As a travel writer with two decades of exploring the nooks and crannies of the United States, I’ve seen firsthand the magic that happens when grandparents and grandchildren bond over new adventures. If you’re looking to create unforgettable memories with your grandkids, here’s my curated list of the top 26 places to vacation in the United States with grandkids.
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Top 26 Vacation Spots in the United States for Traveling with Grandkids
1. Orlando, Florida
- Why Go: Home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando is a wonderland for kids and the young-at-heart.
- Highlight: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for a magical experience.
- Itinerary: 6 Days in Orlando with Grandparents
Traveling to Orlando, Florida, with your grandchildren can be an enchanting experience, as this city is famously tailored for family adventures. Known as the theme park capital of the world, Orlando offers a magical blend of entertainment and wonder that delights both young and old.
Theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios are a must-visit for their array of attractions catering to all age groups, from thrilling roller coasters to enchanting character experiences.
Beyond the theme parks, explore Orlando’s other family-friendly offerings like the Orlando Science Center, Gatorland, or a relaxing day at Discovery Cove.
Remember to schedule downtime to enjoy Orlando’s sunny weather, perhaps with a day by the pool or a stroll through the beautiful Leu Gardens.
Dining in Orlando is an adventure in itself, with a variety of options from themed restaurants to casual eateries.
2. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Why Go: America’s first national park, it’s a fantastic outdoor classroom.
- Highlight: Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring.
- What to do: 6 Things to do in Yellowstone with Kids
Embarking on a journey to Yellowstone National Park with your grandchildren offers an extraordinary opportunity to connect with nature and each other. This iconic park, renowned for its geothermal wonders and abundant wildlife, is a living classroom where every trail and geyser tells a story. When planning your trip, prioritize key attractions like Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Mammoth Hot Springs. These natural marvels are not only visually stunning but also provide a hands-on learning experience about geology and ecology.
Wildlife viewing is another highlight; with a bit of luck, you might spot bison, elk, or even a bear, from a safe distance. Tailor your activities to the ages and interests of your grandchildren – younger ones might enjoy shorter hikes and ranger-led programs, while older kids could be up for more challenging trails or even a night of camping under the stars.
Don’t forget to pack essentials like comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, binoculars for wildlife viewing, and a camera to capture those memorable moments. Dining options within the park range from picnic spots to full-service restaurants, allowing for flexibility in your schedule.
3. Washington, D.C.
- Why Go: Packed with history and free museums, it’s perfect for curious minds.
- Highlight: The Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo.
- Things to do: 11 Things to do in Washington D.C. with Kids
Traveling to Washington D.C. with your grandchildren is not just a trip, but a journey through the living history and heart of the United States. This city is a treasure trove of educational and inspirational experiences, perfect for curious minds of all ages. Start by exploring the National Mall, home to iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building. These sites offer a tangible connection to the nation’s history and are great for sparking discussions about American heritage.
Don’t miss the free Smithsonian museums, especially the Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum, which are both educational and engaging for kids. The National Zoo, another part of the Smithsonian, is a fun and free attraction that grandchildren will love. Be sure to visit the interactive exhibits at the Spy Museum and the engaging displays at the National Children’s Museum, which are specifically designed for younger visitors.
When planning your itinerary, consider including a leisurely boat cruise on the Potomac River for a different view of the city. Dining in D.C. is easy with numerous family-friendly restaurants and the chance to try different cuisines.
4. San Diego, California
- Why Go: Ideal climate, beautiful beaches, and family-friendly attractions.
- Highlight: San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park.
- Itinerary: Weekend in San Diego Itinerary
Venturing to San Diego, California, with your grandchildren is an opportunity to enjoy a city that perfectly blends coastal beauty with family-friendly attractions. San Diego’s inviting climate and laid-back atmosphere make it an ideal destination for multigenerational travel. Begin your adventure at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park, where the vast array of animals and interactive experiences will captivate children of all ages. Balboa Park itself is a wonder, offering numerous museums and beautiful gardens that can pique various interests. A visit to the USS Midway Museum provides a unique educational experience, allowing you and your grandchildren to explore a real aircraft carrier and learn about naval history.
For those who love the ocean, spending a day at one of San Diego’s beautiful beaches, like La Jolla Cove or Coronado Beach, can be both relaxing and fun, offering opportunities for sandcastle building, tide pool exploration, or just soaking up the sun. Adventure-seekers might enjoy a day at SeaWorld San Diego or LEGOLAND California, both of which offer thrilling rides and entertaining shows.
Dining in San Diego is a delight, with options ranging from casual beachfront eateries to family-friendly restaurants throughout the city. Don’t forget to try some of the local seafood and Mexican cuisine San Diego is famous for.
When planning your trip, consider staying in a location that offers easy access to the main attractions. Remember to plan some downtime as well, perhaps a quiet afternoon in one of the city’s many parks, to ensure the trip is enjoyable and not overwhelming for your grandchildren.
5. New York City, New York
- Why Go: A cultural mecca with endless sights and activities.
- Highlight: The Statue of Liberty and Central Park.
