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Destination Summer Vacation - Where Is Your Family Going?

Finding kid-friendly locales plus tips to survive getting there.

Whether you pack up the car or board a plane, summer vacations are a wonderful opportunity to bring your family together to relax, have fun and maybe learn a thing or two. Travel with children can be interesting, to say the least, so planning ahead is a great idea. That said, spontaneous trips can be fun too. 

Where to Go?

If you crave the idea of cool mountain nights, how about heading north to New York State? Families love destinations in the Adirondacks like Lake George or Lake Placid which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Camp or reserve a local hotel but don't forget to stop by Howe Caverns on the drive up.

Theme parks are always a hit with kids. Hershey Park and Sesame Place are both manageable drives from Morris County and not too far from Philadelphia where you could visit the Liberty Bell. Interested in incorporating history and theme parks? Maybe Colonial Williamsburg with nearby Busch Gardens is the answer for your family. Need I mention Disney?

Heading out west may satisfy needs for adventure. What better destination than the Grand Canyon? A white water rafting excursion requires some serious teamwork that might be ideal for a trip with teenagers. California's San Diego has lots of fun and interesting options for families. From the San Diego Zoo to Coronado and it's Naval Base to a day trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there are plenty of sites to see and things to do.

Summer vacations on the beach are perfect. While New Jersey has , mixing it up and trying The Hamptons, Block Island, or Martha's Vineyard can be a nice change of pace. If you want to head south, check out The Outer Banks, Hilton Head Island and the Georgia Sea Islands.

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

First time flying with kids? There is never a dull moment. To get through security more smoothly, check out the Transportation Security Administration's webpage for Traveling with Kids. Please double-check that you have your wallet and all family members' passports before you leave the house. Trust me, this detail often slips through the cracks.

Headed on a road trip? You will need some creative ideas to keep your kids happy. How about an edible distraction? When packing your cooler of drinks and snacks, include some fruit loops and licorice strings and let the kids make necklaces. Stock up on new coloring books and easy art activities. DVD and music players are great for passing time too. 

For some more destination ideas, check out the following:

Madison and Chatham Parents - What are your favorite family friendly summer destinations? Have any cool tips on how to keep the kids happy while in transit? We need your expert advice!

Colleen Bohensky June 15, 2011 at 02:43 PM
We have a couple of trips planned with the kids this summer. First... we're going for a long weekend to Long Beach Island. Beach Haven is one of our favorite places to go... and even when we've already booked other trips we still try to get in a weekend at the Jersey Shore. Second... Our big trip this summer is a cruise to Bermuda. We're skipping the flight and sailing right out of NYC. We've cruised quite a lot (this will be our 6 year olds 4th cruise and our 3 year olds 3rd cruise). We've found the cruise ships have something for everyone... and when you consider what's included the price is a steal!!! Third... I'm still trying to squeeze in a trip to visit my parents in Florida. Not so much a "vacation" as a family visit. If you want tips on how to fly alone with 2 kids I'm a pro. I've lost track of how many flights to Grammy and PopPop we've taken.
Elizabeth McConnell June 15, 2011 at 04:31 PM
We spend a lot of time with family down at the Jersey Shore. The Point Pleasant boardwalk is great for kids and we also enjoy Island Beach State Park. We will also head down to Virginia to visit family. We have done Williamsburg which is fun, but if you combine a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge down there, be sure to check in after doing the historic sights! We always like to do lots of day trips as well. This year we will check out the Morgan Library in NYC, Philadelphia and Speedwell, all places our kids went on field trips this year. They will be our "Tour Guides."
Kerri June 16, 2011 at 02:21 AM
I love Elizabeth's idea of day trips with kids. I ran across this book a few years ago about hikes in New Jersey that are great with kids also: http://www.amazon.com/Best-Hikes-Children-New-Jersey/dp/0898862728 . For the truly budget-strapped, there's always camping in the back yard too!
Colleen Bohensky June 16, 2011 at 12:26 PM
My sister-in-law and I are also doing "day trips"... although I think of our trips more like field trips. We need to get ourselves organized and calendar everything out or none of our plans will actually come to light!

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