10 Trips You Must Take With Your Kids

You only get 18 summers before they head out into the world on their own.
10 photos

Theme Park Guide

What's a FastPass+?

What's a FastPass+?

There’s so much to do at Walt Disney World that you can’t do it all in one day. But you can make the most of your time by scheduling FastPass+ tickets for popular attractions to skip the long lines. Any guest with a park ticket can reserve free passes online or inside the park at FastPass+ kiosks. And if you book early enough, you can even select specific times you’d like to go to each ride. Your passes are loaded on a MagicBand so if you don't have one, the free ticket bracelet can be mailed to you before your trip. Insider Tip: You only get three passes a day but you can book a bonus pass with the free My Disney Experience app. Use our recommendations for each park and save precious park time with your family.

 

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Kent Phillips  

Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain

Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain

Grab a FastPass+ for this ride first. The Tomorrowland attraction is the most high-intensity coaster ride in the park, making it popular for adults and kids alike. If passes aren’t available, try using the single rider line to cut down on wait times. 960 1280

  

Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain

Magic Kingdom: Splash Mountain

If you’re going to the park in the summer, definitely grab FastPasses for the whole family. It’s a great way to cool off in the Florida sun but everyone else has the same idea, making the line very long. 960 1280

Garth Vaughan  

Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

As thrilling as Space Mountain but without the scary riding in the dark part, Big Thunder Mountain is a great choice for your kid’s first coaster ride. But, again, the popularity makes for really long wait times, especially during peak vacation times. 960 1280

  

Bonus: Princess Fairytale Hall

Bonus: Princess Fairytale Hall

If you’ve got your My Disney Experience app handy, you can book a bonus FastPass+ ticket. We recommend Princess Fairytale Hall where popular characters like Frozen’s Anna and Elsa can push wait times to an hour or longer. 960 1280

Ali Nasser  

Worth the Line: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Worth the Line: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

You can’t skip every line in the Magic Kingdom so if you have to wait for something, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most fun. Kids (and adults, too) can play interactive video games with gems as you wander through the mine. 960 1280

Matt Stroshane  

Worth the Line: Peter Pan's Flight

Worth the Line: Peter Pan's Flight

This queue features a tour through the Darlings' home and interactive moments with Tinkerbell in Wendy, John and Michael’s play room. 960 1280

Mariah Wild  

Epcot: Test Track

Epcot: Test Track

There’s a reason this one always has a line: It’s fast. At nearly 65 miles per hour, it’s one of the fastest Disney park rides ever built. And you can zip right to the action with a fast pass. If you’ve never been on this one, you may want to wait it out in the slow lane. There’s an interactive experience you’ll miss, like designing a car and seeing how your car would perform after the ride. 960 1280

Kent Phillips  

Epcot: Soarin'

Epcot: Soarin'

With the ride's new revamp scheduled for summer 2016, guests will soar over the world, not just California as in the previous ride. That mega overhaul means mega lines of fans ready to see the new experience. Definitely schedule this pass before you even get to the park. 960 1280

Disney Parks Public Relations: 407-566-6397  

Epcot: New Frozen Ever After Ride

Epcot: New Frozen Ever After Ride

RIP, Maelstrom ride. But hello to a new Norway pavilion and an expansion into the world of Frozen for summer 2016. Do we even need to say why you’ll want a pass? It’s Frozen. Be prepared for crowds. 960 1280

  

Bonus: The Seas With Nemo

Bonus: The Seas With Nemo

On the height chart, this ride is OK even for the little ones, making it extremely popular for large family groups. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror

Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror

Rides like this are polarizing for a family. Somes kids love thrill rides. And others might not be 40 in. tall yet. Book fast passes so the kids who aren’t riding don’t spend an hour of their precious park time waiting on siblings. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Studios: Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

Hollywood Studios: Rock 'N' Roller Coaster

This is another one like Tower of Terror. You have to be 48 in. tall, OK with fast drops and turns in the dark, plus the ride is presented by Aerosmith so it’s fun but loud. Really loud. If that doesn’t sound like everyone in your bunch, get passes for the rockers so they don’t keep the group waiting. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania

Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania

This interactive ride has, without a doubt, the longest wait time in the park, at two hours plus in peak times. But it’s so much fun. Grab passes for the family as soon as you can. 960 1280

  

Bonus: Star Tours

Bonus: Star Tours

With the recent blockbuster film and revived Star Wars frenzy, this 3-D adventure is hot at Hollywood Studios. The ride has been revamped with more scenes and more characters. Storylines are randomized so you never know what combination you'll get. The mystery draws second and third-time riders every day. Cut down on your wait time at least once with a pass.  960 1280

  

Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest

Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Animal Kingdom will stay open at night. And you can ride rides like this coaster in the dark. The extra time won’t dilute the lines too much, though; it’s still a super popular ride. Grab a pass as soon as you can. 960 1280

  

Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari

Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari

Yes, even the safari will be open at night. In the dark. With lions. The nighttime safari allows guests to see new animals and animals featured in the daytime safari not active during the day. Both perspectives offer totally different experiences and chances to see animals so it’s worth doing the ride twice. Use a pass for day or night so you don’t wait in line twice. 960 1280

  

Animal Kingdom: Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom: Kali River Rapids

You’ll get soaked on this one. But during the hot Florida summer, it’s welcomed and a popular choice for guests beating the heat. Try to schedule a time early in the afternoon that will give your family time to dry out before the nighttime fireworks and shows. 960 1280

David Roark  

Bonus: Adventurer’s Outpost

Bonus: Adventurer’s Outpost

Sure, you could wait to see Mickey and Minnie at the Magic Kingdom. Or you could book a pass to get autographs and have photos taken with them in safari gear. If you can, schedule this one during the hottest hour of the afternoon for a break from the sun.   960 1280

Kent Phillips  

Jedi Training Academy

Jedi Training Academy

Kids between 4-12 years old can sign up to train under a Jedi Knight and master the force before taking on the dark side and wielding a lightsaber against some popular Star Wars villains in a show for parents. There’s no FastPass+ for this one and signup is on a first come, first served basis so get to the park early and make a beeline to the registration outpost between the Indiana Jones stage show and the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. 960 1280

David Roark  

Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Wars Launch Bay

Jedis of all ages will love seeing rare Star Wars movie artwork and artifacts. Don’t skip the 10-minute behind-the-scenes video with exclusive interviews with filmmakers. 960 1280

Matt Stroshane  

Meet Chewbacca

Meet Chewbacca

Every good Rebel Alliance family needs a holiday card with Chewie. 960 1280

Matt Stroshane  

Meet Kylo Ren

Meet Kylo Ren

For those on the dark side, a selfie with Kylo is a must. If you’re wearing a Disney MagicBand, have the photographer scan so you can easily download your photo and share to Facebook. 960 1280

Matt Stroshane  

Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular

Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular

Fireworks themed and timed to the original Star Wars score? It’s truly magical. But loud. Bring earplugs for the little Jedis. 960 1280

Chloe Rice  

Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away

The new stage show recreates popular moments from the films with Darth Vadar, BB-8, Kylo Ren, Chewie and more. Arrive 15-20 minutes before the show starts for a good spot to see. 960 1280

Todd Anderson  

Star Tours

Star Tours

The iconic Hollywood Studios ride has been revamped with new storylines from Star Wars: The Force Awakens plus throwback stories from the prequels. The storylines are randomly generated so you never know what combination of characters you’ll see. 960 1280

  

Stormtroopers March

Stormtroopers March

Captain Phasma leads a legion of Stormtroopers from Star Wars Launch Bay periodically throughout the day. Check specific times before you go and don’t miss the photo op. 960 1280

Preston Mack  

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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 opened July 8, 2014. 960 1280

Handout/Getty Images  

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  

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express waits to transport young wizards at Hogsmeade Station at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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By Rain0975 [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley, with its cobblestone-ladden roads, is the perfect place to get all of your necessities for the upcoming school year at Hogwarts. Diagon Alley is lined with inns, pubs, book shops, clothing stores and much more. 960 1280

Handout/Getty Images  

Gringotts Bank

Gringotts Bank

Diagon Alley 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  

Ollivander's Wand Shop

Ollivander's Wand Shop

An essential stop for any witch or wizard going to choose a wand (or better yet, let the wand choose them), Ollivander’s Wand Shop is a must-visit in Diagon Alley.
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Bloomburg/Getty Images  

Daily Prophet

Daily Prophet

The place to turn your attention for all-things  wizarding, the Daily Prophet is a long-standing newspaper conglomerate located in Diagon Alley.
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By osseous from Oakland Park, U.S.A. (October 25, 2014) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

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

Rstoplabe14 at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons  

Hogwarts Portrait Gallery

Hogwarts Portrait Gallery

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

Handout/Getty Images  

Hogsmeade Village

Hogsmeade Village

The Harry Potter theme park re-creates the picturesque Hogsmeade village with shops and restaurants you'll recognize straight from the books. 960 1280

Orlando Sentinial/Getty Images  

Honeydukes

Honeydukes

You’ll enjoy your trip to Hogsmeade like a kid in a candy shop … or should I say, like a wizard in a candy shop! Honeydukes is the premier place to get all your chocolate and candy needs in one stop.

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By The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Hog's Head Pub

Hog's Head Pub

Looking for a cold glass of butterbeer? Hog’s Head is a local pub located in Hogsmeade where muggles can stop in and try an assortment of alcoholic beverages. 960 1280

By Snowman Guy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

Three Broomsticks

Three Broomsticks

Located in the heart of Hogsmeade, Three Broomsticks is a popular restaurant known for their fish and chips, as well as shepherd’s pie and other assorted goodies. 960 1280

By The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

The Owlery

The Owlery

Visitors can rest their legs and observe the roosting owls at the Owlery across from the Three Broomsticks. 960 1280
Dumbledore's Office

Dumbledore's Office

Guests get a peek at Dumbledore's office tucked inside Hogwarts castle where the magic happens.
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By Karen Roe from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Dragon Challenge

Dragon Challenge

Guests make their way to Dragon Challenge, two dueling roller coasters that twist, turn and careen toward each other.
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By Snowman Guy (talk).Snowman Guy at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons  

Hagrid's Hut

Hagrid's Hut

Guests can view a re-creation of Hagrid's Hut on their way to ride the Flight of the Hippogriff.
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By The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hagrid's hut) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff

Named after the Hippogriff Buckbeak, (which has the head of an eagle and the body of a horse), Flight of the Hippogriff is a family-friendly coaster that flies past Hagrid's hut. 960 1280

By popculturegeek.com from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Flying Ford Anglia

Flying Ford Anglia

After Ron and Harry miss the Hogwarts Express in the "The Chamber of Secrets," they steal Mr. Weasley’s flying car in an attempt to make it to school on time. Unfortunately, the car never made it back to The Burrow, the home of Ron's family, but now resides here, trapped amongst the trees.
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By Jeremy Thompson from United States of America [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Sesame Place, Elmo, Langhorne, Pennsylvania
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  

Kalahari Resort (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

Kalahari Resort (Wisconsin Dells, WI)

At the Kalahari Resort, guests can enjoy the indoor water park or the Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark. The indoor water park has 125,000 square feet of fun that includes the Victoria Falls family raft ride, spas, a wave pool and FlowRider, where guests can boogie board every day of the year. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, the outdoor water park features fun slides and areas like the Swahili Swirl, the Anaconda Experience and Splashdown Safari (pictured). 
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Kalahari Resorts  

Water Country USA (Williamsburg, VA)

Water Country USA (Williamsburg, VA)

In Williamsburg, VA, cool off at Water Country USA. Brace yourself for a liquid adrenaline rush on the drop slide, Vanish Point (pictured) with its 75-foot tower and 2 wave paths. Here, you'll step into a skybox where you drop down when the floor drops out. This water park -- the largest in Virginia -- has 25 state-of-the-art rides, including KIDsiderate (kid-friendly) rides like Cow-A-Bunga, H2O UFO and Kritter Korral. 960 1280

Scott K. Brown/ SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment  

Dollywood Splash Country (Pigeon Forge, TN)

Dollywood Splash Country (Pigeon Forge, TN)

Experience 30 acres of pure adventure at Dollywood's Splash Country. This park has more than 23 water adventure slides and thrill rides, including Mountain Scream body slide and RiverRush, Tennessee's first and only water coaster. Families can visit the Cascades and Little Creek Falls, 2 interactive children''s playground areas that provide fun activities for the entire family. 960 1280

The Dollywood Company  

Pump House Indoor Waterpark (Jay, VT)

Pump House Indoor Waterpark (Jay, VT)

Don't be surprised if your kids are waterlogged after spending a couple hours at Pump House Indoor Waterpark at the Jay Peak Resort. Get wet while riding the 65-foot-tall La Chute; learn how to surf on Double Barrel FlowRider, or hit the rapids on Big River, which wraps around the border of the park. If you're looking for a more relaxing atmosphere, try the indoor and outdoor hot tubs or grab a drink and snack at The Drink poolside bar. 960 1280

