Let’s face it: when our kids turn into teenagers, it gets harder to spend time with them. Whether it’s screens, friends, activities, or jobs, there are a million and one things they’d rather be doing than spending time with their parents. But a fun, active vacation can be a big draw for teens, a time during which they might even take out their headphones and put their screens aside. Following are 10 of the top vacation spots for teens, places you’re sure to create lasting family memories.
1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg offers a lively downtown and is a gateway to the 520,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From museums to the 407-foot-high Space Needle observation deck, as well as laser tag and an escape room, your teen won’t have time to be bored. For more adventurous teens head into the national park for horseback riding, ziplining, white water rafting, or hiking, and even skiing in the winter. And you can choose where to make your base of operations—a vacation rental in the city, or a getaway cabin in the mountains.
2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Head to the South Carolina coast for a family vacation with teens—Myrtle Beach offers fun for everyone. Book a vacation home on the beach or facing a golf course, and get ready for a fun-filled family vacation. You can head to Broadway at the Beach for some outdoor shopping or a ride on the SkyWheel, or play a round of mini-golf. Tired of the salty ocean water? Head to one of the water parks for waterslides, pools, and lazy rivers.
3. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Away from the bustle of Cancun, the Riviera Maya offers long sandy beaches where teens can go snorkeling or boogie boarding, and even explore caves. A beachfront vacation rental will give teens the freedom to explore the beach on their own and make friends, a sure way to turn this destination into their best family vacation. And if you’re looking for a cultural outing, you can put a day trip to Tulum’s well-preserved Mayan ruins on the agenda.
4. New York, New York
Book a vacation rental in the Big Apple and have your teens experience in real life places they’ve only seen on their favorite shows. From famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, to hip neighborhoods like the East Village and Soho, New York has a lot to offer. Other options to make this a top family vacation include taking in a Broadway show, appreciating the artwork at the Museum of Modern Art, and strolling through the vast Central Park.
5. Oahu, Hawaii
A vacation home rental on Hawaii’s Oahu is another top vacation spot for teenagers. The island has a lot to offer, including the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Honolulu, where teens and families can dine, shop, and visit historic landmarks such as Pearl Harbor. Or you might sign your teen up for surf school at the world-famous Waikiki Beach, or simply take them to the North Shore, the surf mecca where they can watch pro surfers catch big waves.
6. Washington, D.C.
What better place to go on vacation with teenagers but the nation’s capital? The trip can turn into a real-life lesson in civics, just as they’re approaching voting age. Book a vacation rental in historic Georgetown, or if you’re after a livelier atmosphere, Dupont Circle might be your go-to. You might hop on the metro to get you to government landmarks like the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court, or else opt for a Segway tour of Washington, D.C. so you can take in all the sights including the grassy National Mall.
7. Costa Rica
For nature- and adventure-loving families, the best vacation might very well be a visit to Costa Rica. The country has shorelines on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, so you can pick a side, or explore both coasts. Costa Rica is known for its rainforest, beaches, volcanoes, and biodiversity. After setting your bags down in a villa rental in the jungle or on the beach, your adventure can start: zipline through a slot canyon, walk over hanging bridges in the tree canopy of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, or see if you can spot a colorful quetzal bird or a dozing sloth.
Where else can you go on vacation with teenagers? How about a tour of Europe's cities? You can start with Paris and head to the Eiffel Tower, walk along the Seine, or take of peek at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum. Your list can include the Roman ruins of Rome and Vatican City; the famous Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the wall in Berlin; the canals and Red Light District of Amsterdam; and Buckingham Palace in London, to name a few. After picking your cities, don’t forget to book vacation rentals in each.
9. Whistler, BC, Canada
If you head north of the border, you might choose Whistler as your top vacation spot with your teenager. The Whistler Blackcomb ski area is one of the largest in North America with over 120 miles of ski slopes. But skiing and snowboarding are far from the only available activities: there’s snowshoeing, tobogganing, and ski jumping in the winter. You might also book a summer rental to take advantage of non-winter activities, including ziplining, hiking, and ATVing.
Another international destination you might want to take your teen is Peru. Book a vacation rental in Lima, the country’s capital and 1 of the largest cities in South America. Places not to miss in the city include the pre-Columbian artifacts at Larco Museum and the 16th-century cathedral on the colonial Plaza de Armas. You might then reserve a vacation home in the Sacred Valley and hike the Inca Trail in the Andes mountains to make your way to Machu Picchu, the renowned Incan citadel.