The 50 Best Family Travel Destinations In Each State
From Disneyland to Yellowstone to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, here are the best tourist attractions for families in each state.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute—Birmingham, Alabama
Courtesy Carol Highsmith
One of the best reasons to travel with children is to give them learning opportunities that they won’t get in school. The museum at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is an excellent place to teach your children about the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America, the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the ongoing struggles that African American people and other minorities face in America today. While this destination certainly isn’t a joyful romp, it will be a memorable and valuable experience for your whole family.
Tracy Arm Fjord—Juneau, Alaska
If your family is traveling to Alaska, be prepared for some breathtaking sites. Alaska is full of national and state parks, with unique natural formations such as glaciers and fjords seen nowhere else in the world. The Tracy Arm Fjord, located in the Tongass National Forest in the “Inside Passage” route of Southeast Alaska, is one of the most beautiful wilderness sites in the country. This remote glacier valley is home to mountain goats, seals, and whales, and provides endless hiking opportunities for the adventurous family. At the head of the fjord you’ll find a startling blue glacier that regularly calves fresh icebergs into the Pacific Ocean.
Horseshoe Bend—Grand Canyon, Arizona
Taking your family to the Grand Canyon almost seems like a cliche at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. The Grand Canyon is still one of our nation’s most beautiful spots, and all the decades of tourist traffic haven’t changed that. That being said, Horseshoe Bend isn’t technically a part of the Grand Canyon—it’s part of Glen Canyon, which is a short drive from Page, Arizona. This bend in the Colorado River is surrounded by waves of brightly colored sandstone, carved by millennia of flowing water. You’ll want to bring your camera (and wide angle lens) for this one.
Garvan Woodlands Garden—Hot Springs, Arkansas
This huge botanical garden in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is something like a plant museum. Among the 210 acres of carefully tended greenery is a Japanese garden, 160 different species of azaleas, and many rare species of shrubs and trees. Come visit the Garvan Woodlands Garden in the early springtime to see the spectacular tulip display. If you have particularly bad allergies, it might be worth taking some precautions for this very pollen-heavy trip!
Jae C. Hong/AP/Rex/Shutterstock
An oldie but a goodie. Although Disneyland involves more spending than your average family road trip, it’s also unbelievably fun—for people of all ages. Stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel to enjoy the rooftop pool and water slide, ride Splash Mountain, go see a live performance of Frozen, then be sure to hit all the other theme parks in the area, like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. If you’re bringing young children along, read up about the park’s height and age restrictions for some rides.
Great Sand Dunes National Park—Mosca, Colorado
You won’t soon forget a visit to the lunar landscape of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. This expanse of rolling, soft sand dunes is perfect for—believe it or not—sledding! Kids will love sliding down the dunes and building sandcastles on the banks of Medano Creek, and you’ll love the natural beauty (and the great photo opps). Stick around for a night for an unparalleled stargazing opportunity!
The Maritime Aquarium—Norwalk, Connecticut
Courtesy megan Malory
There’s something about peering through the glass into an underwater world that completely captures children’s imaginations. At The Maritime Aquarium, kids can get up close and personal with marine animals at the Touch Tank, see hundreds of beautiful jellyfish at the Jellies exhibit, and learn about the unique ecology of the Long Island Sound. Be sure to hang around to watch feeding time for the noisy seals!
Air Mobility Command Museum—Dover, Delaware
If you have a history buff or a kid fascinated with planes, trains, and automobiles in your family, they’ll love to visit the Air Mobility Command Museum. It’s not just dry exhibits and documentaries here—the museum houses over 30 actual aircraft that visitors can walk right up to! Kids can test their pilot skills with a flight simulator, and the whole family will love learning about the history of the aircraft hangar that now houses the museum. Best of all? Admission and parking are absolutely free! Speaking of free, don’t miss these free tourist attractions in every state.
