Best of 2014: Best destinations for families you can book now!

best-destinations-for-families

Every December, we take time to reflect upon the past year of travel, and select five experiences—yes, just five!—that we crown the best of the year. Last year, our top travel experiences of 2013 took us from Alaska to the Caribbean. This year, we’re focusing on the American West and MidAtlantic, showcasing everything from five-star city hotels to cabins. We stand behind these picks as the best destinations for families, 2014.

Best Destinations for Families: our picks from 2014

Experience Grand Teton National Park ‘behind the scenes’:

OARS

You’ve heard it from us before: no outdoor tour operation does family adventure better than O.A.R.S. We loved their Rogue River itinerary, so we embarked on their OARS Jackson Lake 2 night adventure confident we’d have an amazing time. What makes it so great? Beyond the near perfect guest service we’ve found consistently with O.A.R.S., the Jackson Lake kayaking adventure allows families to see a new side of Grand Teton National Park. We slept literally in the shadow of the peaks of Grand Teton, hiked to lakes less traversed by car camping families, and swam on the far banks of the lake, inaccessible to anyone without a boat. Check out our full review of the O.A.R.S. Jackson Lake 2 night kayak tour.

Play cowboy or cowgirl for a week:

riding-at-triangle-x

Also located within the boundary of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, Triangle X Ranch is has been around for generations as a working ranch and guest ranch. For many, it’s become an annual summer tradition; when we visited, we were surprised to learn that almost 80% of guests are on a return visit. That’s your true review, right there! While at Triangle X dude ranch, we got to ride our personal horses for the week two times per day, hike, relax at the ranch, go on Snake River float trips, and enjoy plenty of family bonding time around the campfires, in the kitchen and dining rooms, and while on the trail. Want to take your whole family to summer camp? This is it. Read our full review of Triangle X Ranch.

Learn US government and history in our nation’s capital:

hyatt ceiling

School-aged kids get so much out of Washington DC! Truth be told, so do parents. I didn’t expect to love our time in the nation’s capital as much as I did; Washington DC is safe, walkable, and family-friendly. Best of all, almost all the attractions you’ll want to visit are free to the public. Many tours do require advanced planning, however, so best get started for your spring or summer visit! We recommend a Club-level stay at Grand Hyatt Washington: it’s a spurge, but also makes good travel sense. You’ll be close enough to the action to walk everywhere, and can eat most meals in the relaxed atmosphere of the club. Read our full review of Grand Hyatt DC.

Step back in time in Gettysburg:

gettsyburg-battlefields

What a sobering, awe-inspiring, and important historical landmark to visit with kids! Gettysburg, PA is a must-do with kids old enough to learn about Civil War battles in the context of US history. We recommend this trip for kids ages 8 and up, and suggest families stay 2-3 days before or after a trip to study more American history in Williamsburg or Philadelphia. The Gettysburg historic battlefield is best toured with a  licensed battlefield guide; book one to ride with you in your car for the absolute best experience. Be sure to leave time to explore the town, too. Read our full review of our time in Gettysburg.

Play in the snow in the Colorado Rockies:

keystone-resort-vacation

Keystone Colorado is arguably the most family-friendly ski resort in the Rockies. It certainly goes out of its way to cater to kids. However, this doesn’t mean Keystone isn’t up to the challenge of serious skiers and snowboarders: behind kid-centric Dercum Mountain, two more peaks await, with steeps and deeps, cat-accessed terrain, and plenty of bumps. After each ski day, Keystone pulls out all the stops, with daily Kidtopia activities geared just for kids 12 and under, weekly parades, and even fireworks displays. No wonder Keystone has been compared to Disney…on ice. Check out our long weekend at Keystone.

 Where did your family’s 2014 travel take you? What are your top picks?

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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Comments

  1. These pics look amazing. It always amazes me how much gorgeous nature the US has.

  2. I love it! Nature and history–two very important things for kids to know and love early!

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  4. We dont get much time to spend with the kids as we are so much consumed with our professional life. Planning a tour with family really give us some time to spend some quality time with them. Here are few lovely places to travel with family. It will help people to book a ticket to a dream destination.

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