Take a picturesque vacation with kids to one of these best scenic places for families in the U.S.! From the West Coast to Hawaii, the U.S. brags some of the most magnificent vistas in the world. Many of them also make for an ideal family vacation! Visit Lake Tahoe in California for a mix of striking views and family-friendly activities on the water. Or, head to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to get a glimpse at iridescent Grand Prismatic Spring! Whether active kids are looking to adventure outdoors, or your little ones prefer to relax among an extraordinary backdrop, we guarantee there’s a destination to suit your family’s interests. To help you decide your next getaway with kids, we’ve sourced contributor tips to compile a list of the 12 Best Scenic Places For Families (U.S.A.) Use it as a guide to planning your next exciting escape!
Kenai Fjords National Park, AK
Head to Kenai Fjords National Park for a breathtaking Alaskan retreat! Boasting dramatic panoramas and endless outdoor activities, this expansive area contains over 1,000 square-miles of untouched nature. Grab a Junior Adventure Guide from the visitor center before you begin! The famous Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords’ only accessible area via car, is also a great starting point for families. There, witness an active glacier up-close from the kid-friendly Glacier Loop Trail. Head toward Glacier View for the best vantage point over Exit Glacier, and you’ll even get a glimpse of Harding Icefield, the park’s very own ice cap. Kayaking in Kenai Fjords is also a great way for teens to see the land, spotting birds, Alaskan salmon, and other native wildlife! Aside from Exit Glacier, other ravishing Kenai Fjords spots, like Fox Island or Bear Glacier, are only accessible via boat. Consider taking a cruise to widen your scope!
Lake Tahoe, CA
Spend your family vacation lakeside at charming Lake Tahoe! Straddling the Nevada border, it’s shimmering waters overlook the Sierra Nevada mountains, featuring some of the most enchanting vistas in California. While South Tahoe showcases chic boutiques and restaurants, North Tahoe encompasses miles of pretty nature, visible at Commons Beach or Kings Beach Recreation Center. Many families also visit during winter to stay at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Tahoe. During the summer, take a dip at nearby Kings or Baldwin Beach! Emerald Bay State Park is another fantastic day trip to spot wildlife. There, stroll by Eagle Falls, or tour Vikingsholm, an opulent 20th-century mansion now open to the public! Kids can also ride on a gondola from the Heavenly Village Center. Then, navigate nearby hiking trails easy for children, like The East Peak Trail. Van Sickle Bi-State Park is another picturesque area to hike or horseback ride!
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Yellowstone is one of America’s most astounding National Parks! Located in Wyoming, this expansive park includes abundant wildlife, colorful landscapes, and numerous mineral hot springs, making it one of the best scenic places for families in the U.S.! In addition to stunning views, find kid-friendly trails, like Geyser Hill Loop. Yellowstone also offers mind-blowing panoramas of Old Faithful. Visit this memorable geyser and maybe even see it erupt! Kids will love the rainbow-esque Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin. Not only is it the biggest in the U.S., it’s also one of the most photographed geological wonders in Yellowstone! Other breathtaking sights include the Turquoise Pool, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone’s Upper Falls, or the glimmering Opal Pool. Yellowstone is a popular place to camp, but many contributors recommend booking a hotel in Jackson Hole. Be sure to plan your trip early, possibly even a year in advance!
Yosemite National Park, CA
Yosemite National Park is truly an indescribable beauty! Visit this idyllic California destination for family-fun set amongst its amazing Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kids will particularly love gazing up at towering sequoia trees, a staple feature within Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove. Or, hike to Glacier Point to overlook a 3,000-foot drop to Valley Floor, a beautiful excursion for older kids. There, you’ll also get a glimpse at Yosemite’s most impressive landmark: its 8,800-foot granite Half-Dome! Tuolumne Meadows also offers a ton of flat trails for little ones, perfect for an awe-inspiring stroll along streams, glaciers, and more Yosemite scenery. El Capitan, the park’s iconic summit, is another must-see, alongside its cascading Bridal Veil Falls. Families can also spend summer days along the Merced River, a calm and tranquil area perfect for toddlers or babies. In the meantime, teens can kayak, white-water raft, and more while visiting Yosemite National Park!
Zion National Park, UT
Prepare for a marvelous adventure at Zion National Park! This Utah destination brags a striking red-cliff landscape, natural rock arches, and a widespread Zion canyon. Plus, it’s a particularly great location for families with young kids, given its on-site shuttle, accommodations, and light beginner trails. Hike The Emerald Pools Trail and you’ll come across spring-fed pools, glorious canyon views, and gushing waterfalls. Weeping Wall is even shorter, though nonetheless brilliant! Older kids up for a challenge may enjoy Angels Landing, a thrilling 5-mile hike with a steep drop. If you’d much prefer to see Zion National Park from the comfort of your car, however, The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive also showcases a driving trail with commanding views. Our contributors also recommend The Narrows hike for daredevil families willing to walk through water! Anyone visiting Zion National Park should also be aware of the possibility of a flash flood.
Sedona is Arizona’s very own red-rock paradise! Known for its colorful artistic community, this vibrant desert town sits among a jaw-dropping natural backdrop. Whether with your car or a guided tour, sightsee famous attractions, like Oak Creek Canyon or the Airport Overlook. Kids will love Snoopy Rock, named after its resemblance to everyone’s favorite Charlie Brown character! Parents may better appreciate the striking Cathedral Rock. Explore kid-friendly trails like Soldiers Pass, Broken Arrow, or the Lower Bell Rock Trail, leading to its eponymous landmark. Teens up for a challenge may love Devil’s Bridge, another iconic photo opportunity! Don’t forget Red Rock State Parkfor a scenic drive and a picnic. Creative kids will love the cool knick-knacks, sculptures, and other artwork displayed at Exposures Gallery. To see Sedona by night, a Skygazing tourwill please everyone! Sedona is hands-down one of the best scenic places for families in the U.S.
