Great Activities with Kids on Vacation
Home to 50 states spanning the length and width of North America, topped with Alaska in the northwest and the Pacific Ocean island nation of Hawaii in the south, the United States of America boasts a diverse array of cultures, cuisine, architecture, and attractions. Major cities like the global finance and culture center of New York, the capital Washington, D.C., and the famous filmmaking city of Los Angeles' Hollywood, attract millions of visitors each year. Whether you are looking for an outdoor adventure of hiking and mountain biking beneath vast blue skies, a gallery and museum exploring outing or a child-focused vacation to all the famous Disney sites, the USA has something for everyone. Here are some of the top things to do with kids on a vacation to America.
Ghost Town Museum
The Ghost Town Museum is a model town in Colorado featuring historic structures, objects and artifacts that was created to preserve a piece of the state’s Wild West heritage. Founded in 1954, the Ghost Town Museum replicates that of an old gold mining town from the mid-1800s when settlers were flocking to the western frontier to pan for gold. Once the gold was depleted, miners moved on and abandoned towns to become ghost towns to diminish into the dust. The Ghost Town Museum is housed in a historic stone structure and surrounded by other structures that have been brought back to life to recreate the town. The museum houses an impressive array of artifacts that were used daily such as butter churns, an old-time arcade or nickelodeon, and gold panning equipment, and visitors can enjoy hands-on activities such as making butter and panning for real gold.
400 S 21st St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, United States, Phone: +1 719-634-0696
Located in the City Park, Denver Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals from 600 species which live in a variety of natural habitats across 80 acres of zoo land. Founded in 1896, the zoo was started with an orphaned black bear cub called Billy Ryan and has since grown into one of Denver’s most popular attractions. Boasting species from all over the world, ranging from primates, pachyderms and carnivores to reptiles, birds, and fish, the zoo is designed in a circular loop, which covers a variety of habitats and animal enclosures. Other facilities at the zoo include the Endangered Species Carousel, showcasing some of the many endangered species in our world, the Pioneer Train, which offers an exciting trip around the zoo’s carousel meadow and flamingo lake, and the Wild Encounters outdoor amphitheater, which is designed for wildlife presentations and educational programs.
2900 E 23rd Avenue, Denver, CO 80205, Phone: 720-337-1400
Children's Discovery Museum
The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose offers innovative educational experiences for children and their families and inspires creative and innovative thinking and lifelong learning through play. Established in 1990, the 52,000 square foot museum is based in a purple, Ricardo Legorreta-designed building, and is surrounded by half an acre of gardens and grounds filled with family-friendly nature-based activities and adventures. Exhibits at the museum include Mammoth Discovery, Bill’s Backyard, Secrets of Circles, Bubbles, Art Gallery, WaterWays, and the LeRoy Neiman Art Studio, where children can create their artworks. The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose offers a variety of educational programs, classes, and workshops for children of all ages and their families.
180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA 95110, United States, Phone: 408-298-5437
World of Wonders Science Museum
The World of Wonders Science Museum (WOW) is an educational hands-on science museum in historic downtown Lodi that presents hands-on, interactive, and immersive science-based exhibits and programs to stimulate critical thinking and discovery for all ages. The museum features over 70 hands-on science exhibits designed to bring science to life, such as the Jim Pyers Illumination Lab, which explores the science of light, the Moon Walking Exhibit, the Lego Raceway, and Wall, the Shake Table, and the Magna-Tile Play Station. The World of Wonders Science Museum also provides a range of enriching science programs such as field trips, science summer camps, special science-related events, and a WOW Science store.
2 N Sacramento St, Lodi, CA 95240, Phone: (209) 368-0969
Manatee Observation and Education Center
The Manatee Observation and Education Center is an environmental education and wildlife viewing center in downtown Fort Pierce, which is dedicated to coastal awareness. The Center straddles the saltwater Indian River Lagoon and freshwater Moore's Creek, a freshwater tributary and historically renowned for being a gathering place for Florida manatees who come together in the warm runoff water from the disused Henry B. King Power Plant. The Center aims to inspire an interest in these gentle giants, as well as the coastal environment in which they live and the conservation of Florida's diverse habitats. The Manatee Observation and Education Center is open Tuesday through Sunday.
