Best National Parks for Kids in the USA

The thing about traveling with kids is that sometimes, it can be tricky. But when it comes to family-friendly trips and destinations, nothing beats going to a national park.

There are currently 63 US National Parks to choose from.

Narrowing down the best options for the excellent family trip might be a hassle for some of you, even more for picking one that’ll be a hit with the kids.

Fear not!

Here are 11 of the best national parks for kids in the USA!

11 Best National Parks for Kids in the USA

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Along the rocky Atlantic Coast on the Maine shoreline, you’ll find one of the absolute greatest national parks that your kids and even you will love.

What’s in the Park?

Acadia National Park is perfect for a relaxing family vacation. From a breathtaking view of the Cadillac Mountain to famous Acadia National Park carriage roads to Kayak Tours around Mount Desert Island.

Some roads go around the granite mountains, and the best part is Park Loop Road connects everything. That means no exhausting hikes with the kids to the best spots.

What to Do?

There are literally loads you can do in Acadia National Park, but we’re going to list down a few stuff to help you on your journey:

  • There are 150 miles of hiking trails your family can explore the great outdoors. Total plus: hidden beaches and sleepy ponds.
  • The carriage roads are a philanthropy gift from the Rockefellers themselves to every biker in the family.
  • Rent a kayak to explore the Jordan Pond, or book an ocean Kayak Tours around Mount Desert Island if you’re more for saltwater.
  • Enroll the kids in tide pool school, where they can learn about different schools of fish, starfish, crabs, and other cute sea critters.

Tip: If you want to learn more about the park and everything you can do, shouldn’t do, and stuff to look out for when planning your trip, click here.

Where Can We Stay?

National parks like this have a lot of camping grounds to cover for you and other families to book and choose from.

There are RV accommodating sites and plain old rustic ones, as well as private grounds to book.

If you aren’t fond of camping, you can always book a cottage to stay in around Bar Harbor. There are also several Bed and Breakfasts, rentals, and hotels you can stay in with your family too.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

The name of this park alone might not inspire you to consider it as one of the national parks for families on a family vacation.

Death Valley National Park is one of the most underrated national parks to take your kids. Don’t let the name scare you!

Check here for details when planning your trip.

What’s in the Park?

First off, it’s got the literal lowest point in the country, the Badwater Basin. Next, we’ve got Mesquite Sand Dunes that your kids would love to play in.

We can name the Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View as hotspots to stay in. Speaking of beautiful, there’s also Artist’s Drive with a lovely surprise to look out for.

What to Do?

With loads to explore in one of the greatest national parks that are Death Valley, we’ve picked a few of our favorite stuff to do there.

  • Take an otherworldly walk on the salt flats at Badwater Basin.
  • Visit the park in springtime to spot the lovely super bloom of wildflowers on exciting hikes.
  • Spend time around the Mesquite Flat Dunes, and maybe spot some foxes or coyotes hanging around in the sand ripples.
  • Go on Artist’s Drive, specifically in Artist’s Palette, where huge rock formations are beautifully colored.

If you want to know in detail what else you can do in Death Valley National Park, check this out.

Where to Stay?

Before anything, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure to book your stay early since the options are limited.
  • Check this out for details on places to stay in and spots to grab a bite.
  • The stay in Death Valley will always be hot, so come prepared for you and your kids.

Now, like any of the US National Parks, there are plenty of camping grounds ready for families to stay in, from the most basic ones to fully hooked up ones.

There are also cabin and hotel options for you to stay in if you’re not one to sleep outdoors.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Sometimes overlooked because of its Yellowstone bigger brother beside it, Grand Teton is definitely one of the best national parks for kids.

It’s a more peaceful option where families can unwind and relax.

What’s in the Park?

In Grand Teton, you can explore Jenny Lake, String Lake, and Jackson Lake for calming freshwater scenes. Get inspired when you head to Inspiration Point for the prettiest view ever.

The family would also love to take the best pics on Oxbow Landing, Schwabacher Landing, and even the top of Signal Mountain.

Tip: Some of the trails and tops of areas are narrow and steep, so it’s best to go here with your older kids, so it’s easier for you and the family.

What to Do?

The Grand Teton National park truly is a beautiful place for you and your family, so here are some of our favorite activities to do when we’re there.