- Itinerary: 3 Day NYC Itinerary with Teens
- Things to do: 16 FREE Things to Do in NYC and 20 Things to do in NYC with Teenagers
- Where to Stay: Residence Inn NYC
Taking a trip to New York City with your grandchildren is an adventure into a bustling metropolis filled with endless possibilities for exploration and learning. NYC, known as “The Big Apple,” is a vibrant city that offers a blend of cultural experiences, historical sites, and fun activities that can be tailored to all ages.
Start your journey with the classics: a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can be both awe-inspiring and educational. These landmarks provide a great opportunity to share stories about America’s history and your family’s heritage. Central Park is another must-see; it’s a perfect place for a stroll, a picnic, or a visit to the Central Park Zoo. The American Museum of Natural History and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan cater to curious young minds with interactive exhibits and educational programs.
Take advantage of the city’s rich cultural scene by catching a Broadway show or a performance at Lincoln Center, choosing age-appropriate shows that can introduce your grandchildren to the arts in an exciting environment. Don’t forget to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, like Chinatown for a dim sum lunch or Little Italy for a gelato treat.
For a unique perspective of the city, consider a boat tour around Manhattan or a ride on the Staten Island Ferry for stunning views of the skyline. Dining in NYC can be as adventurous as you like, with options ranging from classic New York pizza and hot dogs to international cuisines.
When planning your days, remember to pace yourselves. The city is large and can be overwhelming, so it’s important to balance sightseeing with breaks. Using the subway can be a fun adventure for grandchildren and an efficient way to navigate the city.
6. Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Why Go: One of the world’s natural wonders, offering breathtaking views.
- Highlight: The South Rim for accessible stunning views.
Embarking on a trip to the Grand Canyon with your grandchildren is an extraordinary opportunity to witness one of nature’s most awe-inspiring creations. This vast and majestic landscape offers not just breathtaking views, but also a chance for educational and bonding experiences.
Begin your adventure at one of the visitor centers, where you can find interactive exhibits that explain the canyon’s geology and history – a great educational start for the grandkids.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most accessible and offers numerous lookout points like Mather Point and Yavapai Observation Station, each providing unique and spectacular views.
For a more immersive experience, consider a guided tour, which can range from leisurely walks along the Rim Trail to more adventurous hikes down into the canyon. Remember to choose activities that are age-appropriate for your grandchildren.
Don’t miss the chance to take a scenic drive along Desert View Drive, where you can stop at various viewpoints and perhaps picnic at one of the designated areas. For a truly unforgettable experience, book a helicopter or airplane tour for a bird’s eye view of the canyon, an activity that’s sure to thrill grandchildren of all ages.
If you’re visiting during the warmer months, a rafting trip on the Colorado River can be an exciting way to experience the canyon’s beauty from a different perspective. Be sure to book these tours well in advance.
Dining options are available at the Grand Canyon Village and along the South Rim, with choices ranging from casual cafes to more formal dining experiences. Accommodations within the park also vary, from campgrounds to lodges, offering a range of experiences to suit your family’s comfort level.
When visiting, it’s essential to stay hydrated and protected from the sun, so carry plenty of water and sunscreen. Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must for exploring the trails and lookouts. The Grand Canyon trip is more than just sightseeing; it’s an enriching experience that combines the grandeur of nature with educational value, making it an ideal destination for a memorable trip with your grandchildren.
7. Branson, Missouri
- Why Go: Known for its wholesome entertainment and outdoor activities.
- Highlight: Silver Dollar City and Table Rock Lake.
Traveling to Branson, Missouri, with your grandchildren offers a unique blend of entertainment, outdoor activities, and family-friendly adventures. Known for its vibrant theater scene and beautiful Ozark Mountains, Branson is a destination that provides fun and engaging experiences for all ages.
Start your visit with a trip to Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-themed amusement park. Here, your grandchildren can enjoy thrilling rides, watch artisans at work, and even explore Marvel Cave. The park also hosts various festivals throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see and do.
For a taste of Branson’s famous live entertainment, take in a show at one of the many theaters lining the 76 Country Boulevard. From country music and gospel to magic shows and acrobatics, there’s a performance to suit every interest and age group.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love Table Rock Lake, where you can enjoy boating, fishing, or simply a relaxing day by the water. The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, located at the base of Table Rock Dam, offers a fascinating look at trout production and is great for a family outing.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway, which offers a picturesque journey through the Ozark foothills. For a bit of history, visit the Titanic Museum, where interactive exhibits bring the story of the famous ship to life in a way that’s engaging for grandchildren.
Dining in Branson is a delightful experience, with a variety of restaurants catering to all tastes. Whether it’s classic American fare, BBQ, or a fun themed restaurant, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy the whole family.
8. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
- Why Go: Unique opportunity to see active volcanoes and lush landscapes.
- Highlight: Witnessing lava flows (when active).
Venturing to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with your grandchildren presents an unparalleled opportunity to explore one of the most unique natural landscapes in the world. This extraordinary park on the Big Island of Hawaii offers a fascinating blend of geological wonders, rich cultural history, and diverse ecosystems.
Begin your adventure at the Kilauea Visitor Center, where interactive exhibits provide an informative introduction to the park’s volcanic features and the natural and cultural history of the area. It’s a great starting point to plan your visit based on the park’s current conditions and the interests and abilities of your grandchildren.
