Time to start planning your family vacations for 2018! If there’s one thing I could encourage you to focus on this year, it’s building incredible memories as a family. Buy experiences, not things. There are so many amazing experiences you can enjoy in America from National Parks to museums to natural wonders to amazing cities. There is a lot on offer, right here in the USA for kids!
Travelling with your kids is one of the best ways to have shared experiences with memories that will last a lifetime. Doing fun things, learning together and trying something new as a team are all play an important part in the family bonding process. Your kids will gain so much from any of these shared family moments.
Here are 20 Incredible Experiences to Have in the USA for Kids in 2018!
1. Take a Helicopter Tour Over Kauai
Hands down one of the best experiences we’ve ever had on our travels. A helicopter tour over Kauai’s lush green interior and Napali Coastline is an absolute mind blower. Even the youngest members of the family will be welcomed on board.
Read more: Kauai Helicopter Tours: Amazing Photos of Na Pali Coast + Take the Kids!
Stay: Find amazing family resorts in Kauai here!
2. Spend a Day at Disneyworld
Every kid should get to visit Disneyworld once in their life. The rides, the characters, the light parade, the fireworks. It really is magical for kids. Yes, it’s expensive and it’s crowded but your kids will love you for taking them to the happiest place on earth.
Stay: Find a family-friendly hotel in Orlando here!
3. Go on the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour in Vermont
What kid doesn’t love ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s is America’s most iconic ice cream brand and you can take a free tour of their factory in Vermont to learn about he history of the company and see the process of making ice cream first hand. Of course, the tour wouldn’t be complete without a test taste or two.
Stay: The best spot for families to stay at in Vermont is the amazing Smuggler’s Notch Resort. You can’t ask for anything better for families!! Check prices at Smugg’s here.
4. Hike in Arches National Park
You won’t find a better National Park in the US for families. One of the best things about Arches National Park is that the hikes are short and manageable for kids. You can get right up close to the sandstone arches all over this park in Utah.
Read more: One Week Road Trip Itinerary for Exploring Utah’s National Parks
Stay: Need a family-friendly hotel in Moab for your visit to Arches? We recommend the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn right in the heart of Downtown Moab.
5. Spend the Day at The Henry Ford in Detroit
The Henry Ford, just outside of Detroit, is a fascinating place for families to visit. Take the Ford Rouge Factory tour and see F150 trucks being made on the assembly line. Visit the Henry Ford Museum to see first-hand the history of transport. Wander through the historical Greenfield Village, ride the steam train and see Model T’s driving the streets.
Stay: Find a family-friendly Detroit hotel by searching here.
6. Get Hands On at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia
This has got to be the biggest, best kids museum in America. The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is a fantastic space for kids to explore, learn and play. Everything from Alice in Wonderland to water play to roadside attractions. If you’ve got kids under 8, they will love it here.
Stay: Stay in the heart of Downtown Philly at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, they have special kids packs and amenities available for families.
7. Tour the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral
Stop in at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast. You’ll learn about the history of space exploration, get up close with actual rockets and see the space shuttle Atlantis first-hand. Don’t miss the bus tour out to the launchpads. The Kennedy Space Center is an easy day trip from Orlando.
Stay: Looking for somewhere to stay near Cape Canaveral? Check out Cocoa Beach as there are lots of family friendly hotels and vacation rentals in town.
8. Sandboard at White Sands National Monument
If you find yourself in Southeast New Mexico, you must not miss White Sands National Monument. This is an otherworldly park of the whitest sand dunes you’ll ever see. You can buy or rent sleds and slide down the dunes. This is one seriously fun experience for families and worth going out of your way to get there.
Stay: Stay in the nearby town of Las Cruces, about an hour from the park.
9. Take a Trip to Sanibel Island
Take a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast and you’ll find Sanibel Island. This island has wonderful beaches, shells everywhere and a fabulous nature preserve. If your kids really love wildlife, take them on a boat tour of the bay to see manatees, dolphins and birds in the wild.
Read more: Uncover The Perfect Florida Road Trip
Stay: Find a family friendly Sanibel Island resort or vacation rental. Or if you’re on a budget stay across the bridge in Fort Myers.
10. Enjoy America’s Best Playground at Nashville Zoo
If you’re seeking out America’s best playground, you’ll find it at the Nashville Zoo in Grassmere. While the zoo itself is good, the playground is out of this world. A huge, labyrinth-like wooden structure with twists & turns, bridges & tunnels and slides & nets.
Read more: Top 10 Things to Do in Nashville with Kids
Stay: Find a family hotel in Nashville here or see the post above for tips on where to stay in Nashville with kids.
11. Learn at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
San Francisco has one of the best science museums on the planet. Dinosaur skeletons, an aquarium, a rainforest, a living roof… the California Academy of Sciences has it all. You could easily spend a whole day exploring this science museum with your children.
Read more: Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids
Stay: Find somewhere to stay in San Francisco by searching here.
12. Visit the National Archives in DC
Understanding the history of America is no easy feat but seeing the country’s most important documents up close can help teach your kids about US history. The National Archives in Washington DC house the three key documents that shaped America’s history – The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights.
