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Family-Friendly America: 8 Places to Add to Your List

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A young girl examines a fossilized tree on the Giant Logs Trail in Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park. (Photograph by Michael Ventura, Alamy)

Each spring, thousands of bloggers and entrepreneurs flock to the Mom 2.0 Summit for a weekend of workshops and networking. This year, I joined in on the fun to see what this travel-savvy group had to recommend when it came to outstanding kid-friendly destinations in the United States.

Here are eight places all across America to consider adding to your family-travel bucket list:

Allison Waken, the Phoenix-based blogger behind All For The Boys, is a big advocate for finding adventure—and opportunities for experiential learning—wherever you live. In Arizona, she loves taking her brood to Walnut Canyon National Monument, where remnants of the pre-Columbian habitations of the Sinagua people are easily visible. “It’s really neat for the kids because they can really tell what this place used to be,” she says. Follow Allison on Twitter @AllisonWaken.

For Amy Locurto of Living Locurto, a trip to Washington, D.C., is the perfect family-friendly getaway. She suggests including a visit to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, where kids can get hands-on experience with U.S. history by tracking family members who played a part in the fight for American independence or playing with toys from a bygone era. “We learned a ton about history,” she says. Another perk? “It was free!” Follow Amy on Twitter @livinglocurto.

The Big Easy was a hands-down homer for Whit Honea, a father of two who blogs at Family Life on Earth and co-founded Dads4Change. “People think of New Orleans in many ways, but seldom do they think of it as a family destination,” he remarks. Whit and his wife would love to take their kids to the Big Easy and show them the areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Once there, they would use the experience as an opportunity to talk about what happened, and how it affected the people who lived there. “I don’t want my kids coming back with just a T-shirt,” Whit says. “[I want them to come back] with a better understanding of the world and where they fit in it.” Follow Whit on Twitter @whithonea

Dandelion Moms founder Melissa Northway thinks Southern California’s Crystal Cove State Park is the perfect place for families that enjoy exploring the great outdoors together. And at this natural oasis, which occupies more than three miles of shoreline along the Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, the kids can get a taste of sandy beaches, sloping hills, and wooded canyons in one fell swoop. “It’s so neat to see the magic on children’s faces,” she says. Follow Melissa on Twitter @dandelionmoms

Arizona’s Petrified Forest was added to our list by Wendy O’Neal of Around My Family Table, owing to the wide array of kid-friendly activities the national park offers. Between the “Indian ruins, hieroglyphs, hiking trails, and Junior Ranger Program,” she says, your children are sure to have fun while learning something new in this sun-swept corner of the Painted Desert. Follow Wendy on Twitter @MyFamilyTable

Lori Falcon of A Cowboy’s Wife recommends a trip to West Texas for a chance to show the kids some “old-fashioned fun.” A favorite spot? Davis Mountains State Park, home to the McDonald astronomical observatory and a plethora of outdoor activities. “It’s a really lovely place that people don’t know about,” she says. Follow Lori on Twitter @acowboyswife.

Val Curtis of Bon Bon Break points to the San Juan Islands as a standout family destination because the Washington State archipelago offers so many different ways to get outside with the kids—from “picturesque hikes and driftwood-covered beaches to opportunities to go kayaking, whale-watching, zip-lining, and more.” She swears there is something for everyone on the San Juans, and it sure sounds like it. Follow Val on Twitter @BonBonBreak.

Katie Workman, the woman behind The Mom 100 blog (and the author of an acclaimed spin-off cookbook), sees the beauty in getting back to basics. To reconnect with the kids, she suggests a trip to Maine’s Camden Hills State Park, located 20 miles up the coast from Rockland. “We hiked into the park to a log cabin with no electricity, built a fire in the huge fireplace, used flashlights, and roasted things on sticks,” she said. Follow Katie on Twitter @katieworkman100.

What would you add to the list? Let us know your favorite family-friendly destination by leaving a comment below.

Megan Heltzel is an associate producer on the National Geographic Travel digital team. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram @MeganHeltzel.

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