As the weather warms up, and families start making summer vacation plans, why not consider a mountain escape? These destinations offer cooler weather and most have outdoor activities for kids. Summer mountain vacations allow for plenty of time in nature, and unique experiences for everyone. We asked fellow travel writers to share some of their favorite mountain getaways, and they shared some of the coolest places in the US!
Mountain Getaways Your Kids will Love
Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine
We absolutely loved heading to Acadia National Park in the summertime. While not a traditional mountain destination, the only national park in the northeastern United States is an oasis for hiking and exploring.
Located just outside Bar Harbor, Acadia is filled with gentle mountains and hills that make for perfect climbing and stunning views. Its core is on an island, so getting up high will provide glorious water vistas. And it’s not just mountainous – water lovers have access to several beach areas right within the park.
When you’re done exploring, head back into Bar Harbor for some top notch seafood and other cuisines. You’ll love strolling through the quaint town and feeling the New England vibes! Preethi of Local Passport Family
Adirondack Mountains, New York
One of the best and lesser-known mountain escapes in the United States is located in Upstate New York. The Adirondacks is a huge state park, home to thousands of mountains, lakes, and rivers. The area is a popular destination for families year-round, but summer brings the best weather and opportunities for outdoor adventure.
Most families visiting the area will say camping is the best way really experience the area, but there are many amazing resorts in the Adirondacks, especially in the Lake Placid area.
Outdoor activities in the Adirondacks do not disappoint. Visitors can enjoy some of the best hiking in the country, as well as boating, kayaking, swimming, and rock climbing! In addition to outdoor activities, the Adirondacks are home to many different museums, and opportunities to learn about the area, such as The Wild Center, and the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. This summer mountain escape is perfect for families because it truly does offer a wide variety of activities for all interests, and is also one of the most beautiful state parks in the country. Amanda of Patsey Family Travels
Your Aspen vacation begins with an exciting drive along Independence Pass to town. This winding, breath-taking drive takes you above 12,000 feet in elevation before you descend into Aspen.
Summer adventures in Aspen include renting bikes for an easy-going ride along the Rio Grande, hiking to Crater Lake at the base of the Maroon Bells, and taking the Silver Queen Gondola up to the Aspen Summit for lunch, fantastic views, hiking, and disc golf.
The Lost Forest adventure park in neighboring Snowmass is also a hit, as well as nearby white-water rafting adventures. For a splurge, drive to the end of Castle Creek Road, take a quiet hike, then double-back to Pine Creek Cookhouse where you can dine with amazing views.
Strongly consider an easy day trip to Glenwood Springs for a rejuvenating hot springs dip or hike to Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock Falls (permits and reservations required for this popular summer hike).
There are many shops and restaurants in downtown Aspen, as well as a grocery store for all of your needs. We suggest staying in a vacation home in nearby Snowmass Village to make the most of your summer mountain escape. Tanya of Colorado Hikes and Hops
Attitash Mountain Resort, Barlett, New Hampshire
Attitash Mountain Resort, located in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, is typically known as a popular ski resort. However, in the summer, it is transformed into a fun adventure park that is an enjoyable place to visit with the family. There’s a resort right at the mountain making it an easy vacation, or you can stay at one of the many nearby hotels and resorts.
Guests visiting Attitash in the summer will have several activity options. You can choose to purchase tickets for just single attractions, or buy full day or half day tickets which include everything except the zip line tour (which must be reserved in advance and is a separate fee).
When we visit with our teens, we choose the full day tickets as well as the zip line. Arrive early, as the lines, especially on the weekends, can be long. Activities include waterslides, a bungee trampoline, a rock wall, slack lines, chairlift rides, mountain biking, a gondola ride, alpine slides, and a mountain coaster. Jodi of Family Travel Magazine
Cedar Breaks, Utah
Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah is a perfect mountain getaway for the whole family. Enjoy several hikes throughout the area with scenic views of green mountains and red rock arches and hoodoos. Twice a week, volunteer rangers whip out some telescopes for some stargazing. We were amazed to see the spot on Jupiter and the rings around Saturn. It was fascinating for kids and adults.
