Exciting Summer Places to Visit with Grandkids 2024

Summer months are the perfect time to plan a family vacation with the grandkids. The warm weather and long days provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun and quality time with the whole family. If you’re wondering where to go, here are some great options to make your summer vacation memorable.

As someone enjoying life after 50, finding the perfect places to take my grandkids during the summer months is a delightful task. The warm weather and long days provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun and quality time with the whole family.

Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, visit bustling theme parks, or enjoy some relaxing beach time, there’s something for every family member. If you’re wondering where to go, here are some great options to make your summer vacation memorable.

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Disney World, Florida

Disney World is a magical place for kids of all ages. The theme parks offer fun activities and attractions that cater to everyone in the family. From thrilling rides to enchanting parades, it’s a great place to create lasting memories.

Pros

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Variety of Attractions

With four major theme parks—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom—there’s something for everyone, from toddlers to grandparents. Each park has unique themes and attractions, providing endless entertainment options.

Entertainment and Parades

Disney World is renowned for its spectacular parades, fireworks shows, and live performances. These events add a special touch to your visit and create unforgettable experiences.

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Character Meet and Greets

Kids can meet their favorite Disney characters, which is often a highlight of the trip. These interactions are magical moments for children and make for great photo opportunities.

Accommodations and Dining

Disney World offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly to luxury resorts, many of which are themed and provide extra magic. Additionally, there are numerous dining options, including character dining experiences.

Convenience and Accessibility

Disney provides excellent transportation within the resort, including buses, monorails, and boats, making it easy to navigate between parks and hotels.

Family-Friendly Amenities

The parks are designed with families in mind, offering stroller rentals, baby care centers, and accessibility services for guests with disabilities.

Cons

Cost

A trip to Disney World can be expensive, with high costs for tickets, accommodations, food, and souvenirs. Budgeting carefully and planning in advance is crucial to managing expenses.

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Crowds

Disney World is a popular destination, especially during peak seasons like summer. Long lines and crowded areas can be challenging, particularly with young children.

Weather

Florida’s weather can be unpredictable, with hot and humid conditions during the summer months. Afternoon thunderstorms are common, so it’s essential to plan accordingly and stay hydrated.

Size and Complexity

The resort is vast, and planning a visit can be overwhelming. It requires careful scheduling to make the most of your time and see all the desired attractions.

Walking and Physical Demands

A day at Disney World involves a lot of walking, which can be tiring for both young children and older adults. It’s important to take breaks and pace yourselves.

Availability of FastPass and Reservations

Popular attractions and dining experiences often require advance reservations. The FastPass system (now replaced by Disney Genie+) can help reduce wait times but requires prior planning.

Despite the cons, Disney World remains a top choice for a family vacation, offering a magical experience that creates lifelong memories. With careful planning and consideration of the pros and cons, you can ensure a fun and enjoyable trip for the entire family.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is a beautiful destination with stunning beaches and charming towns. It’s the perfect place for a family vacation, offering activities like whale-watching cruises, bike rides along scenic trails, and enjoying homemade ice cream by the shore.

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Stunning Beaches

Cape Cod boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles with the grandkids. The serene environment is ideal for relaxation and beachcombing.

Whale-Watching Cruises

One of the most exciting activities in Cape Cod is going on a whale-watching cruise. These excursions provide a unique opportunity to see majestic whales in their natural habitat, a thrilling experience for both kids and adults.

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Scenic Bike Trails

Cape Cod has an extensive network of scenic bike trails, such as the Cape Cod Rail Trail. These paths are great for family bike rides, offering picturesque views of the coastline and charming towns.

Charming Towns

The quaint towns of Cape Cod, like Provincetown, Chatham, and Hyannis, offer a delightful mix of local shops, galleries, and historic sites. Exploring these towns provides a blend of cultural and recreational activities.

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Delicious Food

Cape Cod is famous for its fresh seafood and homemade ice cream. Enjoying a meal at a seaside restaurant or grabbing a cone at a local ice cream shop is a delightful way to spend time with the family.

Outdoor Activities

From kayaking and sailing to hiking and fishing, Cape Cod offers a wide range of outdoor activities that cater to all age groups. The natural beauty of the area makes it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Con

Crowds in Peak Season

Cape Cod is a popular summer destination, and it can get crowded during the peak season. This can lead to traffic congestion, limited parking, and crowded beaches.

Cost of Accommodation

The cost of staying in Cape Cod can be high, especially during the summer months. Accommodations, ranging from hotels to vacation rentals, tend to be more expensive during this time.

