There’s nothing better than seeing the joy and wonder on your children’s faces when they encounter new experiences that delight and amaze them. During family vacations, you get to discover those magical moments together!
From coast to coast, there are endless opportunities to create incredible memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 great vacation moments that you and your kids will love.
- Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA
Peek inside the cells of one of the most infamous prisons on Earth and step into a chapter of San Francisco’s colorful history. Pre-teens and teens love the wireless audio tour narrated by tough-guy ex-cons; little ones enjoy the scenic ferry ride across the Bay; you’ll love the fresh ocean breezes and scenic lookout spots from key spots on “The Rock” that are just perfect for family photos.
- Ducks Boat Tour through Seattle, WA
Discover Seattle on the back of a “Duck” — an amphibious WWII landing craft-turned-tour-vehicle — that carries you through downtown, Pike Place Market, historic Pioneer Square, and funky Fremont before splashing into Lake Union for a beautiful view of the city skyline.
- Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
There is fun for all ages on this lakefront 50-acre playground extending some 3,000 feet into Lake Michigan from downtown Chicago. Kids love riding the Ferris wheel, playing miniature golf, and navigating remote control boats. Performers and caricature artists delight on the lower deck, and fireworks explode over the waterfront Wednesdays and Saturdays in summer.
- Dinosaur Ridge, Denver, CO
You’ll first spot them in your car from the highway: genuine dino footprints left behind by the giants who once roamed here — stegosaurus, brontosaurus, and others. Kids can’t resist seeing how their feet match up at this outdoor museum open every day.
- General Jackson Showboat, Nashville, TN
Cruise the Cumberland River and take a trip back in time aboard this massive 19th-century, 300-foot paddlewheel riverboat replica, and delight in elaborate live shows in the grand Victorian theater.
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL
Even Cinderella had a stylist — her fairy Godmother — to transform her into the most beautiful belle of the ball. Princesses of all ages flock to this popular fairytale salon for a little pampering and styling to be made up like a true Disney princess.
- Thunder Hole, Bar Harbor, ME
Visit this Acadia National Park spot on a stormy day or during an incoming tide for the best show nature provides: Giant waves crash into the cliffs, drenching spectators with spray that sometimes shoots 40 feet in the air.
- Grand Canyon Railway, Grand Canyon, AZ
Hop aboard a restored Pullman parlor car — the famous, glass-roofed dome train car — for a Wild West adventure that kids will love. Younger ones will be entertained by the cowboy skits and a staged shootout, and everyone will find the gorgeous scenery along the way hard to resist.
- Old Savannah Ghost Tour, Savannah, GA
Do ghosts exist? Older kids get a thrill from the guided ghost tours on nighttime trolley rides through the cobble-stoned streets of Old Savannah. Spanish moss hanging from the trees on moonlit nights only adds to the unique beauty and creepiness.
- Bahia Honda State Park, Bahia Honda Key, FL
Little ones can play in the soft, powdered sand and splash in the calm, teal waters at Calusa Beach. Older kids will love snorkeling and kayaking at nearby Sandspur Beach. And the spectacular view of the Keys at sunset after from the Bahia Honda Bridge is worth the short climb.