The 2018 FamilyFun Travel Awards

Play at the Beach! Amelia Island, FL
Michelle Gibson
Summer vacation. School breaks. Long weekends. Consider yourself booked. These 10 dreamy destinations—all voted in by moms and dads like you—promise amazing memories and fun for everyone. The 2018 travel awards are here!
Blime Tee/Cavan Images
Blime Tee/Cavan Images

Go on a Mountain Adventure! Colorado Springs, CO

Why You’ll Love It

Our survey voters pined for fresh mountain air, and Colorado Springs delivers, with 9,000 acres of scenic city parkland and fantastic weather for exploring. It also has a historic downtown, with family-friendly museums (try Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum). Outside of town is Pike’s Peak, whose 14,115-foot summit is reachable by car, cog railway, and foot—and whose views inspired “America the Beautiful.” 

Don’t Miss

At Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, get up close to local Rocky Mountain fauna like bears, moose, otters, and wolves—and also to animals of Asia and Africa, including giraffes that you may feed by hand. 

Eat & Sleep

Patsy’s Candies whips up delectable handmade confections, from toffee to peanut brittle to gourmet popcorn. Try a free sample at the counter, and take a free, 15-minute factory tour (May to September; check at the store for a schedule). The year-old Great Wolf Lodge offers a vacation within a vacation; from $200 a night, including water-park tickets. visitcos.com

Bryan Regan Photography
Bryan Regan Photography

Escape for the Weekend! Raleigh, NC

Why You’ll Love It

This laid-back capital city bustles with history, culture, and southern hospitality, including free admission to the city’s top-notch museums. Kids will dig the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (grab lunch at its Daily Planet Cafe) and the North Carolina Museum of History, where you can see a reproduction of the Wright Flyer or pull up a stool at a 1920s drugstore counter. Unwind on William B. Umstead State Park’s miles of hiking trails, or pedal over bridges along the Neuse River Greenway.

Don’t Miss

Applaud the genius of RDU Observation Park, a playground that fronts RDU International Airport’s 10,000-foot runway, with piped-in communications from the nearby Air Traffic Control Tower

Eat & Sleep

At Raleigh’s 45,000-square-foot, indoor State Farmer’s Market, you can grab breakfast or lunch at the on-site restaurant (try the biscuits) or browse the stands for a to-go picnic. Stay right in the heart of downtown at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, which has an indoor pool. Rates start at $187 a night for a room with two double beds. visitraleigh.com

Justin Cash Photography
Justin Cash Photography

Get Your Ski on! Killington, VT

Why You’ll Love It

Vermont’s Green Mountains are an adventure magnet in all seasons, and Killington Mountain Resort & Ski Area makes the most of every month. Known as the “Beast of the East,” it’s the largest ski area in New England, offering seven peaks with six terrain parks (including its sister mountain, Pico). Families should head to Ramshead Base Camp for lessons, gentle slopes, and kid-friendly lifts or to laid-back Pico, where less-crowded trails funnel everyone to one base lodge. 

Don’t Miss

With a major 2015 upgrade to its warm-weather Adventure Center, Killington buckles up for serious summer thrills: Try zip-lining, navigate a fourstory ropes course and giant maze, ride the Alpine-sled and roller-coaster rides, go mountain biking or on an ATV tour, and more.

Eat & Sleep

Nothing beats Waffle Cabin at the end of a ski run. Cash only, waffles only—drizzled with chocolate and washed down with cocoa, obviously. If you want to tumble out of bed near the ski school at Ramshead Base Lodge, try the Pinnacle Condos, with one- to threebedroom options starting at about $160 a night. killington.com

David Dawson/500px
David Dawson/500px

Have a Classic Summer Vacay! Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Why You’ll Love It

In central Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks’ waterways have been a go-to outdoor playground since Bagnell Dam went up in 1931. BYOB (bring your own boat), charter, or rent to float, fish, or water-ski 1,100 miles of coastline. Or explore the area’s beaches, forested hills, bluffs, and caves on foot or by car. Plus, enjoy a heaping side of real Americana, from bumper cars to water parks, mini golf, novelty shops, photo booths, golf, outlet shopping, and vintage arcades.  