Justin Cash/ Jay Peak Resort  

Carowinds Boomerang Bay (Charlotte, NC)

Carowinds Boomerang Bay (Charlotte, NC)

Head to Boomerang Bay at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, NC, to experience Pipeline Peak (pictured). This complex water slide consists of 2 body slides and 2 inner-tube slides that range from 80 feet to 495 feet in length. Boomerang Bay, an Australian-themed water park, also features Kangaroo Lagoon, Whallaby Wharf, Kookaburra Bay, Sydney Sidewinder and Platypus Plunge. 960 1280

Carowinds  

Cliff's Amusement Park WaterMania! (Albuquerque, NM)

Cliff's Amusement Park WaterMania! (Albuquerque, NM)

In Albuquerque, NM, kids will enjoy frolicking in the water at WaterMania! at Cliff's Amusement Park. The 2 main water adventure attractions are Li'l Squirts, for tykes, toddlers and their parents, and Mega Water Monkeys (pictured), a monster water ride that has something for every kid to enjoy. 960 1280

Cliff's Amusement Park  

Water Zoo (Clinton, OK)

Water Zoo (Clinton, OK)

At Water Zoo, Oklahoma's first indoor water park, parents can schedule birthday parties, camp or stay with their kids at an on-site hotel. Enjoy playing basketball in the activities pool, slipping and sliding through the inside out water slides, hanging out with your toddler at Cub's Cove or feeling the motion of an ocean in the 4-foot-deep wave pool. 960 1280

Water-Zoo Indoor Water Park  

Enchanted Forest Water Safari (Old Forge, NY)

Enchanted Forest Water Safari (Old Forge, NY)

Located in Adirondack State Park, the Enchanted Forest Water Safari is New York's largest water theme park with more than 50 rides and attractions, including 32 wild water rides like Serengeti Surf Hill. Take the family on a 1,100-foot tube ride around the park; reach speeds up to 30 mph on the Killermanjaro (one of the tallest and fastest slides in the park), or just relax as you float under the park's bridges and waterslides on a Safari River Expedition. 960 1280

Enchanted Forest Water Safari  

Wild Island Family Adventure Park (Sparks, NV)

Wild Island Family Adventure Park (Sparks, NV)

Visit Wild Island Family Adventure Park in Sparks, NV. Children can dip their toes into the Little Lagoon or go sliding down one of 3 mini slides. For big kids of all ages, this oasis of wet and wild fun features water slides, Aruba and Calypso Cafes, the healthy Green Coconut and Kokomo's Island Bar for those 21 and over. After splashing around in the water, guests can take advantage of Wild Island's others activities like bowling at Coconut Bowl, teeing off at the 18-hole mini golf course, playing games the arcade and hitting the track at Indy Go-Karts. 960 1280

Wild Island Family Adventure Park  

Silver Dollar City White Water Park (Branson, MO)

Silver Dollar City White Water Park (Branson, MO)

Looking for a heart-pumping experience? Try the KaPau Plummet (pictured) at Silver Dollar City's White Water Park. These 2 dueling 245-foot slides launch riders from a trap door in drop floor down a 70-degree plunge. Other water park fun includes floating down and over 800-foot Aloha River, braving the high tides of the 500,000-gallon wave pool or racing down the speed slides of Kalani Towers. 960 1280

Silver Dollar City  

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark (Boyne Falls, MI)

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark (Boyne Falls, MI)

Avalanche Bay has a theme similar to a snowy Swiss-Austrian village, and that includes the Splasherhorn (pictured). After a horn blows and the mountain rumbles, watch as an 800-gallon water avalanche pours down on guests. Other attractions include Rip Zone, Downhill Mat Racer, Super G Slide, and for guests who need to relax, the Glacier Hot Springs. 960 1280

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark  

Schlitterbahn Waterpark (Kansas City, KS)

Schlitterbahn Waterpark (Kansas City, KS)

You're missing out if you don't visit Schlitterbahn Waterpark, home to the tallest water slide in the world, Verrückt. Water park visitors must be strapped into a 4-person raft to experience the 17-story slide. There's something for everyone with attractions like Torrent Beach, Storm Blaster, Kristal River, Kinderhaven, Henry's Hideout and Twister. 960 1280

Schilitterbahn Waterpark  

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (Santa Claus, IN)

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (Santa Claus, IN)

The Bahari (Swahili for "immense sea") Wave Pool at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, is a giant, family wave pool with geysers, sprays and jets located on 3/4 of an acre. Stay in the shallow water if you're not a strong swimmer. There are 18 other water slides, rides and features available at the park if the wave pool doesn't work for you. 960 1280

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari  

Legoland Florida (Winter Haven, FL)

Legoland Florida (Winter Haven, FL)

Twin Chasers, Splash Out and Joker Soaker are just a few attractions guests will find at Legoland Florida in Winter Haven, FL. We recommend the Build-A-Raft River, where families can design and build a unique LEGO vessel and set afloat around the park's 1000-foot-long lazy river. Take a break for a bite to eat at the Beach-n-Brick Grill, which serves burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads and more. 960 1280

Chip Litherland Photography/ Legoland  

Roaring Springs Waterpark (Boise, ID)

Roaring Springs Waterpark (Boise, ID)

Corkscrew Cavern, Idaho's first inverted, looping water slide, and the 6-story Cliffhanger (pictured), are the newest rides at Roaring Springs Waterpark. For the less adventurous, we recommend visiting the Little Splash Mountain Kiddie Play Area which includes the Kiddie Kowabunga slide, relaxing in Leisure Lagoon or kicking back for some lazy rafting on the Endless River. 960 1280

Roaring Springs Waterpark  

Wet 'n' Wild (Kapolei, Oahu, HI)

Wet 'n' Wild (Kapolei, Oahu, HI)

Families and thrill seekers will enjoy the 25 attractions on Wet 'n' Wild's 29 acres of lush tropical landscape and natural cliffs. From mild to wild, this water park features the interactive Keiki Kove with a mini water-spouting volcano and water cannons for kids. Meanwhile, the Flyin' Hawaiian catapults guests into the air and into a 12-foot-deep pool. Guests can also spin around the Tornado's funnel where they are catapulted from 50 feet in the air through a 130-foot tunnel. It's also possible to experience the Hawaiian Waters wave pool which holds over 400,000 gallons of water. 960 1280

Wet ’n Wild Hawaii  

Legoland California Resort (Carlsbad, CA)

Legoland California Resort (Carlsbad, CA)

The Cali version of Legoland is similar to the one in White Haven, FL, but this location has some different water rides and attractions like Pirate Reef, DUPLO Splash Zoo, Kid Creek and Orange Rush, a family tube slide where up to 4 people can ride together down a 312-foot-long curving track. 960 1280

Legoland  

Six Flags White Water (Atlanta, GA)

Six Flags White Water (Atlanta, GA)

Tubers make a run at Six Flags White Water in Atlanta, GA. Grab a family-sized raft and a few friends to experience Run-A-Way River, a high-speed thrill ride that takes you through darkness and into the light, through waterfalls and back through the mountain again. Don't get caught off guard by the 70-foot drop in the dark. Just hold on and have fun! 960 1280

Six Flags White Water  

Wet 'n Wild Orlando (Orlando, FL)

Wet 'n Wild Orlando (Orlando, FL)

Dodge Disney and go for Wet 'n Wild! This water park features Black Hole, Brain Wash, Storm, The Blast and Bubba Tub. Wind and twist your way down Mach V or step back into the '70s on Disco H20. And for children, we recommend going to the secluded, beach-themed Kids' Beach, the largest waterpark playground in Florida. Explore the giant sandcastle with 17 slides and get splashed by more than 100 soakers, jets, waterfalls and cannons. 960 1280

Wet ’n Wild Orlando  

Medua, roller coaster, Six Flags Mexico City
Medusa, Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City

Medusa, Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City

Like the New Texas Giant, Medusa is a hybrid roller coaster that was redesigned from its original all-wood structure to replace the tracks with steel I beams. The end result, once again, blew riders away. This time around, Medusa features an inverting first drop — a first for a ride of its kind — several moments of airtime and 3 inversions total. The roller coaster alone is worth the trip to Six Flags Mexico.     960 1280

Six Flags  

Maverick, Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

Maverick, Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH

While Maverick does not hold any records for the tallest or fastest ride in the world, it is a huge favorite among coaster enthusiasts. Its high speed, quick turns, airtime-filled layout, surprise tunnel launch and multiple inversions leave riders breathless when they hit the brake run! When visiting Cedar Point, a park filled with 16 different roller coasters, this is the 1 that I personally like to run to first. 960 1280

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio  

New Texas Giant, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, TX

New Texas Giant, Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, TX

In 2011, Six Flags unveiled a project that would create a new category for roller coasters. Taking away the wood tracks of the classic Texas Giant and laying down a new steel design created a "hybrid" roller coaster that was the perfect mix of the 2 materials. While the ride still retains some of the classic elements of a wooden coaster, the new steel I-beam track allows for a much smoother ride, steeper drops and maneuvers not possible on wooden roller coasters before.     960 1280

Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/Getty Images  

Outlaw Run, Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO

Outlaw Run, Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO

Outlaw Run is considered the first successful wooden roller coaster to go upside down. While others have come before — and failed — Outlaw Run was the first one with both a phenomenal ride experience and a design that didn't push unrealistic boundaries of engineering. The joint effort between Silver Dollar City and Rocky Mountain Construction proved to be a huge win, as this ride immediately jumped to the top 10 of many coaster fans’ lists. 960 1280

Silver Dollar City  

Space Mountain, Walt Disney World, Orlando

Space Mountain, Walt Disney World, Orlando

Let's not forget about the classics — the roller coasters that many of us grew up on and are still favorites during adulthood. Do not underestimate Orlando's version of Space Mountain. While the top speed may only be just shy of 30 mph, this dark, indoor ride features some very tight turns and sudden drops, which produce surprises that can compete with larger thrill rides. But even still, this ride is all about family fun, so if you're a family that likes to scream together, Space Mountain is a great place for younger ones to start riding! 960 1280

Disney  

T Express - Everland, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

T Express - Everland, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

The owners of Everland wanted a roller coaster that would blow visitors away. They rode both Balder and El Toro, and asked the ride manufacturer Intamin to create a ride that was a combination of the two. That's exactly what they got -- a ride that starts out very similar to El Toro, and then transforms into a near copy of Balder! T Express is nearly 200 feet tall, with over 5,000 feet of track, and features a first drop at a 77-degree angle. It also has claimed the title of "No. 1 Wooden Coaster in the world" for several years.
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Seongbin Im  

El Toro - Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

El Toro - Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ

El Toro has ranked the No. 1 wooden roller coaster in the world several times. It's one of the tallest, fastest, steepest and most intense roller coasters anywhere. The 76-degree, 180-foot-first drop is breathtaking, and you’ll find it difficult to catch your breath through this 1:42-minute ride! The airtime encountered on El Toro is some of the most extreme. Not many roller coasters match what this ride can do. 960 1280

John Greim/ LightRocket/ Getty Images  

Expedition GeForce - Holiday Park, Hassloch, Germany

Expedition GeForce - Holiday Park, Hassloch, Germany

Like Bizarro, Expedition GeForce has also claimed the coveted "No. 1 steel roller coaster" title several times. From the initial twisting 175-foot-first drop to rocketing through over 4,000 feet of airtime-filled track, Expedition GeForce tops many roller coaster enthusiasts "best of" lists. It's kind of out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere Germany, but it's well worth traveling to. 960 1280

Holiday Park  

Balder - Liseberg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Balder - Liseberg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Balder, simply put, is an "airtime machine" -- a wooden roller coaster that turned the wooden roller coaster world on its side when it debuted. It featured the world’s steepest drop on a wooden roller coaster, 70 degrees at the time, and a track layout that literally left you flying out of your seat for the 2-minute duration of the ride. It's about as perfect as a wooden roller coaster can get! 960 1280

Liseberg  

Bizarro - Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA

Bizarro - Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA

Bizarro is Superman's alter-ego version of Superman, and this is his roller coaster! This steel "hyper coaster" has won the No. 1 steel coaster in the world award many times for its out-and-back combined with a twister design, airtime-filled bunny hops, and steep, sharp drops. It's easily one of the don't-miss roller coasters in the world. 960 1280

Six Flags  

Nemesis - Alton Towers, Stoke-On-Trent, England

Nemesis - Alton Towers, Stoke-On-Trent, England

Nemesis is a vicious monster! No, for real! This intense, inverted roller coaster is themed after a monster from another dimension that has been unearthed at Alton Towers. Because of local area height restrictions, the ride had to be built mostly underground and much of the area had to be blasted away to make room for the ride. Because of this, the coaster travels through trenches and ravines, over rivers of blood, and throughout the "Forbidden Valley" section of the park. It's truly a perfect combination of "thrills" and "theming," and should not be missed! 960 1280

