Link copied to clipboard

From Acadia National Park in Maine to the Channel Islands in California and everywhere in between, the national parks are treasures of North America. These 59 historic places offer families the opportunity to see the beauty and majesty of the United States first hand. The national parks in the United States spread across 27 states and a few U.S. territories. These landmarks serve as amazing destinations for family vacations. Whether you plan a day trip to a park near you, or you set out on a cross-country trip with one of these destinations in mind, the national parks offer a beautiful backdrop for making memories with your family.

Planning Your Trip

The National Park Service is the best place to start when planning your trip. The National Park Service was created in 1916 to preserve and manage the scenery, the natural and historic objects, and the wildlife of North America, while leaving these places of natural beauty unharmed for the enjoyment of future generations. No matter which national park you visit, you are sure to discover amazing scenery and outdoor adventure for your family. The National Park Service website offers trip ideas, as well as information about what you can do at each park.


The National Park Service works hard to ensure that the parks are kid-friendly by offering young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service as Junior Rangers, an activity-based program conducted in almost all parks. Junior Rangers are typically between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate. To become a Junior Ranger, park visitors participate in a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate.

Bring the Basics

When visiting a national park bring a lunch snacks, plenty of water, bug repellent, sunscreen, and a couple changes of clothes (if the park is near water, swimming gear may be a good call too).  There are always plenty of opportunities for children to get dirty when exploring a national park, that’s half the fun, but being prepared with extra clothes is a good idea. If you are bringing young children know that strollers can be both advantageous, and limiting, at many parks.

A trip to one of North America’s national parks is sure to provide many opportunities for both enjoyment and learning. It also holds the opportunity for a treasure trove of family memories. Like any good Junior Ranger, get your family out into the wild, where you can Explore, Learn, and Protect a national park!