14 Best Lakes For A Family Vacation (Less Than 4 Hours From NYC!)

Two kids sit together at the edge of a lake inflatable while enjoying a sunny day at Highland Lake, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

When it comes to finding the perfect family vacation spot, few places can beat the beauty and amenities of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC! From the crystal-clear waters of Lake George to the serene woods of the Poconos, there are opportunities to enjoy anything from a leisurely swim to an action-packed day of watersports. Many of the lakes in the area offer excellent facilities for families, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and beaches. And if you’re hoping to enjoy some fishing or boating during your stay, you’ll find plenty of lakes that offer those activities too. Next time you plan a family vacation from the city, these suggestions on the Best Lakes for a Family Vacation within 4 Hours from NYC have you covered. We’ve even included where to stay. Keep reading to plan your next lake getaway! 

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Best New York Lakes near New York City for Families

Looking for the best lakes for a family vacation near NYC? Look no further than these fantastic lakes in New York that are perfect for families! With everything from the best swimming lakes to quaint towns for a lakeside picnic, we’ve got your upcoming family weekend getaways from NYC covered. Plus, with these options, you never have to leave the state!

Here are 16 Fantastic East Coast Summer Destinations Families Will Love

Lake George

Little girl on boat looking at water at Lake George
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

From mountains towering over glistening waters to a modern downtown area, families will love the spring-fed Lake George! Just over 3 and a half hours from NYC, spend your days enjoying picnics, swimming, or kayaking down this 32-mile stretch of shoreline along the Adirondack Mountains

Families can visit Ushers Park Beach, a popular public beach due to its shallow water and nearby playground. There’s also a marina where families can rent boats to explore the area, including motorized options. Within driving distance, you’ll also find the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves. It is an easy hike; even little kids can enjoy its trails. Or, get your daily dose of history at Fort William Henry!

For more family fun, head to the downtown Lake George Village area to take kids on rides or other carnivalesque excursions! Children will also love The Around the World Golf Course, featuring popular landmarks as different holes. Bolton Landing is also a non-touristy alternative before enjoying dinner at places like Cate’s Italian Garden.

Book Lake George Luncheon or Sightseeing Cruise aboard the Lac du Saint Sacrement using Viator.

Where to Stay near Lake George with Kids

Lake George features various accommodations for families, from home rentals to camping and boutique hotels. Children who enjoy camping may love staying at nearby sites like Adirondack Camping Village, Lake George Battleground State Campground, or Lake George Escape Campground, featuring heated pools, sports fields, and organized weekend activities. Or, stay on your own specially reserved island campsite by booking in advance through Lake George’s official camping website!

Luxury resorts like The Sagamore are definitely the way to go if you want easy access while exploring one of the best lakes near New York City for families. 

Are hotels not your style? Find a Lake George vacation rental now using Vrbo.

Greenwood Lake

People playing in the sand and water along the shore of Greenwood Lake, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: Village of Greenwood

Greenwood Lake has been one of the best lakes near New York City for families for over 200 years! Located half in New Jersey and half in New York, it’s one of the best short family weekend getaways from NYC. It is precisely 50 miles from NYC and less than 2 hours away by car. Flanked by springs and brooks, Greenwood Lake is man-made, nine miles long, and showcases boating, swimming, jet-skiing, and fishing, among other fun activities. 

Town Beach, located at the end of Windermere Ave on the lake, is a great place for families to enjoy the sunshine, as well as stick their toes in the sand. On the beach, you’ll also find a children’s play area, a volleyball court, and a picnic area. There is definitely something for everyone! (Apply for a family season pass for a discount on beach fees!) Then, nearby Warwick offers a quaint downtown area featuring family-friendly restaurants, shopping, and more to explore! 

