Mom Knows Best: Summer Family Vacations Across North America

Moms across North America are sharing their favourite summer family vacations. From Maine to California, planning just got a whole lot easier!

It’s the season for summer family vacations — or at least planning one. You’ve hoarded your days off and have been eyeing some free time in the sun. Or, maybe an all-inclusive resort in the mountains. Actually, what about finally seeing what all the fuss is about around Mexican beaches?

If you’re as indecisive as we are after typing that paragraph, we don’t blame you. There are so many great destinations for families out there, picking one to spend your summer family vacation is half the battle. Then you have to worry about finding the best hotels and looking up things to do in each destination.

Fear not! We’re here to help. You see, the benefit of being a travel magazine is that we’re constantly reading up on some of the most exciting destinations out there and we can piece together for you what might be the summer family vacation you’re looking for. Even better, we’ve rounded up recommendations from the experts on the ground who know what they’re talking about — moms.

So whether you’re eyeing a mountain retreat or just want to hit the beach, this list of 15 summer family vacations will set you off in the right direction.

Family Fun in Toronto with a Rooftop Terrace for the Grownups


There is no limit to our summer fun when we whisk the family away to the Chelsea Hotel Toronto. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, hotel guests have discounts to exciting family attractions like the Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. We enjoy the walk from the hotel to these and other fun attractions like the CN Tower.

Inside the Chelsea Hotel Toronto, families come first. The hotel offers spacious Family Fun Suites with plenty of sleeping space, a kitchen and a kid’s corner with free movies and video games. The family pool with the corkscrew waterslide is my kids’ favourite spot, followed closely by the Club 33 Teen Lounge where I’ve schooled my children at Ms. Pacman and lost a few games of pool. Parents who want to slip away to the adult pool can send the kids (3-12) to be supervised in the Kid’s Centre.

Active guests can use the hotel discounts to book bike tours, ziplining and Segway tours in the neighbourhood. When it comes to time to eat, there are many options. At the hotel, eat in or take-out food from the Market Garden, which features my husband’s favourite pizza, or visit the T Bar for fine dining. Within walking distance, you can find China Town with many delicious options or get some restaurant suggestions from the Concierge. Whether you are looking for attractions, activity or dining, you will not run out of options. – Sheri McDonald,

Chelsea Hotel, Toronto

7.8 Good (13989 reviews)

Take a Family Vacation in Vancouver


To make the most of your time in Vancouver, a convenient location is crucial and The Residence Inn by Marriott is in the perfect spot. We found it to be an easy 10 min walk to Vancouver’s major neighbourhoods, the Skytrain and the Granville Island ferry, even for our little ones.

We found the  rooms large and comfortable and the small but well-equipped kitchen, was ideal for when the kids were hungry as soon as we got back to the room. I really appreciated the fact that you can drop a shopping list at reception,  they‘ll buy everything from the local store, and when you get back to your room, everything on your list is there for you.

Two extremely comfortable queen-size beds, plus a sofa bed large enough for three kids meant there was plenty of room for all five of us and The Residence Inn allows pets, so your furry family members can come too. The hotel provided a free crib for our baby and the onsite laundry meant I didn’t have to fill multiple suitcases with tons of kids clothes.

The family-friendly, unlimited buffet breakfast will set you all up for a day of fun and if you’re not sure what to do first the staff on reception go above and beyond to help out – even booking tickets or arranging transport if you need them to. When our son fell sick and was taken to hospital the staff even brought a “Get Well Soon” package up to the room and a cake when he returned. It was like staying with family. – Patti Barnes, RedHeaded Patti 

Residence Inn by Marriott Vancouver Downtown

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2234 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Getaway to Niagara Falls


With hotels, sights and attractions galore there is a lot of family fun to be had in Niagara Falls. We have quite a large family so often we are looking for practical yet fun vacation spots.  If you are looking for some family fun that is different than most and has something for just about everyone, think about heading to the Americana Waterpark & Spa Resort.

My kids had so much fun at the Americana. They loved being able to go from getting buckets of water dumped on them overhead, to the water slides with tube rings and pools to just lounge in. The Americana Waterpark & Spa Resorts has a retractable roof, seasonal themes, tropical weather and mezzanine available for private parties and enjoy the day with the family while renting a private Cabana to relax and unwind in! While we were there we didn’t get a chance to rent a cabana, but it’s great especially for younger kids to have a little bit of privacy. The Americana also offers a luxury spa that includes body treatments and massages, for a relaxing time for mom and dad.

