Inspiring travel photos are a bit different from just amazing landscape shots. I think pictures of the Moon are stunning, but I don’t necessarily want to go there.
Since getting a DSLR camera, my photo output on trips has grown to almost absurd levels. Give me a sunset in the desert, and I’ll give you an SD card full of photos with varying filters, zooms, and light. But an inspiring travel shot is harder to come by. Even if I come home with 500 pictures, I may have only one (or sometimes none) that sum up everything about why this place is one that every family should visit.
It has to be a picture that looks stunning (obviously), but also one that you can see your family in. It should be one that makes you think- “That looks awesome, we could do that!”
Simply Awesome Trips offers family trip itineraries to destinations near and far. Everything you need to know: where to sleep, eat, and play! All organized into detailed day-by-day plans. Need some destination ideas? Too busy to read through a million blogs and guidebooks to plan a family trip? Don’t worry, it's already been done for you.
Family Vacation Ideas
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a must see for every family, no matter what age your kids are. You’ll find hikes for every ability- easy strolls to lovely waterfalls or challenging hikes to some of the most spectacular views in North America.
Zion’s famous Narrows hike can be both easy and hard, depending on what you are looking for. You can hike as far as you want (up to 5 miles upriver) or turn around whenever it suits you. We saw people carrying toddlers on their shoulders a few hundred yards upstream, and we saw people geared up to do the entire hike. No matter your choice, this is a unique experience that you will never forget. Every bit of the trail, even if you just do a short section, is beautiful and worth it.
Don’t know anything about Zion National Park? Get the entire itinerary here for a family trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks- we’ve done all the research and planning for you including everything you need to know to hike the Narrows with kids in tow.
2. Yellowstone National Park
Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. It’s sights, sounds, and smells offer an amazing opportunity to show your kids what lurks under the earth’s surface. Yellowstone is a jewel of our national park system and a marvelous vacation for any family. With excellent opportunities to see wildlife and unique geothermal features to explore, you won’t be wanting for things to do. Spend your days hiking, stay in a rustic cabin, take thousands of photos, and let the kids see why Yellowstone is such an iconic park.
Want to know more about our idea of an amazing family trip to Yellowstone? Check out our full itinerary- it’s full of lodging suggestions, hikes, and tips on how to avoid the crowds at this popular national park.
3. New York City
New York City holds a special place in my heart as a travel destination, maybe because there are endless ways to experience this metropolis. Each trip can be like visiting an entirely different city if you want it to be.
But at the same time, I enjoy the juxtaposition of revisiting old favorites while finding these new adventures. Maybe that’s why I love this picture so much. I am introducing the kids to one of my very favorite activities in New York that I do each time I visit-- walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. New… meet old.
Want to take the family to New York but don’t know where to begin? Our guide tells you everything you need to know for an awesome family vacation in the Big Apple- Where to Stay, Eat, and Play!
4. Cherohala Skyway— Tennessee and North Carolina
The Cherohala Skyway is a much less crowded alternative to the Blue Ridge Parkway. 43 miles of majestic views between Tellico Plains, TN and Robbinsville, NC plus hikes, waterfalls, and fantastic campgrounds make Cherohala an amazing place to spend a weekend. Bring your kite, a picnic, and, most importantly, your best camera and enjoy time together as a family without WiFi.
When you visit, make sure to hike to Huckleberry Knob (pictured). It is an easy 1.25 mile hike to see these views, a payoff any family can appreciate.
Want to know more? Grab our Weekend Getaway Guide to find out everything you need to know from campgrounds and cabins to where to get the best pizza in the area.
5.Grand Teton National Park
Jenny Lake is just one of many stunning glacial- formed lakes found in Grand Teton National Park. With a bevy of fun activities available around the lake (hiking, swimming, canoeing, cycling), it is a perfect place to spend the day and one of the highlights of a visit to the park.
Grand Teton National Park itself is simply awesome with its jagged mountain peaks, alpine lakes, wildlife, sagebrush meadows, and forests filled with aspens and fir trees. Just south of Yellowstone, it sometimes gets passed over in favor of its larger and more famous sibling. But it shouldn’t be. It makes a wonderful family vacation destination and is a definite must see if you haven’t made it there yet.
Find out more about Jenny Lake and the other glacial lakes you should see in our Grand Teton travel guide for families.
6. Urban Wilderness, Knoxville, Tennessee
If you happen to be near Knoxville, TN in July, then check out the 70 acres of sunflowers planted in the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area. They last about a month, and it is always a favorite activity for the kids. The explosion of color is something to see.
Part of Knoxville’s fantastic Urban Wilderness, a 1000 acre conglomeration of 7 parks and recreational areas just 4 miles from downtown, Forks of the River has hiking and mountain bike trails plus a nice mixed use greenway long the river. You can go for a hike or mountain bike ride to admire the sunflowers in the morning, then take a kayak or paddleboard adventure in the afternoon in nearby Meads Quarry or on the Tennessee River. Or explore what else the Urban Wilderness has to offer- a nature center, more world- class mountain bike trails, rock climbing, greenways, playgrounds, ropes course and a zipline.
