Sure, you and your children have been to Disney World, and there are several all-inclusive, family-friendly resorts on your bucket list. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the pockets of the U.S. that contain some of the most kid-friendly, wallet-friendly, and unexpected family fun that you can imagine. If you’re in the mood for something offbeat, try one of our five recommendations for family friendly spots to visit in the U.S.!
- Rochester, New York. Now, we know that Rochester doesn’t sound too glamorous, but it’s situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The Finger Lakes region offers a ton of amusement, such as boating, camping, or just lounging lakeside. Rochester boasts more than 12,000 acres of parkland, and holds 140 festivals and events during the spring and summer. But the icing on the cake is The Strong, a family-centric must-see which includes The National Museum of Play, The International Center for the History of Electronic Games, and the National Toy Hall of Fame. You may have to make multiple visits!
- Sanibel Island, Florida. There’s no castle in the center of a magical kingdom. There’s no bustling downtown scene, and there’s not a spring breaker in sight. Sanibel Island is an island off Florida’s west coast, ensconced in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Life moves at a slower pace here, and it’s the perfect spot for families who want to take it easy and relax. Sanibel is famous for its vast quantity and variety of seashells. Little fingers will love exploring its shores, bringing home treasures rarely found at other beaches in North America. Adults will love the island’s quaint shops, gourmet restaurants, and quiet, mellow feel.
- Carlsbad, California. Carlsbad isn’t as popular as San Diego and Los Angeles, so you won’t be mobbed by throngs of tourists and sightseers in this town. What you will find is a gorgeous beach, the very first LEGOLAND in North America, one of the largest go-kart race tracks in the country, and a first-rate aquarium. Take a day trip to LA or San Diego, but make Carlsbad your jumping off point.
- Upper Peninsula, Michigan. If you’re growing tired of the heat, head north to Michigan, where the temperatures dip into the 70’s, and you’ll have 1700 miles of shoreline to choose from. The Upper Peninsula borders three of the five Great Lakes, and is home to over 150 waterfalls, 40 lighthouses, boating, camping, fishing, and even a glass-bottom shipwreck boat tour. This is a great place to rent a house, to have adventures all day long, and to enjoy a leisurely dinner overlooking the lakes at the end of the day.
- Port Angeles, Washington. This is the home of the Olympic National Park, which is one of the most fun, vibrant, and unique national parks in the U.S. If your kids have cultivated a love of nature, they’ll enjoy the park’s three diverse ecosystems, filled with tide pools for observing marine life, shallow swimming areas, a mineral water wading pool, and critters ranging from banana slugs and glow worms to crabs and starfish. The Ranger Station playhouse offers tons of opportunities for imaginative play.
Your children will return to their preschool, daycare, or grade school classroom gushing about the unique adventures they embarked upon over summer vacation. Since some of these destinations aren’t as heavily trafficked as the usual spots, last minute reservations may be a bit easier to score! Make your plans for August now!