From the oldness of Yellowstone (a first-ever National Park in the world) to the grandness of Grand Canyon to the gorgeousness of Plitvice Lakes to the wildebeest of Serengeti to the biodiversity of Kakadu – Here’s a round-up of the best national parks in the world for families.
Best National Parks in the World
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
Grand Canyon is ‘GRAND’ literally and figuratively! You can’t really capture the beauty of the Grand Canyon in its entirety. If you’re looking for an epic outdoor adventure with family, Grand Canyon National Park is the answer.
The South Rim is the most-visited and thus, touristy (read crammed) part of the park. The North Rim, owing to its less accessibility over the South Rim is lesser-visited. Also, the South Rim is open all through the year while the North Rim is open from May until October. However, hikers and skiers with backcountry permits can enter the North Rim during the winter months. The West Rim has a Skywalk, a cantilever bridge overlooking the West canyons.
There are many hiking trails in the park, Bright Angel Trail, Havasupai Falls Trail, and South Kaibab Trail are our favorite. Havasu Falls Trail is a bit strenuous trail with a 10-mile hike, one way and is recommended with kids over 10 years. The Bright Angel Trail (3-mile round trip hike) and South Kaibab Trail (2-mile round trip hike) can easily be done with younger kids. Make sure to carry plenty of water and snacks.
When it comes to the best lookout points (well, because Grand Canyon = incredible views), the Bright Angel Point (North Rim) and Desert View, and Yavapai Point (South Rim) are the best of the lot.
There are many ways you can admire the beauty and vastness of the canyon – driving the scenic Desert View Drive, taking a helicopter ride through the canyon, whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, gasping down the canyon for its varied lookout points, and taking one of the many family-friendly hikes are few of them.
Consider using South Rim shuttle buses to travel around the Grand Canyon Village, lookout points, campgrounds, lodges, and parking lots.
If you are short on time, then opt for guided one-day tours to Grand Canyon South Rim or tour to West Rim with Skywalk from Las Vegas. But this would just give you a glimpse into the majestic beauty.
Where to Stay: Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn | Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim | Thunderbird Lodge South Rim
When to Go: As per the guidebooks, summer (June to August) is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon National Park but we beg to differ. We suggest you avoid the peak season and choose to visit during quieter months of spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) for a real immersive experience.
Entry Fee: $35 per vehicle
How to Get There: The nearest airports are in Phoenix and Las Vegas. It takes a little over 4 hours from Phoenix or Las Vegas to Grand Canyon.
Expert Tip: If you are visiting the park during summer and are worried about hordes of tourists, consider going to the relatively remote North Rim for it sees fewer crowds than the South Rim.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
By Cath of Passports and Adventures
The best National Park around the world for families must be Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming, USA. This was the first National Park in the world, and it is not hard to see why.
As for the best things to do in Yellowstone with kids, take your pick. A trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t be complete without seeing Old Faithful erupt. There are other geysers and springs that will amaze kids. Hearing the roar of some of the Yellowstone waterfalls is another thing not-to-be-missed. You can even choose from a full-day guided tour to Lower loop, Old Faithful, and other attractions to avoid hassles.
Driving the Hayden and Lamar Valleys should be added to your itinerary as you will most likely see lots of bison in these two areas. Go very early in the morning and you might be lucky to spot wolves. Late in the evening along the riverbanks, such as the banks of the Madison River, is where you may spot elk.
And if your kids like horses or are interested in cowboys, then have dinner with the cowboys of Yellowstone at the Old West Dinner Cookout. It is a great excursion to add to your trip and the kids will love it.
Where to Stay: There are several options for family-friendly accommodation when it comes to Yellowstone. There are lodges and hotels within the park (but they book up fast), there are campgrounds and there are also lots of hotels near Yellowstone in the towns just outside the park.
When to Go: Yellowstone is best visited in summer when it is warm and dry.
Entry Fee: $35 for a 7-day pass for private vehicles.
How to Get There: The best way to reach Yellowstone is to take a road trip there. There is an airport close by but you would need to hire a car as a car is essential for exploring Yellowstone with kids.
