IHG Travel Blog

Learn, play and travel with your family from Connecticut to Maine

10 Northeast family summer vacation destinations

Whether you’re visiting a specific Northeast attraction or going to a big city like Boston, Chicago, or New York City, there are tons of great family vacation destinations that’ll make your trip more enjoyable. Here is a list of 10 of them to choose from.

The Adirondacks

If you’re heading up to New York, consider spending some time at The Adirondacks. This is one of the premier outdoor spots for traveling families. If you have young children, you probably want to stick to hiking, biking, and some light climbing in this huge mountain range. But if you have an older and more adventurous family, there are more intense options, too.

There are several small lakes connected to the mountain range that offer an opportunity for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Some lakes are large enough that tubing and cruises are also offered. Lake George is nearby, which has more than just the typical water sports for entertainment. Options include mini-golf, great restaurants, and even amusement parks.


When heading to Hershey, the big question to ask yourself is whether you can trust your kids in a chocolate factory. Hershey, Penn., is home to Hershey Park and Chocolate World, which are exactly what they sound like. These magical chocolate adventures create fond childhood memories that your kids will look back upon for years to come. On top of the huge perk of getting to eat the chocolate, there’s also a chocolate spa, tours, and roller coasters.

When you’ve had your fill of sweet goodness, head over to some of the nearby historic landmarks like Gettysburg or Lancaster. These two sites have mountains of history to take in, including the site of where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address.

Coney Island

New York City is known for its islands as much as it’s known for the great buildings in the city. If you only have time to visit one island, go to Coney Island. It offers a great beach for swimming and playing, but it also features great boardwalk entertainment, including rides and restaurants.

The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art

One fact about most kids is that they love dinosaurs more than just about anything else in the world. While there are replicas on display similar to a museum, what kids will love about The Dinosaur Place is the interactive exhibits. There are many activities a family can enjoy, like gem mining and navigating trails, most of which offer educational opportunities. If you’re in Connecticut and feel like enjoying some great indoor family activities, head over to The Dinosaur Place in the beautiful town of Montville.

New York Aquarium

Aquariums are always a good destination during family trips, but the New York Aquarium is a particularly great spot. It’s been open since 1896, making it the oldest continuously running aquarium of its kind in the United States. It’s also the premier attraction of Coney Island, which means it’s close to the other attractions mentioned above.

The aquarium itself offers you and your family a chance to see more than 350 different types of wildlife in more than 14 acres of space. There are also special events regularly offered to enhance the educational experience. The aquarium is located right by the water in Brooklyn and booking a hotel nearby will save you some cab fare.

Bushnell Park

If you visit Connecticut, a great place to check out for some outdoor activity is Bushnell Park. It’s an incredible 41-acre expanse of open land to explore. You can go for a run, walk, or hike and get a chance to appreciate the more than 140 types of trees. To top it off, the park is near the heart — downtown — of Hartford, a growing town that’s great for a short visit.

Gillette Castle State Park

Most state parks are beautiful; Gillette Castle in Connecticut is no exception. It’s a massive 184-acre park that houses a real medieval castle. While you could go off exploring by yourself, it’s a good idea to sign up for one of the offered tours to ensure you don’t get lost. Feel free to go for a hike around the park grounds and pack a picnic.

Mystic Aquarium

The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, located in the appropriately named city of Mystic, is one of a kind because of its unique collection of aquatic life. One feature you won’t want to miss is the full-sized beluga whales, rarely seen anywhere else. There’s a great focus on entertainment and education through the demonstrations and even interactive activities with the sea creatures.

Acadia National Park

Until you’ve seen a National Park, you haven’t really seen the beauty of nature. This park in Maine spans more than 40,000 acres and offers everything you can imagine. It hosts the Cadillac Mountain, a 1,500-foot ascent, and Gorham Mountain, which offers amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re a biking or a hiking family, there are more trails than you’ll possibly need during your trip, and there are also opportunities for both salt and fresh water swimming along the way.

Cape Cod Boat Tours

If you love water and sea life, head over to Massachusetts and visit Cape Cod. Being surrounded by the beautiful ocean has given rise to many great boat touring services. Depending on the specific location you choose to explore, you’ll likely see a fun variety of creatures.

There are many whales and seals to spot, and you might even get a chance to interact with some of the friendly and curious animals. Finally, some lucky visitors have also claimed to see a great white shark in the past. With these tours, you’ll have a great opportunity to see some of nature’s finest animals.

The Northeast has a lot to offer you on a family vacation. Take your time and explore any of the 10 above attractions when you are planning your next vacation.

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