Best family vacation spots for teens

Teenagers can be surly, stubborn, unengaged and moody. Finding a vacation spot that offers the right combination of independence (for you as much as for them) and togetherness (for making memories before they go off to college) is a balancing act. But the right combination can make for fun for everyone and a chance to connect before your teens leave the nest. Here are a few of suggestions to consider as you plan your next family vacation.

Teen on vacation in NYC

Phoenix, Arizona

Family travel guideGreater Phoenix and its surrounding areas has something for everyone. So whether your teen loves video games, fashion, science, sports or outdoor adventures, there’s something for them to do. What’s better yet, it also features plenty for you to do too (read: spas, shopping and golf, for example). Among the rolling mountains, towering red rock buttes and plunging canyons, you’ll find countless opportunities to entertain your teens.

Outdoor adventures like mountain biking, hiking, camping, rock climbing and bouldering abound, whether you’re staying in Phoenix,Scottsdale or visit nearby Sedona. The state boasts a number of observatories, including Lowell Observatory north in Flagstaff and Kitt Peak just outside of Tucson. Shopping at Fashion Square in Scottsdale runs the gamut from stores like Barneys New York and Kate Spade to Gucci and Crocs Footwear.

Arizona Mills boasts outlet stores for Saks and Nordstrom, and gamers will adore Arizona Mills for a completely different reason – GameWorks. Gaming fanatics will love the countless video games and simulators, plus darts and pool. Sports-lovers will enjoy that Phoenix is home to four professional sports teams – Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Coyotes and Arizona Cardinals.

Phoenix family travel guide >>

New York City


It’s the Big Apple and for many, it’s only been seen on the big screen. NYC oozes excitement and fun, and sharing the experience with your teens can make for a memorable occasion for all. A beautiful blend of art, culture, fashion, sports and history, NYC offers a one-of-a-kind experience you and your teens won’t find anywhere else in the world: Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Guggenheim, to name a few.

Based on what your teens like, you can visit 30 Rockefeller Plaza and head to Top of the Rock (67th, 69th and 70th floors) for a panoramic view of the city at night. Take the Staten Island Ferry and enjoy views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Peruse the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and the countless other museums in NYC). If your kid is still a kid at heart, schedule time to take in the colorful world of Toys ‘R Us (complete with an indoor Ferris Wheel) at Times Square.

Shop at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, catch a musical on Broadway, take a tour of NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza or dine in Greenwich Village.

New York City family travel guide >>

Washington, DC

What better place to connect with kids than in our nation’s capital? DC offers a rich historical, cultural and political look with plenty of teen-friendly choices. Show your teens that you’re hip and cool with a Segway Tour of the city.For 16-years-old and up, these two-wheel motorized vehicles will take you around the Capital, hitting landmarks like the White House, the Capitol Building, several of the Smithsonian museums, and the Washington Monument. Or cruise DC’s streets on bike, on foot, via the double-decker bus or on one of the Old Town Trolleys. Or see the Capitol from the Potomac River.

Together you can discover the city’s national treasures and quirky secrets. What teen doesn’t know who Darth Vader is? But can they find his image among the gargoyles at National Cathedral? Explore another kind of national treasure – featured in the movie of the same name – the National Archives and the Library of Congress. Make a stop at the historic Ben’s Chili Bowl for a chili dog and milkshake or check out the International Spy Museum.

Washington, DC family travel guide >>

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