Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Go Back in Time at Colonial Williamsburg
Step back into 18th century America with a family trip to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. This living history museum spans 301 acres and features hundreds of restored buildings and reenactors bringing Revolutionary-era history to life. From tradespeople demonstrating colonial crafts to interpreters portraying historic figures, a visit here is an immersive experience that will engage and educate the whole family.
Start your visit at the Capitol building to pick up maps and activity schedules. Costumed guides provide orientation talks on the hour to give an overview of Williamsburg's origins and daily life during the colonial era. Afterwards, explore sites like the Governor's Palace, the busy stores and taverns of Duke of Gloucester Street, and homes of important figures like George Wythe and George Washington. Chat with reenactors along the way to get a firsthand view into the past.
Don't miss experiencing a trial at the Courthouse, where interpreters play out court cases based on actual records. Kids will get a kick out of the stocks on the palace green, where they can pose for pictures like a criminal being punished. The period clothing and horse-drawn carriages bring the sights and sounds of the era to life. Make sure to catch a military demonstration at the Magazine to see Revolutionary War weapons and drills.
The new American Revolution Museum is another must-see, with exhibition galleries and an immersive 4D theater experience bringing pivotal events like the Boston Tea Party to life. Kids can even try on colonial costumes and get hands-on with artifact replicas throughout.
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- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Go Back in Time at Colonial Williamsburg
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - See Old Faithful Erupt in Yellowstone
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Ride the Waves in Hawaii
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Explore the Ancient Ruins of Machu Picchu
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Marvel at Disney World's New Attractions
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Camp Under the Stars in Yosemite
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Enjoy France's Castles and Cuisine
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Cruise Alaska's Glaciers and Wildlife
- Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Make a Splash at Atlantis Paradise Island
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - See Old Faithful Erupt in Yellowstone
Get up close to one of the world's most iconic natural landmarks on a family trip to Yellowstone National Park. Seeing the Old Faithful geyser erupt is an experience that will leave the whole family in awe.
Old Faithful is just one of over 500 geysers that dot Yellowstone’s unique thermal areas, but it’s by far the most famous. Its predictable eruptions occur around every 90 minutes or so and reach heights of 130-180 feet! Kids will love sitting on the benches of the Old Faithful viewing area, waiting in anticipation for the next blast.
When Old Faithful erupts, steaming hot water is propelled high into the air in a dramatic display. Make sure your cameras are ready, because the moments right before, during, and after the eruption create fantastic photo opportunities. Capture the geyser as it shoots towering jets of water skyward or aim your lens low to photograph people’s expressions of amazement during the show.
Seeing Old Faithful erupt is truly a don’t-miss Yellowstone experience. As one recent visitor described, “No matter how many nature documentaries you’ve seen, nothing prepares you for that moment in real life when the ground begins to rumble and Old Faithful begins spewing water over 100 feet into the air! Absolutely incredible!”
Of course, Old Faithful isn’t the only highlight. With over 2 million acres of wilderness, Yellowstone offers plenty of other adventures. Take a scenic drive to spot wildlife like bison, elk, moose and bears in their natural habitat. Hike one of the park’s 900+ miles of trails – some favorites for families include the scenic Canyon Rim Trail and the firefighter-led walk to Lone Star Geyser. Or boat and fish on Yellowstone Lake, North America’s largest high elevation lake.
If you visit in winter, experience Yellowstone transformed into a frozen winter wonderland. Snow coach tours allow you to see landmarks like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs blanketed in snow. Kids will love activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating too.
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Ride the Waves in Hawaii
Hawaii's world-famous beaches offer superb surfing and wave riding for families of all skill levels. Catching your first wave or mastering advanced techniques together creates lifelong memories. And with soft sand, warm water, and gentle waves, Hawaii delivers ideal conditions for learning.
Famous North Shore spots like Sunset Beach and Pipeline cater to pros tackling giant winter swells. But beginners should start on Oahu's south and west shores. Waikiki is surf central on Oahu. Wide, rolling waves regularly break here, creating long, mellow rides perfect for beginners. Surf schools like Big Wave Dave and Moku Hawaii offer group or private lessons for kids and adults. Patient instructors will have even little ones standing and riding on their first day.
Once you've got the basics down, head to spots like White Plains Beach or Ala Moana Bowls. The reef break at White Plains generates nice, predictable waves. While Ala Moana’s outer reefs challenge intermediate surfers with fast hollow barrels. Plan a family surf session at Sunrise Beach on Oahu's east shore too. Uncrowded with small waves and a shallow sandy bottom, it's ideal for honing skills.
Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island also boast stellar family surf. On Maui, head to the gentle waves of Ukumehame Beach Park near Lahaina or the famed Honolua Bay's right point break. Kauai's Poipu Beach has lifeguards and a surf school perfect for lessons. While the Big Island's Kahaluu Beach serves up nice rides and a shallow reef for beginners.
A family surf vacation creates fun memories and new skills to last a lifetime. As one mom who recently visited Kauai shared, "My husband and I loved sharing our passion for surfing with our girls on this trip. After a few lessons, they both were able to catch some waves with us and the pride on their faces was priceless! Hawaii was the perfect place to teach them."
Another great way to ride the waves as a family is by stand-up paddleboarding or taking an ocean kayak tour. Paddling out just beyond the breakers with an experienced guide gives a new perspective. Kids as young as 5 can often join in the fun on tandem boards and kayaks. Gliding over the water standing up while taking in views of Hawaii's lush mountain backdrops and sea caves creates amazing moments together.
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Explore the Ancient Ruins of Machu Picchu
With its incredible history and jaw-dropping views, a visit to the ancient Incan ruins of Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for families. Hidden high in Peru's Andes mountains, this 15th-century citadel will fascinate kids and parents alike. Walking amongst the perfectly cut stone temples, plazas, and dwellings is like stepping back in time. Your family can marvel at the incredible architecture and engineering that went into building this mountain-top retreat.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu continues to reveal its secrets and mysteries to visitors today. Have your kids imagine what life was like here centuries ago as they explore the agricultural terraces, fountains, and temples. Family-friendly guided tours really bring the history alive. Young explorers will be captivated hearing legends of the Incan priests, nobles, and workers who once inhabited this place.
Adventurous families can extend their Machu Picchu visit with one of the iconic four-day Inca Trail treks. Walking the ancient stone pathway through the Andes in the footsteps of the ancient Incas is an unforgettable challenge. Experienced guides share stories about the history and culture along the way. And you’ll get breathtaking views of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate entrance on the final day, making the hike extremely rewarding.
Or for those short on time, hike up the peak of Huayna Picchu for stunning views down over the citadel. It’s a steep climb and permits are required, so reserve in advance. But reaching the top offers a bird’s eye perspective on Machu Picchu's incredible layout and the surrounding Andean scenery.
Wherever you explore within the complex, Machu Picchu is sure to be a highlight. As one dad who recently visited with his family shared, “We were absolutely blown away by this 'lost city' in the clouds. My son was fascinated by the temples and kept trying to figure out how the huge stones were cut and put into place. The views were simply breathtaking. It exceeded every expectation!”
Another traveler explained, "I’ll never forget watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu with my family. The ruins gave off this magical glow in the early light. We were one of the first groups into the site, so we had it all to ourselves for a bit. My kids were running around exploring every little nook and cranny. Definitely one of the most memorable mornings of our lives!"
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Marvel at Disney World's New Attractions
With exciting new rides, shows, and experiences debuting all the time, Walt Disney World continues to captivate families year after year. In 2024, Disney unveils several highly-anticipated new attractions that all ages will adore.
At Magic Kingdom, TRON Lightcycle Run opens as one of the park’s most thrilling roller coasters ever. Riders board a two-wheeled Lightcycle and race through the electronic world of TRON. This indoor/outdoor coaster features exhilarating twists, turns, and inversions as you dodge the Grid’s menacing Recognizers and tanks. Disney describes it as a “high-speed adventure” with highlights including an upside down spiral into a tunnel. Based on early reviews of TRON Lightcycle Run at Shanghai Disneyland, expect epic launch speeds, tight turns, and vivid visual effects.
Epcot debuts its first ever thrill ride with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This family-friendly rollercoaster rotates 360 degrees while launching you backwards through space. As one of the world’s longest enclosed coasters, the action happens inside a massive show building. Riders help the Guardians battle the villainous Eson as they zip past “Xandarian treasures and Celestial visions” through this innovative storytelling coaster.
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway uses trackless ride vehicles and dazzling visual effects to immerse guests in a Mickey Mouse cartoon adventure. As Disney’s first ever ride-through attraction themed to Mickey and friends, it’s sure to delight kids and adults. And in the World Showcase at Epcot, Journey of Water inspired by Moana takes guests on an interactive water trail following the story of the animated film. This lush exploration trail promises inventive fountains, magical water visuals, and hands-on fun.
Of course, beyond the flashy new rides, Walt Disney World offers nonstop family magic across its four theme parks and two water parks. Fairy godmothers-in-training can visit Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for princess makeovers. Aspiring Jedi can face off against Kylo Ren in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Budding zookeepers can feed giraffes at Animal Kingdom. Options for memorable moments together are endless.
As one mom who visited with her family shared, “Walking down Main Street hand-in-hand with my kids, their faces lit up with joy, I was reminded that Disney magic isn’t just about the new attractions. It’s about being present with your family and seeing the parks through their eyes.”
