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7 Must-See Destinations with Teens

by Susan Finch

Nov 25, 2017

© Denis Moskvinov | Dreamstime

Age Specific / Teens

Teens get a bad rap for being disagreeable and attached to their mobile devices, but that doesn’t mean they’re not up for a must-see vacation with Mom and Dad. The trick is finding a teen-worthy destination that makes them realize travel with the family isn’t so bad after all.


New York City

The city that never sleeps should be on every bucket list for families with teens. Mix in those iconic sites like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Times Square, but there’s still more to see and do. Head to Coney Island for a ride on a 60-degree plunge at speeds of 60 mph followed by a minor league baseball game. And be sure to add in an off the beaten path stop. Try St. John the Divine with peacocks in the garden and tours ending on the rooftop with sweeping views of Manhattan.

Tourists in new york city

Photo: Chon Kit Leong | DreamstimeCosta Rica

Costa Rica reminds teens the world is more than just suburbs, cities and what their friends are doing at school. Take a jungle tour or white water rafting excursion with an organization like O.A.R.S. to soak up the natural beauty of the country. Families can raft the Pacuare River, watch the annual turtle nesting and explore nearby volcanoes.


New Orleans

NOLA is an inspiring stateside destination with teens looking to see the diversity of their own country. Take a trip to the French Quarter and visit a cafe or venue with live jazz part of your itinerary, like the alcohol-free Preservation Hall. A swamp or steamboat tour gets teens outdoors and a closer look at New Orleans outside its urban center. But when you’re back on dry land, take a segway tour around the French Quarter followed by a nighttime ghost tour that gets into the folklore and history of the city.

Jazz band in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jazz band in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Photo: F11photo | Dreamstime


It’s a good bet your teens are beach obsessed and ready for adventure, and Maui is an innovative way to get them to disconnect from their digital life and get outdoors for the day. Maui delivers with national parks, world-class beaches and plenty of hiking and biking trails. Get signed up for some surf lessons at Ma‘alaea or guided hikes through Haleakala National Park.


Smuggler’s Notch

Outdoor trips to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone should be on everyone’s family travel list, but teens need a trip designed especially with them in mind. Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont still has all the outdoorsy adventure you’re looking for like skiing, snowboarding and hiking. But it also comes with ski and ride programs and other fun for teens. Your kids can alpine ski, snowboard or telemark ski on three different mountains, or try their skills at airboard slalom. During down time, the teen center has all the digital stuff they’re crafting like XBox, along with ping-pong tournaments and jam band sessions.



A European excursion is a must with teens with culture and world history on their minds. Kick-off your trip with a visit to the UNESCO Heritage Site Park Güell with a patchwork of colors and shapes. It’s the perfect spot to take a selfie and brag to their friends they’re traveling abroad. Budding artists should make a stop at the Picasso Museum to see the famed artist’s work and learn more about the rich history of Barcelona’s art scene. Foodies, shopping enthusiasts and teens who just want to see and be seen should stroll La Rambla and weave in and out of coffee shops and pubs for the family to grab a bite while watching a local sporting event.

Barcelona - Park Guell, Spain

Photo: Tomas1111 | Dreamstime


Riviera Maya

There’s plenty of culture, ruins and eco-adventures in Riviera Maya, Mexico, to keep teens busy all vacation long. The Coba Ruins are a must-see with the Nohoch Muul pyramid as the tallest in the Yucatan and unique among its Mayan ruin counterparts. Sign-up for Alltournative tours for a Jungle Crossing tour to see more of Mexico’s environmental diversity. There’s also a nearby Tulum Monkey Sanctuary home to wild spider monkeys. But to get a comprehensive view of Mexico’s culture and heritage, travel to Xcaret eco-adventure park for a history lesson, chocolate-making event and swimming with the dolphins.


The best part about traveling with teens is broadening their minds and soaking up some final years of family vacation time before they head out to launch their own lives. Make your time with them, on vacation or otherwise, count.


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