Alton Towers Resort  

Phoenix - Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, PA

Phoenix - Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, PA

It doesn't get anymore old school than Phoenix! This traditional wooden roller coaster was originally built at Playland Park in San Antonio in 1948, and was relocated to Knoebels in 1985. One of the most classic wooden roller coasters with a "survival story," this roller coaster thrills riders of all ages. Phoenix is an airtime-filled machine; you find yourself floating out of your seat more than you're in it! 960 1280

Jeremy Thompson  

Goliath - Walibi Holland, Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

Goliath - Walibi Holland, Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

Goliath is not the tallest or fastest coaster in the world, but it packs some serious power behind its multiple airtime hills, sharp drops and intense helixes, and delivers one of the most airtime-filled rides that any roller coaster has to offer. It's located just about an hour outside of Amsterdam, and it's well worth the visit for any thrill-seeker. 960 1280

delawega  

iSpeed - Mirabilandia, Ravenna, Italy

iSpeed - Mirabilandia, Ravenna, Italy

Launching roller coasters started becoming all the rage about 10 years ago, and iSpeed is one of the best! Riders are launched from 0 to 62 mph in about 2 seconds, and then maneuver through a series of twists, turns and 2 inversions over more than 3,000 feet of track. It's one of the best roller coasters in all of Europe! 960 1280

Jeremy Thompson  

Intimidator 305 - Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA

Intimidator 305 - Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA

Intimidator 305 is a MASSIVE steel roller coaster -- 305 feet tall, over 5,000 feet of track and blazing speeds of 90 mph! It's one of the top 10 coasters in the world for biggest drop, height and speed! Extreme g-forces on this coaster may cause "gray out" sensations at the bottom of the first drop, where riders feel light-headed! It's one incredibly intense roller coaster -- which is why it's one of the best in the world. 960 1280

The Washington Post/ Getty Images  

Dauling Dragon - Happy Valley Wuhan, Wuhan, China

Dauling Dragon - Happy Valley Wuhan, Wuhan, China

No, that's not a typo -- the name of the ride is "Dauling" Dragon! This one-of-a-kind double-tracked, racing wooden roller coaster features a "high-five" element where both tracks simultaneously speed through a 90-degree banked element, creating a visual where it looks like the riders in both trains could "high five" each other! While you're not close enough to actually touch, the element is insanely thrilling; it's about as close to another 65 mph moving roller coaster train you're ever going to get! 960 1280

milts via Wikimedia Commons  

Pyrenees - Parque Espana - Shima, Japan

Pyrenees - Parque Espana - Shima, Japan

Located just a couple hours outside of Nagoya sits one of the best roller coasters anywhere, at a park that isn't well known outside of central Japan. Pyrenees is an "inverted" steel roller coaster with some extreme g-forces, blazing fast speeds and some crazy inversions. I've been on quite a few inverted coasters in the world, but Pyrenees always comes close to the top of my list. Well worth the trek out to Parque Espana. 960 1280

Yanajin33  

Kawasemi - Tobu Zoo - Tokyo, Japan

Kawasemi - Tobu Zoo - Tokyo, Japan

Kawasemi is proof that a ride doesn't need to be the tallest or the fastest to be fantastic! At just about 100 feet tall, Kawasemi has some of the most extreme airtime of any roller coaster I've encountered! One of the best roller coasters in the world, and certainly the best coaster in all of Japan! 960 1280

momokkey  

Kumba - Busch Gardens Tampa - Tampa, FL

Kumba - Busch Gardens Tampa - Tampa, FL

No question that Kumba is one of the best "multi-looping" roller coasters in the world! The ride opened in 1993, and 20 years later is still thrilling millions of riders. Kumba takes you upside down 7 times through a series of dive loops, cobra rolls and interlocking corkscrews. You'll never know which way is up! 960 1280

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.  

Superman Escape - Warner Brothers Movie World - Queensland, Australia

Superman Escape - Warner Brothers Movie World - Queensland, Australia

Blasting at a speed of 0 to 62 mph in a mere 2 seconds, Superman Escape is one of the most thrilling "launched" coasters on the planet! The ride features not only a fast-paced roller coaster but a complete "dark ride" prior to the launch that takes riders through a metropolis to the scene of an incident that Superman helps you escape from! 960 1280

Paul Broben/ Getty Images  

Honorable Mention - Formula Rossa - Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Honorable Mention - Formula Rossa - Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

While I don't feel Formula Rossa is in the "top 15" coasters in the world, you can't create a list like this without mentioning the world’s fastest roller coaster! Located in Abu Dhabi, Formula Rossa is built at Ferrari World, an entire theme park dedicated to the race cars of the same name. And Formula Rossa lives up to what you would expect from a park like this. Formula Rossa launches to speeds of 149 mph in 4 seconds -- you can feel every bit of that launch speed through your body! It's an amazing experience! 960 1280

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi  

Best Summer Ever

Seaside, South Walton, FL

Seaside, South Walton, FL

With turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and 16 charming beach neighborhoods, it’s hard to pick just one best beach for kids in South Walton, but time and again, families flock to Seaside on Florida’s northwest coast. Enjoy biking and stand-up paddleboarding before heading to Airstream Row for food trucks serving up everything from grilled cheese to homemade custard.  960 1280

Shuvabrata Deb  

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

Kailua Beach Park, Kailua, HI

A favorite beach for many on Oahu, Kailua Beach Park boasts turquoise blue waters, plenty of free parking and lots of family-friendly water activities, like kayaking and boogie boarding. Kids will love watching the kite surfers, maybe even more than a trip to Island Snow for shave ice. Kalapawai Market is located at the park entrance, so pick up some deli sandwiches for an afternoon picnic on the beach. 

 

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Laszlo Podor Photography  

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Agios Georgios Beach, Naxos, Greece

Many of the beaches in Naxos boast warm waters that are gentle and shallow, particularly those on the southwest coast of the island, making them ideal for families with small children. One of the best is Agios Georgios Beach. Eat breakfast at one of the cafés on the beach for fantastic views of the bay. The beach is also an easy walk to Hora, the island’s colorful capital city.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

St. Pete Beach, St. Petersburg, FL

For white sandy beaches and calm, clear waters, St. Pete Beach is a must for families. Grab your fishing poles and sleeping bags for a camp-out right on the beach at Fort De Soto Park. Bike along a 7-mile paved trail, kayak or canoe through mangrove forests and take time to explore the historic fort. You can even take your furry pal to a dog park called Paw Playground.  960 1280

mariakraynova  

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Maho Bay Beach, St. John

Situated on the north shore of St. John, the calm waters make Maho Bay Beach the ideal spot for learning to stand-up paddleboard as a family. It’s also one of the best places on the island to see sea turtles, particularly on the west side of the bay where snorkelers can watch turtles and rays munching on the sea grasses. For hiking, try the Cinnamon Bay Nature Trail.  960 1280

Christian Wheatley  

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

St. Augustine Beach, St. Augustine, FL

For wide beaches, a 4-acre beachfront park and plenty of space to play, even with your dog, head to St. Augustine Beach in St. Augustine. Walk along the shores where Spanish explorers landed so many years ago, then let the kids go wild at the splash park on the pier. Spend time at nearby Anastasia State Park where you can bike on the beach and paddle in a saltwater lagoon.    960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Kids can play on the white sandy beach by day and make s’mores around a bonfire by night at Carmel Beach. Pet lovers will love this dog-friendly (and leash-free) beach, so bring a tennis ball or two to make a few new furry friends. Take the free trolley into town for cheese blintzes at the Little Swiss Café or ride out to Monterey for an afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  960 1280

Elfi Kluck  

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Menemsha Beach, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Martha’s Vineyard is widely touted as one of the loveliest parts of New England, though kids may love the area more for its beaches than its beauty. Try Menemsha Beach, a popular pick for families in search of gentle surf, fantastic sunsets and one of the best clam shacks on the island. Crowds at The Bite line up early, so keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a beach picnic.  960 1280

Jihan Abdalla  

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

Coligny Beach, Hilton Head, SC

For families who want to be active from morning until night, head to Hilton Head for kayaking, tennis, crabbing, stand-up paddleboarding, and of course, splashing in the waves at Coligny Beach. Rent bikes at Hilton Head Outfitters in Palmetto Dunes. It’s the best way to explore the island. Go on a boat cruise with Pirates of Hilton Head or fly through the sky at Zipline Hilton Head.  960 1280

Pam McLean  

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

Short Sands Beach, York, ME

One of several popular beaches in York, Short Sands Beach has sand, surf, a playground, and even an arcade. Have a picnic at Ellis Park then spend the afternoon at York’s Wild Kingdom, the largest zoo and amusement park in Maine. Take the trolley to Long Sands Beach for views of the Cape Leddick Lighthouse before heading to the “Surfing Only” area to pick up pointers from the surfers. 960 1280

John Churchman  

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Coronado Central Beach, San Diego, CA

Just across the bridge from downtown San Diego you’ll find Coronado Central Beach. Kids will love building castles from sand that glistens year-round thanks to the glittery mineral, mica, which is mixed in with the sand. Walk along the beach to take in historic mansions, as well as the majestic Hotel del Coronado, the inspiration behind Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian.  960 1280

Chiara Salvadori  

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Island

Consistently ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean, Seven Mile Beach has soft, white sand and gentle waters that are ideal for first-time snorkelers eager to see tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. Off the beach, kids can splash in the fountains at Camana Bay, pet stingrays at Stingray City and get up-close with green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Farm.  960 1280

Robin Hill  

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

Resort Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

There’s no shortage of things to do both on and off the beach in Virginia Beach. Walk or ride a surrey bike along the 3-mile boardwalk before snapping a selfie with the 34-foot bronze statue of King Neptune. Go horseback riding or take surfing lessons at Resort Beach, then let the kids go wild at Grommet Island Beach Park, a 100% wheelchair accessible children’s park.  960 1280

Don Klumpp  

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Podaca Beach, Makarska Riviera, Croatia

Stretching nearly 40 miles between Makarska and Split is the Makarska Riviera, which boasts a number of beach towns with palm tree-lined promenades, ice cream shops and pedal boats to take out onto the delightfully blue water. Book a villa or stay in a family-run campsite along the pebble beach. Off the beach, kids will love hiking around nearby Biokovo Nature Park.   960 1280

Graham Monro/gm photographics  

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach is wide and flat, offering plenty of room for kids to walk, run, ride three-wheelers or go tide pooling in search of sea life and shells. Its postcard attraction is Haystack Rock, a 235-foot tall rock, which sits on the beach near the downtown area. Kite flying is perfect at Cannon Beach since the winds seem to blow at just the right speed. 960 1280

Stephen Curtin  

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham, MA

Cape Cod is a favorite year after year and Coast Guard Beach is perfect for long walks and building sand castles as a family. At the Salt Pond Visitor Center, pick up the park newspaper for the scoop on ranger-led nature walks and Junior Ranger programs. Ride bikes along one of three paved bike trails or go kayaking through the famous salt marshes.  960 1280

John Greim  

Corolla, NC

Corolla, NC

The Outer Banks of North Carolina has long been a top pick for families. Book a vacation rental right on the soft, sandy beach or park near the southernmost beach access point in Corolla for restrooms and showers. Go biking, take the ferry to Knotts Island or get hip to all kinds of water sports at Kitty Hawk Kayaks & Surf School.  960 1280

Josh Rinehults  

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores, AL

In summer, families flock to incredible beach towns in Alabama, like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Kids will have a ball swimming, crabbing and kayaking along the two-mile stretch of beach at Gulf State Park. There are hiking and biking trails, as well as a nature center that hosts guided nature walks. Just off the beach, head to Waterville USA for water slides, a lazy river and mini golf.  960 1280

Kenneth Shelton / EyeEm  

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Poipu Beach Park, Kauai, HI

Families with kids of all ages will love Poipu Beach Park. Look for snorkeling and surfing for the big kids, as well as a playground and a shallow wading area for little ones. Enjoy a picnic under the shade of the palm trees or go for a coastal hike along the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. In the evening, book a relaxing sunset catamaran cruise to see more of the scenic south side of the island.  960 1280

Steven Greaves  

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

Coco Plum Beach, Exumas, Bahamas

The beaches of the Exumas are among the best in the Bahamas, especially for those eager to return home with beautiful shells and sand dollars. Located on the north end of Grand Exuma, Coco Plum Beach is a quiet beach with plenty of shady palm trees. For lunch, head to Big D’s Conch Stop, which serves up tasty conch fritters and salads.  960 1280

Danita Delimont  

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

One of the most famous city beaches in Europe, La Concha Beach, is also one of the best beaches for familes. Look for a carousel and multiple playgrounds that dot the beach and the town. Take the funicular railway to the top of Monte Igueldo for unmatched views of La Concha Bay. As a bonus, there’s an amusement park at the summit complete with bumper cars and pony rides.  960 1280

