Pack your bags! The whole family will be on board with these cool places.

By Lindsay Tigar
Updated January 29, 2020

There’s nothing quite like having the gang all right there with you. Family reunions are equal parts exciting and stressful, since gathering your relatives near-and-far to one spot is a lot like herding cats. With a vast range of ages to be considerate of—from Grandpa to baby Owen—selecting a spot for the gathering with a plethora of activities is important. The good news is you don’t need to whip out your passport to find an ideal destination for your family vacation since the United States is ripe with family-friendly hubs. Consider these activity-packed (and budget-friendly) places for your next gathering.

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Courtesy of Sage Lodge

1
Explore Yellowstone in Montana

While most of this iconic park is in Wyoming, it also covers parts of Montana and Idaho. What’s smart about selecting Pray, Montana, for your family get-together is access to plenty of nature sans crowds. One option is Sage Lodge, which sits on more than 1,200 acres along the  Yellowstone River. From every angle, you see jaw-dropping views of the rugged Paradise Valley and Emigrant Peak. Large groups might consider the 2,700-square-foot Ranch House, which sleep 16.

A 30- to 40-minute drive puts your aunts, uncles, and cousins in Yellowstone. Back at the lodge, the adventure continues with activities like fly-fishing, horseback riding, rafting, and wildlife excursions. And the wonder of the outdoors enhances the full-service spa treatments.

Courtesy of Radisson Hotels

2
Shop, Ride, and Play in Minnesota

For families that enjoy shopping, amusement parks, and other events that keep everyone busy 24/7, it’s time to check Mall of America off the bucket list. There is almost no limit to what you can find in the largest retail center in the country—complete with a rollercoaster—located in Bloomington, Minnesota. Stay in the connected Radisson Blu Mall of America. Its complimentary shuttle  gets you to and from the airport in 10 minutes and keeps the fun going after a day at the mall.

Related: Here’s How to Plan the Best Family Vacation

For reunions with many kids, consider the Fort Blue Camping Package (from $219 per night), which transforms any guest room into a campsite, complete with a kids' tent, s’mores ice cream, a log-shape pillow, silver camping mug, a dream journal, a stuffed Marty the Moose toy, and a projector that shines stars on the walls and ceiling. The complimentary Blu Kids Club can also set up a scavenger hunt in the hotel or the mall.

Courtesy of Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa

3
Jump into the Unknown in Utah

Part of the stress of planning for a big group is guesstimating how much everyone will spend, how to split it, and how to budget before you leave. That’s why it’s smart to pick a spot that has everything you need, like the Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa in Moab, Utah. This 55-room estate sits on 240 acres along the Colorado River and the edge of Arches National Park. Mother Nature keeps families busy with canyoneering, horseback riding, river-rafting, and UTVing. Though some of these excursions have an upcharge, others are included or can be purchased via a $200 resort credit. Once the baby cousins have drifted off to sleep, adults can enjoy a guest-chef-garden dinner by a rotation of well-known culinary geniuses, including James Beard Award winners.

Courtesy of Kona Kai Resort & Spa

4
Get Competitive in California

You may be well into your 30s and 40s at this point, but when it comes to your siblings, everything is still a competition. Why not teach your children about the fine art of a friendly wager by building a family reunion around contests? Do that at the Kona Kai Resort & Spa, on the tip of San Diego’s historical Shelter Island. Only 10 minutes from the airport, arrive to warm California sun and beach for all games your group desires. Try the cupcake decorating contest judged by the property’s executive chef, a customizable obstacle course, a Family Feud experience, or a water balloon slingshot game. All that is left for you to do is relish how your older brother is going to lose.  

Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa

5
Golf in Texas

For a vacation that’s a hole-in-one, golfing families should head to San Antonio for a long weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. Only 20 minutes from the heart of downtown, this spot serves up tees, treats, and more, making it ideal for all ages. Experienced golfers will enjoy an expansive 27-hole range; newbies (and kids) can try disc golf, glow-in-the-dark putt-putt, and more. 

