Travel with Kids

20 Tips to Make Traveling with Kids Enjoyable

Traveling with kids can be a real challenge but it can also be an amazing family experience. The key is finding the balance between the stress of traveling and the joy of travel. Our goal is to give you travel tips to make your next family vacation stress free.

Use our family travel guide to be prepared for air travel, road trips, what you need to pack, travel checklist, hotel hacks and more. Everything you need to know about traveling with kids.

20 Tips for Traveling with Kids on a plane, in a car, packing & more. Get the best Travel Hacks for Families to survive family vacation and road trips. #travelhacks #travelingwithkids #familyvacation #roadtrips
This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

20 Tips to Make Traveling with Kids Enjoyable

What to Do Before You Go

One of the keys to having a stress free vacation is to be prepared before you go on vacation. Here are a few things to do before you go on a family vacation.

Research your Destination

Find out what to expect in your vacation destination. Get answers to these questions

  • Where would be the best location to stay
  • Which airport to fly into
  • What Attractions do you want to see

This is a fun task to do with the kids to get them excited about your upcoming trip. Let them help you pick which attractions you’re going to visit while on vacation. Book some of them ahead of time so you have less to do when you get there.

Book Your Airfare

Now that you know the airport you need to book your flight. I would suggest booking the time of your flights based on what is best for your kids.

For example, think about nap times and when your kids need to eat, when are they most active. Some people like to fly during nap time in hopes kids will sleep others like to go in the morning when kids are less crabby.

Take time to scan travel websites to find the best deals. Tuesday and Wednesday usually have lower rates and Sunday tends to be the most expensive.

Decide on Hotel or Vacation Rental

I would think about where you’re going and decide if it’s better for your family to stay at a hotel or vacation rental. Both have different positives and negatives.

Hotels often offer more amenities such as restaurants, pools, kids clubs, stores, and concierge services. However, the rooms tend to be smaller and there is little separation between you and the kids.

Vacation Rentals usually have more space for families to spread out and nice amenities like kitchens, washer dryers, and separate bedrooms & living rooms. The downside is you are more on your own without help from hotel staff and there tend to have fewer amenities like pools and restaurants.

One of our favorite sites for finding hotels and rental deals is booking.com. We really like the reviews people leave and have found some great prices.

Booking.com

Budget for Your Trip

Figure out a budget for your trip so you know how much you’re going to be spending. This will help you decide how much you have to spend on airlines, attractions, food, and hotels. Use our Free Trip Cost Calculator to help you make your travel budget.

Pre Travel Checklist

Free Printable Pre-Travel Checklist - Get ready for family vacation.

There is so much to get done before you leave on vacation. Make sure you don’t forget anything with this free printable Pre-Travel Checklist of 30 Things to Do Before Going on Vacation.

Some of the tasks include getting your passport, transportation to the airport, putting mail on hold, getting pet care, paying bills and more. Use this comprehensive checklist and you’ll never leave home wondering what you forgot again.

What You Need When Traveling with Kids

What to Pack & Not Pack

One of the biggest keys to travel is not to overpack. This is really hard for me but I have found unless you’re traveling somewhere very remote you can get most things at your destination.

What you’ll need is clothes, toiletries, medicines and entertainment (books, iPad, small games). If you have smaller kids you might need a pack n play, diapers, wipes, and other baby items.

To make sure you have everything you need to take on vacation use our free printable Family Travel Checklist.

Ultimate Family Travel Checklist to get you prepared for traveling with Kids. Everything you need to pack for your vacation. You'll never forget things again.  #freeprintable #travelchecklist #travelingwithkids #familyvacation

Snacks

Snack container for road trips when traveling with kids.  Easy DIY Snack container. #snacks #roadtrip #travelingwithkids
DIY Snack Container for Kids

I find with kids snacks are the key to a great vacation. Even though you might limit them at home on vacation it will just keep everyone happy. You do not need a hungry kid having a meltdown on the plane or at an attraction.

I usually pack some small bags of goldfish, fruit snacks or pretzels in my purse for the plane ride or when at local attractions. If your driving pack a few bigger boxes of snacks for the hotel room. Then just bring a few reusable containers or zip lock bags and refill up the snacks in your room before you head out to an attraction.

This will also be a lot cheaper than buying snacks at the airport or local attractions.

Tip: Make a DIY Snack Container with an unused wipes holder. Kids can color it and fill it with snacks for your road trip. (pictured above)

Stroller or Car Seat

Stroller

Depending on your child’s age you might want to bring a stroller on your vacation. I find strollers are great to have in airports to keep the kids moving to your gate plus it can hold some of your carryons.

One of our favorites is the lightweight and compact Summer 3Dlite Stroller. Unlike umbrella travel strollers, it has a large storage space, higher handles for parents, and a 4 position recline when they need to nap. Plus it folds up easily.

Car Seat

You can also check a car seat when you get to the airport so that you have one for the car ride to your destination. Before you go check and see if your transportation from the airport or rental car company can supply a car seat for you. If they can great you can skip this step.

If your child is in a booster seat we love the cool mifold Grab and Go Booster Seat. It’s a fold-up booster seat you can throw in your purse. The booster adjusts the seatbelt so it hits your child in the correct spot. A great option for traveling families.

Air Travel with Kids

Leave Extra Time

There are lots of things at the airport that will take up your time. Check-in, security, bathroom stops, food, and boarding. To reduce your stress level traveling with kids get there early. This way when the line at security takes to long you’re not getting anxiety about missing your flight.

Backpacks and Rolling Bags for Kids

With kids, you always have tons to carry. Make it easier by having your child bring with a small rolling bag or backpack to hold their items. Let them help pack their bag to get them excited about bringing it and carrying or rolling it themselves through the airport.

Many of the rolling bags are also backpacks like this cute Minnie Mouse Bag. Perfect for Disney Vacations.

If you want it to last longer choose a bag that doesn’t have a character on it like this cool blue rolling backpack.

Entertainment for the Flight

Bingo Travel Games for Kids. Keep kids entertained on road trips and airplane flights with fun travel games.

Keep the kids busy on your flight by bringing games and electronics for them to play. We often bring cards, magnetic games, coloring books, and wiki sticks to keep the kids busy. I find when their busy they are not complaining.

Get some nonelectronic entertainment ideas in my Must Have Family Travel Gadgets from Amazon.

If you plan to bring an iPad for the kids make sure to download movies or shows before you leave home. That way they will have something to watch even if you can’t get wifi. Also, don’t forget to bring earphones to listen to their shows. I like to get headphones that limit the volume level to protect their ears.

Bring Extra Clothes

We have had a baby or two spit up on us on a plane flight and it’s not fun. I would suggest throwing an extra shirt for you and a change of clothes for your child in your carry on. It’s terrible sitting wet on a flight for hours and there is nowhere to get new clothes.

Help Your Ears To Pop

When you increase and decrease altitude in a plane your ears tend to pop. Pack the following items to help your kids pop their ears.

  • Gummy Bears or Fruit Snacks
  • Lollipops
  • Gum for older children
  • A bottle for babies – try to time it so you are feeding your baby a bottle while the plane is ascending and descending.
  • Pacifier for babies

Road Trip Travel Tips

Traveling with Kids Road Trip Hacks

Another great way to get to your destination is a car road trip. This will save you tons of money on travel that you can use for a great hotel or attractions at your destination.

General Road Trip Tips:

  • Start out the trip by getting yourself organized. I like to have a bin in the car with a top that holds all the kid’s toys. This can be placed in between them so they can easily get items by themselves. It also makes it easier to unload the car when you get to your destination.
  • Have some type of surface for the kids to play games and eat in the car. We like to use a travel tray for their lap.
  • Plan ahead where you are going to stop for the night to make sure you can find a hotel especially during the busy summer travel months. You’d be surprised how quickly roadside hotels fill up.
  • Have a general plan for your trip but be flexible for issues with traffic and how many times you may have to stop with kids.

Get more general travel tips in 15 Road Trip Tips to Survive a Family Vacation

Travel Apps to Help Your Road Trip

I love to use travel apps to help make our trip go smoothly. One of our favorites is the WAZE app which helps you find the best route to your destination.