Being close to attractions like the falls, great restaurants and all the fun Clifton Hill has to offer, the Americana is close by, so you won’t feel like it’s completely out of the way at only 4.4km to the city centre.  Families love to shop, and sometimes we need to pick up accessories, or something we forgot to pack and the Americana is close to the Canada One Factory Outlets, so it’s really at a great location! – Jeanine Macintosh, Six Time Mommy

Americana Waterpark & Spa Resort

Niagara Falls
8.2 Very good (2430 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Summer Vacation in Vancouver


Vancouver, British Columbia is a great summer vacation destination not just because of all the kid-friendly outdoor activities available in the city, but also because extreme temperatures are rarely an issue – thanks to the surrounding mountains and Pacific Ocean.

The Fairmont Waterfront is the perfect home base for families who want to be close to popular tourist attractions and eateries. All rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city’s skyline, the hotel’s herb and vegetable garden, Stanley Park or the North Shore Mountains. One- and two-bedroom family suites are ideal for guests looking for a little more space, or perhaps staying a little longer.

Outdoor enthusiasts can use the hotel’s complimentary cruiser style bikes, children’s bikes and a children’s bicycle trailer to explore Stanley Park’s Seawall. After a busy day of exploring and eating, families can unwind while enjoying breathtaking harbour views from the third floor’s heated outdoor pool, indoor whirlpool, and fitness centre.

Fairmont Waterfront’s ARC Restaurant and Gold Lounge both use produce from the hotel’s garden and honey from the third floor apiary in many of their dishes. Families can also grab a bite from the underground food court or surrounding neighbourhoods.  Cheryl Leung, Kids on a Plane.

Fairmont Waterfront

Top rated
9.1 Excellent (2879 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Hotel in the Canadian Rockies


Banff, Alberta is a bucket-list destination for many, and with good reason! The mountain town nestled at the foot of the Canadian Rockies is the perfect home base for exploring the natural beauty of Banff National Park.

Brewster’s Mountain Lodge in downtown Banff is the ideal hotel for parents and kids alike when visiting the area. It isn’t just family-friendly with a great location, it completely embodies the rustic spirit of the town. Rooms are spacious and feature Western décor, historical photos and handmade log furniture that give the hotel a cozy warmth.

Guests are greeted with free cookies when checking in, something that was an immediate hit with my boys. And a free complimentary breakfast is also included, helping families save time and money each morning. There are even board games and puzzles to enjoy for added family fun!

But the best part about Brewster’s Mountain Lodge is its location. The Banff Park Museum, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and Historic Luxton Home Museum are all less than a five-minute walk from the hotel. In the evenings, Banff’s top restaurants are all within minutes. Not having to worry about driving again each evening after spending the day exploring made our vacation so much more relaxing! – Kathryn Gignac, Mommy Kat and Kids

Brewster Mountain Lodge

Top rated
9.1 Excellent (2937 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Hotel in the Mountains of Whistler


Not only is Whistler a winter wonderland destination during the peak months from December to March, but there’s plenty of family fun to be had in the summer as well.

Four Seasons Whistler is a great resort destination for families looking for fun and adventure in any season. Being nestled in the heart of Whistler, there are so many activities to choose from. Summer brings exciting adventures from horseback riding, glacier hiking, biking, kayaking, bear watching, zip trekking, dog sledding, fishing, and more. Their complimentary shuttle and service cars will take you to and from any activity without the fear of getting lost. There are also outdoor pools if you just want to relax between the cascading mountains and unwind.

The rooms come equipped with your very own fireplace so that you can warm up during the chilly nights. A great additional perk of this property is that any children under the age of five get to eat for free.

A fun thing to do with the entire family is to roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate outside their camper, which has to be one of the hottest, most Instagrammable places in all of Whistler.  — Kathy Croman, Island Fever Sisters

Four Seasons Resort Whistler

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2311 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Resort with a Spa in Michigan


Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island is a fantastic family summer getaway. It’s located near gorgeous sites including Arch Rock and Lake Huron, where you can take in the views in one of the many Adirondack chairs, and it has no shortage of family-friendly amenities.

They have their own bike rentals with different types of bikes for each person, including bike trailers for children, which is perfect for biking the eight scenic miles around the island. They also offer evening glow golf, which is very kid-friendly and fun for the whole family. Mission Point has a pool and hot tub and their concierge is happy to provide ideas of what to do around the island.

Mission Point has casual restaurants, such as Bistro on the Greens as well as upscale dining at Chianti for Italian Cuisine. All are very family-friendly and the waiters are accommodating to families with children. (The breakfast buffet at Round Island Bar and Grill shouldn’t be missed with its delicious options for all kinds of eaters.)