  • You can go biking or hike along the paths down to the center of Jenny Lake.
  • Take hikes to the grand view of Inspiration Point or Hidden Falls.
  • Try out the paddle sports, sailing, water skiing, and windsurfing along Jackson Lake.
  • There are also boat rentals, scenic cruises, and guided fishing trips that you and the family can try out at Colter Bay Marina.
  • Go swimming with kids.

If you want to check out further details when planning the family trip, you can check here.

Can You Sleep in Your Car in Grand Teton National Park?

Where to Stay?

In national parks like this, you can sleep under the stars on their camping grounds at the Grand Teton itself. For cabin-goers, you can check out the family-friendly cabins in Colter Bay Village.

If you prefer rustic cabin resorts, Jenny Lake Lodge is the place for you.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Though Yosemite National Park might seem like a spot just for pro climbers, it’s still considered as one of those national parks for kids.

Rather than go to Channel Islands National Park when you’re in the Santa Rosa Island area, opt for Yosemite National Park. Your kids will love it.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the best times to go, click here.

What’s in the Park?

El Capitan and Half Dome are popular spots to look out for in Yosemite National Park, especially for pro climbers and adventurers.

The granite cliffs seen from Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point are sure to wow your kids and even you when you’re there.

Speaking of wowing the kids, Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake, and Mariposa Grove are total spots that they’ll love.

What to Do?

Here are some of the things we love to do when visiting Yosemite National, one of the best national parks for you and the kids.

  • Go for breathtaking Sequoia Grove hikes with the kids.
  • Pan for gold in Tuolumne County. Believe us; it’s a fun learning experience.
  • Experience a beautiful wildflower walk in Yosemite Valley.
  • Go whitewater rafting on Merced River, or bathe in the refreshing swimming holes of Rainbow Pool.
  • Have fun on a guided photography walk, inspired by the photography steps of Ansel Adams himself.
  • Go swimming with your kids.
  • Camping

With loads you can do with your family, so here are some tips you can follow:

  • Remember to always bring an extra trash bag in areas where you stay to keep the place clean.
  • Always book activities early.
  • For more information on things you can do, click here.

Where to Stay?

For overnight trips to the Yosemite National Park, you can go to the historic and beautiful first-come-first-serve camping sites.

Tip: Make sure to always come early.

If you prefer sleeping indoors, there are loads of options to choose from, like the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Lodge, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, and many more.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

With scenery like waterfalls, wildflowers, forests, a hike around the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is surely one of the best national parks for kids.

The hardwood scenes and rich Appalachian culture is bound to draw you in for a lovely family trip. Visit here for official info on the national park.

What’s in the Park?

From Clingman’s Done to Cades Cove to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, there are plenty of places in the national park itself that families can enjoy and hang around in all day.

There are parks within Smoky Mountains National like Anakeesta and Gatlinburg SkyLift Park with rides and perks that the kids will love.

What to Do?

There are tons you and the little ones can enjoy doing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here are a few of our favorite ones.

  • Take nice hikes along Laurel Falls Trail for breathtaking waterfall views.
  • Explore Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which is full of turtles, sharks, and rays that the kids can enjoy.
  • In Anakeesta, it’s an adventure park that you and the kids can all have fun in together with zip-lines, coasters, and the like.
  • The Junior Ranger programs are great for your kids to join, where they can earn a Junior Ranger Badge at the end of it.

Tip: You can check here for further details about what you can do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Where to Stay?

There are lots of hotels and cabins just outside the park, where you and your family can relax and unwind.

While the only park lodge is the LeConte Lodge, a 5-8 mile hike away from the park center, there are loads of campgrounds scattered around the park.

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Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

This is without a doubt one of the best national parks for kids. Here, your kids might have their first big moment where they sense how beautiful and huge the world is.

The Grand Canyon does not disappoint, as it truly makes for a grand place for a family vacation.

What’s in the Park?

One of the most famous parks and spots in the world, the Grand Canyon National Park definitely cannot disappoint.

As one of the more popular canyon national parks, the Grand Canyon can impress the toughest kinds and teens to deal with.

From the different hiking trails to the Grand Canyon Railway to the insanely cool Desert View Watchtower, they’ve got it all for your family.

What to Do?

There’s so much you can do in the Grand Canyon National Park, but here are our favorite ones.

  • You can see the sunrise from Navajo Point, and we wowed by the breaking dawn in the best spot ever.
  • Great for the kids, hikes on an even ground path past Angels Window Natural Rock Arch to Cape Royal Viewpoint are ideal.
  • Go for a fun waterfall swim in the clear pools of Havasu, Navajo, and Mooney Falls.
  • Learn about and look for fossils scattered along a partly forested trail from North Rim Village to Widforss Point.

