This blog was guest written by Shannon Leyerle, a local mom and owner of Vacations by Shannon.
Since getting lost at Disneyland at age seven, Shannon hasn’t stopped creating new adventures. Shannon is a graduate of Baylor University and taught school in Cy-Fair I.S.D. and Tomball I.S.D. before retiring to stay home with her kids. She loved planning vacations as they grew up (see her family travel photos next to each recommended vacation 🤍), and now she loves helping other families have great experiences. As a professional travel advisor, she enjoys finding just the right ingredients to plan amazing vacations for her clients at Vacations by Shannon.
Once my children reached school age, I cherished my summers with them more than ever. Between sports camps, Vacation Bible School, and art lessons, I made sure that there was plenty of time for drawing with sidewalk chalk, riding bikes, and reading library books. But I also found myself counting the summers we had left before the oldest would finish high school and head off to college.
Summers with kids at home were a limited quantity, and I was determined to make the most of the years we had. So I made a list of vacations, focusing on the ones I most wanted to take. I planned one for every two or three years so that we could save for big trips on the off years. And for the most part, we stuck to the list and enjoyed some amazing vacations that we still talk about today.
Now, as a professional travel advisor planning trips for families, these are six trips that I recommend for family summer vacations:
San Diego is a great option for a first family vacation. There are plenty of things to do that will entertain preschoolers and up. I recommend visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a newer addition to the famous zoo. Sea World San Diego is also nearby and will keep kids of all ages engaged. Legoland California Resort, about 30 miles from San Diego, has expanded to include a theme park, water park, hotels, and an aquarium. Whether or not your kids are fans of the colorful building blocks, they’ll have a great time at this kid-centered amusement park. And of course, you wouldn’t want to leave Southern Cailfornia without a visit to the beach!
Yosemite National Park/San Francisco
It’s hard to get bored in Yosemite National Park, because there are so many different things to see. Rock formations? Check. Waterfalls? Yes. Giant Sequoias? Of course! Everywhere you look, there’s something to amaze even the most skeptical teen. And when you’ve had enough of the great outdoors, head back to San Francisco for even more fun. The Exploratorium is an interactive museum that will mesmerize kids and adults alike. The Golden Gate Bridge is amazing to see, and a tour of Alcatraz Island will be a highlight of your trip.
Boston, Massachusetts brings history to life. Walk the Freedom Trail and see Paul Revere’s home and the Old North Church. Stroll around Harvard Square and stop to tour the poet Longfellow’s home, which served as General Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Venture out to Concord and Lexington to see where the Revolutionary War began and visit the Orchard House, the childhood home of Louisa May Alcott. When your family has had enough history, you’ll want to see the Red Sox play at Fenway Park. And the best way to end your trip? Head out to Cape Cod for some time on the beach.
Disney World is the ultimate family vacation destination. The themed resorts, interactive restaurants, and amazing attractions truly transport guests to a place of magic. Whatever your interests are, from Frozen to Star Wars, there really is something for everyone. Staying at a Disney resort entitles guests to perks and guarantees pixie dust for the entirety of your vacation. You may want to plan your trip to include the 50th Anniversary Celebration, which begins on October 1, 2021 and runs for 18 months. And if you’re a muggle in search of some magic, it’s easy to add a day or two at Universal Orlando to enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is so majestic that it almost doesn’t seem real. It is jaw-dropping in its grandeur, and at 18 miles wide and one mile deep, it has to be seen to really be believed. I recommend hiring a guide or paying for a group excursion in order to get the most out of your visit. Pair this trip with a visit to Sedona, Arizona. Red Rock Country offers great hiking, and a Jeep tour is a fun way to check out the formations. Teens will find plenty of Insta-worthy shots.
Oahu, known as the “Gathering Place” has a little bit of everything to offer families. Watch the surfers on Waikiki Beach and explore Diamond Head, a volcanic crater and one of Hawaii’s most recognizable sites. Hike through a rainforest, snorkel in turquoise waters, and visit a pineapple plantation. And of course, at Pearl Harbor National Memorial your children will learn about one of the most pivotal events in U.S. history. End your trip with a traditional luau, something your kids won’t soon forget.
There are so many places to visit, and experiencing new places and experiences with your children is one of the most enjoyable things about being a parent. So make your list, plan, save, and get ready for some incredible adventures and wonderful memories!