It’s been a little over a year since the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, more than 100 million people are vaccinated. States are beginning to open up fully. Handwashing, social distancing, and mask wearing when necessary is now part of our vernacular. And, children across the country have experienced the most unusual school year they have ever had. So, isn’t it time to finally plan that family-friendly vacation you’ve been longing for since last year? Here are some of our favorite spots to check out for summer 2021.
Yellowstone National Park
Disney World may sure seem like a no-brainer in terms of making the kids smile, but with so much time exploring the outdoors in the last year, it’s no wonder that U.S. News & World Report has listed Yellowstone as the #1 family vacation spot this summer. Far less expensive than most family vacations, with a fee of only $35 per car to enter, Yellowstone offers 900 miles of trails (embedded within 3,000 square miles) featuring mountains, geysers (such as the world-renowned Old Faithful), crystal clear lakes (such as Yellowstone Lake, the largest high elevation lake in North America), waterfalls, and breathtaking canyon views as far as the eye can see.
Spread over three states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, lovers of nature are bound to also witness fairly up close a variety of animals ranging from buffalo to elk and even an occasional grizzly bear (or two). Lodging is plentiful and camping is welcome. So much adventure awaits!
No, this isn’t a newly discovered island in the Caribbean. Mackinac Island is actually located in Lake Huron between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. This charming, car-free (that’s right!) island with spectacular views was voted “One of the Best Islands” by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler as well as “A Top 10 U.S. Island” by TripAdvisor and USA Today. With horse-and-buggy as the main mode of transportation, families can step back in time and enjoy quaint town shopping, strolling through some of the oldest (and largest) lilac bushes in the world, take a ferry ride, go hiking, biking, or swimming, play a round of golf or two, and so much more. And in the evening, enjoy a relaxing waterfront dinner with friends and family, followed by smore’s around the fire and some stargazing. A bit of heaven on earth and family time like no other.
U.S. Virgin Islands
A compilation of three islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, the U.S. Virgin Islands are a Caribbean getaway without a ton of COVID-19 testing fuss*. A short flight from the northeast, travelers can have an umbrella drink or a fresh fruit smoothie in their hand in a blink of an eye. Fun for adults and children alike, the islands offer exploration of 500 species of fish and over 40 types of coral. Choose to experience world-class diving, deep sea fishing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, jet skiing, swimming, fresh seafood dining – and yes, island napping!
A blend of West Indian, African, European, and American heritage, there’s no shortage of cultural experiences to enjoy, such as: Mocko Jumbies (stilt walkers), Quelbe (scratch band music and dance), and Kenips (island fruit). Whether you choose to visit any of the many sites to see such as Trunk Bay, Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, or Blackbeard’s Castle, the hardest decision will be deciding when to leave.
Made up of more than 100 miles of barrier islands that line North Carolina, the Outer Banks (OBX) offers a variety of activities from sunrise to sunset (and beyond) to make the whole family happy.
From bird watching to water sports, the arts and everything in between, the Outer Banks is often a repeat vacation spot for generations of families. A few interesting and notable activities include visiting one of the many historical lighthouses (such as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse), diving among the more than 3,000 shipwrecks off shore (including the Triangle Wrecks), observing hundreds of sea turtle nests, and shopping at unique specialty shops and boutiques found in practically every OBX town. And for those rare rainy days, visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, located on the site where the Wright brothers took their first now famous flight.
Whether you rent a house or book a room – the memories you will make at the Outer Banks will be unforgettable!
More Summer Locations
Thankfully there are so many family-friendly vacation locations throughout the country. We’ve just scraped the tip of the iceberg. For more ideas, check out U.S. News & World Report as well as Travel & Leisure. Plus, don’t forget to book your airport transfer or point-to-point ride with Dav El|BostonCoach. Happy travels!
*At the time of writing this piece, the U.S. Virgin Islands only required a single COVID-19 test to arrive on the island(s). No testing required to return to the U.S. Mainland.