It adjusts as you drive for any traffic jams or bad road conditions. What’s really cool is other drivers tell you what is happening up ahead so you know why you’re stopped in traffic.

Another favorite is the iExit App. This one tells you what is at all the upcoming exits along your route. Use it to find the restaurants you want to eat and gas stations to stop. It’s a great way to plan your stops and find restaurants for picky eaters or dietary restrictions.

Get all our favorite free Road Trip Apps for an easy ride.

Booking.com

Entertainment for the Road Trips

Busy Bags for Traveling with Kids on Road Trips. Pack fun travel games and activities to keep kids happy while on road trips or airplane travel. #roadtrips #travelingwithkids #travelgames #travelactivities #busybags

The key to a happy road trip is keeping the kids busy. There is a lot less whining and happier parents when they have things to do. Just like on the airplane ride you’ll want small games and maybe some electronics.

Busy Bags are a fun way to make the trip go faster. Create small bags to give out to your kids every few hours of the road trip. You can fill each bag with inexpensive small toys and coloring books. It’s more the excitement of something new rather than the price. Get inspired with our 15 Best Travel Games for Kids at Dollar Tree.

General Family Travel Tips

How to Save Money

  • A great way to save money while you travel is with food. Save on food by packing your own breakfast to have in your hotel room. It will give you more time to get ready in the morning and save you money.
  • Find local free events and free activities to do at your destination with the kids. You’ll be surprised how much you can find. Here’s a sample of Free Things to do in Naples Florida
  • Travel at off-peak times when hotel and airline rates are cheaper.

Get More Money-Saving Tips in How to Travel Cheap on Family Vacation.

Scheduled Downtime

It’s important to remember when traveling with kids to schedule in some downtime. If you are constantly on the go kids can get overtired and pretty cranky. Make it easier on all of you by enjoying some time just hanging out at the hotel swimming, reading or watching a movie.

Hotel Hacks

Make your stay at the hotel less stressful with the kids by using some simple hotel hacks. Here are a few quick tips but you can find more in our Ultimate Family Hotel Hacks.

  • Bring a roll of masking tape or painters tape to baby proof outlets.
  • Roll a shower towel under the door to block out noise from the hallway and light.
  • Use the Ironing Board as a table for your kids to eat
  • Make a baby changing station by a nightlight for quick diaper changes in the middle of the night.

Beach Hacks

Beach Hacks to make your Beach Vacation with Kids Easy and Fun.

If you’re headed to a beach destination you’ll want to spend most of your time hanging out at the beach with the kids. This can be amazing or make you a little crazy. Make your visit fun and memorable by doing a little pre-planning.

  • Make sure to pack a blanket, sand toys, drinks, and snacks.
  • Keep your cell phone protected with a waterproof case so you can take lots of pictures.
  • Use a Pringles can to hide your money and keys.
  • Get there early and stake our your spot

Get more ideas at 20 Beach Hacks to Survive A Family Day at the Beach. #4 is genius!

I hope these tips for traveling with kids have got your excited about your upcoming vacation. Just using a few of these travel tips will make your next family vacation less stressful and more relaxed and fun.

If you need some travel inspiration check out our Favorite Family Travel Destinations.

Do you have a great family travel tip? Please leave it in the comment. I love to hear from my readers.

Did you enjoy reading these tips? Join the Happy Mom Hacks community where we find ways to make a mom’s life easier and get our weekly newsletter. Bonus for signing up you get a free Ultimate Family Travel Packing List to be ready for your next vacation.

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.

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Don’t Forget to Pin this for Later

Top Tips & Hacks for Traveling with Kids. How to survive in a car or on a plane for family vacation. Get hacks for Road trips, hotel hacks, beach hacks, packing & travel checklists to make it a stress free trip with kids. Enjoy your upcoming vacation. #travelingwithkids #travelhacks #Traveltips #roadtrip
Ultimate Travel Tips for Kids & planning a family vacation. Car trips, airplane rides, hotel tips and more. Everything to do before you go on vacation, packing for a family and how to  entertain the kids while you travel. The compete family trip planner. Be ready for an awesome family vacation.  #traveltips #familyvacation #travelwithkids #traveltipsforkids #vacationplanner

Fun Family Travel Destinations

Ultimate Family Travel Checklist to get you prepared for traveling with Kids. Everything you need to pack for your vacation. You'll never forget things again.  #freeprintable #travelchecklist #travelingwithkids #familyvacation
Travel with Kids

20 Genius Hotel Hacks for Family Vacation

Want to make your next family vacation less stressful? Let me help you have a fun and relaxing family getaway with these unique hotel hacks for families.

20 Genius hotel tips and tricks from keeping the morning sun out, eating in your hotel room, entertaining the kids and so much more. These cool travel hacks for families are going to change the way you travel! No more family travel stress just fun family bonding. Following along with me and find some DIY travel hacks for your next family vacation.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

20 Genius Hotel Hacks to Make Family Vacation Easy

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Cleaning Your Hotel Room

Update – I have added this update for cleaning your room during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feel better about traveling during this time with these simple tips.

Pack a container of Lysol or Clorox Disinfectant wipes. When you enter your room wipe down hard surfaces, doorknobs, light switches, and bathroom. Anything you think your kids or you will touch

Put the TV remote control in a big zip lock bag. This way you can use it without touching the buttons.

Skip using the decorative pillows and bed spread as they are not always cleaned after each use. If your on a road trip pack a blanket and pillow to use instead.

Don’t put your suitcase on the bed or furniture. Suitcases tend to be dragged around as you travel so may have picked up dirt or germs.

Keep the Sun Out

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If your kids are getting up when the sun cracks through the hotel room windows in the morning you need to make a change. Who wants to get up early on vacation.

Bring with chip clips, binder clips or wooden clothespins to hold the two drapes together. They are small and lightweight to bring with and easily fit into your suitcase. This will keep the sun out of your room in the morning and let you get a few more precious minutes sleep.

Painter Tape to Baby Proof the Room

You can do so much with a roll of painter’s tape in your hotel room. Use these hotel hacks with painters tape to let yourself relax a little while in the room with crawling babies or toddlers.

Covering Outlets

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Cover up the outlets for little ones by placing painters tape over the holes. This will keep them from sticking their fingers in the outlets.

Worried about packing all that baby gear? Guess what you don’t have to with BabyQuip! This amazing baby rental company featured on Shark Tank will deliver everything to you.

Keep Drawers & Cabinets Closed

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Does your little one love opening and closing drawers and cabinets but it’s driving you crazy? Keep them closed by placing painters tape across the openings.

You can also use bungee cords to keep drawers and cabinets in the room closed. It’s a simple way to baby proof the room.

Rolling off the Bed

Keep your little ones from rolling off the hotel bed by putting one or two of the pillows under the fitted sheet. This will work as a bumper to keep them in the bed while they sleep.

Another option is to bring inflatable bed bumpers like the one below. These fit easily in your suitcase and are great for visiting grandparents or friends’ homes.

Fighting Over Space in the Bed

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If you have more than one kid sleeping in a bed block off sides of the bed by lining pillows down the middle. This will stop the kids from arguing about whose side of the bed they are on.

For parents, it will keep the kids from kicking you all night long. Amazing right!

Related Article 15 Travel Tips to Survive a Family Vacation

Pack in Play

Want to put the baby down to bed early and not have to go to bed early yourself? Put the pack in play in the bathroom. You can close the door to the bathroom and still be able to have the lights on or watch tv in the room while the baby sleeps.

Keep it quiet for the baby by using the exhaust fan in the bathroom to keep the noise out.

If you are staying at a hotel that doesn’t offer pack n plays or if your visiting someone’s home the Baby Joy travel crib is a great option. (Pictured below)

It’s a lightweight fold-up travel crib that can double as a playpen in the hotel room. A travel crib is a safe place for the baby to play while you are getting ready for your day of fun on vacation. Then use it as a crib at night.

Keep the Noise Out

Want to keep your room quiet and block out the noise from other hotel guests? I have two easy hotel hacks to do this.

Use a Towel

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Roll up a towel and place it under your hotel room door. This will block out the noise and any light coming in.

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.

