Our team at Wander The World are on an exhaustive search to find you the best things to do this Summer! In our third article in this series, we’re sharing what US News & World Report says are the four best family Summer vacations within the US!
Let’s be honest, Summer vacations are all about family! How many family vacations do you remember? What were your favorite memories? Let us know in the comments below!
Now, let’s add some more to that list!
Outer Banks, NC
A great place to spend a Summer vacation, Outer Banks is the home of the first National Seashore. They offer uncrowded beaches, beautiful scenery and plenty of History to make your vacation a time to remember!
- The Beach – What Summer vacation is complete without a visit to the beach? Outer Banks has over 100 miles of shoreline for you to enjoy with the family. There are public beaches with parking and potties, and shops for those Summertime treats! If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can get out in your 4-wheel drive vehicle and head to Cape Hatteras National Seashore! Just make sure you obtain your ORV (off road vehicle) permit first!! They even allow fires on the beach with permit! So grab your permit and s’mores and have a great time!
- Outer Banks Children at Play Museum – Your kids will have a great time at this interactive museum. They can play in a 25 foot charter fishing boat, then play “fisherman” by bringing their catch in and cooking it up! They have a teddy bear hospital and a giant Lite Brite! There really is so much to do here, your kids won’t even realize they’re learning! $8 for non-local kids, $6 adults. Find more info here: www.childrenatplayobx.org
- Bodie Island Lighthouse – Take your family up to the top of this amazing lighthouse and get views of Bodie Island, the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound. This historic lighthouse was originally built in 1847, but was abandoned due to a poor foundation. It was rebuilt in 1859, but then was blown up in 1861 by retreating Confederate troops, during the Civil War. Leaving it’s rough past behind it, it was rebuilt in 1872, and now provides a beacon 19 miles over the ocean! Climb at your own pace. Climbs start every 30 minutes. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children 11 and under and seniors. Take a sneak peek before you go here: Bodie Island Lighthouse
- Island Farm – Visit a living history farm, where you can explore nearly a dozen buildings, and get a glimpse at what life was like back in 1847 on Roanoke Island! The house on this Island Farm is restored back to 19th century style, including the furnishings! Come see the chickens, a sheep, a cow, an ox and two ponies on the farm too! While there, check out the Visitor’s Center, where there are exhibits to show you how life was back on a farm in those days! Learning and fun for all ages! Admission is $8 and kids 5 & under are FREE!
Destin, off Florida’s Emerald Coast has white sandy beaches and tons of things to do with the family! Here are a few things we have found!
- Crab Island – Crab Island used to be an Island, but after much erosion it is an underwater sandbar. It’s accessible by boat only, but if you are really in the mood for a workout, you can also take a kayak or stand up paddleboard! Hang out in your boat, snorkel, or enjoy the foods from the floating food vendors, selling boiled peanuts, sandwiches and even ice cream! YUM!! Crab Island also has a Water Park, featuring slides, a climbing wall, trampoline, balance beam, swing and a giant inflatable “flipper”! Check out more info here: Destin Vacation Boat Rentals.
- The Track – True to it’s name, The Track Destin has all kinds of fun go-carts for all ages, including Kiddie Karts! They also have a Ferris Wheel, and other types of rides. When your ready for a change of pace, challenge your family over at the mini-golf course, with two to choose from, Mountain or Island. Then cool off in the air-conditioned Arcade with nearly 50 games to keep you busy! They’ve got the classic games like Skee-Ball, and games for those action seekers too! Speaking of action, they have 2 Thrill Rides for those looking for some real hard core fun!
- Destin Harbor Boardwalk – Take a walk along the nearly quarter mile boardwalk, and enjoy this unique waterfront along the Emerald Coast! Along with the beautiful views, enjoy shopping from a variety of vendors and taste the flavors of the Coast! Kids will love Harbor Walk Mining Company, where they can “mine” for precious stones and sharks teeth! There are also giant inflatable balls they can play in on the water! Kids and adults can watch the fishermen bring in their catches and feed the fish!
