What were your New Year’s resolutions for 2015? I’ve heard the typical lose weight, work out, etc. but what about your mental health? Wouldn’t a great resolution be to travel more this year? Thinking of that and seeing all the lists of top vacation spots made me think of the places I’ve been in the continental U.S. that I’d recommend for a family vacation. Here are my top 5. Why not add one to your list this year?
Orlando, Florida – This is kind of a no-brainer. What kid doesn’t dream of going to Walt Disney World? Of course, there’s also Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Sea World with Discovery Cove and Aquatica, Legoland, and more. I just tried indoor skydiving for the first time recently at IFly on International Drive, too. If you’re looking for something away from the theme parks, head to Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland, airboat rides and tours, and the beach. They are all within driving distance. If you’re willing to drive a little further, River Ventures offers the option to swim with manatees.
Southern California – There are a lot of similar options here as in Orlando including Disneyland, Universal Studios in the Los Angeles area and Legoland and Sea World in the San Diego area, but added to it are the world-famous San Diego Zoo and the movie magic in the studios around Hollywood. There are also, of course, beautiful beaches all along the coast and for those space exploration lovers, the Space Shuttle Endeavor is housed at the California ScienCenter. Looking for savings? Check out the Southern California City Pass, which includes admission to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World, and optionally Legoland and/or San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Yes, one ticket really does get you in to all those locations.
Williamsburg, Virginia – Maybe it’s just me, but I learn so much more when I’m immersed in something than I ever do out of a book so if you’d like to couple a history lesson with your vacation, this is your place! Taking a walk through Colonial Williamsburg transports you back to the 1700’s. You can see craftsmen doing their work, visit homes and other buildings as they would have appeared then, tour museums, enjoy colonial-style food and drinks, and catch a performance of the Fifes and Drums. Close by, one can also visit the Jamestown Settlement & Yorktown Victory Center where one of my favorite activities is boarding a replication of the Susan Constant to learn about conditions colonists faced when crossing the Atlantic for America. For those who need more adrenaline thrown in, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is sure to fit the bill.
Boston, Massachusetts – I guess I love history with my vacations because like Williamsburg, Boston is a fave because of all the history here. Did your child read about Paul Revere in class? Make him real by visiting his home. To go further in depth, walk The Freedom Trail to visit 16 historic sites. My son also loved the New England Aquarium and as a family, we took a whale watching cruise, which was lovely. The USS Constitution, the oldest floating warship in the world first launched in 1979, is also docked here and definitely worth a visit.
Chicago, Illinois – I will admit it. This one made my list because I remember loving going there as a kid. Unfortunately, I think my favorite thing to do was ride the escalators, which is something one can do just about anywhere these days! Fortunately, there are lots of other things for kids to do, too. We love the Shedd Aquarium. If you have extra time and money, definitely consider one of their Extraordinary Experiences like the Shark Feeding Tour or a Beluga or Penguin Encounter. An easy walk from the Shedd is the Field Museum of Natural History (be sure to say hi to Sue the T-rex!) and the Adler Planetarium. We also really enjoy the Museum of Science and Industry, especially watching the baby chick hatchery. Plus, no trip would be complete without a trip to the Willis Tower Skydeck for an awesome view and a stop at the American Girl Store on Michigan Avenue is a must for young girls.