A must-see is the Kilauea Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. The Crater Rim Drive tour offers spectacular viewpoints and hiking opportunities. Depending on the volcanic activity and park safety regulations, you may witness unique geological formations, steam vents, and even lava flows – a truly awe-inspiring experience for all ages.
Take a hike along the Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku), an easily accessible walk that leads through a lush rainforest and into a 500-year old lava tube. It’s a fascinating way to understand the power and beauty of nature’s creations.
For a glimpse into the region’s cultural significance, visit the Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs. This sacred site features over 23,000 rock carvings and offers a window into the lives of the native Hawaiian people.
Remember to pack essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, and a rain jacket, as the weather can be unpredictable. Sturdy walking shoes are also important, as terrain in the park can vary from paved pathways to rugged lava fields.
Dining options inside the park are limited, so consider packing a picnic to enjoy amidst the park’s stunning scenery. There are also dining establishments near the park entrances for a more relaxed meal after a day of exploration.
9. Williamsburg, Virginia
- Why Go: A blend of history and fun at Colonial Williamsburg.
- Highlight: Historical reenactments and Busch Gardens.
Traveling to Williamsburg, Virginia, with your grandchildren is like stepping into a living history book, offering a unique blend of education and entertainment. This historic city, part of America’s Historic Triangle, provides a captivating journey through the early days of the United States, making it an ideal destination for families looking to enrich their knowledge and experience the past firsthand.
Start your visit at Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum. Here, you and your grandchildren can immerse yourselves in the 18th century, witnessing historical reenactments, exploring period buildings, and interacting with costumed interpreters who bring colonial America to life. Activities like candle making, carriage rides, and colonial games offer hands-on learning experiences that are both fun and educational.
Don’t miss the Governor’s Palace and the Capitol Building, where you can learn about the political and social aspects of colonial life. The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg also offer a glimpse into the art and culture of the period, with kid-friendly exhibits.
For a change of pace, head to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, an action-packed theme park with a variety of rides and shows themed around different countries of Europe. It’s a great place to let loose and have some fun after soaking in the history of the area.
Another must-visit is the Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield, where you can delve deeper into America’s story, from the first permanent English settlement to the site of a pivotal battle in the Revolutionary War.
Dining in Williamsburg can be a historical experience in itself, with taverns serving traditional colonial fare alongside modern eateries offering a variety of cuisines. Accommodations in Williamsburg range from historic inns to family-friendly hotels, catering to different preferences and budgets.
10. Anchorage, Alaska
- Why Go: For a wild and adventurous natural experience.
- Highlight: Wildlife spotting and the Alaska Railroad.
Traveling to Anchorage, Alaska with your grandchildren offers an extraordinary adventure into the heart of nature’s splendor. This city, nestled amidst majestic mountains and coastal scenery, is a gateway to understanding the vast wilderness and unique wildlife of Alaska, providing an unforgettable experience for young and old alike.
Begin your Anchorage adventure by exploring the great outdoors. A visit to Chugach State Park, one of the largest state parks in the U.S., offers a range of activities from hiking and biking to wildlife viewing, where you might spot moose, eagles, or even bears from a safe distance. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is perfect for a family-friendly bike ride or walk, offering stunning views of the coastline and the chance to see beluga whales in the waters below.
For a closer look at Alaska’s wildlife, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge are great places to safely observe animals like bison, wolves, and lynx. These centers are not only fun but educational, offering insights into local conservation efforts.
A unique and exciting way to see the landscape is by taking a ride on the Alaska Railroad. This scenic journey offers breathtaking views of mountains, glaciers, and maybe even some wildlife, all from the comfort of a train car.
To delve into the rich cultural heritage of Alaska, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where you and your grandchildren can learn about the indigenous peoples of Alaska through art, dance, and storytelling.
When it comes to dining, Anchorage has a variety of family-friendly restaurants, many of which offer fresh, locally sourced seafood. Trying Alaskan specialties like salmon, halibut, or king crab can be a highlight of the culinary experience.
Remember to dress in layers, as the weather in Anchorage can be unpredictable, and the nights can be cool, even in summer.
11. San Francisco, California
- Why Go: Iconic landmarks and diverse neighborhoods.
- Highlight: Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
- Things to do: Top 15 Things to do in San Francisco
Visiting San Francisco, California, with your grandchildren provides a rich tapestry of cultural, educational, and fun experiences in one of America’s most iconic cities. Known for its steep hills, historic cable cars, and picturesque waterfront, San Francisco is a city that offers diverse attractions suitable for all ages.
Begin your journey with a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, an engineering marvel and a must-see landmark. Walking or biking across the bridge can be an exhilarating experience, offering stunning views of the city and bay. Nearby, the Golden Gate Park is a great place to explore, with attractions like the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, both of which have engaging exhibits for children.
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a ride on the city’s famous cable cars. It’s a fun way to explore the city’s unique neighborhoods, like Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, watch the sea lions at Pier 39, or visit the fascinating Exploratorium, a museum of science, technology, and arts.
For a historical adventure, take a ferry to Alcatraz Island and tour the infamous former prison. The audio tour is particularly engaging, offering a glimpse into the life of the inmates and guards who once resided there.
