Best Vacations for Kids Under 10 the Whole Family Will Love

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A family vacation is one of the best ways for everyone to bond while disconnecting from the everyday hustle and bustle. However, planning the best vacation when traveling with kids under 10 can be a challenge.

We’ve compiled a list of 14 of the top family-tested, kid-approved vacation destinations and ideas to help you plan your next trip with young children. You’ll have a great time. They will too as you make memories to last a lifetime.

1. Los Angeles, California

With more than 90 museums and 24 miles of beaches, Los Angeles is packed with family-friendly activities that make it one of the best vacations for kids under 10. In fact, there are so many things to do, you’ll need multiple trips to see them all!

If your kids like Harry Potter, they will love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, part of the action-packed Universal Studios Hollywood. They’ll be amazed at the Griffith Observatory, where they can take a closer look at the stars using a high-powered telescope. At the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, they’ll feel like they’re on the scene of Jurassic Park, with massive animal structures and tar pits. And of course a trip to Los Angeles with kids isn’t complete without a trip to Disneyland, just 30 miles south in Anaheim!

Want to soak up some sun and sand instead? Spend a relaxing day at one of LA’s many beaches. Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach, Malibu and Manhattan Beach are all great options and are on our list of L.A.s cleanest beaches. There your little ones can easily pass the day swimming or building sandcastles. Or, head to the kid-friendly Marina del Ray where they have bike rentals as well as watersports and activities such as parasailing, whale watching and deep-sea fishing excursions.

Kid-approved places to stay near Los Angeles, California: L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

2. San Diego, California

Home to the #1 zoo in the world, more than 70 miles of beautiful beaches and nearly perfect weather year-round, San Diego is one of the best vacations for kids under 10. There you will find plenty to do and see to satisfy both younger and older kids alike including street fairs, cultural events, museums and theme parks!

The San Diego Zoo is a top attraction for kids of all ages, with more than 4000 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. The downtown San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum has interactive, hands-on exhibits especially for kids ages 10 and under, while the New Children’s Museum is the place for creative kids to view and create art. LEGOLAND California is just 30 minutes north and features a theme park, miniature park and aquarium.

For a family beach vacation, head to Coronado Beach which has tide pools for the littlest travelers to splash around and calm waters perfect for surfing, swimming and boogie boarding. La Jolla Shores, Torrey Pines State Beach and Mission Bay Park are all great places for families to pass the day participating in fun water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding and water skiing, or just strolling along the boardwalk. The beaches are all staffed with lifeguards year-round, so mom and dad can have an extra peace of mind.

The best time to visit with kids is in October when many hotels and attractions participate in Kids Free San Diego, allowing children to stay, play and eat for free!

Kid-approved places to stay near San Diego: Hotel del Coronado, La Jolla Shores Hotel, Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

3. San Francisco, California

There is plenty to see, do and explore for families with children in San Francisco. Some of the top places for families to enjoy a day together include the Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf and the popular Pier 39. At the Pier you can eat, shop, and catch incredible views of the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and see California sea lions relaxing on the dock. The kiddos will have a great time trolleying along on one of the city’s classic street cable cars. A must-visit for kids is a visit to the legendary Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown (the second largest Chinatown in the country) where they can see how fortune cookies are made and then take some back home for a yummy treat!

If you’re up for a longer day trip or overnight outside of the city, Yosemite National Park is a four hour drive away. There you can pass the day away with the kids walking the hiking trails and observing California’s beautiful wildlife, waterfalls and natural scenery. Yosemite is also one of the best places for rock climbing in North America, so if you’re feeling adventurous during your trip, take a course at the Yosemite Mountaineering School with your little ones. Children ages 10 and up can participate in classes with an adult, while kids under age 10 can take private lessons.

Kid-approved places to stay near San Francisco, California: Omni San Francisco Hotel, Hotel del Sol, Hotel Zoe Fisherman’s Wharf

4. Denver, Colorado

If you’re an active family who loves the outdoors, Denver, Colorado is one of the best places to travel for a family getaway. There is no shortage of fun family things to do from hiking and biking to sightseeing and snowboarding. It’ll be difficult for the kids to say that they are bored in this beautiful mountain town!