Or, visit nearby attractions like Stanley Deming Park, Wawayanda State Park, or Warwick Town Park if you want to spend more time in nature. History buffs may also be interested in visiting the Warwick Historical Society. In addition to stores like Newhards and Frazzleberries, there are also a ton of cute restaurants in town! Finally, for food in the area, try Caffe a la Mode, The Helm, or Charlotte’s Tea Room.

Where to Stay Near Greenwood Lake with Kids

Spend one of your family weekend getaways from NYC with a home rental through Vrbo. Accommodations directly on Greenwood Lake are usually best, but you can expand into nearby areas to widen your search. For example, venture only ten minutes outside the lake’s main area, and you can stay in Warwick, New York. 

Rent a home at Greenwood Lake during your summer break using Vrbo.

Lake Tiorati

Beautiful Lake Tiorati with a lush green shoreline on a sunny day.
Photo Courtesy: ScubaBear68

Lake Tiorati is one of seven man-made lakes in Harriman State Park. Located in Sloatsburg, New York, it’s about 90 minutes from NYC and is around 5 miles long. As such, it’s perfect for a short family weekend getaway from NYC! 

Kids will love spending time at Lake Tiorati Beach, featuring swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities, including motorboats. Biking is also available if you want to see more of the lake. With so many options, it’s no wonder this is one of the best lakes for a family vacation 4 hours from NYC! Of course, you can also explore Harriman State Park, offering plenty of hiking. Kid-friendly trails include The Torrey Memorial Trail for younger kids or The Reeve’s Brook Trail, which is rated more moderate. With so many outdoor adventures nearby, this is certainly one of the best lakes near New York City for families!

Pro Tip: If you’re considering Lake Tiorati for one of your future road trips from New York City, you will need to have an NYS license to fish, and a permit to launch your boat.

Where to Stay Near Lake Tiorati with Kids

If you need ideas for where to stay near Lake Tiorati with kids, here are a few options that may suit your family! A few miles from the lake, families can find options like the Hampton Inn Harriman Woodbury, and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites West Point-Fort Montgomery, an IHG Hotel.

Then, less than 10 miles from the lake, Bear Mountain Inn – Overlook Lodge offers accommodations within the inn, lodge, and a few cottages nestled along the Appalachian Trail. Lastly, families looking to set up a camp can consider Tiorati Plateau Campground and Cedar Pond Campground, which offers pioneer campsites right on Lake Tiorati. Or, just a few miles down the road, Beaver Pond Campground is another option for families.

Need a rental while you’re in town? Reserve yours today using Hertz.

Lake Taghkanic

Five kids splash wildly in the water at East Beach. Other swimmers dot the background, as a line of lush green trees flank the other bank of the lake.
Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Feingold

Travelers of all ages will love Lake Taghkanic State Park, which houses one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC! Located about 2 and a half hours from the city, it’s nestled next to the man-made Lake Taghkanic in Columbia County, which covers more than 150 acres and 1.5 miles of shoreline.

Lake Taghkanic State Park also offers recreational activities for the whole family, from a beach to playgrounds, picnic pavilions, and more fun. Parents love it because it’s pretty convenient to reach for both a day trip and an overnight stay. Summer activities kids can enjoy include swimming at the lakeside beach, which is relatively clean and calm compared to other lakes. Families who like watersports can also rent gear to go row boating, paddle boarding, canoeing, or kayaking. 

There’s also a sports field, plus opportunities to bike, hike, and go fishing. When little ones get hungry, a snack stand on the beach sells kid-friendly fare like cheeseburgers, nachos, fries, etc. 

Where to Stay near Lake Taghkanic with Kids

Looking for somewhere to stay near Lake Taghkanic with kids? RV, tent, or trailer camping is available, but families can also stay in cozy cottages or cabins right by the lake. They come outfitted with kitchens, a back porch, and even a fire ring, making your stay at one of the best lakes in New York for families even sweeter!