Mission Point is located about half a mile outside of downtown Mackinac Island, which is the perfect location because it’s quieter but there’s still plenty to do. Considering all the family-friendly amenities, it’s no surprise most of the property’s guests consist of families. — Amanda Hernandez, Nutritionist Reviews

Mission Point Resort

Mackinac Island
7.7 Good (87 reviews)

A Summer Vacation to Sarasota Florida


Minutes from Sarasota lies Siesta Key, where our family enjoys staying at the colorful waterfront Siesta Key Bungalows. The bungalows are adorned with chic furnishings, high-end touches, quaint porches, and old Florida charm. Monogrammed towels and pillowcases, attractive artwork, white wicker furniture, and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries are a few of the things I appreciate most. While the accommodations are one bedroom, many have queen-size sleeper sofas.

Take advantage of free access to bikes, grills, and kayaks that are available for Inn guests. You’re also encouraged to fish off of their dock in Heron Lagoon’s pristine blue waters. There’s a large, heated swimming pool to keep the kids busy or you may prefer heading over to the three white sandy Siesta Key beaches all in close proximity.

Prepare your own meals in your full kitchen, complete with a microwave, coffee maker, and toaster to save a few dollars during vacation. Siesta Key Bungalows are minutes from popular restaurants and local attractions but off the beaten path enough to offer privacy and a relaxing vibe. The free Siesta Key trolley makes a stop at this tropical island getaway. — Melody Pittman, Where I May Roam Blog

Siesta Key Bungalows

Top rated
8.5 Excellent (32 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Hotel in Disney's Vero Beach


Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is an excellent beach retreat for families who want to relax but still crave a little Disney magic. Located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, the resort is reminiscent of a hotel you may see on the northeastern coastline of the United States.

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is the right combination of fun and relaxation. Rooms are spacious and offer plenty of room for large families. Accommodations consist of inn rooms (located in the main building), deluxe studios, one-and-two-bedroom villas, and three-bedroom beachfront cottages. Rooms can be booked with cash (with the exception of the beachfront cottages) or Disney Vacation Club points.

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is bustling with activities for the whole family, including pool activities, beach rentals, and nighttime campfire sing-alongs. During the summer, you may be lucky enough to see baby sea turtles make their way to the sea from the resort’s sandy beach. They also offer a variety of restaurants that appeal to all members of the family. Whether it’s having breakfast with Goofy or enjoying an elegant seafood dinner, there’s a dining experience to satisfy your appetite. But the best part of staying here is that the most difficult decision you’ll ever have to make is whether to go to the beach or the pool. — Lisa Cameron, Home is Where the Mouse Is

Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Top rated
Vero Beach
8.9 Excellent (144 reviews)

A Summer Family Resort in San Diego


San Diego is a great destination for summer vacations with the family. The city has beautiful weather year-round, and in summer, there are even more family-friendly activities.

Hard Rock San Diego is great for families who love music. Decorations include rockstar artifacts and you can borrow a Fender guitar during your stay. Plus, rooms are large enough for families.

Eat at the high-end Nobu or the casual Maryjanes, both in the hotel. Of course, you can walk to dozens of restaurants nearby, too. The hotel is also walking distance to Petco Park, where you can watch a baseball game.

The hotel loans out Electra cruising bicycles for exploring the area or you can hop on the light rail, which has a stop just a block away. If you really want to stretch your legs, San Diego has hiking nearby in Torrey Pines and wonderful museums for kids. The car museum in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo are must-sees, and the Safari Park offers wild animals in natural habitats. — Judy Antell, Wheels and Eats

Hotel Hard Rock San Diego

Top rated
San Diego
8.8 Excellent (12047 reviews)

A Disney Resort for Family Fun in Kapolai, Hawaii


The Disney Aulani Resort & Spa is a one-of-a-kind family adventure. The expansive resort is a vast playground designed to delight all of your senses from the second you walk in, complete with Disney’s unmatched customer service.

When it’s time to play, make sure to grab lounge chairs by the giant waterpark, then take a break to grab a Dole whip before playing in the private ocean lagoon that looks like a scene from Moana. Little ones will love running through the splash pad while older kids won’t want to miss snorkeling in the Rainbow Reef. Just make sure you race your kids down the waterslides and lounge in the lazy river, all while waving at your favorite characters or being surprised by Mickey and the gang appearing for an impromptu dance party poolside.

