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The 20 Best Family Summer Vacations to Take – Conde Naste Traveler – Published 4/27/2021

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From the city to the sea and great wildernesses beyond, these are the ultimate family adventures.

You may hear “family friendly” and think “just for kids.” Not so, with this list of the 20 best summer family vacations, which is designed for children from 0 to 21, while also keeping parental and multigenerational units in mind.

That’s not all we’ve considered, either. Think every national park will be crowded? We’ve got lesser known parks that are just as stunning. Worried you need to wait ‘til the kids are older to tackle an African safari? Actually, this summer or next might be just the right time. (If you’re unsure about traveling abroad soon, we’ve got tips on how to plan a trip one year in advance, too.) And wherever you opt to go these days, advance planning is a must, especially for special events and exhibits; call ahead to check on what’s open, as well as to reserve everything from tickets to restaurant reservations and even transportation, while also checking local travel restrictions before heading out.

Read on for the best summer family vacations to take this year, and next.

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Monterey California
Big Sur, California Oleg Potkin/Getty

Monterey County, California

Best for: A something-for-everyone family gathering


Why we love it: There is almost nothing compromised on a summer vacation to Monterey County, California, which makes it an easy, ideal coastal location for big family get-togethers. Encompassing Monterey, Carmel Valley and Carmel-by-the-Sea, Seaside, Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach, the county shines with totally unique destinations that are all within easy reach of one another. In Monterey, beeline to the just-reopened Monterey Bay Aquarium’s excellent touch exhibits, embark on guided kayaking tours on Monterey Bay with Adventures By the Sea, and walk Fisherman’s Wharf for clam chowder or to hop on a whale watching cruise. Some of the world’s best golfing can be found at legendary Pebble Beach with three top 50 public courses abutting the coast, and more in Seaside and Pacific Grove. Rent a bike in Pacific Grove to explore Asilomar State Park and its rich tide pools, and hike some of the best coastal trails and marine wildlife viewing in the state at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where you should also visit the historic Whaler’s Cabin. Family dinners, candy and gelato shops, and beach bonfires (dogs welcome, too) are hard to beat in Carmel-by-the-Sea. A total departure awaits on the 25-mile drive south to Big Sur, with epic scenery at every turn—once there, check out the Notable Trail redwoods at California’s “mini Yosemite,” Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.


Where to stay: For a waterfront perch on Monterey Bay and an easy walk to the aquarium, Intercontinental The Clement Monterey on Cannery Row is a good option. Go a few miles inland to the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains and you’ll find upscale, 500-acre Carmel Valley Ranch for a full-on family resort playground with three swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course, activities like beekeeping, falconry, hiking, and guided foraging walks, plus all-suite accommodations with private decks.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Best for: Families that love mountain adventures

Why we love it: An all-seasons nirvana for adventurous families, Colorado shines bright in summer with action-packed activities at every turn. Zero in on Colorado Springs and Readers’ Choice Awards winner The Broadmoor, an all-encompassing, 5,000-acre basecamp. There’s tons to do, but don’t miss falconry lessons, golf, fly fishing, ranch cattle drives, and a breathtaking canyon zip-line tour above Seven Falls. Beyond the resort, raft the Arkansas river with River Runners and float under the highest suspension bridge in North America, Royal Gorge Bridge, part of a massive park where thrill-seeking kids will want to try the bungee-like sky coaster. There’s also guided cycling tours down Pikes Peak Highway, rock climbing in Garden of the Gods Park, and even full-moon tours at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center.

Where to stay: Options at the Broadmoor include luxury hotel rooms and cottages, plus the chance to hit pause as a family at its all-inclusive Cloud Camp 3,000-feet higher, atop Cheyenne Mountain.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica Getty

Costa Rica

Best for: Families practicing Spanish

Why we love it: In stark contrast to the big brand all-inclusives near popular Arenal and Nayara, intimate, eco-focused properties like those in the laid-back Cayuga Collection get you off the beaten path to reveal Costa Rica’s local communities and natural beauty—something that’s especially vibrant in the green summer season. Ideal for families with young children on up, the Arenas Del Mar hotel in Manuel Antonio is both in the rainforest and directly on a fabulous beach with two pools, monkeys and sloths in the trees, and Manuel Antonio National Park at your door. Get closer to the clouds at Senda Monteverde, a perfect base for exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: enjoy zip line tours through a thrilling canopy, guided climbs outside (and inside) the trunks of giant trees, and wildlife spotting from treetop suspension bridges. At Hotel Aguas Claras in Puerto Viejo, the first luxury hotel on the vibrant Caribbean coast, soak in some of Costa Rica’s best beaches while picking up on a fun Patois-influenced dialect. Bonus: The hotels all include Spanish lessons among their regular free programming.

