Unexpectedly Awesome Cities for Family Vacations

San Francisco is an AWESOME destination for tourists. People come from all over the world to explore the City by the Bay, and deservedly so. You could spend weeks there and barely scratch the surface of all the city has to offer. (See my San Francisco Bucket List here.) But everyone knows San Francisco is awesome. Same with New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington DC, or Honolulu, for example. They're popular tourist destinations for a reason. You know before you get there that there will be a ton to do and see.

Today's blog post is about awesome cities that are flying under the radar, places that aren't on everyone's must-visit list, cities you may never have considered for a family vacation. Each of these places had so many fabulous things to do that we couldn't squeeze in everything.

I present to you...

The Top 5 Unexpectedly Awesome Cities for Family Vacations

#5: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Does your family like history? Art? Architecture? Food? Santa Fe has all that and so much more. Throw in the natural beauty, native cultural traditions, and great weather and this is a city your family needs to explore. We loved visiting the nation's oldest capital city, poking into the many art galleries, checking out the unique architecture, tasting local specialties, visiting museums, and exploring everything Santa Fe has to offer.

#4: Cleveland, Ohio

It's true what they say... Cleveland rocks! It's worth visiting just to go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but there is so much more to do and see in Cleveland. We loved the science center and all of the public art, including the World's Largest Rubber Stamp. The history and geography of Cleveland are really interesting. All in all, a great place to go as a family. 

#3: St. Louis, Missouri

Before we visited St. Louis, I thought of it as the home to the Gateway Arch and the birthplace of the ice cream cone... and that's it. I had no idea that St. Louis is such an incredible destination for families! Not only are there a ton of kid-friendly things to do, but many of them (zoo, science center, history museum, art museum, and more) are completely free. We packed in twelve different activities and there were plenty of places we ran out of time to visit.

#2: Louisville, Kentucky

The Louisville Slugger Factory is reason enough to go to Louisville. Same for the Kentucky Derby Museum. The American Printing House for the Blind is a real hidden gem (and free). The waterfront area, the public art (horses, everywhere you look) and oh, the food! Louisville is a great vacation destination, with plenty of fabulous things to do with kids. I can't wait to go back someday.

#1: Omaha, Nebraska

To be perfectly honest, my expectations for Omaha were not high. But I was so wrong. Omaha blew me away and now ranks among my favorite cities. We spent a full week and it wasn't enough to see and do everything Omaha has to offer.


The most difficult thing about making my list was deciding which cities are unexpectedly awesome versus which are widely known to be awesome. Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington are both fantastic, but I decided that most people probably already know that. Same with Austin, Texas. I highly recommend all three for family vacations. Other great places for family vacations? Salt Lake City, Utah. Kansas City, Missouri. Annapolis, Maryland. Boise, Idaho. Juneau, Alaska. Indianapolis, Indiana. I could go on. Phoenix, Arizona. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Baltimore, Maryland. We are blessed with a country full of treasures, justing waiting to be explored! 

1 comment:

  1. Danggit!!!! I was SO CLOSE not to see my city ... but you sneaked it in there!! LOL!! You know my feelings on Phx ... but whatever! LOL!!! Loving this list, I know I loved SF when I went there, will hopefully be able to check out these other ones someday!! :)


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