Disney World, Washington DC, the beach in Texas, or the mountains in Colorado…there are dozens of popular, high-traffic vacation destinations across the U.S. But if you’re looking for something a little different, here are nine unique family summer vacation ideas to consider.
A safari wildlife refuge…in the Ozarks
Many families wish to give their children a safari experience, but a trip to Africa is beyond many families’ budgets. If this is the case for you, check out the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Turpentine Creek is a licensed refuge for big cats, including lions, tigers, and cougars. Safari-style lodging is available for families who want to stay on-location.
Dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park
For kids with a fascination with dinosaurs, this may be the perfect family trip. Dinosaur Valley State Park is one of the only locations in the United States where you can see dinosaur tracks. An hour’s drive from Ft. Worth, Texas, the park provides walking trails, educational materials, and junior ranger activity journals – all free for kids ages 12 and under.
The Out ‘n’ About Treesort in southern Oregon boasts the highest concentration of tree houses in the world. Visitors will enter into a world of 18 tree houses and a variety of platforms, swinging bridges, child-size forts, and zipline courses. The Activitrees provide guests with entertainment, while other tree houses such as the Majestree and Serendipitree provide fabulously unusual places to spend the night.
A revolutionary city in Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg offers a charming mix of historical education and modern entertainment. Actors re-enact historical moments and educate visitors on colonial life and culture. More than 20 guided and self-guided tours are offered daily, and museums provide plenty of opportunities to view colonial and contemporary American folk art. For those with more modern tastes, a multitude of other activities, such as tennis, golf, swimming, spa visits, and a splash park, are available nearby as well.
Superhero meet-up at the Marvel Experience Tour
Do you have a budding superhero in your family? Make his or her day by attending the Marvel Experience Tour. Described as a “fully immersed action adventure,” the Tour allows guests to sign up as S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits, smash walls with the Hulk, and scale walls with Spidey through the 3D 360-degree Stereoscopic full-dome projection theater. Tour locations this summer include Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City, and St. Louis.
Bear-watching at Bear Country USA
Similar to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Bear Country USA allows you and your family to get a close-up look at some amazing wild animals. The leisurely three-mile drive gives visitors a peek at black bear, elk, reindeer, deer, cougars, bobcats, rocky mountain goats, bighorn sheep, dall sheep, pronghorn and buffalo. Located in the Black Hills, Bear Country is a short driving distance from Rapid City, Sheridan Lake, Keystone, and the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial.
Outdoor adventures at the Tanque Verde Ranch
If you have any horse lovers in your family, the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, AZ might be the perfect vacation for you. Available activities include guided hiking and biking, swimming, dancing, fishing, and of course, a variety of horseback lessons and trail rides. Unique off-site options include downhill skiing, golfing, cave exploring, and mountain climbing.
Overnight stays in themed hotel rooms
None of these themed hotel rooms are a vacation in and of themselves, but they’ll make your stay in several popular vacation destinations far more entertaining. A visit to Orlando, FL can be spiced up with a stay in the Spongebob Squarepants Suite at Nickelodeon Suites Resort or the Minion Suites at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. If you’re vacationing in Anaheim or Carlsbad, CA, you may want to check out the Mickey Mouse Penthouse at Disneyland Hotel or the Pirate-Themed Room at Legoland Hotel. Take your pick…any of these locations will add a thrill to your child’s vacation.
A staycation with “Try the World”
A cross-country or international vacation might be outside the limits of your budget this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your child a taste of other cultures. Make your staycation both exotic and educational by checking out “Try the World,” a U.S. based company that delivers chef-curated subscription boxes filled with gourmet food from around the world to your door step. Each box is delivered with cards explaining various items and culture guides that provide interesting facts about the snacks’ countries of origin.
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