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Weather Variability

The weather in Cape Cod can be unpredictable. While summers are generally pleasant, rain and cool temperatures can occasionally disrupt outdoor plans.

Limited Nightlife

Cape Cod is more focused on family-friendly activities and has limited nightlife options. If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, this may not be the ideal destination.

Seasonal Attractions

Some attractions and activities in Cape Cod are seasonal, operating only during the summer months. It’s essential to check availability and plan your trip accordingly.

Transportation

While Cape Cod has public transportation, it can be limited. Renting a car is often necessary to explore the area fully, which adds to the overall cost of the trip.

Despite the cons, Cape Cod remains a charming and family-friendly destination that offers a mix of relaxation and adventure. With its stunning natural beauty and array of activities, it’s a perfect place to create wonderful summer memories with the grandkids.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is an excellent destination for a dose of nature and outdoor adventure. The park is home to geysers, hot springs, and wildlife, making it a great place for young children to explore and learn about the great outdoors.

Pros

Stunning Natural Wonders

Yellowstone is renowned for its geothermal features, including the famous Old Faithful geyser and vibrant hot springs like the Grand Prismatic Spring. These natural wonders provide a captivating and educational experience for children and adults alike.

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Abundant Wildlife

The park is a haven for wildlife, including bison, elk, bears, and wolves. Wildlife watching can be an exciting activity for kids, giving them a chance to see animals in their natural habitats.

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Scenic Beauty

With its vast landscapes, including mountains, forests, and rivers, Yellowstone offers breathtaking scenery. The park’s beauty is perfect for photography, picnics, and simply enjoying the great outdoors.

Educational Opportunities

Yellowstone has numerous visitor centers and educational programs that offer insights into the park’s geology, ecology, and history. Ranger-led programs and interactive exhibits make learning fun for kids.

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Outdoor Activities

The park provides a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, boating, and horseback riding. These activities are great ways to bond with family while exploring the park’s diverse environments.

Camping Options:

Yellowstone offers numerous campgrounds and backcountry camping opportunities. Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy some unplugged family time.

Cons

Crowds and Traffic

Yellowstone is a popular destination, and it can get crowded, especially during the peak summer months. This can lead to traffic congestion and difficulty finding parking at popular sites.

Remote Location

Yellowstone’s remote location means it can take a significant amount of time to reach, especially if you’re driving. The nearest major airports are a few hours away, requiring additional travel planning.

Variable Weather:

The weather in Yellowstone can be unpredictable, with temperatures varying widely even in the summer. It’s essential to pack for all conditions, including rain, wind, and cooler temperatures.

Limited Cell Service

Cell service is limited within the park, which can make it challenging to stay connected. While this can be a pro for those looking to disconnect, it may be inconvenient for those who need to stay in touch.

Safety Considerations

The presence of wildlife and geothermal features means safety is a critical concern. Visitors need to follow park guidelines closely to avoid dangerous encounters with animals and accidents around hot springs and geysers.

Accessibility

While many of the main attractions are accessible by car, some areas and trails may be challenging for those with mobility issues. Planning ahead and choosing accessible routes and activities is essential.

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San Diego Zoo, California

San Diego Zoo is one of the best places to take young kids. When my kids were small, they loved visiting here and were fascinated by all the animals.

The zoo offers interactive exhibits and animal encounters that are both educational and fun. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day trip with the grandkids.

Pros

Wide Variety of Animals

The San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals representing more than 650 species. From giant pandas to exotic birds, the variety of animals is sure to captivate young children and adults alike.

Interactive Exhibits

The zoo features many interactive exhibits where kids can learn about animal habitats, behaviors, and conservation efforts. These exhibits provide hands-on learning experiences that make education fun and engaging.

Animal Encounters

Special programs and tours allow children to get up close with animals. These encounters, such as feeding sessions or behind-the-scenes tours, offer unique opportunities to learn about the animals firsthand.

Beautiful Grounds

The zoo is set in a lush, park-like environment with beautifully landscaped gardens. The well-maintained paths and scenic views make exploring the zoo a pleasant experience for the whole family.

Educational Programs

The zoo offers various educational programs, including guided tours, keeper talks, and animal presentations. These programs provide valuable insights into the animal kingdom and conservation efforts.

Child-Friendly Amenities

The zoo is designed with families in mind, offering stroller rentals, picnic areas, and playgrounds. These amenities make it easier for families with young children to navigate and enjoy the zoo.

Cons

Admission Cost

The San Diego Zoo can be expensive, especially for larger families. Admission prices, food, and souvenirs can add up quickly. However, the value of the experience often justifies the cost.

