Traveling with tots can be both rewarding and stressful. It’s important to plan your activities and time wisely so as to ensure everyone has fun and gets plenty of rest. Since we know you want to chose travel destinations that offer fun for parents and tots, we talked with a few other traveling moms with little energy balls in tow about their favorite tot friendly travel destinations and created this list of the best places to travel in the US with your toddlers.
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We divided the guide up into the best places to travel in the US in the eastern US and western US so no matter which you choose, you should be able to find some great places to take your tots on a family vacation.
Best Places To Travel With Toddlers In the Eastern US
Tampa, Florida with Toddlers
Tampa, Florida is amazing for families and one of the absolute best places to travel with toddlers in the US. Tampa is not as crowded as neighboring Orlando, Florida, but there are just as many great things to with kids in Tampa. With a major international airport, is it easy to find inexpensive flights to Tampa and you can base yourself there while exploring the surrounding areas. Located within driving distance, toddlers will enjoy the beaches with warm water, soft white sand and gentle waves as they play. Parents will love the easy access to amenities such as umbrellas, chairs and resorts.
Within Tampa, families can explore the zoo with a ride on safari train, stroller-friendly paths and opportunities to interact with various animals. The small spray zone within the zoo is always a hit on hot days, so be sure to bring a bathing suit and a change of clothes. If your child loves animals, don’t miss the Florida aquarium to watch otters playing under the water and an assortment of fish to play a fun game of eye spy. You can even meet and touch a penguin! If that’s not enough, check out the Children’s museum where your little one can drive boats, climb nets, play firefighter and run their own pizza restaurant. Something for everyone!
Chelsea of Pack More Into Life
Boston, Massachusetts with Toddlers
Boston is a terrific U.S. destination for toddlers and small children. What makes Boston unique is that it not only has various indoor kid-friendly activities, but many of its toddler-friendly activities are outside.
Indoor Activities: Two must-do activities, on a rainy or cold day, are the Boston Children’s Museum and the New England Aquarium.
The Children’s Museum has several exhibits geared towards toddlers, including a bubbles exhibit, ‘Countdown to Kindergarten,’ and a play space dedicated to 0-3-year olds. The Aquarium is located right along the water, so you can watch the boats coming and going and also see airplanes landing and taking off.
Outdoor Activities: If you catch a nice day, I’d recommend spending it outside. Start the day in Boston Commons; there is a playground and a little lake with swans. Next, make your way along the Freedom Trail; the Trail itself is geared towards adults, but small children will enjoy the sites and sounds along the way. Catch a bite to eat at Quincy Market; there are dozens of food options, so you’ll find something for even the pickiest eater. It can get congested in Quincy Market, so if crowded is not your speed, sit outside and eat. Lastly, leave the Freedom Trail and head for the Greenway. The Greenway is a long narrow park that spans most of Boston Harbor. It has numerous parks, play fountains/splash pads, gardens, and public art exhibits. You could spend hours walking the 1.5-mile Greenway. The Aquarium is mid-way down the Greenway if you find yourself in need of an indoor activity.
Catherine of Traveling with the Littles
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Toddlers
Pittsburgh, PA, located in Western Pennsylvania, is by far one of the best places to travel in the US with toddlers. The number of things to do in Pittsburgh with toddlers is almost endless, between museums, playgrounds, zoos and fun sightseeing opportunities throughout. The best museums for toddlers include the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Center and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Even the art museums in Pittsburgh, including The Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art and the Mattress Factory, have fun things for toddlers to do.
If you’re looking for places to play outside, Pittsburgh has some amazing parks and playgrounds. North Park, for example, is a huge park filled with several playgrounds, a swimming pool and a great walking path. Falls Run Park offers a flat hiking trail that ends with a beautiful waterfall. The Blue Slide Park in Frick Park has the famous blue slide, where you can sit on cardboard to go extra fast down the hill. Pittsburgh also has two great Zoos, including the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and the National Aviary. Visiting Pittsburgh when it’s cold or raining? There are tons of indoor play places including Planet Bounce, the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library and the headquarters of Snapology, which focuses on STEAM learning through LEGOs.
FInding sightseeing opportunities appropriate for toddlers can be tricky, but Pittsburgh has you covered. The Gateway Clipper is a fun boat ride and sightseeing tour that’s great for the whole family. They even have themed character cruises specifically for kids. Another favorite of toddlers is Pittsburgh’s inclines, the Duquesne Incline and the Monongahela Incline. Both take you up the side of the mountain in old cable cars for the best views of Pittsburgh from Mount Washington.
Amanda of Toddling Traveler
Washington, D.C. with Toddlers
Washington D.C. is a wonderful place for children of all ages, and especially for toddlers! There are a multitude of free museums in D.C. and almost all of them have some hands-on exhibits and rooms designed specifically for young children.
We have one word of advice, pace yourself. With so many free things to do in D.C., it can be easy to wear you and your tot out quickly. Here are a few of the best museums for toddlers in D.C. to consider.
- The National Children’s Museum
- Museum of American History
- Natural History Museum
- American Indian Museum
- National Building Museum
Definitely make time to check out the children’s library located in the Library of Congress as well.
