Top 5 Educational Family Vacations

Turn your vacation into an education by visiting one of these family-friendly cities.

Turn your vacation into an education by visiting one of these family-friendly cities:

1. San Francisco – The City by the Bay, steeped in history and family-friendly cultural experiences, tops Travel Ticker’s “edutainment” list. From the 1800’s gold rush to the impact of Silicon Valley innovation today, California’s history will be in almost every kid’s curriculum.  Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, walk along the Golden Gate Bridge, ride a cable car and explore the interactive Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts. Or hop in the car and take a short drive to the Redwood National Forests, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a number of California Missions. 

Family Activity Tip: Make a travel journal. Putting together a travel journal for your family’s next vacation is a great way to get your kids reading, writing, and thinking about what’s happening and what they’re learning on the trip. The possibilities for a travel journal are as endlessly varied as your kids’ personalities and imaginations.

2. New York City – Like San Francisco, New York offers something for everyone, including an incredibly rich opportunity for field learning.  Kids will love exploring Central Park and taking in a matinee Broadway show, but they’ll also be wowed by Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the hands-on exhibits at the Museum of the Moving Image. With its skyscrapers, world-renowned museums and international landmarks, there’s always plenty to see and do in New York City.

Family Activity Tip:
Big City Bingo. Combining the best elements of Bingo and “I Spy,” Big City Bingo sends kids on a visual treasure hunt as they search for the items on their bingo card. Take this printable worksheet with you everywhere in the Big Apple and keep the kids on the lookout!

3. Miami – Third on the list, Florida, is a family vacation playground, but the state is also steeped in history, with a wide variety of vibrant ethnic groups and a wealth of astounding natural beauty for kids to learn from. Take in the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, year-round Miami festivals, the Dolphin Research Center, or take a short drive to the NASA Kennedy Space Center.

Family Activity Tip: Travel Vocabulary. Make a set of picture/word vocabulary cards together with things and places your child will encounter on the trip—from things found at the beach to marine life to new food. Along the way, use them for fun games that will build your child’s language and comprehension skills.

4. Chicago – The Windy City takes the fourth spot on the list. Visit the cluster of world-class museums at Museum Campus, or play with the Art Institute of Chicago’s many hands-on studios and exhibits for kids.  The legendary Chicago Theater has shows and events for all ages, and you can get a taste of musical diversity at one of Chicago’s four annual music festivals.

Family Activity Tip: Geography Fun Pages. Have your second through fourth graders find the names of interesting places in the Illinois word search, answer trivia, even color the state’s flag—lots of great learning packed into one page! These printable geography worksheets help make your trip more engaging for children.

5. San Diego – With a sunny moderate climate that never varies more than ten degrees, San Diego is also a learning playground for kids, and it rounds out the top five list. Not only is it the perfect place to take the family any time of year for the weather and beaches, but everyone can have a blast exploring the internationally-recognized San Diego Zoo, Sea World, the interactive Children’s Discovery Center at the Museum of Man, and the Children’s Pool in La Jolla.  Or let the kids’ imaginations and creativity run wild at Lego Land.

Family Activity Tip: Animal Habitat Game. During kindergarten, your child will study habitats and learn that a habitat is where an animal lives. This game reinforces the concept of habitats and what animals live in different environments. Your child will also love pretending to be the different animals and enjoy watching you act like the animals in the zoo!

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest