Although it is always beneficial to travel far and wide, it is not difficult to understand why, for some American families, staying within the nation’s borders is a fine way to spend a holiday. Let’s be honest, without knocking any other countries, there are fifty states in the Union and each of them feels like a country all on its own. Yes, technically, California and Michigan are part of the same nation – but as places, they’re as different as Canada and Madagascar.
Given that international travel is also more expensive than staying domestic, the truth is that sometimes, you’re going to want to get away without getting too far away. Especially with kids in tow, sometimes the best options are right here in the U.S. of A. So, which cities offer the most value for families (without descending into theme park cliché)? Here are a few options.
If naming the nation’s capital sounds like cheating, let’s be honest. When the average tourist thinks US holidays, they’re thinking New York, Orlando or LA. They’re not thinking of Washington, and that’s kind of a shame. It’s a fascinating city (whatever your politics – you don’t need to take a side to be enthralled by the Washington Monument), and every day spent here can be a school day with the Smithsonian family of museums to choose from. It’s a nicely compact city, too, so walking trips are always an option.
Any trip with kids should feature some opportunity for learning, and aside from Washington, where better to learn about our nation’s history than Boston – the city where the Revolution kicked into gear? A trip to the harbor means a chance to visit the Tea Party Museum, and witness a reenactment of the occasion that started it all.
There’s far more to Boston than the Tea Party, of course, and you’ll have the chance to visit zoos and museums aplenty. While traveling in Boston, why not enjoy the unique Duck Tour? Your kids will love the zany “conDUCKtors” and the ability to quack at confused pedestrians – and you know full well you’ll get a kick out of it too.
San Diego, CA
California is home to some of America’s best-known cities, but if you want to give your kids a real experience, you should swerve LA and San Francisco in favor of San Diego. Head straight for Balboa Park, which is the real jewel in the city’s crown. The highlight for kids may be the zoo, where everyone will have their own favorite animal (koalas being a particular highlight for the youngest). The nearby Science Museum is also a good bet to imbue young minds with a thirst for knowledge.
Quiet and unassuming it may be, but Portland actually has a lot to shout about. The best family pursuits include the addictively tricky Treasure Hunt at the Japanese Garden, as well as the local farmers’ market which offers cooking classes if there’s a budding Emeril Lagasse among your brood.
If those classes have left you hungry, then make a date for the Grilled Cheese Grill. Endless variations on the snacktime favorite, ranging from the very simple to the mind-bogglingly innovative – the only thing they all have in common is deliciousness.