5 Surprising Destinations for Family Travel

It’s no secret that traveling with children has some limitations. (Who’s signing up for zip lining or a wine tour with young kids in tow?) But that doesn’t mean you have to feel constrained to focusing on mouse ears and a top 10 amusement parks list. Check out these top destinations and it just might surprise you how great these spots are for families.

You Might Also Like

Photos

Family Kingdom

Family Kingdom

Family Kingdom is an oceanfront amusement and water park in one. Splashes the water park takes the lazy river up a notch and offers water flumes with 100-foot drops. Family Kingdom has just added a Twist-and-Shout steel roller coaster to its fleet of more than 30 rides bumper cars and Go-Kart tracks. 960 1280

MBACVB  

Water Sports

Water Sports

If the kids (and adults) are looking for more than just a day at the beach, take part in a popular water sport. Little ones will have fun clinging to a banana boat, older speed demons can take out jet skis -- or pair off and sail high above the water on a parasailing trip. 960 1280

iStock  

Miniature Golf

Miniature Golf

As you'd expect from the "golf capital of the world" Myrtle's mini-golf courses don't disappoint. Our top pick? Whimsical Captain Hook's Adventure Golf where the whole family can play through 2 different 18-hole courses – complete with a 15-foot smoking skull. 960 1280

Jason Barnette  

Myrtle Waves Water Park

Myrtle Waves Water Park

At South Carolina's largest water park more than 1 million gallons of water pumps through Waves' raft rides wild rapids and slides. Open mid-May to mid-September families will be pleased to find covered picnic areas and certified lifeguards on duty at all times. 960 1280

Myrtle Waves Water Park  

Medieval Times

Medieval Times

Yes it's pure kitsch but your little knight or princess will get a kick out of Medieval Times' dinner show. Expect an entertaining joisting tournament lots of horses and crowd participation. Just don't expect silverware to come with His Majesty's royal feast. 960 1280

MBACVB  

ATV Tour

ATV Tour

Get the family outdoors and off-roading with Caroline Backwoods ATV adventures. No experience is necessary to explore the approximately 2-hour Down n Dirty and High n Dry (ok semi-dry) trails. Kids under the age of 12 can ride on the back of a family member's ATV. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Children's Museum of South Carolina

Children's Museum of South Carolina

The perfect rainy day activity take the kids to explore the Children's Museum of South Carolina. With weekly story and craft times as well as exhibits like the Imagination Playground and Bubble Mania there's plenty to keep your kids happy and entertained. 960 1280

MBACVB  

WonderWorks

WonderWorks

Chances are your kids will be begging to go to WonderWorks once they spot its upside-down building at Broadway at the Beach but the Anti-Gravity Chamber Bed of Nails Lazer Tag and Ropes Course appeal to kids of all ages -- and some adults too. 960 1280

WonderWorks  

Ripley's Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium

Like no aquarium you've been to before at Ripley's Aquarium you can glide on a 330-foot moving path beneath the dangerous reef through sharks and stingrays visit rainbow rock (the Indo-Pacific coral reef) and more. 960 1280

Ripley's Aquarium  

MagiQuest

MagiQuest

The world's largest live-action role-playing game MagiQuest allows your kids to enter an enchanted fantasy world and choose their adventure -- all with the wave of a wand! Will they befriend a pixie? Slay a dragon? Learn from an ancient wizard? You guess is as good as ours but we're sure you'll hear all about it. 960 1280

MBACVB  

Pier at Garden City

Pier at Garden City

Every night during the summer, enjoy live music or karaoke at The Pier at Garden City, just 8 miles south of Myrtle Beach. Listen to the music, grab a snack at Sam's Corner diner or let the kids play a few rounds at the arcade. 960 1280

MBACVB  

Frank Theatres Cinebowl & Grille

Frank Theatres Cinebowl & Grille

Summer vacation is synonymous with the summer blockbuster. After a day in the sun head to Frank Theatres Cinebowl & Grille in Murrells Inlet for a little bowling and a big screen. 960 1280

MBACVB  

Hiking in a Local Park

Hiking in a Local Park

There’s no better way to see America than through the eyes of our national and state parks. Even the youngest family members can set off on a family-friendly hike at a local park.
960 1280

Jack Affleck / Getty Images  

Pumkpin Picking Perfection

Pumkpin Picking Perfection

You know fall is in full swing when Halloween season comes around. Head to a local pumpkin patch to pick out a winner, perfect for decorating and carving. 960 1280

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images  

State Fairs and Amusement Parks

State Fairs and Amusement Parks

The season for state fairs continues well into fall. Grab the kids and head out to a fairground near you for family fun. You can also head to a nearby amusement park for one more spin on the Ferris wheel. 960 1280

Lumigraphics / Getty Images  

Museum Madness

Museum Madness

Check out family programs at local museums for a day of culture and fun. Cool exhibits expose kids to culture, art, history and science outside of the classroom. 960 1280

Corbis / VCG / Getty Images  

Sports, Sports and More Sports

Sports, Sports and More Sports

As they say, "the family that plays together, stays together." Set up a day of family yard games or head to a local stadium to take in one of your hometown’s professional sports teams. 960 1280