San Francisco is also home to diverse neighborhoods each offering its own unique culture and cuisine. The Mission District is known for its vibrant murals and excellent Mexican food, while Chinatown offers a chance to immerse in a different culture and try authentic Chinese dishes.
12. Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Why Go: Stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventures.
- Highlight: Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.
A trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado with your grandchildren promises an unforgettable adventure filled with natural wonders and outdoor activities. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains, this city offers a perfect blend of educational experiences and fun outdoor adventures, making it an ideal destination for families.
Begin your Colorado Springs adventure with a visit to Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark known for its stunning red rock formations. The park has an excellent visitor and nature center where your grandchildren can learn about the geology and ecology of the area through interactive exhibits. Easy walking trails amidst the rock formations make it accessible for all ages.
A trip to the top of Pikes Peak, known as ‘America’s Mountain,’ is a must. You can drive, hike, or take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to reach the summit, where breathtaking panoramic views await. The journey itself is as exciting as the destination, with beautiful scenery along the way.
For a unique educational experience, visit the U.S. Air Force Academy, where you can tour the impressive campus and learn about military training. The Academy’s visitor center provides insights into the life of a cadet and the importance of the Air Force in U.S. history.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, located on the side of a mountain, offers a chance to see a diverse range of animals and also provides stunning views of the city. The zoo’s interactive exhibits and encounters with animals make it a hit with grandchildren.
If your grandchildren are interested in dinosaurs, the Dinosaur Resource Center in nearby Woodland Park is a fantastic place to explore. It houses one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the United States.
Remember to stay hydrated and take it easy at first, as Colorado Springs’ high altitude can affect some people. Dressing in layers is advisable as temperatures can vary, and comfortable walking shoes are a must for exploring the natural attractions.
13. Boston, Massachusetts
- Why Go: Rich in American history and kid-friendly museums.
- Highlight: The Freedom Trail and Boston Children’s Museum.
- Things to do: 10 Wonderful Day Trips from Boston
Taking a trip to Boston, Massachusetts with your grandchildren offers a delightful blend of American history, educational experiences, and urban adventures in one of the United States’ oldest cities. Known for its significant role in the American Revolution, Boston is a city where history comes alive, making it a fantastic destination for a family trip that’s both fun and informative.
Start your exploration with the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites. It’s a wonderful way to introduce your grandchildren to pivotal moments in American history, including visits to the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, and the Bunker Hill Monument. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, with plenty of stops for rest and refreshments.
A visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum offers an interactive experience that brings the famous event to life. Here, your grandchildren can throw tea into the harbor, just like the Sons of Liberty, and engage with exhibits that explain the event’s importance.
For a change of pace, explore the Boston Children’s Museum, which offers hands-on exhibits on science, culture, and environmental awareness, tailored to spark the curiosity of younger children. The Museum of Science is another must-visit, with its fascinating planetarium shows, live animal exhibits, and interactive science demonstrations.
Don’t miss a chance to enjoy Boston’s beautiful outdoor spaces. A swan boat ride in the Public Garden is a charming activity, and strolling along the Charles River Esplanade offers picturesque views and plenty of space for kids to play.
When it comes to dining, Boston offers a range of family-friendly options, from classic New England seafood to Italian cuisine in the North End. Be sure to try some local specialties like clam chowder and Boston cream pie.
14. Savannah, Georgia
- Why Go: Charming city with a beautiful historic district.
- Highlight: Carriage tours and Forsyth Park.
Traveling to Savannah, Georgia with your grandchildren offers a delightful journey into the heart of Southern charm and history. Renowned for its beautiful historic district, cobblestone streets, and lush green squares, Savannah is a city that captivates with its old-world charm and rich cultural heritage, making it a wonderful destination for families.
Begin your visit with a stroll through the Historic District, where you can admire the beautifully restored antebellum homes and visit historic landmarks. The district is relatively compact and walkable, making it easy to explore with grandchildren. A fun way to see the sights and learn about the city’s history is by taking a horse-drawn carriage tour, which often captivates children with the charm of a bygone era.
Don’t miss Forsyth Park, the largest park in the historic district, known for its iconic fountain and expansive green spaces. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely walk, a picnic, or simply watching the world go by. The park often hosts local events and concerts, adding to the lively atmosphere.
Savannah is also a city of stories, and ghost tours are a popular way to learn about its haunted history. These tours, which often take place in the evening, blend storytelling with historical facts, providing an entertaining and slightly spooky experience that older grandchildren might enjoy.
For a taste of local culture, visit the City Market, a four-block area with shops, art galleries, and restaurants. It’s a great place to pick up souvenirs and enjoy local cuisine. Be sure to try some Southern specialties like shrimp and grits or a slice of pecan pie.
The nearby coastal area offers additional attractions like Tybee Island, known for its sandy beaches and historic lighthouse, providing a nice day trip option for a change of scenery.
15. Chicago, Illinois
- Why Go: A vibrant city with great food, museums, and parks.
- Highlight: Navy Pier and Millennium Park.
- Things to do: 12 Things to do in Chicago
Taking a trip to Chicago, Illinois, with your grandchildren offers an exciting urban adventure filled with cultural, educational, and entertaining experiences. Known as the “Windy City,” Chicago boasts an impressive skyline, beautiful parks, and a rich array of museums and attractions that cater to all ages.
