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19 Kid-Friendly Tourist Destinations Across the U.S.

Ah, traveling with kids. There is nothing quite like watching your little ones’ faces light up when they see Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon for the first time. There is also nothing quite like living in fear that a man dressed as Cookie Monster will shove your toddler in the middle of Times Square.

Visiting our country’s thriving metropolises is a great way to have fun with your children, but it’s no big secret that it can also be crazy stressful. So many people! So many places! And SO many things to do. To take some of the pressure off of your inner travel agent, check out these kid-friendly tourist destinations in 19 of America’s coolest cities. From baseball games to wooden carousels to Robert Redford landmarks, there’s definitely something here to please everyone. Away we go!

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    To take the pressure off of your inner travel agent, check out these kid-friendly tourist destinations in 19 of America's coolest cities.

  • Chicago | Navy Pier 2 of 20
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    Chicago is easily one of the best cities to explore with your family (even if you're not Oprah). Make sure you check out Navy Pier, the #1 tourist destination in the Midwest. It's hard to choose among the huge Ferris wheel, IMAX theater, and dinner cruises, so just do them all! Bonus: Visit in the summer to catch free fireworks shows that illuminate the gorgeous skyline.

    Check out 20 more things to do with kids in Chicago

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Los Angeles | Dodger Stadium 3 of 20
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    Los Angeles weather is notably perfect, so why not soak up the sunshine while enjoying America's favorite pastime? Whether or not you are a Dodgers fan, a trip to the Elysian Park stadium is always a good idea. And make sure you attend a Sunday game with the family — kids get to run the bases after the ninth inning!

    Check out 11 more things to do with your kids in Los Angeles

    Photo credit: Getty Images

  • St. Louis | Museum of Westward Expansion 4 of 20
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    The Museum of Westward Expansion should definitely be on your St. Louis to-do list — it truly has something for everyone. Little history buffs will love learning how the west was won, non-history buffs will love the cowboy exhibits (because who doesn't love cowboys?), and you will love the fact that it's completely free.

    Check out 14 more things to do with your kids in St. Louis

     Photo credit: Flickr

  • New Orleans | Carousel Gardens Amusement Park 5 of 20
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    Once you leave Bourbon Street, you'll find that there is more to the Big Easy than drunken debauchery and Mardi Gras flashers. Exhibit A: the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. You'll feel like you've stepped back in time as you explore the classic rides and amazingly gorgeous wooden carousel — one of only 100 in the country!

    Check out 11 more things to do with your kids in New Orleans

    Photo credit: New Orleans City Park Archives

  • Nashville | Adventure Science Center 6 of 20
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    Are y'all planning a Nashville visit anytime soon? The musical hub features fantastic restaurants, zoos, and concert halls (Grand Ole Opry!), but you're really going to want to squeeze in the Adventure Science Center. Highlights include the zero gravity room, a jet aircraft simulator, an aging photo booth, and a planetarium with Pink Floyd laser shows!

    Check out 11 more things to do with your kids in Nashville

    Photo credit: Adventure Science Center

  • San Diego | Legoland 7 of 20
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    Before you check out the San Diego Zoo, make sure you set aside a day to spend at Legoland! Roller coasters that are tame enough for young ones and super-fun fantasy lands make it ideal for kids. But fear not, parents: there is fun for you, too. Can you say, "mini Star Wars world"?

    Check out 8 more things to do with your kids in San Diego

    Photo credit: Town and Country

  • Washington DC | The Millennium Stage Free Concerts 8 of 20
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    It's only appropriate for the capital of the land of the free to have so many activities to enjoy completely gratis. For example, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage features a free concert every day. Get your alt-rock on with They Might Be Giants or get your culture on with the National Symphony Orchestra — they feature a little bit of everything!

    Check out 9 more fun things to do with kids in Washington D.C.

    Photo credit: Margo Schulman/DC Metro Theater Arts

  • Houston | Discovery Green 9 of 20
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    Last year, Forbes dubbed Houston the coolest city to live in the U.S., and it's easy to see why. Of all the fun and family-friendly things to do in the Bayou City, Discovery Green falls high on the list. This sprawling downtown park features putting greens, movie nights, kayaking classes, and even a water park. There's no better way to beat that Texas heat!

    Check out 9 more fun things to do with kids in Houston

    Photo credit: Discovery Green

  • Las Vegas | Sky Zone 10 of 20
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    Believe it or not, there is plenty of sin-less fun to be had in Las Vegas. Check out Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park (seriously) that allows kids to literally bounce off the walls. Let your little ones loose in this arena where every surface is a trampoline, and you can pretty much guarantee a sleepy car ride home. We call that a win-win.