Where to stay: Families can spread out in modern two-bedroom suites at Senda Monteverde, oceanfront suites at Arenas Del Mar, and the private two-story, five-room Casa Floralia house, just steps from the beach at Aguas Claras.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Best for: Water-loving, Shark Week families


Why we love it: Set your sights on Cape Cod for waves and beaches from the bay to the Atlantic, lobster rolls and ice cream (try Ice Cream Cafe in Orleans), whale watching cruises, and culture fixes spanning everything from Cape Cod Baseball League games to the Whydah Pirate Museum. If you’d like to keep this summer trip somewhat educational, check out Chatham Bars Inn with its great mix of kids’ programming, plus an exciting opportunity for your family to shadow the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy as they tag great whites along the coast, all of which you can see from onboard a second guest boat.

Where to stay: For a classic family vacation, rent a shingle-style house or get the best of both worlds with a private residence at waterfront Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, a family-friendly resort with a robust children’s center, pirate-themed splash park, and a pool deck you’ll never want to leave.

Bluefields Bay Jamaica
Bluefields Bay, Jamaica Getty

Bluefields Bay, Jamaica

Best for: New parents in need of a proper Caribbean vacation

Why we love it: Arriving in touristy Montego Bay, you won’t believe how far removed you’ll be in a just under an hour, on an easy highway drive (complete with a quick stop for the best jerk chicken, at Border Jerk) to relaxed and little-known Bluefields Bay. This seemingly private oceanfront destination ticks all the right boxes for families—especially those with infants and young children—at the low-key, all-inclusive Bluefields Bay Villas. The beauty is in the pairing of a Caribbean beachfront escape with everything you could need—six oceanside villas complete with airport transfers, a pool and private beach with toys, gourmet meals, butler and laundry service, cribs and high chairs, and poolside cocktails.

Where to stay: Choose the two-story, four-bedroom Hermitage villa for easy beach access and a superb pool deck with sweeping sunset views.

Chicago, Illinois

Best for: Families with savvy gourmands and culture hounds

Why we love it: If you’re looking for a big city with plenty to see, do, and eat, this Midwestern gem on the shores of Lake Michigan fits the bill. Tick off any number of stellar cultural activities: get lost in the Museum of Science and Industry, embark on a river cruise or rent from Chicago Electric Boat Company and do it yourself, take in an open-air concert at Millennium Park next to the shiny Chicago Bean, and challenge yourselves to a private scavenger hunt at the Art Institute of Chicago with Watson Adventures. The Windy City is also a blast for a kid-friendly, star-studded foodie crawl that goes beyond deep-dish pizza (which Giordano’s is great for, by the way). Start in Fulton Market with Croatian-influenced Italian at boisterous Rose Mary from Top Chef winner Joe Flamm, and super fun Chinese at Duck Duck Goat by James Beard-winning Stephanie Izard, the first woman to win the show. Hit the Sunday farmers market in Logan Square then try modern Greek cuisine at Andros Taverna, with a huge, kid-friendly patio that opens right up to Logan Square Park. There’s also authentic Italian everywhere from divey La Scarola to fancy Gibson Italia overlooking the Chicago River, more noodles at HaiSous Vietnamese Kitchen in Pilsen and Furious Spoon ramen in Lakeview, Gemini has a “zero proof” cocktail menu just steps from Lincoln Park Zoo, and fantastic milkshakes are at Jojo’s Milk Bar in River North.

Where to stay: Opening in May, the new Pendry Chicago takes over the 1920s-era Carbide & Carbon building on Michigan Avenue, reimagining the space previously occupied by the St. Jane Hotel and promising a more luxurious twist. For an Airbnb meets hotel experience, try Lincoln Park’s Neighborhood Hotel, a comfortable basecamp with kitchenettes and apartment-style accommodations.

