17 Best Summer Family Vacation Ideas You Probably Overlooked

It’s time to start thinking about summer family vacation ideas!

Do you always wait until summer starts to start thinking about travel plans?

If you’re like me, that means trying to decide last minute:

  • Where to go?
  • How to pay for it?
  • What places won’t be insanely crowded?
  • Which destinations will the whole family enjoy?

In short, summer family vacation ideas can drive you crazy in the planning stages.

In this post, let me guide you through some of the very best places you can take your family this summer, balancing cost, crowds, and fun.

Check out all my best travel resources and recommendations which can save you time and money on your next vacation!

So let’s review the . . .

17 Best Summer Family Vacation Ideas You Probably Didn’t Know


1. Vista Verde Luxury Dude Ranch – Steamboat Springs, CO

Visit one of the best “luxury dude ranches available in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado!

Great for families and while it’s open all year, it really comes alive in summer!  Featuring horseback riding, fly fishing, mountain biking, yoga, white water rafting, hiking and a whole program dedicated to kids and teens.

2. Winnetu Oceanside Resort: Martha’s Vineyard, MA

4.5 Stars on TripAdvisor with hundreds of reviews so you know this place will be great!

Beachside, pools, a gym and loads of kid-friendly activities make this one of the best great summer family vacation ideas.

3. Omni La Costa Resort: Carlsbad, CA

The Omni La Costa resort features 4.5 stars on Google with over 1000 reviews, so again, you can’t go wrong here!

8 swimming pools including 1 adult only but also one with 2 waterslides! 2 championship PGA-designed golf courses, featuring the Kidtopia Kid’s Club but also close to LEGOLAND; this place has it all!

Check out all my best travel resources and recommendations which can save you time and money on your next vacation!

4. Picket Wire Canyon – Comanche National Grassland – La Junta, Colorado

Picket Wire Canyon summer family vacation ideas Middle Class Dad

Want something a little more rustic and off the beaten path?

This amazing place features the largest known set of dinosaur tracks in North America, plus Native American rock art and much more. Local wildlife includes deer, antelope, coyote, snakes, lizards & more.

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are all available.

Think you can’t have a great vacation on a tight budget?

As we continue to explore summer family vacation ideas, if cash is a little tight this year, fear not! I have another post all about the very best Affordable Family Vacation Destinations.

So check that out when you need to maximize your fun and minimize your expense (been there, done that!)


5. Club Med Sandpiper Bay – Port St. Lucie, FL – All Inclusive

Who hasn’t heard of Club Med?  Well, all those amenities can be yours and you don’t need a passport!

“Travel to Club Med Sandpiper Bay with your family and enjoy a carefree all-inclusive vacation amidst a full-amenity resort where families can discover incomparable sports and children’s programs. Make the most of your vacation to discover tennis, golf and fitness with our top coaches in the Club Med Academies.”

6. University of California Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center

5 stars on Yelp and Trip Advisor? Yes! There’s no denying this is a quality destination.

“Summer Camp for the whole family! The Family Vacation Center offers week-long Family Camp experiences on the beachside campus of the University of California Santa Barbara.

This all-inclusive experience includes daily child care (kids camp), family activities like Smores on the Beach, Pool Parties and Family Carnivals as well as nightly adult only activities that include a hosted bar.

This hassle-free family vacation is perfect for the family who loves spending time together, and also enjoys the option of kids camp and “parents night out” time!”

7. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa

A Beaches resort is always a great time! 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor with over 11,000 reviews!

Does it get any better than an all-inclusive beachfront resort in the Bahamas? I don’t think so!

“A 45,000 square-foot waterpark; architecture with the ambiance of Italy, France, the Caribbean, and Key West; a 12-mile beach lapped by clear turquoise waters; endless fun activities for everyone, from tots to tweens and teens.

19 Specialty dining options with everything from Caribbean to Japanese, Italian to French, Seafood to Sushi. Our very own Pirates Island themed aqua-playground hosting one of the Caribbean’s most comprehensive water parks featuring nine slides, lazy river, surf simulator, water cannons, cranks, and spray features.

Kids of all ages can enjoy fun and games with Elmo and friends in our Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street”

Shut up and take my money!

8. Grand Palladium Resorts – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Grand Palladium also features 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor and it’s not hard to see why!

From the private Caribbean beaches of Playa Bavaro to the “lush tropical vegetation and a coconut plantation”, this is truly a tropical paradise; just sit back and enjoy!

Pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, friendly staff along with breathtaking pools and amazing cuisine are but a few of the reasons to go!

Check out all my best travel resources and recommendations which can save you time and money on your next vacation!

The perils of waiting until the last minute to plan a vacation!

