Travel insights from Jenna Buege, contributing editor of The Compass

America the Beautiful: Your Guide to Domestic Family Travel

Who says you need to go abroad for great family fun? The U.S. is filled to the brim with historic sites, breathtaking parks and plenty of excitement. From theme parks to road trips, the states have what travelers need for the perfect vacation.

father and son on a paved trail n the mountains

National Parks

National parks always provide plenty of entertainment with their beautiful hiking trails, rich history and family-friendly campsites. The United States is home to a total of 58 national parks. Here are three of our favorites.

  • Smoky Mountain National Park – Nestled along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains are on the top of many travelers’ bucket lists. This park is the number one visited national park in America and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its natural beauty and fantastic array of species of plants and wildlife. Smoky Mountain National Park offers trails equipped for hikers of all skill levels making it a great place to visit with kids. Another perk of visiting the Smoky Mountains is the park’s proximity to exciting U.S. cities like Gatlinburg, TN and Nashville.
  • Arches National Park – This park is a great spot for the whole family as it offers a number of quick hikes to landmarks that are easily accessible such as Balanced Rock, the Double Arch and the Windows. If the crew is up for the challenge, visitors can hike the Delicate Arch trail for the chance to see the Delicate Arch, one of the most famous geologic features in the world standing a total of 64 feet high and 45 feet wide.
  • Olympic National Park – Everyone loves a trip to the Pacific Coast and Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse parks in the U.S. Here, families can enjoy crystal clear lakes, rushing waterfalls, snowcapped mountains and a lush rainforest. The wildlife at Olympic National Park is just as exciting with opportunities to encounter mountain goats, marmots and the rare banana slug, unique to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.
Father, mother, daughter, and son taking a selfie on the hood of a car

Road Trips

We can’t talk about U.S. travel without a mention of the great American road trip. Road trips are a rite of passage here in the states: the end locations are endless and they are so customizable. Here are a some of the best.

  • New York to Acadia – From Manhattan to Maine, this epic adventure covers a lot of ground and a lot of history. This route showcases early American history as families drive along the same rugged coastline once occupied by early colonists and witch-fearing puritans. Popular stops along the way include the Mark Twain House and Museum, Fenway Park, Gloucester, Desert Maine, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and of course, Acadia National Park.
  • Chicago to New Orleans – Calling all funky music and BBQ fans, this is the journey for you. Beginning in the Windy City, this route follows the Mississippi River and snakes through America’s heartland. Favorite pit stops on this trip include the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Churchill Downs, the Grand Ole Opry, the National Civil Rights Museum and the famous French Quarter.
back of couple on a swing ride a theme park with the woman smiling back at the camera

Theme Parks

Universal, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Sesame Place, Disney, Legoland and Dollywood, there are so many amazing domestic theme parks for the whole family to explore. For a slice of nature, kids and adults alike will love getting a close up look at marine wildlife at parks like SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. Best of all, you can feel good about supporting these parks as both donate a percentage of ticket funds to wildlife and ocean conservation groups. Adrenaline junkies and pop culture fanatics will love parks like Disney and Universal where they can immerse themselves in a world where they can snap a pic with their favorite characters and catch a ride on one of the death-defying coasters or waterslides.

Travelers who are mindful about accessibility will want to check out Sesame Place, the first theme park designated as Certified Autism Center complete with certified staff, ride accessibility guides and quiet rooms.

family taking a selfie in front of the vegas sign with a selfie stick in the sunshine

Las Vegas, Family Style

Sure, we might call it Sin City, but that doesn’t mean the kiddos can’t tag along to experience some Vegas magic. Despite what most people have been told, Las Vegas has plenty of family fun activities to offer. For entertainment, we recommend a show by Cirque du Soleil where families will be mesmerized by dramatic music and acrobatics. Can’t get enough of Marvel? Superhero fans can immerse themselves in the world of The Avengers at the Marvel Avengers Station located just off the main strip featuring interactive mini games, green-screen photo experiences and the chance to try on Iron Man’s suit. If all else fails, families are sure to love exploring the over-the-top hotels that Vegas has to offer such as Circus Circus, Excalibur, New York New York and Mandalay Bay.

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Dori K | 04/03/19 - 08:37 AM

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VAX VacationAccess | 04/05/19 - 09:01 AM

I don’t believe any suppliers currently on VAX offer tickets to Six Flags, but this is feedback you can share directly with your preferred supplier, as they are the ones who make the product decisions.

Many of our suppliers make it possible to create domestic vacation packages, which you can put together using the Multiple Destinations search (choose that in the Vacation Type section). You can book directly with SeaWorld on VAX, or you can put together a multi-destination itinerary using Funjet Vacations or United Vacations and add tickets to SeaWorld San Antonio or other features available in that destination. You can learn more about building multi-destination itineraries on this VAX education page: https://www.vaxvacationaccess.com/education-container/Vax-Training-Education/multi-destination-reservations/

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Dianna B | 04/02/19 - 11:58 AM

For example do we have one stop shop vendor for 6 flags tickets, sea world tickets, other attractions with a hotel package in San Antonio? 

3   | reply

VAX VacationAccess | 04/05/19 - 09:00 AM

I don’t believe any suppliers currently on VAX offer tickets to Six Flags, but this is feedback you can share directly with your preferred supplier, as they are the ones who make the product decisions.

Many of our suppliers make it possible to create domestic vacation packages, which you can put together using the Multiple Destinations search (choose that in the Vacation Type section). You can book directly with SeaWorld on VAX, or you can put together a multi-destination itinerary using Funjet Vacations or United Vacations and add tickets to SeaWorld San Antonio or other features available in that destination. You can learn more about building multi-destination itineraries on this VAX education page: https://www.vaxvacationaccess.com/education-container/Vax-Training-Education/multi-destination-reservations/

  | reply

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