The Five Best Places to Vacation with Kids (Without Going Crazy)

August 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Not every vacation is suitable for kids. While mom and dad might love snowy cabins and peace and quiet, the little ones will be bored to tears. And, their boredom will quickly become evident, ending the peace and quiet mom and dad wanted in the first place!

Fortunately, numerous destinations are suitable for children and even offer some entertainment for parents. Here are the five best places to vacation with kids without coming back with gray hair.

1 – Branson, Missouri

“My dad says it’s like Vegas – if it were run by Ned Flanders” – Bart Simpson

Bart’s reference was accurate! Branson offers the fun-filled experience of Vegas, only without forcing parents to cover their children’s eyes.

There are literally too many quality attractions to list, but those kids might like most includes:

• Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors
• Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
• Shoot for the Stars Mini Golf (Hollywood-themed mini gold course)
• Silver Dollar City (amusement park)
• The Track Family Fun Parks (arcade, bumper cars, go-karts, laser tag, etc.)
• World’s Largest Toy Museum

2 – Williamsburg, Virginia

Learning about history may not seem like the best break from studying. Fortunately, that’s not all there is to do in Williamsburg.

For pure fun, you’ll want to visit Busch Gardens. While offering a traditional theme park experience, it also hosts numerous “KIDsiderate” rides and animal attractions, as well as a charming European-themed ambiance throughout.

Water Country USA also has some kid-friendly attractions, although Busch Gardens has a wider selection if you can only visit one.

Check out Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf while you’re there, too. The kids should have a blast in this family-oriented, pirate-themed golf course.

Of course, whether the kids love history or mom and dad just need a break, the area is loaded with historical sites. These include Historic Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and the beautiful campus of the College of William & Mary, the nation’s second-oldest college (just behind Harvard).

3 – San Antonio, Texas

With intense summer heat, anywhere in Texas – let alone South Texas – may seem like a bad place to take the kids on vacation. Yet, San Antonio offers numerous high-quality, kid-friendly attractions that make up for the relentless Texas sun.
According to USA Today, notable attractions in The Alamo City include:

• Natural Bridge Caverns (cave beneath the city)
• Sea World
• Six Flags Fiesta Texas (includes 25 rides specifically for children)
• The San Antonio River Walk (bat tours, boating, restaurants and more)
• The San Antonio Children’s Museum
• The San Antonio Zoo
• The Tower of the Americas (similar to the Space Needle)

As an added benefit, the weather in the city is quite nice in the fall and spring and its winters are mild compared to much of the U.S.

4 – San Diego, California

Picky parents may want to take the kids to San Diego. Why? The weather is gorgeous all year long.

Beyond that, there’s plenty to do for the children. The city offers access to both the San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean. And, with the Chargers and Padres in town, catching a game is always an option.

Don’t forget to visit Balboa Park, which houses the San Diego Zoo, numerous museums, gardens and more. There’s a Sea World in San Diego, too, in case the San Antonio heat is too much for your family.

There are dozens of other worthwhile attractions for both parents and children in America’s Finest City, as well. But, if you’re on a tight schedule and can only visit one place, Balboa Park should be it.

5 – Tampa, Florida

Tampa is known for its laid back atmosphere. Combined with its warm climate, this makes it an excellent place to take the kids for a low-key trip.

Still, there are plenty of attractions for the kids. According to U.S. News and World Report, these include:

• Busch Gardens (African-themed amusement park)
• Florida Aquarium
• Museum of Science & Industry
• Sports (pro baseball, football and hockey)

And of course, you’ll want to head to the beautiful Florida beaches. Clearwater Beach, which was ranked by the Travel Channel as the second best beach in the state, is in the area and other great beaches are within driving distance.

This is a guest posts by John Gower. John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping consumers with retirement savings.

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