Click here to read our Ultimate Guide To Family Resorts Near NYC For A Summer Getaway

Great Sacandaga Lake

A scenic view of Great Sacandaga Lake during the summer, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: 420Traveler via Wikimedia

There’s no need to head far for a refreshing family vacation when you have the Great Sacandaga Lake right in your backyard! Just 3 and a half hours from New York City, this 29-mile-long man-made lake is one of the best spots for swimming, fishing, and boating in the area, including motorboating.

Families visiting here in the summer have access to a range of sandy beaches along the shoreline, including Mayfield Beach (day passes are required) and the Northhampton Beach Campground (permits are required). Plus, there are plenty of boat launches and opportunities for water sports rentals, from jet skiing to kayaking! Other activities for families include fishing, biking, hiking, and so much more.

When you want to explore nearby towns, check out spots like Mayfield, home to different shops and restaurants, or Gloversville, home to the weekly Gloversville Farmers Market! 

Where to Stay near Great Sacandaga Lake with Kids

Families from all over Upstate New York head to Great Sacandaga Lake for affordable summer vacations! From RV sites to tent camping and lakeside cabins, there are a ton of options to choose from. Check out Vrbo to find one in your budget! 

Lake Luzerne

A dock and rowboat rest on the shores of Lake Luzerne during the fall, with colorful trees surrounding the lake.
Photo Courtesy: Town of Lake Luzerne

There’s nothing quite like a summer vacation spent by the lake. And when it comes to lakes near New York City, the spring-fed Lake Luzerne is one of the best! It’s less than 4 hours from NYC, and features plenty of opportunities to soak up the sunshine on over 100 acres and 2.7 miles of shoreline.

In fact, families who want to spend time on the water have plenty of opportunities to go swimming, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, and more! There are two public beaches on the lake, Luzerne Heights Public Beach and Wayside Beach. Each has its own parking lot and plenty of space for families to spread out and relax in the sand. Keep in mind no motorboats are allowed.

Families who want to spend time off the water will also find plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and other activities in the area. Plus, since Lake Luzerne is located near the Hudson River, families will also find plenty of opportunities to go tubing with local companies. Or, visit the Adirondack Adventure Center for zip lining and obstacle courses in the trees! After a long day of adventure, treat kids to sweets from Bon’s Ice Cream! 

Where to Stay near Lake Luzerne with Kids

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay near Lake Luzerne with the kids, we have some options! For a cute B&B option, check out Lamplight Inn Bed & Breakfast. Families can also look for lakeside cabin rentals on Vrbo. 

Best New Jersey Lakes near New York City for Families

There are plenty of great lakes in New Jersey for families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC! Here, find boating opportunities, kayaking, fishing, and a cozy lake house near NYC. Keep reading to learn more! 

If you’re vacationing during July, consider one of these Best 4th Of July Weekend Getaways From NYC For Families To See Fireworks

Lake Hopatcong

People water skiing in Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: Sarah Einhorn

At just under an hour from NYC, escape to Lake Hopatcong for one of the best family weekend getaways from NYC! As the largest freshwater lake in New Jersey, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly activities along its four-mile stretch of shoreline. This includes access to public beaches, like Hopatcong State Park or Lee’s County Park Marina. Byram Cove, a quiet enclave near West Shore Boulevard, is also an alternative to the lake’s central boating area! As one of the best lakes near New York City, Lake Hopatcong’s abundance of watersports provides a scenic adventure away from the hustle and bustle. Fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are among the many excursions you can participate in as a family! Motorboats are also available to rent, and there are multiple boat launches.

Down Lake Hopatcong’s waterfront, you’ll also discover countless quaint boutiques or family-friendly restaurants. Best of all, you can park your boat directly in front of many restaurants, like The Windlass.

NOTE: Before visiting Lake Hopatcong on a weekend getaway from NYC with kids, keep in mind the lake has experienced recent toxic algae growth in the past.

