Summer vacation is just around the corner and that means it’s time to start planning for your next family trip. What better way to reward your kids for doing so well in school than a kid-friendly trip? Many of the best family-friendly destinations in America also seem to be the most obvious. But if you ask your kids where they want to go this summer, they’ll likely include one or more of these five great destinations.
Like clockwork, admission to Disneyland went up yet again, but that won’t prevent millions of people from visiting this year. The amusement park known as the “Happiest Place on Earth” is one of the world’s most popular attractions and typically the top choice for a summer vacation from children of all ages. But there are plenty of other things to do in and around Anaheim for the entire family, such as a trip to the City National Grove of Anaheim (a 40,000 square foot entertainment facility), the always popular Knotts Berry Farm, ballgames at Anaheim Stadium and the sunny beaches at Newport, Huntington and Laguna. Lastly, families traveling by car might also want to visit the many attractions in Los Angeles, 26 miles away, including the world famous Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios and the must-see Venice Beach.
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With summer-like temperatures year-round and one of the world’s most famous beaches, Honolulu is one of the best trips to take the entire family. There are plenty of water activities to enjoy off the shores of Waikiki Beach, including parasailing, jet skiing, surfing and even snorkeling with sea turtles. Other family friendly activities can be found at several locations across the island of Oahu, including the renowned snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, swimming with dolphins at Sea Life Park and a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center. A great way to cap a day full of activities is to enjoy an authentic Hawaiian luau with the entire family.
New York City, NY
Visiting America’s largest city can be a very hectic excursion, but no other destination really quite compares to New York City. There’s no cost to visit many of the Big Apple’s top attractions, including a stroll around Times Square and Central Park or even a chance to be on live television outside “The Today Show” studios in Rockefeller Center. But advance planning is recommended for certain paid attractions that routinely experience long lines of visitors during peak hours, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Families with children may also want to attend a family-friendly Broadway musical, such as “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Finding Neverland” and “Aladdin” with possible discount tickets available from TKTS ticket booths, with three locations in New York City.
Ticket prices eclipsed the $100 mark for admission to Walt Disney World, and now costs a family of four more than $400. But it’s the world’s most visited vacation resort by a wide margin and is expected to set another attendance record this year with more than 25 million visitors. The vast majority of visitors will cross through the turnstiles at the Magic Kingdom, but millions more will also go to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom or other attractions like Downtown Disney and the Boardwalk Resort. Other popular attractions in Orlando include Discovery Cove, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Gatorland. Because Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in the country, visiting families with children have an incredible range of options for overnight accommodations, from the Disney resort hotels to reasonable hotels for less than $75 per night.
With free admission to many top attractions, the nation’s capital is an affordable alternative to the popular yet pricey theme parks. All of the national museums are absolutely free, as are the monuments, memorials and federal buildings including the National Archives to see the real Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and even an opportunity to visit the White House. Top family friendly attractions include the Lincoln Memorial and museums like the National Air and Space Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History, home of the original Star Spangled Banner. One other top family-friendly attraction that’s absolutely free is the National Zoo, which features about 1,800 animals from 300 different species, including the rare Giant Panda.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.