best vacations for toddlers

2021’s Best Vacations for Toddlers in the United States

2021’s Best Vacations for Toddlers in the United States

Having kids  doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling. 

It just means that your adventures might look a little different than they did before. 

  • You may need to pack your bags more strategically to fit in your little one’s travel essentials
  • You might opt for a destination that’s a bit closer to home 
  • And you’ll definitely want to choose toddler-friendly destinations. 

For instance, consider Charleston. Between the historical tours and ghost walks, there isn’t much available for your toddler to do, and the last thing you want on your vacation is to have to drag a melting down 2-year-old along when you're sightseeing.

But this doesn’t mean suffering through Disney World or going on a dreadful Disney Cruise. There are plenty of interesting, enjoyable places that are also fun for toddlers. 

Below, we’ll discuss 13 of the best places to travel with a toddler in the US. These are fun for both parents and children.

13 Best Vacations for Toddlers in the USA 

There are hundreds of fun, toddler-friendly vacation destinations around the world. But if you want to stick closer to home and you live in the United States, 13 cities and destinations stand out as unforgettable opportunities to enjoy yourself with a toddler in tow (and show them a bit of the country at the same time).

#1. Sanibel Island, Florida

best vacations for toddlers

If you’re looking for a tropical getaway, Sanibel Island in Florida is the way to go. 

This quiet vacation spot features sand, shells, and calm. There aren’t many attractions to run between, but the beach is quiet and unforgettable and there’s plenty to do.

You can spend time building sandcastles or collecting seashells. Your toddler will enjoy running away from waves while you sit back and relax.

#2. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

best vacations for toddlers

If you’re looking for a relaxing family vacation, you can’t get any better than Gatlinburg. This small town nestled in the heart of the Great Smokey Mountains is home to affordable cabin rentals and unique shopping opportunities. 

You can hike into the park, which is completely free. There are plenty of toddler-friendly trails that are paved and driving tours that are wonderful excursions during a toddler’s naptime. 

Just a few minutes away from Pigeon Forge, you can also go to Dollywood – a quaint theme park with a country appeal. There are also plenty of dinner shows and other attractions downtown.

There are plenty of unique wine tasting opportunities on the main strip in Gatlinburg for the adults, while children will enjoy gem mining and the aquarium. 

Consider taking a trip to Anakeesta while you’re there as well. This attraction is far up in the mountains and requires taking a ski lift to get to the top. Once you’re up there, though, you can enjoy a drink around the campfire with an amazing view while the toddler romps around on the unique, in-the-trees playgrounds.

#3. Branson, Missouri

best vacations for toddlers

Branson is another out-of-the-way destination that caters to both adults and toddlers. 

You simply must go to the Promised Land Zoo. This zoo caters to families that want to learn about animals as well as see them. The zoo is completely family-owned and offers various unique experiences, like a guided tram zoo and opportunities to feed animals. 

Silver Dollar City is another interesting theme park. On top of the usual roller coasters, they also have the Firehouse Playhouse, which is age-appropriate for toddlers. There is a fun climbing area and a safe play area.

The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure is an interactive attraction that caters to all ages. This attraction is home to a botanical garden that features over 10,000 tropical butterflies. They also have things like mirror mazes, which some toddlers might enjoy.

#4. Port Angeles, Washington

best vacations for toddlers

For those who want to reconnect to nature, go to Port Angeles. You can enjoy easy hikes, like the one to Marymere Falls. 

The Salt Creek Recreation Area is a neat place to let toddlers explore. It is a well-run campground that includes a lovely beach with tide pools. It is an awesome opportunity to introduce your child to sea life they have likely never seen up close. 

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is another must-see destination. You can drive through most of the park, which is nice when you have a toddler in tow. Be sure you visit the Hoh Rainforest and Sol Duc Hotsprings.

#5. Williams, Arizona

best vacations for toddlers

Williams is barely an hour away from the Grand Canyon, which makes an epic day-trip. However, Willians offers a few unique attractions that the Grand Canyon can’t provide.

The Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park is an easy excursion with a toddler since they can sit in the car for the whole time. 

You may be able to catch a glimpse of wolves and bears in their natural habitat. There’s also a petting zoo that includes animals like bunnies and horses. 

The historic Grand Canyon Railway is an educational visit for adults, and what toddler doesn’t want to ride on a train?

#6. Williamsburg, Virginia

best vacations for toddlers

Williamsburg is a unique, educational vacation. In the Williamsburg historic district, dozens of seventeenth-century structures are full of costumed actors ready to show you trades that range from blacksmithing to basket making. 