Expert Tip: Start as early as possible to ditch the tourist crowds.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
By Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks to visit in the United States. In 1890, Yosemite National Park became the third national park in the United States and the second national park in California. The park is famous for its beautiful waterfalls and rock formations all of which can be seen from the Yosemite Valley.
The Yosemite Valley is a popular destination within the park amongst families due to its many sights to see. Be sure to check out Yosemite Falls and Bridal veil falls. Both are short hikes within the valley especially if you choose to take the hike around the bases of both Yosemite Falls and Bridal veil falls.
For an amazing view of Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and the Yosemite Valley below, definitely make a pit stop at Tunnel View vista point. It provides a picture-perfect look at all of those sights and is a great stop for photos. The best view is only a short walk from the parking lot making it friendly for children of all ages.
Where to Stay: Yosemite National Park is a great day trip from San Francisco since it is only approximately 3 hours east via 120 East. However, if you do choose to make it an overnight or weekend trip, The Ahwahnee Hotel is a great choice as it is located within Yosemite Valley and is super convenient to all the best sights. If adventure is your type, then a 3-day camping adventure at Yosemite Valley is a great option.
Book hotels near Yosemite National Park
When to Go: Summer is the peak season for the park. But if you want to beat the crowd then spring and fall are great times to enjoy the beauty
Entry Fee: Admission costs to visit Yosemite National Park are only $35 per car for a 7-day pass.
How to Get There: Yosemite is just 3 hours drive from San Francisco via California State Highway 120. If you don’t intend to drive, there is a small group tour from SFO to Yosemite.
Expert Tip: Plan ahead in time as accommodations fill fast!
Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, USA
By Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery
Probably one of the most unusual and historic national parks to visit in the United States is Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. This park closed than a few years ago because of active lava activity and the entre caldera collapsing created an even more impressive national park.
Now open again after ensuring public safety the park is stunning with a central caldera that is like the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and other popular attractions open again for visitors to enjoy this ever-changing park structure.
Covering an expansive park system that covers jungle and lush forests, a stark contrast to bleak lava fields, a magnificent caldera, fantastic lookout points, fantastic hikes and so many other wonderful places to explore in the park system.
This national park is fantastic for families to go and explore all the cool attractions, vistas, and places of historic interest. If you are visiting the Big Island, check out my post here on a family-friendly visit to the Big Island here for more inspiration and planning a visit all around the island.
You’ll enjoy visiting all the fun and popular attractions around the island including the beautiful Volcanoes National Park on the east side of the island.
Where to Stay: Glass House in the Heart of Big Island | Volcano Rainforest Retreat
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When to Go: It’s beautiful no matter what time of the year, though the winter months can bring some rain.
Entry Fee: $30 per vehicle valid for 7 days. There is also Hawaii Tri-park Annual Pass for $55.
How to Get There: Hilo is the closest city to the Volcanoes National Park. You can drive from Hilo (40 minutes) to the park.
Expert Tip: You need to wear sturdy hiking shoes to save your feet from sharp lava rock.
Next Read: Best National Parks in the USA for Families
Banff National Park, Canada
By Jacs of Flashpacking Family
Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest National park, dating back to 1885, and it is arguably the most popular National Park in Canada.
Banff National Park is somewhere you can visit all-year-round, offering great skiing in the winter months and hiking in the summer months.
The reason why Banff is great for families is that it is so accessible. Many of the top sights in the park such as Lake Louise or the Athabasca Falls are just a short stroll from the car parks. The downside to this, however, is that these top sights get incredibly busy, particularly in the summer.
In terms of easy family hikes, we recommend the Fairview Lookout Trail which is a 3km round trip. You get a stunning view back over the full length of the lake to Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise. If you feel like something a bit more challenging, you can take the Agnes Tea Trail on the other side of the lake.
Where to Stay: Banff Town is the obvious place to stay in Banff National Park, but the accommodation can be quite expensive. As an alternative, you can look to stay in Canmore which is just a short drive out of the park. The Grande Rockies Resort in Canmore is a great choice for families because it offers 2-bedroom suites with kitchen facilities and a very family-friendly pool area.
