Achieving family togetherness is never an easy task—and it can be especially difficult when taking the whole gang on vacation. While it can seem nearly impossible to find a destination that everyone will love, a getaway to one of the many national parks in the U.S. or Canada just may be the answer for achieving family harmony.
Along with their overwhelming beauty and endless list of diversions, national parks can challenge every member of the family, both physically and mentally, allowing everyone to return home with real accomplishments to think back on. Parents can relax knowing the parks and surrounding towns are easy-going places that are very accustomed to the needs of families. You don’t have to worry about fitting in and you’ll likely meet plenty of other families with children.
Most national parks throughout the U.S. and Canada offer a range of accommodations and dining and camping options for different budgets. Of course, depending on your family’s survival skills, you can “rough it” as much or as little as you want. Most parks also offer educational programs and camps that allow children and parents to spend time apart, learning on their own. With 58 national parks in the U.S. and 36 national park reserves in Canada, there’s an incredible assortment of parks located in nearly every kind of environment, from mountain and coastal areas to desert locales and snowy climes.
To help you narrow down the field of parks, we’ve chosen a few of our favorites from each country. Should you prefer to leave the exploring to the experts, consider taking a guided tour that will take you up close to many parks and interesting sites. Your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist can help you find which national parks and tours best fit your family’s interests and needs.
National Parks in the United States
The U.S. is loaded with mesmerizing national parks, and these oases of pristine beauty are overwhelming in every way imaginable—in number, size and their capacity to inspire wonder. The most difficult question to answer is: Which one will you see next? Here are a few of our faves…
- Acadia National Park
The eastern U.S. provides splendid options for outdoor vacations and Acadia National Park is one of its most celebrated. The park has a rich human history that includes Native Americans, European settlers, artists, conservationists and more. Each group has made its mark on what is today Acadia National Park. The park is located on the coast of Maine and has unsurpassed northern Oceanside views and cliff climbing that you won’t find in other parks. Sheer cliff faces collide with the pounding surf, and small fishing and sail boats ply Frenchman Bay where the air is perfumed by fir trees and the Atlantic Ocean. Protecting over 47,000 acres, Acadia’s scenic trails are a hiker’s dream. There is also fishing, island exploring and beautiful gardens to gaze upon here.
- Yellowstone National Park
A place where a picture truly says a thousand words, images of Yellowstone speak for themselves. The oldest national park in America, Yellowstone is spread out over three states (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho), and within its 3,468 square miles offers some of the most compelling geothermal and geological wonders—the famous geyser Old Faithful, Yellowstone Caldera (the largest super volcano on the continent) and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, to name just a few. The park is also home to lots of fun, furry creatures. There is a variety of summer and winter activities suitable for everyone, from extreme back-country hiker to the young family who requires somewhat gentler trails. Note that permits and reservations are required for some of the things you might want to do, such as fishing, camping, renting snow machines, llama packing and horseback riding.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A top pick for those living in the American Midwest is Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is hands down one of the best all-around parks for the family. It falls within the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. You can choose to rough it on the Appalachian Trail, camp out in a developed campground or wilderness, or stay anywhere from luxurious suites to nice inexpensive hotels in nearby Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. And, speaking of Pigeon Forge, you have Dollywood theme park and all the innumerable attractions the town offers nearby. On the North Carolina side you have more campgrounds, the city of Cherokee that has several Native America museums, whitewater rafting and fly fishing (the last two are actually offered in both states). The mountains are absolutely beautiful and make for great photo ops. Continue reading