Alex Lapuerta  

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, SC

Just south of Charleston, explore nature, wildlife and beautiful South Carolina coastline on Kiawah Island. Kids can sing songs and take art lessons at Kamp Kiawah, as well as splash and play at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, a quiet beach that’s well-suited for small children. Rent bikes to explore the island or take classes to become a Junior Naturalist.  960 1280

Ash Lindsey Photography  

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

Dig for razor clams or take in the views of the Pacific from the half-mile wooden boardwalk located on the Long Beach Peninsula. Explore nearby lighthouses with the kids, hike along the Willapa Interpretive Art Trail or get your game on at the Funland Arcade. Work up an appetite paddling at Willapa Bay before indulging in a milkshake at Hungry Harbor Grille.  960 1280

photo by p.Folrev  

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island, FL

With more than 25 miles of paved trails, Sanibel Island is a fantastic place to explore by bike. Look for warm waters and gentle surf, as well as more than 300 kinds of seashells. Enroll the kids in Sanibel Sea School to learn about marine conservation before hopping a ferry to Cayo Costa State Park. Families will especially love Bowman’s Beach, which has a playground and magical sunsets.   960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

Nearly 38 miles long, the Assateague Island National Seashore is a protected wildlife sanctuary. Stay in nearby Chincoteague or camp out on the beach of this barrier island. Kids will love hiking, clamming, crabbing and fishing on the beach, but the main attraction is the wild ponies, which have roamed the beaches and saltwater marshes since the 1600s.  960 1280

Trina Dopp Photography  

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester, MA

Known for soft, white sands and gentle waters, Wingaersheek Beach is the place to take the kids at low tide where you’ll find loads of clams, shells, even sand dollars, all over the beach. Pack a picnic lunch or grab a bite at one of several snack shops that that dot the beach. Parking isn’t cheap and you’ll need to get there early but you will be rewarded with kids who can’t wait to go back.  960 1280

Garry Black  

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Kids and families love Eagle Beach in Aruba. It’s a beach where you can easily spend the entire day relaxing in a beach chair and splashing in the turquoise waters. Walk along the beach in search of the island’s famous Divi Divi trees. Water sports are popular, so rent a jet ski, a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard, or get set up to go snorkeling or parasailing.  960 1280

Holger Leue  

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

Sunset Beach is one of a handful of spots on the east coast where you can see the sunset from the beach. Come for the Victorian homes, the free parking and the crab cake sandwiches at the Sunset Beach Grill. Kids will love splashing in the surf and hunting for Cape May diamonds (quartz pebbles). Bring a camera to snap photos of the S.S. Atlantus, which sits just offshore.  960 1280

chrisstadlerphotography  

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Camusdarach Beach, Arisaig, Scotland

Located in one of the most scenic parts of the Scottish Highlands, you won’t go wrong camping near Camusdarach Beach and taking sea kayaks out into the water to explore the coves. Children will love playing in the sand and the calm, clear waters on the beach. Collect shells and enjoy the views of the Isle of Skye before settling in for the evening sunset.  960 1280

Peter Lewis  

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, FL

Pier 60 is the place to be in Clearwater Beach for spectacular sunsets and a nightly sunset festival that includes live music, magicians, stilt walkers and local artisans. The crystal clear, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes this a great choice for families. Book a dolphin cruise or take to the sky for parasailing. Look to nearby Caladesi Island State Park for great shelling.  960 1280

Image Source  

Kite-Flying on Long Beach, Washington

Kite-Flying on Long Beach, Washington

The beach at Long Beach, WA, is a perfect spot for flying kites. For starters, (as its name suggests) the beach is long, wide and relatively flat. More important, because the town sits on a peninsula in the southwest corner of the state, wind is always whipping off the Pacific, providing ideal conditions for keeping canvas kites aloft. Kite-flying in these parts is so renowned that local chambers of commerce band together to sponsor the Washington State International Kite Festival every year. Long Beach itself is even home to the World Kite Museum, an informative facility started by kite enthusiasts in the 1980s that also sells hundreds of specimens for those visitors who come unprepared. 960 1280

  

Crabbing in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts

Crabbing in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts

 

Most New Englanders who summer on Cape Cod frequent the wave-ridden ocean-side beaches that line Cape Cod National Seashore. For a quieter experience, however, take the family to the calmer beaches along Cape Cod Bay, and be sure to bring a trowel to dig for crabs that burrow in the sand. Some of the least populous beaches on the east side of the "elbow" are in and around Eastham; First Encounter Beach, for instance, is popular among locals. Though the crabs that can be found here (they're called rock, or peekytoe, crabs) aren't necessarily meaty, kids and grownups alike love the process of looking for breathing holes and digging for treasure.

 

 

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Exploring Dunes at Silver Lake, Michigan

Exploring Dunes at Silver Lake, Michigan

Lakefront beaches are just as spectacular as ocean beaches -- especially when they come with giant sand dunes waiting to be explored. Such is the case with the Silver Lake Sand Dunes area, situated along Lake Michigan just west of US-31. The area boasts the only dunes east of Utah to allow motorized vehicles in the summer, which means they are a favorite spot for families with kids old enough to zip around on Go-Karts, dune buggies and ATVs. Snowboarding fans like surfing down the dunes, too -- go figure, but the technical term is "dune surfing." At the end of every summer, the area also is home to the annual Apple & BBQ Cookoff Festival. 960 1280

Andrew N Dierks  

Surf-Casting Along Playalinda Beach, Florida

Surf-Casting Along Playalinda Beach, Florida

You don't have to head out on a boat to fish from the ocean; at least not when the family is vacationing near Cape Canaveral National Seashore and Playalinda Beach. This stretch of shoreline -- located in the shadow of the Space Shuttle launch site -- is renowned in fishing circles as a destination for surf-fishing, a type of fishing in which one casts into the water from the spot where waves break on shore. Up for grabs in this part of the world: pompano, black drum and whiting, among other fish. Fishing is best roughly 2 hours before or after high tide. While you're out there, keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose dolphins cavorting in the warm water. 960 1280

  

Tidepooling South of San Francisco, California

Tidepooling South of San Francisco, California

 

 

Life abounds in the pools left behind by the retreating tides at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, CA. Here, in the cracks and crevasses of the rocky shore, beachcombers can find everything from colorful sea anemones to skittish hermit crabs, prickly sea urchins and tiny shrimp. On certain days, the area also is climbing with California sea lions, many of which bob their heads above the water's surface like periscopes. Families can explore the tidepools independently, or they can take a guided interpretive hike led by local rangers and docents. While the area has tidal pools year-round, the pools are most accessible on days with the lowest tides of the year.

 

 

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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

This set of 3 western Caribbean islands has a ton of things to offer families who can afford to visit. Take the family swimming at Stingray City, where the kids can get up close and personal with stingrays in their natural habitat. And while you’re in a touchy-feely mood, visit Cayman Turtle Farm where the kids will love petting the marine park’s 362 turtles. The park also has breeding ponds and a hatchery where kids can interact with turtles of all sizes while learning through interactive displays about the incubation process. There’s also a tidal lagoon for snorkeling with tropical fish.

If your kids prefer to stay dry, Atlantis Submarines, a fleet of submarine and semi-submarine vessels, will take them underwater to see shipwrecks, reefs and coral canyons. As long as your little one is at least 3 feet tall, they can enjoy this undersea adventure. However, if they’re not, or you want to just frolic in the ocean, Cayman has no shortage of picturesque Caribbean beaches, such as the powdery sands of 7 Mile Beach, the most popular beach on the island. 

WHEN TO GO: If you don’t mind the heat, the best time to visit Grand Cayman is in July, when it’s low season for tourists. 

WHERE TO STAY: The Holiday Inn Grand Caymanian resort, located on the North Sound of Grand Cayman, is one of the best options for a secluded retreat from the action of Seven Mile Beach. 
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Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn, New York

Those of us who've grown up in New York's biggest borough have always known what it has to offer. For families, Brooklyn is a more affordable and less hectic option than Manhattan. Take a leisurely walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for a clear view of the New York City skyline. 

Spend the day at the Brooklyn Museum or the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the country’s first children's museum. At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you’ll find a 52-acre horticultural paradise and less than a mile away, in Prospect Park, you can enjoy the zoo, home to animals from diverse corners of the world such as prairie dogs, dingoes and red pandas. 

Also you can enjoy a picnic on the 12-acre grounds. Hop on the Q Train and head down toConey Island, where you and the kids can brace yourselves for a ride on the historic Cyclone, one of the nation’s oldest roller coasters. A few blocks down, visit the New York Aquarium and see one of the few baby walruses in any aquarium in the United States. 

WHEN TO GO: In early June, right before the heat and high humidity have set in. The locals come out of hibernation and the weekend street festivals begin. 

WHERE TO STAY: The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is in a prime location, Brooklyn Heights, and offers a stunning view of the city.
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Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

The Poconos may be well-known for its heart-shaped tubs and romantic suites, but this 2,400-square-mile stretch of Pennsylvania is more than just champagne and bubble baths. If your family loves the outdoors, there’s no shortage of things to enjoy either, like hanging out at Camelback Mountain’s waterpark or hiking near waterfalls such as Bushkill Falls. 

With 150 lakes in the area families can take a boat tour on Lake Wallenpaupack, go fishing at Skytop Lodge, white-water rafting along the Delaware River, tubing and canoeing in Milford, PA, water skiing in Beltzville State Park, and kayaking in Jim Thorpe, PA. 

WHEN TO GO: The Pocono Mountains has a plethora of activities throughout the seasons, so there’s really no right or wrong time to visit. 

WHERE TO STAY: The Poconos are home to over a dozen family resorts, from all-inclusive properties such as the Skytop Lodge to affordable, a la carte accommodations such as the Inn at Pocono Manor.
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A.GREENHILL  

Bloomington, Minnesota

Bloomington, Minnesota

If you don’t know much about Bloomington as a great family destination, you should. This suburb of Minneapolis has golf courses, art centers, wineries and vineyards, all perfect activities for mom and dad. Bloomington is also home to the Mall of America, a destination in and of itself. The mall is the second largest in the United States and the most visited mall in the world. 

Besides shopping and dining, families can visit Nickelodeon Universe, the country’s largest indoor amusement park, and SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, home to more than 10,000 sea creatures including sharks, stingrays and sea turtles. The kids will love Valleyfair, a 125-acre amusement park, and Water Park of America, the largest indoor waterpark in the United States. 

Visit Normandale Japanese Garden for rest and tranquility after all the excitement, or hop on an old-fashioned trolley to explore historic sites like the Cathedral of St. Paul, built in the early 1900s. A host of outdoor water activities such as swimming, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing on “The Lakes,” add to the range of options that make Bloomington an attractive destination for families. 

WHEN TO GO: In the summer months -- a great time to cool off in America’s largest indoor waterpark! 

WHERE TO STAY: The Hilton Minneapolis, the Sofitel or the Homewood Suites -- all family-friendly hotels near Bloomington’s major attractions.
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Ken Wolter  

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

There’s more to Costa Rica’s capital than rainforests and jungles, although your kids will love those, too. Families can learn about Costa Rican culture at small community museums in towns like San Vicente, Nicoya; at the National Museum (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica) in San Jose; and the Children’s Museum (Museo de los Niños), home to interactive exhibits on science, history, technology and art.

Enjoy a hike in protected national parks such as Tortuguero National Park, or walk across a suspension bridge in Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, or fish or windsurf on Arenal Lake. Families can skin dive, snorkel, rent jet skis or simply relax at any one of the beaches, such as Playa Cocles in the South Caribbean region or Playas del Coco in the Guanacaste region.

More active families can enjoy mountain biking and horseback riding on Playa Negra in Cahuita, rafting and kayaking on the Pacuare River, zip lining in a Costa Rican forest, or canopy tours in the Monteverde cloud forest. Summer hotel and airline prices are affordable and comparable for a family traveling from Washington, DC, to San Diego.

WHEN TO GO: June through early September, when the Atlantic green sea turtles are nesting. Generally, the earlier in the year (and the earlier in the nesting season) that you book your flight, the less expensive your plane tickets. 

