Join the 4 million people that use our sites to find expert travel recommendations



Award-winning travel writer
Mark Frary


Recommended by The Times, Which and Daily Mail

    Holidays with teenagers in America

    By Mark Frary, Editor of 101 Family Holidays

    Q.  We want to visit America this summer but we don’t like heat or long car journeys. Where can we keep everyone happy?

    We are a family of 5 – the kids are 17, 12 and 10 – so the last few years have been a bit tricky with the teenager – he measures up to all the stereotypes and more. I love cities and over the years we have been to Paris, Barcelona, Prague, Budapest, Amsterdam, Rome, Bruges, Antwerp and most successfully New York.

    We’ve had a number of holiday parc experiences (or endurances) in France and more recently have stayed at villas in Mallorca. Our average spend on flights, car hire and accommodation is about £7,000.

    Whilst the peaceful solitude of a villa suits my husband and I, the kids are getting hacked off with too much “family time”. This year we are researching East Coast America. However, the kids suffer from travel sickness and we’re all very fair skinned.

    My 12-year-old is very active and disgusted with my holiday objective to read at least 7 books in 10 days, even though I hear her diving in and out of the pool 150 times a day.

    We like self catering – for late breakfasts and late lunches – but under no circumstances will I cook dinner on holiday.

    I love the beach but husband does not. For the rest of the family a pool is a requirement. I’ve considered Florida – beach and Disney – but think it would be too hot in August. Can you help please?

    A.  Combine trains, beaches and cycling in Cape Cod, Rhode Island and New York

    Florida is, as you fear, probably going to be too hot. As an alternative for this time of year, you could consider the beaches at Cape Cod or Rhode Island (the sea is chillier than Florida though).

    For a bit of action (and car-free travel) cycle the Cape Cod Rail Trail, stopping off at sandy beaches and the occasional historic lighthouse. This combines well with Boston – a good point of entry for the holiday and an interesting city for families to explore – you can take a duck tour in an amphibious landing craft or go whale watching, and the city itself has lots of historic appeal.

    I’d also recommend an excursion to Acadia National Park where you could sign up for a sea kayaking expedition with Coastal Kayaking Tours which might be a good opportunity for your children to meet other kids (the two-person kayaks are also great for a bit of child-parent bonding, and your teen will hopefully be able to team up with someone of a similar age).

    With the Boston/New England phase of the trip complete, you could then take a 3.5-hour train to New York (I know you’ve already been here, but if that was when your children were younger your teenager would love it even more now).

    After a couple of days in the Big Apple, hop on the daily Amtrak rail service to Toronto, stopping off for a day or two at Niagara Falls. If you’ve got time, Toronto is your springboard to Atlantic Canada or the Great Lakes – and you can explore it all by train if you want to avoid long car journeys.

    One route follows the St Lawrence into Quebec, or for a real ‘backcountry’ adventure you could head north to Hudson Bay on the Ontario Northland service.

    For the USA, try luxury tour operator Inspiring Travel Company, who specialise in ranch holidays, or the USA experts, American Sky to make the arrangements.

    Note: All the travel companies featured on this site are personally recommended by our editors. Companies pay us a flat annual fee; we don’t get any additional payments if you click on their sites or make a booking. Those fees pay for the upkeep of our site, so we can keep it current and reliable. See more about how we work.