50 Amazing Places In The U.S. You’ve Got to Take Your Kids To


Last Updated on

Welcome to our state-by-state guide to an unforgettable family vacation. Your next adventure could be a mere five-minute drive away. Or, a five-hour flight—you’ve got the freedom to choose, people!

#1 Alabama

Learn about life as an astronaut at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville — no rigorous NASA physical necessary. Big kids can ride the Space Shot, which launches up 140 feet in 2.5 seconds to simulate 4Gs of force, while little ones can inspect a charred space capsule, a legit moon rock, and other cool planetary artifacts. ($16 to $24)

Also read: Best Baby Beach Tent – A Complete Buyer’s Guide with Reviews

#2 Alaska

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage is the place for spotting (and taking Instagram-worthy photos of) Alaskan wildlife like moose and wolves against a breathtaking backdrop of meadows and moss-covered ponds. You can also witness bear feeding along the 1.5-mile loop. ($10 to $15)

#3 Arizona

At night, the telescopes at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff are powerful enough to check in on faraway planets (Saturn, have you lost weight?) as well as star clusters. During the day, you can spot solar flares on the sun. ($6 to $12)

#4 Arkansas

How’d you like a necklace made out of something a wee bit fancier than macaroni? At Crater of Diamonds State Park, everyone can dig for hours in its 37-acre volcanic soil area for white, brown, and yellow diamonds. On average, two diamonds are found daily. ($6 to $10)

#5 California

For an honest-to-goodness behind-the-scenes glimpse of Hollywood, take the three-hour Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood in Burbank. You’ll see sound stages where beloved TV shows and movies are filmed, back lots (basically fake towns), an awesome prop warehouse, and even the iconic Friends Central Perk Café. ($52 to $62)

#6 Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park‘s 600 ancient cliff dwellings — structures constructed from sandstone blocks that look as if they were carved out of the mountain — are just as incredible as Peru’s Machu Picchu, but way more local. Cliff Palace, a 150-room complex built by the Ancestral Puebloans in the 13th century, is one of the most impressive examples. (From $15)

#7 Connecticut

The charming Mystic Seaport is a living history museum, portraying life in a 19th-century New England seafaring village. Watch artisans make wood barrels and iron whaling tools, and work to restore a large 60-year-old wooden ship. Kids can also build a wooden toy boat to take home — souvenirs, done. ($18.95 to $28.95)

#8 Delaware

Inside Winterthur Museum, you’ll find an astounding collection of decorative arts (like a painstakingly detailed doll “mansion”). Outside, a whimsical children’s garden has a giant bird’s nest, toadstools, and thatched-roof cottages designed for woodland fairies. ($5 to $20)

#9 Florida

At Walt Disney World, the magic just does. not. quit. This summer you can explore Animal Kingdom’s new land “Pandora: The World of Avatar ” — a bioluminescent rainforest inspired by the film — on a boat ride through a winding river or atop a flying reptile, soaring over the trees. (Included with park admission). 

#10 Georgia

There’s only one aquarium on this whole entire list, and that’s because no other can top it. Georgia Aquarium (North America’s largest), in Atlanta, is home to tens of thousands of animals, including giant manta rays and 20-foot-long whale sharks. ($33.95 to $39.95)

Meet the 27-Year-Old Female Ever To Visit Every Country

#11 Hawaii

Jaggar Museum on the Big Island is a terrific place to learn about volcanoes, but out on the observation deck (open 24/7) is where you can get up close to one. The nearby volcano is still active, which means you’re looking not at an empty crater, but a crater with an 800-foot-wide lava lake. ($20 per vehicle)

#12 Idaho

The secret to inspiring good behavior: walking the eerie halls of Old Idaho Penitentiary, a prison in Boise that held roughly 13,000 criminals from 1872 to 1973. Tour the jail, including the 3×8-foot solitary confinement cells, and even learn the meaning of prison tattoos. That’ll scare ’em straight! ($3 to $6)

#13 Illinois

A visit to Chicago’s Willis Tower is the closest thing to walking on air. On the 103rd floor of the building are enclosed, transparent rooms (Skydeck Chicago) that jut out into the sky so that glass is the only thing between you and the ground — 1,353 feet below. ($15 to $23)

#14 Indiana

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s biggest, so it’s got a room for elaborate exhibits, like one that mimics the experience of traveling to China through a simulated airplane ride and replicas of Chinese structures. There are equally great exhibits centered on science, trains, and more. ($5 to $35)

#15 Iowa

The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines consists of 28 unique and enormous sculptures — a 27-foot hollow human form made of white steel letters is one you can admire from the inside and outside — spread across four acres of velvety grass. (Free)

#16 Kansas

Salt on its own: kind of boring. The journey it takes to get to your dinner table: mind-blowing. To tour an active salt mine at the Strataca Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, you’ll ride a dark elevator 650 feet underground, then a tram though former work areas while guides explain the dangers (like sagging ceilings) miners faced. ($12.50 to $19)

