Best family vacations during a time of social distancing

If you’re an adventurous family, you’re probably itching to travel again. Travel is coming back, but it will look different than in the past. We took an amazing rafting trip–and felt completely safe–in the midst of CV-19, for instance. Then, we ‘glamped’ in a rural location. The key: focus on outdoor-centric vacations that naturally promote social distancing.

Outdoor vacation ideas for families needing to social distance.

Note: Be careful if you’re doing activities requiring a release of liability waiver, and make sure that you’re thinking ahead to any safety concerns that might be specific to your destination. 

Once you’ve considered safety, the following are some tips and ideas to plan an adventure-friendly family vacation.

Rafting in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a beautiful bucket list-type trip. Rafting can be one of the best ways for your family to explore the area. 

There are options such as what’s offered by the Grand Canyon Expeditions Company that will take you along 277 miles of rafting for eight days. Alternatively, any rafting company, like OARS, can take you out into the wilderness for a rafting, kayaking, and camping adventure.


You can camp at night, and the trips are well-planned in terms of adventure but also safety. This trip is recommended for kids eight and older. 

South African Safari

International travel is limited right now with the ongoing COVID-19 situation, but when it resumes, consider a trip to South Africa. 

Many companies offer kid-friendly safari adventures so you can see giraffes, lions, and leopards in their natural habitat. 

Some of the high-end lodges in South Africa offer things like fine dining and pre-planned kids activities, so everyone in the family is happy. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (or any national park!)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in Tennessee and North Carolina, is the country’s most visited park. It is a domestic and socially-distanced destination as well if you’re looking for a trip you can do now. 

The Smoky Mountains feature hikes, such as the 80-foot Laurel Falls hike. You can walk or drive Cades Cove, and there are also more tourist attractions like the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge. 

Costa Rica

There’s no one specific way to enjoy adventurous travels in Costa Rica. The whole country is known for outdoor adventure. 


Some families opt for multisport trips that might include rafting, jungle hikes, and surfing. You can do ziplines in the cloud forest canopy, learn more about the rainforests’ wildlife, or visit the Arenal Volcano. 

The White Mountains New Hampshire

New Hampshire is an underrated travel destination. 

There are rustic lodges and huts that you can visit while you’re in the White Mountains. For example, there’s Lonesome Lake Hut, which is inexpensive, and you can access it via hiking. 

There’s also Cardigan Lodge, which is just two hours from Boston and accessible by car. 

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a good adventure destination in the summer and the winter. You can stay at a working ranch and visit nearby Grand Teton National Park. If you stay at a ranch, there are activities like guided fishing tours, floating trips on the Snake River, horseback riding, and nightly cookouts. 

During the winter, Jackson Hole is known for skiing. 

If you’re not a skier, you can take a winter tour of Grand Teton or Yellowstone National Park from a snow coach. You can take a dog sledding tour, go snowshoeing, or take a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge. 

The Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps might be among the most breath-taking scenery you’ll find anywhere in the world. 

You can plan a family trip to hike and explore the alps organized by a company, or you can plan it on your own. 

The Alps, along with hiking, are known for river rafting, dog-sledding, and bike riding. You can visit restaurants perched on mountain tops and enjoy local cheese. There are beautiful chalet hotels and even the train rides are stunning. 

Scuba Diving in the Keys

Finally, the Florida Keys aren’t known for their beaches, but they are known for their snorkeling. 

If your kids are old enough, you can make your way through the keys by boat and snorkel the best spots. 

A lot of the resorts will offer scuba diving options. For example, Hawks Cay, located in Duck Key, can arrange scuba diving. 

If you want something longer or further offshore, many companies will arrange that as well. 

If you really wanted to be adventurous you could rent a catamaran and stay there as you wander through the Keys. There are scuba and snorkeling options for families with kids of all ages. 

Top spots include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Sombrero Reef, and Looe Key. 

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.



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