We’ve all been there. Heading out on a family vacation and things go so wrong they’re practically comical. Things break, fights happen, tempers flare and existing family issues escalate, even with the best family travel tips. At the same time, often lasting memories are formed, wonders shared, good times had and at the end of the day, even if you’re not sure that you’re better off having done it, at least you don’t have to think about it until the next holiday.
What does remain long after getting back home is the memories, and nothing cements memories more than experiencing it with your family who might talk about certain events that transpired for generations to come. .
Whether good or bad, family vacations are a part of life and they lend to rich stories and even richer movies. From National Lampoons Vacation to The Great Outdoors to On Golden Pond and Dirty Dancing these are some of the best movies about family vacations you can watch.
The Great Outdoors (1988)
Who doesn’t love the great outdoors? In this family vacation movie it seems that John Candy and Dan Akroyd might have a few bad words to say about it. This classic family vacation comedy takes 2 families and a dose of nature and combines them to numerous hijinks as the try to survive not only nature but their differences as well.
National Lampoons Vacation (1983)
Some of the most outlandish family vacation movies ever made involve the Griswolds (Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo) and none are better than the original movie that started the franchise. The Griswold family’s cross-country drive across the US to the closed Wally World theme park proves that sometimes it’s the trip rather than the destination that often matters.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
When a dysfunctional 3 generation family decide to bring the youngest member to a beauty pageant on the other side of the country in an old VW van, you know there are going to be some memorable moments. Little Miss Sunshine has plenty of those, a stellar cast and plenty of touching moments as well.
The Way Way Back (2013)
Plenty of heart and adolescent issues highlight this retro coming of age dramedy and is proof that you never know where you’ll be once your vacation is over or what adventures you’ll have had together. With Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell topping the list, there’s also stars aplenty.
National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985)
The Griswolds hilarious second family vacation takes them to Europe and differences in culture and attitudes are the center point for the outlandish scenarios that only the Griswolds can bring.
What About Bob? (1991)
Ever have trouble disconnecting from work when the family heads out on vacation? Well, for psychiatrist Dr. Leo (Richard Dreyfuss), Bob (Bill Murray) is definitely someone that should be left behind to deal with when he returns from abroad. Instead, Bob becomes the proverbial thorn in Dr. Leo’s long overdue family vacation.
On Golden Pond (1981)
In this rare look into a troubled father daughter relationship, real life father daughter team Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda, together with the great Katherine Hepburn turn this dramedy into one of the classics.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017)
While not as universally praised as the other movies in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this one stands out as the most family vacationesque of them all. The Heffley family’s road trip to attend their grandmothers 90th birthday party goes off course thanks to Greg’s newest game convention scheme. Will he be able to make it a reality?
Dirty Dancing (1987)
This seminal romantic movie hit staring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey set to the 1963 backdrop of an upper class fancy summer resort retreat set in New Yorks Catskills mountains is a classic for a reason. From gender, ethnicity and monetary differences to doomed summer flings it highlights that when it comes to love and family, nothing else really matters. Well, maybe dancing…
Robin Williams and Cheryl Hines lead this wild ride of a movie as proof that having an RV means family vacation times are best spent on the road. Couple in the fact that neither knows anything about RVing and their kids want nothing to do with either of them, and you have the makings for a entertaining family vacation.
Munster, Go Home! (1966)
If you ever enjoyed the original black and white TV sitcom, The Munsters, then this vacation family movie with the original cast heading to England to see Herman take up the mantle of Lord of Munster Hall will tickle your funny bone for sure. If you thought your family is odd, you have never met the Munsters.
If you’re looking for other great family “monster” style movies, check out our other family Halloween movie favorites.
Johnson Family Vacation (2004)
Watch Cedric The Entertainer and Vanessa Williams shuttle their kids across the country as they head to see extended family. Three days in a new, tricked out SUV doesn’t sound so bad but in the same vein as the Griswolds, this family is in for a wild ride.
We’re the Millers (2013)
Ever wish your family wasn’t really related to you? In this funny comedy we get to see small time pot dealer Jason Sudeikis and his stripper friend, played by Jennifer Aniston, take to the highway with their “children” in order to move some product across the border. While they’re definitely not your average family, in the end they might as well be since, when you spend that long together, isn’t that the true meaning of family.
National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation (1997)
In the fourth movie in the series (the third was the one they stayed home for the holidays), the Griswolds are heading to Vegas. At this point I don’t think I need to say anything else however if you ever find yourselves next to Griswold, I guarantee something outlandishly funny is going to happen soon.
Grown Ups (2010)
What happens when you put Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider together in a cabin by the lake with all their families while trying to relive their youth? Chaos, plus a bunch of laughs as each of the guys tries to one up the other.
Captain Ron (1992)
An adorable father, played by Martin Short, inherits an old yacht when his family decides to set off on an adventure together on it. So what’s missing? Someone that can sail the boat and Captain Ron (Kurt Russell) looks like just the man for the job. As Martin loses control of the situation and all the girls take a liking to Captain Ron, comedy ensues in this family vacation movie set on the high seas.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2001)
The only animated movie on this list, the Mitchells decide to drive their college bound daughter across the country for one final family vacation trip. What they haven’t counted on was the world being overrun by robots. While the animated effects just add to the fun, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this movie highlights some of the worse and the best highlights of a family vacation in an often entertaining matter.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)
The oldest movie on the list nevertheless fails to capture the quintessential chaos that a a family vacation movie often instills. James Stewart shows us that an old rundown house on the beach is still worth it’s weight in gold and the family learns that initial looks can often be deceiving, though sometimes, crazy is just crazy.
The Anderssons Hit the Road (2013)
The only non english and subtitled family vacation movie on this list goes to show that families around the world have their own brand of chaos when they hit the road together. As the Anderssons take a road trip across Europe in search of an autograph for an old painting that could be worth millions, they discover that tracking someone down isn’t as easy when there are 5 of you.
A Very Brady Sequel (1996)
What happens when you take a classic family show produced in the 70’s and catapult them into the future? Well, if you’re a member of the Brady family that means prepare to be mocked severely. Nonetheless this movie is a fun romp through all the clichés that made the original series memorable. Throw them in Hawaii as part of the movie and you have a fun family vacation movie.
Taking up the torch of his father, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) decides to take his wife (Christina Applegate) and two sons to Walley World in a bid to reconnect with his family and relive his previous trip as a child. Sure enough, Rusty is a chip off the old block and outlandish escapades soon follow as they cross the country for an unforgettable family vacation of their own.
Summer Rental (1985)
As we began this list with a John Candy movie, we’ll also end it. Summer Rental sees Candy heading to the beach for a family vacation retreat away from the hectic stress of life as an overworked flight controller. When they get to the beach house they realize it’s not what the brochure said and the family gets into a feud with the local yacht members. Will he vindicate the family pride or will their summer end in disaster…