10 Non-Disneyland Family Vacations

I’ll tell you one thing – ‘ole Walt did it up right. The guy either invented, reinvented, hijacked and/or otherwise monopolized what it means to take a family vacation.

I take every opportunity to tell people that I write a travel blog – provoking the travel discussion whenever possible.  More often than not, my zeal for travel is echoed by people I come into contact with. Anxiously, I ask, “Where would you like to go next?”

Occasionally I’ll get a different response, but more often than not, it comes… “I’d love to take my family to Disneyland.” Inside I sigh, and I feign excitement for them.

Don’t get me wrong… Disneyland is a great place and I know it’s a rite of passage for kids not just in the US, but around the world.  It’s just that so many of the things that make it such an attraction are bits of culture from other places on the globe.  Please, by all means, take your kids to Disneyland (we’ve even show you how to do it for a quarter of the cost).

Miles and Belle at Haystack Rock on the Oregon Coast

My kids, Miles and Belle, at Haystack Rock on the Oregon Coast

But then you need to branch out and show them some other things. Here are 10 of our best ideas.

10 Ideas for Family Vacations

  1. Mount Rushmore – Seeing Mount Rushmore has a way of staying with you.  There’s a sudden rush of interest in the lives of each of the men whose faces are carved into the stone.  If that weren’t enough, there are so many intriguing things for your family to visit in the Black Hills area – from Devil’s Tower to Deadwood, and the scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon.
  2. Orlando – No, not Disneyworld, but the Kennedy Space Center in nearby Port Canaveral. My son wants to be an astronaut, as did I when I was a child… my anecdotal estimate is that a good 50% of kids want to go to outerspace.  There’s no better place to experience it than at Kennedy Space Center.  You can also visit nearby St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the US.
  3. A Cruise to Anywhere – Cruise ships are among man’s most fascinating creations.  A cruise invites you and your family to sample culture from a variety of port stops, exposes you to people of all backgrounds – chances are your kids will make friends, and so will you.  All the while you’re spoiled by delicious food, great entertainment, and an infinite array of activities (See our post about cruising for free).
  4. Boston – I took my kids to Lexington perhaps a little to early.  As we stood on the battleground at Lexington, my mind was overwhelmed with visions the scene where the Revolutionary War began. My kids, meanwhile, were overwhelmed by a fuzzy caterpillar.  That said, in a few years, it would be an incredible trip for them.  Also, Plimoth Plantation is closest thing we have to time travel with living history actors re-living the lives of early pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower.
  5. Costa Rica – The rainforest is a magical part of every child’s imagination.  Give them the authentic experience with a trip to Costa Rica.  All of the sudden the idea of monkeys swinging from trees is not an imaginary vision, but an incredible reality.  Toucans are not something on a cereal box, but adornments to enormous trees.  Costa Rica is one of our favorites for good reason.
  6. Washington DC – For WorldWanderlusters, the best part about a trip to the nation’s capital is that the bulk of the attractions are free (in the sense that they’re already paid-for from your tax dollars). You and your family will have a much greater appreciation for the country and its distinguished history after a visit.
  7. London – There are so many reasons to visit England, and chief among them is a visit to the British Museum.  In my appraisal, far too many museums have art as a focus and leave history by the wayside.  Having colonized the better part of the world, there is no greater curator of world history than the British Empire… and they’ll let you see the bulk of it right there in the British Museum.  It is the Disneyland of history – a place you could spend hours upon hours and never satisfy your wonder. (Check out this post on a tour of Great Britain).
  8. China – China will become a greater and greater part of the world in years to come, and their history is one that is unique and abundant with tradition and culture.  Whether it’s the Great Wall you visit, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, or one of China’s abundant natural beauties, it is a place you must see.
  9. Panama – I know, this is indulgent because we took our family here earlier this year.  It’s just that I can’t express to you how much of the world’s commerce has passed through Panama from the 1400s until today.  Seeing the canal is only a part of the experience, and there is far more to do.  (See our posts on Panama).
  10. The Oregon Coast – From playing with crabs, starfish, and anemones in tide pools, to visiting the Goonies house, to a tour of Tillamook Cheese factory, this is a trip that you all will enjoy and remember fondly.  We spent the week after 4th of July covering everywhere between Portland and Crater Lake… I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

If you’ve read these and you’re thinking “I’d sure like to do all these family vacations, but I’d never be able to afford it,” then you need to stop what you’re doing and spend the next 30 minutes perusing our site – this is exactly our specialty.  We hope to banish the words “can’t afford” from your travel vocabulary – it’s a simple process of using credit responsibly to obtain frequent flyer miles and travel for a fraction of the cost. We’re doing it along with thousands of others, and we happen to think that you should, too.

If you’re worried about actually traveling with kids, read Sheldon’s post about How to Make Travel with Kids Easier, or take a look at our friend Jessica’s blog, www.suitcasesandsippycups.com.

Did we miss some? Are there other places we need to add?  Comment below and tell us where you think would make a great family vacation.

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