Family vacations can be an excellent opportunity to escape from busy everyday life and explore the city, museums, national parks, historic sites, and much more. There are countless things to do and places to see with kids throughout the United States. From children’s museums and science centers to zoos and up-close animal encounters to historical villages and tours to state and national parks, there’s something for kids of all ages, and parents as well. The country is full of exciting, fun, interesting, and even educational experiences for children and their families.
We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
1.Ghost Town Museum
© Ghost Town Museum
The Ghost Town Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado was founded in order to preserve the Wild West time period for future generations. The indoor “town” features a collection of the structures left within the Pikes Peak region and were designed to appear close to what they would have looked like one hundred years ago. The museum also displays an impressive variety of historic everyday artifacts in each of the buildings. Kids in particular will have fun with several hands-on activities, such as operating the old-time arcade, cranking a butter church, or panning for real gold. There is also a gift shop.
400 S 21st St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, Phone: 719-634-0696
The Denver Zoo offers something for nearly any animal lover, whether its old favorites, new exhibits, or baby animals. Located in its namesake Denver, Colorado, the zoo houses over 3,500 animals and has been involved in more than 600 research and conservation projects worldwide. Animals at Denver Zoo include lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, rhinoceros, gorillas, penguins, otters, kangaroos, sea lions, grizzly bears, cheetahs, leopards, zebra, Ring-tailed lemurs, Capuchin monkeys, and many others. An array of Up-Close Animal Encounters are offered as well, such as the Giraffe Feeding, the Elephant Encounter, the Lorikeet Adventure, Penguin Encounter, and the Tiger Encounter.
2300 Steele St, Denver, CO 80205, Phone: 720-337-1400
3.Children's Discovery Museum
© Children's Discovery Museum
The Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, California provides creative and innovative educational experience for both children in the local community and visitors alike. The museum’s goal is to inspire lifelong learning, curiosity, and creativity through a wide array of fun, hands-on exhibits. Among the many exhibit areas at the Children's Discovery Museum are the Art Gallery, Mammoth Discovery, the Theatre, the LeRoy Neiman Art Studio, the Wonder Cabinet, the Rainbow Market, Bill’s Backyard, and WaterWays among several others.
180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA 95110, Phone: 408-298-5437
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4.World of Wonders Science Museum
© World of Wonders Science Museum
Located in the historic downtown area of Lodi, California, the World of Wonders Science Museum boasts a mission of offering science-based and hands-on programs and exhibits designed to foster discovery in people of any age. The World of Wonders Science Museum is home to more than seventy exhibits that not only provide an opportunity for kids to learn more about many different areas of science and the wonders around them in the world, but offer a chance for children to play and have fun at the same time.
2 N Sacramento St, Lodi, CA 95240, Phone: 209-368-0969
5.Manatee Observation and Education Center
© Manatee Observation and Education Center
The Manatee Observation and Education Center is home to many different animals, including the Florida manatee. Visitors can take some time to learn about the several habitats that are home to manatees, as well as other wildlife, and tour the center’s exhibit hall. The center features several interactive exhibits, such as the life-size manatee, in addition to live freshwater and marine animals in the numerous aquarium exhibits and an observation tower from which manatees can be seen in their natural habitat. The goal of the Manatee Observation and Education Center is to teach guests how to responsibly interact with the unique ecosystems.
480 N Indian River Dr, Fort Pierce, FL 34950, Phone: 772-429-6266
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Dinosaur World in Plant City, Florida is located conveniently between the major cities of Tampa and Orlando. The interesting destination is the only attraction in central Florida dedicated to dinosaurs and displays a wide array of life-sized dinosaurs for visitors to encounter within a lush, natural, and unique garden setting. There are also several interactive exhibits designed to capture the imagination of kids, a dino-themed playground, a gift shop with a variety of prehistoric artifacts and more, and boardwalks winding through the natural areas. There are also Dinosaur World locations near Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Glen Rose, Texas.
5145 Harvey Tew Rd, Plant City, FL 33565, Phone: 813-717-9865
7.Arizona Railway Museum
© Arizona Railway Museum
The Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, Arizona is a dedication to the railroad history of southwestern American and Arizona in particular. It is home to numerous restored train cars from several different time periods throughout the railroad history of the United States. The museum’s main building is designed to be a replica of Chandler’s original train depot and showcases the original glass and china of the rail company, movie set rail cars, and several other rail cars.
