Ultimate Family Travel

Pack up the family because Travel Channel is counting down the best family adventures, from a $100 tangle with alligators to a $57,000 Titanic voyage.

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1) Go on a Multi-Generational Family Cruise

1) Go on a Multi-Generational Family Cruise

Whether you set sail for the Caribbean on a large ship, like Royal Caribbean’s new Anthem of the Seas, or explore Alaska’s Inner Passage on-board a small ship, like the Admiralty Dream with Alaska Dream Cruises, it’s a must to cruise as a family. Enjoy on-ship activities together, like waterslides and hands-on programs, then disembark at each port for horseback riding, kayaking and exploration. A cruise is ideal for a multi-generational vacation, so invite grandparents along for the fun. 960 1280
2) Visit the Most Famous Mouse in the World

2) Visit the Most Famous Mouse in the World

Every family should visit Walt Disney World at least once for the rides, character meet-and-greets, parades and magic that is uniquely Disney. Spend time at each of the four parks, including Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, as well as Disney Springs. Seeing Cinderella’s castle in-person is truly indescribable. Stay on-property for Extra Magic Hours, which allow guests to arrive early or stay late at a different park each day. 960 1280
3) Take a National Park Vacation

3) Take a National Park Vacation

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, so there’s no better time to introduce your children to our national parks. Peer into the Grand Canyon or watch Old Faithful erupt at Yellowstone. Pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet at visitors centers so your kids can earn a badge at each national park. Kick the experience up a notch by booking with an outfitter like Tracks & Trails, which sets you up in an RV, arranges your camp sites and provides a personalized itinerary. 960 1280

Erin Gifford  

4) Explore Our Nation’s Capital

4) Explore Our Nation’s Capital

Every child should visit Washington, DC, to see our government in action. Take a tour of the U.S. Capitol and spend time in the House or Senate Gallery, peering down on legislators as they craft our nation’s laws. Head to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, then take a public tour of the White House (you’ll need to submit a tour request ahead of time through your Member of Congress). 960 1280
5) Take a Family Road Trip

5) Take a Family Road Trip

There’s nothing like piling into the minivan and taking a family road trip. It’s family bonding at its finest. Spend at least a week or two on the road and make stops at Instagram-worthy roadside attractions, like Wall Drug in South Dakota and Foamhenge in Virginia. Travel up the scenic coastline of California from Los Angeles to the Redwoods. Opt for a historical road trip from Boston to Washington, DC, making stops along the way in Mystic, CT, Gettysburg, PA, and Philadelphia. 960 1280
6) See the Big Apple and Lady Liberty

6) See the Big Apple and Lady Liberty

From watching a Broadway show to taking in the views from the top of the Empire State Building to marveling at Times Square all lit up a night, the New York City is a place that every child should visit. Take the ferry to Ellis Island and climb all 354 steps to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Once back on the ground, take a ranger tour at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum for a look at what it was like coming to America and seeing Lady Liberty for the first time.  960 1280

Erin Gifford  

7) Take a Family Heritage Trip

7) Take a Family Heritage Trip

Before your kids spread their wings and go out into the world, they should learn about and visit where they’re from. Do some research (a site similar to Ancestry.com can help) and plan a trip to the place where your family first lay down its roots. Beyond countries and villages, dig deeper to seek out the farms where family once lived and the cemeteries where they are buried today. Family Tree Tours offers private and group genealogy tours to see how and where your ancestors lived. 960 1280
8) Do Volunteer Work Abroad

8) Do Volunteer Work Abroad

Take your kids to see a part of the world where children are less privileged – without cell phones, iPads, even regular access to clean water – to put their own lives in perspective. Projects Abroad organizes short-term volunteer programs overseas for students as young as 16 to travel and work during school breaks. Or give back as a family during a cruise through a non-profit like Together for Good, which lists opportunities with schools, orphanages and shelters in the Caribbean and Mexico. 960 1280