WHERE TO STAY: 
There’s no shortage of big chain and small boutique hotels to choose from in Costa Rica, so choosing accommodations will really depend upon the region you decide to begin your family adventure.
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Grand Canyon Railway
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

IndiaPictures, 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

John Greim, Getty Images  

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 Heber Valley onboard a 1907 vintage steam locomotive, sure to wow both kids and train buffs, alike. The 16-mile track twists and turns between Heber 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  

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  

Lake Louise, canada, water, mountain
Banff National Park

Banff National Park

Explore the pristine shores of Lake Louise, a luxurious base camp for a tour of the Canadian Rockies. 960 1280

By Benefactor123 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0],   

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Kids can explore Maine's rugged coast at Acadia National Park and set off on nature walks on the park's many trails. 960 1280

By Kim Carpenter (Near Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park 8911) [CC BY 2.0],   

Stowe Mountain

Stowe Mountain

Families can try trout-fishing at Sterling Pond, zoom down the Stowe Alpine Slide and sample Vermont's most famous dessert, Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
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Pike's Peak

Pike's Peak

The 14,000-foot Pike's Peak isn't Colorado's tallest mountain, but it inspired "America the Beautiful."
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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Park rangers provide plenty of educational adventures in the great outdoors at Yosemite National Park.
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By chensiyuan (chensiyuan) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

Asheville is surrounded by towering mountains and national parks, including Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
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Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest

Take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Asheville, and pack a picnic for lunch at Pisgah National Forest.
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By Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us(personal website of photographer)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

Adirondack Park

Adirondack Park

Head to northern New York for an Adirondack vacation with mountain views, zip-line tours and swanky resorts.
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By en:User:Mwanner [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Road Trip Inspiration

Travel Back in Time at The Field Museum, Chicago

Travel Back in Time at The Field Museum, Chicago

Route 66's eastern end begins at Chicago's Millennium Park near the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. Get a family photo in front of Sue, the largest T. rex skeleton in the world. 960 1280

The Field Museum  

Hop to Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois

Hop to Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois, features Route 66 memorabilia, pet rabbits that perform tricks and cars buried in the ground à la Amarillo’s famous Cadillac Ranch. These cars are VW Rabbits, of course. 960 1280

Mark Williamson  

Brave a Cave at Meramec Caverns, Missouri

Brave a Cave at Meramec Caverns, Missouri

Advertised on old barn roofs and billboards for miles along Route 66, Meramec Caverns near Stanton is a limestone cave filled with fantastical features. It was mined for gunpowder ingredients during the Civil War, was probably a stop on the Underground Railroad and served as a hideout for the outlaw Jesse James. Guided tours take visitors to some of the most scenic segments of the 5-mile-long cave system.  960 1280

Sindre Ellingsen  

Span the West at The Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Span the West at The Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Since its opening in 1967, the iconic Gateway Arch at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the banks of the Mississippi River has commemorated the beginning of the western United States. Visitors can take an internal tram to the top of the 630-foot arch–the World’s largest arch–for sweeping views of St. Louis.  960 1280

  

Meet Mater's Inspiration in Galena, Kansas

Meet Mater's Inspiration in Galena, Kansas

Pixar's Route 66-themed Cars movie found inspiration for Mater the Tow Truck in Galena, Kansas, at the now Cars on the Route. The former Kan-O-Tex gas station is now a gift shop and snack bar at 119 N. Main Street. A picture in front of the orginal tow truck, now sporting eyes, is all but mandatory for families passing through. 960 1280

Marcin Wichary on Flickr  

Whale of a Time in Catoosa, Oklahoma

Whale of a Time in Catoosa, Oklahoma

The Blue Whale of Catoosa in Oklahoma is one of Route 66's most famous landmarks. Built in the early 1970s by Hugh Davis for his wife, Zelta, who collected all things whales, it soon became a Route 66 icon. A picnic area next to the whale makes for a perfect stop. 960 1280

Mark Williamson  

This Land is Your Land in Tulsa, Oklahoma

This Land is Your Land in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Woody Guthrie Center at 102 E. Brady celebrates the life and times of American folk musician and Oklahoma native son Woody Guthrie, who penned such songs as "This Land is Your Land" and "This Train is Bound for Glory." Opened in 2013, the center has also been chosen to house the archives of Bob Dylan. Interactive displays showcase the times that inspired Guthrie, including the Dust Bowl of the 1930s that forced many Oklahomans west to California along Route 66 and that was popularized by John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Make sure to also check out the nearby Tulsa Children's Museum. 960 1280

  

Stop for a Pop in Arcadia, Oklahoma

Stop for a Pop in Arcadia, Oklahoma

One of Route 66's more recent roadside attractions, Pops 66 Soda Ranch opened in 2007 and is known for its towering neon pop bottle sign and the hundreds of soda bottles from around the world arranged by color. It's perfect for a quick family treat and photo. 960 1280

Michael Ives  

Saddle Up at the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas

Saddle Up at the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas

Created in 1974 as an art project, these 10 Cadillacs represent models from 1949 to 1963, and are buried at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. Visitors are encouraged to spray paint the cars that are on the south side of I-40 and Route 66 about 10 miles west of Amarillo.  960 1280

waxhawian, flickr  

Dig Some Dinos in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Dig Some Dinos in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Tucumcari, New Mexico, is a well-preserved Route 66 town, and home to Mesalands Community College. The college has combined its paleontology and fine-arts programs to create a dinosaur museum that features bronze-castings of dinos that roamed New Mexico 65 million years ago. While in Tucumcari, Route 66 lovers should also make sure to drop by Tee Pee Curios 960 1280

  

Discover the City Different at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Discover the City Different at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Until 1936, Route 66 jogged from Clines Corners, New Mexico north through Santa Fe before traveling south to Albuquerque. Santa Fe–nicknamed the City Different–has long been an art mecca and a family destination, made more so by the opening of Meow Wolf, an art installation described as a surreal haunted house built inside a 20,000-square-foot former bowling alley not far from the original Route 66. Meow Wolf was funded by Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones books. 960 1280

  

Get Your Kicks in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Get Your Kicks in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque's Central Avenue is one of the best preserved stretches of Route 66 in the country. Its historic Old Town is a grassy plaza surrounded by local restaurants and shops, and the nearby New Mexico Museum of Natural History and ScienceExplora! Children's Museum and Albuquerque BioPark are family favorites. In October, Albuquerque's skies are filled with hundreds of hot air balloons during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest annual ballooning event. 960 1280

a4gpa, flickr  

Discover Native America at Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Discover Native America at Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Route 66 opened the rest of the country to the West and Native America, passing through the land of several of New Mexico's 19 Pueblo tribes. Acoma Pueblo is one of the nation's longest continually inhabited communities. Its Sky City village, about an hour west of Albuquerque, is perched atop a towering mesa that visitors may see during a guided tour. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Go Out on a Limb at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Go Out on a Limb at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

The 109,000-acre Petrified Forest National Park protects the colorful geology of the Painted Desert, Native American sites and one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world. It was one of the first attractions along Route 66. 960 1280

Danita Delimont  

Sleep in Style at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

Sleep in Style at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

Built in 1950, these 15 concrete tee pee motel rooms were an instant roadside attraction, and still make a great Route 66 stop for the night, or at least a fun family photo opportunity. 960 1280

Alan Copson  

Explore Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Explore Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Route 66 is the gateway to Grand Canyon National Park, an hour and a half from Flagstaff. The canyon is a mile deep and sees 5 million visitors annually from around the globe. It is credited with associating Route 66 with family road trips out West. 960 1280

Capturing the Beauty of Nature Through Light and Time  

Get Starstruck at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona

Get Starstruck at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona

Lowell Observatory overlooking Flagstaff is an active research observatory that is open day and night to visitors for astronomy programs, tours and astronomy viewings. It was here in 1930 that Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. 960 1280

STEVE LARESE  

All Aboard in Williams, Arizona

All Aboard in Williams, Arizona

The Grand Canyon Railway travels between Williams, Arizona and the South Village of Grand Canyon National Park. Cowboy singers entertain during the hour-long trip, and "outlaws" attempt to hold up the train during the hour-long ride that stops at the depot near El Tovar historic hotel at the South Village. 960 1280

Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel  

An Impacting Attraction at Meteor Crater, Arizona

An Impacting Attraction at Meteor Crater, Arizona

Meteor Crater near Winslow is the best preserved meteor impact site on Earth. Some 50,000 years ago, a meteor slammed into the Arizona desert at 26,000 m.p.h., leaving an impression a mile across and 550-feet deep with the force of 20 million tons of TNT. View the crater from three overlooks and learn more about the event in the Discovery Center. 960 1280

Chris Saulit  

California or Bust at Mojave Trails National Monument

California or Bust at Mojave Trails National Monument

California’s stretch of Route 66 passes through Mojave Trails National Monument, created in 2016, and just north of Joshua Tree National Park. Conservation-focused Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in nearby Palm Desert has exhibits featuring both indigenous and exotic animals, as well as desert hiking trails that are perfect for families. 960 1280

  

End of the Trail at Santa Monica, California

End of the Trail at Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica Pier marks the western end of Route 66 (officially two blocks away where Highway 1 begins). Here, Pacific Park amusment park has a Ferris wheel, roller coaster and other attractions, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium features the marine life found in the area. Santa Monica State Beach is always a favorite familly destination. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Horseback Riding at Shenandoah National Park

Horseback Riding at Shenandoah National Park

Miles of wooded hills characterize Virginia's largest national park, and there essentially are two ways to explore them: on foot or by horse. For families who prefer the latter choice, saddle up and follow rangers on 2.5-hour guided horseback tours from Skyland Stables in the center of the park. The rides wind through a small portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, passing beneath oak, hickory and hemlock trees draped with moss. If you're lucky, you might even see a peregrine falcon--after disappearing from the region all together, the birds were reintroduced to the park in the 1990s and have flourished ever since. Skyland Stables offers 1-hour tours as well.
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Stargazing Inside Denali National Park

Stargazing Inside Denali National Park

Ever wondered what makes the Northern Lights so colorful and spectacular? Get a crash-course in astrophysics this summer during the Special Emphasis Series at Alaska's Camp Denali, a 17-cabin retreat inside Alaska's Denali National Park, which sits 11 miles north of Healy in central Alaska. During 2- and 3-night programs titled "Curtains of Light," Neal Brown, space expert and acting director of the Alaska Space Grant Program, will explain the magnetic forces that create the Aurora Borealis and other atmospheric phenomena. By day, you'll be able to grill Brown with any questions you might have about celestial wonders; at night, join him on hikes through the tundra in the hopes of spotting the lights above.
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"Beetlemania" Lectures at Rocky Mountain National Park

"Beetlemania" Lectures at Rocky Mountain National Park

Media outlets from all over the world have documented the alarming rate at which the mountain pine beetle has ravaged a majority of Colorado's pine forests, but as part of this free family-friendly lecture series, rangers explain the situation in a way kids can understand. At least one interpreter dresses up in a full-body beetle costume; others lead the crowd in a sing-along to tunes from the Beatles (of course). The hands-on portion of the lecture lets kids touch beetle carcasses. Children also get to see before-and-after images of forest after a beetle infestation--stark reminders of exactly how much damage to an ecosystem these little insects can cause.
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Cruise the Shoreline of Acadia National Park

Cruise the Shoreline of Acadia National Park

With more shoreline than any other national park, Acadia is a perfect place to explore by boat. Park rangers offer a number of different boat cruises inside the park, but the most popular is the 3-hour "Dive-In Theater." On this tour of Frenchman Bay, families can look out for seals and porpoises, and watch in real-time (on video monitors) as a diver scours the ocean floor for marine life to bring back aboard the boat for further hands-on exploration. The cruise also includes an, um, boatload of information about coastal and pelagic birds commonly seen in the area. Tours leave from the dock at the College of the Atlantic, just outside the main gates of the park.
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Sing About Animals at Yosemite National Park

Sing About Animals at Yosemite National Park

 

 

Parents of young children (6 and under) often complain that family programs are too sophisticated for their tots. At Yosemite, however, the "Wee Wild Ones" was designed with these toddlers in mind. In spring, the free, 45-minute program is held during the day in front of the great fireplace at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel. In summer, the program precedes evening events at Yosemite Lodge, the Falls Amphitheater and the Curry Village Amphitheater. Classes themselves include a lot of singing. Also on the agenda: reading books, playing games and making crafts--all of which pertains to animals native to the park (such as hawks, bears and big horn sheep). All participating children must be accompanied by an adult; no pre-registration is required.

