Travel's Best Amusement Parks and Water Parks 2014

From Tokyo’s DisneySea to Tennessee’s Dollywood, our advisors handpicked the most thrilling theme parks for our family fun list, Travel's Best Amusement and Water Parks 2014.

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After over 1,200 votes, Lahaina Beach, Maui, was named Viewers' Choice: Best Overall Beach. Commenters like Garuga, OH, agreed, "It's the most beautiful place in the world." 960 1280

Ron Chapple studios  

Best Party Beach: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Five miles long and less than 1 mile wide, Paradise Island is a mecca for nightlife mostly thanks to mega-resort Atlantis Paradise Island's clubs and casinos.
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Best Family Beach: Cape May, New Jersey
Jersey's most historic beach also has a wholesome atmosphere and pristine beaches ideal for kids.
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Best Romantic Beach: Matira Beach, Bora Bora, Tahiti
There are a number of reasons why Bora Bora boasts the nickname "the Romantic Island," including the secluded beaches, intimate hotels and quiet atmosphere that embraces visitors in Matira.
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Sexiest Beach: Copacabana Beach, Rio, Brazil
Rio is the hot spot for some of the sexiest sunbathers in the world and home to Copacabana Beach, the world's most famous beach.
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Best Beach Bars: Tropicana Beach Bar, Mykonos, Greece
The Tropicana Beach Bar sits on Paradise Beach and throws the greatest early-evening beach parties. A hot spot for young people, the drinks flow from early morning until long past sunset.
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Tropicana Beach Bar  

Best Beach You Haven't Heard of Yet: Llandudno Beach, South Africa
Is seclusion your idea of paradise? Then welcome to Llandudno, a cliffside resort near Cape Town, South Africa, so tucked away you’ll find nary a shop or street light in view.
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Best Beach for Adventure: Cave Diving in Whangarei, New Zealand
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are an exciting playground for thrill seekers and nature lovers.
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Best Exotic Beach: Anse Source d'Argent, Seychelles
Not only did the Royal Couple honeymoon in the Seychelles but Anse Source d'Argent manages to be tropical, homey, understated and classy all at once.
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Best Scenic Beach: Zlatni Rat, Bol, Brac Island, Croatia
The Golden Horn sandbar is 580 yards long and provides this beach with a unique shape and unparalleled people-watching.
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10. Best Beach Boardwalk: Ocean City, MD
With boardwalk fries, its famous Grotto pizza and all the shops and rides expected of a great boardwalk, it's easy to see why Ocean City, Maryland topped our picks.
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Ewan Traveler, flickr  

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Hudson Valley, New York

Hudson Valley, New York

“What’s on my fall drive checklist? Sinuous roads, sweeping vistas, elevation changes, barns and more barns, pleasant farm animals, homes you wish you could live in, a farmers market and and a cool diner for lunch. My favorite fall drive this year has all of the above and then some. As an agricultural area, Duchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley has some of the most beautiful land you’ll ever set your eyes on.” – Samantha Brown, Travel Host 960 1280

Dutchess County Tourism  

Hudson Valley Road Trip

Hudson Valley Road Trip

“Use Route 82 and Route 44 in Salt Point, NY, as your bookends and all the roads in between as your playground.” – Samantha Brown, Travel Host

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Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

“Head to Deep Creek Lake in Maryland to enjoy gorgeous views by car along 2 fall foliage heritage tours. Motor along Route 219 up to the Deep Creek Lake overlook in McHenry for a look at the lake, ski slopes and breathtaking autumn foliage before heading back to the visitors center as part of a 90-minute driving loop.”  -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i> 960 1280

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce  

Deep Creek Lake Road Trip

Deep Creek Lake Road Trip

“For a longer drive try Historic National Road, which starts near Deep Creek Lake and winds through 6 states. Foliage peaks in early- to mid-October. Slow down for parades, pumpkin chucking and ice cream sundae-eating contests at the annual Autumn Glory Festival (Oct. 9-13), a real family favorite.” -- Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com

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Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

“An easy drive from Washington, DC, Harpers Ferry in West Virginia has fall foliage that’s worth the drive the third to fourth week in October. When we take the kids, I like the Jefferson Rock hike, which is less than 1 mile and has a vista overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.” -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i> 960 1280

