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50 In 50: Best Family-Friendly Summer Attractions In Each State

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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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. 

Alabama

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.

Alaska

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. 

Arizona


Bearizona Wildlife Park offers 160 acres and three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest where visitors can view North American animals in their natural habitats.

Arkansas

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.

California

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. 

Colorado

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. 

Connecticut

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. 

Delaware

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.

Florida

The ultimate summer vacation for kids: Disney World. Not much more needs to be said, other than book early and check online for package deals and seasonal discounts.

Georgia

10 million gallons of water is housed inside the Georgia Aquarium. The museum also features some of the largest viewing windows in the world. 

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Hawaii

Take the kids to Waikiki and head to theHilton Lagoon to enjoy the man-made swimming lagoon that the kids will love.

Idaho

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. 

Illinois

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.

Indiana

Buffalo Trace Park is a public recreation area with 18 different activities for all ages including tennis, volleyball, hiking trails, and playgrounds. 

Iowa

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. 

Kansas

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. 

Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Parkis the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.

Louisiana

The Global Wildlife Centeris home to the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country and home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world.

Maine

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.”

Maryland

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. 

Massachusetts

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. 

Michigan

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. 

Minnesota

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. 

Mississippi

Another great spot for the budding astronaut, Infinity Science Center offers exhibits, programs, and events to inspire science and exploration in all its visitors. 

Missouri

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 wooded park, a theater, zoo, pond for fishing, and more.

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Montana

The Diamond P Ranch in Yellowstone offers horseback rides through the stunning fields of Montana’s renowned rolling ranges and mountains. 

Nebraska

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.

Nevada

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. 

New Hampshire

Storyland is a kid-friendly amusement park located in Bartlett, New Hampshire with 30 attractions from coasters to castles. 

New Jersey

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. 

New Mexico

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. 

New York

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.

North Carolina

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. 

North Dakota

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.

Ohio

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.

Oklahoma

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. 

Oregon

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. 

Pennsylvania

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. 

Rhode Island

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. 

South Carolina

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. 

South Dakota

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. 

Tennessee

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. 

Texas

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. 

Utah

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. 

Vermont

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. 

Virginia

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.

Washington

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. 

West Virginia

For a day of adventure and water sports, check out River Riders. The adventure company offers rafting, tubing, ziplining, and an aerial adventure park along the beautiful Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. 

Wisconsin

Madison Children’s Museum “takes play very seriously” with exhibits and programs aimed at nurturing children’s creativity and imagination. 

Wyoming

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.

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