after such a stressful year. There’s very little planning involved as meals, drinks and activities are all included.

Woodloch Resort in the Pocono Mountains is family-owned and operated. With over 1,500 acres of bucolic grounds, its rural location and range of safety measures makes it easy to be socially distant. Sail on the lake, hike, swim and enjoy family-friendly games and entertainment.

Comfort food classics served three times each day should satisfy even picky eaters.

White Stallion Ranch – Tucson, Arizona

Horse around on a dude ranch

Horseback riding in the desertHorseback riding in the desert — Photo courtesy of White Stallion Ranch

With a wholesome Western theme and opportunity to horseback ride, a dude ranch vacation doesn’t sit on its high horse. After a day spent in the saddle, stargaze and toast marshmallows when the sun goes down.

At family-owned White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, guests get a firsthand glimpse into the cowboy lifestyle as they trot through desert and mountain terrain.

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

A nostalgic road trip

The Shenandoah Valley's natural sceneryThe Shenandoah Valley’s natural scenery — Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

In an attempt to avoid crowded airports and packed planes, families are gravitating towards the relative safety of road trips. Virginia’s rustic Shenandoah Valley is only 75 miles from Washington, D.C., and not too much farther from Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.

If you’re looking for a road trip with a throwback quality, you’ll find a slower pace as you cruise scenic backroads that traverse mountains, valleys and forests. Hike in Shenandoah National Park, explore caverns filled with stalagmites, or rent a canoe and paddle down the Shenandoah River.

Massanutten Resort caters to kids with recreational options including an indoor-outdoor water park.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Campsites with an ocean viewCampsites with an ocean view — Photo courtesy of Ocean Lakes Family Campground

Camping is a time-honored tradition. Families may bond over simple pleasures such as listening to a babbling brook, eating burgers grilled over an open fire and stargazing. Tents, RVs and glamping are all fine camping options.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, sits on nearly a mile of beachfront. Each site is roomy enough for a large camper. Mini-golf, a waterpark, and bike rentals are a few of the many family-friendly recreational options.

Hull-O Farms – Durham, New York

Stay on a farm

Feeding baby farm animalsFeeding baby farm animals — Photo courtesy of Hull-O Farms

Cultivate a connection to the land when you stay on a working farm. Partake in simple agricultural chores such as picking fruit, gathering eggs and milking cows. Kids can enjoy the outdoor environment with a healthy dose of freedom that their parents might not be able to allow them in a crowded city or busy suburban area.

Plus, exposing children to fresh produce and eggs at the source is a subtle way to encourage them towards food choices that don’t come wrapped in cellophane.

Hull-O Farms is a 7th-generation family farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Guests may reserve one of three comfortable houses and participate in farm life as much or as little as they please.

Boise, Idaho

Small cities with easy access to nature

Rafting on the Boise RiverRafting on the Boise River — Photo courtesy of Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau

Vacationing in a modest-sized city close to nature offers the best of town and country. Use it as a basecamp for outdoor adventures that easily combine with urban pleasures.

Boise, Idaho is home to 104 parks, tree-lined paths along its 25-mile Greenbelt and rafting on its namesake river. After a day breathing in fresh mountain air, take a stroll downtown and sample a sweet treat at Guru Donuts.

The kids should enjoy a refreshing swim at Riverside Hotel’s swimming pool. It’s conveniently located near the Boise River and Greenbelt.

Weekapaug Inn – Westerly, Rhode Island

Learning vacations

Kayaking at sunsetKayaking at sunset — Photo courtesy of Weekapaug Inn

Fun and learning don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Getting acquainted with a new sport can be a wonderful equalizer for parents and children.

Located on the scenic Rhode Island shoreline overlooking Quonochontaug Pond and the Atlantic Ocean just beyond, Weekapaug Inn presents a quintessentially New England experience. The resort offers a fleet of boats and life jackets in all sizes, with an expert staff helping guests of all ages gain confidence as they learn to sail, canoe, and kayak.

Explore pretty marshes and sandy beaches before you head back to dry land to play lawn games or ride bikes.