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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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Based on the Harry Potter books and films, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a $200-million theme-park at Universal Orlando that had its grand opening on June 18, 2010.  The park includes rides like the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff.  Diagon Alley, a new section of the theme park, opens July 8, 2014. 960 1280

  

Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley

Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley

In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley is the newest theme-park feature, which includes the thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. This attraction combines 360-degree themed sets, high-definition animation, state-of-the-art 3-D projection systems and live effects with characters and moments form the final Harry Potter book and film. And make sure you visit Gringotts Bank (pictured) -- it?s the only bank in the Wizarding World owned and operated by goblins. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resort  

Triple-Decker Knight Bus

Triple-Decker Knight Bus

Hop aboard the Knight Bus if you?re a stranded member of the wizarding community. To hail the bus, a witch or wizard can just stick their wand up in the air in the same manner that a muggle would do to hail a taxi. It is possible to book tickets for travel on the bus in advance. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resort  

Tour with the Harry Potter

Tour with the Harry Potter

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Hogsmeade Village

Hogsmeade Village

The Harry Potter theme park re-creates the picturesque Hogsmeade village with shops and restaurants based on the books. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Hogwarts School

Hogwarts School

Hogwarts school majestically towers over the theme park, bringing the tales of Harry and friends to life. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Hogwartz Portrait Gallery

Hogwartz Portrait Gallery

The Hogwarts portrait gallery is just as described in the books with talking portraits of wizards decorating the walls. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Dumbledore's Office

Dumbledore's Office

Guests get a peek at Dumbledore's office tucked inside Hogwarts castle where the magic happens. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express waits to transport young wizards at Hogsmeade Station at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Hagrid's Hut

Hagrid's Hut

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Butterbeer at Hog's Head Pub

Butterbeer at Hog's Head Pub

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Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff

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Dragon Challenge

Dragon Challenge

Guests make their way to Dragon Challenge, 2 dueling roller coasters that twist, turn and careen toward each other. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Champion's Tent

Champion's Tent

Harry Potter fanatics will swoon for a glimpse of the Goblet of Fire and Twiwizard Cup housed in the champion's tent. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Upon leaving Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, guests can browse at Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods. 960 1280

Universal Orlando Resorts  

The Owlery

The Owlery

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Swiss Chocolate Train

Swiss Chocolate Train

Say the words "chocolate train" to your kids, and they’ll be all aboard for this day trip in the Swiss countryside. You will be, too, as you nibble your way through the regions where world-famous Cailler chocolate and Gruyere cheese come from. You’ll be treated to first-class comfort as you travel from Montreux to the Gruyère region in either a vintage Pullman car or an ultra-modern panoramic coach car. And your ticket includes a tour of the Gruyères castle and tickets to chocolate and cheese-making factories. 960 1280

Goldenpass  

Darjeeling Toy Train

Darjeeling Toy Train

A luxury train trip in India becomes a family adventure with the 8-hour ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway “toy train.” This historic railway from 1881, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, travels through the Eastern Himalayas to the lush, green Darjeeling tea plantations. The miniature steam train travels at the slow pace of 7 miles per hour, so you’ll have time to take in all the spectacular scenery as you “choo- choo” along. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Grand Canyon Railway

Grand Canyon Railway

The most epic of all family adventures? Grand Canyon, of course. Experience the ride of a lifetime onboard the Grand Canyon Railway as you take in one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. With entertaining characters and musicians onboard, kids will think they’ve travelled back in time to the Wild West. 960 1280

Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel  

Alaska’s Denali Star

Alaska’s Denali Star

For many families, a bucket list trip like Alaska might seem daunting with young children, but seeing the last frontier is doable (and quite comfortable) via train. Travel on the Denali Star from Anchorage to Fairbanks through the majestic Denali National Park. Keep your eyes open as the train moves through Alaska’s spectacular landscapes -- you might get lucky and see a bear, moose or caribou. And look out for what native Alaskans call “The Great One” -- the 4-mile- high Mt. McKinley. 960 1280

Timothy Wildey, flickr  

Niagara Falls Train

Niagara Falls Train

Take the kids to the one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, Niagara Falls, without the hassle a car trip can bring. If you’re craving an international adventure, take Canada’s Via Rail line from Toronto directly to Niagara Falls. Or head out from New York City aboard the Maple Leaf Train, and travel through Hudson River Valley and the Finger Lakes Region to the see the spectacular waterfalls. 960 1280

Courtesy of Via Rail  

Cass Scenic Railway

Cass Scenic Railway

Take the kids back in time to the era of steam-driven locomotives on this historic train ride through West Virginia’s Cass State Park. Kids will love sitting in the open-air cars, while parents will enjoy the wide-open vistas on the 11-mile journey. Stay overnight in a renovated turn-of-the- century cottage in the charming mill town of Cass. 960 1280

West Virginia Department of Commerce  

Whistler Sea to Sky Climb

Whistler Sea to Sky Climb

Planning on a family mountain getaway to Whistler? Leave the car behind and take the “Sea to Sky Climb” train from downtown Vancouver to Canadian’s popular mountain resort town, Whistler. This 3- and-a-half ½- hour train trip offers breathtaking views of the Hound Sound and the British Columbia Coast Mountains. And this way, you won’t have to worry about navigating the steep mountain roads up to Whistler on your own. 960 1280

