Family holidays in America

Children are probably more au fait with America’s clichés and contemporary culture than most adults. However, it is unlikely they will know much about the bison that run wild in Yellowstone National Park, or that you can hike around active volcanoes in Hawaii. They are unlikely to forget shaking hands with a Navajo Indian on his home reservation or flying in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon. Take them horseback riding in the American West and they will feel as if they have just entered a 3D world film. And that’s the key to enjoying family holidays in America. You can get all the thrills, wows, and action adventure of any movie, the difference being that you can touch it, experience it and remember it forever.

Activities for families in America

Go wild

Wild camping is encouraged in the USA and, in particular in the national parks, although you need backcountry permits to do so there. As you are unlikely to be travelling from Europe with a tent, tour operators often offer camping options which is handy, as sites book up far in advance. Although the wilder the site, the quieter the night.

Water parks

‘Running the river’ may sound like a theme park experience but, to coin a well know American phrase “It’s the real thing” when you raft down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River, the Merced River in Yosemite or the icy waters of Denali National Park in Alaska. You can also swim in certain parks, but always stick to allocated ‘beaches’.

Cowboy/girl culture

When you hit the trail in Colorado or Wyoming America’s contemporary cowboy culture is palpable. Take a horseback ride western style, pick yourself up a genuine Stetson, wander Monument Valley, backdrop to a thousand Westerns, or wild camp in the canyons under the stars. And to redress the balance, learn about the other side of the Wild West’s living heritage with a chance to explore, for example, the living culture of Native Americans in a Navajo Nation.

Our top trip

Family rafting holiday on the Salmon River, Idaho, USA

Family rafting holiday on the Salmon River, Idaho, USA

Fun rapids, white sand beaches and great scenery

From US $1990 5 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 7 Jul, 14 Jul, 21 Jul, 28 Jul, 4 Aug, 11 Aug, 18 Aug, 25 Aug, 1 Sep
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about USA or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Travelling in the USA with kids

Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures, specialising in Alaska, but all round expert in USA travel: "I highly recommend Alaska for a family holiday in America, but not with very young children as you have to cover very long distances. We always give a safety talk regarding bears too, so you really need to be aware of the rules and you won’t get into trouble. You don’t need to be scared, however. My experience with wildlife generally is that they don’t care about humans. They want to be away from us. So, most of the time, if you stick to the rules, there is nothing to worry about. So, when we pick a lunch spot, it is always in an open space where we can see everything."
Richard Hanson, Managing Director, from our leading US supplier, Grand American Adventures, is also a dad, and so is well equipped to give tips on family holidays in America: "Be ready to chat. Americans are friendly and they WILL interact. You will not be able to avoid this, so be open, friendly and prepared to make small talk. When you go to the national parks, check out the Junior Ranger Program, it’s great. And don’t worry about America being full of junk food. Our supermarkets and farmer’s markets are amazing with plenty of fruit and veg so no need for junk food."
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: rayb777] [High Cascades hiking: Loren Kerns] [Wild camping: Paxson Woelber] [Family tips: Terry Ott]