20 Sites Every Kid Must See

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Bucket List Worthy  

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Some places are simply more magical when you see them with your kids. Make this summer vacation one your family will never forget with a trip to one (or more) of these awe-inspiring sites. And don’t worry, you’re guaranteed to be just as amazed as your little ones when you arrive at each destination.

#1. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Glaciers make up roughly one third of this 3-million-acre park, and there’s no better way to see the ice, whales and other sea life than peering over the bow of one of Glacier Bay’s many touring vessels.

Photo credit: jjjj56cp
Photo credit: jjjj56cp

#2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

If you’re up for splurging on the adventure of a lifetime, your family is guaranteed to thank you when they catch a glimpse of the untouched natural beauty and get up-close-and-personal with sea lions, tortoises, lizards and the famous blue-footed booby.

Photo credit: blinkingidiot
Photo credit: blinkingidiot

#3. Banff National Park, Alberta

There’s no better time to visit the pristine outdoor beauty of Banff National Park than in the warm summer months. Explore the park’s miles and miles of forests, lakes, glaciers and rivers while admiring the large concentration of wildlife and relaxing in Banff’s quaint towns.

Photo credit: Karl Johnson
Photo credit: Karl Johnson

#4. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

When you and your family feast your eyes on the indescribable beauty of the Grand Canyon, you’ll agree that it’s worthy of its place among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Photo credit: Dhilung Kirat
Photo credit: Dhilung Kirat

#5. San Diego Zoo, California

Kids fall in love with the wildlife at one of the world’s best zoos — the San Diego Zoo — every day. Don’t miss a visit to the world-famous Panda Trek where you can watch three giant pandas and learn everything there is to know about this endangered species.

Photo credit: Auntie Rain
Photo credit: Auntie Rain

#6. Stingray City, Grand Cayman Island

When your kids go back to school and say, “I swam with stingrays,” their friends may never believe them, but your family will have plenty of photos, videos and memories to prove this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Stingray City — a shallow sandbar where gentle stingrays love to play.

Photo credit: KatieThebeau
Photo credit: KatieThebeau

#7. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

As the United States’ first national park, Yellowstone has been wowing kids and adults since 1872 with more than 300 geysers, 290 waterfalls, 322 species of birds and over 60 species of mammals.

Photo credit: David Grimes
Photo credit: David Grimes

#8. Buckingham Palace, England

Fairytale lovers will never forget their trip to a real palace with an actual queen and royal family inside. Don’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony where you can watch the soldiers march in their famous red coats and towering black hats.

Photo credit: Gabriel Villena
Photo credit: Gabriel Villena

#9. Niagara Falls, Ontario

Running through the sprinkler is nothing compared to a ride on Niagara Falls’ brand-new Niagara Thunder and Wonder catamarans, which will take your family on a tour closer to the falls than ever before.

Photo credit: Artur Staszewski
Photo credit: Artur Staszewski

#10. Arches National Park, Utah

With more than 2,000 natural stone arches in the national park, kids and adults both fall in love with this natural playground, which offers exciting hikes, abundant wildflowers and rock formations unlike anywhere else in the world.

Photo credit: Scott Ingram
Photo credit: Scott Ingram

#11. Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island

Red sands, the turquoise Atlantic Ocean, rolling hills and towering rock formations make Cavendish Beach one of the most scenic beaches in the world to let loose and run wild with your kids this summer.

Photo credit: Curtis Pennell
Photo credit: Curtis Pennell

#12. The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

With 17 Smithsonian museums and the National Zoological Park all located in Washington, D.C. — and all of them entirely free to visit — you can let your kids pick which ones interest them and let their imaginations run wild inside. The National Zoo, Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum are common favorites among kids.

Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff
Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff

#13. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore

The sand dunes climb over 150 meters at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore in northwestern Michigan, and your whole family will love running, rolling and sliding down the dunes toward the cool Lake Michigan waters to rinse off.

Photo credit: Jim D
Photo credit: Jim D

#14. CN Tower, Ontario

It may not be the tallest free-standing structure in the world anymore, but Toronto’s CN Tower is still one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and kids love the LookOut, Glass Floor, SkyPod, EdgeWalk and even the high-speed elevators.

Photo credit: grilled cheese
Photo credit: grilled cheese

#15. Redwood National Park, California

While the towering sequoias are definitely one of the highlights of any trip to the 50-mile-long Redwood National Park, the tide pools, sprawling coastline, prairies, rivers and wildlife make this National Park one your family will never forget.

Photo credit: Steve Dunleavy
Photo credit: Steve Dunleavy

#16. Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico

Few natural sights are more magical than water that glows in the dark (oceanic plankton that generate ultramarine illumination when disturbed). If your kids are too young to paddle, a couple of tour companies offer electric boats instead.

Photo credit: Sushant Jadhav
Photo credit: Sushant Jadhav

#17. Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories

After taking a trip to see the water glow, what could be better than a trip to see the sky glow? Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories has been titled the “Aurora Capital of the World,” because the northern lights (aurora borealis) are visible nearly every day of the year.

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#18. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

If your kids haven’t told you they want to be astronauts yet, they will after a visit to the Kennedy Space Center, where they can experience an actual shuttle launch, eat lunch with a real astronaut and train as if they’re headed into outer space.

Photo credit: The U.S. Army
Photo credit: The U.S. Army

#19. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Take a tour into the caverns and lava tubes formed by real molten rock, then hike the park’s trails offering breathtaking volcano, rainforest, ocean and desert views. If you’re lucky, you may even see actively flowing lava in a portion of the park.

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#20. Whale Watching, British Columbia

Vancouver Island offers plenty of tour companies ready to take your family on an unforgettable whale-watching excursion, but whales won’t be all you’ll see. Black bears, orcas, dolphins, seals, porpoises, otters, bald eagles and an incredible amount of other wildlife call this breathtaking island and its surrounding waters home.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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