San Diego, California

Best for: An iconic California beach vacation


Why we love it: One of the best places in California to stick your feet in the sand and still have access to urban adventures for the kids is San Diego. Boasting year-round warm temperatures, the city offers 70 miles of dreamy coastline with options for everyone. At La Jolla Shores, tide pools and small, slow waves are great for little kids, while older ones will go bananas for surf lessons in the gold-flecked waters fronting Hotel Del Coronado (those sparkles are thanks to naturally occurring pyrite, aka “fools gold”). Wildlife lovers will want to see the seals and sea lions at Shell Beach, where it’s also easy to hop on a whale-watching cruise. Of course, you can’t miss a visit to Balboa Park’s 17 museums, and the San Diego Zoo, one of the best in the world with its giant pandas, an exciting safari park experience, and some 4,000 other animals representing 800 species. Around town, there’s also the California Surf Museum, Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and rounds of mini golf at Tappers Mini Golf & Cocktails, scheduled to open this summer.

Where to stay: Nab a fire-pit room with a private deck and beach access at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas, a new resort just north of San Diego with a modern laidback luxury vibe. That means lounge chairs at the beach and poolside cabanas, private surf lessons taught by Surfin Fire, biplane tours with SD Sky Tours, complimentary e-bikes for cruising into town, and sunrise yoga for mom and dad.

New York Skyline at Sunset

New York, New York

Best for: Families with pop-culture loving teens and tweens

Why we love it: You could take the kids to New York at any age and have a blast, but it’s a flurry of new exhibits and pop culture offerings that’s really speaking to teens and tweens for this summer’s vacation. At the Brooklyn Museum through September 5, see “KAWS: What Party,” an exhibit of the bubbly works by ex-Disney illustrator and street artist Brian Donnelly, which includes his popular cartoon-figured sculptures. The incredible Whitney Biennial survey of the latest American art at the Whitney Museum of American Art is always a draw, and there’s the just-unveiled “Dawoud Bey: An American Project,” an 80-piece photography retrospective running through October 3, 2021, complete with the artist’s Harlem portraits. The digital and all-encompassing “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit opens June 10, and contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s new “Cosmic Nature” is adding awesome whimsy to the New York Botanical Garden through October 31. While it’s not pop, some 5,000 cool new rocks on display at the new Halls of Gems and Minerals opens this June at the American Museum of Natural History and are hard to resist no matter your age.

Where to stay: Pendry Manhattan West opens this summer with an open-air terrace, a flagship 35,000-square-foot Peloton Studios in its retail space, and a solid location, steps from Hudson Yards, the new Moynihan Train Station, and the Highline (it’s just a 30-minute walk to the Whitney from here).

Orlando, Florida

Best for: Daredevils and thrill seekers

Why we love it: Children are easily smitten with Disney and Orlando theme parks, and this season bigger kids will get excited over a boatload of new thrill rides. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Jurassic World VelociCoaster catapults you 70 mph on Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster, while Ice Breaker, SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster, sends you down a 93-foot-tall plummet on the steepest beyond-vertical drop in the state. Icon Park on International Drive also operates the world’s tallest slingshot ride, at 300 feet. Simmer it all down on the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway railway, Disney’s first-ever Mickey ride and the newest attraction at Hollywood Studios. Yep, it’s summer and it’s hot, but lighter crowds and well-cooled lines at the parks (think fans, shade, and misters) do keep things tolerable.

Where to stay: Universal Orlando Resort’s new Dockside Inn and Suites is a fresh budget-friendly option, while the splurge-worthy Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World has recently updated guest rooms and suites we love. Days here can start with a character breakfast and a five-minute motor coach ride to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot; or can just as easily be filled loafing around the resort’s own 18-hole golf course, spa, and five-acre water park with slides, a splash zone, lazy river, and an adults-only pool.

Sicily Italy
Sicily, Italy Federico Scotto/Getty

Sicily, Italy

Best for: Families seeking a less-hectic Italy vacation


Why we love it: Packing in a huge diversity of landscapes, ancient ruins, and culture, Sicily is like mainland Italy in microcosm. While Italians will cry blasphemy over that statement, what it really translates into for families is a less-hectic Italian getaway. Hand over the orchestrating to the excellent local guides at Trip to Sicily, and get ready for highlights and bragging rights. See the mesmerizing ancient ruins in Agrigento at the UNESCO-designated Valley of the Temples as well as at the Roman Villa del Casale, a well-preserved ancient Italian villa with mind-blowing mosaics. Then, live out la dolce vita with gelato in Taormina and swims in the bay of Ortigia, followed by onshore meals filled with arancini and cannoli, a true Sicilian original. Finally, soak in all of buzzy, modern Palermo with its Teatro Massimo and glittering Norman Palace, alfresco lunches, storied fountains, and lively piazzas at night.