#17 Kentucky

At the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, your Little Leaguers can swing replicas of bats used by baseball legends like Babe Ruth and try to smack a ball out of the park in a simulated batting cage. They even get a mini bat to take home. Score. ($8 to $14)

#18 Louisiana

You don’t actually need to be in New Orleans during Mardi Gras to see the iconic parades. (Phew!) Take a year-round tour of Mardi Gras World‘s workshops to see artists magically morph stuff like Styrofoam into spectacular floats and props. ($12.95 to $19.95)

#19 Maine

So much of the coast is rocky in this lovely state, but at Old Orchard Beach you’ll find its best stretch of sandy shore. There’s a pier with great shops and restaurants as well as an old-school amusement park behind the beach with 28 rides, including a Ferris wheel and Tilt-a-Whirl. (Free)

#20 Maryland

Assateague Island National Seashore and neighboring Assateague State Park are home to a free-roaming herd of about 90 wild horses. While kayaking or strolling the beaches, you’ll catch the majestic animals napping on the shore and grazing in the salt marshes. (From $4)

Check out the Secrets Of 7 Famous Landmarks That The World Probably Did Not Know About

#21 Massachusetts

The six historic naval vessels at Fall River’s Battleship Cove seem huge — that is, until you step inside one and see every inch of a 681-foot battleship crammed with machinery and rows of sailor bunks. Your kids won’t complain about sharing a room ever again! You’re welcome. ($11 to $18)

#22 Michigan

Dearborn’s Ford Rouge Factory: It’s the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of the car world, and a golden ticket is so easy to get. Watch the final stages of an F-150 truck being built, then browse a collection of historic vehicles. The film that details the entire production process is tricked out like a rock concert with 3-D projections, lasers, and moving robots. ($13.25 to $18)

#23 Minnesota

The artificial turf at Buck Hill in Burnsville makes thrilling winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and tubing a reality all year long. You can glide down the silicone surface just as fast as you would a snowy mountain — sans coat, gloves, and runny nose. ($32 to $45)

#24 Mississippi

On Biloxi Shrimping Trip‘s shrimping expedition, kids can interact with sea creatures they’d normally see behind a wall of glass (or, um, in a bowl of pasta). Guides throw out the net and let you hold whatever they pull back up, like shrimp, sea turtles, and crabs, before tossing many back into the water. ($11 to $16)

#25 Missouri

City Museum in St. Louis is the jungle gym of everyone’s dreams (grown-ups included). Designed by a sculptor, this giant playground is made of reclaimed materials, including the body of an entire airplane. Start at the 10-story spiral slide or the cave maze. ($12)

#26 Montana

Interested in time travel? Of course you are! Well, that’s what a trip to former gold mining towns Nevada City and Virginia City feels like. Go inside some of the 100 authentic 19th-century buildings in Nevada City, then hit up Virginia City (1 mile away) to eat at an old Western saloon and shop for hoop skirts at Ranks Mercantile. (Nevada City entrance fee: $6 to $8)

#27 Nebraska

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo cleverly reversed the day-night cycle in their nocturnal animals exhibit (the world’s largest), allowing you to spy those you wouldn’t otherwise see active, like aardvarks, an albino alligator, and hundreds of fruit bats flying around a cave. ($12.95 to $18.95)

#28 Nevada

The most amazing collection of rare and vintage cars is not in a billionaire’s private lair but in a parking garage in Las Vegas. The Auto Collections at the Linq Hotel & Casino features 250 vehicles worth over $100 million; standouts include a 1920s fire truck and Elvis Presley’s first Cadillac. ($7.95 to $12.95)

#29 New Hampshire

Meteorologists study some of the country’s most severe winter weather at the observatory atop Mount Washington, the Northeast’s tallest peak. You can take in unbelievable above-the-clouds views and learn how to predict the next polar vortex. (From $5)

#30 New Jersey

Kids already think pushing a truck in a sandbox is delightful, so imagine how excited they’ll be — and how many points you’ll score — when they’re sitting in an excavator (or a dump truck or a steamroller) and dredging up massive amounts of dirt at Diggerland USA, a construction-themed amusement park in West Berlin. ($28.95 to $36.95)

Photos of This 23-Year-Old Remind Us How Big The World Really Is!