Crowds

As one of the most popular attractions in California, the zoo can get crowded, especially during weekends and holidays. This can lead to longer wait times for exhibits and animal encounters.

The best time to visit the San Diego Zoo to avoid crowds is during the following periods:

Weekdays During the School Year

Visiting on weekdays, particularly Tuesday through Thursday, when schools are in session, can help you avoid the larger crowds that come on weekends and holidays.

Early Mornings

Arriving right when the zoo opens (usually around 9:00 AM) is a great way to experience the exhibits before the crowds build up later in the day.

Off-Peak Months

The months of September through November and January through March are typically less crowded. These off-peak months are after the summer vacation season and before the spring break rush.

Rainy Days or Cooler Weather

San Diego’s weather is usually mild, but on days when there is a chance of rain or cooler temperatures, fewer people tend to visit. Checking the weather forecast and planning for these days can help you enjoy a quieter experience.

Avoiding Major Holidays

Try to avoid visiting during major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, as well as school breaks, as these are peak times for family visits.

By planning your visit during these times, you can enjoy a more relaxed and enjoyable experience at the San Diego Zoo with your grandkids.

Large Size

The zoo is extensive, covering 100 acres. This means a lot of walking, which can be tiring for young children and older adults. It’s important to wear comfortable shoes and take breaks.

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Variable Weather

San Diego’s weather is generally pleasant, but it can be hot during the summer. It’s essential to bring sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water to stay hydrated while exploring the zoo.

Limited Accessibility in Some Areas:

While the zoo is generally accessible, some hilly areas and steep paths might be challenging for those with mobility issues. There are, however, shuttle services and accessible routes available.

Parking Fees

Parking at the zoo can be pricey, and finding a spot can be challenging during peak times. Arriving early or using public transportation can help alleviate this issue.

The San Diego Zoo remains a fantastic destination for a family outing. Its extensive array of animals and interactive experiences provide a fun and educational day for kids and adults alike. The zoo holds a special place in my heart, as my own children were always thrilled by the diverse animal exhibits and the engaging environment. Now, taking my grandkids there allows me to share the same joy and wonder with a new generation.

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an exceptional destination for those looking for an international adventure. The country offers beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and an abundance of wildlife, making it an ideal location for multigenerational travel.

Pros

Diverse Natural Beauty

Costa Rica is renowned for its stunning landscapes, from pristine beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to verdant rainforests and towering volcanoes. This diversity provides a wide range of activities and scenery to enjoy.

Abundant Wildlife

The country is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering opportunities to see monkeys, sloths, toucans, and a variety of marine life. National parks and wildlife reserves are scattered throughout the country, making it easy to encounter these animals in their natural habitats.

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Adventure Activities

For thrill-seekers, Costa Rica offers numerous adventure activities. Zip-lining through the rainforest canopy, white-water rafting on scenic rivers, and exploring caves are just a few of the adrenaline-pumping options available.

Family-Friendly Beaches

The beaches in Costa Rica are ideal for families, with options for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. The calm waters of the Caribbean coast are particularly suitable for young children, while the Pacific coast offers excellent surfing spots.

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Cultural Experiences

Visiting local markets, coffee plantations, and indigenous communities provides a rich cultural experience. These activities allow families to learn about Costa Rican traditions and lifestyle, enhancing the educational value of the trip.

Eco-Tourism Focus

  1. Costa Rica is a global leader in eco-tourism, with a strong emphasis on sustainable travel practices. Many accommodations and tour operators are eco-friendly, ensuring that your visit has a minimal environmental impact.

 

Cons

Travel Costs

While Costa Rica offers a range of accommodations, from budget to luxury, travel expenses can add up, especially for flights and excursions. Planning and budgeting carefully is essential to manage costs.

Weather Variability

The weather can be unpredictable, with a distinct rainy season from May to November. While the rain often comes in short bursts, it can affect outdoor activities. The dry season, from December to April, is more reliable for sunshine.

Language Barrier

Although many Costa Ricans speak English, especially in tourist areas, the primary language is Spanish. Learning a few basic Spanish phrases can be helpful and enhance your travel experience.

Remote Locations

Some of the most beautiful and pristine areas of Costa Rica are in remote locations, requiring lengthy travel on sometimes rough roads. This can be challenging, especially for families with young children or older adults.

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Health Precautions

Travelers should be aware of health precautions, such as staying hydrated, using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, and ensuring vaccinations are up to date. Access to healthcare in rural areas can be limited, so it’s essential to be prepared.