 

 

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Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly

You're guaranteed a sugar-high on the 45-minute tour through Jelly Belly's main factory in Fairfield, CA. Guides lead visitors over glass-enclosed catwalks that provide a bird's-eye view of how workers process, flavor, color, sort and package these jewel-like candies (not surprisingly, sugar is a key ingredient every step of the way). The tour also includes a detailed explanation of how Jelly Belly comes up with such authentic flavors (hint: some of the flavors are real). The factory is dormant on weekends, so be sure to go during the week. All tours include a free 2-oz. bag of jelly beans and conclude in the factory store (where it is nearly impossible not to buy more beans for the road).
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Hershey's Chocolate World

Hershey's Chocolate World

Part theme park, part insider tour, Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, PA, is one of the best ways to see how Hershey's Kisses (and just about every other Hershey's brand) come to life. While there is no actual walkabout on the factory floor, visitors are invited to take a virtual tour that explains how Hershey's chocolate is made -- from bean to bar. The tour is so realistic that at one point, the smell of fresh chocolate wafts through the room. Guests are able to create their own chocolate treats by topping (very real) traditional Hershey's bars with whatever they fancy. There's also a 3-D movie, and the opportunity to help package fresh-off-the-line Kisses. 960 1280

Sharon Dominick  

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

From the moment you glimpse the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, KY, you know what's made there: A giant sculpture of a bat rests against the building facade. The 25-minute tour leads visitors through the bat production line, giving them an inside-baseball perspective on how maple bats are carved from log-like hunks of wood. Guests can also explore the on-site museum, which tells the story of wooden bats from the late 1800s until today. All visitors (yes, even you, Mom and Dad) receive a miniature souvenir bat at the end of the tour. There is no bat production on Sundays, holidays or Saturdays between December and April, so be sure to avoid visiting then. 960 1280

  

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

You'd be hard-pressed to find a sweet-tooth who doesn't like Ben & Jerry's ice cream; that's why the factory tour at the company's Waterbury, VT, headquarters is so much fun. The tour gives visitors an elevated view of the factory floor. All the while, guides explain how ice cream goes from milk and sugar into frozen goodness in a pint. Thirty-minute tours begin with a video that documents how Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield became friends in the 7th grade; they end with a taste-test of fresh-off-the-line samples. Another fun aspect of the experience is the "Flavor Graveyard" behind the plant -- a place where tombstones mark the untimely end to some of the company's ill-fated flavors. 960 1280

  

American Whistle Corporation

American Whistle Corporation

Metal whistles are as American as baseball and apple pie, which means a factory tour at the American Whistle Corporation in Columbus, OH, is a noble exercise in patriotism. AWC is the only manufacturer of metal whistles in the U.S., and the 45-minute tour takes visitors behind the scenes to see precisely how these musical instruments are made (and how that tiny ball gets inside). Along the way, guides point out one-of-a-kind machinery crafted specifically for AWC, and they share interesting tidbits about whistles throughout time (the instruments date back hundreds of years). At the conclusion of the tour, guests whet their whistles with shiny new instruments they can keep. 960 1280

  

Pro Parent Tips

On the Beach

On the Beach

You’re at the beach and the public bathrooms are not as close as you’d like them to be, so you opt to change your baby’s diaper right there on your beach towel. You’re dealing with sand, ocean water and an extra wet swim diaper. This is where baby powder is an absolute must or the sand will never come off your baby, says Beth Henry of Cloud Surfing Kids. Another option is called Sand Gone, a fine powder that removes sand that gets stuck to your body when you’re at the beach. 960 1280

Granger Wootz  

While Hiking

While Hiking

You’re out on a hike, carrying your baby in a baby carrier and your baby is not happy. He needs a diaper change. First, make sure your baby is wearing a clean, dry diaper before you begin a hike and keep changing supplies in your backpack (but still try to pack light). As Rebecca Walsh of JustTrails says, start “every hike with full bellies and empty diapers.” Find a flat, grassy area to lay down a changing pad, then pack out the dirty diaper and wipes in a sealable plastic bag to take home with you. Never leave anything behind when enjoying the outdoors. 960 1280

Steve Glass  

While Standing Up

While Standing Up

Changing a diaper while standing up is never optimal, but it can be done, especially if you’re only dealing with a wet diaper. This is best accomplished when one parent can hold the baby up while the other switches out the wet diaper for a dry diaper, according to Jessica Bowers of Suitcases & Sippy Cups. However, if you’re on your own, this is where a pull-up style diaper could work best for you, especially if your child can stand on his own and even help you pull up the diaper. 960 1280

  

On a Plane

On a Plane

Some airplanes, particularly larger, two-aisle planes, have changing tables inside the restrooms. Hoorah. JetBlue even has changing tables inside every single lavatory, according to Leslie Harvey of Trips with Tykes. This is ideal, but if you simply cannot wait until you land, ask the flight attendant to direct you to the best spot on the plane for a quick change, which may be the floor of the galley or the top of the toilet seat. Bring a sealable plastic bag for the dirty diaper, then work quickly to get your baby cleaned up. 960 1280

  

On a Boat

On a Boat

If you head out for a day on the water, whether aboard a catamaran or a sail boat, you’ll eventually find yourself needing to change a wet diaper. Head below deck for privacy and to keep your baby from staring into the sun while on her back as you change her. Says Aimee Lynch of The Everyday Journey, “We had to move all the snorkels and fishing gear out of the way, check for hooks before we laid her down, but it worked.” One parent changed the diaper while one kept her steady as the boat swayed back and forth.  960 1280

  

In a Car

In a Car

When given the choice between a gas station and the back of a car, many parents will opt to change a diaper when traveling from their own car, even if it means putting baby in the trunk (obviously, do not close the trunk). Look for a flat area, which is often the trunk or the back of an SUV, then lay down a changing pad. Matt Villano of Wandering Pod considers changing diapers in the car to be one of the most important skills for a family road trip. 960 1280

kali9  

Public Restroom (Without a Table)

Public Restroom (Without a Table)

While many public restrooms have changing tables, more than a few do not, making a quick diaper change a challenge. If there is no changing table, head for the largest stall in the restroom. If no stalls are available, use one of the counters. Lay down a changing pad (preferably a disposable one) and key supplies, including wipes, a plastic bag for disposing the diaper, even a toy to entertain your baby. Don’t hesitate to complain to management if the restroom is not clean or there is no space to change your baby. 960 1280

  

On a Train

On a Train

Many Amtrak trains have changing tables in the bathrooms, particularly on long-haul routes (some trains on shorter routes may not). Many sleeper cars also have changing tables. However, to be safe, bring a waterproof changing pad to change a diaper on a seat or on the floor of the train. Fortunately, both the seats and aisles are more spacious than on an airplane. Alternatively, if the train has an extended stop at a station, make a beeline for the public restroom in the station. Just know when the train will leave so that you and your baby don’t get left behind. 960 1280

rusmor@gmail.com  

On a Bus

On a Bus

Given the jerking motions of a bus (start, stop, start, stop), it’s far from ideal to change a diaper on a bus, but if you must, you must. Try to get a pair of seats to yourselves, then lie your baby down on the seat next to you for a quick change. If the bus makes frequent stops, like a city bus, use this to your advantage and hop off to find a place with a public restroom to change your baby in private. Then wait for the next bus to come along with your clean, dry baby. 960 1280

  

In a Restaurant

In a Restaurant

Many small restaurants do not have changing tables in their restrooms, so you’re on your own when you need to change your baby’s diaper. Ask the hostess for a suggestion, which may be a bench near the hostess stand or even a private room. Some restaurants only have changing tables in the women’s restrooms, so check both in search of an appropriate place to change your baby. Do not change a diaper on a restaurant table or in a booth in the dining area, even if upset that there are no other changing facilities. If nothing else, it’s a health code violation. 960 1280

Hero Images  

Baby Wipes

Baby Wipes

It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, it’s always a win when you keep a travel-size container of baby wipes in your bag. Kids are messy and whether they’ve spilled their slushie on their shirt or ice cream has melted all over their hands, pre-moistened baby wipes always come in handy when traveling with kids. 960 1280

ismailciydem  

Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags

Keep a couple of plastic grocery bags or gallon-size plastic storage bags in your bag. They’re perfect for tossing dirty diapers or when you need to clean up your row just before landing (plastic snack wrappers, everywhere). Just throw all the trash into a plastic bag and toss it out all at once. 960 1280

Yiap  

Earbuds

Earbuds

This one may not seem obvious, but earbuds are a complete lifesaver when there are competing iPads in a tight hotel room or in the backseat of the minivan during a family road trip. Try LilGadgets BestBuds earbuds. They’re tangle-free and come with a carrying case. Even better, they come with different sizes of earbud tips to ensure a good fit for your child. 960 1280

  

Reusable Water Bottle

Reusable Water Bottle

Are kids ever not thirsty? The short answer is no. So keep at least a half-full reusable water bottle in your travel bag at all times. It really is only the times when you don’t remember to bring along a water bottle while out sightseeing that your kids will have an insatiable thirst, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. 960 1280

  

Portable Charger

Portable Charger

You don’t want to be on the road or on a plane with an iPhone with a low battery, or worse, any of the kids’ electronics with low power. Try the Smart Power Basic Portable Charger from ZILU. It’s about the size of a business card and can quickly charge a variety of devices, including most smartphone and tablet brands. 960 1280

  

Gift Cards

Gift Cards

Round up those gift cards that you have lying around the house that were a thank you for coaching the soccer team or serving as field trip chaperone. Grab a quart-size storage bag to put them in and keep them in your bag so they’re always on hand when you need to make a pit stop during a road trip. It's a great money-saver, too.  960 1280

  

Lip Balm With SPF

Lip Balm With SPF

For long days in the sun SPF protection is a must. But kids and teens might forget to protect their lips, too. Keep lip balm with atleast SPF 15 in the car, in your travel bag, in your coat pocket, in your kids' suitcases. Keep it everywhere. 960 1280

  

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum

For little ones flying for the first time, changing air pressure popping ears can be a weird and scary feeling. Combat popping ears before take off by chewing gum. 960 1280

Photographer: Samokhin Roman  

Sunblock

Sunblock

Most grocery stores have a section of travel-size toiletries, including sunblock. Since you may forget about actually applying sunblock until you’re at the beach or the theme park, it’s a wise idea to keep even just a travel-size container in your bag at all times. 960 1280

  

Cell Phone

Cell Phone

Well, a cell phone is kind of a duh. But, it's something every parent needs in their travel bag less to make phone calls and more to serve as entertainment and a way to help break-up fights, like when one child remembered to power up and bring their tablet on the plane and the other did not. Have at least a few kid-friendly apps and games that don't require a wi-fi connection. 960 1280

  

Candy

Candy

Shh, don’t tell your dentist, but candy is a must-have. Avoid chocolate, so you don’t wind up with a sticky mess at the bottom of your bag. Steer clear of chewy and sour candies too. Instead, opt for sugar-free lollipops to give you a boost or tide over little ones before the next stop on a roadtrip.  960 1280

  

Kids Snacks

Kids Snacks

We all know that kids only become hungry once it's wheels-up and your flight has taken off, even if they literally just ate lunch. It’s just a fact, so always keep a few healthy snack options in your bag. A few good picks include low-sugar granola bars, trail mix and pretzels, as well as pre-packaged peanut butter crackers. 960 1280

  

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

Kids are always touching and picking up things that aren’t as clean as you might like them to be, especially when you travel and are out exploring new places. Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. As a bonus, you can use hand sanitizer to clean up minor cuts and scrapes when in a pinch. 960 1280

  

Facial Tissues

Facial Tissues

There’s always a need to have a pocket pack of facial tissues in your bag. One of the kids will have a runny nose, a bloody nose, a need to spit out their gum, or some combination of all three, but only after the plane doors have shut and you can't get out of your seats. Pick up a 12- or 36-pack at the nearby superstore before you leave for a trip. 960 1280

  

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

One of your kids will get a blister on a hike or trip in the hotel parking lot and scrape their knee, so save yourself the trouble and put together a first aid kit to keep in your bag. Toss in a few bandages of different sizes, a little gauze and some antibiotic ointment, as well as a children’s pain reliever. 960 1280

Frank van den Bergh  

Kids Sunglasses

Kids Sunglasses

Most of us can remember to put on sunglasses when we go outside for a day of sightseeing or to play at the beach, but kids aren’t quite as good at this. Unless you want to give up your own sunglasses or keep hearing about how bright it is outside, it’s a wise idea to keep a couple of extra pairs of gender-neutral kids sunglasses in your bag. 960 1280

  

Bluetooth Headset

Bluetooth Headset

You’re pulling two suitcases down the concourse while holding one of your child’s hands when the phone rings and you realize it's deep in your bag. Combat the airport hustle with a Bluetooth headset. It allows for multi-tasking at its finest while in transit with your kids. 960 1280

Andrey Chmelyov  

Hand Lotion

Hand Lotion

Hand lotion is what every parent needs in their travel bag, especially in drying airplane cabins. Try Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer for a hand lotion and a hand sanitizer all in one. Even better, hand lotion will double as a hair gel when you need some for you or your kids on the fly. 960 1280

  

Small Swim Towel

Small Swim Towel

Add a small microfiber swim towel to your bag, like a colorful one from Aurorae Aqua. They’re super absorbent and are perfect for cleaning up spills and drying hands. They’re a lifesaver when traveling with kids who don’t like the loud hand dryers in public restrooms. 960 1280

  

Fast Food Toys

Fast Food Toys

It’s tempting to toss them out, but hold onto a few of the toys you pick up in kids’ meals at fast food restaurants, particularly if you want your kids to have some screen-free time during a family road trip. These small plastic toys can keep your kids entertained, at least until you get to the next exit on the highway. 960 1280

  

Hair Ties

Hair Ties

Bring along a few hair bands, if only so you can open the car windows without hearing from the kids in the very back that they’re getting too much wind. Just toss them a rubber band to pull their hair back. Sometimes something as small as this can bring peace to the minivan when road tripping as a family. 960 1280

  