With everything from grab-and-go snacks to sit-down dinners, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to book the character breakfast in advance, because you won’t want to miss their faces when Minnie blows them a kiss. Plus, you can take a short walk across the street to grab a cup of coffee at Island Vintage Coffee or enjoy a slice of scrumptious strawberry pie at the Monkeypod Kitchen. — Erica Jabali, I Spy Fabulous

Hotel Aulani A Disney Resort And Spa

Top rated
9.7 Excellent (844 reviews)

A Relaxing Family Retreat in Kauai, Hawaii


Kauai is a dreamy place to take the family for a relaxing summer vacation. Kids love playing on the beach, spotting sea turtles and monk seals, hiking through the tropical landscape, and enjoying a refreshing shaved ice to cool off.

The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort, perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific along the lush North Shore, is our favorite place to stay. The stylish villas have full kitchens, private lanais, and the option for multiple bedrooms if Mom and Dad want their space.

The resort itself includes paved, stroller-friendly paths for evening strolls (we loved going for a walk as the tiki torches were being lit at night), and multiple private pools, including a “Keiki” kids pool with a water slide and giant plastic turtles spouting water. The breakfast buffet is free for kids under three and serves Hawaiian twists on kid-friendly favorites, like pancakes with coconut syrup and tropical fruit. The location is great as well — you’re minutes away from top attractions like Hanalei, the Kilauea Lighthouse, and Anini Beach (our favorite beach to take toddlers — the waters are calm and the snorkeling is great). — Aileen Allen, At Home In Love

The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (2480 reviews)

A Seaside Family Resort in Maine


I’ve been doing summer trips to Southern Maine since I was a little girl. The crisp, cool air, delicious lobster, and easy living keep calling me back; and now I take my own girls.

Last summer, our Maine tradition took a wonderful turn when the iconic Cliff House resort reemerged after a stunning renovation. The property is located on beautiful cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and picturesque vistas abound. And now, the resort’s amenities match those views.

Hotel rooms and common areas are beautifully appointed, modern, and nautically chic. And there’s plenty to entertain the kids. The Cliff House boasts a large, dedicated family pool and hot tub (kept at a lower temperature), a bounce house, cornhole, giant chess board, and infant toys. The resort also offers a daily calendar of family-friendly activities — including kids’ movies at the hotel’s theater, s’mores, and a weekly firework display.  Parents can also put their kids in the resort’s kids’ club, and then jet over to the swanky adult pool to relax with a frozen drink or visit the resort’s spa, gym, or on-site artisanal coffeehouse. — Marissa Millman, Donuts at the Disco

Cliff House Maine

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (1786 reviews)

A Relaxing Family Resort in Cabo, Mexico


Baja California Sur has our hearts as a favorite family destination for summer vacation. It can be a relaxing, low-key lounge-on-the-beach trip or full of adventure – you choose.

Chileno Bay Resort in Cabo was perfect for our family of seven. We have five kiddos between 6 and 14 and there was something for everyone. The resort itself is beautiful and the staff was incredible. My kids made fast friends with them all.

But the kid-friendly amenities will quickly grab their attention. There’s pinata making, pajama parties, crafts, seashell collecting, and even spy night. The food here is also top-notch. We highly recommend grilled pineapple pina coladas, fresh guac, fajitas, and churros de la casa to top it all off. Plus as we were dining on the shore, whales were jumping all over the place right in front of us. Needless to say, it’s a memory we won’t soon forget. — Kalani Watson

Chileno Bay Resort Residences

Cabo San Lucas
9.5 Excellent (104 reviews)

An Outdoorsy and Family-Friendly Resort in Minnesota


Minnesota has more than its fair share of excellent lakeside resorts, but Grand View Lodge is one of my favorites. It combines all the classic elements of a traditional Minnesota lake vacation (like fishing, swimming, sunset pontoon rides, and roasting marshmallows over a crackling bonfire) with upscale amenities like two championship golf courses and a luxurious spa.

The setting is gorgeous, all sandy beaches and towering pines. The resort’s eight restaurants offer regional favorites, scenic views, and pretty patios with lush gardens and waterfalls. Every lodging option — from cozy cabins and cottages to rooms in the historic Main Lodge and a brand-new boutique hotel that’s opening July 2019 – offers easy access to the Northwoods landscape that’s been drawing families to Nisswa since 1916.

It’s almost ridiculously easy to have a good time here. There are activities offered from dawn to dusk, from morning yoga to wine and beer tastings. Bring the family to the pools, beach, game room or waterpark, explore more than 125 miles of bike trails or brave the zipline. Kids Club and Kids Night Out programs offer crafts, games, and outdoor fun for kids aged 3 to 11 (and babysitting is available for children under three), so parents can slip away for guilt-free cocktails, golf lessons, couples spa treatments, and dinner dates. — Alicia Underlee Nelson, Prairie Style File

Grand View Lodge

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (1280 reviews)

A Family Hotel with Water Slides in Concorde, North Carolina


If you prefer staying indoors away from the heat during your summer family vacation, try Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, North Carolina. Not only does the lodge offer a waterpark for every age, but they also have a cool game that kids can play at night, called Magic Quest. This allows families to bond as they try to solve the questions in the game.

