August can be a tricky time to travel because most of the world seems to be traveling at the same time. And while this typically means heavier crowds and higher prices, there are still some family vacation spots where August is actually the best time to visit.
The weather is a key factor in choosing this month’s top spots to take the family. Plus, you can always save by booking hotels, vacation rentals, flights, and car rentals as far in advance as possible.
The Best Places to Visit in August
The best family vacation ideas in August are destinations that are typically too cold (or too closed off to visitors) other times of year to really experience all there they have to offer—with the exception of one special Caribbean island that actually sees a dip in tourism and prices during the month of August.
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1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota is known for its frosty winters, so it should come as no surprise that August—boasting sunny days with highs hovering right around 80 degrees Fahrenheit—is an ideal time to visit Minneapolis. The city celebrates the nice weather with outdoor events and activities such as the Minnesota State Fair, farmers markets, and art walks. There’s a corresponding uptick in tourism in August, so be sure to book in advance to snag the best deal on lodging and airfare.
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Kids of all ages will love learning about dinosaurs at the Science Museum of Minnesota, exploring three floors of interactive activities at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, or experimenting with electricity at the Bakken Museum. And you could spend an entire summer vacation at the Mall of America, with its 500 stores, 50 restaurants, rides galore at the Nickelodeon Universe, the state’s largest aquarium at Sea Life, and 25 hands-on attractions at the Crayola Experience.
For those who would like to take advantage of the sunshine, Minnehaha Regional Park offers the perfect place to play, thanks to its 53-foot waterfall, Minnehaha Falls; Minnehaha Falls Pergola Garden; picnic tables; a wading pool; and a playground.
Where to Stay in Minneapolis
Directly across the street from the Mall of America, Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, Bloomington at Mall of America is ideally situated for a family vacation. Kids will also love the on-site pool, free cookies, and complimentary waffles.
2. Niagara Falls, Canada
Both the U.S. and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls are popular summer spots for families. Even if you may encounter a few extra people, it’s worth visiting in August because the warmer temperatures (averaging highs in the 80s) guarantee all attractions are open and easy to explore. When planning a trip in August, book as far out as possible to snag the best deal and make any reservations for activities in advance. You may be able to save a little extra by staying on the U.S. side of the falls, but the views won’t be quite as dramatic.
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For an up-close-and-misty look at the falls, consider taking the 20-minute Voyage to the Falls Boat Tour (the Canadian equivalent of the Maid of the Mist boat tour from the U.S. side) or traveling 125-feet below the falls to the observation deck on Journey Behind the Falls tour. Ponchos are provided.
Back on drier land, Niagara Falls is a veritable playground of entertainment, attractions, and restaurants. Some of the best family-friendly activities include exploring the 150-acre nature park with more than 1,000 types of animals and birds at Safari Niagara; seeing all types of life the aquarium and zoo, as well as living it up at the amusement park at Marineland; and making a splash at the 125,000-square-foot Fallsview Waterpark.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
The family-favorite Great Wolf Lodge location in Niagara Falls provides free access to its 100,000-square-foot water park with each stay. Kids will also love the on-site arcades, mini golf, laser tag, virtual reality, and more.
3. Glacier National Park, Montana
With more than 700 miles of trails, 25 glaciers, alpine meadows, dense forests, lakes, and waterfalls, Glacier National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and one of the very best national parks to visit in summer. (The park experiences a short season thanks to heavy snowfall on the roads, making August a prime time to visit.) To avoid crowds, start your days early and make reservations as far in advance as possible—even up to a year ahead is recommended.
One of the best activities for kids is the Junior Ranger Program. Pick up a packet at a visitor center and let your little ones fill it out to be sworn in and receive a wooden badge. There are so many places to explore within the park, but families may want to focus in and around Apgar, where it’s easy to book guided activities such as whitewater rafting, helicopter tours, and fishing. A great way to see the park is the Red Bus Tours, departing from Apgar, with their roll-back tops providing stunning vertical views not typically seen from a car.
Be sure to make the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road a part of your itinerary. The meandering 50-mile road travels from the west side to the east side of the park, and offers views of glacier-carved mountains, lush forests, and crystal-clear lakes. Listen to the audio tour for insider information during your drive.
Where to Stay in Glacier National Park
Within walking distance of Lake McDonald, Apgar Village Lodge and Cabins provides the perfect spot to enjoy the Great Outdoors. The Family Cabin is ideal for those traveling with little ones and comes equipped with a loft sleeping area and a fully equipped kitchen.
In need of a Caribbean beach vacation that isn’t overcrowded and terribly expensive? Say hello to Curaçao. Located outside of the Hurricane Belt, the island doesn’t experience the rainy days common to most Caribbean islands. August is a particularly great time to visit for warm weather (highs averaging 89 degrees), sun-soaked days (about nine hours of sunshine on average), and affordable airfare and lodging.
Curaçao’s main port city, Willemstad, is unlike any other in the Caribbean with its Dutch Colonial architecture painted in an abundance of bright colors. Visitors can spend the day exploring the historic neighborhood of Punda with its pedestrian-only streets, local shops, and eateries.
Families who want to learn about wildlife can choose from a variety of activities. The Dolphin Academy lets you meet, swim, or even dive with dolphins. The Curaçao Sea Aquarium provides insight into the island’s surrounding sea life with its Substation, Ocean Lens, animal encounter dives, and more. The C Curaçao Ostrich Farm is the largest ostrich breeding ground outside of Africa, and even lets you feed an ostrich if you dare.
The main attractions, however, are the island’s 30-plus beaches. Some well-outfitted sandy spots for swimmers of all ages are Casa Abo Beach, Mambo Beach, Playa Lagun, and Blauwbaai.
Where to Stay in Curaçao
Fun for the whole family, Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa, and Casino offers everything from a spa to a kid’s club (with campout adventures, sandcastle competitions, and more). There are plenty of activities for everyone, including four pools, a rock-climbing wall, water sports, and tennis.
5. Geneva, Switzerland
Home to the United Nations and the Red Cross, Geneva is a French-speaking Swiss city that welcomes people from all over the world. While August is high season for the city, it’s also considered the best time to explore Geneva’s many outdoor attractions.
Thanks to pleasant temperatures hovering in the 70s, August is an ideal time to hike Mont Salève, play in the water at the Pâquis Baths, gaze at the impressive Jet d’Eau fountain, or smell the flowers at the Botanical Gardens. Rain is still possible in Switzerland this time of year, so pack accordingly. And to grab the best deal and ensure availability, book airfare, lodging, and activities as far in advance as possible too.
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To truly appreciate Lake Geneva, there’s nothing better than a boat tour. The 50-minute Cruise of the Mermaid is a great way to see the important sights of the city, including the UN Building, the castle of Bellerive, the mermaid statue, and more.
Families could spend an entire day outside exploring the 30 acres of Le Bois de la Bâtie with its animal park, paddling pool, and the largest playground in the city. If it drizzles, head inside to the Museum of Natural History for the interactive exhibits geared towards kids.
Where to Stay in Geneva
Situated on 10 acres overlooking Lake Geneva, La Réserve Genève-Hotel, Spa, and Villas invites families to relax in style. Stay in one of the hotel’s communicating family rooms, with one of the rooms decorated just for kids; eat at one of its four kid-friendly restaurants; dive in one of the pools; enjoy the complimentary childcare for kids six to 12 years old; or take part in one of the many land or lake activities.