This is a guest post with all words and images supplied by Alexandra Jacobs.
The United States boasts many cities that offer excitement, fun and a lifetime of memories for families. In fact, there are so many fabulous U.S. destinations, deciding on one can be difficult. Check out the details of these all-time American favorites to help you chose:
For families with young children who watch Cinderella with stars in their eyes or who dream of swimming with dolphins, Orlando, Florida is legendary. Home to Disneyworld, Sea World, Discovery Cove and Universal Studios, parents can count on a vacation without once hearing the words “I’m bored”.
Perfect accommodations for families can be found at Floridays Resort Orlando, which has earned top honors with tripadvisor.com travelers. Families love it for its clean, well decorated two and three bedrooms suites, equipped with full kitchens. The resort features a fantastic pool area with children’s playscape, a restaurant and small market for grocery and toiletry needs. A stay at Floridays averages around $170 per night for a two bedroom suite.
After working up an appetite at Orlando’s theme parks, check out Yellow Dog Eats at 1236 Hempel Ave. This café has something for everyone. Kids will love the fun décor of the historic building and the cheeky names of menu items. Parents will be pleased with the gourmet sandwiches (think orange-Cointreau mayo and smoked gouda) and extensive wine list. Yellow Dog is also a wine shop, so take a bottle back to the resort for after the little ones are asleep.
The multitude of theme parks that have put Orlando on the map has encouraged other notable attractions to make the city home. Gatorland, which features over 3,000 alligators and crocodiles as well as many species of birds and snakes is sure to thrill any young adventurer. For mini-golf enthusiasts, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is a sure bet; it’s surprisingly well done and slightly scary pirate theme will delight the whole family.
New York, New York
The Big Apple has long been a favorite of jet-setters, celebrities and artists but it’s a great destination for families too. New York City gives parents an opportunity to enjoy their children while giving them a valuable, hands-on learning experience. No city in the Unites States offers more cultural diversity and historical richness.
Stay at Grace, a swanky family-friendly property by Room Mate. Kids will love the pool with DJ and bunk-style beds in some rooms. Parents will appreciate the sophisticated décor, internet access and room service. Grace is a cut above the rest with at a moderate price point (average nightly rate of $250). This New York City rental won’t disappoint.
After settling in to the ultra modern at Grace, go back in time for a bite to eat at Lexington Candy Shop at Lexington and 83rd. The whole family will enjoy this old fashioned diner’s handmade milkshakes, grilled cheese, burgers and jerk-poured specialty sodas.
No visit to New York would be complete without a visit to Liberty Island and Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty and learn about the history American immigration. Also be sure to make time for a walk through central park. Kids will be thrilled at the chance to strap on ice-skates at Wollman or Lasker rinks if visiting during the winter. During more temperate months, head to the Central Park Zoo instead.
San Antonio, Texas
photo by flickr user stuseeger
A jewel of Texas, San Antonio exemplifies Tejano culture – an eclectic blend of Mexican and cowboy lifestyles. A vibrant city that pulses with color and life, San Antonio is certain to bring families back again and again.
Without a doubt, a lodging must in San Antonio is the Westin La Cantera Resort. Around 15 minutes to the city center, La Cantera is close enough to allow visitors to explore the city’s downtown and Riverwalk areas while still taking in the quiet and beauty of the Texas hill country. Westin has a record of excellence and La Cantera is no exception. The resort offers children’s activities daily throughout the summer, a kid’s club, a fabulous pool area with poolside bar and café service, nightly outdoor movies and s’mores at dusk. Average cost is $250 per night.
Go to San Antonio hungry – from street vendors to the hottest gourmet cuisine, this is a city of feasting. One restaurant not to miss is the iconic Mi Tierra at 218 Produce Row. Mi Tierra has been around since 1941 and offers standard Tex-Mex fare in an anything but standard environment. The funky décor and Mariachi singers will be a hit with the kids and parents will love the opportunity to pick up gifts, candy and pastries from the restaurant’s shop.
While in San Antonio, visit the Riverwalk – a destination on its own. The miles-long walkway along the river offers some of the city’s best shopping, dining and nightlife. History buffs won’t want to miss the Alamo and other missions along the San Antonio mission trail. Kids will swoon for the wax museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not next to Alamo square.
photo by flickr user Rob Shenk
Perhaps the best destination in the country for families with older, school aged children, Washington D.C. offers endless opportunity for kids to learn about not only their country, but their world.
A top choice for lodging in Washington D.C. is Hotel George (as in Washington) from the Kimpton portfolio. The George goes a long way to make children comfortable, even including them in the rating process with their own comments cards. Even better than the animal print bath robes, trendy décor and milk with cookies is the hotel’s fabulous location. The George is walking distance from Union Station (consider going by train to add another level of excitement to the trip), the national monuments and museums. Average nightly cost for a room at Hotel George is $200.
While sightseeing on Capitol Hill, be sure to drop by Good Stuff Eatery at 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. An inexpensive, classic burger and shake joint, Good Stuff has a few surprises such as thyme French fries. This sure bet will leave everyone satisfied without too much wear on the wallet.
The best part, by far, of Washington D.C. is the opportunity to visit any and all of the local Smithsonian museums for free. That’s right – all museums in the Smithsonian collection are free every day. Sixteen of these in all, including the National Zoo, make Washington D.C. one of the most budget friendly destinations around for families. Also free is access to the National Mall where visitors can view several historic monuments.
Alexandra is a travel enthusiast who loves to write about tourism, beaches, food, and the wonderful things in the world. She provides her own insights on vacationing to the blogosphere. If you would like to learn more about her, follow her @alexsjourneys or visit her blog alexsjourneys.wordpress.com.