Guest Post by Rob Toledo:
When you’re taking the family on vacation, picking the right destination can mean the difference between ice cream and laughs in the sun and temper tantrums in the airport. The right destination will be the perfect combination of fun, learning, adventure and relaxation.
Before traveling, make sure to get your passport out, pack your bags, grab some foreign currency from a valid currency exchange if you are going international, and plan for some fun for everyone in your home. Here are five great options for every age:
5. Washington, DC
Whether it’s keeping a keen eye out for your favorite senator or searching for pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, there’s nothing quite like the country’s capital for entertaining the kids. Be sure to check out:
- The Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument in the National Mall: The memorials themselves are a great opportunity for a history lesson, as is the whole of the National Mall. Many walking tours are available but if that’s too dry for the kids, try renting paddle boats and taking in the view of the Tidal Basin.
- The Spy Museum: Yes, this really exists. The kids will love rifling through all those nifty spy gadgets from around the world, and you’ll love learning about the torrid secrets of world leaders. Best of all? There’s a spy scavenger hunt. What could be better?
- The Smithsonian Museums: The most kid-friendly options include the Air & Space Museum, the National History Museum, the American History Museum and the National Zoo.
- More great options: Touring the US Botanic Gardens, taking a cruise on the Potomac, strolling the National Harbor, participating in Chinese New Year, and taking in the cherry blossoms in March.
No matter what the time of year, Tokyo is kid-friendly and welcoming.
- Imperial Palace: This will be heaven for any children that fantasize about becoming royalty one day, and is a good place to get in some fresh air.
- National Museum of Nature and Science: This hands-on museum was pretty much made for kids. Let them touch, let them play, let them run free as all kids should be.
- The Railway Museum: Sure, you’ll have to do some rail riding yourselves to reach the museum, but the hours of model train fun will make up for any travel blues.
- More great options: The Sony Showroom, Ueno Zoo, the Fire Museum, the National Museum of Science and Innovation, the Museum of Maritime Sciences.
Rome is chock full of activities, you’ll have to practice a little self-control to avoid overloading your daily schedule.
- The Colosseum and Forum: Your kids are always pretending to be something else. Why not add a gladiator or a senator to the mix? Give you kids a history lesson on site and let them imagine they’re a part of tje ancient scene.
- The Pantheon: While there’s nothing kid-specific here, they won’t be able to help being awed by the architecture. And, in case they aren’t, there’s plenty of gelatto in the piazza nearby.
- Piazzas: Nearly every Roman neighborhood has its own beautiful piazza. There are no cars and they tend to be family-oriented, meaning they’re a great place to let the kids roam free.
- Eat. Anywhere. The food in Rome is like no other, and it’s just the kind of cuisine American kids tend to love. Indulge at meal times, and consider taking a cooking lesson for the whole family.
- More great options: The Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and St. Peter’s Church, the Hop on Hop Off bus.
2. San Francisco
Despite the mood-dampening fog, there’s no city quite as vibrant as San Francisco.
- Lombard Street: The “crookedest street in the world” got its name for a reason.
- The Cable Car: Try riding a cable car for a cost-effective amusement park experience.
- Golden Gate Bridge: Ditch the car and walk across the bridge for the most breathtaking views.
- Fisherman’s Wharf: From wax museums to t-shirt stores, this place is a hot spot not just for tourists but for seals, too. Toss them a t-shirt while you’re at it.
- Alcatraz: While all kids will love the ferry ride over, you’ll need the kind of kid that loves ghost stories to enjoy the famous former prison of Alcatrez. If that’s yours, the island is a must.
- More Great Options: Angel Island, Crissy Field, Hyde Street Peer, Chinatown, the Exploratorium (definitely the Exploratorium!).
No matter what your age, the water wonderland of Amsterdam is like something from a dream.
- Boat Tour: Not surprisingly, we’ve got to suggest getting out on that water. There’s no better way to see the city in all of its intriguing, intricate glory.
- Tropen Museum: From photographs to music to film, this former museum of the Dutch colonies is an interesting look into life in the subtropics and so much more.
- The Anne Frank Museum: While a little heavy for younger kids, this is an important and eye-opening experience for children ages ten and up, especially for those who have read the diary.
- More Great Options: Vondelpark, Museum of Famous Dutch Painters, Java Island, Artis (zoo).
There’s a whole world out there of places to see and things to do. So get planning, grab the kids, head out there and start chowing down on gelatto.
Rob Toledo loves travel, adventure and any opportunity to get mixed up with some language-related misunderstandings. He can be reached on Twitter @stentontoledo
image via Angel Girl Rag Dolls