Family vacations in America

Traveling in America with kids

What does Responsible Travel recommend?

Children are probably more au fait with America’s clichés and contemporary culture than most adults. However, it is unlikely they will know much about the bison that run wild in Yellowstone National Park, or that you can kayak across to the Statue of Liberty. They are unlikely to have shaken hands with a Navajo Indian on his home reservation or taken a ride in a traditional, wooden dory boat down the Colorado River. Take them horseback riding through a canyon and they will feel as if they have just entered a 3D world film. And that’s the key to enjoying family vacations in America. You can get all the thrills, wows, and action adventure of any 3D movie, the difference being that you can touch it, experience it and remember it forever.

For health and safety, see our Travel Advice page.

Activities for families in America

What to do with little ones

Go wild
Wild camping is encouraged in the USA and, in particular in the national parks, although you need backcountry permits to do so there. As you are unlikely to be traveling from Europe with a tent, tour operators often offer camping options which is handy, as sites book up far in advance. Although the wilder the site, the quieter the night.
Water parks
‘Running the river’ may sound like a theme park experience but, to coin a well know American phrase “It’s the real thing” when you raft down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River, the Merced River in Yosemite or the icy waters of Denali National Park in Alaska. You can also swim in certain parks, but always stick to allocated ‘beaches’.

Cowboy/girl culture
When you hit the Colorado or Texas, for example, the contemporary cowboy culture is palpable. Take a horseback ride western style, go to a rodeo, stay on a ranch or wild camp in the canyons under the stars. And to redress the balance, learn about the other side of the Wild West’s living heritage with a chance to explore, for example, the living culture of the Navajo Indians on a guided hike in Monument Valley.

Traveling in the USA with kids asks the experts

 Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures, specialising in Alaska, but all round expert in USA travel:
I highly recommend Alaska for a family vacation in America, but not with very young children as you have to cover very long distances. We always give a safety talk regarding bears too, so you really need to be aware of the rules and you won’t get into trouble. You don’t need to be scared, however. My experience with wildlife generally is that they don’t care about humans. They want to be away from us. So, most of the time, if you stick to the rules, there is nothing to worry about. So, when we pick a lunch spot, it is always in an open space where we can see everything.

Richard Hanson, Managing Director, from our leading US supplier, Grand American Adventures, is also a dad, and so is well equipped to give tips on family vacations in America:

Be ready to chat. Americans are friendly and they WILL interact. You will not be able to avoid this, so be open, friendly and prepared to make small talk. When you go to the national parks, check out the Junior Ranger Program, it’s great. And don’t worry about America being full of junk food. Our supermarkets and farmer’s markets are amazing with plenty of fruit and veg so no need for junk food.
Photo credits: [top box: Loren Kerns] [wild camp: Matt Hosford] [kayaking: Erick Gustafson] [cowboys: Bill Burleigh/Sean Smith ] [tip: Yellowstone National Park]
Written by Catherine Mack
Family camping vacation in America

Family camping vacation in America

Camp under the stars in America

From US $2099 12 days ex flights
Northeastern family vacation, USA & Canada

Northeastern family vacation, USA & Canada

This all-encompassing family tour America & Canada

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American West family adventure vacation

American West family adventure vacation

Explore, experience and discover the real America

From US $2099 9 days ex flights
Family rafting holiday on the Salmon River, Idaho, USA

Family rafting vacation on the Salmon River, Idaho, USA

Fun rapids, huge white sand beaches and great scenery

From US $1295 5 Days ex flights
Pacific coast & National Parks family holiday, America

Pacific coast & National Parks family vacation, America

Hidden coves giving way to desert vistas

From US $2399 12 days ex flights
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