You have probably heard that you get 18 summers with your child before they are an adult and headed off to college. Each summer is a chance to spend time as a family and do some kids travel with the family. From NASA, Space Center to the Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, Oregon to the Palace at Versailles, we have rounded up the best kid travel spots for you and your family.
Local Kids Travel Destinations
1. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California (Keyhole Rock)
Beaches are a great place for kids travel, a great way to wear children out, and mom and dad get to enjoy a little fun in the sun too. Big Sur is one of those spots that has amazing forest views and quaint beaches. Pfeiffer Beach is a bit off the beaten path, but worth the extra effort. With two huge rocks, one has a small hole created from centuries of crashing waves, which to the delight of everyone lights up at certain parts of the year.
2. Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium is like no other aquarium you have ever visited. Their mission is to inspire ocean conservation, being oceanfront, and they have timeless galleries that bring the wonders of the ocean to life right in front of your eyes. Children and adults alike will love the sea otters, giant Pacific octopuses, kelp forest exhibits, and more. Kids travel doesn’t just have to be for the kids and Monterey Bay Aquarium not only has something for the whole family, there is even more to do in Monterey.
3. Cannon Beach, Oregon (Haystack Rock)
Cannon Beach, Oregon is something that you would see in the movies, with a wide beach, low rolling waves, and breathtaking views. Cannon Beach is a good place for kids travel no matter what time of year. Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most popular and recognizable landmarks and home to diverse birdlife and colorful tidepools. You have surely seen it in countless movies or television programs or even in novels. This sea stack rises 235 feet above the sand and at low tide, you can walk right up to it and find fascinating tidepools creatures. From birdwatching to learning about the ecological history of Haystack Rock, this is more than just a destination for kids travel.
4. Kailua Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is always a good idea and Wakkii is a great place for kids travel and families to be able to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Oahu while taking in everything touristy that Hawaii has to offer. Kailua Beach is just a short drive over the scenic Pali Highway on the island’s east shore. This idyllic beach offers calmer waters, endless views, and a chance to really take in Hawaii’s natural beauty with fewer crowds. Next to the powdery sand, turquoise mellow waters are perfect for kayaking, windsurfing, or swimming. No matter how you spend your time here, you will leave with a perfect tan and mellowness that will encompass you.
5. Coronado Island, California
Coronado Island, located in San Diego California, is a timeless quaint island that is an easy place to escape the hustle and bustle on the west coast without ever having to get on a boat. Kids travel doesn’t have to involve places that are strictly designed for children. Stay at Hotel del Coronado, an iconic hotel with old-world charm. It was built in 1888 and has hosted celebrities, royalty, and even U.S. Presidents. Grab an ice cream cone at the hotel and take a walk down the beach for a timeless activity at the perfect spot.
Read More: Fun Family Adventure: Camping at Shenandoah National Park with Kids
6. Telluride, Colorado
If you have ever heard of Telluride, you are probably envisioning a winter wonderland. However, Telluride in the summer is just as spectacular and the perfect spot for kids travel summer plans. A small town that is tucked into a box canyon surrounded by 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks, the quaint town of Telluride is just eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long. It might be a small mountain town, but Telluride is dedicated to preserving historically significant architecture. It boasts colorful Victorian-era homes, historic buildings, and boutiques, art galleries, gourmet restaurants that could rival any big city.
7. Washington D.C.
The cherry blossom season in Washington D.C. only lasts a few weeks and is a beautiful site to see, perfect for kids travel. Each year, over 3,000 bloom. The peak of the season happens when 70% of the trees open their buds simultaneously, which usually happens around April 4th of each year. There is so much to see while visiting Washington D.C. and even the history behind the cherry blossoms is a lesson in itself. The festival honors American and Japanese cultures and the bond that was formed between the two countries when Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki gave the gift of the trees in 1912.
8. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
There are Hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) on every continent, but the largest concentration found anywhere on Earth can be found at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing in the winter or camping under the bright stars that can be seen with some of the darkest skies found here, no matter how you enjoy your time, this park has geological wonders that are amazing for the whole family to enjoy. Kids travel at national state parks is always a good idea!
9. Belfast, Maine
Regardless of how big your town is, visiting a town like that of Belfast, Maine will make you feel like you step into a movie set. This small town once built hundreds of sailing ships and was settled in the 18th by Europeans. It then became a manufacturing town and now is a little city that is rich in arts, music, and amazing local food. Take the short ferry ride to Islesboro for a fun day trip and enjoy a quiet trip full of sites and sounds with the small-town charm that rivals any romantic comedy backdrop.
10. Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
San Juan Island is just one of many islands located north of Seattle in Washington. A place of peaceful landscapes, diverse wildlife, and perfectly preserved harbors, this perfect family vacation spot has activities for all to enjoy – whale watching, picnics, beachcombing, and ice cream cones.
