When’s the last time you took a family vacation? For some of you, it’s probably been a while. That’s why it’s time for a quick jaunt away from home with the kids in tow. Family vacations can be anything you want them to be, but most of all, they’re a chance to connect with your loved ones and make memories together in a new place. Sounds like fun, right?
But we get it – traveling with kids can sometimes be a challenge. To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of some of the best family weekend getaways across the US. In this guide, you’ll find family-friendly activities to do in each place as well as the closest SIXT rental car branches to make getting there more convenient. So let’s hit the road!
- Highland, New York
- Hershey, Pennsylvania
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- San Diego, California
1. Highland, New York: One of the best all-inclusive weekend getaways for families
Best time to visit: Summer
Don’t miss: Rocking Horse Ranch
Starting out east, parents and children will absolutely love Highland, New York. This city tends to be overshadowed by more famous NY destinations like New York City and Lake Placid, but Highland has plenty to see and do in its own right, and it’s perfect for family weekend getaways.
The main attraction here is Rocking Horse Ranch, a unique all-inclusive resort that’ll make you feel like you’re at summer camp. And since it’s all-inclusive, all parents have to do is make a booking and let the rest fall into place.
The ranch offers over 100 indoor and outdoor activities for you to partake in, from horseback riding and water sports to interactive playgrounds and a wildlife exhibit. The entire family will enjoy splashing around and riding water slides at Big Splash Indoor Water Park, and once you dry off you can catch a magic show or ventriloquist performance.
For when parents want to rest and relax, the resort offers in-room babysitting and a nursery program for kids over the age of 4 years old. That means the adults can head to the spa or grab a drink at one of the restaurants in peace.
Highland is only about a 2.5-hour drive from New York City, so most travelers land at one of NYC’s airports. SIXT has branches at both LaGuardia and JFK, so you can pick up your rental and head the rest of the way to Highland.
2. Hershey, Pennsylvania: One of the best theme park weekend trips with kids
Best time to visit: Spring or summer
Don’t miss: Create-your-own candy bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World
Heading a bit further west, we arrive in Hershey, PA. As the name suggests, Hershey is home to lots and lots of chocolate. In fact, it’s been given the nickname of “the sweetest place on earth”. It’s obvious why kids will love this weekend trip.
First, you’ll want to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World. Here, the whole family can channel their inner Willy Wonkas by taking a tour of the chocolate factory and participating in guided chocolate bar tastings. You can even create your own candy bar, and, of course, gorge yourself on all the chocolate and sweet treats your heart desires.
After you’re all sugared up, head over to Hershey Park where you’ll find plenty of amusement rides and roller coasters for both kids and adults to enjoy. While the kids are off doing their own thing, parents can choose to go golfing, shopping, or head to the spa for a quick treatment. You can also visit Hershey Gardens to see the roses and butterflies.
Hershey, Pennsylvania, is just a short drive west of Philadelphia, so most travelers to this area will arrive at Philadelphia International Airport. SIXT has a branch here so you can easily pick up your rental and be on your way.
3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: One of the best affordable city escapes for families
Best time to visit: Spring or fall
Don’t miss: The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Located right along Pennsylvania’s border with Ohio, Pittsburgh has earned the nickname “Kidsburgh” for all the family-friendly activities it boasts. This bustling metropolis is home to sports, art, culture, food, festivals, history, and more. No matter what kind of traveler you are or what your kids are interested in, there’s something for everyone in this city, making it one of the best weekend getaways for families.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is an obvious highlight, and kids will also love the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Families looking to explore the downtown area will be delighted to learn that the Pittsburgh subway offers free rides around the Golden Triangle, which is home to renowned restaurants, event venues, and Point State Park with its walking and biking trails.
Outdoorsy families will want to check out the Great Allegheny Passage, which is a 150-mile trail that takes you over the many bridges and through the many tunnels of Pittsburgh. If you’re looking for something a little less intense but still want to see the city, a guided walking tour will do.
And no matter what time of year you’re visiting, there’s sure to be a lively event program. In the summer, Pittsburgh hosts the Grand Prix, and even during winter you can find arts and cultural festivals popping up around town.
Those traveling to Pittsburgh may be landing at Pittsburgh International Airport, so you can pick up your car from the SIXT branch here and get going on your Kidsburgh adventure right away. If you have a lot of luggage, opt for a GMC SUV. Or, if you need more room for the kids, select the Chrysler minivan.