Where to Stay near Lake Hopatcong with Kids

Lake Hopatcong has plenty of accommodation options for your family. In fact, it’s a great place to rent a lake house near NYC directly via Vrbo or home rental sites. This is particularly useful if you have a boat you want to dock near the marina. Most properties are also connected to private beaches, so you can have everything you need all in one place! Alternatively, consider camping at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, which boasts many easy trails for kid-friendly hiking.

Find Vacation Rentals in Hopatcong using Vrbo.

Best Pennsylvania Lakes near New York City for Families

Pennsylvania has so many great lakes that it can be hard to choose which one to visit on your family vacation. However, if you’re looking for a lake close to New York City, you should definitely check out these options. Keep reading to find out the best lakes for a family vacation 4 hours from NYC! 

Lake Naomi

Little boy and girl admiring the view and playing in the water at Lake Noami in PA
Photo Courtesy: Irene V. Martin

Families searching for a summer vacation spot that is both scenic and close to New York City need to look no further than Lake Naomi! Many favor its short distance from NYC (under 2 hours!), kid-friendly features, and rustic charm. Lake Naomi also features three large spring-fed lakes, seven beaches with lifeguard supervision, and two outdoor heated pools! Adventurous families will appreciate opportunities to hike, fish, tube, kayak, or paddleboard, as well as spot various local wildlife. Please note the lake is only open to non-motorized watercraft.

Central to this private community, you’ll also find the Lake Naomi Club, a recreation center perfect for a rainy day or for organizing summer activities outside. In addition to two restaurants and a beach bar, the center also boasts a kids club, so you can have some alone time to unwind lakeside! Here, you also can feel like a child attending summer camp, while you play tennis and soak in everything Lake Naomi has to offer.

NOTE: Non-residents should note that to use Lake Naomi facilities, you must either rent a property or purchase a temporary pass for a minimum of 30 days.

Where to Stay near Lake Naomi with Kids

Renting a private house remains Lake Naomi’s most popular family option. Search for a lake house near NYC directly on Lake Naomi via Vrbo or other services! Waterpark enthusiasts will love staying at Kalahari Waterpark. Then, Camelback Resort is only twenty minutes from Lake Naomi, which makes it a perfect place to stay on one of the best road trips from New York City with kids.

Top 50 Lake Naomi Club Vacation Rentals | Vrbo.com

Lake Wallenpaupack

A family enjoys feeding the ducks from a dock at sunset on Lake Wallenpaupack, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: PoconoMountains.com

If you’re looking for a great place to take your family on vacation, look no further than Lake Wallenpaupack. Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, this beautiful freshwater lake is located just a short drive from NYC (around 2 and a half hours) and offers plenty of activities for everyone in the family to enjoy along its 52 miles of shoreline. No wonder it’s one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC! 

Families can enjoy fishing for bass, trout, and catfish on Lake Wallenpaupack. There are also several beaches where you can swim, sunbathe, and build sandcastles, including the family-friendly Palmyra Township Public Beach. For those who love being on the water, there are boat rentals available so you can explore the lake at your own pace. Motorized boats are allowed. Or, you could kick it up a notch and explore the lake by kayak, paddleboard, or canoe.

If you want to stay dry, there are plenty of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the lake. Take the Wallenpaupack Lake Trail, accessible from the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center, which loops around the lake for 3 miles and provides amazing views. There are also lots of historical attractions in the area, like the Hawley Saw Mill.

Where to Stay near Lake Wallenpaupack with Kids

Families looking for somewhere to stay near Lake Wallenpaupack with kids can check out Vrbo for cabins, houses, and other rental options! 

Lake Nockamixon

Several sail boats manuever around Lake Nockamixon on a sunny day.
Photo Courtesy: Visit Bucks County

Lake Nockamixon is one of the best man-made lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC because it’s easy to get to, there’s plenty to do on and off the water, and it’s affordable! Situated in Bucks County, about an hour and a half north of the city, it’s located within the larger Nockamixon State Park. It offers plenty for families to do on and off the water, since there are over 98 miles of shoreline across 1,000 acres!