Start your exploration with a visit to Navy Pier, a lively hub of family-friendly activities. Here, you can enjoy rides on the Centennial Wheel, offering panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan, and explore the Chicago Children’s Museum, which is packed with interactive exhibits. The Pier also hosts numerous eateries, perfect for grabbing a bite with a scenic view.
No trip to Chicago is complete without experiencing its renowned museums. The Field Museum is a must-visit, where you and your grandchildren can marvel at the massive Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue and explore ancient cultures. Nearby, the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium offer fascinating insights into aquatic life and the cosmos, respectively, sparking curiosity and wonder.
For outdoor adventures, take a stroll through Millennium Park, where you can see the famous “Bean” sculpture (officially known as Cloud Gate) and enjoy the interactive Crown Fountain. The park often hosts free concerts and events, adding to its vibrant atmosphere.
If your grandchildren are thrill-seekers, consider visiting the Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower, where you can step onto a glass balcony extending four feet outside the 103rd floor, offering breathtaking city views.
Chicago is also known for its deep-dish pizza, so be sure to indulge in this local culinary delight at one of the city’s many pizzerias. Other dining options range from casual eateries to upscale restaurants, catering to every palate.
16. Asheville, North Carolina
- Why Go: Artsy and relaxed vibe with nearby natural attractions.
- Highlight: Biltmore Estate and Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Itinerary: 3 Day Asheville Itinerary For Families
Journeying to Asheville, North Carolina with your grandchildren is a venture into a city where the charm of the Blue Ridge Mountains meets a vibrant artistic community. Asheville is a destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and fun, making it an ideal spot for a family trip that’s both relaxing and stimulating.
Begin your Asheville adventure with a visit to the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest private home built by George Vanderbilt. This sprawling estate offers a glimpse into the Gilded Age with its stunning architecture, expansive gardens, and fascinating exhibitions. The estate is very kid-friendly, with a farmyard area where younger grandchildren can interact with animals and expansive grounds perfect for exploring.
Downtown Asheville is a delight to explore, known for its historic architecture, unique shops, and galleries. The city is particularly famous for its thriving arts scene, so be sure to visit the River Arts District where you can watch artists at work in their studios. This area provides an excellent opportunity for your grandchildren to see creativity in action and perhaps even try their hand at some art.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains offer endless opportunities for adventure. Take a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s favorite drive,” where you can stop at various overlooks, enjoy short hikes, and witness breathtaking views. The nearby Pisgah National Forest offers trails of varying difficulty, waterfalls, and picnic spots, making it a great place for a day of exploration and connection with nature.
Asheville’s culinary scene is another highlight, with a focus on farm-to-table dining. There are numerous family-friendly restaurants that cater to a variety of tastes, including those famous for Southern comfort food. Don’t forget to visit one of Asheville’s ice cream shops for a sweet treat with the grandkids.
17. New Orleans, Louisiana
- Why Go: Rich culture, live music, and vibrant street life.
- Highlight: French Quarter and steamboat rides.
- Where to Stay: Bourbon Orleans
Traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana with your grandchildren opens a door to a vibrant world of rich history, lively music, and unique cultural experiences. Known for its spirited Mardi Gras celebrations, iconic jazz music, and distinctive Creole cuisine, New Orleans is a city that thrills the senses and offers a plethora of activities suitable for all ages.
Begin your exploration in the French Quarter, the city’s historic heart. This neighborhood is full of life, with jazz musicians playing on street corners, colorful buildings with wrought-iron balconies, and horse-drawn carriages trotting along the streets. A stroll along Bourbon Street may be more suitable for older grandchildren, whereas the calmer, picturesque streets of the French Quarter like Royal and Chartres offer a more family-friendly atmosphere.
A must-do is a steamboat ride on the Mississippi River. Aboard the Steamboat Natchez or the Creole Queen, you can enjoy live jazz music, see the city from a different perspective, and learn about the river’s history. It’s both an educational and entertaining experience.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s rich history and diverse culture. The National WWII Museum is a world-class museum that offers an engaging look into American history during the Second World War, suitable for older grandchildren. For younger ones, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Zoo provide fun and educational experiences.
New Orleans cuisine is a big part of the city’s charm. Be sure to enjoy some beignets at Café du Monde, try a po’boy sandwich, or sample some gumbo or jambalaya at a family-friendly restaurant. The city’s culinary scene is as rich and diverse as its culture.
18. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Why Go: The birthplace of America, full of historical significance.
- Highlight: Liberty Bell and Philadelphia Museum of Art.
- Things to do: 10 things to do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with your grandchildren is an enriching journey into the birthplace of America, offering a blend of historical significance and urban exploration. As one of the country’s oldest cities, Philadelphia is steeped in history, making it an ideal destination for a family trip that’s both educational and fun.
Begin your visit with the Independence National Historical Park, home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were debated and adopted. Walking through these historic sites provides a tangible connection to pivotal moments in American history and is an excellent way to engage your grandchildren in learning about the nation’s past.
