1. New York, NY
Home to Central Park, The Statue of Liberty and more museums than you could visit in a full month, just standing in Times Square will give your kids a thrill. Hit the Black Tap for over-the-top milkshakes, book tickets to a family-friendly show on Broadway (Aladdin and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are both playing this summer), or plan your whole visit around when you can get your hands on Hamilton tickets!
2. Palm Springs, CA
Come for the perfect weather and spend mornings (before it gets too hot) hiking through the movie-backdrop-gorgeous Sierra Nevada mountains. See the hills from a slightly higher vantage as you make like a cowboy on a trail ride from Smoke Tree stables. Don’t miss VillageFest, the every-Thursday craft fair downtown or the peaceful Living Desert, which is part zoo, part botanical gardens, part giraffe-feeding extravaganza. It’s a trip your kids will cherish for years.
3. Sanibel, FL
Just a 45-minute drive from Fort Meyers airport, crossing the bridge to Sanibel Island is like teleporting to the Caribbean—without the lengthy flight! World-class beaches teeming with shells of every description, breathtaking sunsets, and the expansive J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge means there’s always something to wow your little ones away from their screens. Put the kids in the Sanibel Sea School (half or full day) for a best-in-class kids camp where your naturalist-in-training will learn how to find sand dollars buried under the sea floor, net-fish in the shallows and maybe even discover a baby octopus.
4. Washington, DC
Stop at the information booth in the museums along the National Mall and pick up a just-for-kids guide to make the experience even more fun for your mini historians. Plan to spend extra time at the Air and Space Museum, visit the pandas at the National Zoo and schedule your visit to Arlington National Cemetery during the solemn changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
5. Park City, Utah
Find a VRBO or stay at one of the gorgeous, slope-side family-friendly resorts, like the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley or Marriott’s MountainSide, and spend a long winter weekend playing in the powder with your crew. All the local resorts cater to seasoned skiers, but if you’ve got beginners among you, Deer Valley is a great option for newbies while Canyons Village is perfect for long, beautifully-groomed cruisers. For a treat, take a horse-drawn sleigh to dinner, or drive a crew of sweet huskies through the mountain trails. It’s the perfect winter family adventure.
6. Orlando, FL
Even if you’ve been to Disney World recently, there are new things to see every few years. In 2017, Pandora—The World of Avatar and the next-gen Flight of Passage ride opened in Animal Kingdom, in 2018, a new Toy Story Land opens in Hollywood Studios, and in 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge touches down—complete with attractions and an inter-galactic hotel. If you’ve got big kids, you’ll want to save a few days for Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
7. Boston, MA
Walk the Freedom Trail through the cobblestoned North End, linger over an authentic Italian lunch (and espresso for mom and dad) by Old North Church, and then wrap-up your afternoon in the Charlestown Navy Yard on a tour of the historic USS Constitution. Your little ones will love taking in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, chowing down on some clam chowder at Legal Seafoods and then taking a swan boat ride in the Public Gardens before you go.
8. Nashville, TN
Give the kids a true taste of country music history by visiting legendary sites like The Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and, depending on your favorite country flavor, the Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline Museums. Make sure to save time for a visit to Rocket Fizz, the most over-the-top soda and candy store we’ve ever seen.
9. Chicago, IL
A visit to the Windy City wouldn’t be complete without catching a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and grabbing a slice of super cheesy instant happiness at Connie’s Pizza. Don’t miss a meeting with Maximo Titanosaur at the Field Museum or seeing the graceful Belugas in the gorgeous, lakeside Shedd Aquarium.
10. Portland, ME
Spend most of your time playing on the spectacular beaches, of course, but also give your little ones a welcome break for lunchtime lobster rolls at DiMillo’s On the Water—a floating restaurant where virtually every table has a gorgeous view of Portland Harbor. The scenic Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine, is not to be missed. If you’ve got an active family, hop on a ferry to Peaks Island and then rent some bikes and start exploring.
11. Seattle, WA
Your kids are going to love Pike Place Market, where they can watch the fish flying through the air, ride the famous Seattle Great Wheel on the waterfront (a good activity rain or shine since the gondolas are enclosed) or spend time at one or many of the perfect-for-kids Seattle museums, including the Seattle Children’s Museum, the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Aquarium or Seattle Pinball Museum. You’ll love these stops just as much as they do.
12. San Diego, CA
Take a hike through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (lots of family and stroller-friendly trails) for sweeping views of the ocean or spend a day lounging on any one of the gorgeous beaches on 70 miles of coastline. Plan on spending a full day at the world-class San Diego Zoo and another at LEGOLAND California.