After spending a day at the indoor waterpark and waiting for the bucket drop, families can relax in the lounge areas of the lodge. They can take in one of the nightly shows and eat dinner at the on-site restaurant. There’s also the added feature of having a nightly treat delivered to your room by one of the Magic Quest characters at the lodge.

With so many things offered inside the lodge, there’s no reason to venture out for food or shopping. If that wasn’t enough to make you want to stay there, the rule to not roam the halls after 10 p.m. is a blessing. — Melissa, Adventures Frugal Mom

Great Wolf Lodge Concord

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (2020 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Summer Resort Steps from the Beach, North Carolina


If you dream of sweet memories of your kiddos shoveling pails of sand, collecting stark white seashells in the never-ending sunshine, or squealing with delight at the squawks of a parrot, then book your summer vacation at the Holiday Inn Resort Wilmington E-Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. Kids eat free at the on-site Oceans Restaurant and everyone can enjoy the glistening pool with fruity drinks and yummy snacks from Lazy Daze Poolside Bar and Grill.

Better yet, the resort is just steps away from the roaring waves of the Atlantic. With special events like “cookies and milk” nights, plus a complimentary shuttle to take you around town, this resort is every parent’s dream. You and the kids can splash in three pools, sink into the warmth of two hot tubs, get fit in on the volleyball court, rent bikes to explore nearby Wilmington or chase each other around the playground.

When the sun sets, save a comfy lounge chair for a great view of the giant pool-side cinema screen. If you need a break, drop the kids at the Oceanfront KidSpree Vacation Club room for games, crafts, and movies while you enjoy the music at Gabby’s Lounge. — Kelsie Kleinmeyer, Currently Kelsie

Holiday Inn Resort Lumina On Wrightsville Beach, An Ihg Hotel

Top rated
Wrightsville Beach
8.8 Excellent (2101 reviews)

A Family-Friendly Resort in Oregon


It’s hard to beat the Oregon Coast for an epic summer vacation for families. The vast beaches and sleepy Northwest vibe make this a hot spot for families who want a relaxing vacation while building family memories.

Our favorite kid-friendly hotel on the Oregon Coast is the Inn at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, Oregon. They have an O’Neill Suite where kids can stay in bunk beds that look like an authentic VW surf van and families can borrow complimentary beach cruisers. Plus, the beach is right across the street, there’s a market next door, and there’s an amazing coffee shop downstairs.

Kids will go nuts for the beach where the water is calm and they can spend the day building sand castles. Plus, you can roast hot dogs or make s’mores at a beach campfire. (Make sure to grab some complimentary beach chairs and towels from the hotel.)

Nearby, there’s a scenic Oregon Coast train ride, where kids can spot rock formations, fishing boats, and incredible views. The train stops at a cute town with candy shops and a playground.

But, one of the coolest family attractions is the Tillamook Creamery. They have an interactive, self-guided tour in their new visitors center where kids can milk a fake cow and taste lots of cheese samples. They also serve the creamiest, most flavorful ice cream. — Marcie Cheung, Marcie in Mommyland

Inn at Cape Kiwanda

Pacific City
9.2 Excellent (987 reviews)

A Kid's Paradise in South Carolina


For a family summer vacation in a paradise setting that truly offers something for everyone, the Kiawah Island Golf Resort is our choice (and the kids’ choice) year after year. Located just 45 minutes from Charleston, Kiawah offers pristine beaches, gorgeous marshland and lush forest landscapes.

The resort offers tons of activities from bike riding to dolphin spotting to paddleboarding. They also have incredible amenities that include golf courses, tennis courts, and family-friendly pools. Our younger kids love Kamp Kiawah, which fills their days with fun activities and the chance to make new friends. Teens have plenty of choices as well, including Capture the Flag and Bonfire nights. Family events, like the 4th of July Bike Parade, the Family Talent Showdown and Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ, add to the bonding experience of this summer family vacation.

For a true luxury experience, stay at The Sanctuary at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the gorgeous beach-side, AAA Five-Diamond Hotel and Spa. Villas and private homes are also available to rent through the resort. The beauty of the island and the plethora of activity options for children and adults will continue to bring us back to memory-making Kiawah for years to come. — Tamara Farias, Lights Camera Family

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort

Top rated
Kiawah Island
9.6 Excellent (310 reviews)