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20 Best Kid-Friendly Places For A Family Vacation in USA

Every family vacation is different. Some are spent relaxing on the beach, while others serve educational purposes, but all family vacations help create life-long memories. Finding the most kid-friendly locations isn’t always the easiest, which is why we’ve put together a list of the best kid-friendly vacation spots. How do you make sure the whole the family is having fun? Look for destinations that offer a multitude of attractions for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to get lost in a new skyline, explore an outdoor oasis, or spend your time enjoying soaking in the sun, here is a list of 20 destinations the whole family will enjoy.

1. Branson

Branson, Missouri has been dubbed a “Family-friendly Las Vegas” and with kid-centric destinations like Silver Dollar City and the World’s Largest Toy Museum, it’s no surprise why. Nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, this Missouri city has been attracting visitors for more than five decades and still retains some old-timey charm. Silver Dollar City, an amusement park, is modeled after a mining town in the 1800s. The Branson Strip is lined with neon lights and dozens of theaters and shows performing every night which boasts things like comedy routines and murder mysteries. If you’re looking to spend a day in the great outdoors, check out Table Rock Lake for fishing and boating.
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2. Orlando

A kid-friendly vacation list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the heart of child-like spirit that happens in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney. There are limitless ways to spend your days there but all the favorites are at the top for a reason! Visit Disney’s Epcot Center for rides and experiences or try out Butterbeer in Harry Potter world. Watch Shamu reach new heights at Sea World or see exotic animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There is a bit of everything for everyone in Orlando and will appeal to all ages (even the adults!) If theme parks aren’t your thing, take advantage of the subtropical climate and explore outside, hit up a golf course, or tour downtown.
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3. Yellowstone

Trade in the theme parks for some time in the great outdoors. Yellowstone National Park is home to pristine lakes, dramatic peaks, hot springs, and one famous geyser. It’s no wonder that the park brings in more than 4 million visitors a year. Enjoy some of their 3,000 + square miles of trails in hopes of getting a glimpse of the wildlife in the park. Buffalo and elk roam the park, you may even catch an occasional grizzly sighting. Hit up the infamous Old Faithful, but also carve out some time to spend at the Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Lake. With all the incredible trails, sights, and geothermal findings, you’ll have your week filled with exploring.
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4. San Diego

Consistently beautiful and sunny weather makes San Diego a great warm-weather vacation spot. To take advantage of the miles and miles of coastline, check out La Jolla or Coronado for a family beach day. If your little one is looking to catch their first wave, La Jolla has gentle waters perfect for learning how to surf. Check out polar bears and zebras at the San Diego Zoo, or go deeper into the ocean at Sea World San Diego- a theme park, aquarium and oceanarium all in one. For your future engineers out there, Legoland California is only about 35 miles from downtown San Diego- the perfect ending to add on to your trip.
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5. Washington, DC

Educational and entertaining find its’ place in the heart of Washington, D.C. Next, to its renowned museums and interesting neighborhoods, D.C has had a recent boost in restaurants and cafes as well. Choose a classic tour of marbled monuments by visiting attractions like the White House, Washingon Monument, U.S Capitol, and plenty of the Smithsonian museums. Visit in late March or early April to hit peak cherry blossom season and stroll around the Tidal Basin. There are plenty of hop-on, hop-off tours to make accessing the tourist attractions easier than ever. With all the Smithsonian museums having free admission, you can take your time exploring them without denting your wallet! The International Spy Museum is a personal favorite and perfect for any inquisitive young minds.
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6. Wisconsin Dells

The Dells is well known for its’ destination-worthy water parks. With a wide array of outdoor parks to cool off in the heat of the summer and an assortment of indoor parks, it’s the perfect kid destination all year round. If you’re looking for more adventure with the whole family, try out a zip lining tour or Mr. Marve’s Wondertorium. Hop aboard the “Ducks” which is an amphibious vehicle that will show you the most scenic parts of the Wisconsin Dells-- half on land and half on the water!
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7. Grand Canyon

Another renowned national park for a family destination, the Grand Canyon is truly a natural wonder. Embark on an easy hike through the park or ride a mule down the North Rim. Take in the views from a different perspective by rafting the Colorado River. If you want to enjoy the scenery without the strenuous activity, walk the Grand Canyon Skywalk or take on a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway. Accommodations around the park book quickly during the summer for peak travel, but admission to the park is relatively low making it a budget-friendly vacation for all.
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8. Myrtle Beach

Another great beach destination for the family, Myrtle Beach provides plenty of shores and in town entertainment. The calm waters are perfect for a family vacation spending the day playing in the sand and water. If you’re looking to get out of the sun, wander in town for fun attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, the Broadway Grand Prix, the Family Kingdom Amusement Park, and plenty of mini-golf courses. Summer here can book up fast, so book accommodations early or consider an off-peak trip here during the early fall!
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9. Los Angeles & Anaheim