480 N Indian River Dr, Fort Pierce, FL 34950, USA, Phone: +1 772-429-6266
Dinosaur World is a family-friendly museum chain of three outdoor dinosaur theme parks around the country that feature over 150 life-size dinosaur sculptures designed and created by Christer Svensson. Based in Plant City, Florida, Cave City, Kentucky, and Glen Rose, Texas, Dinosaur World is home to numerous life-size dinosaur statues posed in habitats that reflect their natural environments when they existed ranging from lush tropical jungles and grassy savannahs to tranquil lakes. The park has several shady areas for picnicking as well as play areas for children, and attractions at the park include a ‘Fossil Dig’ where kids can dig for real fossils at a sand table and take their favorite three home. Other attractions include the Dinosaur Walk; Dino Gem Excavation; interactive shows like that Exploration Cave Show and Triviasaurus Rex Game Show; and an Animatronic Dinosaurs Display, among others.
5145 Harvey Tew Rd, Plant City, FL 33565, United States, Phone: +1 813-717-9865
Set on a vast 200-acre property just outside the southeastern town of Dearborn, Michigan, Greenfield Village is a historic town established by famous industrialist Henry Ford. The village boasts over 100 historic buildings which Ford had relocated or reconstructed from around the country, including the birthplaces, homes, or workplaces of famous people like Noah Webster, William Holmes McGuffey, and Luther Burbank. Other significant structures in the town include a courthouse in which Abraham Lincoln practiced law, a laboratory used by Thomas A. Edison, several locomotives, and a steam-powered paddleboat. The Henry Ford Museum is next to the village and houses an impressive collection of Americana.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Situated in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, the Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a reserve founded to protect over 100 caves in the area, including the Carlsbad Caverns, which is one of the oldest and most famous cave systems in the world. The caverns are made up of several vast underground chambers, some reaching heights of 250 feet, and all boasting incredible formations of speleotherms, stalactites and stalacmites of varying colors and shapes. Visitors can explore the caves on guided and self-guided tours, while the backcountry caves are open to suitably qualified visitors. Above ground, the park has many limestone hills, criss-crossed by several hiking trails, including the Walnut Canyon Desert Loop offering breathtaking desert views.
A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour
Experience the very best of Brooklyn’s culinary scene with a Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tour. The 4.5-hour bus tour is led by friendly Brooklyn-born-and-raised guides who share their passion for the city and the many diverse food that can be enjoyed in it. A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour heads to all the best pizza joints in Brooklyn, passing by famous landmarks and visiting both popular pizza restaurants and hidden gems. Tours are conducted in comfortable, air-conditioned vans and visits two pizzerias where guests can sample some of the best pizza in town.
2036 61st St, Brooklyn, NY 11204, United States, Phone: +1 917-515-5409, https://asliceofbrooklyn.com/bus-tours/pizza-tour/
International Wolf Center
The International Wolf Center is a research and educational institute that protects and conserves wolf populations and encourages visitors to take an interest in this magnificent animal and the habitats in which they live. Based in the heart of the Superior National Forest in Ely, Minnesota, the International Wolf Center offers close encounters with a wolf pack where staff naturalists introduce them to visitors who can watch them eat, play, and sleep. The center features an award-winning 6,000-square-foot exhibit titled ‘Wolves and Humans’ that showcases the impact humans have had on the wolves’ habitat, as well as other exhibits that bring the history of wolves alive.
1396 MN-169, Ely, MN 55731, United States, Phone: +1 218-365-4695
Yellowstone Safari Company
Yellowstone Safari Company offers year-round wildlife, natural, and cultural history field tours throughout Yellowstone, Montana, Big Sky, Grand Teton, and the Gallatin Valley. Safari-style expeditions are led by professional wildlife biologists who share their knowledge and expertise on the wildlife and habitats in each region, promising a once-in-a-lifetime experience. See bear, wolves and other wildlife on guided safaris in the Yellowstone National Park; observe beaver and eagles on a gentle river expedition that follows the trail of Lewis & Clark; head into Yellowstone's backcountry on a llama trek; and enjoy a range of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, skiing and snowshoeing in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
1404 Gold Ave, Bozeman, MT 59715, United States, Phone: +1 406-586-1155
Lion Habitat Ranch
The Lion Habitat Ranch is an animal sanctuary that cares for several lions and a giraffe that were born in captivity or rescued from circuses and other dire circumstances. Located in Henderson, Nevada, the ranch was established by Keith and Bev Evans over 20 years ago and has been delighting visitors ever since with opportunities of seeing lions in their natural habitat. The facility offers guided and self-guided tours, feeding experiences, behind-the-scenes tours, and ‘Trainer-for-a-Day’ programs where children can learn to be a lion trainer. The Lion Habitat Ranch also offers several conservation and educational programs, and the venue can be hired for special events and functions.
