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The Best Family-Friendly Destinations in the U.S.

May 14, 2018

With the weather warming up, many people are now starting to think about the places they would like to visit this year on their vacation/s.

Are you going to be travelling with your family?

If so, here are some of the best family-friendly destinations in the USA to consider.

Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia

A typical day at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta | © f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The Southern city of Atlanta is one that appeals to all age groups, with such a diverse range of family-friendly activities to choose from.

One of the most popular is the Georgia Aquarium, which was the largest aquarium in the world when it opened in 2005.

There are over 500 different species of marine life that call this aquarium home, from sea lions to whale sharks, the latter of which you can even have the opportunity to swim with.

Want more animal fun?

Head to the Zoo Atlanta, which is home to the only pair of giant panda twins in the USA.

Another fun activity is a visit to The World of Coca Cola, where you will find exhibits detailing the history of the most famous soft drink in the world. The tour of the buildings ends with a stop at the tasting room, where you can sample over 100 different drinks from all over the world.

Looking for more to fill your time with?

Atlanta offers plenty, such as:

  • Boat riding along the Chattahoochee River
  • A visit to the 3000 square foot Children’s Museum of Atlanta
  • A tour of the CNN Center for a behind-the-scenes look at this media outlet
  • Spending the day at the Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta

When travelling with families, finding a restaurant that caters to everybody’s varied tastes can sometimes be difficult…

Atlanta’s Krog Street Market solves this problem by serving up everything from burgers to tapas in its historic 1920’s building. 

The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon in Arizona

Home to the majestic Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon National Park is a destination that everybody should visit at least once in their lifetime.

Your entire family will be able to recognize the beauty and importance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was carved out by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years.

A hike along the Grand Canyon is a must-do, and while many of the trails might be quite challenging, the Rim Trail is family-friendly. There is even the option to ride a mule for part of the trail, so anyone who does not want to walk the whole length of it does not need to.

If you are travelling with children who are too young for a hike, another great way to take in your one-of-a-kind surroundings is with a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway, which is famous for offering up one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world.

Portland, Oregon

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Portland, Oregon

One of the problems that many families face when travelling as a larger group is transport, especially if there are too many family members to fit in one car.

Visiting a city with a good public transportation network does away with this, which is just one of the reasons as to why Portland is so appealing. Their public transportation system is extremely extensive, as well as great value for money, making it easy to explore the entire city.

Wondering what there is to do in Portland

So much, such as:

  • A visit to the Oregon Zoo
  • Touring the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • A treasure hunt around the Portland Japanese Garden
  • Shopping at the Portland Saturday Market
  • A picnic at Washington Park
  • A hike through Forest Park

For families who love nature, just 30 minutes east of Portland is the Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot waterfall that attracts over two million visitors each year. 

South Padre Island, Texas

Young boy boogie-boarding

Young boy boogie-boarding

Although growing in popularity, South Padre Island is still considered to be quite the hidden gem, offering up a tropical paradise with sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters.

This is the perfect spot for those who would prefer a relaxing beach vacation, rather than an action-packed city vacation, and there are enough activities here to appeal to all age groups and tastes.

If you want to make the most of the warm waters here…

Give boogie boarding a try, or spend an afternoon or two trying your luck at some fishing. Dolphin watching is also popular here, and there are a few boat excursions that will take you out onto the water to give you a closer view of these gorgeous creatures.

Prefer the sand to the sea?

The sand here is actually perfect for sandcastles, to the extent that you will find numerous sandcastle lessons being offered here. If you would prefer a little more action, the north end of Padre Island is where you will find large sand dunes, perfect for some off-road driving.

Looking for beauty treatments?

Look no further! Texas is the 2nd most popular state for skin estheticians, employing 4,430 skin care specialists. If you’re looking for a girl-day out, this is the perfect place.

Need to cool off a bit?

The Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort is the place to go, which is a beach-inspired indoor and outdoor waterpark, with a variety of different attractions.

Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios in Florida

Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida | © Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Does your family enjoy theme parks?

If your answer is yes…

Then Orlando is definitely the place to go.

Why?

Because this city is home to an impressive 12 theme parks!

The Walt Disney theme parks tend to be the most popular with families, and these include Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

You will also find Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, as well as Islands of Adventure, which is also owned and run by Universal Parks and Resorts.

Other theme parks worth checking out include Legoland Florida, Gatorland and Discovery Cove.

If you want to check out multiple parks but are put off by admission prices…

There are many companies that offer combination packages for several different parks, so it is worth having a look online at the different deals out there.

Looking for something to do in between all of your theme park visits? 

