Top Summer Vacation Ideas for Families

School's out and so is the sun, so it's time to plan a family vacation. For most families, summer is the best chance to take an extended, relaxed trip with the kids. These fun summer getaways span every budget and interest.

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    Parents and daughters (8-11) walking on beach, rear view, sunset
    Macduff Everton / Getty Images

    Looking for a surefire hit for your family's summer vacation? We've rounded up the best of the best in every region of the country, from sea to shining sea and everywhere in between.

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    Young people camping with a baby girl
    lechatnoir / Getty Images

    ​Want to plan a budget-friendly summer vacation? Whether your family loves national parks or plush resorts, road trips or cruises, theme parks or quiet beaches—here are tried-and-tested tips for keeping costs down.​

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    Mohonk Mountain House
    Fred Hsu/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    It's a myth that you need to go to the Caribbean or Mexico to find a fantastic all-inclusive resort. Click through this slideshow for all-inclusive, kid-friendly resorts right here in the US where taking advantage of all-inclusive pricing does not require a passport.

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    People on Swing Ride
    Teresa Short / Getty Images

    For millions of Americans, attending a state fair is as much a summertime tradition as cookouts, baseball, and July 4th fireworks. So bring on the corn dogs, pig races, and carnival rides.

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  • 05 of 15
    Acadia National Park
    heipei/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Called "America's best idea" by the historian Wallace Stegner, our national parks offer families a wonderfully affordable way to visit our most cherished and beautiful landscapes, view wildlife in their natural habitat, learn about geological and cultural history, and appreciate the great outdoors.

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    Kids walking in mediterranean street.
    Imgorthand / Getty Images

    If you've been contemplating a family vacation to Europe, 2017 is shaping up to be a stellar year to bite the bullet and do it. The U.S. dollar is strong against the euro and that favorable exchange rate means you'll get more bang for your buck at European hotels, restaurants, and attractions compared to just a few years ago.​

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    Silhouette of people riding bicycles by sea, side view
    Greg Pease / Getty Images

    Does your family love exploring on bikes? These cycle-friendly resorts provide affordable (or free) loaner bikes to guests and bike paths so it's easy to get around on two wheels.

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    Two Perseid meteors streak across the Milky Way during the 2012 meteor shower in Oklahoma.
    John Davis/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

    Are your kids fascinated by the stars and planets? Catching a summer meteor shower is a perfect introduction to stargazing and the Perseid Meteor Shower is the season's best light show.

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  • 09 of 15

    Best Water Parks for Summer Fun

    View of four different water park tubes on a clear day
    Victor Prikhodko / Getty Images

    Just in time for summer, we see a new crop of attractions—from entirely new water parks to one-of-a-kind water slides and interactive spray pads.​

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    Roller coaster
    DIGIcal / Getty Images

    Adrenaline-pumping thrill rides may get all the buzz in the theme park biz, but there's also a lot of tamer fun to be had for families with little kids. The good news is that theme parks are launching a lot of fun new attractions for the younger set this summer.

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    Disney cruise ship
    Sergey Yarmolyuk/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

    These days, nearly every cruise line welcomes families and offers activity programming for children, yet only a select few truly go above and beyond to meet the needs of cruising families. To choose a cruise line that’s right for your family, realize that cruise lines have distinctive personalities, just like families—some are boisterous and loud, some active and sporty, others more elegant and reserved.

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    Mother and toddler looking at lake
    stockstudioX / Getty Images

    Many hotels and resorts say they welcome babies and toddlers, but few truly give young families the support they need to relax on vacation. Here's the cream of the crop in vacation providers that get it right.

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    Father and Son Walking on Golf Course
    Scott Barrow / Getty Images

    The best family golf resorts don't just give lip service to being kid-friendly; they offer special kid tees, super instruction for junior golfers, and plenty of opportunities for families to play together.

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    Disney World castle
    Courtesy of Disney

    At twice the size of Manhattan, Walt Disney World encompasses four theme parks, 24 resorts, two water parks, five golf courses, as well as dining and entertainment galore. Best of all, there's always something new to look forward to.

    Explore hotel options at Disney World

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    Dinosaur National Monument
    InSapphoWeTrust/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    When "Jurassic World" broke box-office records, folks regained a fascination about dinosaurs all over again. Here's where to take your dinosaur-loving kid on a prehistoric adventure.​

    Edited by ​Suzanne Rowan Kelleher