Jeffrey D. Walters / Moment / Getty Images  

Harpers Ferry Road Trip

Harpers Ferry Road Trip

“Another good spot for leaf peeping is Bolivar Heights, a Civil War battlefield across from the park entrance. You’ll find easy, flat trails and great views.” -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i><br/><br/><a href="https://roadtrippers.com/trips/521e22ce9d0782c36b0000f3 " target="_blank"><b>See Interactive Map</b></a> 960 1280

  

Route 112, New Hampshire

Route 112, New Hampshire

“This grand dame of foliage routes -- the ‘Kanc’ (Kancamagus Highway) -- is always worth a drive, but I suggest taking Route 112 west past the quaint little town of Woodstock, NH. Continue on Route 112 to Kinsman Notch at Beaver Pond -- a great spot for beginners and pros alike to photograph fall foliage.” -- <i> Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer</i>  960 1280

Denis Jr. Tangney / E+ / Getty Images  

Route 112 Road Trip

Route 112 Road Trip

“The best part of this area outside of the White Mountains is all the little side roads to explore. I found Coffin Pond off Route 116 -- don’t get going too fast or you will miss it. On a windless day it can have incredible reflections of the low hills surrounding the pond.” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer

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Route 7, Vermont

Route 7, Vermont

“In southern Vermont, Route 7 runs north/south through the Green Mountains. During a stretch just north of Bennington is a valley between 2 ridgelines covered in trees, many of them maples and birch. Around Oct. 12-15 is a great time to take a drive up Route 7 to see peak colors.” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer 960 1280

Jeff Folger  

Route 7 Road Trip

Route 7 Road Trip

“You also have a great little college town in Manchester to explore and shop in and the home of Robert Todd Lincoln for history buffs. Then the road names are very interesting. If you get a good map book out, you will find places like Mad Tom Notch -- doesn’t that scream to be explored?” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin

"Wisconsin is a magical land in the North, where the beer flows like wine and there are rivers of cheese. Not really, but pretty close to it. The Badger State is also the homeland of American architectural icon Frank Lloyd Wright. Fall is the perfect time of year to visit his organic designs, which are particularly stunning when set amidst the changing fall foliage.” -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com 960 1280

Taliesin Preservation, Inc.  

Wisconsin Road Trip

Wisconsin Road Trip

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes and buildings were designed to work in harmony with their environment. Driving through southern Wisconsin, some highlights include Taliesin, Wright’s summer home, Wingspread, the ‘epitome of organic architecture,’ and the Seth Peterson Cottage, which you can rent as a vacation home." -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com

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Twain’s Great River Road, Mississippi to Hannibal, MO

Twain’s Great River Road, Mississippi to Hannibal, MO

"As a boy in England, I was obsessed with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Loquacious and satirical, Mark Twain really knows how to woo a man. Driving down the Mississippi to Hannibal, MO, it isn’t too hard to find the inspiration behind Twain’s iconic coming-of-age novel. Traveling along Twain’s Great River Road during autumn provides incredible leaf-peeping opportunities at every bend.” -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com 960 1280

Courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism  

Twain’s Great River Road Trip

Twain’s Great River Road Trip

“This road trip finishes up in Hannibal, where you can visit Twain’s boyhood home and a slew of other Twain-inspired attractions." -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com

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Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania

“Living in the Northeast we are blessed with beautiful fall foliage color due to an abundance of sugar maple and birch trees that turn vibrant orange, red and yellow each year. One of my favorite local drives for a day of leaf peeping is Ricketts Glen State Park off Route 29 and Route 487 in northeast Pennsylvania. The combination of 22 waterfalls, mountains and gorgeous 200-year-old trees make for absolutely stunning photos.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist 960 1280

OGphoto  

Ricketts Glen State Park Road Trip

Ricketts Glen State Park Road Trip

“While the drive here is spectacular, you’ll have to brave a 3-mile hike to really experience the stunning fall color. The waterfalls make it well worth getting out of the car, and the photos and memories of a great day trip will last a lifetime.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist

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Skyline Drive, Virginia

Skyline Drive, Virginia

“I fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains when I went to college in the “Valley” in Harrisonburg, VA. Weekend trips to escape campus often included hiking or driving through the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. There’s no better time to visit this National Scenic Byway than fall, when the fall foliage peaks the second to third week in October. Now that I live in Washington, DC, it’s only a few hours away -- still perfect for a weekend fall getaway.” -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Getty Images  

Skyline Drive Road Trip

Skyline Drive Road Trip

“One of the best parts of Skyline Drive is from Front Royal to Rt. 211 -- it’s around 32 miles, with plenty of overlooks for snapping photos. These days, I like to combine my leaf peeping with wine tasting in Virginia’s Wine Country, too. There’s no shortage of wineries to stop at in the area, but some of my favorites include Fox Meadow Vineyards and Gray Ghost Vineyards.” -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer, Travel Channel

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Lake Wallenpaupack, Northeast Pennsylvania

Lake Wallenpaupack, Northeast Pennsylvania

“Another great spot even closer to the Big Apple is Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack in northeast Pennsylvania. The good news: Here at Weather Trends we are projecting ideal fall color this year in the Northeast due to very favorable summer and fall weather conditions unlike last year when record October cold and Superstorm Sandy made for a very short and somewhat dull season.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist 960 1280

Lake Wallenpaupack/ The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, PoconoMountains.com  

Lake Wallenpaupack Road Trip

Lake Wallenpaupack Road Trip

“Stop in Hawley for some lunch and be sure to take the hour scenic boat ride around the lake for more stunning photos.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist

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Fan Favorite: Smoky Mountains

Fan Favorite: Smoky Mountains

We asked you what we missed on our list and for you to tell us your favorite fall foliage road trip. It was a landslide – The Great Smoky Mountains won out! Hop in your car and take in the scenery as you drive around Gatlinburg, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the scenic Smokies. Now is the perfect time -- fall colors peak here in mid-October. 960 1280

Zhuzhu / iStock / Getty Images  

Blackberry Farm Walland TN

Blackberry Farm Walland TN

People may not think of Tennessee as a typical spot for an all-inclusive vacation, but BlackBerry Farm is exceptional. "This secluded Smoky Mountains escape is one of the top destinations in the country for foodies and outdoorsy types, and the delicious farm-to-table cuisine is included in the price," says Kelsey Blodget, managing editor of Oyster.com.

Check out our previous list, Travel's Best All-Inclusive Resorts 2014, if you're looking for more travel inspiration for a worry-free getaway.
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Kreis Beall and Heather Anne Thomas  

Carlisle Bay, Antigua

Carlisle Bay, Antigua

Carlisle Bay is an intimate, comfortable and contemporary resort on the Caribbean island of Antigua. "Each of the 82 suites, ranging from studio to 3-bedroom, boasts ocean views and amenities that will have you yearning for nothing, other than more time to spend in paradise," says Susan B. Barnes, travel writer for TravlinGirl.com. Carlisle Bay’s amenities include the Blue Spa, a state-of-the-art health club, a multimedia screening room, 3 bars, 4 restaurants and a pool. 960 1280

  

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Antigua

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Antigua

Jumby Bay Resort has 5 places to dine; the Sense Spa with breathtaking views of the Caribbean; an 82-foot, family-friendly pool; an oceanfront infinity pool; and luxe accommodations that range from rooms and suites to villas and beach homes. "This resort is perfect for couples or families and a little more distinctive than your typical Sandals or other all-inclusive resort," says Anthony Melchiorri, hotel fixer on Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. 960 1280

  

Marival Resort & Suites Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Marival Resort & Suites Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

The Marival Resort & Suites is the place to go if you’re looking for an all-inclusive getaway. "Don’t miss out on the great deals," says Kwin Mosby. "Book an all-inclusive room or suite and receive a $250 airfare credit or a spa credit. Bring the family, and you can cut 50% off the regular rate." Talk to the concierge about an array of fun activities in the area, such as a 4x4 mountain adventure or a sunset cruise to the private cove, Las Caletas. 960 1280

  

One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico

One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico

"One& Only Palmilla is one of the top all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon," says Kelsey Blodget. And when they say it's all-inclusive, they mean it. Guest won't believe the numerous unexpected extras are included – from luggage unpacking to 24-hour butler service to snacks delivered to the rooms. Gorgeous room decor incorporates traditional Mexican accents, and some have private pools with ocean views. 960 1280