One of the great things about Denver is that it is a place you can visit year-round and still have plenty to keep the whole family busy. In the winter, you can visit one of the city’s many ski resorts and enjoy activities such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain courses and adventure courses. In the summer, you can easily pass the day away with the kids doing activities such as hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding or ziplining. And a visit to Denver wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park, known for its world-renowned scenery.

Downtown Denver also has some incredible family-friendly museums and attractions that are worth a visit with the kids. The Denver Zoo, Downtown Aquarium, Children’s Museum of Denver and the Museum of Nature and Science are all must-visits that add to the list of what makes Denver one of the best vacations for kids under 10.

However, Denver does have a significantly high altitude that can result in altitude sickness, so you’ll want to factor in some time for your body to adjust before jumping right into the activities!

Kid-approved places to stay near Denver, Colorado: The Gant, The Crawford Hotel, The Maven

5. Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida has long been regarded as one of the best vacations for kids under 10, packed with bucket list attractions and activities for many families. There is so much to do for all ages that it simply isn’t possible to get it all done in one trip!

Orlando is widely known as home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, both must-visits when traveling with the kiddos. There you’ll find fun characters, amusement rides, and some of the best water parks in the country such as Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Universal’s Volcano Bay. Universal Studios is also home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an unforgettable experience for Harry Potter fanatics.

Animal-loving kiddos will be thrilled with the animal attractions and thrilling amusement park rides at SeaWorld. And just 45 minutes away in Winter Haven is LEGOLAND Florida, heaven for LEGO lovers between the ages of 2 and 12. I know my nine-year-old son would have a blast in this LEGO-themed park with interactive exhibits, LEGO landscapes, shows, amusement park rides and a seasonal waterpark. There’s even a LEGO-themed hotel on site!

Fascinated by space? The Kennedy Space Center is a worthwhile day trip away for both kids and adults. There you’ll have the opportunity to meet an astronaut and hop aboard a space shuttle simulator. Need some time in the sun and sand? Head to Cocoa Beach, a popular family-friendly beach just an hour outside of the city.

Kid-approved places to stay near Orlando, Florida: Hilton Orlando, Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and Swan Reserve

6. Chicago, Illinois

The windy city is a fun place to spend a family getaway with kids under 10. With several sites and attractions geared for all ages, the whole family will have plenty to talk about once the vacation is over!

One of the most popular attractions for families is the Navy Pier on the waterfront. There you can ride the iconic Centennial Wheel, a Ferris wheel offering stunning views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. There are also fun amusements to keep kids under 10 busy and having a blast such as a carousel, game arenas, rides and a funhouse with a mirror maze. The Chicago Children’s Museum is a must visit for kids ages 4-8, with play spaces, programs and interactive activities designed just for them.

Dinosaur loving kiddos will be blown away by the sight of the largest T-rex in the world at the Field Museum of Natural History. The 5-million gallon aquarium at the Shedd Aquarium gives children the opportunity to get up close and personal with incredible sea life, including interactive exhibits where you can touch starfish, stingrays and sturgeons. The Museum of Science and Industry offers plenty of activities for kids under 10, including an interactive walk through a submarine, a mirror maze, hands-on engineering activities and a giant dome theater to take them on thrilling adventures and journeys.

And don’t leave Chicago without a visit to the Skydeck, the 1,353 ft high observation deck with spectacular views that stretch across four states.

Kid-approved places to stay near Chicago, Illinois: Omni Chicago, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown

7. Hawaii

If you’re looking for one of the best vacations for kids under 10 in a tropical location, Hawaii needs to be on your list. Home to some of the best beach resorts and incredible sights that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else in the U.S., it is definitely a bucket list destination for the whole family.

If your little ones love the water as much as mine does, they will love Hawaii. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful beaches for swimming, but it is also one of the most beautiful places for snorkeling and for learning to surf. SheBuysTravel contributor Mimi Slawoff recommends the Hans Hedemann Surf School in Honolulu, which offers a surfing intro session for kids ages 4-10.

The Big Island is where you’ll find the only active volcano in the United States. For active families, the Volcanoes National Park has some of the most kid-friendly hiking trails in Hawaii, some easy enough for toddlers! Maui and Oahu are the islands to be on for the ultimate beach vacation and where you’ll find high-rise resorts and calm water beaches great for swimming. The Hanauma Bay Beach Park nature preserve in Oahu is a great place to spend the day snorkeling and exploring the Hawaiian sea life in a safe environment.