Where to stay: Opened in April, the new Verdura Rocco Forte promises a serious luxury option in Sicily with a prime position on a secluded hilltop. There are 168 rooms, 32, suites and three over-the-top villas, each with their own private pool.


Best for: Bucket-list-motivated families

Why we love it: Volcanic and glacier-clad, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is somewhat off the tourist radar. But at 13.2 million acres, and home to four mountain range including the 18,008-foot Mount St. Elias, it’s the biggest national park in North America—larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland combined. It also offers families a chance to go off the grid in largely untouched wilderness. Getting here is part of the adventure, and best accomplished by a gobsmacking flight over the park’s snowcapped peaks; from Chitina to McCarthy. A true frontier town at the edge of Alaska’s wilderness, pedestrian-only McCarthy is a fun living-history experience of mining backstories and lively local establishments. Hike right off McCarthy’s main dirt road and deep into the Alaskan bush, high into Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, for a look at 20th-century copper mining (you won’t believe the staggering heights here). Or take crampon-booted glacier hikes with St. Elias Alpine Guides to ice-cold streams that are the best water source you’ll ever find.

Where to stay: Historic Ma Johnson’s Hotel, a former miner’s boarding house right in the middle of McCarthy, preserved as it was with shared bathrooms and no outlets in the rooms (embrace the adventure).

Image may contain Mountain Outdoors Nature Art Painting Valley and Canyon
Bryce Canyon, Utah. Getty

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Best for: Active families and budding geologists

Why we love it: Southern Utah is home to the state’s Mighty Five national parks. The least-visited one—only because it’s a little harder to get to—is easily one of its best. Capitol Reef National Park’s defining geological phenomenon is essentially a wrinkle in the earth’s crust that lifted and folded over some 50 to 70 million years ago. Today, the towering “Waterpocket Fold” is made up of 19 different layers of rock formations and extends for nearly 100 miles. Hike through its rugged, spectacular mashups of colored rock, spying ancient American Indian petroglyphs, winding through iconic slot canyons, and scrambling to the top of jaw-dropping formations like Cassidy Arch—where the infamous Butch Cassidy was known to hideout with his posse. Kick your family hike up a notch on an expertly guided canyoneering experience with Capitol Reef Adventure Company. Canyoneering is the technical descent into a slot canyon; after hiking an off-the-beaten path trail to the top of slot canyons like Pete’s Dragon, you’ll descend on fully supported rappels that reveal the beauty of these spaces in a totally new way. No matter the adventure in the park, you’ll also be surrounded by some of the most spectacular rocks on the planet, including black basalt, glass-like gypsum, and selenite crystal.

Where to stay: Primely situated in Torrey, Utah, and just minutes from Capitol Reef, Cougar Ridge is an excellent home base with comfortable luxury casitas that include two spacious bedrooms and bathrooms, a well-equipped kitchenette, a deck with a Traeger grill, and plenty of room to spread out in.

Michigan’s west coast

Best for: Road-tripping families


Why we love it: Pack the beach umbrella and head off on a road trip along Michigan’s west coast, which will win the family over with its ocean-like lake views. The route is dotted with Americana beach towns with all the trimmings—ice cream shops, breweries, lighthouses—to outline your itinerary with well-timed stops. In New Buffalo, try sand-boarding lessons with Third Coast Surf; spread out in Saugatuck at pretty Oval Beach, then nosh on locally-sourced homestyle dishes in the courtyard at Pennyroyal Café & Provisions; visit Grand Haven for the Coast Guard Festival from late July to August; and hop on the scenic M22 highway to atmospheric Glen Arbor, the gateway to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Once you recover from Sleeping Bear’s stunning Lake Michigan views, check out the Maritime Museum, run down Dune Climb, and comb Good Harbor beach for fossilized stones.

Where to stay: Stop in coastal South Haven for a midwestern glamping experience that’s also dog-friendly at The Fields of Michigan. Set on a working 30-acre blueberry farm, this is the place for upscale tents poised around an idyllic pond, complimentary breakfast and bike rentals (ideal for getting to the beach), and a new spa tent with forest-inspired treatments. Young farmers will also love Goldberry Woods, a modern farmhouse inn with a pool and from-scratch breakfasts, wrapped in 30 acres of organic farm, gardens, woods and river, and just 10 minutes from Warren Dunes State Park.

