My Son's List of Top 5 US Cities For A Family-Friendly Vacation

 By Kimberly Dijkstra


Planning a family vacation is easy when everything you’re looking for is located within the same city. Sightseeing attractions, museums, parks, and zoos are just a taste of the activities you can do with the kids. Whether your getaway is long or short, these destinations are packed with fun for the whole family.


Here are the top 5 US cities for a family-friendly vacation.


 San Diego, CA



A vibrant southern California city, San Diego is perhaps best known for the San Diego Zoo, where kids can monkey around on the monkey trail, flit around the aviary, and get lost on an elephant odyssey. With a multi-day pass, families can also visit the Safari Park, SeaWorld, Legoland, and dozens of other affiliated attractions.


The zoo is located within Balboa Park, which is also home to the Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego Natural History Museum, and the Fleet Science Center


For sea and land adventures, take a San Diego SEAL Tour that visits some of the city’s most famous points of interest and sails by seals, sea lions, brown pelicans, and other wildlife along the shore. 


San Diego is also great for nature activities, whether it’s a beach day in La Jolla or a trek through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. At the end of the day, enjoy some authentic Mexican cuisine in the historic Old Town district.


Minneapolis-St Paul



Its abundance of cultural attractions has earned Minneapolis, Minnesota, the nickname “The Mini Apple.” Often associated with nearby St. Paul, the Twin Cities offer a host of activities for families out looking for fun. 


Young children will love the Minnesota Children’s Museum, which has three floors of creative, interactive exhibits, and the Children’s Theatre Company at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which puts on exciting live performances that touch the imagination.


Dive into Minnesota’s past at the Minnesota History Center and at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum. For some outdoor fun, visit the lovely landscape of Minnehaha Regional Park, containing the gorgeous Minnehaha Falls, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, showcasing impressive art installations. It’s a great place for a photo op.


The Mall of America, the US’s largest mall, has enough entertainment options to make a full vacation out of. Nickelodeon Universe is an indoor theme park populated with your favorite TV characters and roller coasters and rides for all ages. Spend a challenging 60 minutes trying to break out of The Escape Game, then get lost again in the Amazing Mirror Maze. The Crayola Experience combines color, chemistry, and technology to create a one-of-a-kind adventure 


 Washington DC



Our nation’s capital is the ideal destination for family vacation or long weekend away. Everything of interest is located close together or easily accessed via the convenient and affordable Metro system.


One of the biggest draws for Washington DC is the Smithsonian Institution, the collective name of 17 world-renowned museums, galleries, and a zoo. The National Air and Space Museum is a must-see, showcasing the original Wright Brothers’ Spirit of St. Louis, the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule, and Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit, plus science demonstrations and a public observatory.


The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is another excellent museum to spend time in, learning the fascinating history of our planet through a wide range of exhibits. Definitely don’t miss out on the National Zoo, where you’ll find 300 different species of animals, including lions, tigers, giraffes, and giant pandas. The best part about these wonderful educational institutions ー admission is free!


Leave time to walk around the iconic National Mall and famous monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The numerous war memorials open up the opportunity to speak to the kids about American history. 


Washington DC is overflowing with activities, so if you have the time, take a stroll through the United States Botanic Garden, test your spy skills at the International Spy Museum, and explore the historic charm of Georgetown and its variety of dining options.




Boston, Massachusetts, is a city full of history and that history is alive down every cobblestone street and around every corner. There’s so much to see, a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour helps maximize your time as you see the sights.


The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum is always a hit with kids. Relive the Boston Tea Party with a live theatrical performance aboard a full-scale replica of an 18th-century sailing vessel. The USS Constitution Museum also allows you to explore the city’s maritime heritage, while Old Ironsides herself, the world’s oldest ship that’s still afloat, resides right across the Charlestown Navy Yard. 


To learn the story of the American Revolution, walk the famous Freedom Trail through some of Boston’s most historic neighborhoods. The red brick path will take you past the Old State House, Paul Revere’s House, and the Old North Church, among many other notable landmarks. A well-known stop on the Freedom Trail is Faneuil Hall, where you’ll find New England delicacies, local artisans, and street performers.  


Along the waterfront, enjoy the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the Greenway Carousel, and the New England Aquarium. Then, take in a game or a guided tour at Fenway Park, ‘America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.’


Across the Charles River, families can spend a few hours in the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which features dinosaur fossils, including the first Triceratops skull ever discovered, a great hall of mammals, and an extensive mineral gallery.


San Antonio


For your next family adventure, consider San Antonio, Texas, a city rich in history and brimming with culture. San Antonio Missions, a National Historic Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers daily, ranger-led programs to learn about the indigenous groups of the region and Spanish Colonial period of the 18th century. Standing as a symbol for endurance, the Alamo, famous for the namesake battle, is a must-see on any trip to San Antonio.


From parades to festivals and other seasonal events, there’s always something going on at the River Walk. The Witte Museum also has exhibits about the natural and human history of the area, plus a Science Treehouse, a playful learning lab that children love. The nearby DoSeum has hands-on STEM-focused exhibits and many learning opportunities, both indoors and outdoors.


In the heart of downtown you’ll find Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair, a modern park with swings, climbing structures, a giant chessboard, and colorful artwork.


Thrills are central to this south Texas city at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Morgan’s Wonderland, Splashtown, and SeaWorld San Antonio. Animal lovers can visit rhinos, hippos, and giraffes at the San Antonio Zoo, and a variety of marine life at the San Antonio Aquarium.

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