Get Buy-In

Get Buy-In

Include your children­–even toddlers–in the trip planning and countdown so they have something to look forward to and aren’t completely surprised by a drastic change in their schedule. Even if kiddoes can’t understand the full concept of the trip, they can share in the excitement of an upcoming airplane ride or swimming pool. For teens, ask them to research the destination for attractions and activities they’d like to see and do, and incorporate these into your itinerary. Teens will begin to learn the art of travel planning, and often find items that you’ll love, too. 960 1280

JGI/Jamie Grill  

Plan a Vacation Within Your Vacation

Plan a Vacation Within Your Vacation

If you’re traveling with a teen who can babysit younger children, ask them before the trip if they’d like to make some cash by babysitting the hotel room while the adults go out for dinner and drinks in the hotel restaurant. Most teens are happy to make some money while they enjoy room service and surf the web as their siblings watch cartoons and make cushion forts, and you’ll get 2 hours to yourselves. And you’ll only be 5 minutes away if anyone needs you. Make sure and arrange this before you leave, so the teen doesn’t feel ambushed during the trip and can look forward to the extra spending cash. 960 1280

EpicStockMedia  

Newsflash: Teens Want Money

Newsflash: Teens Want Money

Teens want cash and time to spend it. Have them start saving for their trip in advance, but giving them a daily allowance while traveling and opportunities to shop gives them a sense of freedom, and teaches them about budgeting. They’ll gladly agree to every t-shirt you offer to buy them (then never wear), but when they’re spending their own money, a lot more critical thinking goes into play.    960 1280

JGI/Jamie Grill  

Let Your Teens Go

Let Your Teens Go

Your teens love you, but they want to go off by themselves, at least for a little bit. If they’re capable and you feel safe about your location, offering to let them have some alone time will score big points, and allow parents to do things with younger sibling that would bore teens to no end. Give teens a couple of hours to shop the area you’re in, or do activities by themselves such as surfing lessons or just hanging out by the pool. Agree on an easily found meeting place and time, and have your teen set an alarm for 30 minutes prior in case they lose track of time. Make sure they can recite where you’re staying, just in case. Online maps are great, but also provide them with a paper map from the front desk with your hotel circled as a backup. Letting your teen go off on their own in a new place is scary for parents but thrilling for teens, and the show of trust won’t go unappreciated. 960 1280

Muriel de Seze  

Less is More

Less is More

Kids – and adults – often over pack as a sort of security blanket to overcome the anxiety of leaving home. A favorite toy or other item is fine, but too many things only cause problems later on, and can get lost. Toddlers and younger kids should be able to carry their own backpacks, and parents need to think about what happens if they wind up having to carry the kiddoes and their luggage, especially through airports. If kids start packing their rock collection, explain to them that their things will be happier at home, and that extra space can be filled with souvenirs. For older kids who aren’t used to traveling, make sure they don’t try to pack hairdryers and the like if the hotel will have them. 960 1280

Westend61  

Divide and Conquer

Divide and Conquer

When traveling with young children, parents are never off the clock. But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy time at the spa or playing golf while their partner spends time with the kids. Adults should figure out before hand if there’s something special they’d like to do, in addition to activities for the whole family. Having this set and priced before arrival makes sure everyone has something to look forward to. 960 1280

Little Palm Island  

Keep ‘em Fed

Keep ‘em Fed

Armies travel on their stomachs, and so do families. Be preemptive about hanger and keep snacks readily available in-between scheduled meals. Also, eating before the dinner rush will help ensure choice seating and faster service, and provide thinner crowds at attractions afterward. Getting dinner out of the way gets toddlers into bed at a decent hour, lets teens have down time, and may even give parents a few quiet moments.
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Nap Time

Nap Time

It’s tempting to cram as much as possible into a trip, but notch out some down time for the little ones back in the hotel room, if possible. It’ll let them recharge their small batteries while parents do the same, or enjoy some quiet together time enjoying the room and balcony they’re paying for. It also makes sense during the heat of the day. Teens, with their boundless energy, can use this time to explore on their own or hang out at the pool without their lame parents (we know you’re cool). 960 1280

Mykola Velychko  

Let Teens Ride Shotgun

Let Teens Ride Shotgun

Offering to let teens sit in the passenger seat while an adult sits in the back shows the teen the respect they want, and is fun for the little guys in back as they don’t often get to sit next to Mom or Dad. Having your teen ride up front is a great way to get their nose out of their phone and start a conversation, and they can learn the art of navigation as well. If your teen has their driver's license and you feel it’s safe, having them drive for a spell on a new road begins their vacation before you reach the hotel. 960 1280

kali9  

Anytime You’re All Together, Savor It

Anytime You’re All Together, Savor It

A few years ago my parents and my and my brother’s young families went to Disneyland. Between different nap schedules, melt downs and the laser focus of counting noses to make sure we didn’t lose anyone, little time was actually spent as a group. Our favorite photos were taken on the concierge lounge couch, when we could all be together, the kids were happily snacking, and the adults could actually have a conversation. Not that the park wasn’t fun and worthwhile, but just that down time of hanging out all together would have made the entire trip worthwhile. Anytime your whole family is together, make sure to enjoy it. 960 1280

Chris Futcher  

Stay on Budget

Video: Orlando for Less

Deals expert Summer Hull shows you how to save big on a family trip to Orlando.

Traveling With Special Needs

Know Before You Go: Lodging

Know Before You Go: Lodging

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) site is a good place to start for those with vision or hearing issues. While U.S. hotels, transportation, and cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters are required to be ADA-compliant, don’t assume that the foreign equivalent will be. For example, for those who are vision impaired, ADA-compliant lodging is required to allow service animals; provide large-print, Braille, or audio options for relevant hotel information; and comply with requests for adjoining rooms. Other services such as conducting a room orientation tour should also be provided.

For hard-of-hearing guests, ADA-compliant lodging is required to provide, upon request, a compliancy kit that includes visual alarms and visual notification devices. Teletypewriters (TTY or TDD) or amplified phones should also be available. If transportation, a cruise, hotel, or other lodging (such as Airbnb) isn’t ADA-compliant, call ahead to discuss what accommodations can be made. However, bring whatever aide is necessary in your carry-on, in case loaner equipment isn’t working or available. Multiple kits aren’t always available, so it’s a good idea to travel with devices such as SafeAwake, a travel-size alarm that shakes the bed and flashes a light if the smoke detector is triggered.

Joel Barish, founder of DeafNation.com, a comprehensive source for the deaf and hard of hearing, also advises performing a Google search to find similar communities at your destination. For example, Signs Restaurant & Bar in Toronto employs a deaf waitstaff that only communicates in sign language. Dans le Noir is a restaurant chain where you eat in complete darkness, with locations in London, Paris, Barcelona, and more.
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BenDC  

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights

If you’re traveling within the U.S. or staying at a U.S. chain abroad, familiarize yourself with ADA laws, since you can’t assume that every staff member, regardless of whether it’s a hotel, cruise ship, theme park, etc. will know your rights and options. Review the Air Carrier Access Act for rights on U.S. airlines.

It’s also key to understand the laws for where you’re going. “They may differ significantly from the U.S. for protecting individuals who are disabled and for service animals that might need additional vaccinations,” says Dr. Margaret Wilson, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Global. 
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kokouu  

Use a Specialized Travel Agent or Company

Use a Specialized Travel Agent or Company

Travel agencies that specialize in trips for the blind or deaf can help facilitate a stress-free trip. Mind’s Eye Travel provides group trips that range from cruises to an African safari. Traveleyes is a UK-based company (although it attracts an international crowd) with a unique concept: trips are a blend of blind and sighted travelers. Upcoming trips encompass a broad range from Burma to Peru.

Deaf Globetrotters
also offers group trips, (and provides a sign language interpreter) such as an upcoming one to Cuba, along with the opportunity to connect with the local deaf community. Group tours with translators can be especially helpful for those who are deaf, since sign language is not a universal language. Deaf Globetrotters can also arrange customized family trips. An organization like the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality is another resource for finding agents and companies.
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michaeljung  

Visit a Museum

Visit a Museum

Many museums offer special programs for the deaf and blind. For example, MoMA in NYC offers touch and visually descriptive tours, as well as Braille maps. It also allows service animals. Sign language interpretation, captioning, and FM assistive-listening devices are available to the deaf and hard of hearing. The Louvre, the Smithsonian Museums, and the Vatican Museums also offer accessibility options. 960 1280

AndreyKrav  

Get Reduced Fares on Transportation

Get Reduced Fares on Transportation

For example, Amtrak offers discounts (from 15%-50%) to both the deaf and blind, plus a travel companion. You must show proof of your disability, such as a doctor’s note or ID card; visit the site for a full list of approved documents.

Reduced fares are also available on buses (such as Greyhound) and other trains both here and abroad, including Japan, London, and Singapore.
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alamourus  

Ask for Assistance

Ask for Assistance

Whether at airports, hotels, train, or bus stations, alert the staff in advance so they can help with your needs. For example, airline staff can assist with getting through security faster. At the very least, familiarize yourself with TSA guidelines to learn about security procedures, such as traveling with a service animal. Amtrak also provides services upon request, including Red Cap agents who will carry luggage onto the train. Amtrak also allows service animals, but review its guidelines beforehand.  

Even when assistance isn’t needed, it’s important to make staff aware of any issues, since a family member might not be present all the time. Nancy Nadler, deputy executive director at the Center for Hearing and Communication, recommends alerting staff of a disability in the event of an emergency or important announcement.
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andresr  

Apply for a Free Access Pass from the National Park Service

Apply for a Free Access Pass from the National Park Service

Any U.S. citizen with a permanent disability, including hearing and vision loss, is eligible to receive a free, lifetime access pass to any of the national parks, monuments, historic sites, and more. 960 1280

Csondy  

Consider a Cruise

Consider a Cruise

By law, all cruise lines sailing in U.S. waters are supposed to be ADA-compliant, making them an ideal option. However, ADA guidelines for cruise ships aren’t standardized, so the level of service and resources vary—be sure to research each line. However, for those who are blind or have low vision, Royal Caribbean provides orientation tours, large-print menus and daily activity lists, and qualified readers. Braille signs are available in elevators and public areas, and service animals are also allowed. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Royal Caribbean will provide a TTY phone in the room, along with a visual alert system for the phone, door, smoke detector, and alarm clock. With advance notice (at least 60 days ahead) the ship will even provide sign language interpreters on cruises between the U.S. and Canada. 960 1280

joyt  

Head to a Disney Theme Park

Head to a Disney Theme Park

A Disney vacation is another great option for families, since the parks are sensitive to a wide range of needs. Those with vision issues can take advantage of handheld audio description devices, which provide visual details for various attractions and shows. Braille guidebooks and digital audio tours are available, and Braille maps are located throughout the parks. Service animals are allowed too.

Hard-of-hearing services include handheld, reflective, and video captioning, assistive-listening devices, and sign language interpretation at some of the live shows. However, sign language interpretation is available at other performances, such as Disney’s Spirit of Aloha, if it’s requested 14 days in advance. In-room options include TTY phones, strobe-light smoke detectors, and a bed shaker notification device.
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JIM WATSON / Staff  

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

The U.S. Department of State offers a free service that allows you to share trip information with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate at your destination, facilitating notification in the event of an emergency. More importantly, there’s a section under Traveler Information that allows you to enter any relevant special needs information. 960 1280

Murray River Walk  

Know Before You Go

Know Before You Go

This includes visiting the doctor before the trip and researching doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals at your destination. The American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation all provide comprehensive travel information. 960 1280

takasuu  

Plan Snacks and Meals in Advance

Plan Snacks and Meals in Advance

Holley Grainger, a registered dietitian and culinary nutrition expert, recommends bringing meals or snacks that are rich in fiber and protein, such as individual peanut butter packets with whole grain crackers, dried fruit and nuts, or string cheese. Conversely, depending on your destination, some of these items can also be found at airports and convenience stores. When eating out, Grainger says to be mindful of portion control, and choose meals that offer a balance of protein, fiber-rich carbs, healthy fat, and a vegetable. Beware of alcohol; the ADA has a tip sheet that covers specifics.

On international flights that include meals, request a diabetic meal in advance if possible, since Grainger says many airplane meals include too many carbohydrates. 
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bonchan  

Pack Enough Medical Supplies

Pack Enough Medical Supplies

“Be over-prepared in case of every scenario that you can think of,” says Dr. Amber Champion, director of The Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center. For example, she recommends pump users bring a spare pump and an extra supply of basal (or long-acting) insulin. Other necessary supplies, depending on the type of diabetes, might include insulin, medication, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, syringes, a blood glucose meter, and test strips. Be sure to pack these in a carry-on bag. A cooler for insulin is also necessary if traveling to the beach, an extremely hot destination, or for an extended period of time. Otherwise, Dr. Champion says insulin can last for 28 days at normal room temperature. 960 1280

zaretskaya  

Know Airport and Flight Procedures

Know Airport and Flight Procedures

Allow extra time for going through security and customs at the airport; review the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for special procedures beforehand concerning medications, liquids, supplies, and more. Dr. Champion says the TSA doesn’t typically question items like pumps or syringes, but they’re less common in some foreign countries, so it’s best to bring a doctor’s letter. It’s equally important to be aware of what’s allowed through customs at your destination; certain prescription medications are illegal in other countries, like Dubai. The ADA provides a comprehensive guide to air travel and diabetes, as does the CDC.

