April 13, 2024

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Planning a Family Trip? Consider These Kid-Friendly U.S. Cities

12 min read

Traveling with kids is, in a word, an adventure. It can be exciting, stressful, exhilarating, exhausting—pretty much all the feelings apply here. But, traveling with your kids is so important, and some of the best memories are often made on family vacations.

So if you’re looking to take a family trip but want to keep things domestic and venture to a new U.S. city, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite cities that are kid-friendly, even a few you might not have known are so welcoming to families. Maybe you’d only think of some of these hot spots for a bachelor party or girls trip, but once you look a little deeper, these 16 cities offer plenty of kid-friendly fun. So pack up the family, grab extra snacks, and make some new memories exploring these kid-friendly destinations.

For History Buffs

1. Boston, Massachusetts

There’s history, quite literally, around every corner in Boston. This spot is a great location especially for older kids who are learning about the American Revolution in school. Get your steps in with a tour of the Freedom Trail, which will take you to 16 historically significant spots in the city. Plus, inspire them to study hard and get into a good college by touring the grounds of acclaimed Harvard University. With tons of family-friendly museums like the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Museum of Science, and the Boston Children’s Museum, there will never be a dull moment in this historic city. Head there during baseball season and try to catch a fly ball at Fenway Park.

Where to Stay in Boston

The great part about Boston is that the city has an impressive and easy-to-navigate subway system. This means no matter where you stay, you are never too far from everything you might want to check out. For a quiet stay, consider the Hyatt Place in Boston’s Seaport District. Breakfast is included and the rooftop offers gorgeous views of downtown and the surrounding waterfront.

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’ve been to Bourbon Street or to a bachelor/bachelorette party in New Orleans, bringing your kiddos there might be the last thing on your mind. But, surprisingly, New Orleans is actually a great place to bring your family. Stroll around the French Quarter and indulge in fresh beignets at the historic Cafe du Monde. Then head to the nearby Louisiana Children’s Museum or the Audubon Zoo for a day of fun and adventure. Let your little ones dance to the live jazz music on nearly every corner, take a steamboat ride along the Mississippi, or take a mule and carriage ride around the city. While you’re in the area, be sure to take a Bayou swamp tour where you and your little ones can see the unique ecosystem of the area and even hold a baby alligator!

Where to Stay in New Orleans

For your stay, The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is incredibly kid-friendly (and a super luxe option for adults, too.) At check-in, they give little ones an engaging scavenger hunt to complete during their stay, and even offer a kids menu on the room service offerings, too!  For a more budget-friendly stay, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside is a great option as well.

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

There’s so much to see and do in Philadelphia—from the rich American history to incredible museums, parks, sports, and entertainment. And while many adults love it for its cuisine, nightlife, and bar scenes, Philly does a really great job in appealing to the under-18 set, too. The massive Philadelphia Zoo is a must-see, known for being the first zoo in the United States, while the Please Touch Museum encourages hands-on learning and play to keep your kids busy for hours. The Franklin Institute has a stunning planetarium, unique exhibits, a brain-inspired obstacle course, and an IMAX theater. Depending on the season you visit, catch a Flyers hockey game or a Phillies baseball game to round out your stay with exciting, major league sports action.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

Stay at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing which overlooks the Delaware River and is less than a mile from the Liberty Bell. Plus, it has an indoor pool.

4. Fort Worth, Texas

Affectionately referred to as “Where the West Begins” is Dallas’s sister city, Fort Worth. For a peek into what cowboy life is really like, be sure to head to the Stockyards and catch one of their daily cattle drives. Then, head to the Dickies Arena to watch a live rodeo. Just next door, you’ll find the stunning National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame that all kids and parents will enjoy. There’s also plenty of kid-centric attractions like the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Fort Worth Zoo. Be sure to soak up the Texas sun in the most unique way by going horseback riding either through the Stockyards or out in the surrounding countryside.

Where to Stay in Fort Worth

Go all out while in Cowtown with a one-of-a-kind stay at the gorgeous Hotel Drover in the heart of the Stockyards. The iconic hotel has plenty of history, and will make anyone feel like cowboy royalty. For something on the more affordable and less lively side, consider the Homewood Suites by Hilton.