Fan

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When we drive on our family vacations I always pack a small fan to run in the room while we sleep. It blocks out the noise of other hotel guests and keeps the room from getting too stuffy.

Laundry Bags

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If you have little ones with diapers you tend to run out of space in those small hotel garbage cans quickly. Use the free hotel laundry bags as an extra garbage for all those diapers and wipes.

You can also use the bags for actual laundry to help separate what needs to be washed when you get home. It’s so nice to just pull a bag out of your suitcase and leave it by the washer to clean after a long trip. No more remembering what the kids wore on vacation.

Related Article How to Travel Cheap on Family Vacation

Wifi

If your hotel makes you pay extra for Wifi use your phone as a hotspot for your kid’s electronics. An easy hotel hack to save money.

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Eating In Your Room

A huge hotel hack for saving money on Family Vacation is bringing food to eat in your hotel room.

Forget paying for a pricy breakfast when most hotel rooms nowadays have small refrigerators and microwaves. Here are a few hotel tips and tricks to make eating in your room easier.

Ironing Board

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Use an ironing board as a table for your kids. Genius right! Use one of the hotel room towels as a table cloth so no food gets on the ironing board. This is much better than having them eat on the carpet floor and spilling all over.

In-Room Coffee Pot

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Most rooms have an in-room coffee pot. This is great for coffee or tea for adults but you can also use it to make oatmeal in the morning for breakfast, hot chocolate or for lunch mac n cheese cups or ramen noodle cups.

Warm-up Baby Bottles

Use the coffee mugs provided and fill up with hot water from the coffee maker. Then put the baby bottle in the mug until you reach a warm temperature that’s right for the baby.

Related ArticleUltimate Travel Checklist of Things to do Before Vacation

Night Lights

Pack a couple of night lights to use in the room. We usually put one in the main room and one in the bathroom. It makes getting around at night so much easier, and the kids aren’t scared in the dark.

Changing Station

Set up a changing station area when the kids are little before you go to bed. I would place it near a night light so you can quickly change the baby without waking everyone else up. Plus not turning on the lights might help the baby go back to sleep quicker.

I like to use fold-out changing pads like the one below. It holds diapers, wipes and folds up into a small case I can throw in my suitcase.

Room Phone

Do your little ones love to pick up the hotel room phone? Stop fighting them about it and just unplug the phone jack. No one really calls you on a hotel phone and it’s one less battle to fight.

Extra Beds

Bringing travel beds is a great option for hotel rooms when you have multiple children or if you are visiting someone’s home on vacation and need some extra beds

Blow Up Beds

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We find sometimes sharing beds in hotel rooms just leads to no one getting any sleep. If we are driving to our destination we will pack a blow-up mattress and let the kids trade-off between the bed and blow up. This way everyone sleeps well and they think it’s fun to have their own beds.

Toddler Blow Up Bed

If you have a toddler that you are worried will roll off a big hotel bed try a small toddler blow up bed. The toddler size blow up has sides to keep them from rolling off and they fit in comfortably. Here is one that we used when our kids were little. Blow Up Toddler Bed

Portable Folding Cots

Another option is to bring a portable junior cot for kids. These fit easily in a bag and just unfold for simple and quick assembly. They are surprisingly comfortable too! Just bring along a sleeping bag and your ready.

Entertainment in the Hotel Room

Car Racing

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Remember that roll of painters tape you packed. Use it to make a cool race track on the hotel room floor. The tape won’t leave a mark and your kids will have something to keep them busy.

Card Games

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Card games are small to pack and can easily be played on a bed or the floor of a hotel room. We love to play Go Fish with little ones and Uno for the older kids. Another great game is Right Left Center. Super simple and fun to play as a family.

Road Trip Tips

Want some fun road trip games for the hotel room, airplane, and car rides? Check out my Awesome Dollar Tree Games & Activities on Road Trips. Includes entertaining games, travel hacks, and Busy Bag ideas.

No time to shop? Visit Our Favorite Road Trip Games on Amazon. You’ll love the Wiki Sticks and magnetic games for hotel rooms and restaurants too.

Can’t fit all your baby gear in the car or take it on the plane? No problem have them delivered to your hotel room by BabyQuip. They’re our favorite family travel hack for getting cribs, strollers, car seats, and more on vacation.

Beach Hacks

If you like these travel hacks you’ll love our cool Beach Hacks too! Get my sly ways to hide your money, keep your phone dry, get rid of the sand and so much more. 20 Beach Hacks to Survive a Day at the Beach with Kids

Are you ready to try out these amazing hotel hacks on your next family vacation? I hope my hotel tips and tricks make your family travel less stressful and encourage you to take more fun family getaways. Now go out and make some new family memories!

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Ultimate Family Travel Checklist to get you prepared for traveling with Kids. Everything you need to pack for your vacation. You'll never forget things again. #freeprintable #travelchecklist #travelingwithkids #familyvacation

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for family travel ideas, kid’s activities, household hacks, and fun parenting humor to give you a laugh each day.

Don’t forget to Pin these Hacks

Awesome Hotel Travel Hacks with Kids. Best Tips & Tricks for family travel. De-stress your next family vacation with simple DIY hacks to do in your hotel room. #hotelhacks #travelhacks #traveltips #travelwithkids #familyvacation
Travel Tips & Hacks with Kids. Tips & Tricks to make staying in a hotel room easier for family travel. How to make food in your room, cover outlets, block out the sun and noise and so much more. Check it out! #traveltips #travelhacks #travelwithkids #hotelhackswithkids #familytravel #familyvacation

More Family Travel Tips

Unforgettable Family Travel Destinations

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.
Genius Hotel Travel Hacks for Kids. DIY travel tips & tricks for an easy hotel stay on family vacation. Make your next road trip or vacation awesome and stress free. #hotelhacks #familyvacation #traveltips #travelhacks
20 Genius Hotel Hacks & Tips for Family Vacation. Plus how to clean your hotel room. Cheap hotels tips for kids to make your visit stress free.  You won't believe you didn't think of these easy fixes before. #travelhacks #hotelhacks #hoteltips #traveltips #familyvacation #travelwithkids
Travel with Kids

20 Beach Hacks to Survive a Family Beach Day

Are you planning a family beach day or headed on a beach vacation? Make it a stress-free and fun day out with these 20 Easy Beach Hacks for kids.

You’ll be surprised at how these simple beach tips and tricks can make such a huge difference in your family day out. Follow our list of fun things to take to the beach to be ready to enjoy your beach day.

You’ll learn what to do before you go to the beach, what to pack for the beach, a cool fitted sheet hack to keep sand off blanket, how to hide your valuables and more. Don’t just survive your next family beach day have a great time making fun family memories.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

20 Beach Hacks to Survive a Family Beach Day

Genius Beach Hacks for kids to help families survive a day at the beach. Clever beach tips and tricks to help you on family beach vacations or just a day out at the beach with kids. You won't believe you didn't think of these beach hacks before! #beach #beachtips #beachhacks #familybeachday #kidsatthebeach #familyvacation #beachday

How to Prepare for Your Family Beach Day

Pack The Night Before

To make your beach day less crazy before you go, start packing up what you’ll need the night before. This way it’s one less thing to do when you’re trying to get your kids dressed and fed in the morning.

Pack Lunches and Snacks

Get your lunch and any snack made the night before. Then in the morning add them all to your cooler with water and drinks.

Get to the beach earlier in the day

The beach will be less crowded so you’ll get a better spot plus the kids are less crabby when they’re not as tired.

Stake out your spot

Now that you have arrived earlier in the day, you can stake out your spot on the beach with blankets, towels, and chairs. This way, when it does get crowded, you’ll still have some space for the kids to dig and play.

Decide if you would rather be near the water so you can see the kids easily swimming or further away so they can’t run into the water too quickly.

How to make a fun beach day by setting up your spot with all your cool beach hacks.

Bring a Blow-up Toddler Pool

For toddlers and babies, bring a small blow-up pool or use a blow-up boat as a small pool.

Fill the pool up with the lake/ocean water and place it under an umbrella for shade. This lets smaller children splash in the water and you won’t have to worry about them being in the ocean waves.