One thing that always used to throw my family for a loop in looking for summer family vacation ideas is waiting too late to plan.

In fact, the best time to start thinking about summer vacations is January (or even sooner).

Now while some folks don’t bat an eye plopping down a few thousand on a credit card every summer, in my family we don’t borrow money outside of our mortgage.

Thus we HAVE to some Vacation Planning Steps so we can save the right amount of money AND get the best deals out there.

I highly recommend checking out that post so you can keep your budget on track while you have a blast!


9. Guanacaste, Costa Rica

One of my family’s all-time top favorite destinations! We’ve been 4 times and might eventually Move to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica really has it all; rainforests, beaches, mountains, jungle, great food, fun loving people and is scenic from head to toe 365 days a year.

Check out my post on Costa Rica for more detailed travel info. Get many direct flights leaving from the US and you can be in Costa Rica in 3 hours!

10. Paris, France

What else do I need to say?

You’ve got the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum featuring Michelangelo’s Venus de Milo statue, Notre Dame and so much more. Amazing culture, food that’s out of this world and an atmosphere to fall in love with.

11. London, England

London is one of the world’s classic cities. You’ve got some of the most famous sites in the world, from Buckingham Palace to Big Ben and the London Eye Ferris wheel. You’ve also got both world-class cuisine and loads of great stops for Indian food or fish ‘n chips.

Plus Paris is only a 2-hour train ride away or you could explore the rest of the UK including Stonehenge or even head to Scotland in the north.

The tube system (subway) in London rivals NYC in terms of ease of getting around and it’s also a shopper’s paradise!

Check out all my best travel resources and recommendations which can save you time and money on your next vacation!

12. Kenya, Africa

Hand feed giraffes, visit a Maasai village or check out a wildlife rescue center and check out the elephants. Go on safari and see lions in the wild. Marvel at the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro visible from nearby Tanzania.

Kenya is truly a breathtaking adventure that will create memories to last a lifetime.

Check out the Top 10 Family Resorts in Kenya according to TripAdvisor!

Want a great vacation but you’re flat broke?

I hear you! When my family went through digging ourselves out of our debt and learning how to get on a budget we didn’t have the money for lavish vacations.

But fear not! You too can have a great vacation on a shoestring budget!

You see, summer family vacation ideas don’t necessarily have to cost you thousands of dollars! In my post about the 7 ways you can have a great Vacation on a Budget, I walk you through everything you need to know when money is not only tight but almost non-existent. So check it out if that’s the boat you’re in!


13. Minneapolis – St. Paul – Mall of America

Boasting the largest indoor theme park in America, this Nickelodeon Universe is truly a sight to behold! But there’s much more to Minneapolis. Check out more reasons to vacation there on CrazyFamilyAdventure!

14. Whistler, Canada

Tucked away in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada is this hidden gem. This family-friendly destination goes all year and is a skiing destination in winter.

But in summer you’ve got hiking, biking, ATV excursions for the whole family, horseback riding, white water rafting, bungee jumping and you can even take a gondola from peak to peak.

But for the less adventurous you can tour ice caves, take a bobsled tour (yes in summer!) or just relax and take in a spa day, a shopping day or a day of arts and music.

15. Ocean City, NJ

As a kid, we moved a lot. I won’t bore you with my life story, but suffice to say that I lived in and around Philadelphia, PA in between stints in Texas.

As such, we often went to Ocean City, New Jersey in the summers.

It’s one of the best summer family vacation ideas anywhere on the east coast boasting beautiful beaches, quaint retro-feeling boardwalks along the beach (I can almost taste that salt water taffy now!) and amusement parks that stretch out over the picturesque ocean.

16. San Diego, CA

San Diego really has it all; beautiful weather year-round, a world-class zoo, beaches and close proximity to Disneyland.

Plus easy access into Mexico’s Baja Peninsula just adds to the attraction.

17. Washington DC

DC sometimes gets a bad rap, but if we put politics aside, there really are some amazing things to see and do with a family.

Plus almost nowhere else in the US can you literally see history as much as you visiting The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, and The White House.

Then you add in parks, the zoo and the amazing Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (do the exhibits come alive at night?) and you’ve got the makings of the best summer family vacation ideas!

Check out all my best travel resources and recommendations which can save you time and money on your next vacation!

Have you struggled to find good summer family vacation ideas?

In this post, I reviewed some of the top summer family vacation destinations that often get overlooked.

While everyone is trekking to Disneyland or Universal Studios, consider some real downtime your kids will love, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

I broke them out by category, so whether you’re looking for casual fun, urban adventures, international destinations, or amazing scenery, you’ll find some great choices here.

What is your favorite vacation destination?

Jeff Campbell bio summer family vacation ideas Middle Class Dad


Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

Recent Posts