Camp in the campground, or grab a hotel in Cedar City, Utah. Cedar Breaks is close to several other fun activities, like Mammoth Caves (not the one in Tennessee), lakes and other state parks. Cedar City has several fast-food and sit-down restaurants, so if cooking over a campfire isn’t your thing, there are options. Jason from Carltonaut’s Travel Tips
Copper Mountain, Colorado
Ski resorts can be just as much fun in the summer as they are in the winter and Copper Mountain is no exception. Renting a condo in Copper Mountain Village at the base of the mountain offers plenty of room for families and easy access to activities.
Copper Mountain is perfect for active families, offering mountain biking, hiking, disc golf, a mountain coaster, and even a snowboarding park. Even younger kids will enjoy village activities like bumper boats, a rock climbing wall, go-karting, and even a zip line. When we were there, there was also a Ninja Warrior obstacle course for those that like a challenge.
During normal times, there are festivals taking place every weekend from burger and beers to jazz music. Just keep in mind that the elevation may require a little getting used to before you exert yourselves too much. Tamara of We3Travel
Looking for more Colorado vacation spots? Don’t miss these mountain towns in Colorado!
Donner Lake, California
Located 20 miles from much larger Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake is the perfect summer mountain escape for families who desire a more intimate backdrop for their water sports. Enjoy everything from water skiing and wind surfing to Stand-up-Paddle and jet skiing, in the shadow of the surrounding mountains covered with dense pine forests. Book your stay at the Donner Lake Village Resort and you’ll not only be within walking distance of all the fun, you’ll be lakeside too!
Launch your own boat from the Donner Lake Boat Ramp or rent a vessel at the adjacent marina. If your crew is more focused on building sandcastles than boat wakes, the West End Beach is a great destination. The beach offers a lot of amenities including lifeguards.
When you’re ready to move a little further inland, check out Truckee. The town’s historic downtown will take you back to the late 1840s when Truckee was known for logging. Today, visitors enjoy charming shops and kitschy restaurants instead. Kristine of Trekaroo
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Nestled deep in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas and surrounded by beautiful Beaver Lake, Eureka Springs is a low-key destination perfect for a summer mountain getaway.
Eureka Springs is known for its 60+ natural springs within the city limits. Some of the springs are even tucked away in small caves. When you visit it’s a must to find time to relax in a natural hot springs spa or head to the famous Bathhouse Row.
In the nearby hills, soaring Thorncrown Chapel is a beautiful wood and glass church worthy of a visit, if just for a few photos. If you are up for an adventure, just south is the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge which is home to big cats and bears. Alexa of 52 Perfect Days
Fallen Leaf Lake, California
If you’re looking for a relaxing retreat in nature, camping at Fallen Leaf Lake is a perfect family vacation. This campground sits next to a crystal clear alpine lake surrounded by tall snow-capped mountains. Lake Tahoe is a 10-minute bike ride away. After hiking the Rubicon Trail, you can eat at the restaurants of South Lake Tahoe. Kids especially love the family-friendly Sprouts Cafe where a California-inspired hodgepodge of burrito bowls, vegan sandwiches and smoothies are served just a block from the lake shore. Jenna of This is My Happiness
Gatlinburg sits right up against the Tennessee side of Great Smokey Mountains National Park providing plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. Downtown Gatlinburg is full of fun shops and activities that kids will enjoy…a lot of them are a little bit cheesy but I think that is part of the fun.There is a Ripley’s Aquarium, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, a Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini Golf, and more. For mini golf, I recommend Hillbilly Golf – you ride up a tram in the mountains to play. The steep ride up and down was what we thought was the most fun.
My recommendation for “don’t miss it” in Gatlinburg is the newly opened SkyLift Park. A ski lift ride up, a thrilling suspension bridge with spectacular views and an observation deck, gift shop/refreshment area make this a really cool place to hang out in summer.
