With our Independence Day celebration tomorrow, I was inspired to highlight some family friendly vacay spots across our diverse and amazing country.
1) Southern California (our home) gets ranked pretty high because of the sheer number of things to do AND the beautiful beaches AND the fantastic weather. If you have enough time, hit Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego in one trip. You will need a rental car but seeing the different cities is worth it.
Start in Los Angeles to see the same sights you see in so many movies…Santa Monica Pier, the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios, etc. etc. Then head down to Anaheim and get that check in the Disneyland box. If you have two days, swing by California Adventure as well but you can do both parks in one day. I would stay near the beach to see some of the most beautiful coastline in southern California. Then go down to San Diego which has a much more relaxed atmosphere than either LA or Orange County. Plus, you have the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and some great museums (it’s always fun to see jets and helicopters flying overhead). In San Diego, you also have great beaches (a favorite is Seal Beach where seals are always lying out in the sun happy as clams) and more gorgeous coastline (especially in La Jolla). You’ll head home with a tan and some great memories.
2) Chicago in the summer makes people forget the winter. A great city for family vacations since there is so much to do in a small area. Between Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the lake, Museum Campus and the Museum of Science and Industry – you will have easily spent a packed and fun-filled week. So when you add on a day at the beach, all of the great eating, and some lesser known activities you will find yourself planning another trip back there to experience them all. The boat cruises are a fantastic way to see the unparalleled architecture in the city and you don’t have to walk anywhere! Also rent bikes and cruise down by Lake Michigan and stop for lunch along one of the restaurants on the path. Ah….one of my favorite cities!
3) Hawaii is kind of an obvious place to want to visit but not everyone realizes how many family friendly resorts are there! The weather is fabulous, the activities are plentiful and EVERYONE will leave wanting to go back. Here are a few of the best reviewed family friendly resorts in Hawaii:
– The Westin in Maui: It has 5 pools, slides and an amazing beach. Aquatic sports add to the fun.
– Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach: This hotel has the largest single level swimming pool and is right in the middle of the North and South shores so you can explore the island easily.
– JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa: The architectural design of this hotel means most people get an ocean view and it is on a private lagoon with sunset cruises and sailing available. Plus there is always activities for kids of various ages.
4) With Disney World being in Orlando, it usually makes everyone’s short-list for family friendly vacation spots. But even without Disney World it would still make my short list with Sea World, Legoland and the Kennedy Space Center (among other things) being in close proximity. This provides you with a good mix of activities for all ages of children and interests. If you are tired of being in an amusement park environment, head on over to the downtown farmers’ market, ride a bike along the West Orange Trail or swim with the dolphins in Discovery Cove. There is something for everyone here and if you are on the East Coast, it’s a lot closer than Hawaii.
5) New York City’s praises have always been sung by crooners and travel writers. I’m adding it to my list because it was only recently that I realized young kids can enjoy the city as much as a young couple or group of friends. The museums are amazing with the Natural History Museum and the Met being obvious favorites. The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are also not to be missed. Take a cruise around the island on the Circle Line (there is a whole half of the island that would make you think you were far away from the Manhattan hustle and bustle). FAO Schwarz and Central Park make a perfect afternoon combo. New York may be the city that never sleeps but you’ll find that after a fun and full day, at least your children will definitely sleep!