On the lake, you can go fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and boating. Many people here own their own boats, but there are also some rental places around the shore. This includes pontoon boating and other forms of non-motorized watercraft! Though swimming isn’t technically allowed on the lake, kids who want to cool off can splash in the Nockamixon State Park Pool, which also features a concession stand.

There are also several hiking trails around the perimeter of the lake, plus some mountain biking trails. And, if you’re looking for something more low-key, there are plenty of spots for picnicking available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Where to Stay near Lake Nockamixon with Kids

Families looking for somewhere to stay near Lake Nockamixon have plenty of options. Check out Vrbo to find lakeside rentals in your budget! 

Lake Harmony

The beautiful swimming area at Lake Harmony, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: PoconoMountains.com

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit? Head on over to Lake Harmony for a refreshing change of pace! Overlooking the gentle, rolling hills of Carbon County, it’s around 2 hours from NYC and offers endless entertainment for the entire family across over 100 acres and 2 miles of shoreline. It’s certainly one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours from NYC!

​​On the water, you can go kayaking, canoeing, swimming, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding. You’ll find plenty of boat launches for non-motorized watercraft and swimming areas around the lake, but if you want full access to the lake, you’ll have to stay at a nearby hotel or rent a lakeside house.

Off the water, take a hike through Hickory Run State Park, or check out one of the many nearby golf courses. Families staying at the Split Rock Resort can also take advantage of the hotel’s on-site water park, H20Ooohh! Indoor Waterpark. Or, take teens for a paintballing adventure at Skirmish Paintball! There are also plenty of great shopping and dining options in the area. 

Where to Stay near Lake Harmony with Kids

Families who want access to Lake Harmony can stay at the Split Rock Resort, which features an indoor water park, mini-golf, and other amenities for families. Or, you can rent a lakeside house from Vrbo. 

Best Connecticut Lakes near New York City for Families

If you’re looking for the perfect family vacation spot near New York City, look no further than Connecticut! Just a short drive from the city, you’ll find plenty of great lakeside destinations perfect for a summer getaway. Here are some of the best Connecticut lakes near NYC for families!

Candlewood Lake

Three men on boat on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut.
Photo Credit: Paulo O

As Connecticut’s largest man-made lake, Candlewood Lake is a popular option among the best kid-friendly summer lakes within 4 hours of NYC! In fact, Candlewood Lake isn’t just one area, but rather several different lakeside towns. Sherman Town Park is popular for its long stretch of sand, playground, and picnic area. Or, consider New Fairfield Town Park, which also offers a family season pass for its public beach, which features an extended snack bar and restrooms. If you need a rental, check out Echo Bay Marina. Motorized boats are allowed on the lake.

One lakeside town, Bethel, showcases a unique drive-through adventure called the Sycamore Drive-In. Then, if your family loves art, Molten Java is a three-in-one coffee shop, art gallery, and music venue! Finally, you can also rent a multi-person pontoon or take your own boat to some of Candlewood Lake’s waterfront restaurants, like Down The Hatch!

Note: Though Candlewood Lake’s water quality has recently declined due to its increased boat crowds, it’s still a great place for future road trips from New York City!

Where to Stay near Candlewood Lake with Kids

Search for a lake house near NYC near Candlewood Lake through Vrbo or other home rental sites. Though surrounding towns boast various accommodation options, many families prefer a comfy lakeside escape. Bethel, a neighboring town, may have other alternatives to suit you too. Then, consider staying in Sherman for quick access to its public beach. 

Find your summer Candlewood Lake vacation rentals here.

Bantam Lake

Several pontoons and swimmers enjoy a sunset at Morris Beach on Bantam Lake, one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC.
Photo Courtesy: Morris Beach & Recreation

If you’re planning a family vacation near NYC, Bantam Lake is the perfect spot! Around 2 hours from the city, this warm-weather destination is the largest natural lake in Connecticut. It’s also a great place for families, as it offers lots of hiking, camping, and other outdoor opportunities along its 10 miles of shoreline.