Worried about packing all that baby gear? Guess what you don’t have to with BabyQuip! An amazing baby rental company that delivers to your destination. Make your life easier and packing lighter with our favorite travel hackBabyQuip.

Keep Cool

Use a spray bottle to mist your kids and keep them cool.

This is great for when they are so busy playing in the sand and not interested in running in the water or when the water is too cold.

We love using one that has a fan on it. This O2Cool spray bottle worked great for us. (pictured in green below)

Beach Hack for keeping cool at the beach with a misting fan.

You can also freeze water bottles the night before so you have cold water to drink at the beach.

Cell Phone Protection

If you plan to bring your phone to the beach, make sure to put it in a case to protect it from sand and water. You can use a simple zip lock bag or we love the Moko waterproof cellphone case.

You can hang it around your neck and bring it in the water with you to take pictures of the kids. The Moko allows you to still use your phone’s touch features and takes clear pictures.

We take it on every vacation and even use it when going to our local pool. It’s shown in the picture below.

Protect your cell phone from sand at the beach with this cell phone cover case beach tip.

Wear flip flops

Make sure to wear flip-flops that can get wet so you can easily wash off the sand at the showers on the way out of the beach.

Bring a change of clothes

If you want to wash off in the showers at the beach and head out to restaurants or shops after your beach day, don’t forget to pack some extra clothes.

Bag for Wet Bathing Suits

Bring along an extra bag to throw your wet bathing suits in. This can be just a grocery store bag or a clean trash bag from your hotel room.

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Ultimate Beach Hacks and Beach Tips & Tricks for Kids. Easy & unique ways to keep everyone happy and meltdown free. Plus everything you need to pack for your beach day. Have great family memories with a perfect day out at the beach.  #beachhacks #beachtips #traveltips #beach #kids

What to Pack for a Day at The Beach

Beach Blanket Hacks

There are so many different beach blankets you can find. We like to find a beach blanket that folds up into a bag so you can easily transport it and that dries quickly.

This one below is great because it has pockets for your stuff and has stakes to hold the blanket down on windy days

Fitted Sheet Hack

Use a fitted sheet as your blanket to keep the sand off your blanket. You can place your cooler and bags to hold the sides up inside the fitted sheet. The sheet will go up higher and help keep the sand out. Which is pretty cool plus cheap.

Beach Bag

For the beach, you need a big beach bag for your towels but also one that has pockets to hold smaller things like your keys. The bonus is finding one that will also brush off the sand.

I love this beach bag because it folds up easily to pack in a suitcase and has tons of pockets.

Sand Toys

Save money when traveling by picking up some beach toys at the local dollar store or grocery store when you get there.

If you have room in your suitcase or are traveling by car, consider bringing the toys with you. Check out my Dollar Tree Travel Activities to find great beach items.

Beach Hack Put the toys in a mesh bag so that all the sand falls out. I often pick up a mesh laundry bag from the dollar store and throw all the beach toys in there. It’s a cheap and convenient way to hold all your beach toys.

Easy Beach Hack for Sand toys - use a mesh bag to hold your toys so you can keep the sand off your blanket and car. Just shake the mesh bag and let all the sand fall out.
My Dollar Store Laundry Bag

Hide Your Money

When you’re ready to head to the water, do you get nervous about leaving your purse or wallet on your beach blanket? Nothing ruins a beach day like having your money stolen.

Beach Trick to hide your money at the beach.

Beach Hack – Hide your money in an empty can of Pringles or a Chapstick holder. Thieves will think it’s just food and ignore it.

Bring a Bag for Trash

Make sure to bring with you a bag to throw out all your trash. If you plan to picnic or even just bring snacks, it’s nice to have a small plastic bag to throw out all your trash.

Beach Clothes

If you plan to be in the sun all day, it’s a good idea to wear a protective swim shirt or rash guards and a hat with SPF. This will help keep the sun and harmful rays off your skin.

Our whole family wears rash guards to the beach and it has been a huge help in reducing sunburns.

Sun Tent and Umbrella

Keep your kids out of the sun and cool on your beach vacation with an umbrella or beach tent. Our favorite beach tent pops up and is set up in minutes, which is great when you’re keeping an eye on excited kids at the beach.

If you want an umbrella, I suggest you use one that you can screw into the sand to make sure it doesn’t fly away in the wind. We like a fold-out handle to help you twist down the sand anchor on the snail beach umbrella. It makes the umbrella much more stable and easy to install.

Life Vests

If you have younger kids, I like to bring a swim vest for safety. It helps them stay afloat and makes it easier for you to swim with the kids.

I like that the one below has a handle at the top so you can easily grab your kid out of the water if they are struggling to swim.

Bring Baby Wipes

Use baby wipes to get sand off your hands before you have a picnic lunch or snack.

Cooler

Get a cooler that you can also use as a table. Try to find one on wheels that you can pull over the sand and has indentations for drink holders.

Beach Cart

It’s hard to carry all your beach supplies and your kids to the beach. Even if the kids can walk, they are not a big help in carrying your stuff. I suggest getting a beach cart if you are going to regularly go to the beach.

Make sure you pick one with big wheels that can easily be pulled over the sand and look for one that can hold your beach umbrella, too.

Beach Wagon

Another great option is a beach wagon that you can throw all your stuff in.

We found a great one that folds so it’s easy to pack up in your car. Plus it has good wheels to pull through sand. I noticed it had a bad review on Amazon but worked great for us and we filled it up. Quest Beach Wagon

Did you find a great beach hack for your next beach vacation? I hope these tips will help you have a great beach day with your kids! If you have any questions or your own beach hacks, please share in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.

Fun Beach Vacation Ideas

We love taking beach vacations in Florida and North Carolina. They all have beautiful beaches and tons of fun activities for the whole family. You just need to decide if you want to be on the Gulf or the Atlantic Ocean.

Our Favorite Beach Vacations

Travel Hacks to Keep Kids Busy on Family Vacation

Keeping kids busy on a family vacation is the difference between us all going crazy and having a great trip.

My favorite place to pick up cheap travel games and gadgets is Dollar Tree. You save money and if you lose it on vacation no big deal.

If you don’t have time to shop before vacation, check out these great Amazon Travel Gadgets for Kids.

We love the travel tray for the kids to play on in the car and kick mats to hold the kid’s iPads and games on a road trip.

Will you be visiting friends or family & need cribs, car seats, or strollers? Don’t pack it all have it delivered to their door with BabyQuipMake your life easier when traveling with kids with our favorite travel hack from BabyQuip

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20 Ultimate Beach Tips & Tricks with kids. Best beach hacks for a fun family beach day. Easy tips on how to plan for a day at the beach, what to pack, how to hide your money, get rid of sand & more. #beachhacks #beachtips #traveltips #familyvacation #packing #travelwithkids
20 Awesome Beach Hacks Moms will Love! Get these easy tips and tricks for taking kids to the beach. Clever ideas to hide your valuables, carrying things to the beach, safe areas for babies and so much more. #Beachhacks #travelwithkids #beachday #beachvacation #travelhacks #traveltips #familyvacation
Beach Hacks Every Mom Needs to Know. Simple Beach Tips & Tricks for kids to make your Beach day or Beach vacation fun and stress free. Save your next family vacation with the best Beach Tips for a memorable day out with the kids. #beachhacks #beachtips #familyvacation #beach #sand #travelhacks

More Great Family Vacation Destinations

Family Travel Tips & Hacks

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Genius Beach Tips & Tricks Moms Need for a family beach day. DIY Beach hacks with kids for a stress free beach vacation. How to hide your valuables, get rid of sand, what to pack and more.  Be ready with these 20 Clever Beach Tips for Kids. #beachtips #beachtricks #beachhacks #beachwithkids #beachvacation
Travel with Kids

Best National Parks in the USA for Kids

Does your family love to get out into nature and explore amazing hiking trails, mountains, and waterfalls? We love it too! We’ve been visiting the best National Parks in the USA and want to share it with you.

Let me show you the best of American national parks from the East Coast to the West Coast. Families will love seeing the rugged coastline at Acadia National Park, amazing waterfalls at Yosemite and scenic mountain views in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Get inspired with our list of the 9 best National Parks in the USA to visit with kids before they turn 18.

