The teenage years are rewarding, but challenging for parents. There is a certain freedom that comes with traveling with teenagers; you no longer have to keep an eye on them every second and they are old enough to fend for themselves a bit.
However, keeping teenagers engaged with the family can be a challenge, whether you’re at home or on vacation. And if you have younger siblings, finding a vacation destination that is a fit for the entire family can be daunting. For that, we’ve compiled a list of the best family vacations to take with teenagers.
Have more to add? Tell us in the comments at the bottom of this post!
Best Family Vacations for Teens
You may think its hard to find the best destinations or the right place for your next family vacation but the truth is, your children probably just want to spend time with you.
Before you start the planning process, make sure you read this post that I wrote after traveling extensively with my own teens. —-> 10 Tips to Keeping the Peace when Traveling with Teens
Hawaii is a dream destination for most travelers and is full of outdoor adventures like surfing, hiking, kayaking, and even helicopter tours.
Taking young children can limit your activities a bit, and it’s a long way to travel to hang out at the beach several days in a row. Now that your kids are older, Hawaii is the perfect place to take teenagers on vacation!
As a family, you can enjoy hikes and surf lessons, go horseback riding, and snorkeling.
If you visit Oahu and stay in Waikiki, everything is very walkable, meaning your teens can also have some freedom and strike out on their own without straying too far from your hotel or stay in a beach resort where they may enjoy a bit of pool time without you.
New York City
The Big Apple offers great options for kids of all ages. Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and trek across the city enjoy the view of the city from the top of the Empire State Building, in the middle of Times Square and the green space of Central Park to jumping on a bus tour of the best pizza places in Brooklyn you’ll find varied options
For more teen-friendly activities and ideas check out 35 Things to do in NYC with Teens. We even share our top way to save money on a New York getaway.
The Outer Banks
Adults will enjoy the laid back vibe of North Carolina’s barrier islands while adventurous teens will love the fun activities that are offered along the coast like surf lessons or hang gliding over the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
If your kids are more laid back, that’s fine too. Replace the water sports and hang gliding with beachcombing, kite flying or see where the Wright Brothers took their famous flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial or simply relax in your vacation rental.
Like Hawaii, Alaska is a true outdoor adventure destination. Younger children won’t appreciate the natural beauty and may be too young to participate in any hard-core adventures. Teenagers, however, are the perfect age to introduce to Alaska.
You might take an Alaskan cruise with fun shore excursions like glacier hikes or whale watching. Or you can plan your own independent Alaskan adventure and explore the state on a road trip.
Salmon fishing, skiing, bear watching, hiking, rafting, and kayaking are just a few of the adventure options for your Alaskan vacation.
Universal Orlando Resort
Your kids may be too old for Disney World, but that doesn’t mean a family vacation to Orlando is off the table. Universal Orlando Resort is the perfect destination for families with teenagers. The three theme parks that makeup Universal Orlando are Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.
And then you have Universal CityWalk, a hub of restaurants and entertainment venues with fun for the whole family.
Catch a Blue Man Group performance, or plan a date night with your hubby and let the kids enjoy CityWalk on their own for a night!
If you stay on the property, you can use free shuttles and have early/late access to the parks, too!
Dude Ranch Vacation
If your family loves outdoor adventure with a touch of luxury, consider a dude ranch vacation with your teenagers!
Dude ranches seem to be most popular in the western states, like Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, or Montana. The experience is a bit like summer camp for grownups.
Accommodations range from basic cabins to ultra-luxury homes and “campers” typically have a range of activities to choose from each day. Whether it’s hiking, fishing, horseback riding, skeet shooting, or Jeep touring, most dude ranches are “all-inclusive” so you can sign up for any activities that interest you.
After a day in the great outdoors, gather the family around the campfire and enjoy a delicious, hearty cowboy meal before doing it all over again the next day!
Family Ski Trip
Another great family vacation with teenagers is a ski trip.
Colorado has the most ski resorts to choose from, but Utah, Wyoming, California, and Vermont are just a few other popular destinations for a ski trip, but did you know that West Virginia also has a ski resort? Spring Break is a great time to hit the slopes, as many ski resorts get a ton of snow in March and April.
Several US and Canadian ski towns are super walkable, with ski-in, and ski-out accommodation, and entertainment options within walking distance. This is perfect for allowing your teens a bit of freedom to explore the town without driving on snowy roads.
Ski towns usually have other adventures to check out, like ice climbing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating or cross-country skiing, so even if you aren’t die-hard ski fanatics, a ski resort vacation may be right up your alley!
Chicago is the perfect family vacation destination for families with teens. If you love sports, you can catch professional baseball (two teams!) basketball, football or hockey games. Explore different cultures through
Chicago’s neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, Pilsen or Little India. Take in the Lake Michigan waterfront on rental bikes, or take a high-speed boat tour on the lake. Chicago has tons of museums that appeal to any interest and tons of family entertainment options.
Take a “deep dish pizza tour” or a gangster tour that explores Chicago’s dark past as a mob haven. If you visit Chicago in the winter, don’t pass up the chance to hit the ice rink at Millennium Park, or check out the skating trail that winds through Maggie Daley Park. Both offer amazing views of the city skyline.
We have a ton of ideas of things to do with Teens in Chicago so if you’re planning a trip to this major city, make sure you read that post.
The teen years are the perfect time to get your first passport and take an international trip. Sure, Canada may not seem all that exotic, but a city like Montreal has a distinctly French culture, and if you have any French students in the family, they’ll have a chance to brush up on their language skills in Montreal’s Old Town.
Taking an international trip as a family gives your teen traveler the chance to see how to get through customs and a small trip to Canada just might inspire more international travel in their future. Plus, Montreal has a ton of fun things to do, both outdoors and indoors.
Tip: If you haven’t been to a hockey game in Canada, put that on your family bucket list!
There are literally thousands of wonderful places to travel, from amusement parks to water parks to America’s national parks, there is no shortage of family vacation ideas that allow you to spend quality time with older kids.
We hope that we’ve given you some good ideas to make memories with your family. If you’ve enjoyed a great family getaway, share information about your trip in the comments below.