A visit to the Franklin Institute offers a hands-on science experience that’s both fun and educational. With interactive exhibits on everything from space to the human brain, it’s a place where grandchildren can learn through play and discovery.
For a taste of Philadelphia’s unique cultural offerings, stroll through the Philadelphia Museum of Art and run up the “Rocky Steps,” or explore the Please Touch Museum, specifically designed for younger children with interactive exhibits that encourage learning through tactile experiences.
Don’t miss a chance to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods. The historic Reading Terminal Market is a great place to grab lunch, offering a wide array of local and international cuisines. It’s an ideal spot to introduce your grandchildren to different foods in a lively and bustling setting.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a walk or bike ride along the Schuylkill River Trail or a visit to Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. The park offers plenty of space for picnics, play, and relaxation amidst greenery.
Philadelphia is also famous for its cheesesteaks, so be sure to indulge in this local culinary delight at one of the city’s many sandwich shops.
19. Monterey, California
- Why Go: Coastal town with an excellent aquarium and marine beauty.
- Highlight: Monterey Bay Aquarium and whale watching.
Traveling to Monterey, California with your grandchildren is an adventure into a coastal wonderland, rich in marine life, natural beauty, and historical significance. This picturesque city on California’s central coast offers a tranquil yet exciting experience, perfect for a family trip that combines relaxation with discovery.
Begin your visit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a world-renowned facility that offers an up-close look at the diverse marine life of the Pacific Ocean. The interactive exhibits, like the touch pools and the mesmerizing kelp forest, are both educational and captivating for all ages. Watching the feeding sessions and learning about ocean conservation are highlights that shouldn’t be missed.
Take a stroll along Cannery Row, the historic waterfront district famously depicted by John Steinbeck in his novels. This area, once the sardine-packing heart of Monterey, now offers a mix of shops, restaurants, and museums. It’s a great place to explore, find souvenirs, and maybe stop for a seafood lunch.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail provides a scenic pathway along the coast, perfect for walking, biking, or even rollerblading. The trail offers stunning views of the bay and is a great way to explore the area’s natural beauty at your own pace.
A visit to the Pacific Grove, adjacent to Monterey, brings you to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, where, during certain times of the year, you can witness thousands of monarch butterflies. This natural spectacle is both awe-inspiring and a wonderful educational opportunity.
If time permits, take a drive along the famous 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach. This scenic route winds through a stunning coastal landscape, passing by iconic golf courses, luxurious mansions, and dramatic ocean viewpoints, including the famed Lone Cypress.
Dining in Monterey can be a delightful experience, with many restaurants offering fresh, locally sourced seafood. The area is also known for its clam chowder, which can be enjoyed at many eateries along the waterfront/.
20. Mackinac Island, Michigan
- Why Go: A step back in time with no cars, horse-drawn carriages, and fudge.
- Highlight: Bike rides around the island and historic forts.
Visiting Mackinac Island in Michigan with your grandchildren offers a charming and unique experience, taking you back in time to a place where cars are replaced by horse-drawn carriages and bicycles. This idyllic island, located in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, is a perfect blend of historical significance, natural beauty, and old-fashioned fun, ideal for a relaxed, family-oriented trip.
Start your adventure with a ferry ride to the island, a delightful experience in itself, offering beautiful views of the surrounding waters. Upon arriving, the absence of cars makes for a peaceful and safe environment, perfect for exploring with grandchildren.
A visit to Fort Mackinac is a must. This well-preserved fort dates back to the American Revolution and offers live demonstrations, reenactments, and interactive exhibits that bring history to life. It’s both educational and entertaining for kids, giving them a glimpse into 18th and 19th-century life.
Take a leisurely carriage tour around the island to see its major landmarks and learn about its history in a relaxing way. These tours are both informative and enjoyable, offering a chance to sit back and soak in the island’s charm.
Exploring the island by bike is another great option. With several miles of paved and well-maintained trails, including those around the scenic perimeter of the island, it’s a fun and healthy way to see the sights, including Arch Rock and Skull Cave.
Mackinac Island is famous for its fudge, and visiting a fudge shop is a delightful treat. Many shops offer demonstrations on how this sweet treat is made, followed by samples to taste.
Don’t forget to spend some time simply enjoying the natural beauty of the island. Whether it’s a picnic in Marquette Park, a walk along the shoreline, or a visit to the Butterfly House, the island’s serene setting is perfect for making lasting memories with your grandchildren.
Accommodations on the island range from historic hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts, each offering a unique experience. Dining options include everything from casual cafes to upscale restaurants, many of which offer stunning lake views.
21. Portland, Oregon
- Why go: Known for its lush parks, vibrant arts scene, and eco-friendly vibe, Portland offers a blend of outdoor adventure and urban exploration.
- Highlights: Visit the Oregon Zoo, explore the interactive exhibits at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or enjoy a day at Washington Park which includes the beautiful International Rose Test Garden.
- Things to do: 34 Things to do in Portland, Oregon with Kids or 21 Things to do in Portland Oregon with Teenagers
- Where to Stay: 16 Great Places to Stay in Portland, Oregon
Traveling to Portland, Oregon with your grandchildren is an opportunity to immerse yourselves in a city renowned for its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, and eco-friendly ethos. This dynamic city offers a perfect blend of urban and natural attractions that cater to all ages.
