Anyone who has ever planned a Disney vacation knows how expensive and overrated it can be (don't come for me, Disney fans, it's true). Even with all the money-saving hacks, a family of four easily spends about $871 per person for a 6-night stay. That's a small fortune, and God help you if you're a family of six or eight! The world is full of amazing family vacations just waiting to be discovered, so it's time for families to start thinking outside-of-the-box. Why not take your kids somewhere that no one else in their classroom has been? Here are 10 family vacations that are waaaaaay better than Disney.
10. Dude Ranch
There are a lot of beautiful locations to explore out west, but why not take your family to a dude ranch? Dude ranches are all-inclusive, covering everything from accommodation, to food, drink, activities, and entertainment in one up-front fee, so you don't have to worry about how much money you'll need once you get there. Most dude ranches have stunning scenery (they're located all over the western United States), horseback riding for all levels, supervised daily kids programs, family campfires, group hikes, hot tubs, etc. Interested? Search for the perfect dude ranch experience and give your kids a vacation they'll never forget.
9. Atlantis, Bahamas
I've never stayed at Atlantis, but I have done a tour of the property on a shore excursion and this place is absolutely insane (in the best way). Atlantis is comprised of six different resorts, a casino, over 20 different restaurants, an underground aquarium, a 141-acre waterpark, a complimentary movie theater, and the largest open-air marine habitat in the world. That's not all, either. They also have sea lion shows, stingray pettings, and "swim with the dolphin" programs if you get bored (like that's going to happen). Don't forget to take a day trip from the resort and swim with the pigs for the day!
8. Caribbean Cruise
I know cruises aren't for everyone, but if you're looking for a great all-inclusive family vacation that's cheaper than Disney, this is definitely the way to go. We started cruising a while ago when my oldest was around 9 years old, and we soon discovered it was the perfect option for us. All cruises have kid/teen programs (hello, date night), themed parties, and endless onboard entertainment (seriously, some of the features are out of this world). When it comes to cruise shopping, be aware that some cruise lines offer friends and family sail free, unlimited beverage packages, etc., so do your homework before buying!
7. Glacier National Park
I first went to Glacier National Park when I was 6 years old, and I still remember being awe-struck by how gorgeous it was. If your family is the more outdoorsy type, then this is definitely the vacation for you. Hike the trails, swim in Lake McDonald, splash in the waterfalls, visit the glaciers, go whitewater rafting/kayaking/ziplining, and search for wildlife that you've only ever seen in zoos. If you have little ones, make sure you hook them up with the junior ranger program so they can complete the steps and earn a badge! Step into nature and have fun!
6. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Don't worry, even if your family isn't ready to hit the big slopes (like the one pictured above), Jackson Hole has something for everyone. Despite being known as "the ultimate skier's paradise," this place offers river rafting, dog sledding, snow tubing, an incredible children's museum, horseback riding, the Granite Hot Springs, and even National Elk Refuge sleigh rides! Jackson Hole is sure to keep your family busy no matter what time of year it is.
5. Niagara Falls
You can't go your whole life without seeing Niagara Falls (and its hot spots), so ditch Disney and schedule a trip to Niagara instead. Trust me, there's a lot more to do than just staring at a waterfall! Stay at the Great Wolf Lodge, get close to the falls on a Hornblower boat tour, take a journey behind the Falls, go on a Niagara helicopter ride, go see a Wild Magic show, visit the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory, ride on the SkyWheel, and have lunch with a view. Seriously, the options in this place are endless.
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4. Great Sand Dunes National Park
In case you didn't know, the Great Sand Dunes are the tallest in North America are available for you to climb up and slide/roll/sled down at your leisure. Rent a special sandboard/sand sled off site and hit the dunes for as long as you want! Take it from me (who went there when I was about 10-years-old), it's an experience you will never, ever forget. After you've sledded the day away, go cool down with some river tubing in Medano Creek. Not sure that "sand sledding" is for you? Rent a "fat bike" or explore the dunes on horseback, instead. Don't forget to sleep under the stars!
3. Las Vegas
Las Vegas and children didn't always mix, but they definitely do now. There is free, high-quality entertainment for kids almost everywhere you go! Head to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, watch the choreographed dancing fountains at the Bellagio, catch a volcano show at the Mirage, witness the pelican feeding at The Flamingo, catch an animatronic animal show, enjoy an indoor rainstorm, and visit the museum of natural history all for free! Not to mention all the indoor/outdoor rollercoasters there are to enjoy! Be sure to visit the Grand Canyon while you're there.
2. Florida Space Coast
Orlando isn't near the beach and Disney World isn't exactly educational, but Florida's "Space Coast" is both! Cape Canaveral and its surrounding areas are jam-packed with cool things to do and see, including live rocket launches (check the schedule here) and a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where you can see Shuttle Atlantis, meet veteran astronauts, and train in spaceflight simulators. When you're all "Spaced-out," head over to the Indialantic Boardwalk, Westgate Cocoa Beach Historic Pier, Brevard Zoo, or enjoy some water sports at Sebastian Inlet State Park.
1. Warner Bros. Studio In London
Do you have a Potterhead in the family? If so, take a trip to London and walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Located where all eight Harry Potter films were made, the tour is filled with all the original props, costumes, animatronic creatures, and sets from the movie. Trust me, this tour blows The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Orlando right out of the water! There are many magical destinations that Harry Potter fans should travel to, but this one is definitely at the top of the list.