Crater Lake National Park, OR
No wonder Crater Lake National Park is one of the best scenic places for families in th U.S.! Its namesake Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States, in addition to being one of Oregon’s most pristine natural wonders. Though families are more than welcome to drive around the park, consider taking the Crater Lake Trolley as a less chaotic alternative to sightseeing. Along the way, you can stop at kid-friendly trails in Annie Creek Canyon, or take an off-the-beaten-path adventure to Toketee Falls. From Rim Village, you can even get a two-hour in-depth trolley tour to take you around to Watchman Peak Overlook. Otherwise, there’s also Rim Drive, a 33-mile-long scenic road that takes you around Crater Lake through Vidae Falls and The Pinnacles, leftover volcanic spires. Or, take a shuttle to incredible Wizard Island, a leftover volcanic cone, to spend a few hours hiking with older kids!
Big Sur, CA
Watch gorgeous Santa Lucia Mountains meet a rugged Pacific coastline in Big Sur, California’s family-friendly coastal oasis! Spanning Carmel to San Simeon, this sparsely-populated area features the state’s most dazzling natural attractions. Take in Big Sur via car down the Old Coast Road, passing through jagged seaside cliffs clouded by mist. Give kids a brief history lesson by reminding them the roadway was once used by early American settlers! Then, head to the uniquely-shaped Bixby Bridge, which was eventually built to replace the Old Coast Road. Big Sur can also be explored through various kid-friendly trails in the area, like McWay Falls Trail, which ends at an 80-foot-tall waterfall. Point Lobos, another great natural reserve for hiking, also features abundant wildlife to spot: otters, sea lions, and even hermit crabs! Or, spend your days soaking up the sun on Pfeiffer Beach, perfect for scenery though a bit rough for swimming.
Kauai is the perfect Hawaiian destination for adventurous children – not to mention one of the best scenic places for families to visit! Experience a scenic Hawaii beyond beaches on this lush island, made famous for its appearance in Jurassic Park. (Imagine rolling hills, jagged mountain peaks, and radiant jungles.) Lounge on white sand at Salt Pond Beach, offering calm waters ideal for family swimming and snorkeling. Nearby, in historic Hanapepe, cross the Swinging Bridge, a big challenge for tiny travelers! Then stop by Hanalei Beach to fish from the pier. When you’re hungry, buy grub from a food truck, and head to Lydgate Park for a picnic. Afterward, kids can play in the massive playground! Or, explore Kauai via car through the scenic route to the Waimea Canyon, a.k.a the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Don’t forget to visit the famous Kilauea Lighthouse at sunset, found in Kilauea Wildlife Refuge!
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
The Grand Canyon is definitely one of the best scenic places for families to visit! This Arizona National Park is the most well-known in the U.S, and certainly the most popular amongst travelers with young children. Consider making your experience special by taking the spectacular Grand Canyon Railway, transporting you from Williams to the South Rim. Many prefer to start here, easily accessible via car and open-all-year-round. Nearby, you’ll also find Mather Point, an iconic viewpoint in close proximity to the visitor center! For a closer look at the park’s immense beauty, rent a bike to cruise along the South Rim Trail to South Kaibab Trailhead. Or, hike the Bright Angel Trail, one of the few in South Rim equipped for little children. When you want to cool off from the heat, go white-water rafting down the Colorado River! Grand Canyon National Park also offers ranger-led tours all summer.
Maui has everything you need for a picture-perfect Hawaiian vacation! Visit this island to witness awe-inspiring scenery along The Road to Hana, a scenic Maui drive famous worldwide. Though it may not be ideal for younger children who don’t want to explore, older kids will find plenty of interest along the way. Lahaina Beach is also popular for younger families who want to settle down for the day. Daredevil teens can also take surf lessons or try extreme sports like parasailing!) For snorkeling, visit Kapalua Bay Beach. Or, see an entirely different side of Hawaii at the Makawao Forest Reserve, with cool temperatures resembling the Pacific Northwest. Then hike the Kahakapao Loop Trail for commanding views over the area! Maui is also popular for its lovely Lavender farms, like Ali’i Kula, which is open to the public. End your day with a classic Hawaiin luau at historic Old Lahaina!
Grand Teton, WY
Grand Teton National Park is truly a sight to behold! Located in Wyoming, its awe-inspiring landscapes can be enjoyed all-year-round, though they are always best appreciated during summer. Plus, all trails and activities are available for extended hours from May to September! Save an hour to visit the pristine Jenny Lake overlooking the Teton Glacier, offering kayaking, paddleboarding, and more. Hikers will also love Moose Ponds, an easy trail nearby, perfect for sightseeing families. The Hidden Falls Trail is also another alternative, leading you toward a mesmerizing waterfall! A little further up, you’ll also find Inspiration Point, Grand Teton’s most famous lookout. If you have animal lovers in the family, definitely don’t miss an open-air wildlife safari. Up North, also find Colter Bay Village, with a visitors center providing suggestions, adjacent to a large marina. End your lovely Grand Teton family vacation with a scenic sunset cruise from the harbor!
Thank You to Our Community
No matter where you visit, we are sure you’ll be taken aback by what’s in store at any of the scenic places families will find on this list! A special thank you to the Families Who Love to Travel Facebook community who helped to compile this list of 12 Best Scenic Places For Families (U.S.A). Families Who Love To Travel is a group of amazing families who love adventure and exploring through travel. Join the Facebook community and the Instagram community to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer!
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*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the accommodations, restaurants, or activities on this list may also be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.