Top 7 Family Reunion Destinations

Depending on budget and family size, a traveling family reunion can be a fabulous adventure. Whether you are an active family who enjoys skiing and parasailing or a family who prefers the slower, more relaxed style of vacation, there's a destination for your perfect family reunion that everyone is sure to love.

There are affordable options across the country such as camping, renting a beach house or cabin, and staying at someone else's home to save money. Besides the budget, one of the top factors that go into deciding a family reunion destination is features and activities. While you may want to hang out near the resort or home and chat around a bonfire, you always want the option of heading into the city for a movie or bowling.

A good balance between solitude and action is key for a family reunion destination. The Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri is one such destination. This giant lake-side wilderness resort is cradled within the Ozark mountains near Branson, Missouri, the live entertainment capital of the world. Both scenic and full of activities, Big Cedar Lodge combines outdoor adventures with classic entertainment. A Midwestern resort, here you can watch some bull riding, canoe or kayak on the lake, enjoy the lazy river, golf on the course, or drive into Branson to see a show or spend the day at Silver Dollar City theme park.

If the wilderness theme strikes your fancy, perhaps you'd enjoy the wide frontier of the American west. Many of the country's best national parks have excellent camping choices for groups on a budget. Or, if you like, the adults can rent cabins and the kids can spend the night under the stars in tents. Yosemite, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Olympic National Park in Washington state are but a few of the most beautifully scenic, activity ridden, exciting yet relaxing national parks with plenty to keep you busy but not so distracted you can't focus on listening to the cousin you haven't seen for seven years. There are wonderful national and state parks in every part of the country so it really comes down to the distance your group is willing to travel.

The grand outdoors is not for everyone as some people prefer the lullaby of traffic to the music of grasshoppers. If this sounds like your group, maybe a city destination is right for you. New Orleans is great for any family reunion with a plethora of interesting features, exciting activities, and a colorful energy pervading the entire metropolis. Tour the Audubon Nature Institute Zoo and Aquarium, one of the nation's absolute best and most beautiful zoos, or see the animals in the wild by touring a bayou or nature preserve. While in the city, a visit to Bourbon Street and the French Quarter is a must to fully appreciate the culture of New Orleans. For groups without children, visit during Mardi Gras for added fun.

Where New Orleans is influenced by French ancestry, San Antonio is influenced by Spanish. Replete with history, exciting entertainment venues, wildlife, beauty, and spicy Mexican food, San Antonio was practically designed for family fun. The Alamo is a must-see as is the Riverwalk where you can dine with your family on board a river boat. Both kids and adults will enjoy a visit to SeaWorld, original home of Shamu the whale. Other activities include Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Natural Bridge Caverns, and the McNay Art Museum.

For those of you who enjoy beautiful climates, sandy beaches, relaxed atmospheres and a place where the ocean meets civilization, head to any city on the California coast. We recommend the large urban centers along the Pacific Coast Highway that stretches from magnificent San Diego in the south to San Francisco with Los Angeles in the middle. Rent a beach house or two for the family and then take an ecotour in the Channel Islands to see the migrated humpback whales, visit Alcatraz Island, tour Beverly Hills and Hollywood, and experience the magic of the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland.

Reunions of large families may enjoy renting a large beach bungalow and simply hanging out by the sea to catch up. For trips like these, try the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Nags Head, a popular reunion destination. There is a multitude of warm weather beach activities to be experienced here as well as quaint, small town attractions like local theater, music, and more. The warm weather, pleasant salty sea breeze, and relaxing atmosphere make for a laid-back vacation and charming moods all around. This is an excellent choice for those wishing to spend more time with each other than touring the city.

Maybe you've thought of all of these destinations before and nothing struck a chord. Maybe you're ready for something different, something exotic and easy. To this I say, take a cruise. Cruises to Mexico and the Caribbean are a simple and surefire way of getting everyone together in the same place. Frequent stops at varying ports make for a nice change of pace with a full range of activities. Lie on the beach, explore the jungle trails, meet the locals, go shopping, or just experience the culture of wherever you end up. Cruises are a popular choice for large groups for its all-inclusiveness and constant change of scenery, ensuring that you're never bored.

When choosing a family reunion destination you must consider the budget and affordability of accommodations, the distance that everyone must travel, and activities available among others. If you have kids attending, schedule fun time or be nostalgic and get everyone together for a multi-generational board game night like you did when you were younger.

As long as you recognize that you're there to enjoy each other's familial company and catch up on lost time, then any destination is going to be a brilliant choice.