5. Washington, D.C.

Basically a must-visit city for all Americans is our nation’s capital. Get ready to learn, as Washington, D.C. has a lot to offer for kids and parents alike! Live out your National Treasure dreams by visiting must-see spots like the Smithsonian, Lincoln Memorial, and the National Archives Museum. Stop in and say “hi” to the President and Vice President while touring  The White House, too.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.

Grab a room at one of the most family-friendly hotels in the area, Hotel Washington. With a great location, you’ll be just down the road from The White House and the Lincoln Memorial.

6. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Speaking of historically-iconic spots, another must-see destination is located not far from the Capital, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Step back in time to see where the Union was triumphant in the Battle of Gettysburg by visiting the National Military Park. Ride horseback like they did during the Civil War era, and explore impressive historic museums like the Gettysburg Heritage Center Museum and the Shriver House Museum.

Where to Stay in Gettysburg

When in Gettysburg, immerse yourself in history by staying at a historic inn or bed and breakfast. Grab one of the townhouse options at the Inn at Lincoln Square and enjoy a prime location, personal kitchen, and period style decor with modern amenities.

Big Cities

7. New York, New York

If you aren’t from in or around New York City, the hustle and bustle of “The City That Never Sleeps” might be a deterrent while planning a kid-friendly getaway. But it’s that vibrancy and on-the-go attitude that makes NYC a great place for children. Whether you catch a Broadway show, spend a day exploring museums, make slime at the Sloomoo Institute, check out the playgrounds in Central Park or just let the city itself dictate how you spend your time, every child should experience New York City at least once in their lives (bonus points if you opt to visit during the holidays!).

Where to Stay in New York City

While in Manhattan, call the Hard Rock Hotel New York home, perfectly located right between Radio City Music Hall and the Theater District in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Kids will love staying in the middle of it all and being amongst the rock ‘n’ roll decor, and parents will love the modern accommodations and maybe even a visit to RT 60 Rooftop Bar and Lounge on the 34th floor. 

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

Commonly referred to as Sin City or Adult Disneyland, Las Vegas is a hot destination for those who want to party, eat, gamble, and be entertained. But there’s so much more to it. Play in the Fun Dungeon arcade at the Excalibur hotel, customize M&Ms at M&M World, and let your older teens experience extreme thrill rides at The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod. With seemingly endless options when it comes to food and sweets, if your kids love bright lights and high-energy fun, then visit and Viva Las Vegas!

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

Take the whole family to Vegas for a different experience, and they’re sure to love the jaw-dropping decor unique to each large hotel along the strip. Pick a hotel like the Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World that has a dedicated family pool on the property.

9. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville has exploded as a bachelor and bachelorette party destination in recent years. And the city has even become known as “Smashville” thanks to the raucous atmosphere at their NHL hockey games. But Nashville is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and is a great destination to go for a family vacation.

The 200-acre Nashville Zoo features over 2,700 animals from all over the world, and kids can also enjoy a petting zoo, playgrounds, and a splash pad for when the weather requires some cooling down. The Adventure Science Center is another great (indoor!) option for kids interested in science-focused, hands-on exhibits. And we haven’t even mentioned the music. “Music City” has no shortage of live music. The city is home to a number of kid-friendly establishments that feature live bands and performances. Take your little country fans to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for a day well spent.

Where to Stay in Nashville

Make your home base the family-friendly Conrad Nashville, with an ideal central location, art collection with local and regional artists, and rooftop pool terrace with cabanas for rent. 

10. Chicago, Illinois

Whether you’re from the midwest or not, experiencing the Windy City is a great idea. Though it’s a beautiful area all year round, going when the weather is nice in the spring, summer, or fall may lend more fun opportunities. Be sure to get out on Lake Michigan or the Chicago River for a boat tour, hold your little one’s hand on the 360 Degree Observation Deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, and see the iconic statues at Millennium Park. There are also plenty of kid-centric places to visit like Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Children’s Museum, the Wonder Works Children’s Museum, and more! Plus, a family trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without spending a day at Navy Pier riding amusement park rides, eating your hearts out, and checking out the shops.

Where to Stay in Chicago

Amazing waterfront views and a prime location near Navy Pier await families at Sable at Navy Pier. Enjoy breakfast, dinner at their restaurant, and unbelievable views on the terrace.