Spend your afternoons lounging on Morris Town Beach in Morris or Sandy Beach if you’re closer to Litchfield. Kids can enjoy swimming, playing volleyball, or going boating, including motorized watercraft. Bantam Lake is also a great place for jet skiing, water skiing, or kayaking. Of course, the waters are also perfect for fishing! 

Off the water, hikers can appreciate the scenic landscape on the Lake Trail Loop, a 1.2-mile trek to an observation platform overlooking the lake.

Where to Stay near Bantam Lake with Kids

Bantam Lake has plenty of accommodation options for visiting one of the best lakes for a family vacation within 4 hours of NYC. Try booking a stay at Winvian Farm, a hilltop hotel set in quaint farm cottages and rustic buildings, just four miles from Litchfield. Many also consider renting properties from Vrbo or Airbnb. Finally, for families who truly want to experience the great outdoors, Bantam Lake also offers camping at two locations on its shores. 

Highland Lake

Two kids run through shallow waters along the shore of Highland Lake.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Highland Lake, in northwestern Connecticut, is the perfect spot for a family vacation! Located within the town of Winchester in Litchfield County, this lovely spring-fed lake is around 2.5 hours from NYC. It offers plenty of activities to keep everyone happy across its almost 500 acres.

In the summer, for example, families can take a swim or go boating on the lake. There’s a marina where families can rent boats, including motorized options. There are two public beaches located in First Bay where families can spend the day relaxing as well. Plus, the lake is regularly stocked with trout for catch-and-release fishing. For families who want to connect with nature, there’s also a state park on the southwestern end of Third Bay. 

One of the unique parts of visiting Highland Lake is the spillway. In the summer, high water usually overflows across a major street around the lake, and cars have to splash through to get around. Kids will get a kick out of this! And, when you’re hungry, check out the Railway Cafe in the nearby town of Winsted for breakfast or Mario’s Tuscany Grill for dinner.

Where to Stay near Highland Lake with Kids

Searching for accommodations near Highland Lake? Check out Vrbo for options!

Lake Waramaug 

Several picnic tables on green grace near Lake Waramaug in the fall.
Photo Courtesy: Lake Waramaug Association

There are few places more idyllic for a summer family vacation than Lake Waramaug! Situated just 2 hours from New York City, this charming spring-fed lake offers the perfect mix of relaxation and recreation for families of all ages. It’s over 100 acres in size and features a shoreline ​​of over 4 miles long.

On the water, go for a swim, rent a canoe or kayak, or just relax on a pontoon boat. Motorboats are allowed, though there’s a limit to how many can be on the lake at once. Fishing is also popular on Lake Waramaug. Plus, there are many picnic areas and places to go camping if you want to stay overnight. Off the water, take a hike through Lake Waramaug State Park, visit one of the historic homes in the area, or browse the shops in one of the charming small towns. 

In nearby Kent, families can check out Kent Falls State Park and the beautiful waterfall it’s named after, Kent Falls. Or, head to Warren, home to the Warren Historical Society. Families who are considering buying a house or staying in the area long-term can also consider joining the Lake Waramaug Country Club in New Preston.

Where to Stay near Lake Waramaug with Kids

If you need somewhere to stay near Lake Waramaug with kids, check out Vrbo for rental options! Lake Waramaug State Park also offers a campground if you want to be close to nature. Overlooking the lake, there’s also The Hopkins Inn & Restaurant, which has its own private beach. Families can also look for places to stay in the nearby towns of Washington or Litchfield.

Happy Travels!

A young girl runs through shallow waters along the shore of Highland Lake.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

We hope you liked this list of the Best Lakes for a Family Vacation within 4 Hours of NYC! From upstate New York to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and beyond, there are so many great destinations within a short distance of the city for families who want a summer escape. Enjoy your lake getaway with the kids! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may also earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are also compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.