Galapagos safari camp
Galápagos Safari Camp Courtesy Galapagos safari camp

The Galápagos, Ecuador

Best for: Wildlife fanatics

Why we love it: The volcanic Galápagos Islands, home to an abundance of unafraid and gentle wildlife, and are a perfect place to introduce kids to such wonders of the world. The most popular way to experience the archipelago is by boat, and though there are a few posh options for 100-plus passengers, like Silversea Origins and Celebrity Cruises’ Flora, a more relaxed and intimate option for families is a small adventure yacht with Abercrombie & Kent. Not a fan of cruising? Immersive land-based options exist—along with Galápagos famed giant tortoises—in the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. At Galapagos Safari Camp, days can be as flexible or tailored as you wish, with private activities that include surf lessons, art classes with a local artist, tastings of the first-ever Galápagos chocolate, and full-day boating excursions. You’ll feel like you stepped into a fairytale where tortoises amble out of ponds and into an organic coffee farm at Montemar eco luxury villas, a modern vision of sustainability and harmony with the natural world. Set on 43 acres of private land, Montemar was designed by husband-and-wife team Roberto Plaza, a naturalist guide in Galápagos since 1994, and Reyna Oleas, a passionate conservationist. They’ve also raised their own family here and know a thing or two about plotting meaningful family adventures.

Where to stay: Flora has all-suite accommodations, but families who want more space can book one of two glass-wrapped, 1,288-square foot Penthouse suites. At Galápagos Safari Camp, the Family Suite is ideal for up to six, while Montemar’s Villa Tortuga accommodates larger families of up to eight; expansive outdoor decks are winning at both.


Best for: Fans of kings, queens, and Harry Potter

Why we love it: Take your family road trip on an adventure in Scotland, where you can combine dramatic landscapes in the Highlands with bustling cities. Harry Potter fans should start in Edinburgh, where J.K. Rowling wrote her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Visit the Elephant House café, where she frequently wrote, and wander Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery in search of the tomb of Thomas Riddle. See royal regalia and the oldest-surviving crown jewels at the hilltop Edinburgh Castle, and drive up to Perthshire; from there, the scenery keeps getting better. Stop in Glencoe for babbling brooks and pink-hued skies, in Inverness to scan the surface of Loch Ness for its namesake monster, and in coastal Aberdeenshire to explore its 300 castles.

Where to stay: The Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, which offers activities like falconry and archery, and has three championship golf courses.

Park City Utah
Roman Tiraspolsky/Getty

Park City, Utah

Best for: Families who want mountain-light, summertime nirvana

Why we love it: Ask any local in Park City and they’ll tell you: the best time of year to visit is summer. Why? The lack of national park or ski crowds, no bugs at this pleasantly dry altitude, low-season rates, and abundant outdoor activities. A designated gold-level destination by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), mountain biking is a big deal here, but families shouldn’t be afraid that it’s all steep and challenging: let the pros at White Pine Touring level up your crew with lessons, steer you to rail trails and paved roads, and get you set up with e-bikes to ride all the way to Utah Olympic Park, where you can bobsled on a real Olympic track. The list of outdoors activities goes on—guided rock climbing tours, fly fishing, horseback riding, and paddle-board and sailboat rentals—at the reservoir at Jordanelle State Park. On historic Main Street, outdoor dining on car-free Sundays is the way to go (try Riverhorse on Main with its excellent wine cellar) and in July, lookout for family friendly outdoor concerts, like this summer’s Magical Music of Harry Potter.


Where to stay: Reserve a room for half of what you’d normally pay during peak winter season at the posh St. Regis Deer Valley. Return from action-packed days outdoors that can be arranged by your concierge, and enjoy the pool, spa, beer garden, and best steak dinner you may ever have at RIME, helmed by Chef Austin Hamilton (splurge on the off-the-menu A5 Japanese Wagyu).

