14 Best Vacations with Teens
If you're a parent of teenagers, then you know how tough it can be to get them excited about doing anything. Even a family holiday can be difficult to plan, as they're too old for child-based fun and too young for adult activities. Luckily, there are a slew of teenage vacation spots that will take your kids from grumpy to joyous.
Whether they would be psyched to drive cattle on a dude ranch, snorkel in the Caribbean, surf in Hawaii, or ski the slopes of Utah, the key to a fun vacation for teens is packing it with activities. And if you balance those activities with some down time, you're sure to be in their good books, at least for a little while.
Use our list of the best vacations with teens to find the perfect getaway for your next family holiday. They may even put down their phones!
- 1. Orlando and Cape Canaveral, Florida
- 2. Oahu, Hawaii
- 3. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- 4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- 5. Park City, Utah
- 6. New York City, New York
- 7. An All-Inclusive Resort in the Caribbean
- 8. Saddling up at a Dude Ranch
- 9. Riviera Maya, Mexico
- 10. An African Safari
- 11. Yosemite National Park, California
- 12. A Baseball Stadium Road Trip in the US
- 13. Nashville, Tennessee
- 14. Cooperstown, New York
- Map of Vacations with Teens
1. Orlando and Cape Canaveral, Florida
No trip with teenagers would be complete without a visit to a theme park. That's where Orlando comes in. At this mecca of amusement parks, teenaged tourists will lose their angst (or at least most of it) while zipping down rides, hanging upside down on roller coasters, and splashing in water parks at the city's best attractions, like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World.
When the kids have had enough of standing in lines and eating overpriced junk food, take them to Cape Canaveral for a break. Just under an hour away, this is a perfect day trip destination from Orlando, and it's home to one of Florida's most popular attractions: the Kennedy Space Center.
This teenage road trip to the Space Coast is ideal—it's short and easy, starts with a visit to world-class amusement parks and ends with a tour of NASA-built spacecrafts. It's hard to find a more fun vacation for teens.
Read More: Best Beaches near Orlando
2. Oahu, Hawaii
What teen doesn't want to visit Hawaii? Soft, sandy beaches; rugged volcanoes; gushing waterfalls; and crystalline water make this one of the best places to visit for a relaxing yet fun tropical holiday.
While all of Hawaii's isles are spectacular, Oahu is a top pick for families traveling with teenagers. Whether your kids are fans of surfing, hiking, sunbathing, snorkeling, or snapping Insta-worthy selfies in magnificent locales, they'll find a lot to love.
The largest and most visited of the Hawaiian archipelago, Oahu is primed for sun worshippers—its vast array of fabulous beaches won't let you down. It's also home to Honolulu, the famed city that's filled with enough interesting attractions to keep everyone busy.
3. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Want to crack a smile on your teens' surly faces? Take them to Wisconsin Dells. It's dubbed the "Waterpark Capital of the World." Heading to this unique destination will guarantee your family one of the most fun vacations for teens and, by proxy, you.
Wisconsin Dells is home to too many indoor and outdoor water parks to list. In fact, it has the largest concentration of water parks in the world. There's no chance they'll be bored here.
If water's not your thing, don't worry. Even the pickiest of travelers will be happily entertained by the vast number of exciting things to do. From museums and theme parks to hiking and skiing in the magnificent surroundings, every member of your family is sure to find something enjoyable.
At night, rest your weary heads in one of the area's best resorts, many of which include access to their own water parks and other entertainment.
4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach takes center stage on the 60-mile-long stretch of South Carolina's Grand Strand. Designed to please all types of travelers, this iconic beach resort town is one of the best family vacation destinations, especially for those traveling with teens.
There is so much fun to be had in Myrtle Beach. We're talking everything from riding a giant Sky Wheel to driving go-carts to kayaking. Take a few hours to play a round of golf; search for wildlife at Huntington Beach State Park; or play beach volleyball on the area's namesake, a white, sandy beach.
Other popular attractions for teenagers include mini golf courses, WonderWorks (the interactive science museum), Ripley's Aquarium, and dinner shows at Pirate's Voyage.
Summer is the best time to visit Myrtle Beach if you're hoping to make the most of the many attractions, so plan your visit accordingly.