Kid-approved places to stay in Hawaii: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, Hilton Waikoloa Village

8. Frisco, Texas

For sports loving families, Frisco, Texas is a wonderful place to spend a short getaway with the family. It isn’t just home to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, but it is also home to the Dallas Cowboys football team and their headquarters, The Star!

But sports isn’t the only thing that makes Frisco one of the best vacations for kids under 10. Frisco is also where you’ll find the National Videogame Museum. This super fun museum is a great place for families and children of all ages to learn about the history of video games as well as play and interact together. I’m sure my son would happily spend his entire vacation there! Kidzania is a world-renowned amusement center designed for kids ages 4-14 where they can immersive themselves in a variety of professions and watch their “when I grow up” dreams come true.

Just two hours away from Frisco is the Dinosaur Valley State Park, perfect for a short day trip. Ideal for dinosaur loving kids ages 5-11, this incredible and scenic state park is where you can find real dinosaur tracks and footprints. The park is also great for outdoorsy activities such as mountain biking, hiking, camping or having a family picnic.

Kid-approved places to stay near Frisco, Texas: Omni Frisco Hotel, The Westin Dallas Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa, Drury Inn & Suites Dallas Frisco

9. Dude Ranch Vacation

If you’ve never thought about spending time on a dude ranch, now is the time to do so! With ranches all over the country, a dude ranch offers plenty of opportunities to bond and have one of the best vacations for kids under 10.

So what exactly is a dude ranch? Well, in short it is an family-friendly vacation where you can participate in an array of fun outdoor activities such as horseback riding, hiking, biking and fishing. Some offer amenities such as waterparks, mountain tubing, spas, rodeos and action-packed kids clubs. For families who love nature, a dude ranch vacation is one of the best ways you can spend a vacation together. There will also be many other families there, giving the kiddos an opportunity to make new friendships.

The best part about a dude ranch vacation (at least from a parent’s perspective)? They are all-inclusive, so you don’t have to worry about a thing other than showing up!

Kid-approved Dude Ranch vacations: Mountain Sky Guest Ranch (Montana), Tanque Verde (Arizona), Rocking Horse Ranch Resort (New York).

10. Alaska Cruise

An Alaska cruise is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to see the state of Alaska, and a super fun vacation idea for kids under 10. In fact, it is a great vacation idea for first-time cruisers, as Alaska’s Inside Passage has fairly calm waters and smaller ships with all-inclusive options.

In addition to its incredible views of glaciers and Alaska’s beautiful rugged environment, Alaska’s kid-friendly cruises offer plenty to do between stops. Oceania Cruises offers a special youth program for kids 5 to 12 where they’ll learn all about Alaska. Royal Caribbean offers kids clubs with age appropriate activities for children ages 6 months and up as well as a kid-friendly pool with a beach and slide. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers even more fun for kids under 10 including a rock-climbing wall, water slides, laser tag and an award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program.. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines are also two of the few cruise lines authorized to sail into the 3.3-million acre Glacier Bay National Park.

Many cruise lines also offer a land and sea package so you can visit Denali National Park, home to North America’s tallest peak as well as all kinds of wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves, moose and sheep. Whale watching is also a popular cruise excursion for kids of all ages.

Kid-approved Alaskan Cruises: Royal Caribbean, Oceania Cruises, Disney Wonder, Norwegian Cruise Line

11. Caribbean Cruise

If you want something a bit warmer, swap the Alaskan cruise for a Caribbean cruise! A warm Caribbean cruise is one of the best ways to do family travel and visit multiple tropical vacation destinations at once. With tons to do for kids and adults, it won’t just be one of their best vacations, but it’ll be one of yours as well!

Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean have multiple activities to keep kids busy between stops including swimming pools, kids clubs, arcades and rock climbing walls. Some ships also have ziplines and waterslides. Disney cruise lines have often been regarded as the best for kids under 10 with kid-friendly dining, Disney-themed entertainment, kids clubs, pools, water play areas, water slides and even its own private island. Carnival Cruise lines is another SheBuysTravel favorite with a host of themed activities and family-friendly entertainment for kids under 10.

When you’re off the ship, you can participate in a variety of water activities such as snorkeling, swimming, building sandcastles and exploring the best parts of each new city.