You can also venture into nearby Pigeon Forge and explore the Dollywood parks. Favorite restaurants: Pancake Pantry (DO.NOT.MISS.) and Landshark Bar and Grill (part of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg). There are a lot of other places to eat pancakes as well and a lot of franchise places to eat if you want something familiar. Jill at Ripped Jeans and Bifocals
Jackson Wyoming is one of our favorite mountain escapes in the summer. It’s within a couple of miles of Grand Teton National Park, and there are so many amazing things to do and see right there. Our favorite thing to do there is to go rafting as a family, and I love that the river there provides both whitewater and scenic float trips so it suits all ages really well.
We also love hiking in the Tetons since there are so many different trails. Most of the best trails in the area end at lakes and waterfalls which always feels perfect on a hot summer day. Our kids especially love hiking between String Lake and Leigh Lake since most of the hike goes along the lakeshore, and the water is so clear that you can see fish swimming as you hike by. Our favorite way to end the day is with a visit to Granite Hot Springs for a swim and then staying up late to stare at the stars together. Jessica of Bring the Kids
Mammoth Mountain, California
Mammoth Mountain in California is a major ski resort but summer days bring activities and adventures. The Adventure Center offers gemstone mining, rock wall climbing, zip lining, bungee trampolines and ropes courses. Visitors can take a scenic gondola ride to the 11,000+ feet summit. Families can explore the summit area for self-guided tours stopping at several learning stations.
Mammoth has a bike park with 80+ miles of singletrack for downhill and cross-county mountain biking and a Discovery Zone for beginners. Get an adrenaline rush with the guided Via Ferrata climbing adventure. This network of six routes uses steel cables and iron rungs attached to the cliff’s rocks. This can be a wonderful family challenge.
Shuttles take visitors to nearby Devils Postpile National Monument. This geologic wonder has many 60-foot hexagonal basalt columns. There are about eight miles of scenic hiking trails and one leading to the beautiful Rainbow Falls which has great picnic spots. There are also hikes in Mammoth Lakes, fishing, kayaking and boating. Mary of The World is a Book
Massanutten Resort in Virginia is an easy getaway from Washington DC with awesome amenities and local adventures. Guests of the resort can swim, golf, hike, and ride horses.
The property has its own indoor/outdoor water park, an adventure park with zip lining, ropes course, and tubing, and a mountain bike park. Families will enjoy all of the action at the resort, as well as its delicious restaurants and fabulous accommodations. Be sure to spend a day exploring nearby Shenandoah National Park and Luray Caverns. Kirsten
Mount Rainier, Washington
Take a hike up Mount Rainier and you will be able to tell all of your friends that you climbed an active volcano. A road trip is worth the drive from Seattle or Portland. There are several family-friendly hikes at Mount Rainier National Park, but our favorite is right near the Paradise Lodge. If you are lucky, you will snag a room at the Paradise Lodge and have several days to explore the park. There is a cafe and restaurant inside if you want to eat, but check opening hours. The lodge is also seasonal, but you should be safe in summer.
Wander the visitor’s center or start hiking up any number of trails leading out from Paradise. We love the Glacier Vista trail, which gives you gorgeous views of the summit. Most impressive of all is watching the snowboarders and skiers hiking up to the bowl of Mt. Rainier, which has snow year round. Keep an eye out for wildlife. You are sure to see smaller critters, and hear a marmot, but bears also roam the area. Just remember, the animals were here first and keep your distance! Keryn of Walking On Travels
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pennsylvania
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA (just outside Pittsburgh) is setting a new standard of five-star service from a distance. Situated on 2,000 acres in rural Pennsylvania and within a 5-hour drive of Philadelphia, DC, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Nemacolin offers a ton of activities for families staying at the resort, including a private movie theater, shooting academy, fly-fishing experience, a private safari tour, miles of hiking trails, and miniature golf. It’s the perfect place to getaway with family and friends.
