Are you running out of ideas on how to spend the much-awaited summer with your kids? Or are you, like most families, wanting to do more but don’t have the cash or time to do so? Whatever the situation you are in, this is the year to bring your family to one of the 407 national parks and sites managed by the National Park Service in America.
There is, at least, one NPS managed park located in every state and American territory like Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
Here are Travelmath’s 5 best national parks for families:
Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park (RNP) is 324 miles from San Francisco and 379 miles from Portland OR. There is no official park entrance to RNP, neither is there is a park entrance fee. redwoods.info recommends a 2-day trip that may include:
- Stopping at the Kuchel Visitor Center to check out activities offered, get information, brochures and maps, explore exhibits and use the restroom
- The opportunity for kids from ages 5-13 to join the Junior Ranger program in summer
- Hiking the James Irvine Trail
- Seeing the Fern Canyon
- Walking on Gold Bluffs Beach
- Camping in the park – at Elk Prairie Campground or Gold Bluffs Beach Campground
- Taking a scenic drive along the Newton B. Drury Parkway and stopping at Big Tree, the 304-foot tall and 21-foot diameter tree
- Driving through a redwood tree
- Visiting the Tree of Mystery
- Taking guided mountain biking tours
- Joining a ranger-led campfire program
More information: Redwood
RNP has more than just redwoods. The National Park Service has listed 40 miles of coastline, oak woodlands, prairies and rich wildlife as just a few of the highlights of the park. It is open year round, but most kid-friendly activities are available during the summer months.
Everglades National Park
Located 74 miles from Miami and 307 miles from Orlando, Everglades National Park has plenty of activities for families year round. Check out the wet sawgrass prairies, dry tropical hardwood hammocks and pinelands, mangrove swamps and alligators.
Kids who love animals will have a blast at the Everglades. Besides alligators, there are opportunities to encounter turtles, herons, manatees, dolphins and crocodiles. Everglades National Park recommends visiting the pinelands by bike and taking a tour on a boat or kayak in the Florida Bay. Be sure to watch the sunset and the flamingoes in the horizon, and canoe and camp along the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway.
There are several campsites available at the Everglades. Junior Ranger programs are offered as well.
Old San Juan National Historic Sites
If going to forests or parks isn’t your cup of tea, we recommend a trip to Puerto Rico. You can combine a cruise, a history lesson and a tropical getaway, all in one vacation. Carnival and Celebrity are two of the many cruise lines that sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico to the Caribbean islands.
While in Puerto Rico, visit Old San Juan’s many national historic sites managed by the National Park Service including:
San Juan Bay
Paseo del Morro
San Juan Gate
Paseo la Princesa
Plaza de Hostas
Grand Teton National Park
Bring the kids and have a grand adventure at Grand Teton National Park. The NPS has a special booklet just for kids to explore the wildlife, geology, history and ecosystems of Grand Teton.
Information: Grand Teton National Park The Grand Adventure Booklet for Junior Rangers.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park offers the world’s greatest concentration of geysers, grizzly bears, bisons and elks. You don’t have to travel to New Zealand or Iceland to see unique hot springs and geysers.
Information to help you plan your trip to Yellowstone National Park:
- Yellowstone National Park’s geysers.
- Young Scientist, Junior Ranger, Expedition Yellowstone and Youth Conservation Corps are some of the programs catered to kids and teens.
- Jackson Hole Airport, Idaho Falls Regional Airport and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport are three major airports that are close to Yellowstone National Park.