When to Go: Year-round
Entry Fee: Once you reach the entrance to the park, you need to pay your park fees. The current price is $10 per day for adults or $20 per day for families. Youths 17 and under are free.
How to Get There: Banff Town is the main town in the park and is located about 125 km west of Calgary. It is an easy drive along the Trans Canada Highway.
Expert Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, you must go as early as you can. For the most popular lakes, this means just before sunrise.
Related Read: Best National Parks in Canada for Families
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
With its alluring waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, and dense landscape, Plitvice Lakes National Parks in Croatia is not only the best places to visit in Croatia but also one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice offers easy-to-walk wooden pathways and bridges, and many (easy to moderate for all age groups and stamina levels) hiking paths making it perfect for families with kids. Also, you don’t need to walk back, just walk the path one-way, and catch a shuttle on your way back to the entrance, so no fuss with young kids.
As you walk this one of the best natural wonders in Europe and admire its beauty, don’t miss stopping at the Veliki Slap (Big Waterfall), Great Cascades (Velike Kaskade), Gradinsko Lake, and the popular viewpoints (here you’ll get the top angle view of the park) near the shuttle stop at the entrance 1.
Where to Stay: We stayed at B&B Lady of the Lake and absolutely recommend it to the families visiting Plitvice.
When to Go: Plitvice is magical whatever the season or reason though we highly suggest visiting during spring or autumn owing to the lesser crowds and pleasant weather. Take a full-day tour to Plitvice Lakes from Split or opt for a guided tour of Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb.
Entry Fee: The entrance ticket price depends on season and range from 60 Kuna to 250 Kuna per adult for a one-day ticket. It is advisable to buy the skip the line tickets for the guided tour.
How to Get There: You can arrive at the park by bus, taxi, or a rental car. We, of course, prefer a rental car. It takes around 2 hours from Zagreb and Zadar and 3 hours from Split.
Expert Tip: Get to the park as early as possible (as soon as it opens) to get the most out of your visit to the park.
Krka National Park
By Cosette OF KarsTravels.
Krka National Park in Croatia is full of waterfalls, lakes, ruins, and boat rides. The river Krka runs through the park and has 7 waterfalls. The most famous of the seven is the Skradinski Buk. This waterfall is reachable through a 1-hour hike on an easy walking path.
The hike is well suited for families, even with small kids. What makes this waterfall extra perfect is that you can swim near it. On a hot summer day cool down here during your hike. Kids and adults alike will love this. Grab some dried fruits and nuts from a stall when you’re done swimming and hike further with mesmerizing views.
Waterfalls and swimmings isn’t the only thing on offer in Krka National Park. In the middle of the river Krka is Visovac island with an abbey, church and museum. A boat ride brings you to the island where you can wander around.
More into biking than hiking? The park has 470 kilometers of bike routes divided over 14 circular routes, of which 6 are pleasant family rides.
Where to Stay: Solaris Beach Resort in Šibenik is a perfect family-friendly option to stay at when visiting Krka National Park. View other hotels in Krka National Park.
When to Go: The park is open year-round, but swimming is only possible during the Summer months. During the winter months, not all entrances are open, nor are all the facilities present or attractions open. So, you should plan your visit during the summer months.
Entry Fee: There’s an entrance fee which differs per month, ranging from 30 Kuna per adult to 200 Kuna. For kids 7-18 it differs from 20 Kuna to 120 Kuna. Kids 7 and under are free of charge.
How to Get There: The park has 5 entrances, Lozovac is the main entrance. On the A1 take the exit Krka N.P. and follow the road between Šibenik and Knin inland until you reach Lozovac.
Expert Tip: Don’t forget to bring a towel, a swimsuit, and swim shoes.
High Tatras National Park, Slovakia
By Slavka of On2Continents
The most popular and the most beautiful national park in Slovakia, the High Tatra Mountains are a perfect destination for families all year round. The peaks belong to the highest of all Carpathians but are easily accessible for one-day hikes of all types. Visitors can choose from easy recreational walks around mountain lakes or aim for moderate to difficult trails that offer splendid views of the valleys below. Magistrala trail from Hrebienok to Skalnate Pleso hike comes highly recommended.
