Planning a child-friendly vacation poses its own unique challenges. Children, after all, aren’t known to be patient travelers on long road trips, and they may not be on their best behavior at airports or in hotel lobbies. Parents are burdened with the task of planning kid-friendly activities while not breaking family-fun budgets. (If, on the other hand, you’re leaving the kids at home, you might want to know about the most romantic cities in America).
So where are the best kid-friendly vacation destinations for 2023? To compile a list of the best cities to go on vacation with your kids, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a recently released report by Lawn Love, an online lawn care marketplace that occasionally conducts research into city and state amenities. The site ranked the 200 largest American cities across 23 metrics, including family-friendly accommodations, attractions, restaurants, transportation options, affordability, and safety. The final ranking is based on a weighted average of all considered measures and is out of 100 possible points.
Not surprisingly, of the 30 best cities for family trips, a dozen are found in the three of the country’s largest states – California, Texas, and Florida – and include obvious choices like Orlando, home to the enormous Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme parks, and Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, with an abundance of child-friendly activities. (You might also want to consider expeditions to some of these 50 natural wonders everyone should see at least once.)
Many of the best cities for a family vacation are, unfortunately, also among the most expensive. L.A. ranks high in fun and safety, but it also ranks 180th for affordability. And if a crowded city isn’t your thing, then you can rule out four of these cities that have populations of between 2.3 million for Houston and 8.5 million for New York City – the latter of which takes our No. 1 slot, ranking as the best destination for child-friendly activities and public safety, though it’s even more expensive than L.A.
When considering a combination of family fun, affordability, and public safety, a few often-overlooked cities stand out. For instance, San Antonio, a city of 1.4 million people has plenty of family activities on offer, including a Legoland indoor playground, a 50-acre zoo, and the DoSeum – an interactive science museum for children. Another stand-out is Charlotte, North Carolina, which features the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Discovery Place Museum for children, and the Sea Life Charlotte aquarium, while also providing reasonable affordability and good public safety.
Another city that offers a decent balance of these three qualities is an unexpected one: Las Vegas, which has over the decades worked to shed its seedy Sin City reputation and now ranks high in child-friendly activities and public safety at a lower cost than 18 of the 30 cities on this list.
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