Rocky Mountaineer  

Hocking Valley Scenic Train

Hocking Valley Scenic Train

Take a trip back in time on this historic train along Ohio’s Hocking River that passes through a canal lock and a pioneer village. Throughout the year, differently themed train rides, like the Easter Bunny, Santa and even old-time “train robbers,” offer kid-friendly entertainment onboard. 960 1280

jpmueller99, flickr  

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Take the whole family on a railroad adventure through North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. A unique trip each season, a journey in fall offers some of the best fall foliage in the country, while a ride during the holidays offers extra fun for the kids with a visit from Santa on the “Polar Express.” 960 1280

Getty Images  

Coast Starlight

Coast Starlight

Traveling between Los Angeles and Seattle, the Coast Starlight is one of the most scenic train trips in the country. You’ll pass through San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Portland as you ride along the Pacific Coast and pass the Cascade Mountains. There’s something for the whole family on this historic bi-level Superliner -- the kids will learn about the passing regions with onboard National Parks programs, and the adults will enjoy daily tastings of local wines and artisan cheeses in the parlor car. 960 1280

Courtesy of Amtrak  

Harry Potter Train

Harry Potter Train

Calling all Hogwarts fans (both kids and parents), this is the trip for you! Ride on West Coast Railways’ “Jacobite” steam engine and carriages that were used in the Harry Potter films. Travel through Scotland’s lush countryside, and cross over the famous Glenfinnan viaduct, an unforgettable landmark for all Harry Potter fans. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Heber Valley Railroad

Heber Valley Railroad

See Utah’s Herber Valley onboard a 1907 vintage steam locomotive, sure to wow both kids and train buffs, alike. The 16-mile track twists and turns between Herber Valley and Vivan Park in Provo Canyon. Lookout for bald eagles, deer and elk as you ride along the Provo River. 960 1280

Utah Office of Tourism/Steve Greenwood  

Maine

Maine

The coast of Maine was one of your favorite summer spots. Reader Kim Bernard said the things she loves about Pemaquid Point, Maine were "camping and falling asleep to the sound of the waves, eating lobster at Shaw's and hanging out at the beach or the lighthouse during the day. Heaven...." 960 1280

iStockphoto  

Hawaii

Hawaii

Hawaii was another one of your top summer destinations. Reader Keschan Taylor described her favorite Hawaii haunt, Oahu: "it's like stepping in to a different culture every time you step out the door." 960 1280

REUTERS/Ho New  

Disneyworld

Disneyworld

The happiest place on Earth, Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, was another top pick. 960 1280

REUTERS/Issei Kato  

Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya

You also loved the Riviera Maya, home to some of the most beautiful resorts on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. 960 1280

REUTERS/STR New  

Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida

One of your favorite spots has bounced back from tragedy: About a year after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico left the beaches of Destin, Florida, deserted, the area has seen a return of vacationgoers. 960 1280

REUTERS/Mark Wallheiser  

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is home to both beautiful beaches and stellar golf resorts, like Punta Cana (pictured). 960 1280

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz  

Key West

Key West

The southernmost point in the continental US, Key West was another one of your favorites. Here, wreck divers visit the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. 960 1280

REUTERS/Ho New  

San Diego

San Diego

Whether you're visiting the famous zoo or looking for year-round balmy weather, San Diego is the perfect summer getaway. 960 1280

Getty/Donald Miralle  

Alaska

Alaska

Many of you prefer to spend your summers in the misty cool and spectacular landscapes of Alaska. 960 1280

Getty / David McNew  

Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies

Many others love to spend summers in the Colorado Rockies. Reader Dale Underwood Bremner's favorite activities include "fly fishing for trout on the Frying Pan River, hiking to the Maroon Bells, horseback riding through beautiful meadows and a jeep ride to Marble to see a rock quarry. Just add gorgeous scenery and enjoy your summer." 960 1280

iStockphoto  

Ireland

Ireland

The Emerald Isle is a great choice for a summer getaway for those who'd like to travel to near (but foreign) shores. Pictured here, people make their way across one of the bridges over the famous river Liffey in Dublin. 960 1280

Getty / Jeff J. Mitchell  

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

What keeps you going back to Yellowstone National Park, summer after summer? According to reader Lori J. Thorne, it's the "Gorgeous scenery and gorgeous wild animals!" 960 1280

REUTERS/XXSTRINGERXX xxxxx  

Outer Banks

Outer Banks

The Outer Banks in North Carolina are the perfect location for a family beach getaway. Surfboard not included. 960 1280

Getty / Chris Honros  

Chicago

Chicago

For a great city trip, what about Chicago? Reader April Wright is a fan. "Wrigley Field, Taste of Chicago, a helicopter tour of downtown, a cruise on the lake and fireworks at the Navy Pier... Chicago seems to have it all," she said. 960 1280

Getty / Scott Olson  


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