Projects Abroad  

9) Try an Adventure by Train

9) Try an Adventure by Train

There’s something magical about traveling by train, experiencing the landscape of America through the big windows of a railcar. Vacations by Rail offers one- and two-week rail trips that enable families to experience national parks and urban destinations such as Boston and Chicago. Or head up to Alaska and board a train with the Alaska Railroad, which pairs train travel with stops for dog sledding, day cruises, even iceberg hikes and river floats. 960 1280
10) Go Camping

10) Go Camping

Get your kids out into the great outdoors for tent camping, foil recipes, s’mores and hiking. Start out at a campground, not at a backcountry site, and keep the adventure gadget-free (as best as you can). Many campgrounds, particularly KOA and Jellystone Park sites, have swimming pools and playgrounds, even mini golf courses. However, you may want to have some activities in your back pocket, like these 10 Fun Camping Games for Kids (scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, etc.). 960 1280
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans)

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans)

Come face to face with an array of sealife at a 400,000-gallon water tank filled with stingrays, sea turtles -- and 17-foot-long sharks! They’re all part of the Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. The aquarium showcases aquatic life throughout North and South America. 960 1280

Stephen Saks/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Texas State Aquarium (Corpus Christi, TX)

Texas State Aquarium (Corpus Christi, TX)

At the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, visitors can see the 2 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins -- Shadow and Kai above water … and below, courtesy of an underwater viewing room that features a 70-foot-long window.  960 1280

Philip Lange/ iStock/ Thinktsock  

Ripley’s Aquarium (Gatlinburg, TN)

Ripley’s Aquarium (Gatlinburg, TN)

In the heart of the Smoky Mountains, you’ll find Ripley’s Aquarium. The facility in Gatlinburg, TN, is home to 10,000 sea creatures, representing more than 350 individual species, such as giant stingrays, snappers and some very large sharks -- as long as 13 feet! 960 1280

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies  

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (Kure Beach, NC)

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher (Kure Beach, NC)

It’s only fitting that the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher should be located near … Cape Fear! You and the kids will encounter plenty of fear-factor moments: Touch a live shark, discover North Carolina’s fiercest predator and come face-to-face with an alligator -- if you dare. 960 1280

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher  

National Aquarium (Baltimore)

National Aquarium (Baltimore)

You’ll find all kinds of fish at the Baltimore National Aquarium. Since it opened in 1981, the aquarium has garnered an astonishing collection of sea life: nearly 20,000 specimens representing 660 species. 960 1280

Richard Cummins/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport, OR)

Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport, OR)

Wow, are we underwater, Dad? It’ll feel like it as you and the kids journey through this underwater tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Cool views like this help explain why the facility in Newport, OR, has been ranked one of the top 10 aquariums in North America by Coastal Living magazine. 960 1280

Oregon Coast Aquarium  

Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

This 5-acre site in Long Beach, CA, is home to the Aquarium of the Pacific. The little ones will enjoy plenty of interactive fun: Kids can pet sharks and stingrays, and feed nectar to parrots known as lorikeets. 960 1280

Pete Starman/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA)

Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA)

Did you know that corals are animals, not plants? Your kids will learn these and other facts at Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Coral Reef Kingdom. See them ooh and aww at the colorful ocean homes where these tiny animals live in colonies. Also check out the aquarium's other attractions, including stingrays, jellyfish and sea otters. 960 1280

Doug Steakley/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

New England Aquarium (Boston)

New England Aquarium (Boston)

These brave kids stick their hands in the “touch tank,” as stingrays glide through the clear shallow water. Kids (and adults) can touch various species of sharks and rays at Boston's New England Aquarium, including cownose rays, southern stingrays and coral catsharks. 960 1280

Brian D Cruickshank/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa, FL)

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa, FL)

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from around the world. 960 1280

Richard Cummins/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)

John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)

You’re looking at one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago houses more than 5,000,000 gallons of water in which 25,000 fish (and counting!) make their home. 960 1280

Charles Cook/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta)

Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta)

