Summer is the prime time to get travelin' with the family. The temperatures are warmer, the kids are out of school, and thankfully -- gas prices aren't absolutely ridiculous this year. The best part of living in the good ol' U S of A? There's a whole lot of terrific terrain just waiting to be explored right here in our own backyard!
As kids get older, they become less interested in quality family time and more interested in, you know, the "cooler things." Which is exactly why you gotta squeeze in some of these classic road trips while you still can. Yeah yeah yeah, water parks, those are fun, and so are beach towns. However, there are a whole slew of historic sites, monuments, and American landmarks across the country that are a must-see for every kid as they get older.
Check out our list of 25 great places to take your kids to before they graduate high school:
More from The Stir: 50 Places You Must Take the Kids Before They Get Too Old
1. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Who doesn't love a little trip to South Dakota to ogle over the faces of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson?
Consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine separate research facilities -- you could spend days traversing all that the Washington, D.C. gem has to offer.
3. Grand Canyon National Park
Nearly five million people see the one-mile-deep Grand Canyon in Arizona every year. Now, it's your turn.
4. Appomattox, Virginia
Take a bite out of American history by visiting the Appomattox Court House, the place where General Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant after four long years of Civil War.
5. Empire State Building
The 102-story skyscraper located in the heart of New York City has the best views of the Big Apple, by far.
6. Niagara Falls State Park
Created by the Wisconsin glaciation about 10,000 years ago, these breathtaking waterfalls are the perfect setting for a family photo.
7. The Freedom Trail
Grab your hiking shoes! This 2.5-mile urban walking trail allows its 3.2 million annual visitors to experience 16 historically significant sites in Boston.
8. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Right beside New York City's famed Central Park, the Met has a collection of more than two million works of ancient art, including Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern.
9. Statue of Liberty
This gift from France is one of the biggest symbols of America. South of Ellis Island, visitors can cruise around Liberty Island on one of New York City's various ferry lines.
10. The Golden Gate Bridge
One of my favorite sites in all of the U.S. spanning San Francisco Bay. Make a pit stop in Ghirardelli Square for some delicious chocolates while you're in the area!
11. Four Corners
Four Corners, otherwise known as the point where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet, is a fantastic spot for your family's bucket list. What kiddo doesn't want to be in four places at once?
12. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Covering 3.3 million acres of glaciers, rainforest, coastlines, and mountains, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska's Inside Passage. Whether you're into hiking or just into breathtaking views, the park has something to offer the entire family.
13. Liberty Bell
Did you ever know that the word "Pennsylvania" is spelled incorrectly on the bell (sans one "n")? Educate your kiddos with that fun fact once you get to this Philadelphia icon!
The Civil War battlefields in Gettysburg are a must-stop, but there are also loads of other historical attractions like the Shriver House Museum, the Jennie Wade House, and of course the annual Gettysburg reenactment that are worth a looksee.
15. Hoover Dam
Join the almost one million people that visit the Hoover Dam each year. The best part? You can all enjoy a pit-stop in Vegas while you're at it!
16. Kennedy Space Center
What kid doesn't want to know a little bit about what it's like to be an astronaut? AND you can soak in some Florida rays? Ooh ooh, pick me!
17. World Trade Center Site
From personal experience I can tell you that the fountains at the former World Trade Center locale are breathtaking. Walking around the National September 11 Memorial and Museum with your kids is a good opportunity to talk about the event that forever changed our nation in 2001.
18. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This living memorial to the Holocaust leaves me speechless every time I visit.
19. Newport Mansions
The mansions in Newport boast architecture unlike anything else in the United States.
20. Great Salt Lake
Nothing says family bonding like views of the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere.
21. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Something I have yet to check off of my personal bucket list, taking your kids to check out the volcanoes in Hawaii is probably one of the coolest things you could do as a parent. Seeing all of those biology lessons come to life? A dream come true!
From Marilyn Monroe to Dick Van Dyke, your kids will have a blast checking out all of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
23. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
This Georgia landmark is an excellent place for children to learn about a truly inspirational man who strived for racial equality here in the U.S.
My only hope is that you stay away from the people-hating black bears.
25. The Great Lakes
Sure, seeing the lakes is cool. The best thing, though, is to really experience them! Pack up your swim gear and take the family out for a day of water sports. Paddle boarding, anyone?
Where are some places you've visited with your kids?