Traveling as a multigenerational family can be fun, but it is important to consider what each type of destination has to offer. Some options will be for your family alone, others might offer an opportunity to connect with fellow travelers. Whatever type of vacation you prefer, it is a good idea to go through the options before planning a multi-gen trip. Here are some of the best multigenerational vacation ideas that are perfect for everyone.
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Where Should I Go for a Large Family Vacation?
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Cruises come in all sizes, from small intimate ships to large ocean vessels, and each one provides a different experience. Some things to consider are activities offered on board, excursions available (and whether or not anyone in your group might not be able to participate), kids’ club/babysitting, dining options, and mobility issues.
One of the best things about a cruise for multigen travel is that everyone gets their own space, but can convene at any time. Meals can be eaten together, or everyone can have separate tables (but where is the fun in that?). A cruise makes it easy to unpack one time, which is extremely helpful for keeping everyone organized.
When choosing a cruise, keep in mind duration, what’s included (food, drinks, activities, etc.), accessibility, pools/activities for the kids, and room locations if anyone has motion sickness. Research the ports of call and see if there are any day tours everyone can enjoy. A cruise can be a great option for multigenerational travel.
2. Beach vacation
There are a couple of options for a multigenerational beach vacation. Families can stay at a resort, or rent a house on the beach. If renting a house, make sure everyone has their own room, and if possible, their own bathroom as well. Renting a house with family allows for a lot of flexibility regarding meals, activities, and schedules.
When choosing a beach destination, pay attention to access for everyone. Can elderly family members with mobility issues access the beach? How far will everyone have to travel? Will everyone need a car? Who will bring what? There’s no need for everyone to pack games, towels, etc. Have a conversation ahead of time and delegate different packing tasks to everyone.
3. Dude ranch
A dude ranch might not be the first place you think of for a multigen-vacation, but families with children as young as newborns can enjoy a dude ranch vacation. They won’t be out riding horses, but most dude ranches provide childcare services for younger children.
Check the Dude Ranchers Association, as there are plenty of dude ranches to choose from in the US and Canada. The DRA website divides ranches by location and activities, and you can find ones that are centrally located for all family members that can accommodate a diverse group of ages.
Some dude ranches like Tumbling River Ranch in Colorado, have several houses of varying sizes available. Many come with multiple rooms and their own bathrooms. Families can enjoy meals and activities together, or enjoy the dude ranch separately throughout their vacation.
A dude ranch also offers a variety of activities. Kids will enjoy making s’mores, campfire stories, and kid-only events. Adults will enjoy things like barnyard dances, hiking, and some dude ranches even offer spa services, swimming pools, and rock climbing. No matter the age, everyone can enjoy a dude ranch.
4. Theme park
There are theme parks around the world, making them a great option for multigenerational travel. Some of the more obvious parks include Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, but smaller parks like Hershey Park in Pennsylvania or Cedar Point in Ohio, might be more centrally located if a family is spread across the US.
Before planning a Disney trip with grandparents, be sure to check a Disney crowd calendar. We highly recommend avoiding these days, as it might be difficult for young children and grandparents to enjoy the parks and the long lines. I know in our family, we prefer days without crowds.
Transportation to theme parks is something to consider. If there is transportation from the airport to the resort or the resort to the parks, everyone can save money on rental cars. However, if your family is looking to explore the surrounding area, a car rental is a good idea.
Another reason to visit a theme park with grandparents is the ability to take turns on rides, split up and explore the park, and explore at different paces. Theme parks can be exhausting for everyone, but they can also provide great bonding opportunities and memories.
5. All inclusive resort
All-inclusives are a great option for multigenerational families because so many travel expenses are included in the total cost. Typical all inclusive resorts will include airport transfers, food, activities, childcare, and sometimes guided tours. There are all inclusive properties around the world, but some of our favorites are in North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Asia.
Planning a multi-gen trip to all inclusive resorts also allow families to have their own rooms, choose to eat together or separate, and even plan adult date nights while children are in the kids’ club. Most all inclusive resorts have multiple restaurants, so even the pickiest eaters can find something. These hotels think of everything so you don’t have to, allowing everyone to enjoy their vacation.
6. National Parks
National Parks for multi-generational travel work because they offer a variety of experiences for all ages. Families can enjoy hiking, swimming, park tours, and learning about the park’s history, flora, and fauna. There are also unique ways to explore National Parks, such as by horseback, cycling, or kayaking/rafting.
Accommodations at National Parks can range from tent camping to beautiful lodges, and families can choose what works best for them. Many National Parks have restaurants or cafés, transportation if family members prefer not to walk the trails, and are the perfect way for multi-gen travelers to disconnect from the world and connect with each other.
National Parks are budget-friendly, offering senior passes for those 62 and older, and free admission for 4th graders through the “Every Kid in a Park” program. There are also free admission days and annual passes. Some great parks for multi-generational trips include Zion, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Check out this article if you are looking for national parks around the world for families.
7. Ancestry travel
One of the newer trends is ancestry travel, also known as heritage tourism. These trips involve families traveling to their ancestral homeland on their own, or with a group tour. We have traveled both ways, exploring Puerto Rico with three generations, and meeting family along the way.