- Dolphin Watch & Destin History Cruise – Take a load off and embark on a 1.5 hour journey, watching dolphins play in their natural habitat! This isn’t a rinky dink fishing boat, this vessel has a glass-bottom viewing area, snack bar, restrooms, and an air-conditioned (and heated) cabin. This narrated cruise will also teach you about the history of Destin. Tickets can be purchased here.
Hilton Head, SC
- Driessen Beach Park – As we said before, Summer is all about the BEACH!! Driessen Beach Park is a hidden treasure in Hilton Head which means it’s rarely crowded, and a great choice for families with playgrounds for the kids and covered picnic shelters to escape the sun. The Driessen Beach board walk takes you right over tidal marsh and sand dunes, which are home to many ocean creatures! At any of their beaches you may also be able to spot dolphins or sea turtles!
- Harbor Town Lighthouse – Not only a lighthouse, this is a museum that will enchant you with stories of history from the area. Take a walk up to the very top and you will be rewarded with views of the Lowcountry and can even enjoy shopping at the Top of the Lighthouse Shoppe! Each level has something unique to offer you. And don’t forget to tell your friends and family to look for you on the live webcam!! Get the link here!
- The Coastal Discovery Museum – This is an entire experience, where you can learn about the region’s history and culture, along with how you can make a difference by actively caring for our environment. There’s so much to see and do here! During the Summer months, you can take the Blue Crab Discovery Tour, where you can see learn about the life cycle of the blue crab, and what role they play in this delicate ecosystem. While you are getting to know the native wildlife, visit the Butterfly Discovery area, a place to learn about the local butterflies and interact with them, and even learn how to attract butterflies to your neck of the woods once you get home!
- Kayaking – Active families will love Kayaking and getting to see the dolphins of the area! Calibogue Sound is a great place to see not only dolphins, but possibly manatees and cannonball jellyfish! If you’re not keen on doing it alone, there are many guided kayaking tours available all over the area. Enjoy the cranes and herons in Broad Creek, which is the largest creek on the Island. If you’re looking for something nice and easy going for the kids, check out Jarvis Creek, which doesn’t have the boat traffic of other areas. This makes it a great place for families with children to explore and enjoy nature!
Myrtle Beach, SC
Another South Carolina destination, Myrtle Beach has plenty to offer for family fun! Now, we know Myrtle Beach has the beach…so we found a few other things you can do…and it was hard to choose just a few!
- Family Kingdom – Myrtle Beach’s ONLY Seaside Amusement Park, Family Kingdom will leave your family talking about how much fun they had!! There are splash rides, coasters, arcades and even a lazy river. And what’s an amusement park without the FOOD? This place has more than just kiddie rides, they’ve got thrill seekers covered with some amazing thrill rides and coasters! With so much to do here, you may want to spend more than just one day!
- Mini Golf – Get your family competition going with a few rounds of mini golf! There are tons of courses to choose from, each competing with each other to WOW you with all their different themes and difficulties. Kids will enjoy Dragon’s Lair, with a real fire-breathing dragon! Great for an after dinner activity! If you love the movie Jaws™, then a trip to the Shark Attack mini golf course will add excitement to your vacation, with a shark attack every 15 minutes on one of the lone boats in the pond! 🦈
- Preservation Station at Barefoot Landing – Have you ever wanted to cuddle with a baby tiger or have one lay across your lap? At this AMAZING experience, you’ll get to see adult and baby tigers, for FREE!! There is a fee for participating in a photo encounter, but this helps them in their conservation efforts, not only here but around the world.
- Myrtle Beach Safari – If visiting the Preservation Station has left you wanting more, Myrtle Beach has more!! Visit the Myrtle Beach Safari, where you can spend the day with tigers, elephants, eagles, cheetas and apes! This is an amazing “bucket list” adventure that you’ll remember forever! They also offer a night safari where things get really wild! After enjoying a light dinner, you get to hand feed these beautiful majestic big cats! And of course, you can play with the baby tiger cubs! Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
So there you have it!! Another four ideas of where to go and what to do for an amazing Summer Vacation that your family will talk about for years to come!!
Remember that we’re here to help you get this all planned out, from where to stay and how to get there!!
Your travel experts,
Wander The World