Traveling with kids is … something else. Yes, we want to make sure our kids have experiences! And yes, we want to make sure our kids see places and meet new people and experience new cultures! But also, they’re kids. So it isn’t always a walk in the park full of lasting memories. One of the most important things you have to consider when planning a family vacation is location. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. You want to keep those kiddos entertained and well-behaved? Don’t take them somewhere they can’t, you know, be kids. But, the good thing is, you can absolutely plan a family vacay that the whole family will actually enjoy! The best US cities to visit with kids have it all, and parents and their little ones will enjoy every moment.
The best US cities to visit on a family vacation will tickle everyone’s fancy.
1. I’m putting my own personal favorite at the top of this list: San Diego, CA.
I’ve been visiting San Diego since I was a kid, and I’ve taken my own kids several times (it’s only about 2 hours away from us!). Bold statement coming: it is the perfect city. PERFECT. You will not find better weather or more to do as a family. The beaches are amazing, full stop. And they’ve got LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Balboa Park, the list goes on! Even just strolling around Old Town and acting like a local is an amazing experience.
2. This next city is a fun, albeit unlikely, stop on the tour. VEGAS, BABY!
OK, hear me out: Vegas is amazing for families! I wrote a bit about what they have to offer for kids here, but just to recap: amazing pools, amusement parks, arcades, aquariums, and a giant store filled with chocolate. Maybe bring along your mother or MIL so you can sneak away for some bar and slot time, too. No one will judge you.
3. Combine fun with education with a visit to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Not only is it one of the best US cities for kids, it’s a city everyone should visit at least once.
Washington D.C. is full of some our nation’s most revered monuments that every kid (and adult!) needs to see at least once. There’s so much to see and do, like the National Mall, the Smithsonian Museum and National Zoo, and and National Museum of American History. The best part? Lots of the most family-friendly places you can visit are FREE.
4. Orlando, FL, also known as Amusement Park City.
Full disclosure: I have never been to Orlando. But I’ll be damned if I don’t take my kids one day. It’s basically Amusement Park central. Walt Disney World alone has FOUR different parks! Then there’s Universal Orlando with ITS four parks (Wizarding World say whaaaaaat?). Plus, there’s SeaWorld (which has a separate water park), and LEGOLAND (which also has ITS own water park). You could easily spend a month here and not be able to do it all.
5. My second favorite city: San Francisco!
Oh, to spend a few days just walking around this gorgeous city! It may not have umpteen amusement parks, but San Francisco has so much to offer in beauty, history, and culture. Make sure to make stops at the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 15! That’s where The Exploratorium is located, an amazing hands-on science center.
6. Make it a visit rich in history with a trip to Williamsburg, VA.
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is like stepping back in time. The history and architecture are absolutely breathtaking. But the trip doesn’t have to be all learning. Make a stop at nearby Busch Gardens Williamsburg for some roller coasters and water slides!
7. Next up on the tour of the best US cities to visit as a family: Portland, OR.
You’ll say you’re going because it’s fun for the kids, but you’ll really want to go to eat and people watch. Portland has a reputation for being weird, and it lives up to that reputation everyday! Hit up the Portland Japanese Garden for some serene beauty, and then top off with a doughnut at Voodoo Doughnuts. And don’t forget a stroll through downtown Portland with a stop at the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s Books!
Did you know that the world’s largest and best-preserved T-Rex lives in Chicago? Her name is Sue, you can find her hanging out The Field Museum. Tell her I said heeeeeeeey girl! When you’re done visiting Sue, there’s so much more to do in the Windy City. Don’t miss The Shedd Aquarium, the North Park Village Nature Center, or a stop at American Girl Place.
9. Everything is bigger in Texas, right? That means BIG fun in San Antonio.
Go for the Alamo, stay for the Tex-Mex. Seriously, THE FOOD. The food alone is a reason to visit San Antonio. But I guess your kids need more of a reason than tacos and salsa, yes? Definitely factor in a visit to The Alamo, and swing through the Pearl District for some fun along the river (psssst: there’s a brewery).
10. No list of the best US cities to visit with kids would be complete without taking a bite out of the Big Apple: New York City.
What ISN’T there to do in NYC? First of all, your kids are going to want to see Lady Liberty herself, up close and personal. But there are also museums and parks galore to explore. The American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art are must-stops. And obviously you have to sit and people watch in Central Park! Go full tourist with a stop at Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate.
These are just 10 of the best US cities to visit with kids! There are so, so many places to see and play in this amazing place we call home. But start here, and send me all your pictures so I can pretend like I came with you.
(Image: iStock / monkeybusinessimages)