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19 family vacation ideas your teenager will actually be excited about

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Traveling with teens can be tricky. They’re too young for adult fun and too old for the plethora of activities geared toward the easy-to-please 12-and-under crowd. Fortunately, just like there are places to take the kids before they’re grown, there are destinations ideal for families with teens.

Many are bucket list places, but why not splurge for the occasion? It may be the last family vacation before your kid(s) fly the coop — forever. From Reno Tahoe to Northern Thailand, here are 19 teen-friendly places to visit as a family.

Best vacation spots for families with teens

Denver, Colorado

Best for ages: 13-18

Here’s why: The Mile High City is a must for families with teens who want to play in the mountains but have big city amenities.

Do this: Social media mavens can start the day at the Denver Selfie Museum where the backdrops are just as Insta-worthy as the surrounding Rockies. Or capture those tricks for TikTok at the 60,000-square-foot Denver Skate Park. Aspiring artists will want to check out the myriad collections at the Denver Art Museum (18 and under are free). In the winter, adrenaline junkies can’t skip a trip to Ruby Hill Rail Yard, an urban terrain park and snowboarder’s paradise.

Stay here: The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver has a graduation package including a $14 credit to cover the first month of your new college student’s Netflix. It also has a “Touchdown and Tailgate” package for NFL fans and is within walking distance of most of Denver’s downtown sites.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver

More info: Denver.org

Porto, Portugal

Best for ages: 16+

Here’s why: Practically crime-free, extremely cheap and small enough to be walkable, Porto is the perfect European city to give teens a taste of independence. Located where the Douro River meets the Atlantic, its proximity to the beach and the Douro Valley ensures there is plenty to do.

Do this: Visit the world-famous “Harry Potter library” — Livraria Lello. Make a professional Instagram reel with the drone pilots and video souvenir experts at Birdie. Teens not afraid of heights should harness up for a bridge climb offering a bird’s-eye view of the city. Teens not afraid of sharks can learn to surf with Onda Pura. Take a scenic boat or train ride to the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest demarcated wine region where teens (16+) are legally allowed to taste wine. More importantly, learn how it’s made.

Stay here: The breakfast buffet at The Lodge Wine & Business Hotel will satisfy any growing teen, and its picturesque outdoor pool is a rarity in this city founded in 1123.

The Lodge Wine & Business Hotel

More info: VisitPortugal.com

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Best for ages: 13-18

Here’s why: Jackson Hole is a year-round vacation destination and convenient home base for exploring two of the country’s most popular national parks. With its small-town setting (population 10,500) where everything is within walking distance, teens can easily explore on their own.

Do this: Ski or snowboard together at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, one of the most iconic ski resorts in the world. Rent bikes and ride 56 miles of paved paths or 115 miles of mountain bike trails — most with breathtaking valley views. Since a family who rafts together stays together, battle the rapids on the Snake River or go for a scenic floating safari in search of moose, elk, bears and more. Of course no trip to Jackson is complete without venturing into Yellowstone National Park via the equally stunning Grand Teton National Park.

Stay here: Located at the base of Snow King Mountain Resort, Snow King Resort is Jackson Hole’s best option for families who want to open their front door to unlimited fun. Ski, snowboard, tube or — if you visit outside of winter — ride the mountain coaster and alpine slide. There’s also a massive mountain-top ziplining course, mini golf and bungee trampoline.

Snow King Resort

More info: VisitJacksonHole.com

San Diego, California

Best for ages: 13-18

Here’s why: Whether or not you agree with its nickname “America’s Finest City,” you’ll agree San Diego has beautiful year-round weather and so m
uch to keep your teen(s) happy they’ll ask about going to college there.

Do this: Beach hop your way around the city’s nearly three area beaches. Or cave hop via kayak or SUP. Take a self-guided street art tour, stopping to pose in front of massive murals — often illustrating important messages — for pics for the ‘gram. Ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the oceanfront Belmont Park or watch an interactive film in its 7-D high tech theater. Other must-consider attractions include the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum and the Comic-Con Museum scheduled to open in late 2021.

Stay here: The newly opened Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay welcomes RVs in addition to its fully-furnished tiny home rentals complete with fire pits and front porches. Between the on-site arcade, food trucks, poolside movie screen, basketball courts and indoor/outdoor fitness center, teens can’t complain of boredom.

Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay

More info: SanDiego.org

The Maldives

Best for ages: 13-18

Here’s why: You don’t have to be on your honeymoon to visit the Maldives. With its 1,190 islands, it’s a tropical paradise with lots for teens to do. (An obvious bucket list destination, it’s also easy to justify taking when it could be your last vacation as a family.)

Do this: Try new watersports like wakeboarding, kitesurfing, jetblades and even hydrofoils which could be deemed more of an air sport. Become PADI-certified (ages 10+) and take an underwater family holiday card you’ll never forget. Since every other kid wants to be a marine biologist when they grow up, why not learn about conservation by transplanting coral, planting a tree or helping rehabilitate endangered sea turtles? Treat them to a treatment at Spa by ESPA at Joali Maldives where there’s a special menu for teens.

Stay here: Amilla has a teen program including DJ lessons, guitar lessons, mocktail making classes and even nighttime glow rider bicycle tours. One & Only Reethi Rah also has a teen program, One Tribe, with dedicated teens-only chill space. And for teens who love the adrenaline rush? Stay at the Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru, which boasts a Mastercraft X55 boat that makes its own surf and comes complete with sound system.

Amilla Maldives Resort & Residences

More info: VisitMaldives.com

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Best for ages: 13-18

Here’s why: Wisconsin Dells is the waterpark capital of the world. Families can stay for two weeks and still never ride all the slides.

Do this: Visit the bottom of the ocean (or outer space) thanks to the underwater virtual reality experience at Kalahari, one of the country’s largest indoor waterparks. Race each other on the Raja king-cobra-themed side-by-side slides at Noah’s Ark. (It’s six stories high!) Visit Mt. Olympus to take on the nine-foot-tall waves at Poseidon’s Rage, one of the world’s largest wave pools or float on The River Troy, the world’s fastest manmade river. Tired of water-based activities? Attempt the Wizard Quest, the first fantasy team-building (or family-bonding) game in the country or unleash your inner Viking at Asgard Axe Throwing.

Stay here: While several area resorts boast their own waterparks, the top-rated property on TripAdvisor is the family-owned and operated Black Hawk Motel & Suites. All guests get free admission to Tom Foolery’s Indoor Adventure Park and Timbavati Wildlife Park.

Black Hawk Motel & Suites

More info: WisDells.com

Butler County, Ohio

Best for ages: 13-16

Here’s why: This best of the Midwest destination proves that even inner-city teens can have fun in flyover states. Butler County also makes for a great halfway point for families coming from different coasts.

Do this: Teens who identify as foodies will love the aptly named Donut Trail where they can get their donut passport (pick it up at the CVB) stamped at each of the…

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