#31 New Mexico

Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf art complex is an interactive mash-up of art, science fiction, and carnival fun house. One exhibit, based on a fictional family’s disappearance, involves walking through secret passageways in their home that lead to other dimensions, like a neon forest. Truly amazing. ($12 to $18)

#32 New York

Ausable Chasm, a 125-foot-deep sandstone gorge, has lots of the Grand Canyon’s wow factor coupled with the fun of a water park. Float down the Ausable River in a tube, visit a 91-foot waterfall, or — brace yourself — cross the river on cable bridges. ($9.95 to $17.95)

#33 North Carolina

Conducting an experiment in a hands-on lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh could spark a love for science in even the most aloof tween. If not, seeing preserved animals (gross yet so cool) or touching a meteorite could do the trick. (Free)

#34 North Dakota

Your kid’s pricey model planes have got nothing on the Fargo Air Museum. Its amazing flight collection includes a Vietnam-era helicopter, a reconnaissance drone, and a newer plane designed to look like Dusty from the Disney film Planes, which you can even climb into. ($5 to $8)

#35 Ohio

At the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, you can feed the animals. Just watch out for the elk that’ll snatch your cup of feed, and the slobbery buffaloes that love poking their heads through open car windows. ($9.95 to $15.95)

#36 Oklahoma

The Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur turns a lesson on the culture of these Native Americans into the ultimate block party. In a re-created village, tribe members demonstrate special traditions (like archery and hide-scraping), cook traditional foods, tell stories, and teach stomp dancing. (Free)

#37 Oregon

Who needs ocean waves when you can ride a “sandboard” down the state’s 40-plus miles of coastal sand dunes? It’s much easier than surfing, but you can get lessons on the private dunes at Sand Master Park in Florence, then tackle steeper sections at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. (From $16)

#38 Pennsylvania

The Crayola Experience in Easton, the birthplace of the Crayola crayon, mixes in the elements of a factory tour (kids see how crayons are made) and ups the ante by offering three stories of innovative activities. One favorite: creating a wax painting with melted crayons. (From $16.99)

#39 Rhode Island

Newport’s Cliff Walk may be one of the only trails in the country that is a stunning combo of raw nature and total opulence. On one side of this 3.5-mile walkway are ocean views and rugged shoreline, while the other reveals fancy mansions built in the Gilded Age. (Free)

#40 South Carolina

A canopy of moss-draped oak trees makes the historic Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant stunning. But what makes it especially compelling is the estate’s original slave cabins, some depicting aspects of a slave’s life and others honoring black history leaders and heroes. ($12 to $24)

See the 15 Mind-Blowing Places Most Tourists Don’t Know About

#41 South Dakota

In Keystone, a pass for Rushmore Tramway Adventures‘ alpine slide buys you a scenic chairlift up to the summit, where Mountain Top Grille’s patio sits right across from the famous faces of Mount Rushmore. After lunch with the U.S. presidents, race down the mountain on a thrilling bobsled-like track. ($4 to $12)

#42 Tennessee

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis serves as a powerful reminder to fight for what you believe in. Relive historical moments by sitting next to a figure of Rosa Parks on a vintage city bus, then looking inside the actual hotel room where Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last moments. ($12 to $15)

#43 Texas

On a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, you’ll witness how sheets of plain paper are transformed into dollar bills using specialized equipment, cutting-edge technology, and the talents of designers and engravers. Sorry, no samples. (Free)

#44 Utah

Monument Valley, a sprawling desert that has starred in numerous classic Westerns, is also part of the Navajo Nation reservation. Explore the area with a Navajo guide, who will share the legends behind every towering red-rock formation. Your gang will return home feeling small — in a great way. (From $20)

#45 Vermont

Three magic words: ice cream factory. After a 30-minute tour of Ben & Jerry’s original production plant in Waterbury, load up on generous samples of exclusive flavors like maple walnut and check out the cheeky tombstones of flavors that have come and gone. (Up to $4)

#46 Virginia

Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Alexandria plantation home, is a biography of the country’s first president come to life. In addition to a mansion filled with 18th-century objects, you can see agricultural demonstrations — he was an avid farmer — and his invention: a 16-sided barn for separating wheat. ($10 to $20)

#47 Washington

At the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, you can step inside an alien spacecraft and ogle artifacts from iconic sci-fi movies and shows (like Star Trek), or play instruments and record your own song in the Sound Lab. Go on, your 15 minutes of fame are waiting! ($16 to $25)

#48 West Virginia

Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine — or just gorgeous views — should hop on board Cass Scenic Railroad‘s historic steam-engine train for a ride through the heart of the lush Appalachian Mountains. The journey includes a stop at a re-created 1940s logging camp. ($27 to $37)

#49 Wisconsin

There are a whopping 200 water slides to choose from in the Wisconsin Dells area, and 51 of them are at Noah’s Ark, the nation’s biggest water park. One drops you 10 stories and sends you plummeting 50 feet per second. Not your speed? Hit up the surfing simulator, lazy river, or wave pool. (From $24.99)

#50 Wyoming

No Jurassic Park props here. Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis gives your kids the rare opportunity to be a paleontologist. More than 10,000 dinosaur fossils have been found at its dig site. If your kid unearths one, her treasure will join the museum’s impressive skeleton collection. ($100 to $150)

Also, don’t forget to check out 46 Beach Towns You Have To Visit In America For Your Next Getaway!

Have you already visited few of these? Share your experiences with us!



Like it? Share with your friends!

Leave a Reply

Notify of

log in

reset password

Back to
log in