Start your adventure with a visit to the Oregon Zoo, located in the verdant Washington Park, where the grandkids can learn about wildlife conservation while observing animals from around the world. The nearby Portland Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden provide serene and beautiful settings for letting kids unwind.
For hands-on science fun, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a must-visit, featuring interactive exhibits and a planetarium that captivate curious minds.
Portland’s cityscape is adorned with numerous murals and public artworks, making even a simple walk through the city a visually engaging experience.
For a taste of adventure, consider a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge, just a short drive from the city, known for its stunning waterfalls and hiking trails.
22. Oahu, Hawaii
- Why go: As the third-largest Hawaiian island, Oahu is a paradise of natural beauty, rich culture, and historic landmarks.
- Highlights: Enjoy the beaches of Waikiki, visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, and explore the Polynesian Cultural Center for a deep dive into the island’s heritage.
- Things to do: 11 Things to do in Oahu with Kids
- Where to Stay: Aulani the Disney Resort
Traveling to Oahu, Hawaii, with your grandchildren offers a magical experience where vivid natural beauty meets rich cultural history. This island, the third largest in Hawaii and home to the state capital Honolulu, is a paradise for families seeking both adventure and relaxation.
Oahu’s beaches are world-renowned, and Waikiki Beach is a perfect start. Its gentle waves are ideal for first-time surfers, with many local schools offering lessons for all ages. Beyond surfing, the clear, shallow waters are great for snorkeling, where you and your grandchildren can explore vibrant marine life. For a quieter beach experience, visit the North Shore, known for its stunning, less crowded beaches like Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a profound experience, providing a window into an important part of U.S. history. The USS Arizona Memorial is a poignant site that offers educational insights for older grandchildren. For a broader understanding of the island’s culture, spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Here, you can experience the traditions, arts, and crafts of various Pacific Island cultures, making it both an entertaining and informative outing.
For families that love the great outdoors, Oahu has much to offer. Hiking trails like the Diamond Head Crater provide panoramic views of the island and are manageable for most fitness levels. The lush Manoa Falls trail leads through a tropical rainforest to a breathtaking waterfall, offering an easy yet rewarding hike.
Oahu’s culinary scene is as diverse as its landscape. In Honolulu, explore the flavors of the island at family-friendly restaurants and cafes. The local food trucks are a must-try, serving everything from fresh seafood to Hawaiian shave ice, a favorite treat among kids.
Take time to wander through the charming streets of historic Haleiwa town in the North Shore, where quaint shops and local eateries offer a laid-back Hawaiian vibe. In the evenings, enjoy a traditional luau where music, dance, and storytelling provide a festive end to your days of exploration.
23. Panama City Beach, Florida
- Why go: This coastal town is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, offering a perfect setting for relaxation and water activities.
- Highlights: Spend a day at the beach, explore Shipwreck Island Waterpark, or visit the Gulf World Marine Park.
- Things to do: 8 Activities For Families in Panama City Beach, Florida
- Where to Stay: Splash Condominiums
Traveling to Panama City Beach, Florida, with your grandchildren offers a delightful mix of sun, sand, and family fun, making it a perfect destination for creating lasting memories. Known for its beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Panama City Beach is a paradise for beach lovers and provides a plethora of activities suitable for all ages.
Start your adventure by simply enjoying the beach. The calm Gulf waters are ideal for swimming, building sandcastles, or just relaxing under the sun. For a more active experience, consider taking the grandchildren on a dolphin-watching tour, where you can observe these playful creatures in their natural habitat, or try some family-friendly water sports like paddleboarding or kayaking.
Beyond the beach, Panama City Beach offers other attractions that cater to younger visitors. Shipwreck Island Waterpark, with its slides, pools, and lazy river, is a hit for a day of splashing fun. For a more educational experience, visit the Gulf World Marine Park, where you can learn about marine life through shows and exhibits featuring dolphins, sea lions, and more.
For a change of pace, take a stroll through Pier Park, a vibrant outdoor shopping and entertainment complex. Here, you can enjoy a variety of dining options, catch a movie, or do some shopping. The area often hosts family-friendly events and live music, adding to the lively atmosphere.
As the day winds down, enjoy a sunset cruise for a peaceful end to your day, offering stunning views of the coastline and a chance to spot more wildlife.
24. Dallas, Texas
- Why go: A modern metropolis known for its rich history, cultural experiences, and family-friendly attractions.
- Highlights: Explore the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, visit the Dallas Zoo, or enjoy a day at Klyde Warren Park.
- Things to do: 37 Things to Do in Dallas with Kids or Fun Things to Do With Teenagers in Dallas, Texas
Traveling to Dallas, Texas, with your grandchildren presents an opportunity to explore a city rich in history, culture, and modern attractions, making it an ideal destination for a family-oriented adventure. Dallas is a city where the traditional Texan spirit meets contemporary urban living, offering a diverse range of activities that cater to all interests and age groups.
Start your Dallas journey with a visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. This state-of-the-art museum captivates young minds with its interactive exhibits covering topics from dinosaurs and space to robotics and earth sciences. Its hands-on approach to learning makes it a fun and engaging experience for grandchildren.
