The honeymoon is over, people: You have kids now! But that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop seeing the world. Here are the ten best types of vacations to take as a family. Go now before you become empty nesters.
1. A Big Ol’ Road Trip
Whether it’s a 200-mile jaunt over the state boarder or a thousand-mile RV trek from coast to coast, there’s nothing quite like mom and dad up front with your tiny crew playing car games in the back. Jot out a list of must-visit pit stops, small towns, attractions and, of course, roadside diners. But don’t be averse to the random detour here and there.
2. A Journey That Gets Back to Your Roots
Whether your family hails from a tiny Italian fishing village, a bustling city in China or a little farm town in North Dakota, take the kiddos for a visit to see how their ancestors really lived.
3. A National Park
There are 59 national parks across the country, which means there’s always one within driving distance. Think: Glacier National Park in Montana for amazing hiking, Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys for tropical fish scuba diving or Arches in Utah for all the geology your science-loving heart can handle.
4. A Safari
Seeing wild animals up close is one of the coolest experiences, especially for kids. And it doesn’t have to be fancy: While some luxury safari tours can cost you a fortune, you can find bargains by going in the off-season or choosing a smaller, lesser-known game reserve. Can’t make it all the way to South Africa or Botswana? Don’t scoff at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
5. A New York City Adventure
Sure, the Big Apple can feel very sophisticated, but it’s also got a kid-friendly side. Explore Central Park (hi, ice-skating, zoo and carousel), see a Broadway show, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, get cultured at the MET, trek across the High Line, eat pizza by the dollar slice… You get the idea.
6. And one in D.C.
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the nation’s capital. Give the kids the obligatory tour of the White House and National Mall—then let them enjoy the place they really came for: The Air and Space Museum.
7. A PLACE DESIGNED EXCLUSIVELY FOR LITTLE ONES
It may seem obvious, but sometimes it’s great to take kids on a trip that lets them be, well, kids. Think: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (which overlooks a wildlife preserve) or a family-friendly dude ranch like Latigo Ranch in Colorado, where family time is balanced by supervised kids-only activities (so mom and dad can get a little time off).
8. And One That Pushes Their Boundaries
Part of growing up is seeing the world and learning about new cultures, people and lifestyles. Challenge your kids by taking them to a place where people speak another language, dress differently or eat foods that might seem "yucky" upon first blush.
9. A Camping Excursion
No, glamping doesn’t count. Go on a no-frills wilderness vacay that teaches children how to appreciate the great outdoors and live modestly. Sleep in tents, cook over a campfire, make s’mores, shower in the lake. (Then save the luxury getaway for when your in-laws offer to babysit.)
10. Something They Get to Plan
Giving the kids the reigns to choose and plan a vacation helps promote creativity, decision-making and maturity. Maybe there’s a city they learned about in school or a place from a book they’re dying to visit. Plus, they’re bound to behave like little angels on a trip of their own invention.