Top Attractions For Family Vacations in the United States – Surprise, Disney World Isn’t on the List!

January 13, 2014 | By More
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Families are always looking for great vacation spots to bring the kids.  Here are our recommendations for top attractions for family vacations in the United States, and surprise, Disney World isn’t on the list!

Portland, Oregon

I liPowells Books Portland Oregonve in Portland where, no joke, our biggest tourist attraction (for adults and kids alike) is Powell’s Books – a bookstore with a collection so large that, in addition to its own three-story-tall city-block big building, it has started to take over the building across the street. It’s also the grandfather of the used/new-side-by-side sales model that more and more independent bookstores are starting to adopt across the country. If your family ever finds itself in Portland, you’ll have to see it.

While you’re in town, make sure you and your kids check out the OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It’s a hands-on museum with an ever-rotating collection of cool stuff. Your kids will love that they can turn levers, push buttons, look through scopes, and take a tour of a submarine. In fact, they will be encouraged to try things out and do their own experiments. Parents – you might want to take some earplugs because when it’s busy, it gets pretty loud in there.

I suppose, though, that I shouldn’t allow this entire article to focus on my city (even though it really is a great city). Here are some other great attractions for kids across the country.

It’s vacation time! Where do you want to go?

FYI – everybody already knows about Disneyland and Disney World, so I’m not going to talk about it here. Instead, you and your kids might be interested in these other cool sites and places to visit.

The Freedom Trail – Boston

Family Vacations - Freedom Trail Boston Massachusetts

Your kids will love the costumed players at each site and if they’re school aged, they’ll get a kick out of being able to see the places they’ve learned about in their history lessons. You’ll like the same stuff and that most of the sites on the tour are free. You might want to spread this out over a couple of days. As an adult, you can see the whole thing in less than a day, but kids need breaks.

Monterey Bay Aquarium – Monterey Bay, California

Family Vacations - Monterey Bay Aquarium

This is one of the best aquariums in the country and is outfitted to amaze kids and adults alike. I like this one better than SeaWorld alternatives because the creatures here are better cared for, and every effort is made to re-create as many natural habitats as possible. The center is focused more on education than entertainment, but that doesn’t mean you won’t all have a great time exploring. Plus, if you go outside, you might be able to see some whales!

Cedar Point – Sandusky, Ohio

Family Vacations - Cedar Point Rollercoaster

If your kids are dying to go to an amusement park, your family has to see Cedar Point. It boasts some of the “roller-coasteriest roller coasters” around. Some have very strict requirements for riding, but even if your kids aren’t yet tall enough for the scariest coasters, there’s still plenty to see and do here.

There’s more than one type of wild ride!

San Diego Zoo – San Diego

You already know that this place is a must-see, right? Do I really need to go into all of the reasons your kids will love it here?

The National Air and Space Museum – Cantilly, Virginia

Family Vacations - National Air and Space Museum

This is a branch of the Smithsonian’s aviation museum, and your kids will want to live here. They can see the Spirit of St. Louis, walk through a space vessel, and more. It has a regularly rotating schedule of attractions from its nearby “mothership.” Speaking of which…

The Smithsonian – Washington, DC

Family Vacation - Smithsonian National Museum

There is a ton to see and do in DC, but for your kids, the Smithsonian is a must-see. Take them to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Show them the Wright Brothers’ plane…. There is too much to see and do in just one day (or even a week), so look through the guidebook ahead of time. Have everybody pick out one thing they absolutely must see, and visit those things first.

These are just some of the country’s major attractions (with a couple from my home city). There are dozens of others worth checking out. Really – pretty much any place you want to go will have something there that was built with kids in mind. You just have to ask around to find it. Good luck!

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About The Author:  Erin Steiner is a content writing professional who still loves to visit the OMSI (and goes to Powell’s weekly).
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Photo Souce:  Google Commons

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Category: Boston, California Travel Tips, Family Vacations, Featured, Good To Know, Massachusetts Travel Tips, USA, Virginia

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