Family Friendly Vacation Destinations
Exploring Outside Disney World
If you're getting tired of taking your kids to Walt Disney World, but you still want to head down to Orlando to enjoy the sunshine, there's some other places near WDW that are well worth a visit and are just as kid-friendly as Disney.
One of more favorite places is about 45 minutes from Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. It will take a full day to really explore and enjoy everything it has to offer. At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, you get the unique chance to tour – up close – NASA’s launch and landing facilities. Experience interactive simulators, live shows, view the rockets on display, meet astronauts, etc. If you're lucky enough and you timed your vacation right, you can even watch a Shuttle Launch. The Space Shuttle launch schedule is on the Kennedy Space Center website.
SeaWorld - Shamu Show
SeaWorld in Orlando
Closer to the Disney theme parks is SeaWorld in Orlando. SeaWorld is an aquatic theme park with a lot of educational content. In addition to their best known attraction, Shamu the killer whale, your kids can encounter all sorts of other wild sealife, such as sharks, penguins, dolphins, etc. There are also some cool rides at SeaWorld as well, though really they are best known for their experiences and shows that allow you get up close to the animals.
Salem Witch Museum
Boston makes a great family vacation destination because its historical sites are both education and fun to visit and it has some unique museums designed with kids in mind, such as the Science Museum on the Boston/Cambridge border, the Children's Museum in downtown Boston near the wharfs and the MIT Museum on Mass. Ave in Cambridge -- a small little known museum that you will literally have to drag your kids out of.
Visiting the USS Constitution is also a must. Your kids can run all over the ship. When I was a kid, my dad took me and my siblings there at least 50 times and we never got tired of it. I still love it. Tall Ships are awesome and this one in particular is just amazing.
Also, Boston is a mid-sized city with many interesting sidetrips that can be taken to nearby towns, all less than a 45 minute drive. Very close to Boston in the city of Waltham is the Museum of Industry. Lots of neat industrial artifacts and hands on stuff.
Older kids and teens will love visiting Salem and all the witchy sites such as the Salem Witch Museum (a bit macabre, for older kids only). The House of Seven Gables is nearby as well and the Peabody Essex Musuem has some great hands-on interactive exhibits that kids will like.
In the opposite direction, you can head down to Plymouth and visit Plimoth Plantation which is a living history museum and community about an hour's drive from Boston.
Oscar the Grouch at Smithsonian
Dude. The Smithsonian! That's practically "Nuff said." As it is the most awesome museum on earth and it's free. In fact, practically everything worth seeing in D.C. is free so it is not only a great family trip, it is economical as well.
Depending on how old your children are, they may find a tour of the major monuments a bit of a snooze, but I really don't think you can go wrong with all of the museums in Washington.
I recommend the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum as being two of the most kid-friendly museums in D.C.
National Parks kids would go bonkers over
I think the National Parks are amazing, but the young folk may appreciate them more when they get older -- there are some though that adventuresome families should enjoy right away. Carlsbad Caverns is a massive underground cavern. Kids should get a kick out of it as long as they are not afraid of the dark or enclosed spaces.
The Grand Canyon is a great destination as well. Be sure to visit my Grand Canyon photos hub to see great photos of the National Park.