330 E. Ryan Rd, Chandler, AZ 85286, Phone: 480-821-1108
8.Slide Rock State Park
© Siegfried Schnepf/stock.adobe.com
Found in Sedona, Arizona, Slide Rock State Park main draw for visitors and locals alike is that natural rock water slide within the Oak Creek Canyon. The park is just fifteen minutes away from the center of Sedona and only forty minutes away from Flagstaff. Originally the site of the Pendley Homestead, Slide Rock State Park is now the home of one of the “Top 10 Swimming Holes” in America. The park’s crisp creek water, however, isn’t the only thing to see in the park. Desert scenery and famous red rocks can also be found within Slide Rock.
6871 N. Highway 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336, Phone: 928-282-3034
9.Lincoln Park Zoo
Both kids and adults alike can delight in seeing gorillas, playful meerkats, roaring lions only minutes from downtown Chicago, Illinois. This fun and exciting attraction is open every single day and has no admission charge, making it a great thing to do with kids no matter what time of year. A place that hundreds of animal species call home, the Lincoln Park Zoo provides guests with an opportunity to get up close to chimpanzees, get a look at penguins, watch black bears and red wolves, and experience the sounds and sights of Africa while visiting with black rhinos, pygmy hippos, wild dogs, and more.
2001 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614, Phone: 312-742-2000
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10.Hawaii Movie Tours
© Roberts Hawaii
Hawaii Movie Tours is the ideal thing to do in the area for any movie buff. Tours last around seven hours and take place Monday through Saturday from 7:00am until 3:00pm, with hotel pickups occurring between 7:00am until 8:15am. The tropical landscapes and natural beauty of Kauai has made the island a longtime popular choice for the movies of Hollywood and guests will recognize many different iconic backdrops and locations from their favorite films. Highlights of the Hawaii Movie Tour include Wailua Falls, Coco Palms, Hanamaulu Bay, the Opaekaa Falls Lookout, Moloaa Beach, and the Hanalei Pier.
680 Iwilei Rd, Honolulu, HI 96817, Phone: 808-539-9400
11.Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
© Earl Robbins/stock.adobe.com
The Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company provides a chance for visitors and locals alike of Bar Harbor, Maine to view some of the largest animals found anywhere on Earth. The whale watching tour company has been taking guests to see whales up close within the Gulf of Maine for over 25 years and offers a Puffin and Whale Watch cruise and a Whale Watch cruise. The Puff and Whale Watch is the slightly longer trip of the two, lasting between 3.5 and 5 hours. The Whale Watch trip only includes whale watching and lasts between 3 and 5 hours.
1 West St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, Phone: 207-288-2386
12.Sleeping Bear Dunes
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Empire, Michigan spans across approximately thirty-five miles of coastline on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, along with the South and North Manitou Islands. The national lakeshore was primarily established for its spectacular natural features that include ancient glacial phenomena, dune formations, beaches, and forests. Things to do and see at Sleeping Bear Dunes include a historic rural farm district, three Coast Guard/Life-Saving Service Stations, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, and much more. There are also an array of recreation activities possible at the lakeshore as well, including hiking and swimming.
9922 Front St, Empire, MI 49630, Phone: 231-326-4700
Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan allows visitors to experience the sensations, sounds, and sights of the fascinating formation of American firsthand, where more than eighty acres are full with ingenuity and resourcefulness. Guests can explore the workshop in which the Wright brothers reached for the sky or the laboratory where Thomas Edison first had the idea for the lightbulb. Working farms, world-class artisans, and much more can also be found at Greenfield Village. Visitors can also spend time with a variety of farm animals or take a ride aboard a steam-powered locomotive or a real Model T.
20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124, Phone: 313-982-6001
© National Parked/stock.adobe.com
The Carlsbad Caverns entrance can be found on a plateau at Walnut Canyon’s south side, where visitors will find a large visitor complex, a service road network, and acres of parking. Guests will find a cinema-style counter where they can buy tour tickets, a cafe, an auditorium, a bookstore, and a museum inside the complex. There are also elevators providing a short cut for guests to the actual caverns below. The typical way of exploring the Carlsbad Caverns is through a self-guided tour of the Natural Entrance or the Big Room. Ranger-led tours of other parts of the cavern are also available.
