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The USA is one of the most diverse and eclectic countries in the world, making it a great place to take your mini adventurers. Whether you love the great outdoors or are a family unit of urban dwellers, here’s what to see and do in the 5 most family-friendly destinations in the U S of A.
When it comes to maximum family fun, you just can’t go past Orlando, Florida. Not only is its year-round weather totally unbeatable, but its cityborders are packed to the brim with theme parks. Visit Mickey and Minnie at Walt Disney World, explore the tricks and special effects behind some of your favourite movies at Universal Studios and even wave your own magical wand at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Not to mention, there’s The Kennedy Space Centre, LEGOLAND and the Epcot Centre. We don’t know who’s going to end up having more fun – you or the kids. When you’ve ridden more rides than your lungs can cope with, you can retire to the long sandy shores of Cocoa or New Smyrna beaches with a healthy portion of that famous Florida fruit.
Where to stay: If there’s one thing that rivals the amount of theme parks in this city, it’s the amount of kid-friendly accommodation. Most hotels offer shuttle services to the surrounding parks, making accessibility easy for you and your squad.
San Francisco is home to good old-fashioned family fun (it was the setting of Full House, after all!) Not only is the city full of vibrant people, culture and architecture, but there’s plenty of hills for wearing out little bodies. Hire bicycles and cycle across the brilliant Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito Ferry Terminal where you can then kick your feet up on a ferry back to the city. Once you’re back downtown, pay a visit to the famous Zig Zag Street (try driving down it if mum or dad are game) and hitch a ride on one of San Francisco’s old-fashioned street cars. If that hasn’t worn them out, stir-crazy kids will remain completely immersed in the world of the Californian Academy of Sciences where there’s everything from aquariums to asteroids.
Where to stay: San Francisco is renowned for its expensive living (it’s the 4th most expensive city in the world to live in). The good news is that Airbnb has made accommodation in ‘Frisco easy and economical for families looking for a spot to call home base.
Exchange the hustle and bustle of America’s big cities for the wide open space that is the middle of America. In Flagstaff, Arizona, mum and dad can benefit from Mother Nature’s peace and quiet while the kids can run wild in the wilderness. First must-see sight is, of course, the Grand Canyon which was voted the best family-friendly location by US News in 2015. The Canyon is accessible from a number of points within the park which can be reached through private transport, shuttle or commercial buses. 30 minutes north of Flagstaff, you’ll find Slide Rock State Park. Make sure you pack the kids’ swimmers as they’ll want to slip, dip and dive down Slide Rock – a natural water slide that’s formed over the slippery bed of Oak Creek.
Where to stay: Whether you pitch your tent or stay in a cabin, we suggest making the most of the great outdoors by sleeping out in it. For travellers who like their creature comforts, there’s plenty of hotels and vacation rentals in and around Flagstaff.
Looking for a family holiday that simply involves beach, beach and more beach? Welcome to Waikiki, Hawaii. The best part about a beach holiday in Hawaii? Kids’ clubs. Relax beach-side with a fresh coconut while the kids run, splash, swim and surf themselves ragged under the watchful eye of the hotel’s childcare staff. Waikiki is also a great spot for water adventures. Get the family together to try standup paddle boarding, go snorkelling with the dolphins, or take a guided kayak tour. Too much effort? Simply lay poolside with a trashy beach read. Aloha, relaxation.
Where to stay: Resorts in Waikiki come in all shapes and sizes – from luxurious apartments, through to budget-friendly rentals. Look for hotels which offer kids’ clubs so your kids have the opportunity of joining in with organised activities if they want to. In lieu of a kids’ club, a generously sized pool area will do the trick.
Last, but certainly not least, we have NYC. New York City might seem like an over-whelming place to take the kids, but the city is surprisingly kid-friendly. With a surplus of things to see and do, there’s no getting bored in the Big Apple. Little fans of Night in the Museum will love the many exhibitions available in the Museum of Natural History, while Times Square (particularly the three-floored M&Ms store) will put a big smile on small faces. A trip to NYC isn’t complete without seeing a production on Broadway – cheap tickets to shows such as Wicked and Aladdin can be sourced on the day at booths throughout Times Square – and not forgetting, a ferry ride out to Liberty Island to see Lady Liberty herself.
Where to stay: While there’s no shortage of hotels throughout upper and lower Manhattan, families may find Airbnb to be an easier and more economical choice for sourcing accommodation.