Family vacations are a great way for children to discover the world and experience new things. Your kids can see polar bears up close, witness American history or catch their very first fish. The best kid-friendly attractions in America are a great place to start if you’re planning a family vacation. Children’s attractions and things to do abound on each of our great kid-friendly vacations, but family vacations go beyond waterparks, museums, and zoos. The getaways are designed to be kid-friendly. The discoveries you and your kids might make are endless!
Family vacations should be as unique as the families themselves, from secret handshakes to favorite desserts. The best kid-friendly attractions and places to vacation in the U.S. Because there is no one-size-fits-all trip, we found some of the best. The cities, mountains, islands, and small towns of America have many great places to take kids. The best family vacations are as unique as your children, so you might even be surprised by some of these places. No matter if you’re looking for educational adventures, wild roller coaster rides, or some laid-back beach time, all you have to do is pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to share life-long memories.
San Diego, California
With kid-friendly experiences and fun places to go with kids, San Diego is one of the best family vacation spots in California. At the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego, a theme park, aquarium, and oceanarium rolled into one, budding wildlife biologists can see everything from pandas to polar bears. The warm water and gentle breaks off pretty La Jolla are perfect conditions for your kids to catch their first waves near Legoland California.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of America’s best kid-friendly vacation destinations, offering children dozens of ways to learn, build, and explore. You won’t be disappointed with Indianapolis’ other kid-friendly attractions. In Rhythm, everyone can lay down beats. Older kids can try their wits against an escape room game. During the self-guided scavenger hunt at the Discovery Center, the whole family will get in on the action.
Spend a family vacation in Washington learning about the Founding Fathers and enjoying kid-friendly attractions and tours. Taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour is a great way to experience D.C. highlights at your own pace. The Smithsonian Museums are all free to visit, so you can sample them all without breaking the bank. Is your child destined to be the next James Bond or Mata Hari? In the International Spy Museum, kids can learn about double agents in a kid-friendly environment.
Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium is an underwater wonderland where children can see enormous whale sharks up close. Younger children will love the superhero or zombie-themed tours of Atlanta’s movie sites, and kids will enjoy the interactive and multimedia exhibits at the World of Coca-Cola.
Los Angeles, California
In addition to beach time, theme parks, and celebrity selfies (in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum), Los Angeles offers kid-friendly vacations. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter offers kids the chance to practice their wand skills, and Disneyland is just a short drive away. From meeting Mickey Mouse to riding Magic Mountain, Disneyland remains one of the premier places to take kids.
Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii
Maui is one of the best kid-friendly vacation spots in Hawaii because of its surfing, scenery, and laid-back pace. In the touch tanks at the Maui Ocean Center, kids can explore marine biology up close, and snorkeling trips from Wailuku are a great way to see sea turtles in their natural environment. Whether you’re a kid or a parent, you won’t want to miss a traditional luau, a cultural immersion experience like none other.
Known for having the World’s Largest Toy Museum, Branson is a favorite for kid-friendly vacations, but there is much more to do for children than Lincoln Logs and toy trains. The water parks and amusement parks in Branson make for great family vacation ideas, as do shows and fishing in the lakes and streams that surround the city.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
A visit to Virginia Beach is a favorite for kid-friendly beach vacations, and a day at the shore can be as active or as relaxing as you desire. Take a dolphin-watching tour along the coast in a kayak or slip and slide through Ocean Breeze Waterpark. Among the indoor activities geared toward children are the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and Military Aviation Museum, about which a TripAdvisor reviewer raved: “My grandson loved all the planes!”
A great family vacation spot on Lake Michigan, Empire is just minutes from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – especially if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. Discover Lake Michigan shipwrecks, swim in a vast lake, then spend the night under the stars while hiking through sand dunes and forests. Likewise, off Empire’s sandy beaches, the entire family can paddle into their very first waves due to Lake Michigan’s freshwater, kid-friendly waves.
Huntsville’s US Space and Rocket Center, a kid-friendly vacation spot perfect for aspiring astronauts, is the perfect place to start a lifelong fascination with space. In addition to space walking in a zero gravity chamber and watching space footage on a towering IMAX screen, the exhibits keep kids engaged in the science and thrills of space.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Family vacations to the Wisconsin Dells are all about getting wet: there are award-winning water parks galore at this kid-friendly getaway. If you’re looking to cool off during the Midwestern summer, try an outdoor water park, or if you need some bathing suit time in the winter, try an indoor water park. There are also great things to do without getting wet, such as Mr. Marvel’s Wondertorium, the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater, and zip lining tours for kids.
A family vacation to the Mall of America is the perfect way to spend time together, including kid-friendly attractions, shopping, and theme parks. Explore the world from an eagle’s eye view at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, experience the multi-sensory Fly Over America or challenge your family to beat an escape room challenge without leaving the mall.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Located along the scenic Gulf Coast, Orange Beach is a relaxed family vacation destination with white-sand beaches and bayous. Whether you’re spotting dolphins on a private fishing charter, teaching your children how to bait a hook, or just building sand castles on the picture-perfect beaches, it’s one of the best places to go with kids who love sand and salt water.
New Braunfels, Texas
New Braunfels is a kid-friendly vacation destination that’s all about staying cool: the Comal River and the Guadelupe River slide right past the town at a pace perfect for daylong inner tube floats. After you’ve dried off, you’ll discover a variety of kid-friendly attractions in San Antonio, from feeding animals at the San Antonio Zoo to picnicking in the Texas Hill Country. A kid-favorite Schlitterbahn Waterpark and the McKenna Children’s Museum are also in New Braunfels.
Besides being rich in American history and heritage, Williamsburg has plenty of kid-friendly attractions that make the past come alive for visitors. At Colonial Williamsburg, kids can experience early American life through reenactments and costumed actors. For visitors of all ages, seeing “working” milliners, printers, and blacksmiths is fascinating. Williamsburg boasts two exciting theme parks, including Busch Gardens’ rides and Water Country USA’s slides, pools, and lazy rivers, so family vacation ideas don’t end there.
One of Phoenix’s best places for kids to visit is the Musical Instrument Museum, which has more than 15,000 musical instruments. Experience the museum’s experience gallery, where you can listen to instruments from around the world and play your own tune. Off-roading through the Sonoran Desert can be a whole different kind of noise altogether, with kids learning about desert plants and animals as they travel across the sand.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco offers plenty of kid-friendly attractions that make it the perfect destination for any type of family vacation. Taking your kids to the California Academy of Sciences, where a four-story indoor rainforest, a planetarium, aquarium and a planetarium await, is a great way to get their sense of wonder going.
Grapevine boasts two fantastic kid-friendly attractions, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Sealife Aquarium, which are easily accessible from Dallas and Fort Worth. The Dallas Zoo, the Nasher Culture Center, and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a bucket-list experience for football fans, await your family after your family explores the worlds of LEGO characters and undersea creatures. The Grapevine area is the perfect getaway for families with children.
Boston offers classic experiences you’re sure to enjoy as one of America’s most historic cities. At Fenway Park you can watch the Red Sox play, cruise Boston Harbor aboard the USS Constitution, and experience the iconic Swan Boats at Boston Public Garden. In addition to its rich history, there are a number of kid-friendly attractions that can introduce youngsters to the history of the revolutionary era in America. The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum even lets visitors throw bales of tea into Boston Harbor as part of the celebrations.