For many families, a great vacation creates treasured memories, close bonds, and warm feelings towards each other that last a lifetime. Here are five destinations that offer families just the right combination of attractions, activities, nightlife, and accommodations, for the perfect family vacation.
Boston, MassachusettsBoston,Massachusetts, offers family vacationers a blend of colonial history, great food, river cruises, a world-class aquarium, and some of the country's most beautiful neighborhoods all within easy walking distance of each other. Weighing in at just 0.36 square miles, the tiny North End (Boston’s Little Italy) alone has almost one hundred attractions including the Old North Church, the Paul Revere House, the world-renowned Regina Pizza, and the equally famous Mike’s Pastry. For more kid-friendly fun the New England Aquarium features over two thousand species of fish and mammals, and an Imax theater. At the nearby Boston TeaParty Ships & Museum, visitors enjoy a reenactment of one of the most crucial events in American history.
Just across the Charles River, the Museum of Science has a variety of interactive exhibits and an indoor zoo. Also in Charlestown, the wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate USS Constitution, a.k.a. “Old Ironsides”, hosts the family-inspired “All Hands On Deck” exhibit. In nearby Cambridge, the modern Cambridge Side Mall hosts all of the major retailers and is a boarding point for many of the historic cruises that travel the Charles River and Boston Harbor.
Gatlinburg, TennesseeFew destinations offer the mix of indoor and outdoor activities, incredible scenery, theme parks, and reasonably priced lodgings as Gatlinburg, Tennessee and nearby Pigeon Forge. Located at the entrance to GreatSmoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are home to Dollywood, three mountain coasters, two water parks, and year-round family themed festivals and events. With a variety of music, comedy, and magic shows geared towards all ages, a night out in Gatlinburg means no sitter needed.
Branson, MissouriKnown as the performance home of a number of major country music stars, Branson, Missouri specializes in family entertainment. Outdoor activities in Branson include camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, zip lining, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, and rock climbing. For thrills of the man-made variety, Silver Dollar City - a theme park of the 1880's - has the brand-new, world’s steepest, tallest, and fastest-spinning roller coaster called the “Time Traveler”. Other Branson attractions include Branson's Promised Land Zoo, Bigfoot Fun Park, Branson Jet Boat rentals, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Hollywood Wax Museum, several go-kart tracks, miniature golf, and Branson Mountain Adventure Park - home of the Runaway Mountain Coaster.
Thanks to some great restaurants and family-oriented dinner shows family time in Branson continues after the sun goes down. The Always Country, Definitely Gospel show brings country and gospel music together through the vocals of Faith's Journey. In the Comedy Hypnosis Dinner Show talented comedian Jecobie Roberts blends comedy and hypnosis for a night of side-splitting fun. Then, of course, there’s Dolly Parton'sStampede, the world's most visited dinner attraction.
Florida Space CoastSix towns, seventy-two miles of pristine beaches, year-round warm weather, lots of outdoor activities, and the Kennedy Space Center make the Florida SpaceCoast a perfect destination for family fun. The popular and admission-free refuges and protected lands of the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Turkey Creek Sanctuary, and the Barrier Island Sanctuary feature walking trails, exhibits, picnic tables, and hundreds of species of wildlife.
Along with the Kennedy Space Center, the American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame also call Florida’s Space Coast home. With Disney World less than an hour's drive to the west, visitors to Florida’s Space Coast get to enjoy the best of both worlds - a day at the park and an evening on the boardwalk.
When evening does roll around, the beautiful and historic downtown areas of Cocoa Village, Melbourne, Titusville, Cocoa Beach, and the Eau Gallie Arts District in Melbourne have dozens of family-friendly eateries, shops, and year-round live events.
San Antonio, TexasAttractions like Morgan’s Wonderland, Inspiration Island, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the San Antonio Zoo, and SeaWorld & Aquatica San Antonio, keep families coming back to San Antonio year in, and year out. There’s also the Witte Museum with a mix of dinosaur exhibits, and local cultural exhibits and artifacts on display. iFly, an indoor skydiving venue, lets visitors enjoy the thrill of skydiving without ever leaving the ground. Not to be forgotten, the historic Alamo features reenactments of the Texas Revolution along with interactive tours and exhibits.
San Antonio is also home to the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. The River Walk stretches fifteen miles and passes right through the downtown, mission, and museum areas of San Antonio. The tree-lined River Walk features restaurants for every taste and budget, plenty of shopping, and incredible sightseeing. Either by foot or by river barge, the San Antonio River Walk is a perfect way to navigate beautiful San Antonio.
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