5 All-American Family Vacation Ideas

Bet you never thought you'd unearth a T-Rex with grandma: These five travel destinations show new sides of the United States that shouldn't be missed.

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Go Dogsledding

Go DogsleddingTravis Rathbone for Reader’s Digest, Courtesy Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel
Bond with man’s best friend in Jefferson, New Hampshire, at the Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel any time of year. (Sleds have wheels or runners depending on weather conditions.) Guides encourage families with kids ages two and up to “meet the dogs, help harness and hitch the team, and even help drive the sled,” says familyvacationcritic.com. Choose from trips and tours that last for several hours, a full day, or overnight. Rides start at $300 per sled; call for rolling-sled prices; dogslednh.com.

Take the Ride(s) Of Your Life

Take the Ride(s) Of Your LifeTravis Rathbone for Reader’s Digest, Courtesy Cedar Point
Visit Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, for an underappreciated place to seek thrills. “Even though it’s located off the beaten track, experts (like those at Amusement Today) regularly praise Cedar Point as the best overall theme park in the country,” says U.S. News & World Report. The park calls itself the roller coaster capital of the world, and with 16 to choose from, it’s hard to argue. Plus, there’s a water park and countless other attractions to keep everyone entertained. It’s open daily from May 10 through Labor Day; weekends only from Labor Day through November 2. Tickets start at $48.99 per person if purchased online; cedarpoint.com.

Roam Free on a Dude Ranch

Roam Free on a  Dude RanchTravis Rathbone for Reader’s Digest, Courtesy JJJ Wilderness Ranch
Dust off your cowboy boots and ready your Stetson for a visit to this Rocky Mountains paradise. Located in Augusta, Montana, “Triple J has everything an aspiring cowboy [or girl] could long for,” says Sunset magazine, including hiking trails, fishing trips, campfires with sing-alongs, and, of course, horseback rides. Buckaroos of all levels are encouraged to saddle up, and guests ride the same horse for the duration of their stay. The ranch operates from June through September; kids- and adults-only programs are available. All-inclusive stays start at $1,360 per adult, $1,276 per teen, and $1,168 per child; triplejranch.com.

Surf Sand Dunes

Surf Sand DunesOSU Special Collections & Archives via Wikimedia Commons
Swap your snowboard for a sandboard, and head to Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon. Real Simple recommends learning the basics at this private dune park, “which offers board rentals and lessons—often taught by world-champion sandboarders.” Then you can hit the “slopes” to test your skills. Afterward, build a castle in the giant sandbox, or take a dune buggy ride around the park to check out the scenery. Rentals start at $10 per day; lessons start at $45 an hour per person; sandmasterpark.com.

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Dig for Dinosaurs

Dig for DinosaursMichael Greiner via Wikimedia Commons
Most kids (and adults) love dinosaurs, and to make their wildest dreams come true, head to Fruita, Colorado. The Museum of Western Colorado offers Dino Digs for children ages five and older. You can choose from one-, three-, and five-day expeditions. Kids work alongside professional paleontologists as they search for new bones and tracks at the 150-million-year-old dig site, which extends into Utah. “Imagine how your child will feel when she helps unearth the fossilized bones of ancient species,” says Outside magazine. Digs start at $125 per person; museumofwesternco.com/dino-digs.

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