Great Places to Visit: Nantucket, MA

Picture-perfect Nantucket is the ideal island getaway just 16miles off the coast of Cape Cod, where wonderful beaches combine with interesting history and a thriving arts scene. When you are not relaxing on one of the superb beaches (Jetties Beach and Children Beach are the most popular north-shore swimming beaches, while Cisco, Surfside, and Tom Nevers Beach on the south shore are popular surfing beaches with great waves), you can rent a bicycle and visit the historic lighthouse at Sankaty Head or go to Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, where there is great hiking and biking with plenty of opportunities to see some wildlife. You can also sail around the island with Endeavour Sailing Excursions, go fishing with Captain Tom from Nantucket Fishing, or play a round at the Miacomet Golf Club.

You can combine all the historic sites on a self-guided Historic Sites tour, which will take you to see the Old Mill, the Fire Hose Cart House, the Old House, the Old Gaol, and Greater Light, the former home of artists Gertrude and Hannah Monaghan. Great attractions for families include the Whaling Museum, the Nantucket Aquarium (which has a touching tank for children), and Loines Observatory, where children can learn about the planets. The idyllic Nantucket lifestyle has attracted many resident artists and there are over twenty art galleries you can enjoy, while the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket produces plays and musicals for evening entertainment. Next Read: Romantic Restaurants on Nantucket and Best Romantic Places to Stay on Nantucket.

Maui, HI

Maui is a perfect tropical island getaway that offers not only brilliant beaches and wonderful natural scenery but also an array of fun activities to keep you busy all day long. The abundance of tropical waters means that Maui has an almost endless list of water-sports for you to enjoy, including canoeing and kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling, kite-boarding, and fishing. You can arrange lessons, rent equipment, and go on guided expeditions organized by one of the many outfitters such as Awapuhi Adventures, Aqua Sports Maui, or Maui Kayak Adventures, to name just a few.

For a break from water sports you can go on a guided cycling tour, visit the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm, or arrange a guided hike though stunning rainforests and waterfalls on a Hike Maui Eco-Tour. At the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center you can visit an exhibition, tour the grounds, or visit a sugar mill, while the Maui Theatre is home to the performing arts. It is the place to go for concerts and live performances in the area. Foodies can enjoy a unique visit to the O'o Farm, where a chef will prepare a wonderful dish using fresh ingredients you have picked yourself, or they might want to get a taste of local food on walking food tour with Hawaii Tasting Tours.

Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is the perfect destination for a sun-drenched beach holiday or weekend, offering a good selection of activities for the whole family. There are several lovely beaches where you can swim, sunbathe, and relax; Coligny Park Beach has good amenities including chair and umbrella rentals and food outlets, but there are several equally attractive and quieter beaches where you can spread out your towel including Alder Lane, Folly Field Beach Park, Burkes Beach, and Islanders Beach, to name but a few.

To enjoy all the water sports available you can visit H2O Sports at the Harbor Town Marina, book lessons, and hire everything you need. There are a variety of boating excursions available from Live Oac Outdoor Adventure Company, and Pau Hana and Flying Circus Catamarans specialize in sunset catamaran cruises. For a change from water-based activities, you can go zip lining with Zipline Hilton Head, or go on a Hilton Head Island Bike Trail. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Newhall Preserve, or Sea Pines Forest Preserve; all offer good hiking, walking, and bird watching. Families can spend time at the Sandbox Interactive Children's Museum and the Coastal Discovery Museum, while art enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Arts Center of Coastal California. Hilton Head also has great shopping, several golf courses, and soulful evening entertainment at The Jazz Corner. More South Carolina Destinations.

Monterey, CA

Monterey is a prime weekend getaway destination on the coast of California, where you can enjoy a good combination of beach fun and interesting attractions for all ages. There is a definite emphasis on enjoying the bounty of the ocean in Monterey, and you can start your journey of discovery at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which has several unique exhibits. To learn even more, you can explore the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (hiking, diving, rock-pooling, and kayaking adventures) or visit the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.

You can also explore the history of Monterey's fisheries with a visit to the Cannery Row Historical District, (made famous by John Steinbeck's novels), where former sardine canning factories now house an assortment of shops, restaurants, and the popular Cannery Row Antiques Mall. Dedicated historians can take a walking tour of the Monterey State Historic Park to see twelve historic buildings, and everyone will enjoy a visit to Fisherman's Wharf Monterey where the former fish market is now packed with seafood restaurants. A few tour companies offer fishing charters and whale-watching tours. To add a cultural element to your weekend you can visit the Monterey Museum of Art (MMA), which features works by several famous artists, or take in a show at the historic Golden State Theatre. Families can visit the Monterey County Youth Museum (an interactive museum) and the Deniss the Menace Park.

Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach offers visitors a good mix of seaside fun, interesting museums, and several other attractions to suit all ages. The Virginia Beach Boardwalk runs along the edge of the beach for three miles and is definitely the heart of the action, offering a great place to stroll, a good mix of shops and restaurants, and a separate bike path where you can skate, rollerblade, or cycle. You can explore the extensive waterways by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. There are several great places for hiking, cycling and water activities, including First Landing State Park, False Cape State Park, and Little Island Park (which is great for pier fishing).

When the weather is less than perfect you can visit some of the local museums, including the Military Aviation Museum (allow enough time to explore this huge museum!), the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, and the Adam Thorough good House Museum. Families can have fun at the Virginia Aquarium and Museum Science Center, which houses over 12,000 marine animals in various habitats, and at the Ocean Breeze Waterpark, which has over 30 thrilling rides and a huge wave pool. Art enthusiasts need not feel left out, as the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art is waiting to thrill you with over 6,000 feet of exhibition space.