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Best National Parks in the USA. Which parks to visit with kids on Road Trips from the East Coast, to the Midwest, California and Arizona. In the list you'll find Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Arcadia, Shenandoah, Sequoia National parks and more. Find the Park that best fits your family. #nationalparks, #familyvacation # familytrips # traveltips #np

Best National Parks in the USA with Kids

Acadia National Park

Location – Bar Harbor, Maine

Acadia National Park has amazing views from the highest headlands along the Atlantic Coast. Here you will find a mix of seven peaks to hike, sandy beaches, and the ocean. Families can take a ranger-led boat tour and touch real sea life in season plus search for seals, porpoises, and birds.

They also have a great nature center with hands-on exhibits to learn more about this cool National Park. When the kids get tired, take a gorgeous drive along Park Loop Road.

If you are interested in hiking with the family, there are several great trails to try, such as Wonderland, Ship’s Harbor, and Flying Mountain. To keep the kids excited about the hikes, check out the kid’s program Acadia Quest. It’s a family-oriented program that lets families make teams to complete activities throughout the park.

The Bar Harbor area is known for its delicious Popovers. You can find them at the Jordan Pond House in the park. However, in the busy season, you will need to take the shuttle as parking will be limited. Or do what the locals do and enjoy them at The Asticou Hotel in Northwest Harbor.

While you’re visiting the park, make sure to leave some time to explore the cute town of Bar Harbor, too. It’s a great location to find hotels, restaurants, and quaint shops. If you are looking for a fun New England family vacation, this area has it all. Learn more about Acadia National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Location – Ohio – In between Cleveland and Akron Ohio

One of the newest National Parks is located in Ohio and close to civilization which makes it easy to find Starbucks and hotels. However, once you are in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, you will feel miles away from anything. The park was started to preserve the interesting history of the canal lock system. Families can learn more about the history at their visitor center filled with interactive exhibits.

What we loved the most were the cool hikes through different types of terrain. Our two favorites are the hikes to the beautiful Brandywine Falls and climbing the amazing moss & boulder covered paths in Virginia Kendall Ledges. Both are kid-friendly hikes your family will love.

The location of this park is also a huge draw. Located on the edge of the Midwest, it is easy for families driving from the East Coast or Midwest to visit. Plus there are tons of hotels in the area to stay or camping.

Learn more about visiting this cool national park in my Best Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Everglade National Park

Location – Florida Everglades, Between Miami and Naples Florida

If you’re headed down to Florida, the Everglades National Park is a must-see. It is an interesting national park created to protect the unique ecosystem of the wetlands. Besides preserving the landscape, the park also protects the American crocodiles, alligators, manatees, birds, and panthers.

This is the only place in the world that alligators and crocodiles coexist. If your family wants to see crocodiles or alligators, this is the place to visit

In the park, you will find many boardwalk hikes to keep you out of the wetlands water areas. Find great boardwalks to walk at Anhinga Trail and Mahogany Hammock Trail.

The most popular site to see is Shark Valley. It’s a long drive to get to but a great spot to see wildlife. Once you arrive at the visitor center, you ride a shuttle or bike to a huge observation tower overlooking the everglades.

Want an adventure while you’re there? Take a ride on Florida’s popular airboat rides through the everglades. Zoom through the Everglades and glide over grasses while looking for local wildlife. This was our family’s favorite part and I detail all about it in Best Airboat Rides What to See & Do.

Everglades National Park is located between Miami, Naples, and Marco Island. All are great places to stay while visiting the National Park.

If you want to expand your trip, visit Big Cypress National Preserve located just north of the park and Everglade City. Once you’re done with your long day of exploring make sure to visit the beautiful beaches in Naples and Marco Island.

Grand Canyon National Park

Best National Parks in the USA. Which parks to visit with kids on Road Trips from the East Coast, to the Midwest, California and Arizona. In the list you'll find Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Arcadia, Shenandoah, Sequoia National parks and more. Find the Park that best fits your family. #nationalparks, #familyvacation # familytrips # traveltips #np

Location – Northern Arizona

The Grand Canyon is where you go when you’re ready to be in awe. The Canyon is one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders and pretty amazing to see in person. Take your time while you’re there to view the different colors in the rocks as the sunlight changes. Consider visiting the two different parts of the canyon, the more popular South Rim and longer to drive to North Rim (5 hours north).

If you are not serious hikers, then a half a day exploring the South Rim is probably enough. However, if you want to hike down the canyon, keep in mind it is 4 hours to get down and 6-8 hours to climb back up.

You will still get an amazing experience driving along the South Rim and getting out at the stops along the way for pictures and beautiful views. There are also a few short hikes for kids on the South Rim. Summer months can get very busy and you might want to take the shuttle rather than drive yourself.

Other fun ways to see the Canyon are to take a helicopter ride, mule ride, or scenic train ride. All would be fun and unique experiences for your family.

There is a hotel to stay in at the Grand Canyon but make sure to make your reservations early as it fills up quickly. We stayed in Flagstaff as we only made the visit a day trip so we could explore all of Arizona. Flagstaff has a really cute town plus tons of hiking and areas to explore. It is only an hour and a half from Grand Canyon Village.

Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon National Park

Location – California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park hold 7 of the largest Sequoia trees in the world. The parks are adjacent to each other and are just a couple hours south of Yosemite. You will be blown away by the sheer size of the Sequoia trees you’ll see on your visit.

You could easily do both of these parks in one long day with kids. However, if you want to do more hiking and exploring, then I would make it a two-day trip. There is lodging in both parks and camping options. The hotels book up fast so make sure to book these well in advance of your stay.

Sequoia National Park

At Sequoia National Park, start out by visiting the Foothills Visitor Center and the Giant Forest Museum. These are great places to learn more about the giant sequoia trees and ask the rangers questions.

Next, head to General Sherman Tree and Trail to see the world’s largest known living tree. Enjoy walking through the woods on a mostly paved trail to discover this huge tree. Afterward, head to the Congress Loop trail to see the 3rd and 4th tallest Sequoias.

If you want an easy hike with the kids, check out Crescent Meadow where you’ll find a huge tree to sit in and a house made out of sequoias called Tharp’s Log. Another fun hike is to Tokopah Falls which is a rockier hike along a river but still doable with kids. Plus the waterfall at the end is worth the hike.

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Kings Canyon National Park

Best National Parks in the USA. Which parks to visit with kids on Road Trips from the East Coast, to the Midwest, California and Arizona. In the list you'll find Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Arcadia, Shenandoah, Sequoia National parks and more. Find the Park that best fits your family. #nationalparks, #familyvacation # familytrips # traveltips #np

The second-largest sequoia, General Grant, is located in Kings Canyon National Park. This should be your first stop on your visit. Head to Grant Grove Trail and take the easy 0.6-mile loop around General Grant Tree. While there, look for the Fallen Monarch, a nature-made fort for the kids to explore.

After this, take a drive on Kings Canyon Scenic Byway and make sure to stop at the pull-off to take in the amazing views.

Next, take a scenic hike at Zumwalt Meadow, an easy 1.8-mile trail next to the Kings River. Make sure to look up and take in the view of the Grand Sentinel and North Dome towering above you.

Shenandoah National Park

Location – Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, not too far from Washington, D.C. The park covers over 300 square miles in the Virginia Mountains. As you drive along Skyline Drive, which runs through the whole park, you will see amazing views of the mountains and valleys.

Start off at one of the three Visitor Centers to learn more about the park’s history, nature, and wildlife.

The park has several family-friendly hikes to do. We loved the hike to Dark Hollow Falls to see the beautiful waterfall. The kids also really enjoyed the hikes on Stony Man Trail and Bear Fence Mountain Trail where they could climb the rocks along the way. Both end with stunning views across the mountains.

Find more easy family hikes and my tips for first-time visitors at Shenandoah National Park.

Like Acadia National Park, Shenandoah National Park is surrounded by great little towns to visit and tons of fun family activities in Shenandoah Valley.

We highly recommend exploring the stunning Luray Caverns. You will be in awe looking at the huge cavern with an underground lake and amazing stalagmites & stalactites. It was the highlight of our trip.

