The best destinations for family vacations remind us of simpler times. These are the places that remain unchanged. They can bring back the innocence of our youth and give us a break from the daily grind. Most importantly, they’re perfect for quality time with the family. If you’re looking to unplug and unwind, here are some family vacation destinations locked in time.
Lakes Region, Maine
For a classic lakeside vacation, head to Maine’s Lakes Region on the western edge of the state. Small towns, general stores and tall pines dot the mountainous landscape, but the real treasure is the region’s pristine lakes. To take a step back in time, book a week at Quisisana Resort on Kezar Lake in Lovell. A traditional summer camp for families, visitors stay in clapboard cabins and spend their days water skiing, sailing or playing tennis on clay courts. Every night, the resort staff provides entertainment for the guests with musical performances, although listening to the loons around the campfire may be just as fun.
The small town of Cody, Wyoming, is the perfect jumping off point for a Western family vacation. Although Cody’s Main Street is a charming throwback to simpler times, Old Trail Town is where you can get a glimpse of the true Wild West. This is the site where William “Buffalo Bill” Cody laid grounds for the town in the late 1800s. Many of the structures in Old Trail Town are original, including a cabin once used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. For an authentic taste of cowboy culture, Cody also hosts a nightly rodeo during the summer months. If you want to spend your days horseback riding or fly fishing, consider staying somewhere like Rimrock Ranch. The dude ranch is perfect for families, offering a multitude of Western-inspired activities for kids and adults of all ages.
A trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, is like stepping back in time to the colonial era. Founded in 1699, Williamsburg replaced Jamestown as the capital of the Virginia Colony and remained so for most of the next century. Today, Colonial Williamsburg recreates the city exactly as it was in the 18th century, and is an absolute must-see family vacation destination. A living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg brings the past to life, with actors portraying townspeople, Native Americans and even famous politicians. Besides this look into the past, there’s plenty to do in Williamsburg to fill a week-long vacation, including nearby water and amusement parks that are sure to entertain the kids.
Assateague Island, Maryland
A barrier island off the shores of Maryland and Virginia, Assateague is an excellent vacation destination for adventurous families. The island is perhaps most famous for the bands of wild horses that roam the island. According to lore, these horses are the descendants of their once-domesticated ancestors who survived a shipwreck off the coast. Aside from the horses, the island contains no resident population, only miles of coastlines, dune grasses and marshes. Camping is only permitted on the Maryland side of the island and the National Park Service has a number of drive-in and walk-in sites for RVs, trailers and tents. Visitors may also kayak, birdwatch and go on wildlife tours around the island.
Havana, Cuba, with its pastel buildings and old cars, is famous for being “stuck in time.” But is it really a family vacation destination? Indeed, it is. Cuba is wonderful for families looking to have it all — culture, warm weather, good food and lots of fun. And, in case you were wondering, it is very safe to visit. In Havana, you can tour the old town, filled with live music and restaurants, before heading to the historic Revolution Square. After a couple of days in the city, head out of town to the country’s beautiful beaches, like the white sands of Playa Varadero and Playa Paraíso. For some adventure, you and the family can go spelunking in a tropical cave or go hiking in the jungle, although for these activities, it’s highly recommended you hire a guide.