Top 10 Family-Friendly Destinations: Go Have Fun!
Pack your bags, grab the kids and your Evolution Micro Jr™ travel pillow, and hit the road! We checked out The Weather Channel’s Top 10 list for best family-friendly vacation destinations to start you on your way.
1. San Diego, CA
Families love San Diego’s year-round idyllic climate and variety of amazing things to see: San Diego Zoo, (home to six giant pandas, the most in any US zoo), Safari Park, SeaWorld (world-famous Shamu, killer whale), Balboa Park, Fleet Science Center, Natural History Museum and the New Children’s Museum. Plus, there’s Legoland with more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions, historic Gaslamp Quarter, the waterfront Embarcadero district, and 70 miles of beaches, including the awesome Coronado Beach.
2. Orlando, FL
For families, Orlando is theme park heaven: Walt Disney World (four giant theme parks and two water parks), Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld Orlando, Wonder Works and Gatorland. Orlando is also the spring training ground for several Major League Baseball teams, plus NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is just 45 minutes away.
3. Yellowstone National Park
Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the US, is one of the best parks for families. Children aged 5-12 can earn an official Junior Ranger patch by completing a number of fun activities, for example, learning how geysers work and what kind of wildlife lives in the area. In addition to the ever-popular Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone also offers hiking, camping, fishing, boating and horseback riding, as well as chances to see bears, wolves, elk and buffalo.
4. Hershey, PA
Chocolate and a theme park–what more could you want? Hershey, PA (“The Sweetest Place on Earth”) was founded over 100 years ago by Milton Hershey. Kids will love the Hershey’s Chocolate World tour that explains how chocolate is made (free samples!) and Hershey Park with more than 60 rides. Also don’t miss the zoo, botanical gardens and the Hershey Museum. And after all that sugar, consider slowing down the pace with a short drive to the picturesque horse-and-buggy Amish country of rolling hills, working farms and covered bridges.
5. Atlantis, Bahamas
The massive, elaborate Atlantis Paradise Island Resort & Casino (“the Lost Continent of Atlantis”) in the heart of the Caribbean boasts 11 pools, two giant waterslides and the whitest beaches you’ve ever seen. Kids have more than a dozen activities and entertainment options designed especially for them, meaning they’ll have a ball and you can relax. Be sure to check out the spa, 35 restaurants and lounges, casino and amazing wildlife, especially the world’s largest open-air marine habitat with hundreds of species of tropical fish, sharks, stingrays and piranhas.
6. Caribbean Cruises
Looking for sun, shopping, entertainment, kids’ activities, gourmet dining, and lots of relaxing? A Caribbean cruise is the answer. A number of cruise lines, such as Disney, Princess and Holland America have kids-only activities and teens-only excursions on their private Bahamian islands. Each will have different offerings, so be sure to research the ships thoroughly for activities that would appeal to your family the most.
Maui, arguably the most beautiful of the seven Hawaiian Islands, may be a long way to go but it’s more than worth it when you get there. Maui’s more than 80 beaches are all accessible to the public, but you’ll also find magnificent biking, hiking, surfing, wind surfing and snorkeling. The Haleakala Crater, a dormant volcano in Haleakala National Park, is a great place to hike year-round and whale-watch in the winter. Maui also hosts the nation’s largest tropical reef aquarium at the Maui Ocean Center. And don’t miss the Hana Highway, one of the world’s most scenic (and hair-raising) highways, with 600 curves and dozens of one-lane bridges over 52 miles.
8. Washington, DC
An awe-inspiring city in any season of the year,Washington, DC, our nation’s capital, is bursting with patriotic pageantry that will enthrall you and your kids alike: historic buildings, majestic monuments, museums, national celebrations, music, art and a whole lot more. Must-sees: the White House, Smithsonian Institution, National Zoo, Washington Mall, U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, National Children’s Museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
9. Estes Park, CO
Estes Park, northwest of Denver, is the place to be in July for the Rooftop Fair and Rodeo, filled to the brim with cowboys and concerts. There’s also Lake Estes along the walkway, offering paddle-boats and sailing.
Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park bills itself as a “living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains with opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and adventures.” For the outdoors enthusiast, this includes hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, climbing, biking and experiencing all kinds of fascinating wildlife. The park’s programs for children include Rocky’s Junior Ranger Program in which kids earn a badge for activities that teach park preservation, environmental education, and wildlife facts.
10. Myrtle Beach, SC
South Carolina’s Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of Atlantic beaches from Little River in the north to Georgetown in the south, has been a top East Coast family vacation destination for decades. And Myrtle Beach is at the center of it all, a budget and family-friendly destination, with most hotels offering children’s programs and playgrounds. What draws families year after year? Sun, sandy beaches, water sports, sunbathing, beach strolling, deep sea fishing, numerous amusement and water parks, and that favorite of many sportsmen: golf.
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