Want more information on Knoxville and all of its outdoor opportunities plus where to stay and eat in its thriving downtown just a quick bike ride from the Urban Wilderness? Check out our Weekend Getaway Guide to find out everything you need to know.
Bell Rock is one of the classic sights to see in Sedona because of its majestic views and because of its reputation as an energy vortex. People will come to sit on the Meditation Perch and soak up both. It’s an easy hike of 1.5 miles round-trip to the good parts but you can keep climbing up as far as you feel comfortable.
“God created the Grand Canyon but he lives in Sedona.” You will hear this quote a few times while you are visiting and nothing you see will deter you from agreeing. Sedona is a beautiful place to relax with your family, whether you believe in energy vortexes or not. Simply watch the sun turn the rocks into more shades of red than you thought possible and enjoy the wonderful restaurants and artists that make Sedona such a unique and memorable vacation destination.
Don’t know anything about Sedona but are desperate to visit after seeing this picture? Check out our complete guide to a fantastic family vacation in Sedona- everything you need to know to pack up the kids and go!
8. Hydra, Greece
We spent our family vacation in Hydra by wandering its walking trails all over the island, periodically stopping to take a swim break in azure Mediterranean or have snacks and drinks in a local taverna. Idyllic barely begins to cover it. Everything about this picture reminds me of why I love Greece- the clear blue water, the quaint fishing boat pulled up to village’s marina, the other islands and sailboat in the background, and the smiling kid in the foreground.
Hydra is a car-free oasis, with far fewer tourists than its more popular neighbors. It may lack the large white sand beaches and large resorts of Mykonos or Crete but that is part of its draw. Enjoy having the small beach coves to yourself and letting the kids wander without worrying they will get run over by anything larger than a mule (the main form of transport on the island aside from your own two legs).
Find out our favorite hiking trails on Hydra, plus where to stay, and the best way to get there in our travel guide for families. We tell you everything you need to plan your own idyllic vacation on a Greek Isle!
9. Bryce Canyon National Park
I am not normally an early morning riser, being much more inclined to watch the moonrise than its brighter sibling. But occasionally, the promise of a once in a lifetime experience will draw me out of bed at the silly hours.
Hiking the Rim Trail of Bryce Canyon at sunrise was one of those times, and I absolutely, whole-heartedly, recommend it to everyone, even my fellow night owls. Not only did we avoid the crowds that can ruin the enjoyment of this extremely popular park, but watching the hoodoos light up in magical colors as the sun hit them was something I will never forget. And the kids were so enthralled that we managed to get nearly 4 miles out of them with nary a whine. In fact, they wanted to get up the next morning and do it again. Don’t know if there is a bigger endorsement than that.
Find out exactly where we hiked and stayed on our trip through Southwest Utah, and why Bryce Canyon might be my favorite national park in Utah (shh… don’t tell Zion).
We hope these photos inspire you to make some plans with your own families just as we have been inspired by others. I remember the first time I saw a photo from someone’s trip to The Narrows and I thought “There. I want to go there.”
Although traveling with kids can change where you go and what you can do on your trips, I still see other’s trip photos and get wanderlust. Now I just think “There. I want us to go there.”
What Makes Our Itineraries Unique?
Where To Stay
The lodging choices for each destination have been carefully selected for their ideal location, price point, safety, and proximity to the day’s activities. We tell you the best area to stay so you can minimize driving or walking distances and maximize your moments having fun. Knowing what part of town to stay in is a huge part of making a trip a success, and that’s hard to do when you are not familiar with a destination. We save you time and energy by doing all the research for you.
Where To Eat
Local dining establishments are highlighted. The kind where children are welcome but isn't necessarily a restaurant geared primarily towards kids. You won't find many restaurant chains in our itineraries, just good local food mirroring the destination's culture. This could mean a food truck, a pizza place, or a nice sit-down restaurant, but always delicious. If there are any local brews, specialty foods, wines, or coffee houses around, we'll mention those too.
Where To Play
The organization of each day has been thoughtfully planned in order to group activities together by proximity, ideal time of day to visit, and the best nearby dining choices. It’s all been laid out for you, along with directions, maps, travel tips, links to more info, and more. We cover the most worthwhile activities to do in a destination (based on our own family’s reviews) without forgetting that vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing, not a list to be checked off while hauling around whining children.
You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities for the family as well as cultural and historical sites unique to the destination. Many itineraries include easy hikes, bike rides, and float trips that have been selected for their kid-friendly length and ease of difficulty as well as their scenic beauty. (Always worth it!) We are all about getting families outdoors so we include as much fresh air as we can in our itineraries, whether it is a day-long trek in a national park or just the location of a fantastic playground perfect for a break from sightseeing.
At the founding of Simply Awesome Trips, we agreed to travel as we always have with our families—on our own dime. No free nights, no comped visits, not even any swag. We continue to feel good about that decision. We do participate in affiliate marketing with some of the companies that we personally use (Booking.com, VRBO.com). They don’t pay us to write, we simply get a commission if you enter those sites through our “gate” as opposed to say a Google search.
But we also recommend lodging, restaurants, and activities, where we don’t receive any commission, such as Airbnb or private rental companies. We don’t change recommendations based on vendor. If it’s good; it’s good.