Another dad offered this advice after his 2024 trip: “Don’t try to rush from ride to ride hitting up every new thing in the parks. Take time to slow down and actually experience the attractions together. Watching my daughter giggling with delight as she met Cinderella for the first time is a memory I’ll always cherish.”
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Camp Under the Stars in Yosemite
With its soaring granite cliffs, gushing waterfalls, and giant sequoia groves, Yosemite National Park makes for an unforgettable family camping trip. Pitch your tent surrounded by some of the most beautiful wilderness in America. Kids will love cooking s'mores over a campfire under the stars here.
Yosemite offers 18 campgrounds scattered throughout the park. For the most convenient access to major sights, try lodgepole Campground in Yosemite Valley. It’s near top attractions like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and the Mist Trail. Or snag a riverside site at Upper Pines Campground, just minutes from trailheads.
If seeking more seclusion, head to campgrounds like Tamarack Flat, Porcupine Flat, or Yosemite Creek. They feel tucked away in the woods yet aren’t far from the valley. For remote backcountry camping, the park has over 1,000 sites to claim with a wilderness permit. Imagine drifting off to sleep beside alpine lakes or granite domes lightyears away from city lights.
One of the best parts of camping in Yosemite is looking up at the phenomenal night sky. Far from light pollution, the stars shine brilliantly here. Have the kids try to spot constellations like Orion or Ursa Major. Full moons illuminate iconic sights like Half Dome and El Capitan with a magical glow. And you might even catch shooting stars streaking overhead!
Making s'mores over the campfire creates lifelong memories. Let the kids spear marshmallows onto sticks and hold them over the open flames until perfectly golden brown. Laugh together as you sandwich them with chocolate between graham crackers for the ultimate gooey campfire treat.
Other great camp activities include singing songs like John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” telling scary stories, and playing “I Spy” to spot nocturnal animals. Kids love when Yosemite’s rangers lead informative campfire programs at sites like Lower Pines too.
As one mom who recently camped in Yosemite with her family shared, “ Laying on blankets staring up at the dazzling night sky, roasting marshmallows, taking evening walks under the massive sequoias – our camping trip gave us quality time together away from daily stresses. The park’s peaceful beauty combined with the simplicity of camping brought us closer as a family.”
Another dad explained, “Hearing coyotes howling in the distance as we sat around the crackling fire, my son snuggled in my lap pointing out constellations, I felt a sense of contentment. Camping in Yosemite slowed us down and encouraged us to appreciate the little moments as a family.”
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Enjoy France's Castles and Cuisine
Indulge in France’s refined palette and regal history with a family trip exploring the country’s castles and cuisine. From towering chateaux to boulangeries dishing out buttery croissants, savoring this tasty blend of food and culture creates unforgettable moments together.
Wander the sprawling halls and ornate rooms of Chambord in the Loire Valley, widely considered one of the most spectacular achievements in French Renaissance architecture. Here kids can imagine being king or queen surveying their elaborate domain.Wind through the extensive gardens, tracing the chateau’s unique double-helix staircase inspired by Leonardo da Vinci. Then refuel with a picnic sampling the region’s local wines and cheeses on the sprawling lawns.
Or explore the medieval fortified city of Carcassonne, where crenelated towers soar over cobblestone streets. Kids will feel like knights of the Roundtable exploring this walled fortress and its legends. Then stop to enjoy cassoulet, the hearty duck and bean stew that’s a local specialty, at a quaint outdoor café.
Provence entices families with its Postcard-perfect lavender fields and rustic country cooking. Tour the impressive Papal Palace in historic Avignon with its stair-step walls and ornate gilded rooms. Then try your hand at making ratatouille, the signature stewed vegetable dish, during a hands-on cooking class in a charming Provençal village.
No family visit to France’s castles is complete without touring the grandest of them all – Versailles. Marvel at the opulence of Hall of Mirrors and the queen’s bedchamber, then stroll the geometric gardens dotted with fountains and sculptures. Afterwards, kids can picnic on scrumptious crepes filled with Nutella and fruit in the park-like grounds.
Of course, you can’t visit France without indulging in its delectable breads and pastries. Grab chocolate croissants and baguettes from a bustling Parisian boulangerie to start your day. Or let the kids enjoy Nutella crêpes made fresh at a street cart. And be sure to leave room for the crème brûlée and chocolate mousse – kids devour these sweet treats!
As one family who recently traveled to France shared, “Our kids thought touring the castles would be boring, but they were fascinated once we got there! And experiencing all the foods they had read about in books made the cuisine come alive. It was a delicious adventure we’ll never forget.”
