Summer breaks are not to be spent sitting in front of television or computer screens. They are for adventures and exploration (and ice cream!). Luckily, you don’t need to travel far for family-friendly attractions. These six cities scattered across the United States have plenty to offer, no matter what your family is in the mood for.
No matter what you’re looking to do over summer break, Boston’s got a little something for everyone: history, science, art, sports. The Museum of Science has a planetarium, an IMAX theater, multiple permanent dinosaur exhibits, and even a butterfly conservatory. Interactive exhibits more your speed? At the Children’s Museum you can explore a rocket ship and an old fishing boat or create your own souvenir at the art studio. If the weather is nice, you can walk the Freedom Trail through all of the city’s historic landmarks or sit back and relax as a Duck Boat takes you through the land (and water!). Plus, no trip to Boston would be complete without a visit to the Green Monster, so take a guided tour of Fenway Park and see things you wouldn’t normally witness during a Red Sox game.
If your summer break finds you in the Midwest, consider stopping in Indianapolis, home of the world’s largest children’s museum. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis houses a dinosaur excavation site, and now has a brand-new Playscape section specifically designed with toddlers and crawlers in mind. For outdoor interactive art, pay a visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100-acre “art and nature” park, which hosts seasonal Art in the Park events, in addition to permanent exhibits. The Hall of Fame Museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has staggering collection of racing, classic, and antique cars—and you can even take a guided tour of the track! If you’ve ever wanted to travel back in time or fly in a hot-air balloon, stop by the Connor Prairie Interactive History Park, where you can do both with their immersive 1859 Balloon Voyage, which is just one of their exciting and educational exhibits.
Though not necessarily thinking outside of the box, there’s a reason every kid (and—let’s face it—grown up) wants to go to Disney World. The Magic Kingdom is the place for fairy-tale attractions and Disneyfied dreams. And you can travel the world in a day at Epcot or live out your movie-magic fantasies at Universal Studios. Starting this year, Busch Gardens will be open until midnight on the weekends, allowing even more time for thrill-seekers to ride North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s Fury, and experience the nightly fireworks display. For those not afraid to get a little wet, you can even swim with bottlenose dolphins at Discovery Cove or get splashed by a sea lion at SeaWorld.
San Diego, CA
With near-perfect weather and tons of things to do, San Diego is top destination for summer break. Balboa Park, located in the heart of the city, is the home of the renowned San Diego Zoo and 1,200 acres of beautiful grounds. There’s the tranquil Palm Canyon, the Japanese Friendship Garden, and plenty of trails for biking and hiking. The park is also houses fifteen museums, including the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Catch a show at the San Diego Junior Theater or one of the many other performing arts centers, or take a ride on the Balboa Park Carousel. And if you can bear to drag yourself away from the park, take a walk near the San Diego seaport and visit the Maritime Museum or take an Old Town Trolley Tour of the Victorian Gaslamp Quarter.
With the Williamsburg Flex ticket, families can gain access to all that Williamsburg, VA has to offer for up to seven consecutive days. Colonial Williamsburg is a live-action history village where kids can rent costumes, go undercover as a colonial spy, or even get spooked on a guided ghost walk. If that’s not enough, visits to the Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center, and the Historic Jamestown and Yorktown Battlefield, will further delight true history buffs as you stand on sites dating back to revolutionary times. Animal lovers can explore Busch Gardens’ wildlife habitats, while its live shows and musical attractions are entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Water Country, USA will help families cool down after a few days of adventuring in the summer heat, and the city’s famous Summer Breeze nightly concert series kicks off after Independence Day.
There’s plenty to do in Washington, DC—and most of it won’t cost you a thing! Stop by the National Air and Space Museum, where you can touch a real moon rock and see Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. Have a picnic on the National Mall, and then continue getting your fill of culture at the National Museum of Natural History. Check out the Cheetah Conservation Station at the National Zoo before testing your sleuthing skills at the Spy Museum, and cap off the whole adventure with a visit to the White House or one of DC’s many other famous monuments.