Best family-friendly cities to visit

Choosing a family vacation destination can be overwhelming. Narrow down your list with our top picks for the nation’s most family-friendly cities.

Family visiting Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

You can’t go wrong taking the family to our nation’s capital. Washington, D.C., has it all — stunning architecture, history galore, plenty of free museums and galleries and world-class restaurants. The National Zoo, the National Air and Space Museum, the Capitol and the International Spy Museum are just some of the many things to do in this amazing city.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Family travel expert Dave Parfitt of Adventures by Daddy says Pittsburgh is one of his top picks for family-friendly cities. In particular, Parfitt recommends the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (which has one of the best dinosaur collections) and Kennywood Amusement Park.

Los Angeles, California

If you’re pondering a family getaway to Southern California, put Los Angeles at the top of your list. While there, travel writer Michele Bigley of Planet Playground recommends visiting Santa Monica Beach and Pier, Annenberg Community Beach House, downtown L.A.’s Angels Flight railway, and the Noah’s Ark exhibit in the Skirball Cultural Center.

Honolulu, Hawaii

If you’re thinking of taking your clan to Hawaii, Bigley’s top pick is the family-friendly city of Honolulu. Her favorite Honolulu hot spots? The Japanese food court in Ala Moana Center, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Aquarium and Diamond Head.

Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, also known as the City of Cowboys and Culture, boasts a cultural district with five internationally recognized museums, including the National Cowgirl Museum and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. A visit to the Stockyards National Historic District brings cowboy history to life for the whole family. Travel agent and family travel writer Shannon Entin says the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and Fort Worth Zoo are both fun family destinations. And of course, don’t forget to enjoy a Texas-size steak while you’re there!

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is the ultimate urban playground. If public transportation isn’t something your kids experience at home, they’ll love cruising around on BART or even riding the 24 bus up and down the hills. The City by the Bay is filled with restaurants for every taste, family-friendly beaches, beautiful seaside parks and amazing museums like the Exploratorium and the Academy of Sciences. Michele Bigley says the RocketBoat is a must for kids over age 5 in the summer.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher — managing editor of MiniTime, a website devoted solely to family travel — says New Orleans makes a sensational family getaway because it’s unlike anywhere else in the country with its distinctive music, food and architecture.

“There are tons of fun things for families to do, starting with the Audubon Institute, with its top-notch zoo, aquarium and insectarium,” Kelleher says.

Explore the area on a swamp tour, on a short cruise on a Mississippi paddle wheeler or via the city’s historic streetcars, which have been running since the mid 1800s and cost just $5 per person for a three-day pass.

Expert Tip:

If you’re planning a family getaway at the last minute, Suzanne Rowan Kelleher says to pick a destination in driving distance to keep it affordable. “In general, smaller cities tend to be less expensive while still having a nice mix of cultural activities, good dining and fun shopping,” she says.

More family travel tips

Contributors: Carrie Anne Badov, partner and editor-in-chief, EverythingMom Media Inc.; Michele Bigley, Planet Playground; Dave Parfitt,; Shannon Entin,; Suzanne Kelleher, managing editor of MiniTime; Chris Cuddy, chief commercial officer of


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