Family adventure vacations include activities like hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and more. They can also be some of the most memorable vacations you’ll experience! Think of activities that get your heart rate up, challenge you, and get you active outdoors. Our family loves destination adventure vacations because they provide an opportunity to explore other cultures and you can enjoy fun activities while surrounded by amazing natural wonders all around the world.
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15 Best Vacations for Families Who Love Adventure
Adventure vacations offer flexibility and can involve the interests of every family member. They also can be a great option for multigenerational families.
You can book expert guides to take you on off-the-beaten-path experiences. Perhaps your family prefers a road trip, backpacking, and enjoying quality time together while taking on challenging hikes and fast-paced adventures! Whichever travel style you prefer, there’s an adventure out there for you. Here are the best vacation destinations for families who love adventure.
1. Costa Rica
The diverse landscapes you’ll find in Costa Rica make it an adventure lover’s dream! Plan a family trip in this beautiful Central American country and you’ll have rainforests, golden beaches, and lush rainforests at your disposal.
I recommend flying into San José and leaving from Liberia. By doing this you save driving time, and we definitely thought Costa Rica roads were best left to the experts! Here’s a Costa Rica itinerary to help plan your trip!
Be sure to explore the hanging bridges, go white water rafting, swim in thermal springs, and take an epic rainforest hike through Arenal Volcano National Park. Don’t even get me started on the Costa Rica beaches, they are amazing!
Consider booking tours with private guides. This allows you to take your time and ooh and ahh over the amazing wildlife and scenery of Costa Rica!
For the ultimate outdoor adventure destination in North America, head to Alaska. The northernmost state is known for outdoor adventures and breathtaking landscapes.
When we went to Alaska, we joined UnCruise on one of their summer adventure cruises. These cruises are all about wilderness activities and going places the big ships can’t go. Adventures included everything from kayaking and bushwacking to exploring tidal pools!
While you’re in Alaska, you can join a once-in-a-lifetime Arctic Circle tour and see the Northern Lights. Another option is hiking the gorgeous Prince William Sound.
If you want to explore Alaska on your own, try and make it to Denali National Park where you will see tundras, alpine forests, snow-capped mountains, and possibly bears, caribou, or wolves!
There’s no place quite like Peru when it comes to family adventure vacations. You’ll find twenty-eight different climates, coastal deserts, part of the Amazon rainforest, the Peruvian Andes Mountains, the largest lake in South America, and miles of coastline.
A big draw to Peru for adventure tourists is the 600-year-old ruins of Machu Picchu high in the cloud forests of the Andes. Take the Vistadome Train there from Agua Calientes because it’s such a scenic ride!
You can also find tons of family-friendly things to do in the Amazon, like jungle hikes, kayaking, and visiting local indigenous groups.
Another excellent place for a family adventure vacation is the Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador. This can be an exciting trip for the whole family with each island offering something different!
Isabela Island is a must. It’s one of the most volcanic places on earth, and you can visit an active volcano if you book a guide!
There are sandy beaches and prime snorkeling spots on San Cristobal Island. And so many of the islands are great places for local wildlife viewing, like Santa Cruz Island, where the Charles Darwin Research Station is located.
In the warmer months, you can go rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking. One of the most popular things to do in Switzerland is going on a toboggan run. You can find them all over the mountains, the tallest one reaching 1350 feet high!
Head to the top of Europe in Jungfraujoch, take a jetboat ride in Interlaken, paddleboard on Lake Geneva, or go on a hike in the mountains and swim in Alpine lakes to cool off!
6. National Parks
Visiting the national parks should be on your list if you’re family loves adventure activities. The sky is the limit when it comes to national parks in the United States.
There are hundreds of parks across different ecosystems with different outdoor opportunities. Utah is a great option because of the five popular national parks there – Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon.
Our family visited Zion National Park near St. George in Utah and I highly recommend it! Everything you do in Zion has the backdrop of stunning red sandstone cliffs. You can hike forests, camp, or bike the Pa’rus Trail.
The nearby town of St. George also offers more thrilling fun with state parks where you can swim, fish, and go on ATV adventures.
7. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is bigger than it seems, and you can find a variety of options for family adventure vacations on the Caribbean Island.
You can go deep diving in La Parguera and see manta rays, colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.
The mountains and jungles of Puerto Rico must be explored, both by land and underground! Book a guided hike through the mysterious Río Camuy Cave Park with more than 10 miles of underground rivers to explore. And of course El Yunque rainforest can’t be missed!
Another option is to hike Toro Negro State Forest and see cloud forests and cascading waterfalls. No matter what your family loves to do, they are sure to find it in Puerto Rico!
The North African country of Morocco is a fascinating place full of medieval mountain cities and desert oasis villages. It’s also an amazing trip for adventure seekers.
Explore the narrow streets of the ancient blue city of Chefchaouen or go sandboarding down the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Spend time wandering the souks in Marrakech and book a stay in a riad. They are all part of the quintessential Morocco experience.
When my family went to Morocco, we went with G Adventures on a National Geographic Family Journeys tour. It’s a great way to try a variety of unique experiences around food, culture, and adventure.
