For Relaxers: Cruises
Why They're Crowd-Pleasers: Up-front pricing means you can control your budget. A full roster of activities keeps every family member entertained: Kids can learn to DJ at teen-only clubs, and seniors can relax with bridge games.
Where to Set Sail
Alaskan Adventure: Princess' Alaska cruises have teamed up with the California Science Center for a Science on the Seas program, complete with marine biology experiments. The highlight of the journey is a day of cruising through Glacier Bay National Park, where epic icebergs dramatically drop ice into emerald-green waters as you spot black bears and bald eagles. Junior chefs can take cooking classes while adults stay busy with intriguing talks from the likes of a former Iditarod champ. Eleven-day Alaska cruise, round-trip from San Francisco on the 2,600-passenger Star Princess, princess.com, from $998 double occupancy
Caribbean Castaway Dream: Disney's seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise offers up to four destinations: San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas/St. John; St. Maarten; and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. The latter has all the charms of the Caribbean: You can board a glass-bottomed boat at Marge's Barges & Sea Charter Dock, or send the kids to Teen Beach for biking and kayaking while you relax on the sand at adults-only Serenity Bay. Seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise, round-trip from Port Canaveral, Florida, on the Disney Fantasy, disneycruise.disney.go.com, from $1,085 per person
Siesta and Fiesta on the Mexican Riviera: Norwegian Cruise Lines' "freestyle" concept means everyone can do what they want, whenever they want—including dining. The entire family can enjoy a whale-watching tour of Banderas Bay, which has one of the world's largest concentrations of humpbacks. Seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise on the Norwegian Star, departing from Los Angeles, ncl.com, from $479 per person
Smooth Sailing Tip: Be sure to experience everything on your list by prebooking tickets to complimentary comedy shows and Broadway-style musicals, and make reservations for specialty restaurants and spa services.
For Outdoorsy Types: National Parks
Why They're Crowd-Pleasers: Families have flocked to national parks for decades to experience stunning natural wonders firsthand—and to save some bucks, since camping or rolling in with an RV can reduce lodging costs. Plus, the great outdoors practically forces you to unplug, so it's a surefire way to get your clan out of their daily routine and reconnect.
Glacier National Park: Glacier offers all the dramatic mountain vistas and abundant wildlife of Yosemite, without the crowds. For a novel way to view the park (also great for those with physical limitations), sign up for a boat tour of one of the area's four major lakes.
Shenandoah National Park: The Blue Ridge Mountains are a stunning backdrop to the gorgeous Skyline Drive. Shenandoah has 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The easiest is the 1.3-mile Limberlost Trail, a circuit hike for all ages with a 5-foot-wide crushed greenstone walkway on a gentle grade with plentiful benches, a boardwalk and a bridge.