5. Park City, Utah
Do you have ski buffs in your family? Take them to Park City, Utah and you're sure to win parent of the year (or at least the week). A haven for winter athletes, Park City is home to some of Utah's best ski resorts and a ton of adventurous attractions your kids will love.
Here, teens can whizz down the slopes on skis or try snowboarding. At Utah Olympic Park, they can hop on a dogsled or brave a bobsled ride.
Deer Valley is a quick jaunt away and offers plenty of exciting winter adventures and top-notch skiing (snowboarders aren't allowed here). It's definitely worth visiting if you're staying in the area.
When you aren't traveling down a mountain at high speed, take the kids to wander along Main Street. You'll all enjoy the boutique shops and trendy restaurants, as well as the quaint feel of the town.
If you travel during summer, you can enjoy the mountain coaster, as well as the many hiking and biking trails.
6. New York City, New York
There are few cities as appealing to teenagers as New York, famously known as the city that never sleeps. There is no lack of entertainment on offer, not to mention enough shops to give your wallet a serious workout.
No matter what your teen is into (music, history, spies, food), they will find a museum dedicated to their latest obsession. Unmissable tourist attractions include the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
That said, your teens will likely consider spots like the High Line, Chelsea Market, shops of SOHO, and the restaurants of Hell's Kitchen among the top places to go.
Winter is one of the best times to visit New York for festive fun. Bundle up and take your teens to visit the Rockefeller Tree, skate on one of the many outdoor rinks, and wander through the open-air holiday market at Bryant Park. Warm up in a café, or catch a Broadway Show. Trust us, your kids won't want this family vacation to end.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in New York City
Read More: Best Time to Visit New York City
7. An All-Inclusive Resort in the Caribbean
There's little to dislike about an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, especially if you're traveling with teenagers. First, you won't have to worry about how many servings they have at the buffet breakfast or how many sodas they order each afternoon. Second, you can rest assured they will be happily entertained at all hours of the day.
Many of the Caribbean's best all-inclusive resorts offer dedicated teen programs; games zones; and evening entertainment that includes dances, movies, and special performances. When the kids are occupied, parents can revel in the adult-centered activities, like spa treatments, a round of golf, or a quiet nap by the pool.
Spending quality time together is easy at these all-inclusive resorts. Entire families can participate in water sports, land activities, and diving excursions.
Whether you choose to visit a resort in the Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, or Jamaica, the family-friendly all-inclusive resorts are the best teenage vacation spots.
Read More: Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean
8. Saddling up at a Dude Ranch
Ever feel like you can't do anything right in your teenager's eyes? That will change once you book a stay at a dude ranch. Here, guests of all ages are welcome to participate in eclectic activities. From "swimming a horse" to driving cattle to fly fishing, y'all will know what it feels like to be a cowboy (or girl) in no time.
Teenagers who relish freedom will enjoy the ability to head out for horseback rides or cross-country skiing sans parents—many dude ranches offer teen programs that allow them to explore new skills. Don't worry, there are plenty of opportunities for family rides, white water rafting, games, and lessons.
If the kids choose to do a few activities on their own, we're pretty sure you'll be okay with spending some adult-only time in the spa, by the pool, or on a romantic hike.
Most of the best dude ranches in the US are found in Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming, but you'll also find some in California. Most are all-inclusive, which is a plus if you're traveling with big eaters. The C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado, for instance, is one of the best all-inclusive family resorts in the world.
9. Riviera Maya, Mexico
There's a lot for teenagers to love about Mexico's Riviera Maya. A tropical wonder spot flanked by soft, sandy beaches; turquoise water; and family-friendly resorts; this popular beach destination has a lot to offer its visitors.
Whether your kids like to snorkel, swim with stingrays, cliff jump, or climb a pyramid, they'll find enough activities to keep them happily engaged. No wonder this area is dubbed one of the best places to visit in Mexico.
Other popular things to do on the Riviera Maya include hitting the beach and exploring the ruins in the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, and spending a day at Xcaret. This fun park offers enough teen-approved activities (like swimming in an underground river, enjoying theme park rides, and visiting a Coral Reef Aquarium) to make it a hit with everyone.