382 Bruner Ave, Henderson, NV 89044, United States, Phone: +1 702-595-6666
Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine
Nestled between Asheville and Boone in North Carolina’s magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains, the Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine is a fun, family-oriented attraction that offers visitors the opportunity to pan and mine for their own gems. Mitchell County was once home to some of the richest and most diverse deposits of gemstones and minerals in the world and was particularly abundant in mica and quartz. Opened in 1987, Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine aims to share the rich mining heritage of the region with both locals and visitors and provide the chance to take some special stones home.
13780 Highway 226 South, Spruce Pine, NC 28777, United States, Phone: +1 828-765-6130
National Museum of the US Air Force
Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world. The official museum of the United States Air Force, the museum celebrates the rich history of aviation in the United States Air Force, honors the women and men who have served for their country. The museum is home to more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display, along with powerful sensory exhibits featuring thousands of historical items and aviation-related artifacts. Fascinating exhibits explore the development of flight from the Wright brothers' legacy to the stealth and precision technology of today.
1100 Spaatz St, Dayton, OH 45431, United States, Phone: +1 937-255-3286
World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame
The World Kite Museum & Hall of Fame is dedicated to history and art of kites and kite flying. The museum is housed in a 10,350 square-foot facility over two floors and features an impressive collection of kites, artifacts and items relating to kite-flying. Established to inspire and encourage visitors to learn more about the art of kite flying, the museum explores the science behind kite-flying, including pulling power, energy production, and modern-day design. The World Kite Museum also houses a Hall of Fame that honors participants who have contributed to the art and sport of kite flying and showcases their activities.
303 SW Sid Snyder Dr, Long Beach, WA 98631, United States, Phone: +1 360-642-4020
Carnegie Science Center
The award-winning Carnegie Science Center inspires and entertains visitors from around the world by connecting science and technology with everyday life. Located on along the banks of the Ohio River, the Center features a variety of popular attractions, including the newly constructed Buhl Digital Dome, the Rangos Omnimax Theater, an authentic Cold War-era submarine, the USS Requin, and roboworld™ - the world's largest permanent robotics exhibit. Explore hundreds of tiny historic local landmarks at the Miniature Railroad & Village, brave kinetic energy as a human yo-yo at Highmark SportsWorks, or head into space at SpacePlace, a walk-in replica of the International Space Station.
One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, Phone: 412 237 3400
Blue Bell Creamery Tour
Established in 1907 as the Brenham Creamery Company and later Blue Bell Creameries after the native Texas bluebell wildflower, Blue Bell Creamery is a popular ice-cream brand that produces and distributes homemade ice-cream around the country. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the production facility in Brenham, Texas, and learn how the ice-cream is made as well as sample all kinds of delicious flavors from the Ice Cream Parlor. The Visitor Center presents a wealth of information on the history of the company and ice-cream making, as well as sells an array of souvenirs, gifts and other ice-cream related items.
Canyonlands National Park
Famed for its dramatic desert landscapes carved by the Colorado River, the southeastern Utah preserve of Canyonlands National Park is home to breathtaking rock formations, remote canyons, and towering rock pinnacles. Notable features in the park include the huge, flat-topped mesa with panoramic overlooks known as Island in the Sky, the remote canyons of the Maze, the white-water rapids flowing through Cataract Canyon, the soaring pinnacles known as the Needles, Horseshoe Canyon’s Native American rock painting. Canyonlands National Park is a popular recreational destination offering a wealth of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, camping, climbing, four-wheel driving, kayaking, canoeing, and white-water rafting.
Arizona Railway Museum
The Arizona Railway Museum was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to showcasing the history and heritage of the railroads of Arizona and the Southwestern United States. The Museum features an extensive collection of railway-based artifacts and objects, including the Southern Pacific Railroad Locomotive No. SP 2562 and the Railroad Steam Wrecking Crane and Tool Car. Visitors to the museum can explore the inside of some of the trains, including the 1950 Dome Car and the Santa Fe Coach Car. The Arizona Railway Museum is only open on Saturday and Sundays, and group tours are available for a small fee.