Don’t Miss

Get up close to cave formations like stalactites, underground waterfalls, and giant geodes in three accessible caves in the area (no special gear needed): Bridal Cave, Jacob’s Cave, and Ozark Caverns.

Eat & Sleep

On Bagnell Dam Boulevard, Stewart’s Restaurant is a no-frills, local-favorite diner renowned for gigantic, can’tfinish-it-yourself cinnamon rolls and enormous plates of breakfast-as-you-like it. For lodging, there’s something for everyone, from campsites to house rentals to full resorts. In addition to more standard rooms, the Tan-Tar-A Resort offers one- and two-bedroom units that sleep up to eight; rates start at $209. funlake.com

Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy
Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy

Hit a New City! Providence, RI

Why You’ll Love It

Thanks to an arts-driven urban renaissance in the 1980s and 1990s, Providence is now unstoppable. This vibrant, immigrant-rich university town has Colonial and industrial New England history, galleries and performance venues, cool museums (like the Providence Children’s Museum), a shoreline bike trail, a hopping restaurant scene, beloved local baseball and hockey teams, and a spectacular city park.

Don’t Miss

WaterFire is the hottest spectacle in town. Several times a month (usually on Saturdays) from late May to November, the city’s three rivers are lit at sunset with nearly 100 bonfires and animated with haunting music and lighting, fire dancers, torch-lit boats, and singing gondoliers. 

Eat & Sleep

Right downtown, Luxe Burger offers a fun DIY menu with a boggling array of burger, cheese, topping, and bun options ($9 and up). A children’s menu keeps options simple and throws in a side, drink, and dessert for $8. There’s even a doggie menu! Providence Marriott Downtown has a major kid-pleaser: the only indoor-outdoor pool in the city. Rates start at $179 a night. goprovidence.com

Turner Forte/Aurora Photos
Turner Forte/Aurora Photos

Explore Surf and Turf! Cannon Beach, OR

Why You’ll Love It

Eighty miles from Portland, iconic Haystack Rock presides over Cannon Beach, a 4-mile stretch of the tawny Oregon Coast. The beach is just right for sand-castle building (there’s a festival for it on June 9), walking, biking (rent low-rider tricycles designed for sand), and gazing over the Pacific. The town offers up toys, books, bakeries, saltwater taffy, hand-blownglass galleries and others; and local restaurants specialize in seafood (try the chowder at Mo’s). Hikers can explore the Sitka spruce groves and ocean views at Ecola State Park or the caves and waterfalls at Hug Point. (Check the tides at tides.willyweather.com before you hike at Hug Point—the beach can flood at high tide.)

Don’t Miss

Pick up a kite at Once Upon a Breeze and let your kids catch the wind on Cannon Beach or at nearby Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site.

Eat & Sleep

At Mo’s on the beach in Tolovana Park, tackle a bowl of Oregon-famous chowder; or load up on oysters, clams, fish, and shrimp. Sip a strawberry lemonade, and enjoy the view. The Hallmark Resort & Spa Cannon Beach is located right near Haystack Rock and offers both regular rooms and suites; rates start at $150 a night. cannonbeach.org

Adam Barker
Adam Barker

Bring Grandma and Grandpa! Lake Powell, UT & AZ

Why You’ll Love It

Lake Powell is a boater’s paradise. Glen Canyon Dam impounds the Colorado River just upriver from the Grand Canyon, creating this 186-milelong high-desert reservoir, with turquoise water, towering red cliffs, and dramatic side canyons. U.S. National Park concessioners in Page, AZ, offer watercraft rentals (from kayaks to houseboats) and powerboat tours to nearby highlights such as Rainbow Bridge and Antelope Canyon. 

Don’t Miss

“Get a houseboat, relax on the water, and just do nothing” was the dream of one of our survey respondents, and this is the place to do exactly that. Houseboats sleep six to 16, so family and friends can create lifetime memories as they anchor in their favorite side canyon and share decklounging, bass-fishing, swims, tubing, and evening s’mores.