Besides hiking, families with children have a large variety of activities to pick from. Biking, boating, ziplining, go-carts, or kids’ amusement parks are just a few of the possibilities. You must try the Tricklandia gallery of visual tricks or Poliankovo. Kids will also love the kids’ play areas in restaurants and coffee shops that they can enjoy while their parents chat over lunch.
Food Recommendations: Try the Patisserie U Elisky in Stary Smokovec, Bobco in Tatranska Lomnica, or amazing cakes and coffee in Hotel Solisko by the Strbske Pleso lake.
Where to Stay: There is a wide selection of lodging for all valet sizes from simple cabins to the most luxurious hotels.
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When to Go: The best time to go is in summer and winter.
Entry Fee: Admission to TANAP is free.
How to Get There: The mountains are easily accessible by car or train from all major cities in the country.
Expert Tip: You must take a gondola ride to the second tallest peak of the High Tatras. The above-the-clouds views from Lomnicky Peak will take your breath away. But buy tickets 3 days in advance because the space is limited.
Read More: A Complete Guide to Bratislava
Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal
By Alexandrina of Earthosea
Peneda-Gerês National Park encompasses a huge region of beautiful nature and lush pine forests. It is located in the north part of Portugal and is near to Braga and Porto. Peneda-Gerês National is the only national park in Portugal and is a preferred family destination by many.
The park offers more than 20 unique hiking trails to enjoy with your family. One of the most visited trails is Trilho dos Currais. This trail leads to the top of the hill and overlooks the village of Gerês. The hiking trail starts at the Vidoeiro camping and climbs up the road until it leads you into a pine forest.
Once on the top, you will enjoy a couple of viewpoints and one of them is Miradouro da Pedra Bela. It provides one of the most stunning views over the national park. Right next to it is the path to the Cascata do Arado, which is a path with lots of waterfalls around it. These hiking trails are perfect for families, as they are not so hard to climb and are going through very beautiful pine forests.
There are many tours that can be opted for to enjoy varied activities across the park.
While in Gerês you can enjoy some boat rides on the Cavado, Limia, or Homem river, which flow within the park. There are even surfing lessons that you and your family can take part in or go canyoning somewhere in the park. Other family sports you can take advantage of are horseriding, fishing, or canoeing on the rivers.
To explore the hidden gems of the park, book a Peneda-Gerês tour on a 4×4.
Where to Stay: If you are wondering where to stay in Gerês, then go to Adelaide Hotel, which is a couple of steps away from the thermal pools of the city. Staying at the thermal pools of Gerês can be the perfect way to unwind with your family. Book the hotels, some with Thermal Pools
When to Go: The best time to go to the park is either in spring or in early autumn, as during the summer it can get pretty hot.
Entry Fee: Peneda-Gerês is free to enter except for Mata de Albergaria (the oldest forest in Portugal) that has a daily toll of €2 per car.
How to Get There: Gerês can be easily reached by car or bus from Braga and it usually takes around an hour to get there.
Expert Tip: Check the weather forecast before going.
Rondane National Park, Norway
By Aga of Worldering Around
Rondane National Park in Norway is a perfect place for the family trip. It’s the oldest national park in Norway, established in 1962, famous for its beautiful nature and the mountains.
The park contains ten peaks above 2,000 meters, but it also has smaller mountains to climb on. Many marked trails go through the park, offering perfect activities for the whole family. You can choose from gentle walks in the valleys or the more challenging hikes up the hills.
If you travel with older kids, you can even try to scale the highest peak of the park, Rondeslottet, located at an altitude of 2,178 m. The park is also an important habitat for wild animals such as reindeer and deer. If you are lucky you can see them grazing around.
Where to Stay: In the park, you will find several traditional wooden cabins where you can stay. One of the most famous ones is a DNT cabin Rondvassbu.
