Looking for a new, family holiday in the USA off-the-beaten-track? Take a look at our suggestions for holidays in the USA; there’s plenty more than Disney World, Orlando, to discover in the land of the free, home of the brave!
Here are 5 of the best US holiday destinations for families to explore and help you find the ideal fit for your family holiday in the US. With so many child-friendly activities throughout the USA, it’s difficult to decide where to go, not to mention remembering all those details to plan, including the important ESTA application which is an electronic visa authorisation for tourists in the US which is required for stays of up to 90 days.
5 Best US Holiday Destinations for Families are!
- San Diego, California
Starting your family trip to San Diego with a visit to the beautiful Balboa Park can easily fill at least two days for families with young children: there really is something for everyone here, with the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History, Air and Space, Model Railway and Automotive Museums, the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre and lastly but certainly not least, the San Diego Zoo which is famous the world over for the hugely enjoyable Safari Park. The rest of the city doesn’t disappoint for family holiday activities either: SeaWorld San Diego, a favourite with the little ones, Legoland San Diego for the more adventurous family members and the two Children’s Museums, full of an endless variety of fun, educational workshops for kids and their parents too!
- Washington D.C.
If you’re planning on heading to the nation’s capital city, do not fret! Washington DC is not only a historical and cultural hub but also full of child-friendly attractions in DC for your holidays in America. With so many national monuments and museums open to people of all ages it’s impossible to run out of things to do in Washington DC with such favourites as the Washington Monument and the Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR Memorials as well as the Museum of Natural History, Geographic, International Spy and Madame Tussauds Wax Museums. But for those who need more stimulation, why not try out the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, an excellent venue to introduce your kids to wildlife in a fun, safe environment or the Discovery Theater with all kinds of productions for children. Also, depending on when you visit Washington DC, there are festivals and holidays all year-round which offer a range of events for families.
- Chicago, Illinois
Another city that may not at first shout family-friendly holidays in the US is Chicago, Illinois but here we were pleasantly surprised to find out how highly mistaken we were! So, if you’re thinking of visiting Chicago with kids in tow, try these activities to keep the whole family occupied: after visiting Sue, the best-preserved T-rex in the world at the Field Museum, families can experience life in the ocean with aquatic shows and exhibits at the Shedd Aquarium, gaze up into the atmosphere and choose from a selection of shows for children in the Adler Planetarium, wander down to Navy Pier where children can enjoy a spin on the emblematic Ferris Wheel or visit Chicago’s Children’s Museum, opt for a daytime picnic in Millennium Park after taking a family selfie with the famous Bean, take advantage of a short rest on a river cruise and even shopping will be pleasant with child-friendly shops and a fantastic medley of toy shops all over the city!
- San Francisco, California
With something to engage the kids whilst on holiday around every corner, San Francisco is an ideal US vacation spot for families thanks to the vast array of attractions come rain or shine! Starting with the California Academy of Science which is home to a planetarium, aquarium, butterfly rainforest dome and a living roof, to the hugely popular Exploratorium, found on Pier 15, where kids can get involved in all kinds of science experiments. Additionally if you’re looking for a more active family holiday, California and especially San Francisco is one of the best parts of the world for hiking and cycling along the Golden Gate Bridge, up and down the hills of San Fran itself or on Angel Island. Or if yours is a more relaxed pace, why not enjoy travelling on the legendary cable cars! Also, for the sweet-tooth in the family, ice-cream is a must-have in San Francisco so don’t miss out!
- San Antonio, Texas
Taking a family holiday to Texas and not sure how to entertain the kids? Try San Antonio on for size: the Home of the Alamo, as it’s known, is also fast becoming one of the best US tourist destinations for families with fun for everyone at the Splashtown, Schlitterbahn and SeaWorld waterparks, Natural Bridge wildlife ranches and a variety of different museums. There are many family-friendly attractions in San Antonio like the Natural Bridge Caverns with caves to explore, gem-panning and a zip-line course! As well as a range of theme parks to choose from. Finally, don’t leave town without discovering the world-renowned San Antonio River Walk, the largest urban ecosystem in the USA with a year-long calendar of events, a history dating to colonial times and a large array of international cuisine at your disposal.
With such a diverse assortment of activities for family holidays in the US, it’s easy to get carried away with the planning but don’t forget to get all your US tourist Visa for UK citizens paperwork sorted before jetting off, which you can now do easily online, even for the ESTA for children and receive the approved ESTA visa in your e-mail the very same day!
Plus, many American cities offer City Passes for families to benefit from cheaper tickets for US tourist attractions and child-friendly transport to get from one site to another as well as excellent kid’s menus in practically all restaurants along with friendly staff and entertaining tasks for children!
NB: This is a collaborative post
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.