Sunny Escapes

11. San Francisco, California

Outside of San Francisco, The Napa Valley Wine region is an incredibly popular destination for adults. But that area of California is also a great place to plan a family trip! Make San Fransisco your home base, and begin your stay with a hop-on hop-off bus tour to get your lay of the land. Kids will especially love the Exploratorium, a hands-on museum for kids, as well as The Aquarium of the Bay, home to walk-through aquarium tunnels. Kids on the older side may enjoy exploring and learning about Alcatraz Island and taking the exciting ferry ride over. While you’re in the area, be sure to have your kids to take a photo with the Full House house in the background for nostalgia (and Instagram) purposes.

Where to Stay in San Francisco

The family can stay at the Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf located near the famed Golden Gate Bridge. With a variety of rooms for families of all sizes, it doesn’t have a pool, but its location can’t be beaten. 

12. Miami, Florida

It may not seem like it on the surface but kids, too, can party in the city where the heat is on. Aside from its beautiful beaches (Crandon Park, with its carousel and train ride, is perfect for kids), amazing restaurants, and art scene, Miami is home to a bevy of kid-friendly activities.

Take your little ones to the Miami Childrens’ Museum, where they can learn through play exhibitions like a pet hospital, a bank, and a supermarket. Animal lovers will take to Jungle Island, a wildlife park that’s home to hundreds of animal species and features kid-friendly programming, animal encounters, and a playground. The Miami Seaquarium is another great kid-friendly option, giving kids an up-close look at amazing sea life. 

Where to Stay in Miami

For a kid-friendly stay, Fontainebleau Miami Beach is super popular, and a great choice for families with shallow splash pools for littles and a kids club for 4-12 year olds. 

13. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

If you haven’t yet ventured to this beach spot in South Carolina, now’s the time. The highly kid-friendly city offers attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium, a Pirates Voyage dinner show, and a lively boardwalk with carnival rides and games. Spend days soaking up the sun, building sandcastles, or learn to surf on the beautiful and clean beaches of the area.

Where to Stay in South Carolina

When on the coast, it’s fitting to stay near the beach at a place like Hilton Grand Vacations Club. All the accommodations we know and love from Hilton, plus ocean views, a large outdoor pool, and a prime location that’s walking distance from the boardwalk.

Close to Nature

14. Park City, Utah

Whether your family is no strangers to skiing or prefer to have your feet planted firmly on the ground, Park City should be on your list of places to visit. If you haven’t gotten into skiing before, it’s a great place to take lessons. Otherwise, you can still take advantage of the winter snow by tubing for hours of fun. If you’d rather go in the warmer months, you can still get outdoors by hiking or horseback riding in the surrounding mountains. Then, cool off inside by visiting the Park City Museum with tons of interactive experiences.

Where to Stay in Park City

Resort-style hotels are abundant in Park City, and are just as luxurious as they sound. The Black Rock Mountain Resort is a visitor favorite thanks to its outdoor pool, sauna, hot tub, and in-house restaurant.

15. South Lake Tahoe, California

The perfect spot no matter what time of year you go! Take skiing lessons in the winter, or go rafting or tubing in the summer in Lake Tahoe. If skiing is a no-go, you can still take advantage of this winter wonderland by going snowshoeing. Take a tour of Emerald Bay and be on the lookout for the wildlife in the area, and ride the gondola at Heavenly Ski Resort for out-of-this-world views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Plus, being situated near the mountains means ample hiking opportunities. This may just be one of the best spots to slow down and reconnect with nature.

Where to Stay in South Lake Tahoe

As one of the highest-rated spots for families in South Lake Tahoe, families love the Black Bear Lodge for its rustic and cozy charm. It’s conveniently located near several attractions, and each room has a private fireplace, perfect for winding down at the end of an exciting day.

16. Scottsdale, Arizona

Being the Grand Canyon State all but implies there’s a lot to do outdoors in Arizona. But being known as a popular bachelor/bachelorette party destination may sway families away from visiting Scottsdale. Surprisingly enough, there are a lot of kid-friendly activities in the area (especially for the older kids), like ATV/UTV tours, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, hiking, and more. Plus, the Desert Botanical Gardens, the OdySea Aquarium, and Scottsdale’s Museum of the West are a great way to embrace the city with little ones in tow.

Where to Stay in Scottsdale

Families enjoy staying in North Scottsdale because of the quiet environment. Visitors rave about Hilton North Scottsdale at Cavasson because of its location, the gorgeous sun terrace, and the variety of room options it offers.

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