Planning your next trip? There are plenty of destinations in each state where family fun and learning meet! Please be sure to follow all state and local public health guidance while visiting. We also suggest researching Covid related restrictions and closings at all locations before you travel.
The trails at Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin lead along the Red Clay Creek bottom and through the woods and meadows to a bald hilltop called the hawk watch. From there, serious birders and casual observers can contribute to counts of hawks, kestrels—even bald eagles—as they fly through on what happens to be one of two main migration routes. Peak viewing comes in August and September. You can see the whole parade depicted on the ceiling of the nature center, which offers programs such as live shows of reptiles, both local and more exotic.
Say all you want about “learning” at the Delaware Children’s Museum—education is at the core of its mission—but the real activity is fun. Play pit crew on a model stock car, sail on the pirate ship, plant a garden, spend all afternoon on the art studio, dam the stream table to change water flow, climb the maze-like Stratosphere tower, build, build, build—the kids think it’s all play. Don’t let them in on the secret.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore may be one of the oldest zoos in the nation, but it combines that long tradition with exciting, cutting-edge exhibits. A visitor favorite is the Penguin Coast. Come see the best-dressed animals at the zoo dive, swim, and cavort in their naturalistic habitat, complete with currents, waves, and underwater viewing.
The wild horses of Assateague National Seashore and State Park are one of the few truly unique sites in the world. The majestic horses have been the island’s signature species for centuries, and seeing them frolicking in the dunes for the first time is one of those iconic family memories you will never forget. Primitive camping on ocean and bay sides of the island and nature trails, and seasonal nature programs are available.
Take a walk on the wild side at the Bergen County Zoological Park located in Paramus. A “New World” zoo, it exclusively exhibits wildlife from North and South America. You have the unique opportunity to view such rare and unusual species as Baird’s Tapirs, Andean Condors, American Alligators, Golden Lion Tamarins, South American Pampas, and many others.
Thrill-seekers should be sure to visit Gillian’s, Wonderland Pier. Right on the Ocean City Boardwalk, this historic amusement park has entertained visitors since 1929. Now with nearly 30 rides, people of all ages will enjoy an afternoon in the ocean air. Take a family ride on a carousel built-in 1926.
Take a step back in history with a trip to Ellis Island and Museum. Ellis Island served as the New York State immigration station from 1855 to 1890. Approximately eight million immigrants passed through its doors, mostly from Northern European countries; this constituted the first large wave of immigrants settling and populating America. Hop aboard the ferry from Jersey City to take you right to the front steps of the museum. Make sure to take in the amazing skyline views!
All children’s museums are fun, but you haven’t seen anything like the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. The only museum in the country dedicated to the history and exploration of play, its interactive exhibits pack plenty of fun to keep the whole family busy all day long. Kids will love exploring a life-sized storybook, riding on an old-fashioned indoor train, attending “Super Powers School” in the comic book exhibit, getting down in the DanceLab, and so much more. Parents will get a dose of nostalgia going through toy and video game collections featuring favorites from their own childhoods.
If you’re in New York City with kids, the Fire Museum is one of those amusing things you must experience with them. Located in a historic Beaux-Arts building in Soho from the 1900s, The Museum welcomes all ages to view the antique and one-of-a-kind fire trucks and exhibits! We find that small children marvel at the big, red trucks. The experience is partly an exploration of an art installation and a drill on fire safety. You also get to learn about the history of New York City firefighters!
We couldn’t skip the Empire State Building, and neither should you. It sounds like an obvious choice, but it is really among the fun things to do in NYC with kids. The observatory on the 102nd floor, for example, is an iconic piece of art. You get to go over 1,200 feet above New York and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The whole family can get a good look at the Manhattan skyline without having to go there.
The ideal children’s museum in Philadelphia, the Please Touch Museum, is the perfect venue for families with young children. Exhibits are all interactive and encourage learning through play, so children can feel free to touch, explore, and lead their parents through the process. In addition to enjoying the 12 exhibits offered, including Healthy Me and Imagination Playground, families can also take pleasure in live theater performances.
Since the 1850s, Strasburg Rail Road™ was used for various purposes, including passenger and freight transportation and interchange. It serves as a tourist attraction, where visitors can experience fun attractions while simultaneously learning about steam railroading. Not only can guests take a trip in the authentically restored coal-burning steam train, but they can also operate the hand-powered Pump Car.
The Carnegie Science Center brings the world of science alive for visitors of all ages. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the science center features four floors of hands-on exhibits, three live demonstration theaters, a four-story IMAX® dome theater, an interactive planetarium, laser shows, an authentic Cold War submarine moored on Pittsburgh’s Ohio River, and a world-renowned model railroad display. Take a peek into the human body at BodyWorks, an interactive exhibit featuring live shows and demonstrations allowing children to explore how the body works inside and out.
To go with its monuments and memorials, the National Mall boasts an impressive lineup of free museums. Visitors should take advantage of the wide range of experiences on hand, from immersing themselves in classic art to marveling at the wonders of aviation and our natural world.
The National Air and Space Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft, including Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Wright brothers’ original 1903 flyer, astronaut space suits, and a lunar rock sample.
Over four million people make their way to the vast National Museum of American History each year. No surprise, since the museum’s collection boasts more than three million objects that tell the American story. Among these, a few crowd favorites include the flag that inspired the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the Greensboro lunch counter, Julia Child’s kitchen, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat.
The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, located in Winchester, offers hands-on experiences exploring natural history, paleontology, simple math, and the arts. Pay a visit to the Artist in Residence, experience Native American culture at The Moccasin Trail, pretend to be a medical professional in the Health Works Hospital, and learn the laws of motion while racing balls down ramps and through loops in Roller Coaster Alley.
Kids can take to the air at Massanutten Resort. The Kids’ Adventure Course, geared for ages 12 and under, packs a challenge with its Burma bridge, log crossing, swinging vine bridge, net traverse, and a 100-foot zipline. Check out the winter activities at Massanutten as well!
Discover Virginia’s natural heritage from the mountains to the ocean at the Virginia Living Museum. Meet animals that live in cypress swamps, mountain coves, limestone caves, and the Chesapeake Bay. Experience the Touch Tank and walk along the boardwalk outside to view coastal birds, beavers, otters, and so much more. Don’t miss the Butterfly Garden and Virginia Garden – home to the most extensive display of native plants in Virginia.