The best way to spend quality time with your family is to take them on outdoor adventures. Whether it’s an hour drive to a state park or a flight to faraway Alaska, nothing beats sharing precious moments (and Instagram-worthy posts) while enjoying nature. Hop on to these amazing outdoor adventures we suggest you can have with the entire family.
Just a reminder: leave nothing but trails, take nothing but pictures, and always have good, safe fun.
10 Outdoor Adventures You Can Have with Your Entire Family
The United States is rich with mountains and hills with lush forests and trails, which makes hiking one of the most popular outdoor adventures among Americans. In fact, in 2016, 42 million people hiked in the United States.
Hiking is a quick getaway your family can do in a weekend. Enjoy an early-morning hike or a late-afternoon lazy trek.
Spring is the best season to hike if you want the kids to enjoy the blooming flowers and greening oaks and maples. Or do a quick drive to the countryside in late November to see the red-orange-yellow colors of fall.
If your kids want a more challenging adventure, take them for camping.
Camping is one of the “complete” outdoor adventures. A 2-hour hike to a forest camp site will let you see the views of the mountains, hear the birds and rustling brooks, touch the rocks and mosses, smell the blooming flowers, and enjoy your camp-cooked meals.
There are hundreds of nature parks all over the US that offer family-friendly camp sites. Some of these sites offer cabins for rent, but where’s the fun in that?
Pitch your own tent and enjoy s’mores by the bonfire.
If you own a boat or can rent one, invite the kids on a fishing trip. There are hundreds of lakes, rivers and sea inlets in the US that are perfect fishing spots.
Fishing is a good activity for the kids as it teaches them patience and respect for nature. It can also be a fun competition; offer rewards to anyone who can reel in the biggest fish!
Fishing depends on the season, so plan your trips accordingly using local fishing guides.
With gun safety under control, hunting is a fruitful bonding activity for the family. It requires more teamwork, patience, and skills but the result is rewarding.
Hunting is regulated by laws and it differs per state. You will also need licences and fees.
Hunting also has a “season”, meaning the only period when you can hunt wild games or fowls. This means you must plan this adventure ahead of time.
National Parks Tour
The United States has 60 National Parks stretching from tropical Florida to snowy Alaska. Open year-long, these national parks were designated for their unique landscape formations, biodiversity, cultural heritage, and paleo-archeological significance.
Teach the kids the value of respect and appreciation for nature and culture by taking them to one (if not all) of these parks.
The Acadia National Park in Maine offers a picturesque view of the Atlantic coast while Arches (Utah) and Badlands (South Dakota) will give some out-of-this-world vibes.
Kayaking, Canoeing, River Rafting, and Other Water Adventures
If your family is up for some water adventures, then get your rafts ready and cruise along thousands of inland waters in the US.
A slow paddle along the gentle stream in Washington state is very meditative while whitewater rafting in the Colorado River will give you an adrenaline rush. Whichever your family prefers, this kind of outdoor adventure is perfect for quality family time.
These activities require more equipment and budget, so plan your holiday accordingly.
Sometimes, the best time to spend some quality time is to just look at the sky and marvel at the millions of stars twinkling at you.
Stargazing is best done outside the city. The Arizona deserts offer unhindered views of the Milky Way because of the desert’s “dark skies” (no light pollution) and lack of towering buildings.
Stargazing is perfect for family bonding – especially for photography. This activity has a “season,” however, and is weather-dependent, so plan this trip carefully.
Northern Lights Chasing
Taking the celestial adventures to a literally higher level is the chase for the famed Northern Lights.
Also known as Aurora Borealis, it can only be seen in the northern hemisphere, so it will require a long trip if you live down south. Given its geographic location, Alaska is the best state for this, but Idaho and Minnesota can reveal these lights at certain times of the year as well.
This activity is preparation-heavy, but the result will wow the whole family. It is one of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences you and your family must experience.
Surfing, Sailing, Diving, and Other Open Water Activities
The United States is not always the big lump of land you see on the map. It has thousands of miles of coastlines and is bordered by two oceans on each side.
This is why open water activities are also great outdoor adventures for the family. Take a boat to the lagoons of Florida, or ride waves in the coasts of California.
But when it comes to open water, nothing beats the islands of Hawaii. It has tropical weather all year long, which is perfect for sailing, surfing, diving, and island-hopping!
Driving an RV (recreational vehicle), is the quintessential American pastime. It evokes freedom on the open road and the wide expanse of Americana.
RV-ing remains one of the most popular outdoor adventures in the US, drawing in billions of dollars in revenues from millions of RV-owners. Whether you are driving to a specific destination, or just rolling along interstate highways from east to west coast, RV-ing is a perfect bonding activity for the family. You can enjoy the views on the road while you enjoy shared meals under the stars somewhere away from the city.
Where to Go
We mentioned general outdoor adventures, now here is a list of the specific places where you can enjoy such activities.