Kid-approved Caribbean cruises: Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, Disney Dream, Carnival Fantasy, Regal Princess

12. Pennsylvania

No matter where you stay in Pennsylvania, there’s bound to be a fun family park nearby. Hersheypark in Hershey is the largest in the state with family rides including more than 40 family rides and 20 kiddie rides. There’s also a waterpark and access to ZooAmerica, a year-round, 11-acre zoo. One of the most popular attractions at Hersheypark (and one of my personal favorites) is Hershey’s Chocolate World, a candy lover’s dream. There you can take a ride through a chocolate factory, design your own chocolate bar and learn all about the history of Hershey’s Chocolate!

In Easton, Pennsylvania, the four-level Crayola Experience will keep art loving little ones busy for hours with more than 20 interactive, hands-on activities. In Philadelphia, Sesame Place has plenty of fun for all ages including rides, shows, parades and a waterpark. Sesame Street loving kids won’t want to miss the opportunity to dine and take photos with their favorite characters.

The Poconos Mountains is a year-round family favorite where you can ski, snowboard, hike, and visit some of the state’s best indoor waterparks. And at the Philadelphia Zoo (the nation’s first zoo), there’s much more than animal exhibits. Kids can also participate in ropes courses, scavenger hunts, ride a carousel, or take a ride on an Express Train.

Kid-approved places to stay in Pennsylvania: Hershey Lodge, Great Wolf Lodge Poconos, Kimpton Hotel Monaco

13. Washington, D.C.

As a native to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I’d have to say that a trip to the nation’s capital is one of the best vacations for kids under 10 and for the whole family. With countless free museums, historic monuments and sightseeing opportunities, you’ll never run out of things to do!

An all-time family favorite is the National Air and Space Museum with numerous educational exhibits and artifacts that explore space history and travel. Twice a week there are free story times where participants can learn about rockets that have gone to the moon before designing their own. The International Spy Museum is a fun and interactive place for adults and kids to visit and step into the shoes of a spy. Kids ages 12 and under will also enjoy the National Children’s Museum, with several interactive exhibits and activities that explore science, technology, art, engineering and math. The National Zoo is also a must-visit. My son loved the Kid’s Farm during his preschool years, where he had the opportunity to get up close and personal with different animals.

Riding the Metrorail makes getting around DC easy and is fun for younger kids. My son and I would get a day pass and ride the Metro just to relax and coast through the city’s iconic landmarks and underground tunnels. The National Mall has plenty of space for kids to run around and burn some energy. It’s also a great place for having a picnic or flying a kite!

Kid-approved places to stay near Washington, DC: Washington Marriott at Metro Center, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.

14. Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is known as the “waterpark capital of the world” and is at the top of the list for the best vacations for kids under 10 who love being in the water. The best part is that it has several indoor and outdoor waterparks, so you can visit with your kids any time of the year.

Popular among children ages 2-14 is Noah’s Ark, the largest waterpark in America. There you’ll find more than 50 waterslides, wave pools, lazy rivers and a water coaster. Kalahari Resort houses the largest indoor waterpark and an awesome outdoor water park as well, both with tube slides, body slides, water play areas, raft rides, and water coasters. Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park resort is also an ultimate resort for all ages, with kiddie play areas, geysers, wave pools, lazy rivers, roller coasters and America’s first rotating waterslide!

For a super splashin’ vacation and hotel packed into one place, head to the Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells. Best for kids ages 7-13, this mega fun resort has an 80,000 square foot water park including 13 waterslides and nine pools! However, there is plenty for kids younger than 7 to enjoy as well, including a water fort treehouse, Build-a-Bear Workshop and water playground.

Kid-approved places to stay near Wisconsin Dells: Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells, Wilderness Resort, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions – Wisconsin Dells, Chula Vista Resort

Kimberly Miles is a mother of one and an experienced solo and single mom traveler. So far, she has traveled to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Dubai, Bahamas, Aruba, Mexico, and several places in the U.S. Kimberly was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, but in 2018 she took a leap of faith and made the beautiful beach town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico her home with her young son. In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Kimberly ghostwrites blogs on a variety of topics. She also provides marketing consulting services and business guidance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporations via her independent business KNM Virtual Solutions. When she’s not traveling or writing, you can find Kimberly working out, eating tacos, dancing the night away, or spending time at the beach with her son. You can read more of her work at Travel Unapologetically.
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