9 Cities That Are Better With Kids

Traveling with kids is an experience, that’s for sure. There are the magical days when everyone is having fun and then there are those challenging moments that make you wonder why you bothered to take the kids with you in the first place. Luckily, family trips are all about making memories and funny stories, like the time you almost forgot Jr. at the gas station, or when all the suitcases got lost on your first flight. 

Despite the forgiving nature of your memories, there are some travel destinations that are often best enjoyed sans kids. That said, save the big, adult trips for later in your children’s lives and head to these fun places to visit with kiddos instead:

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History [Washington, D.C.]

Washington D.C. | When you visit the nation’s capital with your kids, power lunches will not be on the agenda, but that’s probably OK with you, anyway. This big, powerful city is a great place for your kids to see the American history and government up close. You can take them to whatever Smithsonian Museum they want to see. Depending on the kids, you might spend all morning checking out rockets in the National Air and Space Museum, or craning your necks at dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. The National Museum of American History is also geared toward kids.

Since kids don’t last long in museums, you’ll want to pack some other activities as well. Run along the reflection pool at the Lincoln Memorial, ride to the observation deck in the Washington Memorial, or visit the pandas at the national zoo. 

Koalas at San Diego Zoo [San Diego, California]

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San Diego, Calif. | Kids and adults just love the San Diego Zoo and for good reason. This gigantic zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals. If you want to see a favorite animal, it’s probably here. Arrive at opening to increase your chances of seeing the creatures during the active part of their day. 

Zoo time is practically mandatory, but so are a whole bunch of other kid-friendly activities. Lie around on the beach, splash in the waves and make elaborate sandcastles. Visit the enormous USS Midway and let the kids prowl past fighter jets and through the war room. If you’ve got little tykes, take them to the New Children’s Museum where they can play with interactive art projects. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway [Indianapolis, Indiana]

Indianapolis, Ind. | Indianapolis you say? But in fact, this vibrant Midwestern city is a great place to visit, especially with people in tow who will appreciate the fantastic Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  

You can’t miss the Indianapolis Children’s Museum because there are huge dinosaurs scaling the outside of the building. Inside, the dinosaur dig pit is only the start of an amazing collection of exhibits ranging from a planetarium to a playscape to an exhibit on China.  

Beyond the children’s museum there are the revving cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the history-making race cars at the Hall of Fame Museum. Kids will also enjoy the White River State Park where riverside play can combine with trips to museums, the zoo and a canal walk perfect for training wheels. 

View of El Capitan [Yosemite National Park, California]

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Yosemite National Park, Calif. | Kids of all ages have a great time at national parks and Yosemite is just one of dozens that all Americans should see. Yosemite is a great bet with kids due to its proximity to San Francisco. Your kids will be happy without the long drive, even if the park is crowded as a result. 

What you do in the national park really depends on what your family will be game for. Check out the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, which will dwarf you in their thousand year old shadows. Visit the majestic Yosemite Valley. You can hike, horseback ride, rock climb and more. Scenic drives and overlooks will present kids with scenery they’ll never forget. 

Gettysburg National Military Park [Gettysburg, Pennsylvania]

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Gettysburg, Pa. | Tranquil Gettysburg is the perfect place to take your kids to learn about the struggles of the Civil War. While the pastoral Gettysburg National Military Park no longer looks like a place of massive carnage, you can still see signs of the war that forever altered the course of American history. 

Visit during the summer for costumed interpreters as well as special demonstrations on weaponry, medicine and civilian life. You’ll want to take a tour of the battlefield and you can conquer it on foot, or take a guided bus tour. 

Central Park in Manhattan [New York City, New York]

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New York, N.Y. | Expensive, trendy and simply enormous, New York City is actually a fun place to visit with kids if you revise your expectations a little bit. Take the kids to play in Central Park where you’ll bump into the Alice in Wonderland statue and maybe have time for some playground fun. Afterward, you can tackle the dinosaur bedecked American Museum of Natural History. If your kids get amped up on art, MoMa is a good bet with art programs and workshops just for kids. 

The Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park is well worth the subway ride. You’ll be hanging out with gorillas and butterflies in the world’s biggest city in no time flat. 

Old Rocket Detail at Kennedy Space Center [Cape Canaveral, Florida]

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Cape Canaveral, Fla. | The Kennedy Space Center is just an hour from the madness in Orlando and is definitely worth tacking onto your Disney World trip. You’ll get to walk through the space shuttle Atlantis, ride in a realistic shuttle launch simulation, watch IMAX videos on space and play in the children’s play dome. If you want relaxing beach time after exploring the ins and outs of America’s space program, beautiful Cape Canaveral National Seashore offers miles of sandy beaches to enjoy and is a fun place to visit with kids in tow. 

Hanauma Bay [Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii]

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Honolulu, Hawaii | If you can swing it, every kid should experience Hawaii’s beach culture. Pack a bottle of sunscreen and then get ready for lazy days on the beach. Snorkeling expeditions, boogie board adventures and plenty of swimming are on the menu. They’ll be noshing on fresh fruit, discovering their new love for seafood and getting color in their cheeks. If your kids are up for it, visit the Pearl Harbor memorial the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Airplane junkies can learn even more at the Pacific Aviation Museum. 

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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.

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