Here are a few ideas:

  • A walk around the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
  • A boat tour of Winter Park
  • A bike ride along the Lake Baldwin Trail
  • A ride on the largest Ferris Wheel on the East Coast

Washington D.C.

Visitors in the main hall of the Natural History Museum, Washington D.C.

Visitors in the main hall of the Natural History Museum, Washington D.C. | © Kamira / Shutterstock.com

While Washington may be famous for politics, there is so much else to do in the city, with many of its attractions aimed at families.

The National Mall, where you can learn about the country’s history and check out the majestic reflection pool is always popular with people of all ages, while the National History Museum, as well as the Air and Space Museum both have special exhibits for children.

Does your family love animals?

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute consists of 163 acres, with more than 1500 animals, from over 300 species, calling this facility home.

If your family would prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, Rock Creek Park is home to turtles, fish and a wide variety of birds, as well as numerous activities for the whole family to take part in.

The United States Botanic Garden is also located in Washington, and this is a fantastic place to visit on a rainy day, as ten of its gardens are situated underneath glass. Even if you have younger kids with you, the Botanic Garden will still appeal to them, thanks to its Children’s Garden.

Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tourists lounging around on Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii | ©Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Want to spend some time in a tropical paradise?

Then Oahu is the place to head to, because even though this island may be small, it is absolutely perfect for families.

Why?

Because there is such a wide range of activities to be found here, meaning that you can appeal to every member of your family.

When it comes to deciding where to stay…

You have quite a few options. Waikiki Beach is geared towards tourists, meaning that there are numerous amenities in this area, while Ko Olina, as well as the north shore, are much quieter, and offer a more relaxed pace of life.

Wondering what there is to do on Oahu?

One of the most popular activities is checking out the beaches on the island, as these world-famous stretches of sand are a joy to spend some time on.

These are a few of the must-visit beaches on Oahu:

  • Kawela Bay – calm waters make it a great spot for some family snorkelling
  • Waimanalo Beachgentle waves with several scenic picnic spots
  • Waikiki Beachone of the most popular beaches in the world with incredible views of your surroundings
  • Ala Moana Beach Parkhas a shallow lagoon that is ideal for children to swim in
  • Yokohama Baya great spot for watching dolphins

Need a break from the beach?

Check out the Diamond Head Crater, a volcanic crater that you can hike to the top of, or spend some time browsing the many shops at Waikiki Beach

Don’t forget…

A luau is a must when in Hawaii! These traditional parties feature local music and dances, as well as a show that will tell you stories about the history of various Polynesian islands. Of course, one of the main highlights of a luau is the Hawaiian feast that comes along with it, giving you the opportunity to sample many authentic specialities.

New York City, New York

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island | © mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

Being one of the most famous cities in the world, New York has so much to offer, no matter what your family may be interested in.

One must-do activity is a ferry ride along the Hudson, where you can see some of the city’s top sights, such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Once you’re back in Manhattan, there is plenty to choose from.

Begin by checking out some of the city’s museums, which focus on everything from fashion and history to art and religion. There are more than 80 museums to choose from, meaning that everybody in your family can pick one that they want to see.

Are there any animal lovers in your family?

If so, there are several popular animal-related attractions to keep you all busy, including:

  • The Bronx Zoo
  • Central Park Wildlife Center and Tisch Children’s Zoo
  • New York Aquarium
  • Queens Wildlife Center
  • Prospect Park Wildlife Center
  • Staten Island Zoo

Prefer attractions that are more urban?

Take your family for a spot of shopping at some of New York’s bustling markets. Chelsea Market is always popular, and boasts some delicious restaurants too, while the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market is a great place to go to bag a bargain. The Brooklyn Flea Market, as well as Queens Market, are also worth checking out.

When it comes to meal times…

The restaurant scene in New York is one of the best in the world, with everything from casual food trucks to fine dining restaurants offering up delicious meals.

There are numerous family-friendly restaurants all over the city, with some of the best being:

  • Habana Outpost – loved for its authentic Mexican-Cuban cuisine
  • Gotham West Market – perfect for varied tastes, as you can order from eight different eateries in this food court-style restaurant
  • Pig Beach features picnic-style dining areas with speciality smoked meats that also come in large sharing plates
  • Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain an old-school soda fountain shop serving up floats with homemade sodas, as well as savory meals and decadent desserts

When it comes to finding somewhere to stay, there are a variety of hotels all over the city. However, if you have a large family, it may be worth looking into one of the many AirBnBs available in New York City, as this will give all of you much more flexibility.

Choosing a location for a family vacation can be tough, especially if everybody in your family is hoping for something different. These destinations are varied enough to appeal to just about everyone, ensuring that you all have a truly memorable family trip.

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