Siesta Beach—Siesta Key, Florida
Sure, there’s plenty of theme parks to take the kids to in the Sunshine State. But if you’ve ever been to Florida before, you know that one thing it has over every other state is its uniquely beautiful white sand beaches. Siesta Beach, named best beach in the U.S. by TripAdvisor in 2015, is definitely no secret—you’ll have to fight crowds to plant your beach blanket somewhere nice—but it’s worth it. Have lunch in the nearby Village district, then walk to the beach in the evening for a spectacular sunset walk.
Center for Puppetry Arts—Atlanta, Georgia
Courtesy Sara Hanna Photography via Center for Puppetry Arts
If you’ve ever seen a puppet show and thought “how do they do that?” or enjoyed an episode of Sesame Street, the Center for Puppetry Arts is for you. Wander the museum to see puppets from all over the world, catch a film or live performance by a visiting our resident puppeteers, or attend a puppet-making class. The Jim Henson Collection brings together puppets and backdrops well-known to fans, including a certain little green frog!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park—Island of Hawaii, Hawaii
Yes, we’re talking active volcanoes! Head to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see geologic change in action as lava flows into the sea from multiple different vents and volcanoes. Kids and adults alike will be amazed at the beauty and power of the bubbling, steaming lava. Check the volcano conditions before you head to the park to make sure it’s safe to visit.
Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark—Kellogg, Idaho
Photography by Matt Vielle Courtesy Silver Rapids
Whatever the season is, the Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark is a great place to take the whole family to have some summer-style fun in the water! Adults can float down the lazy river (with a beverage in-hand, if you choose) and kids will love the pools, play structures and the Flowrider endless wave. After a long day of fun, you can stay the night right at the Silver Mountain Resort—and go skiing the next day!
Wrigley Field—Chicago, Illinois
Seeing a baseball game in the historic Wrigley Field is a quintessential American bucket list item. Get yourself a Chicago-style hot dog and a beer and some foam fingers for the kids to wave around, then root, root, root for the home team. Try to avoid the train immediately after a game, as Cubs fans can be a little rowdy—especially after a win! Find out how the Cubs—and 24 other MLB teams—got their name.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis—Indianapolis, Indiana
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the perfect place for kids to learn, play, and get inspired with dozens of interactive exhibits. Between the dinosaur exhibit, the hands-on science and cultural exhibits, and dozens of live events each week, kids of all ages will find something entertaining. Who knows? You my discover that you’re raising a junior scientist!
Fenelon Place Elevator Co.—Dubuque, Iowa
I know what you’re thinking. Elevators? This is really a tourist destination? Absolutely. The Fenelon Place Elevators—also called the Fourth Street Elevator—is actually the steepest, shortest railroad in the world. The rail was first built in 1882 by a banker who lived at the top of the hill, then made public in 1884. Ride from 512 Fenelon Place up the hill to an observation deck where you can see parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin all at once.
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead—Overland Park, Kansas
Courtesy Kansas State Tourism
One part theme park, one part educational resource, and one part real, operating farm, the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is must-see in Kansas. Kids can learn to milk a cow, bait a fishhook, and bottle-feed baby goats, while parents will enjoy the beautiful landscaping and the old time charm. The farmstead is totally free, but bring small bills to take a wagon ride and to feed some of the animals.
Louisville Mega Cavern—Louisville, Kentucky
You may not have known that ziplining through an underground cavern was on your bucket list, but you’ll realize it once you’ve crossed it off. In the Louisville Mega Cavern underneath the Louisville Zoo, you can bring the whole family for a one of a kind experience in the huge cavern that was once a limestone quarry. Here, you can clamber through an underground obstacle course, take a guided tram tour, and yes, even a zip line tour! Be aware, though, that kids under 7 are not allowed on the zip line.