Knock out some of the best theme parks in the country with a family vacation to California. In Los Angeles enjoy the stretch of beach, celebrating sightings, or museum visits. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is a hit with the kids, or visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to practice all your favorite spells. Anaheim is a short drive away where you can visit Disneyland, which is still one of the top places to take your kids in California.
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10. Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach can be as relaxed or touristy as you want for your family vacation. Visit planes at the Military Aviation Museum or check out the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center if you’re looking to escape the sun. Ocean Breeze Waterpark is great for outdoor family fun, or rent a kayak and go for a dolphin watching tour along the coast. If you’re truly looking for a relaxing vacay, spend your days on the beach playing in the water and building sand castles.
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11. Lake Michigan

There are so many places to explore and enjoy Lake Michigan, but one of the best family vacation spots is in Empire, Michigan. This is perfect for the family looking for an outdoor adventure. Right at the foot of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire had a multitude of activities for the kids. Spend the day at one of their sandy beaches or swim in the freshwater lake. You can hike through sand dunes or forests or even look for shipwrecks in the vast lake.
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12. Twin Cities

What’s one mega-mall that combines activities for the whole family? The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota does just that. With endless kid-friendly attractions and of course loads of shopping, the MOA is one of the easiest family vacations in the country. A giant theme park, a SEA LIFE aquarium, a flight simulation, an escape room challenge, and more- all under one roof! If you’re looking to explore beyond the mall, head to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (free!), take tours of the State Capitol, visit the Como zoon, or look around the historic Cathedral of Saint Paul.
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13. Destin

With crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, what is not to love about vacationing in Destin, FL! If you are looking to relax on the beach, check out Henderson Beach State Park or Crystal Beach. For more of an adventure, try booking a boat tour. You can find plenty of tours from dolphin watching to pirate-themed excursions. If you’re looking to make a splash, Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park features waterslides and lazy rivers, or observe the dolphins and penguins at Gularium Marine Adventure Park.
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14. San Antonio

The perfect time to enjoy San Antonio is in the early spring or late fall to avoid uncomfortably hot temperatures. But as a plus side to warm temps all the time, the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium host year-round events and serve as a home to more than 700 different species of animals. Young ones can learn about the history behind the Alamo as well as visit the exhibits at the Witte Museum, which can range from mummies to dinosaurs.
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15. Williamsburg

If you’re looking to educate the whole family with rich American History, Williamsburg is the perfect family vacation destination. Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown all offer kid-friendly re-enactments of life during the Revolutionary War. Costumed actors play printers, blacksmiths, and milliners to provide a history lesson for the whole family! After you’ve had a day of educational opportunities, let loose at Busch Gardens or enjoy the lazy rivers at Water Country USA. Summer is the busiest time for families, so keep in mind when booking accommodations!
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16. Outer Banks

If you’re looking to relax on the beach on a budget, the Outer Banks is for you. A chain of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina, you can rent whole vacation homes for the price you’d usually pay on hotel rooms. Spend your days relaxing and enjoy the beaches. Visit Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Jockey’s Ridge State Park. There you’ll find the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast (and yes you can climb it!)
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17. Chicago

A perfect city destination, the “Windy City” offers a multitude of family-fun activities. Cheer for the Cubs at Wrigley Field or visit Millennium Park to grab a photo with the infamous sculpture “The Bean”. Shedd Aquarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo are great escapes if you’re looking to interact with animals, or check out the Navy Pier- a playground of rides for kids in addition to the Chicago Children’s Museum. Just don’t forget to try out Chi-town’s signature eats - deep dish pizza and the Chicago dog- food your kids are sure to love!
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18. Hilton Head

If you’re looking for a laid back beach getaway, Hilton Head, South Carolina is the perfect place for your family. There are numerous beaches to ensure that easy, breezy vacation vibe. Drieseen Beach is one of the most popular for a less-crowded atmosphere, while Coligny Beach is more popular but slightly busier. Coastal Discovery Museum and Pinckney Island National Wildlife Regufe are natural escapes to learn more about the wildlife and flowers of the area. Finish each night by strolling around Harbour Town, grabbing a meal, enjoying the sunset, and even an ice cream scoop (or two!)
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19. New York City

It might be easy to write off NYC as a non-kid-friendly destination, but you’d be surprised about the city that never sleeps! Central Park is the perfect first attraction for the kids. Stroll around- or rent bikes- to see this 2.5-mile long park smack dab in the middle of the city. Be sure to check out the famous Loeb Boathouse where you can rent rowboats for next to nothing. Next, check out The American Museum of Natural History, perfect for your curious kids, or spend the day at the Bronx Zoo. If you’ve caught a nice weather day, make the trek out to the iconic Coney Island (about an hour on the subway) to walk the pier and explore the amusement park rides.
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20. Yosemite

Yosemite has so many outdoor offerings making it an excellent family destination for adventure. You can hike, fish, ride horses, or raft down the river. There are many hiking trails within the Yosemite Valley, or you can take a bus up to Glacier Point for sweeping views of the valley. Yosemite is an extremely popular National Park, accommodations around there book almost a year in advance. But if you’re looking for a place with numerous outdoor activities to explore, Yosemite is the perfect family vacation destination for you!
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