During the flight, the altitude change during the ascent and descent can affect some pumps. Dr. Champion advises disconnecting it during take-off and landing to prevent it from administering extra insulin. However, speak with a doctor about your personal situation beforehand.
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Fertnig  

Be Alert for High and Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

Be Alert for High and Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

Signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can include nervousness, dizziness, and feeling shaky or light-headed. Grainger notes that symptoms can strike quickly and affect a person’s ability to think clearly, in which case the travel companion should carry glucose tablets as a quick fix. They’re easy to find at drugstores and supermarkets in the U.S., but carry extra when traveling abroad. Grainger notes that orange juice is a good backup too, and Dr. Champion says that small bags of candy such as Skittles or jelly beans are easy to carry and also work. For extreme hypoglycemia, a travel companion should know how to inject glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar. Dr. Champion recommends an app called Glucagon that walks you through the steps.

Signs of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can include increased thirst, dry mouth, blurry vision, vomiting, shortness of breath, headache, and even stomach pain. Consult a doctor before a trip to discuss treatment options, which, depending on the severity, range from administering an extra dose of insulin to visiting an emergency room. Dr. Champion says to leave insulin injections to the paramedics.
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Aydın Mutlu  

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Some travel insurance plans only cover financial losses. Check the U.S. Department of State for a list of recommended medical providers. Be sure to choose one that includes medical evacuation, or medevac, in case of an emergency; that option could be cost-prohibitive if insurance doesn’t cover it. It’s also important to research doctors and hospitals at your destination. 960 1280

alexandrumagurean  

Adhere to a Regular Schedule

Adhere to a Regular Schedule

Both Grainger and Dr. Champion advise sticking to a regular schedule as much as possible, both with meals and insulin, especially when changing time zones. Those with Type 1 diabetes need to time insulin injections with meals, and injections need to be at set times. Eating at least every three to four hours can also help prevent any blood sugar dips. 960 1280

lola1960  

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Frequently

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Frequently

An increased activity level, time zone changes, and eating differently can all affect glucose levels. Stay on track by checking glucose levels more than normal. Travel companions shouldn’t be afraid to remind those with diabetes to check it, since it can be easy to forget while on vacation.   960 1280

dolgachov  

Wear a Medical Alert Bracelet

Wear a Medical Alert Bracelet

It’s reasonable to assume that someone with diabetes will have periods when they’re alone, if even for a few minutes. In the event of an emergency, such as a rapid onset of hypoglycemia, a medical alert bracelet can help paramedics quickly identify the problem. In addition, Dr. Champion advises that everyone with diabetes should carry a card with them at all times that includes a list of medications, their doctor’s name and number, and medical conditions.   960 1280

Jill Fromer  

Avoid Going Barefoot

Avoid Going Barefoot

Dr. Champion says this is especially true for patients with neuropathy, a condition that causes numbness in the feet, which poses an infection risk if they step on something and cut their foot without knowing it. However, Dr. Champion notes even those with Type 2 diabetes don’t always realize they have neuropathy. It’s best to err on the side of caution and always wear footwear, whether indoors or at the beach. 960 1280

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Plan in Advance

Plan in Advance

Whether you’re traveling with someone with a permanent or temporary physical disability, the challenges remain the same. The U.S. Department of State is a good general resource, while The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) details what accommodations should be made. Even though U.S. hotels, transportation, and cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters are required to be ADA-compliant, don’t assume that the foreign equivalent will be. If transportation, a cruise, hotel, or other lodging (such as Airbnb) isn’t ADA-compliant, call ahead to discuss what accommodations can be made.

Other planning resources include Mobility International USA, which has helpful articles on charging wheelchair batteries and taking a service animal abroad. Curb Free with Cory Lee blogs about traveling the world in a wheelchair, and is a comprehensive guide to everything from the most accessible destinations to the pros and cons of bringing a wheelchair.
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Alija  

Try to Replicate the Home Routine

Try to Replicate the Home Routine

Timothy Holtz is the group travel director of Flying Wheels Travel, an agency specializing in trips for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. When planning an itinerary, for example, he emphasizes the importance of factoring in the stamina of the person in the wheelchair. If that person has more energy in the morning, then plan sightseeing around that. Holtz says to avoid doing too much in a day. He adds that some people are resistant to taking naps while on vacation, even if they regularly take them at home, but that decision can make or break a trip due to fatigue. “If you require it at home, plan on requiring it in a vacation schedule as well,” he says. 960 1280

andresr  

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Some travel insurance plans only cover financial losses, and Medicare doesn’t cover overseas travel. Check the U.S. Department of State for a list of recommended medical providers. Be sure to choose one that includes medical evacuation, or medevac, in case of an emergency; that option could be cost-prohibitive if insurance doesn’t cover it. 
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alexandrumagurean  

Use a Specialized Travel Agent or Company

Use a Specialized Travel Agent or Company

Nowadays, everywhere from Bali and Turkey to Russia and India are accessible for independent and group travelers with physical limitations. A knowledgeable agent can craft an itinerary that works for everyone, advise on whether or not a hotel is fully accessible, and arrange private transportation in a less accessible destination. Holtz says he’s taken people to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, and more, and made adjustments in places that aren’t ADA-compliant, such as modifying rooms by adding grab bars in the shower. Agents also have firsthand knowledge of accessible destinations. For example, Holtz says London and Barcelona are among his top picks for independent accessible travel. Both cities are sensitive to special needs since each hosted the Olympics and Paralympics. Further, all cabs are accessible in London. Holtz says Italy is popular for group travel, “but you really have to know what you’re doing.” He notes that even Venice is accessible if planned right, since it has accessible wheelchair boats—plus an accessible Gondola just opened this year.

In addition to Flying Wheels Travel, other companies that run trips for those in wheelchairs include Accessible Journeys. The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality is another resource for finding agents and companies.
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bluejayphoto  

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

The U.S. Department of State offers STEP as a free service that allows you to share trip information with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate of your destination; this way it’s easy to be notified in the event of an emergency. More importantly, there’s a section under Traveler Information that allows you to enter any relevant information about a physical limitation. 960 1280

  

Arrange Accessible Accommodation

Arrange Accessible Accommodation

If you're planning an independent trip, Holtz says to consider what you typically need to do at home. For example, if you have a roll-in shower at home with a shower bench, look for that in a hotel. ADA-compliant hotels should also contain grab bars. Holtz cautions that when contacting non-ADA-compliant hotels, “many people don’t understand what fully accessible means,” such as not realizing that one step can be a barrier to someone in a wheelchair. Other considerations to ask non-ADA-compliant hotels are whether a wheelchair can fit through the room and bathroom doors, and if there’s enough room to maneuver a wheelchair once in the room. 960 1280

kiko_jimenez  

Arrange Assistance While Flying

Arrange Assistance While Flying

Holtz says to allow at least two hours for domestic and connecting flights, and three hours for international flights. He also recommends arranging wheelchair assistance with the airline ahead of time, and double check 48 hours beforehand. At the airport, remind the check-in counter that you need wheelchair assistance. Holtz says family members should allow assistance, since agents can help with luggage and get everyone through security faster. At the very least, review TSA guidelines for special procedures. Remind the gate agent that you need assistance so that everyone in your group can preboard.

If someone is traveling with their own wheelchair, Holtz says to remove and take everything from the wheelchair that could fall off and get lost during storage, including the foot rest, head rest, and any cushions. On board, every U.S. airline that seats more than 60 and is equipped with an accessible bathroom is required to have an aisle wheelchair. Holtz suggests always requesting an aisle seat close to the bathroom. Finally, he notes that those in wheelchairs are last off the plane, so factor in that time and allow help through customs, if applicable.
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Gizelka  

Decide Whether to Bring or Borrow a Wheelchair

Decide Whether to Bring or Borrow a Wheelchair

This depends on the nature of the trip and the needs of the user. The pros of bringing one include the known comfort level of the person using it, and not having to worry about arranging one for every step of the journey. On the other hand, if it’s electric, for example, you will have to factor in power outlet access for charging it. If you're flying, review the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Air Carrier Access Act for rights on U.S. airlines. It’s also important to understand the laws for where you’re going. 960 1280

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Take Advantage of Discounts

Take Advantage of Discounts

For example, Amtrak offers discounts (from 15%-50%) to wheelchair users and a travel companion. You must show proof of your disability, such as a doctor’s note or transit ID card; visit the site for a full list of approved documents. Reduced fares for those with physical limitations are also available on buses (such as Greyhound) and trains both here and abroad, including Japan, London, Singapore and more.

The National Park Service Access Pass is free for U.S. citizens with permanent disabilities and grants access to any of the national parks, monuments, historic sites, and more. Museums, zoos, and theme parks are some other attractions that typically offer discounts.
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tonda  

Don’t Forget the Needs of the Caregiver

Don’t Forget the Needs of the Caregiver

If a wheelchair user is in a manual (as opposed to an electric) wheelchair, Holtz says the needs of the caregiver pushing that person are often forgotten. He advises against seeing too much in one day to account for the stamina of both people. Holtz also advises considering the amount of care someone needs, which affects how much energy the caregiver has to expend. For example, if the caregiver has to get up early to help the person in a wheelchair get ready, then both people might need a nap in the afternoon.

Flying Wheels Travel offers travel companions on both independent and group tours, which gives the caretaker or spouse a vacation as well. 
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Susan Chiang  

Peanuts at 30,000 Feet

Peanuts at 30,000 Feet

Peanut allergies are among the most severe, yet peanuts are synonymous with in-flight snacks. Many airlines no longer serve peanuts–check the airline website for policies–though other passengers may bring peanut snacks aboard. Airlines such as Southwest will not serve peanuts if contacted a few days before the flight. Speak to a gate agent before your family's flight and ask to pre-board in order to wipe down the seat and area where your family will be seating to remove any peanut dust and particles. Flight attendents can also make announcements before takeoff asking passengers to please not open peanut-containing snacks during the flight.  960 1280

Hero Images  

Give Yourself Extra Time for Security

Give Yourself Extra Time for Security

If you travel with more than 3 ounces of liquids, such as almond milk, peanut butter or apple sauce, it's helpful to have a doctor's note to present to TSA agents, if necessary. Give yourself extra time in security for additional screening of items, but you shouldn't have any trouble getting an exception. 960 1280

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Epinephrine Injections

Epinephrine Injections

The TSA considers epinephrine injectors a medical necessity, and allows them to be carried aboard flights. Epinephrine injectors should be bagged with other carry-on liquids for inspection. At least two injectors should be available (consider one injection lasts for about 20 minutes), and if you're traveling alone, notify your flight attendent where your injectors are should you go into anaphylaxis. Make sure they are clearly labled and accessible. Airplanes carry at least one epinephrine injector in the onboard medical kit as well, and flight attendents are trained in their use.
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mario loiselle  

Gluten Testers are Coming Soon

Gluten Testers are Coming Soon

Devices such as Nima Portable Gluten Tester will enter the market this year, allowing travelers to test food for gluten and other ingredients. Nima uses one-use capsules that are $5 each, and hopefully prices will come down as more products come on line. 960 1280

JPM  

Pack More Snacks Than You Think You'll Need

Pack More Snacks Than You Think You'll Need

It sounds obvious, but many people get caught off-guard by flight delays, lack of restaurants that accomodate special diets and other hiccups while traveling. Pack more diverse, safe snacks then you think you'll need, or even full meals such as those from GoPicnic. For kids, pack extra special treats as something to look forward to during the travel day.  960 1280

Kolett  

Helpful Apps

Helpful Apps

Apps such as Find Me Gluten Free, Happy Cow and Allergy Eats are invaluable for finding restaurants that accomodate food allergies. Familiarize yourself with the apps before you travel and contact restaurants in airports and destinations that seem safe beforehand. 960 1280

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Plan Ahead for Peace of Mind

Plan Ahead for Peace of Mind

Familiarize yourself with medical facilities near your destination that can treat an allergic reaction, if necessary, and have your doctor transfer any prescriptions that you may need filled when traveling ahead of time. Consider how you would replace EpiPens used during a flight, for example. 960 1280

takasuu  

Translate Your Needs

Translate Your Needs

If you're not fluent in the language of your destination, create a translated card beforehand you can present at restaurants that lists ingredients you need to avoid, along with a brief explaination. Be aware that foods with which you're familiar with at home may use different ingredients abroad, such as types of flour or nuts. 960 1280