This post is sponsored by Celebrity Cruises, but the desire to go to these destinations is all my own.
As my teen draws nearer to high school graduation, there’s still so much to do before she launches into the world. While there are skills to be learned, of course, I keep coming back to all the travel I want to do before she leaves the nest. There are also so many places to see and destinations to check out together! I’m hopeful that we’ll be lifelong travel companions, but I’m a realist enough to know that our days of family trips are not infinite.
Here’s a list of places that are on our U.S. teen travel bucket list. They all offer a hefty dose of nature and it’s possible to have some adventurous outings, or take it easy, too.
We’ve tried to experience many different areas of the country with my teen, but we’ve never made it to the Pacific Northwest. We’re looking to change that this summer. My teen is a big fan of Starbucks, so she’ll certainly appreciate the headquarters and the coffee culture vibe there. Pike Place Market is on my list, the Space Needle offers an amazing view, and the Museum of Pop Culture seems like a place we’ll all enjoy.
While Seattle is plenty in and of itself, the city is also a popular port. It’s the perfect place for reaching the next location on the list.
We have a goal of making it to all 50 states, and I’m hoping we can make it to the Last Frontier by taking an Alaska cruise from Seattle. A cruise is a good way to see a few different parts of the state. Cruise ships also offer the opportunity to do your own thing or spend time together, or hit that perfect balance for you.
Marveling at glaciers and watching for whales together isn’t something you’ll soon forget, and if exploring rugged wilderness would get your teens blood pumping, there are lots of fun excursion options, from a kayak tour to rock climbing to hanging out with sled dogs.
Teens can lose their perspective, and I find that Mother Nature is particularly good at restoring it for them. She has a wonderful way of showing them (and all of us, really) that we are not the center of the universe while also reminding us that we are a small part of a beautiful world. The breathtaking views at the Grand Canyon impart those lessons in a truly stunning way.
There are opportunities to be adventurous, but you can also just take in the beauty if that’s more your speed.
The UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan
The Mackinac Bridge to get to the UP of Michigan is a man-made marvel, but the natural marvels steal the show. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is stunning and a friend who is a dad of teens also recommends Tahquamenon Falls State Park. I think there’s something amazing about going somewhere off the beaten path, a destination that involves a bit of a journey to get there and isn’t right off a major interstate highway.
Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills
While teens may not be overly excited, this is one of those trips that they’ll remember. They can appreciate why those four presidents were the ones memorialized in this significant way. The Crazy Horse Memorial merits a visit, too, and the Black Hills are otherworldly.
When I asked on the Between Us Parents Facebook page what locations should be on this list, Colorado was mentioned several times. And I couldn’t agree more. My teen and I took a trip to Vail last summer and it was amazing. (I even wrote about why Vail is the perfect summer destination for families with teens.) I also love that Colorado offers a lot of options. One mom suggested Telluride, another said Glenwood Hot Springs, and a few years ago we had a great trip to Colorado Springs where we did everything from the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center to Garden of the Gods to Pikes Peak to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Hawaii is a dream for many, and it’s a really great place for families. It made me more adventurous than I ever thought I’d be – from zip lining to jumping off a waterfall – but it was also really relaxing, too. Read about things to do with teens and tweens on Oahu here. Next island on our list is Maui!
It’s possible that this is on my bucket list, because I really want to see the redwood forest. While I’m selfish, I really think it would be a great sight for my teen to see. Thus, I was gratified to see a fellow parent suggest the redwoods. Muir Woods National Monument is near San Francisco, which is also a great place to visit with teens and tweens.
New York City
“He loved it” is how one mom described her teen’s trip to the Big Apple. My teen felt the same. There’s so much to do there that it can be overwhelming, but fear not, help is here. Check out the top 25 activities for teens visiting New York City here.
Sometimes adolescents need their space and with nearly 1,200 square miles, Yosemite National Park gives them just that. And some pretty great shots that will be great for their Instagram accounts as well as their memory banks.
What destinations would you add to the teen travel bucket list?