Tourist Crowds in Popular Areas

 Popular tourist destinations, like Manuel Antonio National Park and Arenal Volcano, can become crowded, especially during peak travel seasons. Visiting these areas early in the day or during the off-season can help avoid the crowds.

Costa Rica remains a fantastic destination for multigenerational travel. Its combination of natural beauty, adventurous activities, and cultural experiences ensures that there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy. With its commitment to eco-tourism and sustainability, a trip to Costa Rica can be both an exciting and responsible choice for an international adventure with your grandkids.

splash pad for kids during hot summer.

Local Parks and Splash Pads

Local parks and splash pads are fantastic destinations for family fun, often just a short drive away. These community spots offer a convenient and enjoyable way to spend a day with the grandkids, providing plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and cooling off during the summer season.

Local parks and splash pads are convenient and easily accessible, making them perfect for spontaneous outings and day trips. They are cost-effective, often free or with minimal fees, providing affordable family fun. 

Playful Spaces

These parks offer a variety of activities like playgrounds, picnic areas, walking trails, and sports facilities. Splash pads add water play areas where kids can enjoy fountains and sprinklers. They also promote social interaction, helping kids make friends and allowing grandparents to connect with other families.

Safe Enjoyment

Designed with safety in mind, parks have soft surfaces, shallow water areas, and lifeguards. Outdoor time in parks fosters a healthy lifestyle and an appreciation for nature.

They may have limited facilities like restrooms or shaded areas, so bring snacks, water, and sun protection. 

Popular parks can get crowded on weekends and holidays, leading to longer wait times. Maintenance varies, so check reviews or visit beforehand.

Safety concerns like slippery surfaces or insects require close supervision and basic first-aid supplies. Many have specific operating hours, so check in advance to plan your visit.

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Local Library Programs

Local library programs offer numerous benefits for young children, including engaging activities like puppet shows, scavenger hunts, and storytime sessions. These programs provide a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with grandkids while fostering a love for reading and learning.

They are often free, making them an affordable and enriching way to keep children entertained and intellectually stimulated during the summer.

Farmers Markets and Home Depot Workshops

Visiting a local farmers market is a fun activity for the whole family, offering fresh produce, live music, and crafts for kids. Home Depot also provides workshops for children, where they can build and create projects using simple materials like rubber bands and plastic sheeting.

Both activities provide enjoyable and educational experiences for kids and quality time for families.

Theme Parks and Water Parks

Finally, theme parks and water parks are always a hit during the summer months. Whether it’s riding water slides, playing miniature golf, or enjoying a day at an amusement park, these destinations provide endless entertainment for kids of all ages.

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Unforgettable Moments

The best part of planning a summer vacation with your grandkids is the quality time spent together. Whether you’re exploring the great outdoors, enjoying local attractions, or simply having fun in your own backyard, there are countless ways to make this summer season unforgettable. So pack your bags, gather the family, and get ready for an adventure-filled summer!

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18 thoughts on “Exciting Summer Places to Visit with Grandkids 2024”

  1. Costa Rica would be a dream vacation! But the library is a great local source when grandparents are in town!

  2. There are so many great places on this list! I do not have grandkids or kids, but there are so many places that I can recommend to my travel clients. Costa Rica is always at the top of my list for adventurous and nature loving families

  3. All great suggestions! I have not been to Cape Cod but would definitely love to make it there at some point. I loved how you put all the pros and cons. So important to keep in mind.

  4. Exciting summer destinations for grandkids! My grandparents always took me on summer trips and it’s something I think about often. Thanks for the great tips!

  5. These are all very exciting places to visit. I put a few on my travel bucket list. Need to do some saving first.

  6. These are some wonderful ideas! I also think taking camping trips is invaluable to do with the grandkids too. Living on a boat for a few days is also worth taking the time to do.

  7. I’d love to visit Yellowstone National Park with my grandparents. Costa Rica sounds amazing too. There are so many fun ideas in this article. Thanks for sharing!

  8. What a fantastic list of summer destinations—Disney World and Yellowstone sound like an absolute blast with all the exciting activities and adventures waiting to be explored!

  9. Great travel guide for grandparents – and anyone thinking of traveling in the summer months. I’ve always wanted to visit Cape Cod. I appreciate your pro and con lists.

  10. All of these places sound like they would provide wonderful memories for both the grandkids and their grandparents. Cape Cod is at the top of my list. I’m not a grandparent and my grandparents have passed, but I’d love to go with my parents!

  11. Thanks for all the great ideas! There is also a battleship and submarine you can visit in Fall River, on the way to Cape Cod. Great for any history buffs and the kids. You can actually go on them and explore them.

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