Can you imagine if your grandparent was a travel writer? TravelAwaits writers’ grandkids are pretty lucky! We turned to our experts for the best multi-generational vacations that grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy together. Some are attractions and some are cities — all are great fun for young and old alike!
1. The Children’s Museum Of Indianapolis
Freelance and travel writer Robin O’Neal Smith says The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is an awesome place for a multigenerational visit. “There is so much to see and do, grandchildren will be entertained for the entire day and won’t want to leave. As an adult, I found it interesting and was entertained. There are phenomenal exhibits, indoor and outdoor activities, a snack bar, and more,” says Smith.
“Some of the fun things to do for kids include the Carousel Wishes and Dreams, The Lilly Theater, The Fireworks of Glass, Playscape, Science Works, Treasures of the Earth, and more,” says Smith. Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience will entertain sports lovers. Adults and children alike will enjoy the “Take Me There®: Greece” and “Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience” exhibits. Smith wrote about 15 Travel Industry Careers Barbie Has Had Since 1959 and said it was great to reminisce about Barbie’s past. Weather permitting, kids and adults can enjoy outdoor activities such as baseball, football, soccer, racing, hockey, basketball, golf, tennis, a climbing adventure, and more.
2. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts
Travel blogger Melody Pittman and her granddaughter took an RV trip to a Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort, which has several locations throughout the country. “We stayed at Yogi on the Lake in Pelahatchie, Mississippi, not far from her house. She had just turned two, so we wanted to stay close in case she didn’t survive an overnight,” Pittman explains.
They got a spot right on the lake and enjoyed watching the turtles, ducks, and fish. Since it was a Jellystone Resort, there were dozens of activities. Pittman says “they were even more fun since the Halloween festivities, like the S’mores and Halloweenie roast, had begun.” From karaoke and a jump pad to a gorgeous swimming pool and a splash pad, “there isn’t a dull moment at this family-friendly campground,” says Pittman.
Pittman is an experienced RV’er, but you don’t have to own a camper or RV to stay at a Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort. Camp in a tent or glamp in a cabin — some locations even have yurts you can stay in! Pittman says that the cabins at this particular campground have great porches, furniture, and grills. “Rent a golf cart so you can properly explore every nook and cranny of this awesome property,” she suggests.
3. Alaskan Cruise
When freelance writer and travel blogger Kara Williams’ children were younger, the family went on an Alaskan cruise. “When my children were 8 and 10, my husband and I took them and their grandmothers on a Holland America cruise to Alaska. A cruise is a fabulous multi-generational vacation since the ship offers activities for everyone to enjoy — from the spa and casino to kids’ clubs and a pool. While there are plenty of opportunities to make memories together, separate staterooms allow everyone to have their own private space, too!” recalls Williams.
“Alaska is a particularly great destination for a multi-generational cruise since the shore excursions are so interactive and fun. We took the grandmas on a helicopter tour of a glacier as well as ziplining in the forest. We all loved these active tours, but there are more mellow activities — including wheelchair-accessible excursions — too,” says Williams. She says standing at the handrail on a top deck “spotting wildlife and admiring ice-blue glaciers that dot the sea,” is another fun activity for everyone.
4. The Maryland Zoo
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is travel writer Desiree Rew’s favorite place to spend time with her 2-year-old grandson. Formerly known as “The Baltimore Zoo,” the 135-plus acre zoo opened in 1876, which makes it one of the oldest zoos in the country. The Baltimore native grew up going to the zoo, then took her son as a child. Now, she enjoys sharing the experience with a new generation.
“Feed the penguins, stretch your neck like a giraffe, watch elephants, move your arms like the birds, go on an African safari, and tell your grandma what sound the monkeys make,” are a few of The Maryland Zoo experiences Rew likes to share with her grandson.
With easy accessibility from downtown Baltimore, the zoo is popular with both Charm City locals and out-of-towners alike. Rew notes that it features play areas where grandkids can make new friends while grandparents get some rest. “Special events throughout the year, [make] going to the zoo a fresh experience each time you visit,” she says.