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Cruise Alaska's Glaciers and Wildlife
Experience Alaska's immense natural beauty and abundance of wildlife up-close on an unforgettable family cruise. Gliding past massive glaciers and spotting bears, whales, and more in their natural habitats creates lifelong memories. Of all the ways to explore America's last frontier, cruising allows you to see the most while unpacking just once.
Sailing along Alaska's coast, fjords, and inland waterways offers front-row views of the state's famous glaciers. See these frozen giants up-close as ice breaks off into the sea with a thunderous crack. Watching the calving display at glaciers like Hubbard and Sawyer is a highlight for kids and parents alike. Or take a small boat tour to paddle among the floating chunks of ice. The glaciers' intense shades of blue will dazzle young eyes and imaginations. As 14-year-old Jamie who recently sailed to Alaska shared, "It was incredible to see the gigantic glaciers so close - way more massive than I imagined! When the ice cracked off, it was like fireworks."
Of course, the wildlife viewing opportunities abound at sea and on shore excursions. On board, kids can join Ranger programs teaching them about the different animals they might spot. Then head out on deck with binoculars and cameras in hand to see how many types they can check off their list. Playful pods of orcas and humpback whales breaching alongside the ship get everyone excited. And sightings of lazy sea otters floating on their backs never disappoint. Six-year-old Oliver described his experience: "The whales were so cool, jumping out of the water and splashing down! I saw a tiny baby one swimming next to its mom."
When in port, tours provide more wildlife encounters on land. Visit Kodiak Island for premier bear viewing. At places like Kodiak Brown Bear Center, experienced naturalist guides lead small groups safely among the bears along the salmon-rich streams. Seeing these powerful predators fish, forage, and cuddle their cubs creates once-in-a-lifetime moments. Or head to Sitka for up-close sea otter encounters during a boat tour through the bay. Their playful antics never fail to delight kids and adults alike.
Beyond wildlife, cruising allows families to experience Alaska's diverse landscapes and native cultural heritage. Hike through lush Tongass National Forest near Ketchikan. Learn about totem poles and native traditions at Saxman Village. Pan for gold in historic Skagway. Watch sled dog pups play at an Iditarod camp near Seward. Cruising makes getting a taste of everything easy and fun.
Make Memories Together: 10 Epic Family Vacations to Book for 2024 - Make a Splash at Atlantis Paradise Island
With its white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and jaw-dropping aquariums, Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas promises nonstop family fun. Parents and kids alike marvel at swimming alongside manta rays, racing down water slides, and enjoying beach days together at this all-encompassing island resort.
First up, Atlantis wows families with one of the largest open-air marine habitats in the world. Their Ambassador Lagoon is home to over 50,000 aquatic animals representing 250 marine species. Kids press their noses to the floor-to-ceiling windows staring in awe at sharks, angelfish, and stingrays swimming gracefully by. Schedule a once-in-a-lifetime Dolphin Cay interaction to swim face-to-face with these intelligent creatures. Skilled trainers teach hand signals to give cues before gliding through the water with a dolphin. Seeing your child’s eyes light up as a dolphin propels them through the lagoon by their feet creates incredible memories.
Of course, the resort’s water park and 11 swimming pools provide endless aquatic adventures. Adrenaline junkies zoom down Leap of Faith’s 60-foot near-vertical plunge through a clear acrylic tunnel submerged amongst sharks. Keep the heart pumping racing down the Serpent Slide’s coils or barreling through the Rapids’ churning currents. Little ones splash away at Splashers, a play area with mini slides, fountains, and pools perfect for toddlers. With thrills for all ages, it’s easy to spend entire days making waves in the parks.
When it’s time for a break, Atlantis offers kid-perfect beaches too. Cove Beach’s calm, shallow waters create a protected spot ideal for young swimmers. Or try Bimini Beach with gentle surf and a nearby playground. Build epic sandcastles, play volleyball, or join a scavenger hunt excursion along the powdery shores.
Dining options cater to families as well, with 20+ restaurants from festive buffets to upscale venues with kids’ menus. Character breakfasts bring beloved figures like Scooby-Doo and SpongeBob to your table for entertainment. Schedule a Dolphin Cay Interaction Package to enjoy breakfast alongside the dolphins before an in-water experience – an unforgettable way to start the day!
As one grateful mom explained after her Atlantis vacation, “I loved that Atlantis kept both our thrill-seeking pre-teen and our toddler fully engaged and smiling all day long. The freedom to split up for age-appropriate activities, then reconnect for quality family time over dinner felt like the best of both worlds.”
A dad who recently visited agreed: “Watching my kids giggling and splashing with the dolphins, then seeing their exhilarated faces after conquering the slides - those are memories that will outlast any souvenir we could have brought home.”