Vancouver and Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Best for: Young explorers eyeing the Pacific Northwest

Why we love it: Ready for an adventure of discovery in a lesser-known corner of the Pacific Northwest? Vancouver is a diverse and stunning metropolitan wonderland, infused with First Nations culture and Asian influences, and fronted by a rich coastal wilderness. Encourage the kids to step out of their comfort zones to experience it to the fullest. Start with the city’s exciting food scene, which spans everything from Asian street food, like grilled octopus and raindrop cake at the Richmond Night Market, to hot donuts at the Granville Market and nitrogen-chilled ice cream alongside off-the-charts sushi at Minami. Ride bikes in beautiful Stanley Park past totem poles, or hike trails on Grouse Mountain, where you can visit a grizzly bear refuge. Push the envelope further with a quick floatplane jaunt to the rugged coastlines and temperate forests of Vancouver Island, where you can surf in Tofino, the self-proclaimed “surf capital” of Canada.

Where to stay: The Fairmont Waterfront lays out Van City with a rooftop pool and views over the harbor and mountains. For a splurge, Nimmo Bay Resort in the Great Bear Rainforest is the place for guided coastal safari tours, heli-fishing, and intertidal cabins right on the water.

Safari in Botswana & Kenya

Best for: Big family celebrations (and fans of “The Lion King”)

Why we love it: Of Africa’s many safari destinations, Botswana and Kenya standout for once-in-a-lifetime family excursions. Flush with some of Africa’s best wildlife diversity, void of tourism overload, and renowned for exclusive lodging, Botswana is a dream for animal-loving adventurers. Zero in on a special swath of the country’s Okavango Delta at the Moremi Game Reserve, where the reintroduction of rhinos makes the region home to all of Africa’s Big Five: elephants, lions, leopards, Cape buffalo, and rhinos. The original inspiration for Disney’s “The Lion King,” East Africa’s Kenya is also home to the Big Five, plus the Great Migration, fascinating Masai culture, and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s rare black rhinos and Grevy’s zebras. Abercrombie & Kent safaris to Kenya tie it together nicely with screenings of the movie right in the bush, followed by walking safaris and African survival lessons with Maasai warriors.

Where to stay: In Botswana at Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, spread out in roomy pavilions and watch animals wander by from your own private plunge pool. Lewa Wilderness in Kenya offers six hillside cottages and three garden cottages with a spacious open living plan; each is in a private setting at the edge of the protected Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where it feels as if you have the African bush all to yourself.

The Resort at Paws Up
The Resort at Paws Up, Montana Courtesy The Resort at Paws Up

Montana’s dude ranches

Best for: Cowboy-loving, national park enthusiasts


Why we love it: Montana has no equal come summer. Its ranches are basically summer camp for families who love the Wild West—and a good National Park. A Readers’ Choice Awards winner Resort at Paws Up, is 37,000 acres that feel like an upscale national park, with river floats and fly fishing, electric fat-tire biking trails, ATV tours, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, and dozens of other activities. For family reunions and groups seeking privacy and a splurge, go for a total buyout of Paws Up’s new green o and score 12 modern tree-house accommodations in your own neck of the woods. If you’re dreaming of a visit to Yellowstone National Park, all-inclusive Lone Mountain Ranch offers tours of Yellowstone (just 18 miles away), guided hikes with naturalists, a robust equestrian program, fly fishing, and an Outdoor Youth Adventures Program for ages four to 12 that includes rodeo games and archery. Skiers and daredevils should head to Big Sky Resort for a rare summertime expedition to the top of 11,166-foot Lone Peak, Montana’s highest scenic overlook.

Where to stay: Along a river—whether in a modern, comfortable cabin fronting the river that flows through Lone Mountain Ranch, or above the Blackfoot River at Paws Up’s Cliffside Camp, where the rushing waters double as a nighttime noise machine.

Quebec, Canada

Best for: A European-style vacation close to home

Why we love it: This mainly French-speaking province offers families a taste of Europe that’s close to home, with its own fun mix of Quebecois culture, Canadian wilderness, and, in non-pandemic times, incredible summer festivals. Start in metropolitan Montreal, where highlights include the legendary Montreal Jazz Fest, Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal Cirque festival, and Festival des Arts de la Rue, the largest street theater event in North America with hundreds of performances for every age. In Quebec City, the Wendake International Pow Pow offers a glimpse of First Nations culture. Toss in a good dose of outdoor adventure by heading west to Abitibi-Témiscamingue to Canada’s Parc National d’Opémician, where you can canoe and hike amid towering pines and cliffs.

Where to stay: Overnight in Parc Omega in Outaouais, where gray and Arctic wolves roam—you’ll get to observe them from the comfort of a guarded cabin equipped with an observation lookout.

This article was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with new information. Additional reporting by Judy Koutsky.


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