Eat & Sleep

Pick from two great burger joints based on your hankering for dessert: Slackers Quality Grub shares space with Big Dipper Ice Cream; and Chill-nGrill serves up mountains of sweet shaved ice. A houseboat is the classic way to stay, and you can find info on rentals at lakepowellmarinas.com; rates start at $993 for three days, not including park and marina fees and gas. nps.gov/glca

Jerry Monkman
Jerry Monkman

Wander Through History! Portsmouth, NH

Why You’ll Love It

New England history meets the salt sea in this walkable city, where tugboats still ply the Piscataqua River and 17th- and early-18th-century buildings cozy up with modern treasures. You’ll find three independent bookstores, a flock of cool cafés, and fun stores, including G. Whillikers Toy Shop. Dive into three centuries of history at Strawbery Banke Museum, an outdoor history museum right downtown, or take a short drive to explore lighthouses, islands, and Hampton Beach, with its wide sandy beach, warm water, and classic boardwalk fare.

Don’t Miss

Prescott Park offers harborside boat-watching, formal flower gardens, grassy lawns for picnics and running—and a top-notch outdoor music series featuring more than 20 summer concerts. 

Eat & Sleep

At Flatbread Company, kids can sit on a log bench and watch locally sourced pizza toppings, such as maple-fennel sausage and organic veggies, melt in a fiery clay oven (don’t miss the maple lemonade). The Homewood Suites by Hilton Portsmouth offers roomy accommodations starting at $109 a night. goportsmouthnh.com

Dive Into Nature! Fort Bragg, CA

Why You’ll Love It

For exploring the redwoods, bluffs, beaches, and coves of Northern California’s rugged Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg (pop. 7,300) is a perfect, local-flavor base camp. Head to MacKerricher State Park to look for starfish and anemones at low tide and to watch for harbor seals (year round) and gray whales (December to April). Don’t miss Glass Beach—a natural marvel of sparkling colors, thanks to the erosion of glass bottles that were dumped into the ocean decades ago. Try a bike ride on the Coastal Trail, which traverses the early-1900s Pudding Creek Trestle Bridge, or ride horses surfside with local favorite Ricochet Ranch. 

Don’t Miss

For a kid-friendly snapshot of Fort Bragg’s lumber, fishing, and railroading past, check out the miniature-train displays at Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Historical Society. 

Eat & Sleep

At Cowlick’s on Main Street, scoops are made in small batches with local ingredients. (Take a leap and try the Mushroom, which scores rave reviews). The bungalow-style Shoreline Cottages have family suites that sleep up to four, plus you can walk to the beach; rates start at $149 a night. fortbragg.com

Michelle Gibson
Michelle Gibson

Play at the Beach! Amelia Island, FL

Why You’ll Love It

Just 30 minutes from Jacksonville, this barrier island’s Atlantic beaches beckon families for walking, fishing, swimming, Boogieboarding, and beachcombing for shells and sharks’ teeth. Head to Amelia Island Museum of History to hear tales of the island’s turbulent past (invaded and traded repeatedly over 300 years, it earned the nickname “Island of Eight Flags”). Blocks from the beach, wander the Fernandina Beach Historic District to find handmade fudge and the Villa Villekula Neighborhood Toy Store (named for the 1988 Pippi Longstocking movie set there). 

Don’t Miss

On the first Saturday of the month, Fort Clinch State Park hosts the “First Weekend Union Garrison,” when this Civil War–era fort is peopled by costumed interpreters playing music, woodworking, blacksmithing, guarding jail cells, and occasionally firing cannons. 

Eat & Sleep

Find a picnic table at Timoti’s Seafood Shak, where kids can play pirate on a wooden ship while parents dig into a basket of local wild-caught shrimp. For a true escape, try the fullservice Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort; rooms start at $269 a night. ameliaisland.com

Share the gallery



Parents may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.