February 19, 2018

Budget Travel: 12 Top Vacation Spots for Families


Last week, Budget Travel (one of my favorite travel magazines) shared 12 editor-approved vacation spots that the whole family would love. I had to check them out, and for the most part, they hit the mark. The list is a good mix of big cities, national parks and popular or historical hotspots. Take a look at the list, and let me know what you think.

Washington, DC: Right in my own backyard, there’s so much to see and do. Make stops at the White House, U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court. Take an Old Town Trolley Tour to see all of the memorials, and visit popular museums, like the Newseum and the National Air and Space Museum.

Arches National Park: Head to Utah to see more than 2,000 natural stone arches at this national park. Go hiking, biking, backpacking or camping, and be sure to check out the Fiery Furnace. Don’t forget to grab a Junior Ranger Booklet from the Visitors Center.

Williamsburg: Get to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia to march in musket drills, watch a mock witchcraft trial, take candlelit tours and hear ghost stories from “character interpreters” in period costumes. For more fun, rent 18th century costumes at the Visitors Center or Market Square in the center of town.

Glacier National Park: I visited this incredible park in Montana 17 years ago and would love to go back. Take the kids camping, go on a horseback trip or enjoy a ranger-led walk, talk or hike. Plus, don’t forget to complete the activity booklet to become a Glacier Junior Ranger.

Lancaster County: There’s a lot to do in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Take a guided tour of an authentic Amish Village, ride the roller coaster at Dutch Wonderland and hop aboard an Amish Buggy.  If you have time, check out Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and the Strasburg Railroad.

Hershey: Head to Hershey, Pennsylvania for the ultimate chocolate lover’s experience. Go to Hershey’s Chocolate World for a simulated factory tour ride complete with a walk through a tropical jungle where cocoa beans are harvested. And, of course, don’t forget about Hershey Park.

San Francisco: There’s probably too much to do in San Francisco with your kids, but a few musts include riding a cable car, visiting Pier 39 to see the sea lions (and stopping in the Aquarium of the Bay at the end of the pier), and taking pictures at Lombard Street, billed as the “crookedest street.”

Badlands National Park: You and your kids will love the rugged beauty of the Badlands in South Dakota. Learn about astronomy during summer months as part of the Night Sky Program or look for ancient fossils on a hike along the Fossil Exhibit Trail or Cliff Shelf Nature Trail.

Santa Monica Pier: You could easily spend an entire day on the Santa Monica Pier in California riding the carousel and ferris wheel, playing games at the arcade and pointing at the fish in the aquarium. Be sure to also check out the Child’s Play photography exhibit through May 28.

Miami: Explore the Everglades, go to the Miami Seaquarium, or head to Jungle Island to see wild animals, like tigers, parrots and chimpanzees. Or, just head to the beach to surf, swim, sun and build sand castles as a family.

Martha’s Vineyard: Take a spin on the Flying Horses Carousel, America’s oldest operating platform carousel, then ride a ferry to Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find hiking trails. Of course, there are the beaches too, but also check out The FARM Institute to learn about agriculture.

New Orleans: I’ve been two New Orleans three times, and while it’s not my favorite place, there are a lot of cool activities for kids. Take a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez, learn about insect life cycles at the Audubon Insectarium and ride an antique carousel at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.

If you get a chance, be sure to also pick up the May/June 2012 issue of Budget Travel. It’s their Family Issue, and they’ve got great articles on theme parks, vacation rentals, and even a piece on kid-friendly Berlin.

Photo Credit: Anthony Gurr


  1. Fabulous list! As a child, I loved going to Colonial Williamsburg and seeing all the period costumes! Another tip: the theme park Busch Gardens is right there as well, and those were some of my favorite childhood memories!:-)

  2. been to most of these sights. Going on a 20 day cross country national park road ( montana, washington, oregon, n califonia and utah) trip this summer. We did a 40 day one last summer and it was amazing.

  3. Wow. Kind of a backhanded compliment to NOLA, huh? New Orleans is one of the country’s oldest cities which boasts rich history and culture, beautiful architecture, and a plethora of things to do and see. Walk the streets of the French Quarter, ride the streetcar, visit the Audubon Zoo or Aquarium. What about the Louisiana Children’s Museum? There are a ton of festivals all year round, most of them free. And so much more for the adults! And you can’t beat the way we welcome you with open arms like family. Can’t beat the people in New Orleans. Sure, we’ve been dealt some hard blows, but we always come back. And we’re here now, so y’all come visit! Kids or not!

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