Top Family Vacation Places for Your Next Getaway
The average American family takes two trips a year, including one visit to relatives. For the other one - the vacation - many people pick popular and potentially overcrowded destinations, but some of the best kept secrets among travel enthusiasts are the lesser-known places in the U.S. with great beaches, nightlife, and unique opportunities to find solitude. Here are ten of the best vacation spots in the U.S.
1. Charleston, South Carolina
Named after King Charles II of England, Charleston was originally called ‘Charles Towne.’ Today it is the oldest and second largest city in South Carolina, and offers visitors a variety of interesting features and activities.
History buffs, for instance, have plenty to see and discover, since the city dates all the way back to 1670. As a result it has adopted the slogan: “Charleston: Where History Lives.”
With scores of historic buildings, and several Civil War sites (including a Civil War battleship monument), one can almost feel the Old South come alive in this sunny southern harbor town. Art lovers will also be able to appreciate Charleston as one of the top 25 art destinations in the U.S., according to the magazine American Style.
Aside from the cultural features, visitors can also opt for carefree fun in the sun on five major pristine beaches, world-renowned golf courses, and tennis courts. After all that action, countless seafood restaurants and steak houses offer excellent re-fueling opportunities. And don’t forget about the city’s signature candy bar, Charleston Chew!
2. New Braunfels, Texas
Originally a German settlement named ‘Neu-Braunfels,’ the city of New Braunfels is located in the heart of Texas, near San Antonio. In recent years, it has turned into an up-and-coming vacation spot with a myriad of recreational opportunities that include popular water sports.Originally a German settlement named ‘Neu-Braunfels,’ the city of New Braunfels is located in the heart of Texas, near San Antonio. In recent years, it has turned into an up-and-coming vacation spot with a myriad of recreational opportunities that include popular water sports.
Due to the mostly warm climate, visitors can tube, raft, or water-ski on the city’s two rivers, the Comal and the Guadalupe, almost year round. Fishing is also an option here. In addition, New Braunfels attracts a lot of water enthusiasts with the nation’s largest water park, Schlitterbahn. One great aspect of the attractions in New Braunfels are home or condo rentals within walking distance to the water park and the rivers so you don’t have to worry about parking hassles.
The town is also home to honky-tonk music, the most popular venue being Gruene Hall; Texas’ oldest dancehall, where Lyle Lovett and George Strait honed their chops before they became famous. It’s a great place to don Wranglers and line-dance to the break-a-dawn.
3. Orange Beach, Alabama
Sister city to the more well-known Gulf Shores, Orange Beach is becoming a popular destination in its own right due to its amazing beaches with cotton white sand and warm gulf waters.
Orange Beach is also home of the largest Ferris wheel of the Southeast, located at The Wharf, and hosts many sporting events at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. In addition to the beach and shopping there is everything from seafood, art and even German Sausage festivals to Mardi Gras celebrations in Orange Beach. With year round activities there is always something to enjoy while vacationing here.
4. Tybee Island, Georgia
Tybee means “salt” to Native Americans who used to inhabit this island prior to the arrival of Spanish settlers in the 1600s. One of the main attractions of Tybee Island is the wide, three-mile long beach that’s backed by grass-covered sand dunes. With only a little over 3,000 full-time island residents, it hardly ever gets crowded in Tybee. Visitors are able to get a taste of the laid back lifestyle by staying in one of the local neighborhood homes for rent in Tybee Island.
As an additional bonus, Savannah is only 18 short miles away from Tybee Island, and offers visitors art, cuisine, and exceptional ambience.
Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the most celebrated and raucous parades in America, with people painting their bodies green and drinking green beer in the streets (which is legal as long as it is in a plastic cup).
5. Virginia Beach, Virginia
The beaches are wonderful (and plentiful!) in Virginia. The waves that roll in from the Atlantic are much higher and conducive to surfing than the waves on most other East Coast beaches. Moreover, the boardwalks, restaurants, and nightlife in Virginia Beach are second to none, and summertime is the perfect time to play in Virginia Beach.
Naturally, there is a lot more to the area than just the beach. As case in point, the surrounding area, also known as Hampton Roads, contains two of the most historically preserved towns in the United States: Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg.
Jamestown is the first permanent and still existing settlement in America, which makes it a legendary must-see-before-I-die location. Colonial Williamsburg has a multitude of exhibits and activities relating to America’s Revolutionary period. The area is also home to one of the top amusement parks, Busch Gardens.
6. Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Carolina Beach is also known for its sand. Windsurfing is a popular activity in this resort town, with scores of colorful wind sails peppering the surf on windy days.
Deep sea fishing is extremely popular among locals and tourists alike. Charter a boat or go on one of many group excursions available. In addition to water activities also check out the boardwalk, enjoy great local restaurants, shopping and family activities, such as miniature golf, bumper cars or renting bicycles.
7. Perdido Key, Florida
“Perdido” means “lost” or “hidden” in Spanish, and refers back to how this elusive bay was discovered by Spanish cartographer and scientist, Don Carlos Siquenza in 1693. As a result, many local residents refer to Perdido Key as Lost Key.
This barrier island is located in extreme northwest Florida and southeast Alabama with beautiful beaches, parks, and preserves making up 61% of the area. Visitors can enjoy trails and endangered wildlife, such as the Perdido Key Beach Mouse and sea turtles.
Diving enthusiasts can go on an adventure at the resting place of the U.S.S. Massachusetts that was sunk at Fort Pickens State Park Aquatics Preserve after 100 years of duty.
8. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island served as summer vacation spot to the White House for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower. Moreover, John and Jackie Kennedy got married at the local St. Mary’s church.
The harbor town is home to some of the freshest seafood on the Atlantic Coast. Aside from that, some of the most opulent mansions in the world are located in Newport including the Vanderbilt mansion, The Breakers.
Newport is also home to many private and public sailing clubs that offer sailing excursions and lessons for beginners. There are also many cultural attractions in the area to enjoy such as lighthouse tours, museums and brewery/winery tours.
9. Laguna Beach, California
Forget what you know about Laguna Beach from the MTV reality show. This town is not just a stomping ground for over-privileged teenagers, but rather offers plenty of activities and events that are accessible to anyone.
The seven miles of coastline are considered to be among the most beautiful in the world. Giant 15-foot waves provide great surfing, as well as windsurfing and body boarding.
Also, Laguna Beach is home to a vibrant arts community. The Laguna Playhouse is the oldest continually operating theater on the West Coast, providing both well-known and obscure productions in an intimate setting.
The Laguna Art Museum hosts exhibitions as well as the largest permanent collection of artwork by California-artists. The town also hosts three major art festivals: The Festival of Arts, the Sawdust Art Festival, and Art-A-Fair.
10. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks is a reservoir that serves as a paradise for fishing enthusiasts with large mouth bass, walleye, and bluegill populating the lake year-round across over 1,150 miles of shoreline. Local fishing guides are available to take visitors directly to the "hot spots," and provide tackle and bait.
Other recreation options in the area include gambling. The Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville has 27 table games, a live poker room, and three great restaurants.
Make the Most of Your Vacation
Robert Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” For centuries there has not been an answer to this seemingly rhetorical question until now. The above ten vacation spots may be that answer.