Jason Lugo / Getty Images  

Apple Picking Adventure

Apple Picking Adventure

Bring the family together with an apple-picking excursion at a local orchard. Fill up a bushel of crunchy, ripe apples perfect for apple pie or homemade applesauce. 960 1280

ericmichaud / Getty Images  

Animal Adventure at the Zoo

Animal Adventure at the Zoo

Head to the nearest zoo for an amazing animal adventure. An African safari may be out of the budget (and out of your zip code), but you can get close to extra-large animals at a local zoo. 960 1280

Christopher Allan / Getty Images  

Camping Under the Stars

Camping Under the Stars

Enjoy a night in the great outdoors, camping under the stars in your own backyard or a local park. But if you can’t escape the light pollution of the city, head to a local planetarium or observatory to get a glimpse at the universe. 960 1280

Aleksandar Nakic / Getty Images  

Wet and Wild Water Play

Wet and Wild Water Play

Don’t pack away that swimsuit just yet, there is still more splashing and fun to be had. Visit an indoor water park or hotel pool for some wet and wild adventures. 960 1280

Aleksander Rubtsov / Getty Images  

Wingaersheek Beach - Massachusetts

Wingaersheek Beach - Massachusetts

Wingaersheek (pronounced Wing-er-sheek) Beach near Gloucester, Massachusetts, is great for families because the sea here is like one giant bathtub. The ocean at Wingaersheek is largely protected by the Ipswitch peninsula, so it's usually calm and warm, creating perfect swimming conditions for the little ones. At low tide, sand flats seem to stretch forever (or at least to the Annisquam River). 960 1280

Garry Black / Getty Images  

Wingaersheek Beach - Massachusetts

Wingaersheek Beach - Massachusetts

Another benefit: glorious tide pools, which are perfect places for inquisitive tykes to get up-close-and-personal with snails, hermit crabs, sea stars and other critters. Perhaps the only downside to this natural treasure is parking; since beach access is smack in the middle of a residential area, daily fees can be steep. 960 1280

Garry Black / Getty Images  

Bean Hollow State Beach - California

Bean Hollow State Beach - California

Pocket beaches are plentiful along the San Mateo County Coast south of San Francisco, but Bean Hollow offers something different: privacy. Bookended by wind- and water-carved bluffs, the beach has a number of natural nooks and crannies that are perfect for family picnics--and Frisbee, book-reading or some serious sunbathing. 960 1280

A K Potts Photography / Getty Images  

Bean Hollow State Beach - California

Bean Hollow State Beach - California

There's also a self-guided nature trail that winds atop the bluffs, offering a great vantage point from which to see passing grey whales (in the winter and spring). Three miles up the road, in the sleepy town of Pescadero, be sure to bring the family on a tour of Harley Farms Goat Dairy, where kids can feed, pet and even milk a bunch of alpine goats. 960 1280

Mark Miller Photos / Getty Images  

Robert Moses State Park - New York

Robert Moses State Park - New York

When most New Yorkers seek ocean waves, they flock to Jones Beach, one of the oldest and most famous stretches of shore on the Eastern Seaboard. Farther east along the Fire Island National Seashore, however, is another beach that sees far less tourist traffic: Robert Moses State Park. Kids will love wake-boarding and wave-jumping in the lively surf; parents will appreciate that the beach isn't crawling with humans. 960 1280

Stephen O'Byrne / Getty Images  

Robert Moses State Park - New York

Robert Moses State Park - New York

Toward the eastern end of the beach, past Field 5, the circa-1891, black-and-white ringed Fire Island Lighthouse, is a living window into the past, offering tours and historical photos of yesteryear. Be warned: just beyond the lighthouse is a nude beach. 960 1280

rickberk / Getty Images  

Kure Beach - North Carolina

Kure Beach - North Carolina

This tiny seaside community sits at the southern tip of North Carolina's Pleasure Island--a strip of barrier beaches that front the Atlantic--and while some of its northern neighbors are teeming with tourists in the summer, Kure remains fairly empty. That's good news for vacationing families, who usually have most of the town's attractions to themselves. 960 1280

Gary Tognoni / Getty Images  

Kure Beach - North Carolina

Kure Beach - North Carolina

On the list of must-sees: the fishing pier, which is the oldest on the Atlantic Coast; and the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Center, which spotlights shipwrecks and dive sites nearby. The ocean beaches are breathtaking; for a more off-beat experience, hike the trail at sound-side Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and look for native plants and animals along the way. 960 1280

Gary Tognoni / Getty Images  

Ebey's Landing - Washington

Ebey's Landing - Washington

Technically speaking, Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve contains 17,500 acres, 18 farms, 400 historical structures, two state parks and the second-oldest town in the state of Washington (Coupeville). We, however, love its beach best. On a clear day, the rocky, driftwood-strewn shoreline serves up too-amazing-to-believe views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier off in the distance. 960 1280

Randall J Hodges / Getty Images  

Ebey's Landing - Washington

Ebey's Landing - Washington

A three-mile bluff trail provides even more perspective on these sites, and some good (read: protected from the elements) picnic spots for the family to spend an hour. For children who appreciate wildlife, nearby saltwater lagoons and wetland marshes are teeming with birds; with the right pair of binoculars, it's like going to the zoo, only free. 960 1280

nik wheeler / Getty Images  

The Hot List

Explore America’s most stunning scenery.
Join the conversation on Social Media!
Stay updated on the latest travel tips and trends.
Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.