For outdoor enjoyment, head to Klyde Warren Park. This urban green space is built over a freeway and offers a variety of activities, including a children’s park, a butterfly garden, and frequent food trucks. It’s a great spot to relax, play, and grab a bite while enjoying Dallas’s skyline.
Another must-visit is the Dallas Zoo, where you can spend a day exploring a wide range of wildlife exhibits. The zoo’s layout is very family-friendly, making it easy to navigate with young ones. Special experiences like feeding the giraffes can be particularly memorable for grandchildren.
History enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which provides insights into the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. While some of the content may be more suitable for older grandchildren, it’s an important part of American history to share.
For a taste of classic Texas culture, consider attending a rodeo show at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, where you can experience live bull riding, barrel racing, and more. It’s a unique and thrilling spectacle that showcases the cowboy culture Texas is famous for.
25. San Antonio, Texas
- Why go: A city rich in colonial heritage, famous for the Alamo, the River Walk, and its vibrant cultural scene.
- Highlights: Tour the Alamo, enjoy a leisurely stroll or boat ride along the River Walk, and visit the San Antonio Zoo.
- Things to do: 7 Kid Attractions in San Antonio
- Where to Stay: Hotel Emma
Traveling to San Antonio, Texas, with your grandchildren is an opportunity to dive into a city rich in history, cultural diversity, and family-friendly attractions. This vibrant city, known for its iconic River Walk and historic missions, provides a unique blend of educational and entertaining experiences that cater to all ages.
Begin your San Antonio adventure with a visit to the Alamo, the city’s most famous historical site. This former mission and fortress is a symbol of Texas independence and offers a tangible history lesson for your grandchildren. The story of the Alamo’s past is both fascinating and educational, and the site’s central location makes it a convenient starting point for your exploration.
Next, take a stroll or a boat ride along the San Antonio River Walk, a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River. Lined with shops, restaurants, and lush greenery, the River Walk is a delightful place to spend an afternoon. You can enjoy a leisurely meal at a riverside restaurant, watch the riverboats pass by, or simply soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
For a fun-filled day, visit SeaWorld San Antonio or Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Both parks offer a range of attractions from thrilling rides to entertaining shows, ensuring a memorable experience for grandchildren of all ages.
Another great family attraction is the San Antonio Zoo, located in Brackenridge Park. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals and offers interactive experiences like feeding giraffes, making it a hit with younger visitors.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This park includes four historic missions and offers a glimpse into the area’s Spanish colonial past. The missions are connected by the Mission Trail, which can be explored on foot, by bike, or even by car.
When it comes to dining, San Antonio’s culinary scene is a fusion of Texan and Mexican flavors. Be sure to try some local specialties like Tex-Mex dishes, barbecue, and the famous puffy tacos.
26. Bend, Oregon
- Why go: Nestled along the Deschutes River, Bend is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor adventures, and a relaxed atmosphere.
- Highlights: Explore the High Desert Museum, enjoy hiking or biking the trails around the city, and if visiting in winter, skiing at Mount Bachelor.
- Itinerary: Weekend Ski Trip to Bend, Oregon
- Where to Stay: Tetherow Lodge
Traveling to Bend, Oregon, with your grandchildren offers an adventure in a city where the beauty of the great outdoors is seamlessly blended with a friendly, small-town atmosphere. Renowned for its stunning natural landscapes and a plethora of outdoor activities, Bend is a haven for families seeking both adventure and relaxation.
Begin your exploration of Bend with a visit to the High Desert Museum. This unique museum provides an interactive and educational experience, showcasing the local wildlife, culture, and history of the Oregon high desert. It’s a great place for grandchildren to learn about the area’s environment and history through engaging exhibits and live animal presentations.
Outdoor activities are abundant in Bend. The Deschutes River, which flows through the city, is perfect for a family-friendly rafting or kayaking trip, offering both gentle flows and more exciting rapids. For a more relaxed experience, enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride along the Deschutes River Trail, where the natural beauty of the area is on full display.
The Lava River Cave, part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, provides a fascinating underground adventure. Here, you can embark on a self-guided tour through a mile-long lava tube, a unique geological feature of the region. Remember to bring a flashlight and wear sturdy shoes for this intriguing exploration.
For those who enjoy hiking, the area around Bend is dotted with trails suitable for all ages and abilities. A hike up Pilot Butte offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and is a fantastic way for the family to enjoy the great outdoors.
In the winter months, Bend is a snow sports paradise. The nearby Mount Bachelor Ski Resort offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities, with a range of runs catering to all skill levels. Even if you’re not into skiing, the resort offers snow tubing and sled dog rides, which are sure to be a hit with the grandchildren.
After a day of adventure, the city of Bend itself offers a variety of dining options. With a focus on locally sourced and crafted food, you can enjoy everything from casual family-friendly eateries to gourmet restaurants. Don’t forget to try some of the local ice cream or visit one of Bend’s famous breweries or cider houses (root beer for the grandkids!).
Remember, traveling with grandkids isn’t just about the destination; it’s about the experiences you share and the memories you create. Each of these places offers something unique that can cater to different interests, whether it’s nature, history, or pure fun. Happy travels!