3225 National Parks Highway, Carlsbad, NM 88220, Phone: 575-785-2232
15.Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour
The Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour invites everyone to experience Brooklyn and its pizza “from one end to the other.” The famous tour has been features on The Travel Channel, The Food Network, and The Today Show. The Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour is around four and a half hours in duration and takes place at 11:00am, five days a week. During the tour, participants get to skip the lines at several of Brooklyn’s best places to get a delicious slice of pizza. The tour also includes a stroll down the famed Coney Island Boardwalk and a visit to famous movie locations.
2036 61st St, Brooklyn, NY 11204, Phone: 917-515-5409
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16.International Wolf Center
The International Wolf Center, located in Ely, Minnesota, contains expansive observation windows that provide amazing an amazing view of the center’s resident ambassador wolves. Visitors can watch as the wolves interact with each within their 1.25-acre natural enclosure and the den site. Kids can crawl into the International Wolf Center’s Little Wolf den, an exhibit designed specifically for children between the ages of three and nine. This exhibit takes kids on a journey through a wolf pup’s first year, led by the spunky Little Wolf. Hours for the International Wolf Center change throughout the year and are displayed on the website.
1396 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731, Phone: 218-365-4695
17.Yellowstone Safari Co
© mikhail cheremkin/stock.adobe.com
The Yellowstone Safari Company operates tours around the area of Bozeman, Montana and is the region’s “most diversified eco-adventure” tour company. Families can choose from a wide variety of personalized and private eco-tours, including llama treks, backpacking trips, geyser tours, and wildlife safaris, as well as special interest tours in the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The tour operator also offers river safaris and a number of other unique adventure tours throughout the state. The biologist-guided recreational and educational tours present cultural history, natural history, and wildlife expeditions in a fun safari-style tour format.
Bozeman, MT 59771, Phone: 406-586-1155
18.Lion Habitat Ranch
© Lion Habitat Ranch
Over two dozen lions call the Lion Habitat Ranch home, ranging from infants to elders. This unique facility has been owned and operated by Bev and Keith Evans for over twenty years, providing a safe place for rescue lions, as well as those that were born at the facility, with a great environment and plenty of care. Visitors at the Lion Habitat Ranch can participate in a variety of programs, ranging from the simple self-guided tour to being a “Trainer for a Day.” The ranch can be found just outside of Las Vegas in the desert of Henderson, Nevada.
382 Bruner Ave, Henderson, NV 89044, Phone: 702-595-6666
19.Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine
© Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine
Located in Spruce Mountain, North CarolinaThe Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine has been featured on The Learning Channel and is a particularly fun destination for kids. Visitors can tour an aquamarine mine, view an extensive emerald display, experience covered flume lines, and hunt for great treasures in the gem mine. There is also a gift shop and a general store on the grounds of the Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine. Tours of the Brushy Creek Aquamarine Mine are available, as well as tours of Hoot Owl, where emeralds and aquamarines have been discovered. Visitors can also discover a wide variety of gems themselves.
13780 Highway 226 South, Spruce Pine, NC 28777, Phone: 828-765-6130
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20.National Museum of the US Air Force
© National Museum of the US Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located in Dayton, Ohio and is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, boasting over seventeen acres of exhibit space indoors and displaying over 360 missiles and aerospace vehicles. The museum galleries showcase military aviation history, boasting numerous unique and rare missiles and vehicles, as well as sensory exhibits and thousands of historic items. The exhibits bring history alive and connect the legacy of the Wright brothers with the precision and stealth technology of today. The museum is open to visitors for free.
1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, OH 45431, Phone: 937-255-3286
21.Sea Lion Caves
© Frank Fichtmüller/stock.adobe.com
The Sea Lion Caves just north of Florence, Oregon are a privately-owned bird sanctuary and wildlife preserve that has been around since the year 1932. The grounds are centrally located along the rugged and gorgeous coast of Oregon and are part of the state’s Oregon/Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve, which helps protect the local marine environment and animals. What makes the Sea Lion Caves a great thing to do with kids is that the site is the largest sea cave in the United States, and home to Steller Sea Lions, who can be seen in or around the cave throughout the year.
