Traveling with teens doesn’t need to be difficult. As a mom with two teens and a young adult, I’ve found that they really do just want some control and input over where the family plans to spend summer vacation. Sounds easy, right? Well, it should be. As a mom, I also need to be mindful of the likes and dislikes of my kids and try to find that careful balance that keeps everyone happy.
Locations that have a lot of variety tend to be the type of places that we like to visit over and over again. And since we prefer a road trip over flying, it’s important that where we chose to visit is an easy day trip from our Ohio home.
I asked my teens for some of their favorite summer vacation ideas and this is what they shared.
Teens love beaches and at the top of my teen’s list is Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach is a great option and with 7 free things to do in Virginia Beach, it can certainly be affordable. You may opt to stay in one of the hotels along the boardwalk with easy access to the beach, family bike rentals and in season entertainment.
Sandbridge Beach is a perfect nearby option that allows you to rent a vacation home in close proximity to the beach, escape some of the crowds and offers easy access to False Cape State Park and Back Bay Wildlife Refuge- perfect for the nature lover or budding photographer in the family.
First Landing State Park, along the Chesapeake Bay, offers camping, a bike and walking trail, educational opportunities (my kids learned to crab here) and a great beach for families with a mix of older and younger children.
Don’t forget the engineering marvel, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, is nearby and worthy of a visit. You can stop in the middle of the bridge to purchase souvenirs or grab a bite to eat before continuing on to Eastern Virginia.
Virginia Beach makes the perfect base for day trips to see the ponies of Chincoteague Island, learn about the pirate lore of the Outer Banks, appease your thrill seekers at Busch Gardens and learn how living history museums make history fun at Colonial Williamsburg – all of which are an easy drive away.
If a beach vacation isn’t your thing, maybe you’d prefer a summer vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains.
My family is divided among beach and mountain vacations. When it comes to a mountain escape, we’ve found the Great Smoky Mountains welcoming on more than one occasion.
One thing I’ve discovered with my teens, is that they have a ton of energy and recreational exercise is not only a good idea on vacation, it’s paramount to preserving the peace in my family. I can’t think of a more perfect location to stretch those legs than the national park.
A quick visit to Sugarland’s, or one of the other visitor centers will equip you with maps of the area’s best hiking trails. It’s important to
follow all safety guidelines while on the trails, though they are pretty safe, there are still some dangers, like snakes and wild animals, within any wild area.
Other recreational options include white water rafting, mountain biking and zip lining. After a day in the parks, your family may enjoy relaxing in the hot tub of a luxury cabin in the Smoky Mountains.
The mountains aren’t the only draw to the area. Gatlinburg also offers lodging options on the strip which allows you to park your vehicle at the hotel and walk to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and cluster of other Ripley’s attractions, shopping and dining. My teens loved that my husband and I could stay at our hotel, while they explored a bit on their own.
Nearby Pigeon Forge draws crowds with the Titanic Museum, Wonderworks, Hollywood Wax Museum and many shows including the Comedy Barn, and Wonders of Magic. New to the area is the Wonders of Flight tethered hot air balloon that gives guests a panoramic view of the mountains. And let’s not forget Dollywood, the best family theme park in the country.
A visit to the Smokies would never be complete without a visit to the Smoky Mountain Knifeworks, the world’s largest knife store which is located in Sevierville. While you’re there, you could check out the Wilderness at the Smokies, a waterpark and shopping complex and if your teens like fun and quirky, it only takes a few minutes to drive past the Dolly Parton statue, a roadside attraction.
What type of vacation do your teens prefer?