- Jordan Pond Path, Acadia National Park (Maine)
- Kephart Prong Trail, Smoky Mountains (Tennessee)
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, Oahu (Hawaii)
- Grand Canyon Grandview Point to the South Kaibab Trail (Arizona)
- Lower Yosemite Fall Trail (California)
- Bear Mountain Loop Trail (New York)
- Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Big Bend National Park (Texas)
- Riverside Walk, Zion National Park (Utah)
- Trail of Ten Falls Loop (Oregon)
- Emerald Lake Trail (Colorado)
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore (North Carolina)
- Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah)
- Jellystone Park Larkspur (Colorado)
- Red River Gorge (Kentucky)
- Edisto Island (South Carolina)
- Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes (Oregon)
- Fort Yargo State Park (Georgia)
- Blue Bell Campground (South Dakota)
- Oak Mountain State Park (Alabama)
- Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area (Nebraska)
- Bristol Bay (Alaska) – sockeye salmons
- Lake Ouachita (Arkansas) – striped bass, walleyes
- Devils Kitchen Lake (Illinois) – rainbow trout, blue gill
- Anderson Ranch Reservoir (Idaho) – rainbow trout, white sturgeon
- Lake Michigan Marina (Indiana) – perch, steelhead
- Nanticoke River (Delaware) – blue catfish, largemouth bass
- Mill River (Connecticut) – brown trout, herring
- Neshoba County Lake (Mississippi) – crappies, largemouth bass
- Contoocook Lake (New Hampshire) – sunfish, catfish
- Lake of the Ozarks (Missouri) – spotted bass, flathead catfish
- Appleton (Wisconsin) – whitetail deer
- Green Mountain National Forest (Vermont) – moose
- St. Mary’s Island (Iow) – pheasants
- Trans Pecos (Texas) – mule deer
- Bear Island (South Carolina) – ducks
- Harrison-Crawford State Forest (Indiana) – turkey
- Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area (Oklahoma) – rabbit
- James River Corridor (South Dakota) – pheasant
- Pine Ridge (Nebraska) – wild turkey
- Burrage Pond (Massachusetts) – wild duck
- Acadia National Park (Maine)
- American Samoa (American Samoa)
- King’s Canyon (California)
- Arches (Utah)
- Crater Lake (Oregon)
- Cuyahoga Valley (Ohio)
- Everglades (Florida)
- Glacier (Montana)
- Grand Teton (Wyoming)
- Isle Royale (Michigan)
Kayaking, Canoeing, Etc.
- Chattanooga (Tennessee)
- Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania)
- Door County (Wisconsin)
- Ventura County (California)
- New York City Downtown Boathouse (New York)
- Nichol’s Landing Paddling Trail (Texas)
- San Juan Islands (Washington)
- Youghiogeny River (Maryland)
- Rio Chama (New Mexico)
- Snake River (Idaho)
- Kincaid Park, Anchorage (Alaska)
- Death Valley National Park (California)
- Goldendale Observatory State Park (Washington)
- George Washington and Jefferson National Forest (Virginia)
- Cherry Springs State Park (Pennsylvania)
- Big Bend National Park (Texas)
- Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
- Big Pine Key (Florida)
- Cape Cod (Massachusetts)
- Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Preserve (New Mexico)
Northern Lights Chasing
- Fairbanks (Alaska)
- Anchorage (Alaska)
- Coldfoot (Alaska)
- Aroostook County (Maine)
- Upper Peninsula (Michigan)
- Priest Lake (Idaho)
- Beaver Bay (Minnesota)
- Big Sky County (Montana)
- Stowe (Vermont)
- Banff (Canada)
Open Water Activities
- Blue Heron Bridge, Riviera Beach (Florida) – diving
- Point Lobos (California) – diving
- Keahole Point (Hawaii) – diving
- Waikiki Beach (Hawaii) – surfing
- Ocean City (New Jersey) – surfing
- Virginia Beach (Virginia) – surfing
- Zuma Beach Malibu (California) – surfing
- Newport (Rhode Island) – sailing
- Apostle Islands (Wisconsin) – sailing
- Delaware Bay (Delaware) – sailing
- Hammonasset Beach State Park (Connecticut)
- Moorings Oceanfront Resort (Maine)
- Dolliver Memorial State Park (Iowa)
- Canning Creek Cove Park (Kansas)
- Lewis and Clark State Park (North Dakota)
- Custer State Park (South Dakota)
- Mountain Lake Campground (West Virginia)
- Gulf State Park Campground (Alabama)
- Lake Cumberland State Resort Park (Kentucky)
- Bridge Bay Campground (Wyoming)
How to Prepare for Outdoor Adventures
Here are some tips to fully enjoy your nature adventure with the family.
- Check weather forecasts
- Pack bottles of water and emergency food
- Prepare maps and GPS of the destination
- Keep a first aid kit
- Pack extra batteries and/or cellphone
- Book early
- Pack the camera
- Bring trash bags
The best place to spend with your family is right there with nature. So enjoy our list of best places for outdoor adventures for the whole family. Keep it safe and always have fun!