Off the green, dive into one of the country’s best hotel pools, according to USA Today readers. The 5-acre waterpark has a 950-foot lazy river modeled after the nearby Guadalupe River, FlowRider surf simulator machine, a two-story water slide, waterfall jacuzzi, and more. Parents can  relax while taking advantage of the Camp Hyatt's  supervised activities for children 4 to 10.

Courtesy of Sanderling Resort

6
Fly, Swim, and Sail in North Carolina

If you recall from history class, the Wright brothers took the first-ever airplane flight in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in 1903. This feat changed travel as we know it, and it’s something the coast of the Tarheel State still celebrates. When you book your stay at the Sanderling Resort in Duck, North Carolina, the whole family can learn more about this history-making expenditure via exciting air activities. These include dune and tandem hang gliding, as well as the Wright Experience that allows guests the opportunity to fly in a re-creation of the Wrights’ Brothers iconic glider. 

Once the family has experienced what jet-setting was like more than a century ago take to the beach to relax and unwind. The resort has lessons on kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, and other aquatic feats. Families choose between guest rooms or one of the five private beach homes that sleep up to 16 located between the Atlantic and the Currituck Sound.

Courtesy of YMCA of the Rockies

7
Host a Family Summer Camp in Colorado

It may have been decades since you attended summer camp, but you can re-create the experience at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center. Located in Colorado, this option is not only budget-friendly but also an adventure everyone will remember for years. Choose between hotel-style lodge rooms or spacious cabins to suit your family size. No matter which you pick, most of the activities are included. Archery, climbing walls, guided hikes, disc golf, and more are a few of the ways to enjoy nature. Families going the cabin route can save big by cooking meals in the fully equipped kitchens. Or reserve a cookout or pizza party via their Rustic Cafe. 

Related: You Can Take a Wine Train Tour of the Rockies

Courtesy of Aston Waikiki Beach Tower

8
Expand Horizons in Hawaii

Part of the wonder of parenting is the opportunity to introduce your children to the many cultures of the world. Though you don’t need a passport to visit Hawaii, the islands are exotic-feeling. Though this is definitely on the splurge-side for a family reunion, smaller groups will savor the one-of-a-kind escape to Waikiki. Book your gathering into the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, a condominium-style resort ideal for multiple generations. Each includes a kitchen, living room, and master bedroom, so everyone can be comfortable. 

At check-in, each kiddo gets a complimentary sand bucket and tools to encourage creativity on the Hawaiian shore. Programs introduce guests to the local culture through arts and crafts, and a helpful concierge can plan dinners to where the locals congregate. The hotel is also in walking distance from the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, and other attractions.

Courtesy of Deschutes Brewery

9
Have a Beer in Oregon

The quaint town of Bend, Oregon, is home to 18 breweries, which is the highest per capita in an American city. This is a major perk for the grown-ups, but kids will be happy too. Stay at Huntington Lodge to savor central Oregon through fly-fishing, paddle boarding, biking, and swimming. Consider hiking in Smith Rock State Park, which is renowned as a healing center and considered one of the seven wonders of Oregon. 

Families who choose this resort for their reunion can also ask the hotel to create a custom Pronghorn scavenger hunt or a private dinner in a lava tube cave. Yep, you read that right: dinner in a cave formed long ago by flowing lava.

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Comments (1)

Anonymous
November 21, 2018
Santa Cruz California is a great place for a Reunion as it has 26-miles of sandy beaches, towering Redwood tree forests, fabulous restaurants from $ - $$$$$. Unique shops in quaint villages like Capitola, unlimited music venues, several that are free, historical sites and many museums and arboretums! Best place to stay is the Tudor Rose Manor that can sleep up to 22 guests in 9 sleeping areas, with 4 full baths and a new SwimSpa that can hold up to 12 guests at one time! Plus it is a level 3-4 minute walk to the Rio del Mar beach area.