Cafe du Monde—New Orleans, Louisiana
Although New Orleans is typically more of a playground for adults than for kids, there’s certainly plenty to entertain the little ones too! Get some of Cafe du Monde’s world-famous beignets and a cafe au lait, sit in the open-air patio, and listen to music drift down the streets of the French Quarter. In addition to the sweets, your kids will love the performers who typically hang around outside the cafe—especially the notorious “Silver Man!”
Marginal Way—Ogunquit, Maine
Courtesy Allyson Lupovich
The coast of Maine is notorious for being stunningly beautiful, and the Marginal Way footpath along Israel’s Head is no exception. On this walk you’ll see a peaceful harbor filled with sail boats, waves crashing against the rocky cliffs, and—if you get there at the right time—a priceless sunset. Consider this a must-see on your New England coastal road trip.
The Walters Art Museum—Baltimore, Maryland
Courtesy Walters Art Museum
With interesting collections from all over the world, the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is an excellent place for kids to learn about art and history, and with the admission fee of zero dollars, it’s one you’ll want to visit over and over. Come during off-hours to avoid large crowds, and grab a bite at one of the many nearby restaurants on Charles Street.
Boston Public Garden—Boston, Massachusetts
Right in the middle of busy downtown Boston, you’ll find a beautifully manicured garden filled with duck ponds, dramatic weeping willows, rose beds and public art. Get yourself a copy of the iconic children’s book Make Way for the Ducklings, and then see how many places in the book you can recognize in the park! Your kids will love seeing the duckling statues.
Silver Beach Carousel—Saint Joseph, Michigan
Courtesy Silver Beach Carousel
Within walking distance from Silver Beach is an old-fashioned carousel where there once was a whole amusement park. The giant carousel, built in 2010, is modeled after one that was originally built in 1916. You’ll love seeing all the beautiful painted horses on the ride, and your kids will love riding them!
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden—Minneapolis, Minnesota
Right by the Walker Art Center (which also merits a visit) you’ll find dozens of sculptures in a beautiful green garden. Take a stroll through the garden for free, and look for the whimsical Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture and many other larger than life art pieces!
Tupelo Automobile Museum—Tupelo, Mississippi
Courtesy Tupelo Automobile Museum
Car-loving kids and grown-ups alike will love the Tupelo Automobile Museum. Featuring 120,000 square feet of automobile displays—including antique cars, tractors, and old-fashioned gasoline signage—the museum has a rotating collection that makes it an interesting stop over and over again. Interesting parts of the permanent collection are a Delorean, the world’s only Camarovette (that’s parts from both a Camero and a Corvette, put together into one car) and a three-wheeled Benz car from 1886!
St. Louis Zoo—Saint Louis, Missouri
The St. Louis Zoo is one of the biggest and best zoos in the country. The cornerstone of the zoo is the historic Flight Cage, a giant bird cage that visitors can walk through and a 1904 World’s Fair exhibit. Here you’ll find flamingos and other waterfowl from all over the world. Be sure to stop by for the penguin feeding ant the sea lion show!
Glacier National Park—Northern Montana
A national park with beautiful glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains and pristine, peaceful mountain valleys, Glacier National Park is truly one of a kind. Visit Many Glacier in the heart of the park to see active glaciers and plenty of wildlife such as mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Drive through park via the stunning Going-to-the-Sun Road, which also passes the Trail of the Cedars and Logan Pass.
Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s Botanical Center—Omaha, Nebraska
Who doesn’t love flowers? Just outside Omaha city center is the 100-acre Lauritzen Gardens with 20 different gardens, including a Victorian Garden, Japanese Garden, Herb Garden and Children’s Garden. Kids will also love the Model Railroad Garden, which is filled with model trains meandering through miniature countryside dioramas. In addition to the permanent gardens, there are constantly changing exhibits in the gardens that you’ll love, such as the current Lego Art exhibit!
Pinball Hall of Fame—Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas isn’t exactly known for being a family-friendly vacation spot, but if you don’t mind venturing off the Strip a little, there are fun activities for all ages available! The Pinball Hall of Fame is more than just a museum—it’s an arcade, where you can play every machine. Bring a roll of quarters and don’t feel bad about spending them all—all the profits from the Pinball Hall of Fame go to charity!
