50 In 50: Best Family-Friendly Summer Attractions In Each State
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
Summer vacation may be the best part of the year for your kids, but for you, it means planning and coordinating schedules to keep everyone busy and happy. Here is a guide to some of the best family friendly attractions in each state to make your planning a bit easier.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville is a budding astronaut’s dream, offering rockets, achievements, and artifacts from the U.S. space program.
Take the kids to visit the Reindeer Farm and see what Santa’s reindeer do in their off-time. Enjoy the farm’s riding trails and petting areas amongst the stunning backdrop of Alaska’s mountains.
Bearizona Wildlife Park offers 160 acres and three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest where visitors can view North American animals in their natural habitats.
Located in North Little Rock, Wild River Country is Arkansas’ largest water park with 26 acres of attractions, party decks, pavilions, and a volleyball court.
Make every child’s dream come true with a summer trip to Disneyland. Travel packages and online deals can help offset some of the steep costs.
Woodland Park is home to the Dinosaur Resource Center where kids can explore displays of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period.
Head toFarmington Riverto go tubing. Specially designed river tubes take you down a 2.5 mile ride down the wild and scenic Farmington River, traveling over three sets of rapids.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge protects one of the largest remaining expanses of tidal salt marsh in the mid-Atlantic region and offers visitors a chance to explore the local wildlife and natural ecosystem.
The ultimate summer vacation
10 million gallons of water is housed inside the Georgia Aquarium. The museum also features some of the largest viewing windows in the world.
Take the kids to Waikiki and head to theHilton Lagoon to enjoy the man-made swimming lagoon that the kids will love.
Idaho Falls Zoois known as “best little zoo in the west.” Spend the afternoon enjoying more than 300 individual animals representing 130 species from around the globe.
Kline Creek Farm allows visitors to step back in time and experience life on a working farm in the 1890s complete with historically costumed interpreters and tools and techniques of the past.
Buffalo Trace Park is a public recreation area with 18 different activities for all ages including tennis, volleyball, hiking trails, and playgrounds.
Located just outside of Des Moines in Altoona, Adventureland Park contain over 100 rides, shows, and attractions including some of the country’s most exciting roller coasters and thrill rides.
Head to Kansas City to experience “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences” in the U.S. as named by TIME magazine. The Coterie Theatre provides unique theatre experiences for families and young audiences.
Mammoth Cave National Parkis the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.
The Global Wildlife
Take the kids to meet Big Foot at the International Cryptozoology Museum. A perfect stop on a rainy summer day, this small museum in Portland is “one man’s collection of the strange and unknown.”
Ocean City Boardwalk is the perfect place for people watching while munching on Thrasher’s famous fries, a big bucket of Fischer’s Popcorn, or an ice cream cone from Dumser’s Dairyland. They also have classic rides, a carousel, and haunted houses.
Riding the Swan Boats in the Boston Commons is a classic New England attraction and a must-do while visiting Boston. Finish up with a picnic in the park or a stroll through the beautiful grounds.
The Lake Michigan Dunes are some of the most impressive sand dunes in the country. Kids will love racing down the dunes and rolling in the sand to the beach. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a great place to start.
June and July is strawberry picking season in Minnesota, so head to Afton Apple Orchard (Hastings), Pine Tree Apple Orchard (White Bear Lake), Berry Hill Farm (Anoka), or Anderson Berry Farm (Isanti) for a day in nature with the kids.
Another great spot for the budding astronaut, Infinity Science Center offers exhibits, programs, and events to inspire science and exploration in all its visitors.
If you’re looking for a full day of outdoor activities in nature, head to Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City, offering 1,800 acres of
The Diamond P Ranch in Yellowstone offers horseback rides through the stunning fields of Montana’s renowned rolling ranges and mountains.
Cool down at one of Nebraska’s many water parks including the Island Oasis Waterpark that features a 350 thousand-gallon wave pool and a 750-foot lazy river.
