The South's Best Family Getaways 2022

Winter Park_ Orlando
Photo: Courtesy Visit Orlando and Steven Maddow Aerial

Make new memories on a family trip this year. The South's best family getaways are vacations to remember: Whether it's a busy weekend spent at one of the South's favorite theme parks or a relaxing week spent on the sand at a broad, sunny beach, there's a getaway on this list that your family will love—and will want to return to year after year. Pack your walking shoes to explore places like Orlando, Florida, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, or slather on the sunscreen to enjoy the beaches of Pensacola, Florida, and Gulf Shores, Alabama. Visit a well-known spot near you or plan a trip to somewhere new that's farther afield. One thing is for sure: You and your family will be glad you made the trip. The South's best family getaways beckon travelers from near and far. Which ones will you and yours visit this year?

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10. South Padre Island, Texas

A classic beach destination for every age, SPI does swell with Spring Breakers during peak season, but it has hidden riches from one length of its 34 miles of pale, soft sands to the other. With strong and steady winds, SPI is a kite surfing destination,
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Coastal Texas doesn't get much more inviting than South Padre Island, which is a great family-friendly getaway. Popular attractions include Beach Park at Isla Blanca, Sea Turtle, Inc., Sea Life Marine Center, and SPI Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary. There's also snorkeling, eco-tours, dolphin watching—even sandcastle lessons to take your family's sandcastle architecture up a notch.

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9. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Officially a part of the Virginia Beach metro area, this secluded hideaway of five miles of pristine dunes and wild oats 15 miles south of the boardwalk-and-funnel-cake action is an incredible discovery with a family vibe. The peaceful community of beach
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This coastal Virginia city has lots to offer new visitors. Its three-mile-long boardwalk invites visitors to stroll, taking in ocean views where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic. Travelers love visits to First Landing State Park, Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, North End beaches, and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

Plan your trip.

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8. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio River Walk Boat Cruise
Wynn Myers

Family fun in San Antonio, Texas, begins at the downtown Riverwalk, where you can find restaurants, museums, performances, markets, and public art. Don't miss the Alamo, San Fernando Cathedral, and Historic Market Square to learn about the history of the area. Before you leave, be sure to savor local fare—with Tex-Mex, Latin American dishes, barbecue, and seafood galore, there's so much to enjoy in San Antonio.

Plan your trip.

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7. Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Tennessee River in Chattanooga
Robbie Caponetto

This walkable Tennessee city has long been a favorite family-friendly destination. Take advantage of Chattanooga's lively riverfront: Go for a stroll on the Riverwalk, explore the Tennessee Aquarium, play in riverside parks, and grab an ice cream to enjoy on the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge. For a waterborne adventure, launch a paddleboard or kayak in the river and take in the sights from below.

Plan your trip.

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6. Pensacola, Florida

Boats in Harbor in Pensacola, Florida
Getty/Dan Reynolds Photography

Set your sights on a Panhandle vacation in Pensacola. With white-sand beaches, clear aquamarine waters, and plenty to keep families busy and having fun, it's an ideal beach getaway for all the generations. Don't miss the fresh seafood at local restaurants along the bay and pop into Big Lagoon State Park, the Pensacola Lighthouse, Pensacola Children's Museum, and Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center for engaging and educational experiences.

Plan your trip.

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5. Corolla, North Carolina

Wild Mustang on Sandunes
McIninch/Getty Images

Families love the Outer Banks because of its laid-back atmosphere. Rent a house, pile in, and spend a vacation running wild on the sands, splashing in the sea, and enjoying the natural splendor of Corolla. Don't miss Corolla Park and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, and be sure to keep an eye out for seabirds and wild horses on the beaches and at Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

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4. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach
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Myrtle Beach has as its calling card a beachfront boardwalk with eateries, arcades, a Ferris wheel (one of the tallest in the United States), and an old-fashioned amusement park called Family Kingdom. This coastal city along the Grand Strand offers access to miles and miles of beaches with room to roam.

Plan your trip.

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3. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores
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This Gulf beach destination is a lively spot on the Alabama coast. When you arrive in Gulf Shores, settle in for fresh seafood at one of the area's local restaurants or take a walk on the beach to see the sun rise and set. Let the whole family wear themselves out on the sand before turning in, and then wake up and do it all again the next day.

Plan your trip.

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2. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa
Courtesy of Dollywood

This mountain town in east Tennessee is a veritable choose-your-own-adventure destination. You can pay a visit to Dollywood, Dolly Parton's theme park, or experience shows, shopping, and outdoor adventure around the city. Take a spin on a zipline or hike a scenic loop through Cades Cove—there's no shortage of family fun to be had in Pigeon Forge.

Plan your trip.

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1. Orlando, Florida

Winter Park_ Orlando
Courtesy Visit Orlando and Steven Maddow Aerial

We all know Orlando—it's a favorite resort and theme park destination that families flock to season after season. Its popularity can be traced to the sheer number of activities per square mile (and there are quite a few). Those who have visited know that there's no time for boredom on a day in Orlando. Visit, and feel like a kid again.

Plan your trip.

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