One&Only  

Parrot Cay and Como Shambhala Retreat, Turks and Caicos

Parrot Cay and Como Shambhala Retreat, Turks and Caicos

"For those looking for a secluded, uber-decadent getaway in the Caribbean, this is hands-down one of the best options out there," says Kelsey Blodget. Parrot Cay by Como is a 30-minute boat ride from Providenciales in Turks and Caicos, with a jaw-dropping beach, a world-renowned spa, free yoga classes and breathtaking ocean-view villas. 960 1280

  

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, MT

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, MT

The Ranch at Rock Creek provides guests with the option to stay in a luxe tent, a canvas cabin, a private log home or 1 of 9 rooms at the Granite Lodge. All rates include the regionally inspired meals and drinks. Participate in the wide array of activities available at the ranch, such as mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. "This is my kind of all-inclusive getaway," says Kwin Mosby, managing producer for TravelChannel.com. 960 1280

  

Red Mountain Resort, St. George, UT

Red Mountain Resort, St. George, UT

Red Mountain Resort is the perfect place to relax and renew your spirit, offering guests luxurious spa treatments, weekend wellness retreats, outdoor excursions such as canyoneering, and much more. "If you go, be sure to visit the Sagestone Spa, which offers nature-inspired treatments using indigenous desert botanicals and locally sourced, mineral-rich muds and clays," says Shane Green. 960 1280

Al Payne  

The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

"This resort is one of my favorites," says Anthony Melchiorri. "The white sand of Bavaro Beach, which was recognized by UNESCO, is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world." In addition to the beach, The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real has a full-service Yhi Spa with a fully equipped gym, 3 pools, a family concierge, the Kids Zone (for children ages 1-12) and 2 a la carte restaurants. 960 1280

  

Travaasa, Austin, TX

Travaasa, Austin, TX

When it comes to healthy getaways, there are plenty of destinations from which to choose, but few can hold a candle to Travaasa, outside Austin. "Travaasa’s greatest asset may just be its staff, who go above and beyond to make sure each of their guests have experiences that will make memories to last a lifetime," says Susan B. Barnes. 960 1280

  

Alaska

Alaska

“Experience the natural splendor of America’s last frontier on a cruise ship,” says Rainer Jenss. “Book the family on a smaller ship — either with Lindblad Expeditions or Alaskan Dream Cruises — so you and the kids can get a better view of the breaching whales, foraging bears and calving glaciers throughout the Inside Passage.” On land, we recommend a road trip along the Kenai Peninsula’s Seward Highway, starting in Anchorage. Make stops for fun family activities such as fishing in Homer and hiking Exit Glacier, one of several active ice flows in the state. 960 1280

Lindbald Expeditions  

Argentina

Argentina

From the beautiful capital of Buenos Aires to the sapphire glaciers of Patagonia, locals will not only be interested in meeting your family, but they will go out of their way to make your visit pleasant and memorable. “More than once, chefs emerged from the kitchen to play with our infant son, leaving my wife and me alone for a blissful meal,” says Bruce Kirkby, a family traveler who’s featured on Travel Channel’s Big Crazy Family Adventure. Argentina offers family-friendly adventures such as gaucho day trips at the Don Silvano Ranch, hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park and helicopter tours of Iguazu Falls. 960 1280

Mick Habgood/Moment/Getty Images  

Chicago

Chicago

The Windy City’s world-class museums, art scene and diverse food culture have always been big draws for families. In June, Chicago will become an even bigger family destination when it opens the 606. This trail, similar to NYC’s High Line, will grant locals and tourists access to more bike paths and walking trails connecting the Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Wick Park neighborhoods. “Downtown Chicago is great, but its neighborhoods really are the heart of the city, offering the best food and a slower pace of life more suited for quality family time,” says Keryn Means, a family travel writer and blogger for WalkingOnTravels.com. 960 1280

