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The 2018 list of my Top 10 Best Family Summer Vacation Ideas in the US (plus two bonus spots!). Whatever you do, don’t miss #7!
Now that Spring temperatures are finally starting to heat up, it’s time to focus on Summer vacation planning. Maybe you’re like me and you love the planning stage. But sometimes all of the possibilities can feel overwhelming!
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In part one of my family summer vacation ideas series, I’m sharing my Top 10 destinations in the US (plus two extras I just had to include!). These locations are not only great for kids, many are educational too. I hope it will give you some travel inspiration!
Crested Butte is the official wildflower capital of Colorado. In fact, every July it’s home to the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival.
Crested Butte is also the perfect vacation destination for families that love the outdoors. Stay at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort for biking, disc golf, and summer chairlift rides. Or take your family on one of the many local hikes!
Grab a coffee at Camp 4 Coffee, where all of the beans are hand roasted.
Take your kids to Tanglewood in Lenox, MA and introduce them to classical music the easy way! The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the best in the country, and lawn tickets for kids under 17 are free for most performances.
Tanglewood also offers a ton of interactive programming for kids and families on their Summer Sundays.
Portland, OR is a fantastic summer vacation destination for train lovers. Thomas The Tank Engine fans will love visiting the Oregon Rail Heritage Center to see their three vintage steam engines.
Or, learn about different types of forests and how important they all are at the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.
Stop at Wiz Bang Bar in the Pine Street Market for the craziest soft serve ice cream sundaes you will ever taste (including homemade magic shells and chocolate tacos!).
Nashville, TN is a fantastic all-around summer vacation destination, with famous sites and a vibrant food scene. Take a backstage tour at the Grand Ole Opry and visit the Gaylord Opryland Resort Gardens.
When you take your family to the Hudson Valley, the all-inclusive Rocking Horse Ranch is the place to stay! You might never want to leave the Ranch, but make time to visit the home of FDR and the Presidential Library.
Cape May is an adorable Victorian-era beach town. It’s also the slightly quieter cousin to the other New Jersey boardwalks, which makes it a perfect summer beach vacation destination for families.
Of course you should spend plenty of time at the beach, but don’t miss the Cape May County Zoo. Zoo admission is free and they offer very reasonably priced animal encounters for kids 5 and older (we’re talking one-third of what we have paid elsewhere!).
Grab an iced coffee at Coffee Tyme or try one of their specialty drinks like the Panda Bear (chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and whipped cream!).
If you’ve never heard of De Smet, SD, it is about to hop on your bucket list! I recently re-read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s entire Little House series with my son. So when I learned you can camp on Charles Ingalls’ homestead, I was smitten with the idea. Even if you do not have an RV, you can rent a covered wagon or bunkhouse!
While you are there, go to downtown De Smet and visit the same Loftus’ store that Laura wrote about in her books.
Just an hour south of Louisville, visit the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park (ask about the Junior Ranger Program when you arrive!) and see his boyhood home in Hodgenville, KY.
Then travel just 45 minutes further south to Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest known cave system.
You can tour the Gettysburg Battlefield just about any way that you want. Walking, on horseback, by car, bike or bus. So no matter the age of your kids, you will find something that works for your family.
And if you have older kids that love the paranormal, make sure you book a ghost tour.
Atlanta, GA is a fantastic city to visit in its own right but it is also Martin Luther King Jr’s birthplace. At the Martin Luther King, Jr National Historical Park, the National Park Service offers tours of his birth home. Make sure you arrive early in the day because they do not take reservations!
While you’re there, visit the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church, the International World Peace Rose Garden, and The King Center.
Two More Bonus Family Summer Vacation Ideas:
Your kids will love the brand new Cleveland Children’s Museum in the completely remodeled Stager-Beckwith Mansion. And if you’ve been working hard to pass on your musical taste to your kids, don’t miss taking them to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I recommend staying at the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade (previously home to one of the first malls in the USA). It is incredibly unique and super convenient. The Butcher and the Brewer (on E 4th St directly behind the Hyatt) is family friendly and delicious, as is Paleo-friendly Rebol (on nearby Public Square)!
In Concord and Lexington, MA you can see where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired and paddle a canoe under the famous Old North Bridge.
Make sure you visit Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (where she wrote Little Women) and swim at Thoreau’s Walden Pond. Take your kids for ice cream at Rancatore’s in Lexington, the sister chain to Cambridge’s famous Toscanini’s.
I hope these family summer vacation ideas have you off to a running start with your planning. Where would you like to travel with your kids this summer?
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