The Best Trips to Take With Your Grandkids

Mountain across cityscape, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, Europe
Photo: Sofie Delauw/Getty Images

Baby Boomers are becoming both grandparents and retirees, and their travel — four to five leisure trips this year according to a recent AARP Travel Trends survey — frequently includes grandchildren. The same survey indicates that 57 percent of trips involve spending time with family and friends, including multi-generational travel. For Baby Boomers surveyed, cost is less of an obstacle than for millennials and Gen-X respondents (ages 20-36 and 37-52, respectively). With both the resources and the desire to provide travel experiences for their grandchildren, many are hitting the road together. It’s an opportunity to get to know the grandkids as well as to create memories and strengthen bonds. Just like kids, grandparents come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of interests and abilities. We’ve put together a list that should help get some vacation ideas going.

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Orlando, Florida

Epcot at Disneyworld, Orlando
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Orlando offers extensive hotel options as well as over a dozen theme parks, including Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and Universal Studios, with new attractions added each year.

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San Diego, California

Museums in Balboa Park

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San Diego provides not only perfect weather, but the renowned San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld, Aquatica Waterpark, and Legoland as well as beaches and Balboa Park museums.

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Los Angeles, California

"The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter" At Universal Studios Hollywood
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L.A. is home to Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and nearby Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. The Long Beach Aquarium, California Science Center with the Space Shuttle Endeavor, miles of beaches, and sunny weather add to the appeal.

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Maui, Hawaii

An older couple walking down a path along the beach by surfboards

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Maui’s Grand Wailea Resort boasts a water park, slides, rope swing, and six-level pool for kids as well as activities like lei making, hula lessons, and a chocolate-coconut massage at the spa. The adults-only Hibiscus pool, beach, and ocean activities add something for everyone.

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Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah Island, South Carolina
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Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston, South Carolina offers pools, nature programs, teen games and bonfire night, camps for 3- to 7-year-olds, and adventure activities for 8- to 15-year-olds. There’s also golf, a luxury spa, paddling, kayaking, and motorboat tours plus walking and biking trails.

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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
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Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, with a choice of rooms, suites, or cottages, provides a perfect location in one of the country’s most beautiful national parks, custom bus tours, a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, guided hikes, climbing wall, kids’ adventure course, and five dining venues.

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Terracotta soldiers in the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, China
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Adventures by Disney offers worldwide destinations and trips ranging from four days to two weeks with activities and experiences for both adults and kids. Their 12-day China trip includes two days in Hong Kong, a stop at the Great Wall, and the thrilling Terracotta Warriors and Horses World Heritage site. A Tai-Chi lesson, giant panda viewing, and visits to Disneyland in both Hong Kong and Shanghai are included.

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Safari in Ngorongoro Crater National park. Tanzania.
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Thomson Family Adventures specializes in family travel, accommodating various ages and interests on both domestic and international trips. For kids 12 and over, a Tanzania safari would be an exciting adventure. In their private refuge, guests see giraffes, gazelles, wildebeest, and more. The Ngorongoro Crater, a visit to a local school, and legends from a Maasai storyteller are on the itinerary.

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Quebec City, Canada
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Tauck, voted one of Travel + Leisure’s top tour operators, plans family trips with destinations that include national parks, safaris, and worldwide cities. Their “Canada’s Capital Cities plus Niagara Falls” vacation explores Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City with stays at luxurious Fairmont Hotels. A cruise on the St. Lawrence River and a visit to Niagara Falls are included.

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Mountain across cityscape, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, Europe
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Classic Journeys will arrange walking, hiking, cultural, culinary adventures, and more in North America and around the world. Trips include activities like mountain biking, zip lining, crafts, games, and time for separate adult-focused activities. Their seven-day tour of Sicily includes visits to Agrigento, Siracusa, and Taormina to see amazing archaeological sites from the ancient Greeks and Romans. A visit to Mt. Etna, Sicily’s active volcano, and a ferry ride to a nearby island are included.

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Grand Canyon

Kayaking, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, Arizona
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REI Adventures takes their guests all over the world, from the Alps to Patagonia and throughout national parks. Active itineraries geared to adults, teens, and younger kids are managed by skilled guides and support staff who keep everyone engaged and delighted. A Grand Canyon trip includes hiking, paddling Lake Powell’s waters among sandstone canyons, and exploring Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley while learning about Arizona’s geological and natural history.

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River Rafting

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OARS offers adventures ranging from whitewater rafting to hiking, kayaking, fishing, and exploring national parks, rivers, and international destinations. They provide healthy, locally sourced food, trained guides, games and toys for the kids, and excitement for everyone. River rafting trips on the Tuolumne River in California’s gorgeous Yosemite National Park include whitewater thrills, hikes among canyons, and time to explore among waterfalls and wilderness.

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European River Cruise

Amawaterways Cruise
Courtesy of AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways and Adventures by Disney European river cruises have taken the traditionally adult vacation and reinvented it for younger guests by adding specialized staff, connecting staterooms, and kids-geared food, onboard entertainment, cool excursions, and heated pools. Disney Cruise Line’s four-ship oceangoing fleet offers family-friendly staterooms, Disney-style entertainment, musicals, fireworks, pools, and Disney characters on board.

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Caribbean Cruise

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has a 25-ship fleet that includes the new Symphony of the Seas, a 16-deck ship with plenty of kid-focused entertainment such as glow-in-the dark laser tag, an ice-skating rink, water slides, rock climbing wall, arcade, surf simulators, and a zip line. No worries – there’s a lot to offer for adults too.

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Small Ship Cruise

Small Cruise in Alaska
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Lindblad Expeditions partners with National Geographic on its small ship voyages where guests connect with nature while snorkeling, paddling kayaks, or exploring the Galapagos or Alaska along with certified educators and naturalists. Adults and kids alike will enjoy the adventures.

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