Philadelphia, PA

Get ready for an action-packed break when you visit Philadelphia, home to a fabulous array of cultural, historical, educational, and fun activities for the whole family. Visual art enthusiasts will have to do some serious prioritizing, as Philadelphia is packed full of wonderful art. Start, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Barnes Foundation, all of which are known for their exceptional antique and modern collections. You can also visit the Rodin Museum, which boasts the largest collection of Rodin's works outside of France, and then go on a Mural Arts Program Tour to see a selection of outdoor artworks.

Philadelphia is a historic city, and you can learn about her history on a guided tour of the Independence National Historic Park. Here, you can visit Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed) and see the famous Liberty Bell. Nature lovers have two exceptional gardens to visit, namely the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and the Barnes Foundation Arboretum. If you are visiting with children you can have hours of educational fun at the Please Touch interactive children's museum, the Philadelphia Zoo (which has pony rides and a miniature railway), and the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse. Finally, foodies can visit the Reading Terminal Market and the 9th Street Italian Market to sample local flavors.

Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati is a great choice for an active weekend break, offering excellent museums and cultural activities combined with several great family attractions. An American Legacy Tour can introduce you to the history of Cincinnati, and one of the must-see attractions is the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which dominates the skyline and was the longest bridge in the world when it was completed in 1866. There are a variety museums to visit, including the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and the nostalgic American Sign Museum. Eden Park is the perfect place to go for a walk and has two lakes, the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, and the superb art-deco Krohn Conservancy, which is famous for its Butterfly Show.

For art lovers there is the Cincinnati Museum of Art and the Taft Museum of Art, both of which have outstanding collections of international art. You can visit the Cincinnati Music Hall to enjoy a recital by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, or the Cincinnati Opera. You can also watch the Cincinnati Ballet in action. Performing arts enthusiasts should try to visit in late May to attend the annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Family visitors can spend time at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the hands-on Rosenthal Education Center (REC) at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Duke Energy Children's Museum.

Des Moines, IA

As the capital of Iowa, Des Moines is home to a number of historic sites as well as some great museums and children's attractions, making it an ideal weekend getaway destination. You can learn about the history of Iowa at the State of Iowa Historical Museum or on a (free) Capitol Tour, which will take you around the impressive Iowa State Capitol building, which dates back to 1886. To see more historical buildings, you can tour Salisbury House and Gardens and Terrace Hill, the official residence of the Governor of Iowa.

Art lovers can visit the Des Moines Art Center to see a large collection of art, including works by famous artists, while the Pappa john Sculpture Park has over twenty outdoor sculptures to admire. The Des Moines Performing Arts produce great shows at the Des Moines Civic Center. Outdoor enthusiasts can cycle or jog along the very scenic Clive Greenbelt Trail or the Saylor White Trail, play a round at one of the many local golf courses, or take a pleasant stroll through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Blank Park Zoo and the Science Center of Iowa, which includes a huge IMAX theater, are popular family attractions, and foodies can explore the temptation sat the Downtown Farmer's Market and the Jasper Winery.

Naples, FL

Naples is situated on the Gulf of Mexico in south-west Florida, offering visitors fantastic beaches and outdoor activities coupled with a bustling arts scene and plenty of family attractions. The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Bird Rookery Swamp, and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Reserve are just a few of the wonderful places you can tour to learn about the environment and the many creatures that are unique to the area. In addition, there are miles and miles of brilliant beaches where you can swim, sunbathe, or go rock-pooling -consider visiting Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Clam Pass Park, or Lowdermilk Beach Park.

The Baker Museum will thrill all art enthusiasts with their collection of modern and contemporary art and several installations by Dale Chihuly. Other museums you can visit include The Revs Institute, featuring really special vintage cars, the Naples Depot Museum, showcasing the history of the railroad, and the Collier Country Museum where you can learn about the history of Naples. Families can visit the Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens, the Bird Gardens of Naples, the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples, and the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon water park. There is good shopping at The Village on Venetian Bay, Tin City, and Greyton Cove, and no visit to Naples would be complete without a stroll along the famous Naples Pier to fish, watch the sunset, or look out for dolphins.

Galveston, TX

Galveston is situated on the Gulf Coast of Texas, offering over thirty-two miles of beaches and a wonderful assortment of historic and outdoor attractions. Most people come to Galveston for a beach holiday, and the Seawall Urban Park is a good place to start, offering ten miles of beachfront sidewalk lined with shops and attractions -Stewart Beach is one of the most popular beaches and has great amenities. If you like fishing, you can cast a line from the famous Galveston 61st Street Fishing Pier or visit Galveston Island State Park, which is also great for biking, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking.

If you would like to see the majority of Galveston's many historic attractions in a half-day, you can take a tour with Cool Tours, which offers a popular Land and Sea Tour starting at the East End Historic Park and then venturing into Galveston Harbor to see the dolphins. The tour ends at the Strand Historic District. There are some great museums you can visit, including the Galveston Island Railroad Museum and Terminal, the Lone Star Flight Museum, and the Moody Mansion Museum. Families will never be bored - you can take the kids to the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier (amusement park), the Schiller bahn Galveston Island Waterpark, or on an educational Sea Turtle Tour at the NOAA Fisheries Services Galveston Laboratories.