The last few summers have been a real bummer with fewer opportunities to travel and go camping. But no matter the past, looking at the future and the weeks and months ahead, you are likely making plans to do more travel. There are plenty of locations for travel, but when you want to visit the best National Parks for kids, you know you have to do your research first. National parks aren’t all sitting next to each other within a 25-mile radius. So you have to do your homework.
Finding the best national parks for kids takes time, preparation, and may even take some travel planning to get there as well. So, let’s dive in!
Our Favorite National Parks for Kids
Our family vacations have changed over the years. We spent 9 years living in the Midwest and all of our family was on the West Coast, so when it came to vacations, we did a lot of driving. On those road trips, we visited over 40 different national parks and definitely have our favorites.
Teton National Park
Teton National Park is by far, our very favorite national park for kids. There are so many beautiful hikes, photo opportunities, visitor centers, lakes, rivers and wildlife that you can go back year after year and have an amazing experience each and every time.
Often, people will go to Yellowstone National Park and see the geysers, stop on the road for the buffalo/bison, and look at all the interesting colored pools of water but completely miss the neighboring national park in the Tetons.
Today, if you were to ask my girls where their favorite place to go on vacation would be, they would both agree – Teton National Park.
As the girls grew up, we ended up moving to different parts of the country and thus our travels changed directions and included different roads and states. So, our quest for National Parks expanded. Some directions, if you plan carefully, you can get a lot of different parks on the same trip. Most National Parks or Monuments have a Jr. Ranger program for children (and adults) to participate in. These programs include a little worksheet or booklet with activities for the kids to complete. Once they have completed these activities, they can turn the booklet back in and receive a Jr. Ranger pin and sometimes a patch as well.
Over the years, as we plan our family vacations, we almost always include at least one National Park! There is so much beauty in different parts of the United States and the National Parks have provided the opportunities for our family to experience and love nature and the outdoors. Our daughters have Jr. Ranger pins for over 40 different National Parks.
A few years ago, a mom friend of mine told me she could never travel with her kids because they didn’t like to be in the car. They went to a local hotel and used the pool there for their vacation. I’ve thought about that a bit as we have added miles to our car, gotten cranky on long road trips, but also seen places my friend’s kids might never see. My oldest daughter loves history and I do believe that interest was sparked as we traveled to different parks to learn about different times, people, and places.
If you’ve never been to a National Park, check out their website www.nps.gov and see if there is a park or monument close to you. Then plan your next trip and learn something new, experience the beauty of nature, and include your children (or grandchildren) in discovering a new place. Create a new family tradition.
You’ve heard about our favorite National Park, what is your favorite one? I’d love to hear about why it is your favorite.
Some of our favorite camping essentials:
Binoculars for looking for wildlife.
National Park Passport Book
Teton National Park Map
National Park Travel Guide Book
Coleman Camp Stove