For many wander-lusting travelers, the idea of being able to travel after having kids can seem daunting. But there are attractions throughout the country that offer big-time adventure while accommodating the littlest of explorers. Don’t limit your family vacation to amusement park lines—check out these awesome ideas for adventurous family vacations and get planning today!
American Museum of Natural History Night at the Museum Tour and Sleepover
New York, NY
The Night at the Museum franchise inspired children and parents to rediscover the joy that comes from exploring your local museum, and wonder exactly what happens to their favorite exhibits once the doors close for the night. Thankfully many institutions across the country are giving their guests the opportunity to find out by offering special after-hours programming, many which offer kids the opportunity to spend the night with their favorite exhibits.
Go to the place where the magic all started by visiting the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Wander the halls together as a family during the day and take the self-guided tour of all your favorite attractions from the movie, or let the kids experience their own night at the museum during a sleepover adventure set up for explorers from ages 6 to 13. (We know it’ll be tough to be away from the kiddos for the night, but we’re sure you’ll figure out something to do in the Big Apple!)
For parents who want to get in on the sleepover fun, travel to the iconic National Aquarium in Baltimore to attend their Sleepover with the Sharks. Designed for parents and children 8 year old and up, the experience features a guided behind-the-scenes tour, crafts and activities, and stroll along the Shark Catwalk. Once night falls, you’ll set up your sleeping bags by the blacktip reef sharks and literally sleep with the fishes.
Enjoy some out-of-this-world excitement with your crew at the Space Center Houston. Focused on getting kids of all ages excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the center highlights each of these components as they relate to space exploration. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the International Space Station’s Mission Control, view the world’s largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples, and, if you visit on Fridays, meet an actual astronaut! Plus, with special exhibitions and events always being planned, there’s new to discover at the center all the time. For example, from now until January 3 you can check out their special exhibit, Be the Astronaut, which lets you learn exactly what this unusual job entails.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
With one of the most unusual and beautiful landscapes in the southwest, New Mexico is a wonderful place to plan a family vacation. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is an exciting and educational location for children of all ages. Curious kids can find out why caves exists and where they lead to by going on a ranger-led tour, or exploring on their own with a self-guided journey. With programs that include learning about bats and becoming a Junior Ranger, there are plenty of ways to keep them engaged and excited about the world around them.
With Amtrak offering half-price ticket prices for kids from ages 2 to 12, and free fare for infants, traveling by train is a fun and easy way to see numerous sites in one trip. The rail system offers treks all over the country for different lengths of time, making it easy to accommodate any schedule. We’re especially intrigued by their Northwest Passage tour, which allows visitors to travel from Eugene, Oregon, into Vancouver, British Columbia. The total trip duration is 11.5 hours, but there’s plenty of stops along the way, including Portland and Seattle.