Another tour in Scotland we experienced, Solway Tours, took us on an amazing tour tracing the history of our family’s surname. No matter the type of experience you choose, it is sure to be memorable for everyone in the family.
8. Lake house
One of my favorite childhood memories was an annual multigenerational vacation to Lake Tahoe. My grandparents would rent a condo, and the extended family would join them. We stayed in one house with three different floors, and everyone had their own room and bathroom. We chose a central base, Incline Village, where we could walk to town, visit nearby Truckee, and spend time at the lake. It was idyllic.
Lake houses are perfect for large families. Many will offer opportunities to go out on the lake in kayaks or canoes, or even swimming. They are the ultimate relaxation spots, and some of our other favorite lakes for family trips can be found in Door County, Wisconsin, Lake George in New York, Lake Powell in Arizona, and Crater Lake in Oregon.
Check out our favorite lake vacations in the US!
9. Ski vacations
If your family loves to ski, or just enjoys spending time in the snow, how about a ski vacation? Find a condo close to the lifts and save on transportation costs. Many ski towns offer all of the amenities families need for vacation, from groceries to transportation to restaurants. One of our favorite family ski resorts is Vail in Colorado with its perfectly walkable downtown and free transportation between the villages.
Find a place where skiing isn’t the only activity. Many resort towns offer snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and even dog sledding. Children and adults can enjoy everything a winter vacation has to offer, from playing in the snow to relaxing in the hot tub at night. Cuddling by the fire and playing games, can make for awesome vacation memories.
10. Group tour
Many companies organize group tours, with some of the better-known being Adventures by Disney, G Adventures, and Our Whole Village. Do the research and find a well-known and respected tour group that offers activities for all ages. Some places like Costa Rica are better suited for ages 8 and above, whereas Alaska can be for ages 4 and above.
Group tours provide opportunities for family time, but also time to meet other families. If your older kids tire of spending all of their vacation time with the adults, they can hang out with other kids. Also note that some tour groups will customize your group experience, while others will craft an itinerary everyone will follow. Take this into account when deciding which group tour is the right choice for your family.
11. Water park
Water parks like Great Wolf Lodge can be a great option for families. Everyone has their own room, can meet for meals, and spend time together at the water park. Many water parks have different activities to offer and even different room sizes. Great Wolf Lodge has everything from standard family rooms to large suites for families, so just choose what works best for your group.
12. Historical destinations
Historical destinations such as Washington, DC, London, Boston, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and Rome can make for amazing multigenerational vacations.
Each city has history in spades, and all ages can enjoy historical tours, visit historic buildings, and take in the culture of each destination. Just be sure there is something for all ages, as this might be suited to older children and teens. Connecting history across the generations can make for great memories.
13. RV road trip
The ultimate experience if your family wants to spend time together is an RV road trip. Many companies offer RV rentals, and an RV serves as a room, restaurant, and hang-out space. A road trip in an RV allows families to move at their own pace and not be tied to a schedule. Before booking a trip, don’t miss these tips for renting a RV.
14. Volunteer vacation
If you want a family vacation that will make meaningful memories, why not consider a volunteer vacation? Families can work side by side either in their local communities or somewhere overseas. Be sure to account for young children and elderly grandparents, and be sure to choose a volunteer vacation that meets their ability level. (Global Volunteers is a good place to start). Don’t choose anything too strenuous or with an age restriction. Need some volunteer vacation ideas? Check out this article.
15. Family camp
Plenty of children head to camp over the summer, so why not take the whole family? Several camps around the country offer lodging, activities, and food, and families can stay together or separately. Accommodations range from tents to cabins, to lodges. We love these family summer camps around the US.
16. City escape
City vacations offer something for everyone, and if families want to stay together, consider booking a vacation rental. Some favorite places to explore with all ages include: Chicago, Phoenix, and London, but there are cities around the world made for family exploring.
Choosing a city for a multigenerational vacation, allows families to plan a multitude of experiences. Our favorite multi-gen activities include museum scavenger hunts, food tours, and hop-on hop-off buses.
Depending on the destination and safari outfitter, children might need to meet a minimum age requirement. This can vary from 4 years old, to 15 years old. Take this into consideration when planning a safari.
Safaris provide an experience unlike most other vacations because families are completely unplugged, and there is nothing quite like closeups with animals in the wild. Here are some family-friendly safaris if you are considering a trip.
18. European villa
If you want a destination that provides the ultimate escape, consider renting a villa in Europe. There are plenty of websites to help your search, including Gîtes de France (rental properties in France), Agriturismos in Italy, and VRBO are good options as well. Be sure to check out our Airbnb tips before booking.
Villas allow families to create their own itinerary, explore beautiful areas of Europe or relax by a pool in an olive grove. There are plenty of guided tours to organize, and families can choose who does the cooking: the group or hiring someone to make the meal at their home. It’s a win-win for everyone.
As you can see, there are endless ideas for multigenerational vacations. The hardest part is deciding what works for everyone!