Franconia Notch State Park—Franconia, New Hampshire
If your family is up for a little hiking, they’ll love visiting Franconia Notch State Park. The nature trails in the park are unforgettable, especially the Flume Gorge trail, which takes you along a natural gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. If you want to get a bird’s eye view of the park, you can also take the aerial tramway up the mountain.
Grounds for Sculpture—Hamilton, New Jersey
The Grounds for Sculpture is a unique outdoor sculpture museum that sits on what was once the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. You can grab a bite to eat at one of several restaurants on the museum grounds, then stroll through the manicured gardens and sculpture exhibits. Be sure the check the events calendar for tours and workshops coming up.
Meow Wolf—Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lindsay Kennedy Courtesy Meow Wolf
How do you describe Meow Wolf? It’s one part museum, one part amusement park, one part mystery waiting to be solved. Inside a former bowling alley (purchased with the help of Santa Fean George R. R. Martin) you’ll be able to explore unknown environments, play a laser harp, climb through tree houses, and piece together the story of a mysterious family that got mixed up with a sinister organization—and paid the price.
Broadway—New York City, New York
Picking just one thing to do in New York seems almost criminal. But one definite must on any New York agenda is seeing a show on Broadway, the home of musical theater. Pick a kid-friendly show like Mary Poppins or the beloved Lion King musical, and let your kids see their favorite stories come to live like never before.
Biltmore Estate—Asheville, North Carolina
Definitely an American bucket list item. The Biltmore Estate has not only the largest house in the U.S. with 250 separate rooms, it also has extensive gardens, manmade ponds and private forests throughout the grounds. You can take a self-guided tour through the estate or any number of audio or guided tours.
Enchanted Highway—Regent, North Dakota
Courtesy North Dakota Tourism
Less of a destination and more of a pitstop, the Enchanted Highway in rural North Dakota is still a must-see for family travelers. Along a 32-mile stretch of highway in southwestern North Dakota, you can see the largest scrap metal sculptures in the world, including a giant grasshopper, pheasants, and geese in flight. Stay nearby in the medieval-themed Enchanted Castle hotel, if you have a high tolerance for kitsch!
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—Cleveland, Ohio
Rock fans of any age will love getting to see their favorite musicians immortalized in the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Visit the exhibits to see costumes and instruments that once belonged to rockers as varied as David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Marley. Check their events page for films, book signings and, of course, concerts!
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum—Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The image of the American cowboy has always been part fact, part fiction. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum attempts to separate the two, and honors the Hollywood cowboys as much as the real-life ones. The whole family will love seeing the larger-than-life sculptures, the historical exhibits, and the children’s cowboy corral, where kids can practice lassoing and learn some of the real-life skills that cowboys used on the trail!
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area—Oregon
You can’t go wrong with getting outside pretty much anywhere in Oregon, but the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area is one of the most, well, scenic areas on the West Coast. From Portland, drive east on WA-14 to get beautiful views on the way, then take your time hiking to the awe-inspiring Multnomah Falls. Afterwards, you can stop in the nearby town of Cascade Locks for dinner.
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park—Tipton, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s DelGrosso’s is an amusement park with a little bit of everything! Little kids will love the Kid’s Kingdom, which features pint-sized versions of bumper cars, carousel and other rides, and the rest of the family will enjoy the fairground rides and water park with lazy river and wave pool. Be sure to get a hoagie at one of the concession stands!
Beavertail Lighthouse and Park—Jamestown, Rhode Island
Any trip to the East Coast requires visiting at least one lighthouse, and the Beavertail Lighthouse is just about as scenic as they come. Surrounded by rocky beaches and woods, this area—known as Beavertail for its shape on the map—is perfect for an energetic hike or for peaceful contemplation. Kids will love climbing to the top of the lighthouse and peeking at the crabs and anemones in the tide pools that spot the area.
