Summertime and the travelin' is easy ... Well, OK, maybe it's not always easy when you've got kids involved, but it CAN always be fun! And just because it's fun doesn't mean it can't be educational too.
Here are 5 awesome destinations where EVERYONE is guaranteed to not just learn something, but to have a blast. Honest!
It's the site of a recent tragedy, but Boston remains a vibrant, beautiful city -- and now is a better than ever time to visit! During most of the year, "Beantown" is a bustling college town, but many of the college kids go home for the summer, leaving more room for visiting families. It's a smallish city (small compared to, say, NYC), so it's great for walking. It's chock-full of historic sites, 16 of which you can see by walking the Boston Freedom Trail, or you can take a famous Duck Tour along the city streets and the Charles River. There's also plenty of opportunity to play in the water and go swimming! You can check out the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway's two sprinkler parks, or spend a day on Castle Island in South Boston, which offers a sandy beach and a two-mile loop that takes you to a gigantic playground.
Yosemite National Park
I haven't been here for years, but I can still vividly remember the beauty of the place and how much fun my whole family had on our several camping trips to this gorgeous valley. There's SO much to do, and you don't have to be a major hiker/rock climber either (though there are plenty of options for that!). The National Park Service publishes a great, seasonally updated guide, but a few of the highlights are: horseback riding, gentle walks, breathtaking waterfalls, and day-hikes to see more incredible scenery, including the majestic ancient Sequoia trees. There are some great Yosemite kids' activities, like becoming a "junior ranger," and there are volunteer opportunities in the park all summer.
Known as a great family destination in the "Show Me" state, Branson is also considered the "Live Music Show Capital" of the world, with up to 90 (yes, 90!) live magic, music, and theatrical shows running at the over 50 theaters and festivals! You can also spend time enjoying nature and water sports in the Ozarks, as well as visit the Silver Dollar City theme park, which has rides, a water park, and a historical site where you can visit over 100 craftspeople.
Bar Harbor, Maine
The lovely Maine coast offers beaches galore for picnicking and exploring (and, of course, lots of seafood eating!). Bar Harbor is a great destination because it's surrounded by Acadia National Park, where you can take part in ranger-guided programs, enjoy outdoor adventures like sailing, or spend a few days camping. Bar Harbor itself boasts the Bar Harbor's Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery, where you can get really up-close with the marine life in the Discovery Pool, and take a tour to see mother and baby lobsters in the hatchery process!
San Diego, California
The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park make this a worthwhile destination all on their own (you could spend several days there!), but there's so much more to do in this fabulous oceanside town. Art galleries, restaurants, SeaWorld, the USS Midway Museum (where older kids can try a flight simulator, and adventurous families can sleep over in enlisted crew berths!), and 70 miles of gorgeous beaches, to name but a few. It's also close enough to Mexico that you can take a day trip south of the border!
Are you planning a summer trip this year? Where would you most like to go?
Image via arianraven/Flickr