Also check out the surrounding towns of Winchester and Staunton, Virginia for fun museums, civil war history, great restaurants, and shops.

You can easily spend a week’s vacation here exploring the National Park and surrounding Shenandoah Valley. Learn more about the area in Fun Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley.

Smoky Mountains National Park

Location – Straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee

The Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the USA. Besides being a beautiful park, it also has a great location in the middle of the country. This park is easily accessible for people to get to and enjoy a few days living in the mountains.

Visitors will also find a portion of the famous Appalachian Trail running through the Smoky Mountains. But the best part of the Smoky Mountains is it’s Free!

Start your visit out at Sugarland Visitor Center to learn more about the park and sign up for some great Ranger-led tours. Then take some fun family hikes to explore the park.

We loved the easy hike to Cataract Falls. You can also hike along parts of the historic Appalachian Trail. If you want to get a great view of the Smoky Mountains, take the hike up to Clingman’s Dome. Just a warning though, it is a steep climb up a paved path.

Another great way to learn the history of the park is to drive Cades Cove Loop. It’s an 11-mile, one-way scenic drive with historic stops along the way.

Pick up the self-guided tour or download the app to find out what is at each stop along the way. You will visit historic homes, churches, a grist mill and more. This is a perfect activity in the afternoon when the kids are tired of hiking.

Make sure to check out these helpful tips for visiting the Smoky Mountains.

Outside of the Smoky Mountains National Park, you will find the touristy towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Both of these towns have tons of restaurants, shops, and lodging plus some slightly cheesy places like Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museums that the kids will love.

Tip: There are tons of cabins to rent if you want to get a great view but still be close to town. We found the pricing similar to staying in downtown Gatlinburg.

Learn more about visiting Gatlinburg in 7 Fun Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN.

Yosemite National Park

Location – Eastern Central California

Of all the National Parks on the list, I think Yosemite National Park has some of the most stunning scenery. Here you will see amazing waterfalls, mountains, sequoia trees, and beautiful meadows.

This also can be a very busy National Park to visit especially in the summer months. At busy times I’d suggest you use their great shuttle system to get around the park.

The main area you will visit is Yosemite Valley, a 7-mile stretch of glacier-carved granite and meadows. There are several great hikes for families from the Valley area. Try Glacier Point Loop for an easy paved path with stunning views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley.

When you’re ready to see waterfalls, hike the Bridalveil Falls Trail and Lower Yosemite Falls Trail. Both will lead you to scenic waterfalls. Then, enjoy an easy walk through Cooks Meadow Loop and gaze up at the mountains around you.

Yosemite Village is where you will find all of the lodging, restaurants, shops, and Yosemite Museum. This is a great stop even if you are staying outside of the park to pick up food or souvenirs. There is only one loop road that drives through Yosemite Village which helps you from getting lost.

Tip: There are a lot of bears in this area so make sure not to leave food in your car or unattended at a campsite.

Every Kid in a Park

The national park system is trying to encourage all kids to visit the National Parks. To do this they have created a program called Every Kid in a Park. It allows 4th Grade kids and their families to get in free to all National Parks.

Kids are eligible for the full year including the summer before and after 4th grade. This is a great way to save some money and enjoy the parks as a family.

Hiking with Kids Tips

Before you go on a hike in one of these fabulous National Parks get a few of my best tips on hiking with kids. Simple ways to make your family day out less stressful and fun. Keep the kids interested in your hike with some cool trail games and activities.

Be prepared for your family hike with my free printable hiking checklist with all the hiking gear you need to bring on your family hike. Get everything you need to know in the Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids.

How to Plan the Cost of Your Trip

Find out the full cost of your upcoming vacation with my free Trip Cost Calculator. Use this easy tool to help build your travel budget and get a better idea of how much you need to save for a vacation.

You can adjust each travel item cost until you find a total amount that you can afford. Then build your dream vacation around your personal travel budget. 

Are you inspired now to visit the best national park in the USA on your next family vacation? I really hope this list of the Best National Parks for kids helps you narrow down the parks that are the best fit for your family.

I’d love to hear from you about your trip or any questions you may have. Leave me a note in the comments and I will get back to you. I love to hear from my readers.

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US National Parks with Kids. Best parks to visit on Road Trips in the United States. Visit park in the East Coast, California, Arizona and the Midwest. Use this list to find the best National Park for your family.  Find incredible Experiences you'll love! #nationalpark #np #familyvacation #traveltips #travelwithkids
Best USA National Parks for Kids-  Find the right National Park for Families from Yosemite, to Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Shenandoah, Sequoia, Everglades and more. Get details on each to plan your next family vacation or road trip. #nationalparks #nationalparksusa #familyvacation #roadtrip #travelwithkids #arcadia #smokymountians #yosemite #grandcanyon

More Fun Family Travel Destinations

Family Travel Activities and Hacks

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.
Can't miss United States National Parks with Kids. Visit awe inspiring National Parks like Yosemite, Smoky Mountains, Arcadia, Shenandoah, Grand Canyon & more. Use this family vacation guide to see which is the best park for your family.  #nationalparks #usanationalparks #familyvacation #acadia #yosemite #smokymountains #grandcanyon #nationalpark #travelwithkids
Travel with Kids

Best Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park & Brandywine Falls

Did you know there was a National Park in Ohio? Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a beautiful gem located between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio along the Cuyahoga River. This free national park is easily accessible and is very family-friendly.

On your visit, hike to a waterfall at Brandywine Falls and explore moss-covered boulders at Virginia Kendall Ledges. Pick up trail maps and learn the history of the canal system by stopping at the visitor centers. Or take a bike ride on the Ohio Erie Canal Tow Path.

If you are spending a weekend in Cleveland or traveling from nearby states, this is a perfect family weekend getaway. Check out all the things to do at Cuyahoga Valley National Park with kids.

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Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Things to Do

Cuyahoga Valley National Park was established in 2000 and is one of the newest national parks in the country. This makes it a little different than many other national parks as you have towns already built throughout the park. As you drive you will be going in and out of civilization.

We spent just one night and two days at the park and that was a perfect amount of time. This gave us enough time to see all the highlights of the park and not feel rushed. You will find plenty of hotels available in Akron and Cleveland at reasonable prices.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails

Brandywine Falls

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Brandywine Falls


Brandywine Falls is a scenic 65-foot waterfall. There are several waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park but this is the easiest to access. You will find a small parking lot area near the entrance to the trail. I would suggest hiking this trail earlier in the day before the lot fills up.

A boardwalk with handrails from the parking lot leads you on a path to the waterfall. There are many stairs so it is not easily accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. The boardwalk hangs along the cliff so be a little careful with the kids. There is a flat landing area to view the falls and get great pictures.

If you go back up the stairs, there is a boardwalk that continues up the waterfall where you can get a closer view of the falls from the top. You will also find some ruins the kids can climb around from the old town of Brandywine.

From here, you can turn around and go back to the parking lot or continue on for a 2-mile loop hike on the Brandywine Gorge Trail.

More National Parks to Visit – 8 Top Things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Virginia Kendall Ledges

This area was by far our family’s favorite! You will arrive at a parking lot area that has bathrooms and a picnic area. Find the signage for the Virginia Kendall Ledges Trail and take a walk down a gravel path through the trees.

At first, it will seem like just a regular hike in the woods but then you will come upon the huge moss-covered boulders. All of a sudden you will feel like you are in another world.

Our kids loved following these paths and climbing all over the rock formations. And I admit it was fun for us adults too! You can find small caves and paths to walk on all around this loop trail.

Keep an eye out for the Ice Box Cave – it’s closed off for the safety of the bat that live in the cave but you can feel the cold air coming out of the cave which is pretty cool.

We did not see any bats in the daylight so don’t be scared (lol). When you are done climbing around the rocks, you can head back to the parking area or keep following the Ledges Trail for a 2.2-mile loop hike.

Hiking Tips

Need some tips before heading out on a trail to make it a fun stress-free family day out? In my Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids, you’ll find easy hiking tips, the best hiking gear, and cool trail games & activities.

Keep the kids engage with free printable Nature Scavenger Hunts for kids

Be prepared for your hike and outing to a National Park with a Free Printable Hiking Checklist.

