Top 10 US Destinations For The Perfect Family Holiday

4 January 2017
Read Time: 5.6 mins

Flights to the USA have never been so cheap. Take the family on a well-earned holiday to one (or some!) of the USA’s most enjoyable family-friendly destinations. Here are 10 to put on your visit list. 

Staying in Huntington Beach gives a real taste of California for your holiday, sunsets and all. (Image: Getty)

1. Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is the birthplace of Californian surf culture and has carved an edge of cool which is palpable through its relaxed way of life and contemporary style. Located just 30 minutes from Disneyland, it’s the perfect place for families to base themselves for the Disney experience without the crowds.

It's your turn to shine on the VIP Backlot tour at Universal Studios. (Image: Universal Studios Hollywood)

2. Universal Studios, Hollywood

A family trip to Los Angeles simply cannot forgo a visit to the entertainment capital of LA, Universal Studios. The theme park’s immersive experience features some of the world’s most thrilling and technologically advanced film and television-based attractions. Take a full-day to experience to the movie-based theme park and Studio Tour, as well as the CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex, for the ultimate family outing in LA.

Nothing but you and the family in the great outdoors. (Image: Mammoth Lakes Tourism)

3. Mammoth Lakes

Nestled within the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountain range, Mammoth Lakes is a year-round playground for kids and adults alike. In the warmer months, explore hiking trails and wilderness areas, go horse riding or canoeing. At the legendary Mammoth Mountain, mountain biking, zip lining, or rock climbing are the summer time adventures available for the whole family. During the ski season, the Mountain gets on average 400 inches of snowfall a season, offering 150 trails suitable for all levels. Yosemite National Park is only a short drive from here, making it a perfect day trip option. 

Explore the world behind the magic of Disney and beyond. (Image: Walt Disney Museum)

4. San Francisco

With 182 playgrounds, 82 recreation centres, and more than 300 coffee shops (that one's for the parents), it's no wonder San Francisco is always on the list of top family friendly cities to visit in the US. From the Sea Lions at Pier 39 to that bucket-list cable car ride, San Francisco is a must for travelling families. Take a Segway tour through Golden Gate Park – an oasis for outdoor enthusiasts with over 1,000 acres to explore – or visit one of San Francisco’s many family-oriented museums. The Walt Disney Family Museum, the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium are some of the highlights!

Thanks to the city's position in the Willamette Valley, it's fairly flat and easy to cycle around, even for the kids. (Image: Getty)

5. Portland

Families will find lots to enjoy in Portland, including many parks and free kid-friendly activities. See baby elephants at the Oregon Zoo, stop and smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden, or spend an afternoon at Powell’s City of Books, a Portland landmark and one of the world’s great bookstores. There are often readings and author appearances, so check out Powell’s calendar of events before you go. For a tasty treat, don’t miss Voodoo Doughnut’s amazing flavours – a feast for the eyes, as much as the tastebuds!

Chicago's shoreline provides the perfect spot for a family picnic in summer. (Image: Getty)

6. Chicago

Chicago attractions are never short on fun, and there are countless options for the whole family to enjoy. Check out Millennium Park and grab a photo opportunity at the famous ‘bean’ (Cloud Gate), visit the famous (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo, or see the amazing views from Skydeck Chicago. If you’re there during baseball season, catch a game at Wrigley Field, the home of reigning World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs. While exploring the ‘Windy City’, don’t forget to taste their delicious deep-dish pizzas. 

Witness some of the world's most impressive landscapes, like the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. (Image: Brand USA)

7. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is an amazing destination for kids and adults alike. Apart from nature activities such as hiking, biking and camping, travellers can learn about the park’s fascinating and unique geological features – the geysers, boiling mudpots and brightly coloured hot springs – or marvel at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. And of course not to be forgotten are the abundant opportunities to spot wildlife; the big mammals in the park are particularly thrilling for kids, and they can spot grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, bison and elk in the open meadows or forests. 

Disney isn't the only thing that shines like a rainbow in Orlando. (Image: Getty)

8. Orlando

As the theme park capital of the US and arguably, the planet, Orlando boasts a world of fun for families. Universal Orlando Resort, a destination resort with two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure) boasts a plethora of movie-inspired rides and attractions. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Islands of Adventure links to Universal Studios’ Diagon Alley via Hogwarts Express – perfect for Potter-mania enthusiasts. Other note-worthy theme parks to explore include Disney and SeaWorld. Families could easily spend a week here flying off rollercoasters and eating ice cream under the Florida sun. Oh, and there’s Premium Outlets for the ultimate shopping experience too. Dads, you’ve been warned!

Hop on a bike tour around town with the family before stopping to take in the sunset over Capitol Hill. (Image: Michael Kleinberg)

9. Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital is incredibly easy to get around, and has so many activities that are either affordable, or completely free. As you explore the National Mall, take a tour with one of the National Park Service’s on duty Park Rangers and learn about the impressive historical sites and history represented on the Mall. Teens and tweens will enjoy the International Spy Museum, which offers the interactive ‘Spy in the City’ program, and the Newseum, which is a fascinating journey through the history of news. If you are a cycling family, hop on a bike tour – many offer tandem bikes, trailers, baby seas as well as child-sized bikes.

The Beale Street Music District is the heart and soul of Memphis. (Image: Getty)

10. Memphis, Tennessee

The home of blues and rock n’ roll, Memphis is a fantastic destination for families, and a lot of fun! See some of Memphis’ most famous residents – the ducks at the Peabody Hotel, who march to the lobby every day at 11am and 5pm. Another world-famous resident was of course Elvis Presley – take a trip to his home, Graceland, for the full tour including his house, cars and planes. The Memphis zoo was voted #1 in the US by Tripadvisor, and features over 3,500 animals, including polar bears. Memphis has fantastic southern food on offer, including the fried chicken at Gus’s, and delicious BBQ at Blues City Café. 

Feature image courtesy of Getty

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