Springs Preserve in Las Vegas has a world renowned botanical garden, native habitats, and a stalactite cave. The campus is a living example of sustainable living, design, and architecture.
Storyland is a kid-friendly amusement park located in Bartlett, New Hampshire with 30 attractions from coasters to castles.
Looking for a unique experience to excite the kids? Check out Jersey Shore Piratesfor a chance to sail aboard a pirate ship with a crew of pirates on Metedeconk River in Brick, NJ.
Climb inside ancient cliff dwellings and check out 11,000-year-old petroglyphs at Bandelier National Monument. The kids will love climbing the large rocks formations while you bask in the beauty and history of the location.
The Intrepid Air and Space Museumwill keep kids busy for hours. The outdoor flight deck includes over 30 different vintage aircrafts and the hangar level is full of interactive fun for kids like climbing into a helicopter and steering the wings of a plane.
If your child is in the inevitable Thomas the Train phase, head to The Tweetsie Railroadin Blowing Rock which features a 3-mile ride on a historic steam train, live entertainment, amusement rides, gold panning, and more.
The Red River Zoo in Fargo features exotic and native animals from areas around the world with similar climates to the Red River Valley. This zoo specializes in the care and breeding of some of the world rarest cold climate species.
Ride the famous carousel at Columbus Commons. Throughout the summer season the park also hosts many events, concerts, and festivals including Commons for Kids on Friday mornings.
Nothing is better than a free all day outing with the kids in nature. The Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory in Oklahoma City has a 6-acre children’s garden which is free to explore.
Oaks Amusement Parkis the last of the historic “trolley parks” still in operation in the northwest and among the oldest continually operating amusement parks in America. Today, visitors can enjoy a vintage roller rink and roller coasters.
Hershey’s Chocolate Worldis the thing that dreams are made of. With chocolate tours and tastings, movies, and trolley rides, it is a chocolate-lovers paradise.
Head to Roger Wheeler State Beachin Narragansett for a day on the water at Rhode Island’s more beautiful locations. The newly renovated pavilion also includes hot showers, a playground, concession building, a life-guard tower, and an environmental educational area.
Myrtle Beach’s most popular tourist destination is Broadway at the Beach. Visitors from all over come to experience the attractions, entertainment, shopping, and food along one of the country’s most beautiful coastlines.
Badlandsis a national park in South Dakota with over 244,000-acres to explore. Kids will love spotting bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets throughout the prairie expanse.
With a picturesque 44-acre lake, a Nature Center with a state-of-the-art planetarium theater, animal habitats featuring wolves, bobcats, raptors and reptiles and an Adventure Ropes Course complete with a 300-ft. zip line, Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium in Kingsport will provide all-day fun for the entire family.
Take the kids to a summer drive-in movie in Austin, TX at Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In. This boutique drive-in only allows 30-50 cars and shows a variety of childhood favorites, drive-in classics, indie films, art house, and cult films.
Explore a hidden underground world at the Timpanogos Caves in American Fork, UT. The ranger guided tours offer knowledge into the science of the caves while you enjoy the beauty and mystery of underground exploration.
See how and where maple syrup is made at one of Vermont’s many maple sugar houses. Green Mountain Sugar House produces award-winning syrup and offers guided tours and, of course, samples.
Belle Isle State Park Is a great place for kids to explore nature and the local ecosystem while visiting a variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with farmland and upland forests.
A trip to Remlinger Farmsis a great way to spend the afternoon. Located in Carnation, the farm includes steam train rides, a roller coaster, an animal barnyard, and more. Be sure to check out the online calendar to find out the fresh fruit picking seasons for apples, strawberries, and raspberries.
For a day of adventure and water sports, check out River Riders. The adventure company offers rafting, tubing,
Madison Children’s Museum “takes play very seriously” with exhibits and programs aimed at nurturing children’s creativity and imagination.
Enjoy the stars and learn about space under a full-dome show at the Casper Planetarium in Casper. Soon the center will be adding live sky viewing capabilities allowing you to view the night skies in comfort, no matter what the weather.