Tip: You can check here when planning ahead for your family trip.

Where to Stay?

From a range of luxury tents, homey inns, and the Mather Campground at the South Rim. There are plenty of places families to rest in after a long day of adventure, in and around the park.

Closest Airports to Grand Canyon

Rocky Mountain National Park

The thing about Rocky Mountain National Park being a great park for kids is there’s A TON to do there. It truly is one of the best national parks for kids.

With peaks as tall as 12,000 feet, you and the kids will feel like you’re on top of the world, looking down on creation.

What’s in the Park?

There’s Trail Ridge Road, where it feels like a highway to the sky. Also, Old Fall River Road is a long, lovely drive that’ll get families closer and more relaxed.

There’s Adams Falls and Alberta falls, which would wow even your littlest ones with how pretty it is.

The freshwater bodies like Bear Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake would surely make all of you fall in love with the water.

What to Do?

Along the alpine terrain, there’s a lot you and your family can enjoy. So we’ve listed some things you can do when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Drive along Trail Ridge Road and experience being 12,000 feet on top of the world.
  • Have an adventure in the great outdoors in Grand Lake and stop for some ice cream too.
  • Go on the Calypso Cascades hiking trails and see the wonderful falls and wild orchids.
  • Enjoy hiking and fishing in Sprague Lake or fishing and boating in the scenic Lake Granby.

If you want to know more in details for planning your trip, you can go here.

Where to Stay?

Families can stay in Timber Creek Campground if they prefer sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors.

If you and your kids prefer staying in quieter spots, you can stay by the historic Holzworth Lodge.

Small towns around the park also offer places to stay, hang out and eat as well.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

When we think of Bryce Canyon National Park, we think of hidden signs in the petroglyph scenes of the lovely national park.

Families can enjoy Bryce Canyon with its pretty hiking trails, astronomer programs, sunrise and sunset Points, and its all-around natural beauty.

For more official information on the park, go here.

What’s in the Park?

From the beautiful Mossy Cave to its breathtaking Rainbow point, Bryce Canyon truly is one of the best canyon national parks to visit for you and the gang.

Their Queen’s Garden Trail is great for beginner-friendly hikes with the kids.

If you’re a more experienced family, you can trail along Fairyland Loop Trail and maybe meet some fairies with the kiddies along the way.

What to Do?

With so much to do in this lovely national park, it’ hard to pick out our favorite activities to fit in a day, but we’ve done it. So here are a few of them!

  • Horseback ride along the park for more to see in less time, especially from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point.
  • Take an easy hike along Queen’s Garden Trail or Navajo Loop Trail with the kiddos.
  • Take a nice swimming break in Lower Calf Creek Falls.
  • Take a scenic drive along the colorful cliffs and hoodoos, and wow the children along the way.

Tip: Always make sure to plan your family trip early, so booking is made with nothing to worry about. You can click here to find out more to make it easier.

Where to Stay?

You can camp out under the stars in the North Campground and Sunset Campground, but make sure to plan ahead because of its limited spots.

When going to Bryce Canyon National Park, it’s hard to miss the Bryce Canyon Lodge, and you can stay the night there too!

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

It would be a little “crazy” to pass this up, as Yellowstone is one of the best and most incredible national parks out there.

Yellowstone National Park is a park not only familiar in the US but known around the world.

Bring the kids to this iconic park for geyser action, technicolor hot springs, and mud pots. They’re bound to love it forever.

What’s in the Park?

In Yellowstone park, there’s The Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, which are both popular spots to venture into.

There’s also Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin, which are unforgettable sights to experience.

Let’s not forget to honor Yellowstone Lake itself! Also, if you want to plan and check out the park, click here for top things to know before going.

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What to Do?

From steam vents to mud pots to rainbow geothermal spots, Yellowstone has the hottest stuff. Pun intended. Here are our favorite things to do when we’re there.

  • Visit the Yellowstone Caldera to check out the vast crater of the active supervolcano for yourself.
  • Let your kids enjoy the wildlife sightings while hiking on your trip, but always be very careful in doing so.
  • Soak in Firehole Falls for that one-of-a-kind geothermal bath with the kids.
  • Admire the Grand Prismatic Spring, the biggest natural hot spring in the country with its beautiful rainbow colors.
  • Swiming with your children

Where to Stay?