5. Marble Falls, Texas
“Nestled in the Texas Hill Country about an hour’s drive northwest of Austin lies the quaint town of Marble Falls,” travel writer and road trip enthusiast Kim Croisant tells us. “The town boasts many lakes, kid-friendly parks, and a charming, walkable historic downtown. But the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s plenty to keep families busy for an entire weekend, from guided cave tours, hiking and biking trails, and kayaking on Lake Marble Falls,” she describes.
The proud Texas native is raising her 11-year-old grandson, taking him and her pups on as many trips as possible. Last year, they road-tripped down to the Texas town in October and stumbled upon fun fall festivities at Sweet Berry Farm. They picked beautiful zinnias, went on a hayride, gobbled up grilled corn, and stuffed a scarecrow for the first time. In the spring, the area is also one of the best places to see bluebonnets in bloom. “We both think Marble Falls is a place to visit more than once,” Croisant exclaims.
6. Vero Beach, Florida
Pittman’s granddaughter Scarlett loves visiting her grandparents in Vero Beach. The 3-year-old came for a staycation last summer. “Vero Beach has a superb family-friendly attraction,” Pittman proclaims. Not only is the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) educational, but it’s also great for nature hikes and getting out on the water. “We also have many parks with excellent playgrounds,” says Pittman. “Scarlett loves going to the splash pad at Royal Palm Pointe (fishing is available, too) and eating oceanside at Waldo’s or getting ice cream at Kilwin’s.”
“Vero Beach has terrific beaches, and any kid would be thrilled to splash in the surf and build sandcastles. We drove to Round Island around 4 p.m. each evening to see the manatees and often visited the independent Vero Beach Book Center. Depending on when you visit, there may be shows at the Riverside Children’s Theatre. On Scarlett’s next visit, I want to take her to Skate Factory and see what she thinks of roller skating,” says the proud grandmother.
7. St. Augustine, Florida
“If heading south, St. Augustine is a fantastic place to take your grandkids when they are about 8 or older,” according to Smith. “There are so many things to do and learn, your grandkids will not be bored, and you will enjoy it too. There is so much history in the St. Augustine area that kids are not taught in schools. I learned new things when I was there and found it fascinating.”
“There are more than 60 historic sites and attractions to enjoy in the nation’s oldest city. Take the tram around the city to see the highlights and learn what your grandkids are most interested in and then make a return visit to those places. A few that I recommend are the Fountain of Youth Park, Ripley’s Believe it or Not (the original one), the iconic Castillo de San Marcos fort, the Bridge of Lions, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse. If your grandkids are animal lovers, they will enjoy the GTM Research Reserve to view the turtles, fish, and snakes. There are beaches, golf courses, art and culture, and so much more,” says Smith, who assures us that “St. Augustine will delight visitors of all ages.”
8. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
“Our grandchildren were in town for the best train ride ever,” says Fort-Worth-based travel writer and photographer Janie H. Pace. “The Knight Sky Car, pulled by the famous #473 locomotive, was a charming ride, allowing beautiful photos of the tracks, the Animas River, and snow-covered San Juan mountains,” says Pace about the experience.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s historic coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive has been transporting passengers through the scenic Rocky Mountains since 1882. The powerful hissing train winds in and out of canyons along the same tracks that cowboys, miners, and early settlers took over a century ago. It pulls 8–10 cars on the 45-mile spur of the Denver & Rio Grande rail line.
The trip from Durango to Silverton, Colorado, and back takes 3.5 hours each way. Elevations vary from 6,520–9,300 feet. While the train can travel at up to 18 miles per hour, it slows to 5 miles per hour for the steepest climb. Two hours are allowed in the historic mining town of Silverton for lunch and brief exploration. Tickets include admission to the D&SNGRR Museum.
“We made the return trip via the motorcoach along the 52 miles of magnificent snow-filled mountain terrain on the San Juan Skyway,” Pace explains. “You also have the option to return to Durango on the train in your exact seat, learning more history of the area.”