The Center for Birds of Prey—Awendaw, South Carolina
A visit to the Center for Birds of Prey in South Carolina is sure to be educational as well as fun. Take a guided tour of the center to learn about all the different resident birds, watch a flight exhibition, or go on a bird-sighting walk or boat ride. The Center hopes not only to instill a love of animals in visitors, but also to educate about the fragile ecosystem in which they live.
Custer State Park—Custer, South Dakota
The Custer State Park looks like postcard America: endless prairie, sparkling lakes, jagged cliffs and abundant wildlife. Start from the visitor’s center and take a guided hike or jeep tour, where you’ll see tons of wild bison, donkeys, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Kids can learn to fish at the Hook ’em and Cook ’em program, where they’ll get to fry up and eat what they catch!
National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel—Memphis, Tennessee
A trip to the Lorraine Motel should be on every American’s bucket list. It’s here that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, and a wonderfully curated and moving museum has grown up around this terrible history. Given its sparse coverage in most history textbooks, children will have a unique experience to learn about the American Civil Rights movement here.
Houston Museum of Natural Science—Houston, Texas
Courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Houston Museum of Natural Science has plenty of world-class exhibits that you and your kids will love. Between the dinosaur exhibit, the hall of gems, and the hands-on science and engineering activities, there are plenty of opportunities to see something incredible. Also check out the attached Cockrell Butterfly Center and the Planetarium!
Bryce Canyon National Park—Utah
The Bryce Canyon has views unlike anywhere else in the country. See dozens of spindly rock formations, land bridges and the beautiful Bryce Ampitheater. Kids can take the pledge to become Junior Rangers at this park, a program that teaches them how to be a steward of the land. If you’re planning a visit in April, be sure to make it to the Utah Prarie Dog Day.
Billings Farm & Museum—Woodstock, Vermont
Courtesy Billings Farm and Museum
A fully operational dairy farm as well as a museum, the Billings Farm & Museum is a great place for city folks to get a taste of historic—and modern—farm life. Walk through the farm house to see a preserved 1890 farm kitchen and creamery, then learn to milk cows and make cheese at one of the educational programs. Be sure to dress for getting a little dirty!
Colonial Williamsburg—Williamsburg, Virginia
Judy Watkins, Virginia Toursim Corporation
Get a glimpse of colonial America in the 18th century by stopping in Colonial Williamsburg. You can watch Revolutionary War reenactments, meet in-character townspeople, and learn about the revolutionary principles that helped found our country. You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Revolutionary City or one of many guided tours.
Chihuly Garden and Glass—Seattle, Washington
Right next to the famous Seattle Space Needle you’ll find the beautiful Chihuly Garden and Glass. Take a walk through to see dozens of amazing glass works by the legendary Dale Chihuly, then get a closer look at the process at a live glassblowing demonstration. You won’t soon forget this unique artistic experience!
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum—Beckley, West Virginia
Courtesy Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum
Visitors to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum can get an up close perspective on what coal mining is like in the past and the present. You can take a box car ride through the coal mine and tour the vintage coal camp, and even talk to in-character coal miners who will tell you all about their work and their way of life.
Rick Wilcox Magic Theater—Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Courtesy Rich Wilcox Theater
Who doesn’t love a magic show? At the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater you can see one of the highest-rated magic shows in the country. It’s an ideal event for all ages, and it’s a much cheaper ticket that you’ll find in Vegas. This show will undoubtedly leave you wondering how they do it!
Yellowstone National Park—Wyoming
The nation’s first national park is still one of its most impressive. At Yellowstone, walk through the awe-inspiring geothermal areas, visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and see the majestic Old Faithful Geyser erupt in rainbow-streaked clouds of steam. Stay in the preserved 1891 Lake Hotel right in the park for a true turn-of-the-century experience.