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.

Ohio Erie Canal Tow Path

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The Ohio Erie Canal Tow Path follows the historic routes along the Ohio & Erie Canal. The canals were built between 1825 and 1832 and were used before there were roads for farmers to transport their goods to the market. The paths are the ones mules used to pull the canal boats along the river. You can now walk or bike through these historic trails.

Along these trails, you will find beautiful views of forests, wetlands, and fields. The trails are hard packed and level so you are able to use wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes.

Best Travel Guide to Cuyahoga Valley National Park with kids. Great hiking and scenic waterfalls to visit in this Ohio national park. Find out the best trails and where to find maps and park information. Be prepared to visit this beautiful national park with these helpful family travel tips. #national park, #cuyahogavaleey, # Ohionationalpark, #familytravel, #travelwithkids

More National Park Idea – 9 Epic National Parks to Show Kids Before They Turn 18

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Visitor Center

The Visitor Centers at National Parks are a great way to get your bearings and find out all the great things to see while you are there. It’s also a great place to talk to the forest rangers and ask any questions you may have. We usually ask about the trails, directions, and where to see the best wildlife. Here are the two visitor centers we liked the best in this park.

Boston Store Visitor Center

The Boston Store Visitor Center is a great place to start your journey and ask questions of the park rangers. Inside, there is a small display on the history of the boats on the canal. Plus you can pick up a park map and brochures about the area. You will also find bathroom facilities and a water bottle refilling station. If you are riding your bike on the many trails, you can park it here at the bike racks and take a break.

Address: 1550 Boston Mills Road, east of Riverview Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

Another Great Ohio Family Hike – Hiking in Hocking Hills

Canal Exploration Center

The Canal Exploration Center is located on one of the old canal lock systems. The building is an old tavern that used to serve passengers while they waited for their boats to be ready. You can get an up-close look at how the locks worked and even attend a ranger-led demonstration. Then head inside to this two-story visitor center with a small store and large exhibit area.

The visitor center’s exhibits explain how the canal system worked and the history of the people who lived in the area. There are several interactive displays that are great for the kids. We spent an hour here exploring all the interesting exhibits.

Inside you can pick up a small snack, souvenir, and use the restroom facilities. The rangers are also available to answer any of your questions and provide maps of the trails.

Address: 7104 Canal Road, the intersection of Canal and Hillside roads
Valley View, Ohio 44125

More Weekend Getaway Ideas – 10 Awesome Weekend Getaways in the Midwest

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Maps

You will find Cuyahoga Valley National Park Maps at the visitor centers. If you would like to view them ahead of your visit, here is a link to maps. We found both the trail maps and map of the entire park very helpful.

The park is in the middle of towns and homes so it is helpful to have an idea where you are going. Also, I always feel better when I have a trail map for our family hikes.

After you enjoy Cuyahoga Valley National Park another great place to hike in Ohio is Hocking Hills, State Park. Learn all about it in Hiking in Hocking Hills.

So are you ready to explore Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park? The areas I highlighted were our favorite spots to visit in the park. Brandywine Falls and Virginia Kendall Ledges are not to be missed on your visit.

I would love to hear back from you after your visit about what you loved. Or if you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments. I love to hear from my readers and answer questions.

More National Parks to Visit with Kids

If you love visiting the outdoors with your family, be sure to read The Best National Parks in the USA to Visit Before Your Kids Turn 18. You’ll find information on cool National Parks like Shenandoah National Park, The Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia National Park, and more.

Enjoy traveling in the Midwest with your family? Get inspired by these 10 Family Weekend Getaways in the Midwest.

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Don’t Forget to Pin this Guide to use on your trip!

Best spots with kids in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Find hiking trail ideas with kids and beautiful waterfalls to visit. This travel guide tells you the best things to do with kids, where to find a map and park information plus family travel tips for visiting the national park.  Everything you need to know before you go! #cuyahogavalleynationalpark, #nationalpark, #familytravel, #travelwithkids
Easy hike to Brandywine Falls, Ohio - Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to the beautiful Waterfall Brandywine Falls and it's a must see. A quick hike with the kids via a wooden boardwalk leading you to the scenic waterfalls. There are so many fun things to do with kids and adults in this national park. Check out my travel guide and be prepared for a great visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. #cuyahogavalleynationalpark, #waterfalls, #travelwithkids, #familytravel

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Best Things to Do in Cuyahoga National Park & Brandywine Falls. A complete guide to best hikes for families visiting this beautiful Ohio National Park and what not to miss. #cuyahoganationalpark #nationalparks #brandywinefalls #hikingwithkids #nationalparkswithkids #familyvacation
Ohio Hiking Trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park with Kids. The best hiking trail to see Brandywine Waterfall and more. A fun day out or place to camp with the kids.  #hikingwithkids #cuyahogavalleynationalpark #nationalpark #ohiohikingtrails
Travel with Kids

Best Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Kids

Did you know the most visited US National Park is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? There is a reason for this it is absolutely beautiful and has a great location in the middle of the country.

The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are easy to drive to and packed with great family adventures. You will find so many fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park with kids from cool hikes, the Appalachian Trail, Cades Cove driving tour, climbing Clingman’s Dome, Pioneer History and more.

Plus you can’t miss the touristy towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Follow along with me to learn the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains with kids.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Best Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Kids

Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips

Smoky Mountains Map & Entrances

View of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the best parts of visiting the Smoky Mountains is the beautiful view. The bad part is, GPS often doesn’t work in the mountains.

I would suggest either printing off the park map before you go or stopping at the Visitor Center for directions when you arrive. The park covers 520,000 acres and 800 square miles through Tennessee and North Carolina. With this many miles, a map will be a huge help.

There are three entrances to the park in Gatlinburg TN, Townsend TN, and Cherokee NC. You will find a visitor center near all three entrances to help get you acquainted with the park.

Of the three entrances, Gatlinburg is the bigger town with lots of hotels and cabin options plus many restaurant choices. More on Gatlinburg below.

Entrance Fee & Hours

Park Hours – 9:00 am – 6:30 pm

Entrance Fee – Unlike most National Parks there is no Entrance fee to the Smoky Mountains. Yeah!

Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips

Visit the Visitor Centers

The first thing to do when you arrive at the park is head to a visitor center. There are three main visitor centers in the park all close to the three main entrances.

At the visitor center take advantage of the park rangers to discuss any questions or hiking trail suggestions you may have. Pick up a map and the park newspaper to find out daily activities.

You will also find bathroom facilities at all the centers.

While at the visitor center check out the exhibits on display. Each site has different exhibits on nature, the park, southern mountain life, and culture. This will give everyone a better idea about the park’s history and what you are going to see while visiting. Plus the kids will enjoy it.

Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.

Ranger- Lead Tours

While at the visitor centers make sure to find out the daily schedule for Ranger-lead tours. They have a variety of options from learning about local wildlife, hiking and learning about the people who lived in the area.

We took a great Ranger lead tour from the Sugarland Visitor Center about the local people who lived in the area. The Ranger takes you on a walk to visit local homes and a school that are still left on the property.

On the tour, you learn what daily life was like for the people who lived in this area and how it became a National Park. It was an easy walk for families and the ranger did a great job of engaging the kids to keep them interested. Bonus: these tours are free.

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Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking trail near Sugarland Visitor Center

While you are visiting the park you’ve got to get out and do some hiking. There are tons of options to choose from based on your family’s ability level. While at the visitor center talk to the Ranger about the best options for your family.

Hiking With Kids Tips

Need some tips on how to make hiking with the kids enjoyable for the whole family? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids. You’ll find top family hiking tips, best hiking gear, and fun trail games & activities. Plus get my Free Printable Hiking Checklist that we use for our hikes.

Here are a few of our favorite family hikes:

Cataract Falls Trail

Cataract Falls trail is an easy and fun hike for families. It’s located right behind the Sugarland Visitor Center making it easy to get to with the kids. Plus you are rewarded with a Waterfall at the end. If you enter through the Gatlinburg entrance this is a great first hike to get the kids excited about the park.