Adam Alexander Photography  

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Visit the Galapagos Islands for the diverse wildlife, including sea lions, giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies. Families get a rare opportunity to see animals unafraid of human proximity. Kids have unique opportunities to snap a photo of a passing whale and swim above a school of sharks. “Lodging in the past was limited to staying on a boat or in clean but homely local hotels — both great options — but the addition of the area’s first 5-star hotel (the Royal Palm on Santa Cruz) means families who would prefer a more comfortable landing can visit, too,” says Heather Greenwood Davis, a travel journalist and founder of GlobetrottingMama.com. 960 1280

Paul Kennedy/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Take the kids to Glacier National Park to see its namesake glaciers soon, before climate change makes them a distant memory. Home to 70 different species of mammals, this park offers a wide array of family-friendly activities, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating and backpacking. “This park is filled with stunning beauty, abundant wildlife, some of the country’s most scenic hikes and opportunities for families to explore and learn,” says Nancy Schretter. “For the ultimate family adventure vacation, combine a visit to Glacier National Park with a stay at a dude ranch, such as Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge or Three Bars Ranch.” 960 1280

Donnie Sexton  

Kids Sea Camp in St. Lucia

Kids Sea Camp in St. Lucia

Book your 6-day/7-night stay at the Kids Sea Camp in St. Lucia, hosted by a top-ranked Caribbean resort, Anse Chastanet. In addition to hiking, mountain biking and kayaking, parents can take their kids snorkeling or diving. “Four-year-olds can get in the water for the Professional Association of Scuba Instructors’ (PADI) sanctioned training program,” says Rainer Jenss, president and founder of the Family Travel Association. “That’s great news for parents who thought they’d have to give up diving when the kids were born.”  960 1280

Annie Crawley/Kids Sea Camp Inc.  

Panama City, Panama

Panama City, Panama

Skip the crowds of Costa Rica and visit a new family-friendly destination, Panama. We recommend exploring Panama City’s colonial history, architecture and culture. “Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great spot to pick up trinkets to take home, grab an ice cream and enjoy a stroll through the old Spanish architecture of Panama,” says Keryn Means. In addition to sightseeing around the city, tourists should venture outside its limits to take a boat tour on Gatun Lake, go white-water rafting on the Chagres River or enjoy the sun and waves on one of Isla Contadora’s beautiful beaches. 960 1280

Hans Joachim Hoos/iStock/Getty Images  

Peru

Peru

Peru is one of the top adventure destinations for 2015, and it's a great choice for an amazing family expedition. Go white-water rafting on the Urubamba River, explore the Amazon’s diverse wildlife and culture, ride Peruvian Paso Fino horses through villages, and mountain bike along dirt roads to see Incan archaeological sites. “Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is popular for families with teens and older children, but family-friendly tour operators such as Austin Adventures offer multiple options for reaching this iconic site,” says Nancy Schretter, a family and multigenerational travel expert. 960 1280

Peru Export and Tourism Promotion Board  

Tofino, British Columbia

Tofino, British Columbia

On Canada's west coast, Tofino has it all: endless beaches, camping, luxury lodges, surfing, kayaking and self-guided hikes in the rain forest. “Take a boat tour to go whale-watching and visit natural hot springs,” says Bruce Kirkby. “But for kids, nothing will beat the beaches.” We suggest family-friendly spots such as MacKenzie Beach, Tonquin Beach and Chesterman Beach. For a more adventurous trip, families can hike the Rainforest Trail at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Bear-watching, bird-watching, kayaking, fishing and surfing make Tofino the perfect location for a family getaway. 960 1280

Destination BC/Tom Ryan  

Tokyo

Tokyo

“Between the cartoons (kids) watch at home (think Avatar: The Last Airbender and Beyblade), the pop culture they’re exposed to (Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls) and the video games they swoon for (Nintendo and Sega have Japanese ties), Tokyo is where families will find plenty to keep them busy,” says Heather Greenwood Davis. Rent a bike to take in the Imperial Palace grounds, or take a local course in the art of origami or tai chi for a bit of culture. Then, go further. Hop on the new bullet train — which travels from Tokyo through the Hokuriku region — and watch your child’s eyes light up as you approach speeds of up to 300 mph. All aboard! The new train route is open to the public starting March 14, 2015. 960 1280

Dan Wiklund/Moment/Getty Images  

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