9. New Zealand
A trip to New Zealand should be on every family’s bucket list! It’s an absolutely beautiful destination with breathtaking scenery, interesting culture, and a wide range of adventure activities.
Enjoy family time on a cruise of the Milford Sound for stunning mountain peaks, waterfalls, and wildlife. Take a guided tour of the Waitomo caves and see the glow worms all around you while you glide through the underground river.
Every visitor to New Zealand should visit a Maori village and learn about the history of the indigenous culture. Real thrill-seekers in New Zealand won’t want to miss bungee jumping in Taupo.
The small country of Ecuador sits right on the equator in South America and offers adventurous families both the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Forest to explore.
The country is known for the sheer number of rivers running through the country, as well as countless water basins and lakes. Take the opportunity to canoe on a turquoise mountain lagoon or go whitewater rafting in the Amazon!
Mountain biking is a popular pastime with miles of trails running throughout the Baños region, which is also an adventure hot spot. For an exciting cultural experience, go horseback riding through the Andes Mountains with a Chagra (an Andean cowboy).
Iceland is one of those countries that you just have to see to believe. It almost feels otherworldly with oversaturated colors and towering geological formations shooting up from the rocky, flat ground.
Volcanic minerals in the soil create fascinating colors across every terrain, steam makes waterways feel dreamy, and then there are the Northern Lights. It’s the ultimate location for adventure family travel, and the country is much bigger than you realize!
You can see the popular Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, as well as unbelievable cascading waterfalls. To beat the crowds and do something different, I suggest a multi-day road trip to Glacier Lagoon with many stops along the way. You can explore behind waterfalls, hike gorges, and stroll along the striking Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach! Whale watching off the coast is a must.
For classic tourist experiences on the adventure vacation theme, you can book a Game of Thrones tour. These are small group tours where you can hike to film locations and hear fun facts about the books and the show.
12. Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is wonderful if you’re seeking a combination of relaxation and excitement. The Mexican city is infamous for its luxury resorts and beautiful beaches. However, the city is also home to fun adventure parks and tour companies, each with its own personality!
Xcaret Cancun is an interesting eco-adventure park with exciting things to do that are also educational.
The Xenotes Oasis Maya Tour is a family-geared company that takes you on adventures like rock climbing and exploring different cenotes in Cancun. Xel-Ha is an adventure park that offers waterslides, a natural lazy river, snorkeling, and more.
Xenses Park is one of the best with different sensory experiences. You walk through exhibits and go through different changes that use optical illusions and sensory deception. It’s so unique!
There’s also Xplor Park, where you can ride ziplines and swim in underground lagoons.
Don’t miss archaeological sites like the Coba and Chichen Itza ruins. Both are perfect for day trips and great if you’re visiting Cancun with teens.
If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, Maui is ideal for family adventure vacations. It’s the best island for a first-time visit to Hawaii, and everything is heavily geared toward families.
Of course, you have stunning golden sand beaches and entire resort communities along West Maui and tourist attractions in South Maui. The island is also packed with thrilling outdoor activities for the more adventurous families.
You can find tons of different hiking trails for all skill levels. I recommend booking a waterfall hike through the rainforest.
One thing you must do is watch a sunrise at Haleakala National Park, just be sure to pack layers as it can get quite cold!
Maui is also the best Hawaiian Island for whale-watching tours if you want to see migrating humpback whales in the spring.
Belize is a popular destination for family adventure vacations because it’s such a triple threat. The Central American country offers balmy Caribbean beaches, dense jungle forests, and multiple Mayan ruin locations! If you love to snorkel, come to Belize, where there you can snorkel year-round at different unique reefs.
One of the best snorkeling spots in Belize is the massive Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world! It’s also home to the Blue Hole, a formation over 1000 feet in diameter that can be seen from space! It’s great for older or younger kids and it’s a great place to see tropical fish.
For land adventures, visit Mayan ruins in the tropical rainforests around Belize. You can learn about this important 3000-year-old culture and explore towering ancient ruins.
If your family is looking for something unique, check out the Green Iguana Conservation Project in the Cayo District. Here you can feed and hold iguanas!
15. Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains is an almost 200,000-acre mountain range that covers portions of Tennessee and North Carolina on the east coast. It’s filled with rolling hills and beautiful old-growth forests, rare wildlife, and countless adventures to be had there.
Every season of the year offers a different experience when it comes to hiking and biking the countless miles of trails.
For the ultimate views of the mountains, see it from the air when you go ziplining with Legacy Mountain Ziplines. Enjoy a heart-racing white water rafting trip along Tennessee’s Pigeon River that’s perfect for the whole family.
If you’re looking for a camping adventure, go with REI Co-op Adventures. They have multi-day camping trips in the Smokies with all kinds of adventure activities.
Make Lasting Memories on One of These Family Adventure Vacations
When you think of a family vacation, you think of exciting excursions to new places. You want to feel alive and take every opportunity to make the best memories with your loved ones. You can still soak up history, culture, and beautiful scenery when you go on a family adventure vacation. In fact, I think it’s the best way!