One thing I love about the US is that you can find unique cities from coast to coast. Each has its own charm, ranging from history, museums and local foods, to unique parks and playgrounds. Our family road trips have always included spending time in cities big and small combined with visiting attractions and National Parks. It’s an awesome opportunity to explore activities that you might not find in your home town. For this post, I reached out to family travel bloggers near and far to come up with a list of their top 3 things to do in cities around the United States. From coast to coast you’ll find many family friendly ideas, each linked to a more detailed post. Hope your favorite city is on the list!
This post was updated January, 2017.
Washington, DC is a wonderful place to visit, and we are fortunate to live in the suburbs of this popular city. How many other towns can boast about such an amazing collection of galleries and museums with no admission fees? Over the years, we’ve learned about animals, airplanes, American Indians and art by visiting many of the Smithsonian museums. But we’ve also had the chance to enjoy some of the other unique museum offerings in DC. Here are 6 favorites, popular with both tourists and locals.
As I put the finishing touches on this blog post, I hear the weatherman say that is going to be close to 70 degrees this weekend! All the more reason you should consider visiting DC during the colder months. Most tourists, as well as locals, tend to visit between March and October. But December and January are often wonderful times to see some of the more popular attractions like the National Archives Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum because the crowds are much smaller (excluding the week between Christmas and New Year’s). With that said, the weather is never predictable, with 70 degrees temperatures one week and snow the next, so be prepared. You should always check before you go for any closings or late openings due to weather. Besides staying warm in all the free museums, here are five fantastic reasons to head to DC during the colder months.
*This post was updated January 2017.
Visiting the Nation’s Capital is a wonderful opportunity to see history come to life, spend time in amazing free museums, and enjoy the view of the monuments that make the city so special. There is so much to see and do, but if often can be overwhelming for the first time visitor. For this reason, I decided to focus this blog post solely on tips and tricks to help make the most of a visit to DC. You can read my Guide to Visiting Washington DC page for recommendations and information on favorite museums, walking tours, food and other must-see attractions . And be sure to let me know if you have any other helpful tips to add to the list.
Boston is one of my favorite family-friendly cities to visit for several reasons: there are tons of things to do with kids, the food is delicious, and it’s easy to get around on foot. I also have family connections in the city, so when we visit we tend to enjoy more of the local flavor. If you have ever vacationed in Boston, you probably went to places like the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science, along with walking the Freedom Trail, riding the Swan Boats and visiting Faneuil Hall. So what’s next you ask? Here are five suggestions for other fun things to do in and around Boston.
Amidst the dozens of museums in DC, you’ll find the National Geographic Museum quietly tucked away on 17th and M Street, NW. The museum hosts a wide array of traveling exhibits and live events, and when I heard an advertisement on the radio for Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, I knew I had to take my family and go. I was excited to see how National Geographic would bring to life the popular movie series, so we headed into DC one recent afternoon. For all you Hollywood fans, explorers and adventurers, here are several reasons to check out this unique exhibit, and unleash your inner Indiana Jones.
Summer is in full swing and as the days get hotter, it’s a wonderful time to visit what I consider to be some of DC’s most interesting attractions. As a bonus, they are all inside, so its perfect for those dog days of summer. Although the city is filled with the fabulous and free Smithsonian complex of museums, I think these three gems are worth the price of admission.
As I was writing this article, I was feeling pretty good thinking about the number and types of museums that our family has visited over the years. These include places like the small town Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester, Virginia, (a family favorite which recently expanded), to the amazing free Smithsonian Museums in DC. In recent years, we have branched out to visit the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (home of the Grand Ole Opry for over 30 years), the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, and the EMP in Seattle (see photo).
My daughters and I are big fans of the movie “Titanic,” so of course when our family ended up renting a cabin in the mountains just outside of Pigeon Forge this summer, we had to visit the Titanic Museum. I ordered tickets by phone, and was able to purchase a family pass, which was a great price deal for a family of 5. Upon arrival at our scheduled “boarding time,” we were handed a boarding pass and took turns sharing our new passenger identities. We varied from 1st and 2nd class passengers to a quartermaster who was behind the wheel when the iceberg was spotted on that fateful night. The museum had over 20 galleries, with many interactive exhibits to help tell the story. Some of the highlights included:
Next time you are in Indianapolis, you have to visit The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Visit the Dinosphere exhibit where you can step back in time to the Cretaceous Period. Check out the Fireworks of Glass blown glass sculpture that stands 43 feet tall. Some exhibits even have family guides to download, that will give you extra information and activities. The museum is consistently ranked in the lists of top 10 Children’s museums across the country and is definitely worth a visit.
Also, for a limited time at the museum, you can now see the Terra Cotta Warrior Exhibit (its cheaper than the long plane ride to China!) The exhibit, which runs through November 2, 2014, contains overs 100 artifacts, and like the rest of the museum, has many interactive activities. We saw Terra Cotta Warriors at the National Geographic Museum several years ago, and it really is amazing to see these life-sized figures and hear the fascinating story about their origin. If you don’t want to pay the extra fee, you can still visit the museum’s China exhibition, where you can learn what it takes to care for baby pandas and also experience ancient Chinese traditions. Take advantage of buying tickets online if you can to avoid the crowds. If you live nearby, there are often free community nights, but get there early to be sure to get in.