Yellowstone National Park offered booking 18 months ahead of time to avoid overcrowding and orderliness.

You can book many places inside the park itself, like the Old Faithful in, and several camping grounds, the best being in Canyon Village, the center of the park itself.

Closest Airports to Yellowstone National Park

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

When talking about great national parks for kids, it’s hard to leave out Glacier National Park. How could we?

Not to be confused with the Glacier Bay of Alaska, Montana’s national park has the prettiest lakes to ready-made “family pack” plans. It’s an absolute beaut to visit.

What’s in the Park?

Besides the Waterton Lakes National Park, you can find the most amazing wildlife in Glacier National Park, such as bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black bears, and grizzly bears all around the park.

There are also spots like Otokomi Lake and Gunsight Lake for camping and relaxing.

On the other hand, Clements Mountain, Mount Grinnell, Reynolds Mountain, and Rising Wolf Mountain are the greatest hiking places and climbing spots for more family fun.

What to Do?

Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Glacier National Park.

  • It’s a must to go driving on Going-to-the-Sun Road to make a fun trip to the sun and back.
  • An afternoon in the pretty Lake McDonald is worth it to wow the kids.
  • Experience the Trail of the Cedars, a family pack for the prettiest hikes to the prettiest lakes in the park.
  • Enjoy the history lesson in Apgar Discovery Cabin and some ice cream on the side.

Tip: For official information from the National Park Service, click here.

Where to Stay?

Enjoy backcountry camping with the kids in St. Mary campgrounds, or opt for a stay indoors in Lake McDonald Lodge or the Glacier Outdoor Center Cabins.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

It’s one of the more diverse national parks on the map, Olympic National Park will surely impress the kids for a memorable trip.

What’s in the Park?

There are rain forests to explore, Pacific coastline beaches to enjoy, and glacier topped mountains to admire. There are also lakes, trails for nice hikes, and hot springs for families to appreciate.

In Olympic National Park, the more your kids will learn and experience, the more they’re thank you for such a fond trip.

What to Do?

In parks like Olympic National, it’s hard to point out the best things to do, but here are a few things we suggest to squeeze into your schedule with the kiddos.

  • Kalaloch Beach is magnificent for walking and sand combing, something you would not expect from a park.
  • Check out the coastline to see different sea animal species like starfishes and sea anemones in the tide pools.
  • Hike along Hurricane Hill to see sweeping views of the beautiful park.

Tip: Spend at least three days in this park, one for the beaches, one for the rainforests, and one for the mountains for the best family experience.

Check here for the official list of things that you can do when visiting Olympic National Park.

Where to Stay?

For campers, you can book in Deer Park Camp Ground, Graves Creek Campground, Fairholme Campground, or other camping grounds to stay in.

For lodgers, you can stay in Kalaloch Lodge, Lake Crescent Lodge, the Log Cabin Resort, and other places to stay found within the camp.

A Few Honorable Mentions

Zion National Park

We’ve listed down in detail 11 of our most favorite national parks to bring the kids to for a trip.

I might as well provide you with a few more national parks, and what we love about them.

  1. Arches National Park
    This place is home to the famous Balanced Rock, Windows Arch, and Double Arch. Arches National Park will not fail to amaze the kids with the gravity-defying spots found in this wonderful park, plus its nearby Canyonlands National Park. You can even take a rafting trip down on the Colorado River.
  2. Mount Rainier National Park
    Among the national parks, Mount Rainier has among the most beautiful mountain views. Paradise Visitor Center is where you can see most of the stunning peaks when visiting Mount Rainier National.
  3. Zion National Park
    In contrast to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park will bring a different kind of relaxing for you and the kids. Angel’s Landing is a great hiking trail, especially for older kids, where you can see the Virgin River from way above and feel amazing. The wonder of Zion National Park will not disappoint.
  4. Redwood National Park
    This one is an obvious fan favorite. You can teach the kiddos the importance of respecting trees, along with all that they do for us around the towering tallest trees in the whole world.
  5. Everglades National Park
    When talking about national parks for kids, Everglades National Park is one to consider. It has airboat rides, manatees, cool reptiles, and a kid-friendly freshwater marsh to explore safely.

Wrapping Up With a Present Full of Parks

A gift from us to you, all we have to say is when looking for the best national parks for kids, think about what you might have loved as a kid.

National parks are awesome for family trips. That’s undoubtedly true!

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