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When to Go: Rondane National Park can be visited at any time of the year, as it offers varied experiences depending on the weather. However, I would highly recommend you include a visit to this park as a part of your trip to Norway in autumn. This is when the whole area gets magnificent colors from the trees and the grass that turn red, yellow, and orange. It’s truly spectacular! Usually, the colors appear in mid-September and last till the end of October or when the first snow comes (depending on the year).
Entry Fee: There is no entrance fee to the park, similar to other places in Norway.
How to Get There: You can easily reach it from Oslo – it’s around a 5-hour drive. It’s one of the best road trips in Norway.
Expert Tip: You must carry windproof jackets/fleece even during summer. It’s chilly and windy most of the year.
Read More: Best Places to Visit in Norway with Kids
Göreme National Park, Turkey
By Campbell and Alya of Stingy Nomads
Göreme National Park in central Turkey is one of the most popular places to visit in Turkey. The park is a large UNESCO World Heritage Site best known for the water- and wind-eroded rock landscapes of Cappadocia. The arid valleys of Cappadocia are covered in unique cone-shaped rock formations called fairy chimneys. This fascinating area is great to visit for families.
The open-air museums, large rock cones, and underground cities can keep you
busy for days exploring this interesting area. Göreme National Park which occupies an area of about 100 sq. km (39 sq mi) is located in the Nevşehir Province. Hiking in the open-air museum and around the unique landscape with or without a guide is an awesome activity.
The main bucket list activity in Cappadocia is floating over this magical
landscape in a hot air balloon. Around a hundred hot air balloons take off from Göreme every morning. This unreal activity is family-friendly, but only recommended for children six and below.
Book the tickets for these bucket-list items that cannot be missed:
Some other incredible attractions are the Goreme Open Air Museum with its cave churches, Zelve Open Air Museum a cave town with churches, the Kaymakli Underground City the largest underground city, and Derinkuyu Underground City the deepest underground city.
Where to Stay: There is a nice accommodation in the beautiful little town Göreme and staying in a cave hotel of Cappadocia is a great experience that children will love. Sultan Cave Hotel is an excellent hotel to stay in.
When to Go: The best time to visit is from April to June and September to October.
Entry Fee: Some parts are free while some parts like the open-air museum and Derinkuyu have an entrance fee of 15 TL or 6.50 € each.
How to Get There: The easiest and quickest way to get to Göreme is with a local flight from Istanbul to Nevşehir-Kapadokya Airport(NEV), local flights in Turkey are not too expensive.
Expert Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and sun protection.
Read Next: Best National Parks in Europe for Families
Masai Mara National Park, Kenya
By Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler
One of the most famous national parks in the world is the Masai Mara in Kenya. Known for being home to some of the most diverse wildlife, the Masai Mara should be on any family bucket list!
Families of all types will be in awe while watching wildebeest, zebra, lions, and cheetahs! Mother nature is more impressive than any zoo or television show and everyone would remember it for a lifetime.
Taking a family vacation to the Masai Mara was an incredible experience. As a family, we often bring up memories of spotting a pride of lions or sitting by the river overlooking hippos. These are memories we will treasure together for the rest of our lives.
Where to Stay: We Stayed at Mara Bush Camp. It was amazing – located were near a river that hippos liked to bathe in! Waking up to the sounds of lions and hyenas was the best alarm clock. The staff was friendly, the tents stunning, and the food was delicious. There’s no other dining experience like sitting at a table in the bush! Book your stay at Mara Bush Camp.
When to Go: Visiting Kenya is great at any time of the year, but the peak time to visit is for the Great Migration where millions of animals migrate from Kenya to Tanzania from July to November.
Entry Fee: The admission to the park costs $80 USD per adult; $45 USD per child (3 to 18 years) for non-residents while Kenya residents get a discount.
How to Get There: You can drive or fly to the Masai Mara from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. It takes 6 hours by road and 1 hour by air.
Expert Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an ethical elephant orphanage in Nairobi that has done amazing work over the past twenty years. The staff at the orphanage gives a presentation on how the elephants became orphans, the impact of poaching, how they care for the animals, and how they release them back into the wild. This visit sets the stage for the incredible wildlife you’ll see on safari.