In addition to all the great museums, D.C. has plenty of green space for toddlers to get their energy out. Take a picnic and enjoy a walk between any of the monuments, the arboretum, or play on Theodore Roosevelt Island, and visit Yards Park!
The zoo is another great outdoor space and toddlers will love seeing all the different animals there. D.C. is always action-packed with different events going on all the time. One thing is certain, there is so much to do in D.C. with toddlers, you will never be bored!
Lindsey of Abroad Wife
Chicago, Illinois with Toddlers
As one of the largest cities in the US, Chicago has so much to offer families with younger children.
One of the best spots to take your kids is to the Shedd Aquarium where they can get immersed in the vast amounts of aquariums on display. Sharks and dolphins are also at one of the most popular aquariums in the US.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is a free zoo located in a great neighborhood and right on the lake. Toddlers can enjoy the sights and sounds of the animals. Families can also take their small children to the Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier. After, hop onto the world famous ferris wheel and take in the city and lake views from the very top.
Diana of The Elusive Family
Rochester, New York with Toddlers
If you’re looking for a great destination for a trip with toddlers in the US – New York’s Rochester is well worth considering. This little city has some great activities toddlers and the entire family will love.
When traveling to Rochester with toddlers – the most obvious stop is the Strong National Museum of Play. There is so much for little ones to do here. The kids will love playing in the miniature grocery store complete with dress ups, trolleys, a deli and check outs. There is also replica sets from Sesame Street, a carousel, Butterfly garden and loads more.
I’d also recommend you take the little ones to Senecca Park Zoo. This is a great size zoo for toddlers as it’s not too big and the shape of the zoo allows you to walk one way and take the trams back to the start. Here you will find all your favourite animals including Elephants, White Rhinos, Sea Lions, Giraffes and more.
Other great family friendly activities around Rochester include a visit to the High Falls, a day out at Ontario Beach Park or go to one of the family friendly events at the Casa Larga Winery and Mum and Dad can relax with a glass of wine too.
Melissa of Thrifty Family Travels
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Best Places To Travel With Toddlers In The Western US
Sonoma, California with Toddlers
The town of Sonoma deep in Californian wine country gives its name to Sonoma County in which it stands. Sonoma is a delightful small town filled with heritage buildings and with lots of open space. It is the perfect destination for a vacation with toddlers in the USA. Sonoma Plaza, in the heart of the town centre, boasts two playgrounds. One especially for toddlers and preschoolers. The plaza is surrounded by gift shops, family-friendly cafes and restaurants.
A little further out of town is Train Town – a must-visit attraction for all train-obsessed toddlers. There are dozens of railway-themed rides all suitable for young children. Even further out of town is Cornerstone Sonoma, an attractive area of landscaped gardens, boutiques and cafes. Another great place to let little ones run around.
Finally, there are the Sonoma County wineries. Many of the local vineyards are very family-friendly. Many have petting areas, picnic areas, playgrounds or even pools. Sonoma is the perfect destination in the United States to keep both toddlers and their parents happy!
Kirsty – World for a Girl
Hermosa Beach, California
Located on the California coast, immediately to the South of LA, Hermosa Beach is a bit of a gem. It has the gorgeous weather typical of this part of the world, a stunning family friendly beach, plenty of child friendly restaurants, and you don’t need to battle traffic as you can simply walk everywhere!
If a day at the beach isn’t enough, you could take the tots for a bit of sand sledding by the pier at the end of the boardwalk or to the local playground, South Park, which has plenty of places to climb and play in the sand. Hermosa Beach’s convenient location to Disneyland also makes it a great place for families with tots.
Marta of Learning Escapes
Disneyland in Anaheim, California with Toddlers
If you don’t go to Disneyland with toddlers, you are missing out! It’s one of the best times to go because the magic is REAL! Their faces will light up meeting their favorite Disney characters and watching the incredible shows (Frozen is a smash hit!) If they are under 3 years old, not only do they get free Disneyland tickets, but they also eat free at table service restaurants (including character dining.) And there are so many Disneyland rides for toddlers, especially in Toon Town, and Fantasyland. Plus, Disney California Adventure is just steps away and has lots of toddler activities and a full replica of Radiator Springs from Cars! By the end of your trip to Disneyland with toddlers, you’ll already be planning your next trip!
Marcie from Marcie and The Mouse
Kanab, Utah with Toddlers
Located between Lake Powell and Zion National Park, Kanab is the perfect home base for families who love the outdoors. Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Kanab, and there are plenty of trails and sites to choose from.
Wire Pass hike is a relatively easy out and back that winds through a deep narrow slot canyon. The toddler age is perfect for hiking since they are still small enough to ride in a backpack carrier for most of the hike, but can get out to explore on their own as well.
Just a short drive outside of Kanab are the massive sand dunes of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. As pretty much the largest sandbox imaginable, kids will love running up the dunes, sliding back down, and digging and building in the sand.
Whether it’s playing dress up in western clothes at the Hollywood Museum, hunting real dinosaur tracks, or climbing through the “Belly of the Dragon”, the little ones will love Kanab, and mom and dad will too!
Kristin of That Traveling Family
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