The Virginia Living Museum is another must-see. The children’s garden offers hands-on learning for little ones, and the boardwalk offers views of bald eagles, skunks, and otters in their natural habitat. 

To run off some energy, My Place Playground is one of the best playgrounds in the country. The playground tends to be quite crowded, so your toddler will always find someone to play with.

#7. Crystal River, Florida

best vacations for toddlers

Crystal Rivier is the manatee capital of the world. Need we say more? You can swim with manatees and see them in their natural habitat. You can ride on a boat with bay windows to see the manatees underwater as well, which is perfect for a toddler. 

The Little Springs Park & Creative Playground is an old wooden playground that is a nice spot to burn off some energy. There is a little bridge over the Little Spring you can walk on as well. 

Of course, there is a beach as well. If you want to relax around in the sun for a bit, lounge around at Fort Island Beach. Just watch for the marsh! It is not solid ground, and it will eat your shoe.

#8. Bar Harbor, Maine

best vacations for toddlers

The Acadia National Park is breathtaking. There are plenty of hikes that are doable with toddlers. Really, the whole park is worth hiking if you have the time (and energy). 

You can fit some whale watching in at Mount Desert Island. The Cadillac Mountain Submit is an easy drive with a short trail that is kid-friendly. It is best to go early in the morning to watch the sunrise. 

You can also walk across to Bar Island. The landbridge is only navigable at low tide, so be sure to check the tide schedule before making the drive.

#9. Moab, Utah

For dino-obsessed children, there is no better vacation location than Moab. Arches National Park is a fun option for toddlers. It really looks like mars. As the name suggests, there are otherworldly arches throughout the park. You’ll probably get more of a kick out of it than your toddler will, however. 

The Monument Valley is another iconic landscape to take in. It is on the Navajo Nation Tribal Park. The sunset tour is by far the best option, so we recommend planning for that!

The Moab Giants attraction is full of life-size dinosaur statues and is a must-see with children this age.

#10. Prince Edward Island, Canada

best vacations for toddlers

If you’re looking for a grand vacation spot out of the United States, Prince Edward Island in Canada is a suitable choice for toddlers. It is well-known for its picturesque shorelines, fresh-caught seafood, and budding marine life. 

There are many things for toddlers to do as well. Of course, you have the beach that can support hours of open-ended play. You can also walk through some of the areas trials – many of which are appropriate for toddlers, especially if you bring a carrier. 

The Cape Tryon Lighthouse is a hidden gem that is a must-visit with small children. Most children have only seen lighthouses in books. This real-life one is sure to entrance. 

The Victoria Park is a fun place to visit in between more adult activities. There is a swimming pool and a splash pad on top of open space to run free. Spend an afternoon here and the kids should be worn-out enough for a sit-down dinner.

#11. Keystone, Colorado

best vacations for toddlers

Keystone, Colorado is the perfect place for a kid-friendly ski vacation. They are well-known for their children’s ski program, but they also have more toddler-appropriate activities as well. 

Adventure Point offers tubing, which is even suitable for smaller toddlers. They also have a giant snow fort. 

Kidtopia is also located in Keystone. This attraction allows even very young children to be creative with crayons, paints, clay, and many other materials. It can be fun for adults as well. Plus, they usually have fireworks in the evening as well!

#12. San Diego, California

best vacations for toddlers

We recommend every small child go visit San Diego at least once, if only for The New Children’s Museum. This museum focuses mostly on artistic expression. Kids can enjoy interactive art exhibits and art studios that range from painting to music. 

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a fun option as well. It all takes place in a cart, so the toddler won’t have to do much walking. However, they will get to see things like giraffes and other safari animals. 

LEGOLAND’s Explorer Island is also located in San Diego. If you have time, it is also a nice attraction to check out (though it is not made with adults in mind).

#13. Indianapolis, Indiana

best vacations for toddlers

Indianapolis is full of attractions for toddlers. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is one of the best in the country. They have a special Playscape for toddlers, as well as stuff for older children. 

Connor Prairie is another location that’s perfect for toddlers. You can pet some of the livestock in the petting area or take a ride on a hot air balloon. The Craft Corner is perfect for artistic expression as well. 

The Indianapolis Zoo makes a fun day trip. The zoo is quite large, so you may not be able to see all of it at one time. They have dolphins and sharks in their aquarium section. You can even feed the flamingos.

What Adventures Will You Have?

There is absolutely no reason to stop traveling just because you have children. You just need to travel differently. Choose a destination that caters to both your wanderlust and your child’s need for discovery. Children’s museums, outdoor activities, and similar attractions are perfect for the whole family to enjoy. 

Plus, many of these activities are free or very inexpensive, which means more traveling for you!

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