4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: One of the best beaches for a weekend getaway with family
Best time to visit: Late summer or early fall
Don’t miss: The SkyWheel
Heading down the east coast to find some warmer temperatures, we reach Myrtle Beach, SC, just south of the border with North Carolina. Obviously, this is a popular summer beach destination for families, but even in winter the climate is mild: temperatures only drop to the high 50s. As a result, it’s perfect for families looking to escape the cold year-round.
Of course, the main thing to do in Myrtle Beach is, well, to hit the beach. This stretch of coastline has plenty of room to spread out on the sand, so be sure to bring your umbrellas, towels, water shoes, games, and any other beach gear you may need for the kids.
After a day at the beach, you can check out the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, home to many shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as the SkyWheel ferris wheel that provides incredible views of the coast. For even more rides, you can head to Family Kingdom Amusement Park. For those looking for a more relaxing activity, the city of Myrtle Beach is home to over 50 mini-golf courses.
And there’s still plenty to do on a rainy day here. Kids will love the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum and the Hollywood Wax Museum. If you’re staying at one of the area’s many family-friendly resorts, there’s even more. Many of these properties boast indoor water parks with water slides, pools, and hot tubs, so you and the kids will always be entertained.
SIXT has many locations throughout both North and South Carolina where you can rent a car and drive the rest of the way to this lively beach city, so choose the one that works best for you and hit the road. When your trip is over, you can drop the car off at any SIXT branch that works for you. Just be sure to request a one-way rental if your drop-off branch will be different than your pick-up one.
5. Scottsdale, Arizona: One of the warmest family weekend getaways year round
Best time to visit: Early spring or late fall
Don’t miss: Hiking at Tom Thumb
Now, we’re heading out west. Scottsdale, Arizona, is quite literally located in the desert, so even in winter you’re guaranteed temperatures in the high 60s. But don’t let the heat scare you away – Scottsdale boasts plenty of resorts that give you the option to relax by the water.
Two of the best family-friendly resorts in Scottsdale are the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Both of these offer plenty of pools (including kiddie pools), water slides, spa treatments, restaurants where kids eat free, and more. They even offer day camps for children and family-sized pool cabanas.
If you want to get out of the resort and into the city, the whole family will love the OdySea Aquarium and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. You can also head to the Desert Botanical Garden or get some hiking in at Tom Thumb Trailhead.
Those traveling to Scottsdale will typically land at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, as it’s only about a 15-minute drive away. You can pick up your SIXT rental directly from the airport to get your desert adventure started.
6. San Diego, California: One of the best weekend getaways for families that are animal lovers
Best time to visit: Winter (best for whale watching!)
Don’t miss: The San Diego Zoo
Heading all the way to the West Coast, we arrive in beautiful San Diego, California. This big SoCal city has plenty to see and do for the entire family, no matter what kind of trip you’re looking for. Whether you want to hit the beach, learn some history, or encounter some native wildlife, this is the perfect place to do it. Even better, you can buy the Go City All-Inclusive Pass, which gives you discounts on tickets to many of the city’s top attractions, including LEGOLAND California.
First of all, the San Diego Zoo is one of the best in the entire country. Spanning 100 acres of San Diego’s Balboa Park, the zoo is home to more than 650 species and over 12,000 rare or endangered animals. If you’d rather see some animals in their natural habitat, you can book a whale watching tour or head over to La Jolla Cove (which is also one of the best beaches to visit in december) to see the seals and sea lions sunbathing.
If you want to hit the beach, La Jolla is still a great place to go, or you can head to Mission Beach (One of the best beaches to visit in January) to watch the surfers catch some waves. Belmont Park is a seaside theme park with rides and roller coasters that the entire family will love. Sports fans can catch a baseball game at Petco Park while history buffs can head to the USS Midway Museum to learn more about US naval history.
Those coming to San Diego will usually land at San Diego International Airport, so you can pick up your family’s vehicle from here to get your adventure started straight away. It’s recommended to book a rental car before you land to ensure you get the family car you need. Better yet, download the SIXT app so you can book on the go.
There you have it: all the places for the best weekend getaways with family. Now, it’s time to pick one (or several) and get planning! All of these destinations have plenty of activities to keep both you and the kids occupied and entertained for the whole weekend, and some of them even include some R&R for the parents (hello, all-inclusives). So, choose the one that’s best for your upcoming family weekend trip, book the perfect SIXT rental for your family, and hit the road.