10. An African Safari
When they were little, your children likely lacked the attention span for an African safari. Now that they're teenagers, it's the perfect time to embark on this type of bucket list vacation. Not only will they be able to appreciate the grandeur of the big five in their natural element, but your teens will fully enjoy the fun that comes with bumping along in a 4X4.
No, this vacation won't come cheap, but you can rest assured that you have booked one of the best family vacations with teens—a holiday you'll all talk about for decades to come. And just think of the amazing backdrops your kids can use for their social media posts.
Kruger National Park is a must-visit if you're hoping to impress your teens with majestic surroundings and phenomenal wildlife. The oldest and largest national park in South Africa, this is one of Africa's best game reserves and open to families wishing to camp, as well as those who'd like to glam it up at a luxury safari lodge just outside the border.
11. Yosemite National Park, California
Give your kids a taste of Mother Nature at her best with a trip to Yosemite National Park. One of the best family vacations with teens, this spectacular US national park has everything you need for a fun holiday, including endless hiking trails, rock climbing adventures, and the impressive Yosemite Falls. No wonder it's been deemed one of the best national parks in California.
Add on a camping adventure to turn this into a bucket-list trip your kids won't forget. Yosemite is home to a bevy of campgrounds, the most convenient of which lie in Yosemite Valley, close to the park's most popular attractions like El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome.
Insider's Tip: If you were visiting LA, the most scenic way to get to Yosemite National Park is by car via the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway.
12. A Baseball Stadium Road Trip in the US
Looking for a teenage road trip that will be met with "yays" not "nays?" Travel the country to visit the world's best major league baseball stadiums.
Don't have that much time? Stick to a couple of states in a more palatable region and book a few games in the summer. Choose either an East Coast road trip or a West Coast road trip and tack on a few stadiums along the way.
For instance, watch the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park, then make your way to Yankee Stadium in New York City. Just over three and a half hours away, the drive is easy and will take you through Connecticut, where you can stop to ogle the scenery in some of the state's best parks.
On the West Coast, Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium is a must-visit, and your teens will love seeing LA's famous tourist attractions (we're looking at you Hollywood and Universal Studios Hollywood). Angel Stadium lies about 50 minutes northwest in Anaheim. If there's time, tack on a California road trip to see the sights.
13. Nashville, Tennessee
It's hard to find a teenager who doesn't like music. Whether they're fans of rap, rock, or pop, visiting a destination with a hearty music scene is sure to please every member of your party.
Thanks to inventive collaborations and fantastic new artists, country music has once again become popular with teens. And there's no better place to explore these fun beats than Nashville.
Known as Music City, Nashville is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Music Mile, and the Grand Ole Opry, just to name a few of the music-themed attractions.
If you're spending time downtown, which is one of the best places to visit in Nashville, you're sure to hear everything from bluegrass jives to funky beats pumping out the windows of shops and restaurants.
Time your visit with a festival or concert featuring one of your teen's favorite artists, and they'll love you forever. Book a hop-on-hop-off Old Town Trolley Tour for added fun. The guides are entertaining, and your teens will enjoy being able to see all the sights without as much walking.
Read More: Best Free Things to Do in Nashville
14. Cooperstown, New York
Teenage boys can be difficult to please, but that will change if you visit Cooperstown. Deemed one of the best small towns in New York State, this adorable spot serves up a large dish of outdoor fun. Enjoy fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, and Instagramming the pretty lake and pastoral views.
Of most interest to your sporty teen, though, will be its main attraction—the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A haven for baseball afficionados, this isn't the only attraction devoted to the beloved sport.
The Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum is another top place to visit for baseball-obsessed teens. At the only wax museum in the world that's dedicated to baseball, you'll be able to see over 30 famous "players," try your luck in a virtual reality batting cage, and watch famous bloopers.
Don't worry, baseball isn't the only thing to love about this sweet town, which is set at the southern edge of Otsego Lake. Quaint restaurants, boutique shops, and other interesting tourist sites like the historic Hyde Hall, intriguing Fenimore Art Museum, and the Alice Busch Opera Theater are more than worthy of a visit.