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Family Travel Planning Made Easier

5 Unexpected Family Vacation Destinations in the U.S.

When planning a family vacation, popular destinations like Disney, the Grand Canyon and D.C. might first come to mind. However, if you’re up for something a little different, there are plenty of other places that offer truly unique experiences and create coveted lifelong memories. Comment below if you are going to consider any of these for your family travel bucket list this summer.

A ski run in Sun Valley, Idaho

1. Sun Valley, Idaho 

Sun Valley is a gorgeous mountain resort town with an average of 205 sunny days a year – hence the name. It’s beautiful all year ‘round, although summertime is recommended to experience ice skating outdoors while wearing shorts and T-shirts. Other activities include downhill skiing, white water rafting, horseback riding, fishing, paddleboating, hiking and biking. Bicycle rental is easy and affordable and Sun Valley boasts many miles of paved trails and the opportunity to take the bikes on a ski lift and ride down Bald Mountain. To extend the vacation and add a bigger city element, Boise is less than three hours away.

Monongahela River benches of Point State Park in Pittsburgh

2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Although this might not be a destination that you ever thought of for a family vacation, it is actually a beautiful city located at the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Consistently ranked as one of the most livable American cities, it is affordable and an arts and cultural hub with diverse dining options and lots of family-friendly activities, including Heinz Field and PNC Park, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Science Center, The Andy Warhol Museum, Frick Art & Historical Center and more.

Harney Peak Fire Lookout Tower in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota

3. Rapid City, South Dakota 

The area is best known for Mount Rushmore, and a trip to the massive granite sculpture is a must when in the area, but there is much more fun to be had in the state of South Dakota. Explore the family-friendly Wind Cave, look for buffalo at Custer State Park or visit Storybook Island and Dinosaur Park – both of which have free admissions. Drive through Badlands National Park for dramatic landscapes and stop at quirky tourist attraction Wall Drug, home of the famous bumpersticker. If your crew is willing to take a few-hour car ride, the Mitchell Corn Palace is covered in murals made entirely from corn and grain and attracts 500,000 people a year.

Waterplace Park, Providence Rhode Island

4. Providence, Rhode Island 

Providence is a little city with big opportunities in terms of food, art and culture. Visit between May and November and check out WaterFire, a series of bonfires on the three rivers of downtown Providence. The town also has a children’s museum, the third oldest zoo in the country and a skating rink in the center of the city (called, aptly, The Center) that’s twice as large as Rockefeller Center’s rink. Plus, Providence is only 50 miles from Boston and 180 miles from New York.

5. Detroit, Michigan

The truth is Detroit is an amazing and safe family destination spot. Kids will appreciate that the city’s signature is a hotdog, called The Coney Dog, which is topped with beanless chili. Music lovers must tour the Motown Museum to see famous Motown-related memorabilia – including Michael Jackson’s sparkly glove – and the chance to hang out in the famous Studio A where Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross recorded hits. The Henry Ford Museum is home to the original wiener mobile, the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back, the chair Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in and more. Bring passports and take the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit-Windsor underwater tunnel to Windsor, Canada for a multicultural experience.

Where will 2018 take you as a family?

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