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5 Best US Vacation Destinations for an Active Family

January 27, 2017

Not all that interested in lounging on the beach during your family vacation? Contributor Patricia Dimick shares her top recommendations for vacation options that keep everyone active and moving. 


Active holidays offer fantastic opportunities to reconnect with your family. Sure, travelling with kids is not always easy, but some US destinations are perfect for both parents and their children to enjoy. Here are top 5 US locations that combine physical activity, sports, creativity and breathtaking landscape.

Yellowstone, Wyoming

Although most of Yellowstone is in Wyoming, parts of the park extend into Idaho and Montana. Since its designation as the first national park in 1872, Yellowstone has hosted countless millions of people who have enjoyed its mountains, lakes, canyons and forests.

The family friendly destination hosts springs, campsites, hiking trails and thousands of archaeological sites, making it a place as educational as it is recreational. The astonishing combination of history and nature in Yellowstone will give your whole family a new-found appreciation of life.

While visiting Yellowstone, don’t miss the beauty of the geysers. You can also take in the surrounding landscape while cycling and horseback riding. Also, your kids can become Junior Rangers and enjoy a low-cost activity booklet. Other fun activities in the park include whitewater rafting, boat rides, exploring nature and viewing wildlife.


Cades Cove, Tennessee

Families that want to vacation on the eastern side of the continent should consider visiting Cades Cove, the most popular part of the Smoky Mountains National Park. When you visit Cases Cove, you will be enchanted by a 6,800 foot valley marked with whimsical landscapes, historic buildings and a huge assortment of wildlife.

The valley is the place where history comes to life. As you explore the area, you will have a chance to see waterfalls, forests, grist mills and other remnants of a bygone era that dates to the early 1800s. Your family might want to enjoy a scenic drive or bicycle tour on Cades Cove Loop before disembarking from your vehicle to personally engage with nature.

In general, Cades Cove offers plenty of fun and unique activities for kids and families including hay rides, riding stables, cycling and nature viewing.


The Big Island, Hawaii

The mesmerizing beauty of Hawaii hosts numerous activities for families to enjoy. Choose one of the six Hawaiian islands that are open for visitors and embark on a family experience that you’ll never forget.

The Big Island might just be your ideal island. It is the largest of all Hawaiian islands, big enough to host twelve distinct climate regions and an astonishingly diverse topography. For instance, you can enjoy the beach and tropical rainforest on your way to see snow on Mauna Kea.

The diverse environment of “The Big Island” makes it an exciting and exhilarating place to explore. Activities that your family will enjoy include Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, the Mauna Kea volcano, and the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens. You might also enjoy riding horseback at the Dahana Ranch, browsing the Shops at Mauna Lani and touring the sea on glass-bottomed boats.

The sea activities include anything from snorkeling to surfing. Whatever you do, make sure to follow safety instructions.


Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Steamboat Springs got its name because fur trappers entering the area during the late 19th century thought the bubbling hot springs in the area sounded like steamboats. Since then, the town became popular because of its scenic surroundings.

Now, two ski areas, including the oldest in Colorado, and attractions such as the Hot Air Rodeo make it a compelling destination for active families.

Stemboat Springs is a favorite winter skiing destination, but it has a lot more to offer than just snow. Family activities near Steamboat Springs include hiking to area waterfalls, such as Fish Creek Falls, and mountain-biking through nearby forests and parks.

If you visit the area in summer, the Strings Music Festival is a summer concert series that attracts seasonal visitors as does the historic rodeo. Horseback riding is another popular activity in Steamboat Springs for your entire family to enjoy.


Fort Yargo State Park, Georgia 

The story of Fort Yargo State Park begins with a historic wooden fort built in 1792. The site features a beautiful 260-acre lake perfect for boating, swimming and fishing. You can enjoy breathtaking views of nature and wildlife from the shoreline. The destination also hosts more than twenty miles of trails for biking and hiking that lead through pine forests and delightful meadows.

Inside the park, you can join your kids as they play basketball, disc golf and tennis, as well as enjoy many other off-trail features. Fort Yargo accommodates extended visits via tent and RV camping sites.

You can also choose to stay in yurts or cabins located inside the park. Yurt camping is part of a growing trend of glamor camping that features electricity, furniture, windows and doors that lock. Such accommodations add a new dimension to “roughing it” that your whole family will enjoy.


You can have a great vacation without turning to huge theme parks and other commercial destinations. Such stressful venues can cost you more in terms of your relationships and health than they do in currency. Now is a good time to make-up your mind to strengthen family bonds in an active, refreshing and relaxing way.

By taking an active trip together, you give your family a chance to bond with each other and the great outdoors. Additionally, you help build healthy habits for recreation and relationships that set the stage for a vibrant future. Regardless of where you choose to travel, you have the assurance that your family trips will be as memorable as they are entertaining.


Patricia Dimick is a freelance writer from Denver. She’s also a fun stay-at-home mom, a bit of a tech freak, great nature lover and a huge fan of DIY projects. You can follow Patricia via Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.