330 E. Ryan Road, Chandler, AZ 85286, Phone: (480) 821-1108
Slide Rock State Park
Set on a historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon, seven miles north of Sedona, Slide Rock State Park is renowned for its fantastic swimming holes. Named for a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek, the 43-acre state park is surrounded by spectacular red rocks and striking desert scenery and home to an 80-foot-long slippery chute worn into sandstone after which the park is named. Other attractions in the park include three hiking trails, including the quarter-mile Pendley Homestead Trail, the Slide Rock Route, and the Clifftop Nature Trail, fruit orchards, and historic cabins.
6871 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336, United States, Phone: +1 928-282-3034
Lincoln Park Zoo
Founded in 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the U.S. and a leader in animal conservation and care. Offering free admission for all visitors, the zoo aims to connect, educate, and inspire the local public with nature through a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. The zoo covers 35 acres of a variety of habitats built to cater for over 200 animal species, which include big cats, primates, reptiles, polar bears, sea animals, and birds. Some of the zoo’s excellent exhibits and habitats include the penguin and polar bear habitat, with a unique new underwater viewing area and maternity den and the Regenstein Macaque Forest, home to a troop of Japanese macaques soaking in their hot springs. Go on an African journey through the Regenstein African Journey exhibition that features rhinos, giraffes, elephant, and aardvarks. Stroll through a display of nature-inspired sculptures set amid the zoo’s beautiful gardens and look at an ancient burr oak tree that dates back to 1830.
2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, United States, Phone: 312-742-2000
Hawaii Movie Tours
Designed for movie-buffs and film-lovers, Roberts Hawaii Movie Tours takes visitors on guided tours of the iconic locations and backdrops of Kauai that were made famous in several notable Hollywood films. Tours are conducted on climate-controlled minibusses and explore the spectacular natural scenery and lush tropical landscapes that have appeared in movies like Six Days and Seven Nights, Gilligan’s Island, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, and The Amazing Race. Knowledgeable and passionate tour guides share their love of the movies and explain how filmmakers made the landscapes of the island translate onto the silver screen.
Lihue, HI 96766, United States, Phone: +1 808-539-9400
Sea Lion Caves
The Sea Lion Caves are a network of caves and caverns off the coast of Oregon and open to the Pacific Ocean. One of the great sea grottos of the world, the cave system spans over two acres with vaulted rock domes, low passages that are flooded at high tide, and several entrances, including one at 50 feet above the ocean which offers an elevated observation area. The caves are home to a myriad of sea birds, including California gulls, Brandt’s cormorant, pigeon guillemot, tufted puffins, and the occasional bald eagle. The caves are covered with a variety of algae, lichens and mineral stains in vibrant colors, and are a hauling area, otherwise known as a winter home for California sea lions, and Steller’s sea lions.
91560 US-101, Florence, OR 97439, United States, Phone: +1 541-547-3111
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company offers a variety of tours in and around Bay Harbor, ranging from whale watching and sunset tours to cultural, nature and sightseeing tours. Whale-watching tours take visitors into the heart of the whale’s habitat to see humpback, finback, and Minke whales, as well as porpoises, seals, dolphins, offshore birds, and North Atlantic Puffins. Enjoy breath-taking views over Frenchman’s Bay on the Sunset Tour, while the Lighthouse and National Park Tour explores the Somes Sound and Great Duck Island with their beautiful old lighthouse. Join the crew of the Miss Samantha, Maine’s largest lobster passenger boat for a fun-filled and informative lobster fishing and seal watching tour, where you can watch experienced fisherman haul in their catch. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company tours depart daily from the town pier in downtown Bar Harbor throughout the summer season.
1 West Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609, Phone: 207-288-2386
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Nestled on the banks of the Platte River, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a national park on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and is renowned for its huge scalable dunes of the Dune Climb. Stretching for 35 miles along Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, including the North and South Manitou islands, the northern Michigan park is home to spectacular natural features such as beautiful beaches, dense forests, ancient glacial phenomena, and massive dunes. Other attractions in the park include 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse, a vast 19th-century farm district, three former Coast Guard stations, and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
5685 Lake Michigan Rd, Honor, MI 49640, Phone: (231) 326-5134