How’s this for big: The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta contains between 100,000 and 120,000 fish and other sea creatures. One of the biggest reasons to visit is to see the aquarium’s whale sharks -- it’s the only institution outside of Asia to house this particular shark species. 960 1280

Barry Williams/ Getty Images  

Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, TN)

Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, TN)

Come face to face with sharks at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. The captive sharks may look menacing but they're typically not a threat to humans. Unless, of course, you engage in some spearfishing -- fortunately, not an option at this aquarium! 960 1280

Stephen Saks/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

Waikiki Aquarium (Honolulu)

Waikiki Aquarium (Honolulu)

Just what makes a fish a fish? Find out at the Waikiki Aquarium, the third oldest aquarium in the US. At the aquarium’s very official Fish School, kids as young as 5 can learn all about the many critters of the sea and their amazing adaptations to their environment. Don’t worry, though, it’s not all learn and no play -- the class includes a scavenger hunt among the exhibits.
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Waikiki Aquarium  

Newport Aquarium (Newport, KY)

Newport Aquarium (Newport, KY)

Sharks, sharks and more sharks! Sand tiger, sandbar, whitetip, blacktip reef and zebra -- see these intriguing shark species glide above your head in Newport Aquarium’s underwater tunnel. Also explore the aquariums additional attractions, such as the Jellyfish Gallery, Frog Bog (home to 20 species of exotic frogs) and Gator Alley, where visitors can stare into the eyes of Tut, their Nile crocodile.
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Kentucky Tourism  

New York Aquarium (Brooklyn, NY)

New York Aquarium (Brooklyn, NY)

See these cute black-footed penguins at the New York Aquarium, located on Coney Island. As the oldest continually operating aquarium in the US, the aquarium holds no shortage of marine mammals and aquatic life, from sea lions, otters and walruses, to cownose rays and moray eels.    960 1280

Julie Larsen Maher/WCS  

Downtown Aquarium Denver

Downtown Aquarium Denver

Yes, even mermaids live at the aquarium … or at least put on a good show. At Downtown Aquarium Denver, see live mermaid performances in the Under the Sea exhibit. Also check out the aquarium’s exhibits spanning barrier reefs, rainforest, wharf and desert habitats. 960 1280

Downtown Aquarium, Denver  

Downtown Aquarium Houston

Downtown Aquarium Houston

Houston’s 6-acre Downtown Aquarium is home to a veritable who’s who of aquatic animals: Electric eels, nurse sharks and stingrays are among the 200 diverse species of underwater life found here. In between exploring exhibits like the Louisiana Swamp (yes, alligators live here) and the Rainforest, unwind at the aquarium’s Dive Lounge. 960 1280

Downtown Aquarium Houston  

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Va.

Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Va.

Soaring high on Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va.
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Sea World Parks & Entertainment  

Six Flags Great America, Chicago, Ill.

Six Flags Great America, Chicago, Ill.

Passengers fly on Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Great America in Chicago, Ill.
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Six Flags Great America & Hurricane Harbor  

Kings Island, Mason, Ohio

Kings Island, Mason, Ohio

Riders prepare to be flung about by The Diamondback at Kings Island in Ohio. 960 1280

Kings Island  

Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster, Pa.

Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster, Pa.

Kids enjoy the Leaping Frogs ride at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pa. 960 1280

Dutch Wonderland  

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa.

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa.

The Great Bear at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania whips riders upside down. 960 1280

courtesy Hersheypark  

Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pa.

Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pa.

Kids will enjoy meeting Elmo and other Sesame Street characters at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa. 960 1280

Sea World Parks & Entertainment  

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

The Millennium Force takes visitors on a wild ride at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  960 1280

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio  

Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, Pa.

Knoebels Amusement Park, Elysburg, Pa.

The Looper at Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., turns humans into hamsters. 960 1280

Knoebels Amusement Resort  

Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

Knotts Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA

The Silver Bullet at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA, churns stomachs. 960 1280
LEGOLAND, Carlsbad, Calif.

LEGOLAND, Carlsbad, Calif.

San Francisco, as reimagined in LEGO at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, Calif.
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LEGOLAND California Resort  

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