Read More: 20 Kid Travel Friendly Destinations to Visit Before Your Child Turns 10
Overseas Kids Travel Destinations
11. Princess Diana Memorial Park, Kensington, United Kingdom
If you are bold and willing to do kids travel across the pond, the Princess Diana Memorial Park in Kensington, UK is a park fit for royals but made for kids. True to the late Princess Diana who was dubbed the people’s princess and loved the innocence of childhood, this park was dedicated in her honor. More than just a playground, this park’s centerpiece is a huge wooden pirate ship that really brings out the innocence of children. It’s a place to play and let their imagination run wild all in the late Princesses’ honor.
12. Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain
A boat ride in the Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain may be one of those super touristy things to do, but even the most seasoned travelers will admit it is an amazing experience for the whole family. The picturesque setting of rowing a boat through the plaza is a storybook-like setting that cannot be recreated. It’s a wonderful place for kids travel. Rowing a boat might be a tad harder than it looks, so not only will the views be enjoyed by all but also show the kids that not everything is electric.
13. Vallea Lumina, Whistler, British Colombia
Whistler in the summer has Vallea Lumina, which is a multimedia night walk that will make your Christmas light show dreams come true, without the heavy coats. The show runs nightly every 20 minutes once the sun sets. The magic of illumination, stories, and music is an entertaining and magical experience that will wow visitors of every age, perfect for kids travel. For the adventure seekers, you can spend your days in Whistler ziplining, paddleboarding, white water rafting, or ATV riding for a full adventurous experience.
14. The Palace at Versailles, Versailles, France
The Palace of Versailles, whose origins date back to the seventeenth century, has been a successful hunting lodge, a seat of power, and, from the nineteenth century, a museum. The gardens, the Palaces of Tranaon, and the park of the Château de Versailles cover over 1,900 acres. This is a place full of rich history that is also beautiful and will intrigue those of all ages. Kids travel doesn’t have to be education-centered or just a beautiful location, the Palace of Versailles combines both of these.
15. Victoria, British Colombia
Victoria is the capital of British Colombia, which is the fifteenth-largest metropolitan region of Canada. This modern town has plenty of old-world charm mixed in from being the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest. British Columbia takes advantage of the diverse historical, architectural and multicultural makeup that comes from being the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest. Plus, with the mildest climate in Canada, this is a town that is great to visit year-round with outdoor activities that are perfect for kids travel.
Read More: Traveling with Kids Around the World
Adventure Kids Travel Destinations
16. The Wreck of the Peter Iredale, Oregon
There is a shipwreck on the Oregon Coast that you can see up close and personal, as it is on the shore and not below the water. Although no pirates were involved in the shipwreck, it is still a great place for kids travel. On October 25, 1906, this ship ran ashore when the captain got too close to the shore during a foggy morning and broke three of the ship’s masts. Luckily, there were no injures or deaths and it is now a popular tourist attraction. The best time to see the shipwreck is during low tide on a sunny day, as the high tide can cover up most of the wreck.
17. Monument Valley, Utah
Did you know that the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed in Monument Valley, Utah? You might have assumed it was filmed in a faraway land, but really it was probably filmed closer to your house than not. Home to the Navajo Tribe, Monument Valley, Utah is the picturesque desert, with bright rocks, red dirt magnified against the bright blue desert sky. While Monument Valley is not a national park, it is quintessential wild west America that has been the backdrop for many westerns beginning with 1939’s Stagecoach, starring John Wayne.
18. NASA Space Center, Houston, Texas
Kids travel plans can also be educational and yet fun for the whole family. The NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas is more than just a place to visit for the day Your family can even experience a unique overnight camping experience. It is more than just a space center owned and operated by the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation. There is so much to see and they also have extensive science education programs and a space museum. The NASA Space Center is a space exploration learning center where your kids can see real rockets that went into space, up-close and personal.
19. Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii
You know the history of Pearl Harbor, but did you know that there is a memorial of the sunken USS Arizona where you can actually see the shipwreck as close as possible without getting in the water? A trip to Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii is full of history at this national memorial park. You can not only soak in the beauty of Hawaii, but also use the trip as a teaching lesson – the best of both worlds for kids travel.
20. Deception Pass State Park, Washington
Deception Pass State Park, located in Northwest Washington, is the most visited state park in Washington for a reason. Cranberry Lake is one of the most protected lakes in the state park, which provides a sandy beach for playing and warmer waters to take a dip in. For the more adventurous ones, paddle boarding or kayaking are available as well. Deception State Park has it all, whether you want to experience the beach or lake life!
Read More: Fun Travel Games for Kids
This is a big list of amazing locations for kids travel, more than you will be able to cross off before they are 10, so pick your top destinations and put them on your list. Focus on making these trips more than just the destinations. See how much you can pack in while you are there. Set your expectations to experiences and the journey, rather than simply the destination. This is the way to get the most out of traveling with kids.
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Photo credits: unsplash.com
Sources: NPS.gov, MonterreyBayAqaurium.org, Fridayharbor.com, SpaceCenter.org, RoyalParks.uk.org, Washington.org, OregonDiscovery.com, Utah.com