Park City, Utah
Park City is the perfect summer escape for all ages. The town offers adventure activities, weekly concerts, unique boutiques and restaurants, and even luxury spas. Families should head to Utah Olympic Park where they can zip line, try extreme tubing, and even ride on the summer bobsled. Take a stroll along historic Main Street where you can shop, check out art galleries, go to the movies, or grab a bite to eat at Wasatch Brew Pub (the best burgers) followed by Java Cow ice cream for dessert.
Other fun events include Concerts at the Canyons, the weekly farmers market, mountain biking, golfing, fly fishing, or river rafting on the Weber River. Stay at the Hyatt Centric resort, and you can enjoy all of its amenities and be in the heart of it all. Finn of Kids Are A Trip
Heading to Park City? Read these tips about how to spend a weekend in Park City, Utah!
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho, is perfect for outdoor adventure loving families. From Idaho hot springs and mountain biking to fly fishing and white water rafting, horseback riding and hiking to golfing and skeet shooting, Sun Valley and the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains have it all. The best part, you can get as dirty as you like during the day, and then come back to the Sun Valley Lodge for the most relaxing stay – complete with a 20,000 square foot spa!
During the summer, make sure to stop by the farmers market for incredible sweets, fruits and breads. Feast at the Ram, the original Sun Valley restaurant and order the lamb or the bass. Before you leave, make sure you watch the sunset from Hole 5 on White Clouds golf course. Jade of Vagabond3
A visit to Telluride with kids is bound to be full of adventure. You can opt to stay in Telluride Mountain Village, just a 13-mile free gondola ride away, or call the town of Telluride home for the duration.
A visit to the site of Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery is a must along the main street in Town, as is a quick stop to see the Telluride Historical Museum where your kids can actually pan for hidden gems. Families come to this destination year after year and highly recommend “Baked in Telluride” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Of course, the kids will love the ride up to Mountain Village, where they can browse at Dylan’s Candy Bar and enjoy the outside activities like s’mores and lawn chess. For older kids and parents who crave more adventure, check out the heart-stopping Via Ferrata. Debra of Finding Debra
Whitefish, Montana is a great place to visit in summer. Located in foothills of a ski mountain on the west side of the Glacier National Park, it is perfect for mountain adventures.
Ride the ski lifts to Whitefish Mountain Resort for some exciting adventures on the mountain. There are ziplines, alpine slides, hiking trails and an aerial adventure park on top of the mountain. My favorite was soaring high above the ski slopes and over the trees on Montana’s longest zip line tour. You fly 300 feet about the forest floor on six separate lines some stretching nearly 2000 ft. across. Best experience ever!
During summer and fall seasons, chairlifts and gondolas are fitted with bike racks, so you can ride mountain bike down the ski runs. Have lunch at the Summit House which is the only mountain top restaurant in all of Montana. Don’t miss riding on alpine slides located on the base of the mountain.
If you love waking up to mountain views and cozying up to a crackling fire in the evenings, stay at the Kandahar Lodge near Whitefish Mountain Resort. For a thrilling experience, drive the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park which is considered one of the top 10 national park experiences. There are so many things to do in Glacier National Park and it is only 35 miles from Whitefish. Priya of Outside Suburbia
Check out these additional things to do in Whitefish in summer!
Winter Park, Colorado
Winter Park and the surrounding area, including Tabernash, Granby and Grand Lake, has so much for families to do, it’s definitely not just for winter time!
Summer up in the Rocky Mountains is the best time to go hiking and biking. If you’re looking for some beautiful scenery this is the time to go.
Now, if you’re more interested in different activities you’ll also find downhill sledding, yup, you heard that right! It’s super fun and can be totally controlled by you so you basically can go as slow or as fast as you’d like. You’ll also find miniature golf, climbing wall, ropes courses and tubing. Cassie of White Sands and Cool Breezes