Appalachian Trail

Hiking the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail was originally a footpath that was changed into hiking trails in the 1920s and now runs from Maine to Georgia. The whole trail stretches 2, 200 miles long and 71 miles of it runs through the Smoky Mountains. My family thought it was really cool to hike on paths that had been used by local Native Americans to local settlers and now hikers.

Newfound Gap

This is a great place to take an easy hike with the kids on the Appalachian Trail. From the parking lot, kids can climb some rocks to get to the trail which is pretty fun or just walk to the opening.

Then walk along a well-marked path for as long as your family can make it. This stop is also the dividing line between Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s pretty cool for the kids to stand with one leg in each state. Also a great photo op.

To get to Newfound Gap you need to take Newfound Gap Road. What you will find in Newfound Gap is a large parking lot, restroom and picnic facilities. Enjoy the beautiful views from the parking lot and the Rockefeller Memorial.

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains. At the very top is a huge observation tower where you get amazing views. It’s pretty cool.

From the parking lot, it’s a 1/2 mile paved walk to the top. However, it is a very steep grade and can be a difficult walk. It would be hard to push a stroller or wheelchair although we did see some people pushing strollers. I will be honest I was out of breath when we got to the top but it’s worth the 360-degree views of the park.

Tips – The parking lot is very small so I would suggest getting there earlier in the day. Also if it’s cloudy you may not be able to see anything from the top so decide that before you climb up.

There should be a ranger at the bottom to answer any questions. There are also bathroom facilities. Lastly bring a jacket with, as it is significantly cooler and often damp on the walk up to the top.

Hiking Gear

Make sure to be ready for your hike with water and snacks. We love the fanny pack below to hold your water bottle, phone, snacks & keys without hurting your back.

Also, check out this great baby carrier for kids while you hike. It’s comfortable weighing only 5.5 pounds and holds kids up to 33 pounds so it can grow with your child.

Find a list of all our favorite hiking gear in our Ultimate Guide to Hiking with Kids.

Historic Structures in the Smoky Mountains

Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips
Pioneer Grist Mill in Cades Cove

The Smoky Mountains National Park has one of the best collections of historic log buildings in the US. You will find over 90 Historic structures throughout the park. These range from houses, churches, schools, barns and a grist mill.

I think what makes this National Park stand out from the others is the cool historical aspects of the park. It gives an extra element of interest to the whole family. Kids will love seeing how people use to live and where they went to school.

Cades Cove

Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips
Scenic View in Cades Cove

One of the best places to explore Pioneer History in the park is the Cades Cove loop. This 11-mile one-way scenic drive takes you through rolling meadows with mountains in the background.

Early settlers came to this area between 1811 & 1821 and have left a wide variety of historic structures. You’ll find log cabins, churches, a gist mill and more. The working gist mill was really fun for the whole family to see. The drive is broken up into several stops along the way where you can get out and take a closer look at the structures.

Guide to Cades Cove – We found it helpful to have a guide to Cades Cove to understand better the history of the structures. You can purchase an inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet at the entrance to the Cove.

The other option we really like was an audio tour that we could listen to while we drove. The tour was broken up by each stop and explained each structure to us before we stopped. It made the drive and buildings much more meaningful. We downloaded this app to our phones. It was great for the kids to listen to also.

Tips for Cades Cove:

  1. Give yourself 2-4 hours to complete this drive. In summer months it is more crowded and takes longer. Plus you will be getting in and out to view the buildings.
  2. From May to late September the drive is closed to cars until 10 am to allow for bicycles and hikers.
  3. Suggestion -Hike in the morning and do the Cades Cove drive in the afternoon when the kids are tired.

Don’t forget to grab your Free Printable Hiking Checklist

Junior Rangers Progam

A great way to keep the kids excited about hiking in the park is by joining the Junior Rangers program. Kids ages 5-12 can participate in the program.

They buy a booklet ($2.50) by their age group from the visitor center and complete all the fun activities. When they’re done, bring it back to the visitor center and receive a badge. I would suggest getting this booklet at the beginning of the trip as it does take a little bit to complete.

Where to Stay – Cabins, Camping & Hotels

Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips
The cabin we rented in the Smoky Mountains
Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips
View from our Cabin Deck. It even had a hot tub.

Gatlinburg TN Cabins

There are a variety of options for where to stay while in the Smoky Mountains. On our last stay, we rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN, which was great. We were in the mountains with great views and had tons of room for the whole family. Plus a kitchen to make breakfast in the morning and pack lunches for the park.

There are tons of options for Cabins but we used Park Side Cabin Rentals and really like it.

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Camping

Camping is another great option and you can stay in the park. How fun would it be to wake up in the Smoky Mountains! The park offers a variety of options and you can learn more here.

Hotels

The last option is to find a hotel or resort in the area. Some suggestions I have are the Hilton Garden Inn located right outside the entrance to the park. We always find Hilton Garden to be a reliable hotel when we travel and love their free breakfast.

Another option is to stay in downtown Gatlinburg so you can walk to all the attractions. We like Bearskin Lodge on The River near Ober Gatlinburg.

Want more lodging ideas? Take a look at Booking.com we love this website’s customer reviews and discounts.

Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN

The town of Gatlinburg is right outside the entrance to the park which makes it a perfect base for visiting the park. This touristy town offers lots of activities for the whole family. Just be ready to put on your tourist cap and dive into things like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

You will also find several restaurants and shops to buy souvenirs. Along the main downtown, strip are a few hotels that would be within walking distance of everything you’d need.

Best Things to do with Kids in Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. A fun family vacation with great hikes, scenic views and historic homes. Find info on Cabins, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge too. Click to find out all the awesome things to do in the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips
Chair Lift at Ober Gatlinburg

Another attraction in Gatlinburg is Ober Gatlinburg located in the downtown area. It’s a fun ski area in the winter and Amusement park in the summer. The cool part is it’s all located at the top of the mountain. Ride an Ariel Tramway from the town center up to the top where you will find all kinds of fun family activities. A great way to spend the day or just a few hours.
Learn more about Gatlinburg’s best family attractions in my 7 Fun Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN with Kids.

Things to do in Pigeon Forge TN

Pigeon Forge is another touristy town close to the entrance to the Smoky Mountains. Here you’ll find tons of activities for the whole family.

Their main attraction is the famous Dollywood Amusement park. You will also find miniature golf, go-karts, souvenir shops and an array of theater shows throughout the town.

Pigeon Forge has tons of lodging options too. You can find some chain restaurants here also if your kids need something more familiar. We bought some cheap souvenirs from a store with a giant Shark door which the kids loved.

Are you ready now to explore the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park? With so many things to do in the Smoky Mountains, your family is sure to find something to love.

Do you have any questions or have you found another great spot to visit? Please share in the comments so we can all learn together. Make sure to check out what to do in Gatlinburg TN too.

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Pin this article for your trip.

Best Family Guide to Smoky Mountains National Park. 8 things to do in the park with kids such as hiking, Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, waterfalls and Appalachian Trail. Find great cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. All you need to know before you go. #smokymountains, #familytravel, #nationalparks #Traveltips
Ultimate Guide to Smoky Mountains National Park. Find out the 8 Best Things to Do with kids. Fun hikes, visiting cades cove, walking the Appalachian Trail, clingman's dome and more. Find out everything you need to know before you go.  #smokymountians #nationalpark #hikes #travelingwithkids #familyvacation

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Subscribe to Happy Mom Hacks Newsletter and have access to the Ultimate Family Travel Checklist. Plus great Mom tips and tricks and family travel ideas.
Best Things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Kids. This Tennessee National Park is great for family hikes, seeing historical structures, driving Cades Cove, and enjoying nature with the kids. Get Tips on how to plan your Smoky Mountains Vacation from where to stay to what to eat and see. A Complete Family Guide. #smokymountains #nationalparks #Tennessee #familyvactaion #hiking #hikingwithkids #travelwithkids
Best Things to Do in Smoky Mountains National Park with Kids. Fun family hiking trails, Clingman's Dome, driving Cades Cove and more. Plus where to stay and what to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee. Your complete visitors guide to the Smoky Mountains. #smokymountains #hikingwithkids #smokymountainsnationalparks #nationalparks #tennessee