Read more: The Best Ever East Coast Road Trip Itinerary
Stay: Find the best family hotels in Washington DC here.
13. See New York City from Above
New York is the greatest city in the world but the pace and size of it can be overwhelming for kids. The best way for children to grasp the scale of the Big Apple is to see the city from above. Take in the view from the Top of the Rock or The Empire State Building and marvel at Manhattan.
Stay: Find kid friendly hotels in New York City here.
14. Circle Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is the most stunning spot in the Pacific Northwest. It’ll take you the best part of the day to circle the crater but your children will love it especially when they find out you’re driving around the rim of an actual volcano.
Read more: Highlights of Our Road Trip from Seattle to Las Vegas
Stay: When you’re visiting Crater Lake, the best place to stay is the towns of Medford or Grants Pass.
15. Wander the Streets of New Orleans
There’s no other city in the US like New Orleans. Wandering the historic streets, listening to the jazz bands, is a cultural experience unique to NOLA. Aside from the music, the architecture and food (beignets!) are outstanding. Our kids loved New Orleans!
Read more: Where to Stay in New Orleans with Kids
Stay: See the above article for our tips on the best family friendly hotel in New Orleans!
16. Learn to Ski in Park City
Kids adore the snow. There’s nothing quite like seeing you children in snow for the first time. Park City in Utah is a great place for them to learn to ski or snowboard. It comes natural to kids and they’ll be better than you in no time!
Read more: Park City: The Best Trip You’ll Take This Winter
Stay: Find a Park City ski condo by searching here. We recommend staying in the Newpark Hotel as it’s just outside of the main town center but right in the middle of a shopping and restaurant complex with plenty of things to do with kids like ten pin bowling, movies and an indoor gym.
17. See California’s Giant Redwood Trees
Take a drive through California’s giant Redwoods trees… literally! You kids will squeal at delight when you take them through one of California’s drive through trees. There are lots of spots to stop and take a walk through the ancient forests filled with the biggest, oldest trees you’ve ever seen.
Stay: Find a hotel in nearby Crescent City, CA or Brookings, OR.
18. Walk Through Antelope Canyon
Ever wanted to take a walk through a petrified sand dune? Antelope Canyon is an experience like no other. The compulsory guided tour of Upper Antelope Canyon is educational and fascinating. The walk is easy for kids and you’ll get some amazing family photos in this unique environment.
Stay: The closest place to stay to visit Antelope Canyon (and Horseshoe Bend) is the town of Page in Arizona. Search for hotels in Page here.
19. Visit the Museum of Science Boston
Boston has a crazy good Museum of Science. The lightning show will blow your kids minds. Watch as the giant Van de Graaf generator sparks and creates lightning, learn about electricity and magnetism. The rest of the museum is also great.
Stay: Start your search for a family-friendly hotel in Boston here.
20. Marvel at the Grand Canyon
If you want to teach your kids that they’re a small part of a big, wide world, take them to the Grand Canyon. There’s nowhere better to understand the scale of the universe and witness the beauty of nature than looking out from the edge of the Grand Canyon.
Read more: Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas
Stay: Stay in Tusayan, AZ when visiting the Grand Canyon as it’s just outside the main park gate on the South Rim. Search for hotels in Tusayan here!
What incredible experiences do you plan on giving your kids in 2018?
Leave me a comment below and tell me about the incredible experiences you’re planning on giving your kids in 2018. Something from this list? I hope I’ve given you some suggestions for your family travel bucket list. Or something else you have planned? I’d love to hear what family vacation plans you have for this coming year.
Such an amazing list! And kid would love to do any of these things! For my family we are planning on: Swimming in the ocean in Hawaii, Disneyland later this summer, and learning to Ski ! For my two year old, all he keeps asking to do is go on an airplane! So that will be easy to tick off the list!
Wow – so glad I’ve found your site. It’s rammed full of amazing ideas.
We’re taking the kids to the states for the first time this summer. 6 weeks – we fly in and out of JFK.
So far we know we want to spend time in NYC, visit friends in Raleigh NC, do the obligatory Disney & Florida. Completely overwhelmed by all the choices so not sure whether to stay on East Coast or fly West too.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Our girls are 10 & 12. We are big foodies, animal lovers, like a bit of adventure & getting off the beaten track.
Would love a few unusual stays: RV, glamping, tree houses etc. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
Many thanks 🙂
Hi Claire! I’d stick with the East Coast if I were you. You could have a really nice trip doing the East Coast of the US over summer. We basically did the same thing! 6 weeks from Montreal to Miami… have a look at this post for details and let me know if you have any further questions! – https://flashpackerfamily.com/east-coast-road-trip-itinerary/
Great list! We are planning to go back to Kauai (we are in love with that island!) with our kids this year as well as take them camping (glamping I guess as we have a camper) to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. We are so excited for our new adventures this year and love to travel with our kids. Always love great ideas on where to take kids.
Hi Katie! You basically just listed all the things that we missed on our US trip that we want to go back and do! Ha. I’ve already mapped out a road trip road to cover those NPs plus Mt Rushmore etc. 🙂 And I totally agree with you on Kauai. It’s magic there!
Our kids loved City Museum of St. Louis, MO!