    Check out 9 more things to do with your kids in Las Vegas

    Photo credit: Forbes

  • Indianapolis | Indianapolis Zoo 11 of 20
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    Kudos to Indy for being THE place to hang out with children! The Indianapolis Zoo is a particularly great spot to spend the day with the family. Toddlers can run free in the splash pad, while older kids can spend hours at the world's largest shark touch tank. And if you need a breather, just take a solo walk through the butterfly-filled greenhouse.

    Check out 3 more things to do with your kids in Indianapolis

    Photo credit: Indianapolis Zoo

  • San Francisco | Koret Childrens Quarter 12 of 20
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    If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to spend a full day at the Koret Children's Quarter. It's the country's oldest playground, but there are only brand new experiences to be had. The rope structure and climbing walls are great, and the concrete slides really can't be missed (just make sure you bring some cardboard to sit on!). Challenge your kids to a little friendly competition as you race down the hill side by side.

    Check out 11 more things to do with kids in San Francisco

    Photo credit: Flickr

  • New York City | Dylans Candy Bar 13 of 20
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    Just one visit to Dylan's Candy Bar might make you want to move your fam to the Big Apple permanently. Walking through the doors into this colorful candy heaven is a total Willy Wonka moment — even you might have a hard time quieting your giggly inner child. But if you still feel like being a grown-up, you can always treat yourself to a Sour Patch Kids margarita (yes, really).

    Check out 11 more fun things to do with kids in New York City

    Photo credit: Dillon Works

     

  • Boston | Swan Boats 14 of 20
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    If you didn't already love Boston, you will after discovering all the cheap things you can do there. When the weather is nice, the famous Swan Boats are always a hit (especially with tickets under $2 a pop). These avian vessels take you on a scenic ride through the historic Public Garden, all while providing some much-needed relaxation. Local tip: Get there before noon to beat the long lines!

    Check out 9 more fun things to do with kids in Boston

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Austin | Barton Springs Pool 15 of 20
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    This Texas capital might just be one of the coolest cities ever. And after a few days there, even your children will agree! If you are planning a family visit, make sure to hit up the Barton Springs Pool. This all-natural oasis spreads across over three acres and maintains a perfect temperature of 68 degrees year-round. Fun fact: Robert Redford learned to swim here when he was five.

    Check out 9 more fun things to do with kids in Austin

    Photo credit: Flickr

  • Philadelphia | Insectarium 16 of 20
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    From the Please Touch Museum to the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia has tons of family-friendly attractions. When you visit, make sure you also check out the Insectarium Philly's all-bug museum. From the man-made spider web to the cockroach kitchen (yikes!), your kids will be squirming with excitement in no time!

    Check out 21 more fun things to do with kids in Philadelphia

    Photo credit: Visit Philly

  • Denver | The Shoppe 17 of 20
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    If cupcake flavors such as bacon salted caramel and chocolate chip pancakes get your taste buds tingling, make sure you stop by The Shoppe during your next Denver visit. The Shoppe is more than just a bakery — it is also part cereal bar, part art exhibit, and part game room. In other words, it's pretty much any kid's (or adult's) dream come true.

    Check out 12 more fun things to do with kids in Denver

    Photo credit: The Shoppe

  • Miami | Miami Seaquarium 18 of 20
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    Open since 1955, the Miami Seaquarium has become a staple of South Florida. It is famous for its spectacular dolphin and killer whale shows, but be sure to also check out the cool stingray exhibit, pirate playground, and tropical fish aquariums. You can even sign up to swim with the dolphins!

    Check out 9 more fun things to do with kids in Miami and South Florida

    Photo credit: Flickr

  • Orlando | International Drive 19 of 20
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    Between your fun-filled visits to Walt Disney World (of course!), hop on over to International Drive, one of Orlando's most popular tourist spots. This bustling street is full of kid-friendly attractions: Ripley's Believe it or Not, WonderWorks (a whimsical upside-down building), a huge IMAX theater, and tons of delicious restaurants.

    Check out 11 more fun things to do with kids in Orlando

    Photo credit: Destination 360

  • Brooklyn | Pier 6 20 of 20
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    Think Brooklyn doesn't offer any fun options for young kids? Fuhgeddaboudit! The borough is bursting will kid-friendly destinations, including Pier 6 at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. From huge sandboxes to refreshing water features, there is something here to please every tot. And parents are sure to appreciate some of the best views of Manhattan the city has to offer.

    Check out 7 more fun things to do with kids in Brooklyn

    Photo credit: Flickr

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