91560 Highway 101, Florence, OR 97439, Phone: 541-547-3111
22.Carnegie Science Center
© Carnegie Science Center
The Carnegie Science Center is in the heart of North Shore in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, between Rivers Casino and Heinz Field. This kid-friendly attraction features four floors of numerous hands-on, interactive exhibits that have been created to wow people of all ages. At the Carnegie Science Center, kids can play basketball with a robot, see what things are like working on a space station, discover their inner astronaut, stargaze in the planetarium, walk through the miniature village and railroad, zoom across a zipline, climb a rock wall, explore a real submarine, learn about the native species of Pennsylvania, and much more.
1 Allegheny Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, Phone: 412-237-3400
23.Blue Bell Creamery Tour
© Blue Bell Creamery Tour
The Blue Bell Creamery Tour in Brenham, Texas is a great place for kids, or simply anyone who loves ice cream and Blue Bell ice cream in particular. Visitors can stop in the Ice Cream Parlor for a scoop, learn about the company in the Visitor Center, watch how the ice cream is made from the creamery’s Observation Deck, and find gifts and other items at the Country Store.
1101 South Blue Bell Rd, Brenham, TX 77833, Phone: 800-327-8135
24.Canyonlands National Park
© jon manjeot/stock.adobe.com
Canyonlands National Park is located in Moab, Utah is a wilderness of amazingly formed buttes and countless canyons that have been carved out by the Colorado River, as well as its tributaries. These rivers divide up the park into four different areas: the rivers, The Maze, The Needles, and the Island in the Sky. Each of these districts share a desert atmosphere, however, they also offer different adventure and sightseeing opportunities. Visitors will find spires, arches, fins, buttes, mesas, and colorful canyons across the more than 337,000 acres of Canyonlands National Park, right in the heart of the high desert of southeast Utah.
2282 Resource Blvd, Moab, UT 84532, Phone: 435-719-2313
25.World Kite Museum
© World Kite Museum
The World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame in Long Beach, Washington is dedicated to the history, sport, science, art, and thrill of kites throughout the world. The educational events and exhibits at the museum introduce the idea of kites as a “multicultural art,” modern day design, application to energy production, and in celebrations. Displays, archives, and artifacts are housed within the two story, 10, 350-square-foot unique facility, showcasing over 2,500 years of history. The World Kite Museum is open from 11:00am until 5:00pm, with days open changing throughout the year depending on the season.
303 Sid Snyder Dr, Long Beach, WA 98631, Phone: 360-642-4020
25 Fun Kid-Friendly Things to Do in the United States
- Ghost Town Museum, Photo: Ghost Town Museum
- Denver Zoo, Photo: emeromerophoto/stock.adobe.com
- Children's Discovery Museum, Photo: Children's Discovery Museum
- World of Wonders Science Museum, Photo: World of Wonders Science Museum
- Manatee Observation and Education Center, Photo: Manatee Observation and Education Center
- Dinosaur World, Photo: martin1985/stock.adobe.com
- Arizona Railway Museum, Photo: Arizona Railway Museum
- Slide Rock State Park, Photo: Siegfried Schnepf/stock.adobe.com
- Lincoln Park Zoo, Photo: rabbit75_fot/stock.adobe.com
- Hawaii Movie Tours, Photo: Roberts Hawaii
- Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, Photo: Earl Robbins/stock.adobe.com
- Sleeping Bear Dunes, Photo: haveseen/stock.adobe.com
- Greenfield Village, Photo: cameraman/stock.adobe.com
- Carlsbad Caverns, Photo: National Parked/stock.adobe.com
- Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, Photo: ungvar/stock.adobe.com
- International Wolf Center, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
- Yellowstone Safari Co, Photo: mikhail cheremkin/stock.adobe.com
- Lion Habitat Ranch, Photo: Lion Habitat Ranch
- Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine, Photo: Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine
- National Museum of the US Air Force, Photo: National Museum of the US Air Force
- Sea Lion Caves, Photo: Frank Fichtmüller/stock.adobe.com
- Carnegie Science Center, Photo: Carnegie Science Center
- Blue Bell Creamery Tour, Photo: Blue Bell Creamery Tour
- Canyonlands National Park, Photo: jon manjeot/stock.adobe.com
- World Kite Museum, Photo: World Kite Museum
- Cover Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/stock.adobe.com
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