Northeast Family Vacation Ideas

Dad and son on ride at theme park
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Northeast family vacations whisk you away to life without cars in Amish country or to big city adventure in one of the world's most famous states. Find your next destination in the Northeast with this complete list of fun activities.

01 of 12


mystic aquarium beluga whale
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Connecticut travel destinations defeat any "I'm bored" complaints from the kids. Animal, science, and nature lovers will be thrilled at all there is to see and do throughout the state, and so will anyone who simply loves to play. 

  • Beardsley Zoo - Visit more than 300 animals in Bridgeport. Some of the residents include the Siberian tiger, red wolf, and golden lion tamarin.​
  • Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut - Especially geared toward little hands who want to touch everything, this museum features various exhibits that help kids learn through play. Located in Niantic.
  • Connecticut Science Center - Featured exhibits help kids discover the power of motion, the fun of lasers and the intrigue behind lifelike robots. Located in Hartford.
  • Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk - Penguins, seal feedings, an adventure ride film, and more family-friendly fun await at this aquarium with more than 177,000 gallons of water. An IMAX theater is also on-site.
  • Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration - Brave family members can touch a shark. Those who prefer a hands-off approach can watch the jellies in motion. You'll also see beluga whales, sea lions, African penguins, sea horses and a variety of other water-loving wildlife at this aquarium in Mystic.
  • Stepping Stones Museum for Children - Rotating exhibits show kids everything from how the brain works to how to build a new home. Located in Norwalk.
  • Water and theme parks - Ride. Scream. Eat. Play. 
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02 of 12


Little girl on the Delaware Water Gap
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From a tall 1600s ship you can sail to the largest collection of steam autos, Delaware travel destinations give families a treasure chest full of attractions to visit.

  • Brandywine Zoo - In Wilmington, visit about 150 mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. You'll see everything from honey bees to a clouded leopard.
  • Delaware Children's Museum - What will your children discover within the 37,000 square feet of interactive space? Exhibits explore the environment, anatomy, the art of design, and more.
  • Kalmar Nyckel - Known as "The Tall Ship of Delaware," the Kalmar Nyckel will take everyone back to colonial times with its beauty and charm from the 1600s. The ship ports in Wilmington, but make sure it's not out visiting another city before you make the trip.
  • Marshall Steam Museum - The power of steam automobiles comes alive at the Auburn Heights Preserve. On the grounds of the Marshall family mansion in Yorklyn, you'll see the world's largest collection of steam autos as well as toy trains and a mini steam locomotive you can ride.
  • Water Parks - Pack up the bathing suits and the sunblock.
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03 of 12


USA, Maine, Portland, Boats moored at Portland harbor
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Maine is for kids and parents who want variety in a family-friendly getaway. Young and old can play, have fun and learn something new while on vacation.

  • Children's Discovery Museum - Budding musicians, entrepreneurs, bankers, and engineers can play in their world. Every hands-on exhibit challenges and teaches young minds. Located in Augusta.
  • Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine - Four floors of fun in Portland! Amazing exhibits let the kids dress up like astronauts and get inside a space shuttle, learn survival skills for their pretend camping adventure, nurture their compassion as a pint-sized veterinarian and so much more.
  • Maine Discovery Museum - Visit Booktown, learn about a 20-foot ecosystem or make wall art. The largest children's museum in Maine is located in Bangor.
  • Maine State Aquarium - Touch underwater creatures, such as a shark, sea star, horseshoe crabs, sea urchin, and scallop. Located in Boothbay Harbor.
  • York's Wild Kingdom and Amusement Park - In York Beach, there's one stop that's a carnival of fun for the whole family. Look at bears, monkeys, birds and other exotic animals from around the world. Ride the bumper boats, see an elephant show or scream your way down a 90-foot slide.
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04 of 12


A Blacktip Reef Shark at the National Aquarium, Baltimore
National Aquarium, Baltimore

Maryland has indoor and outdoor attractions designed for kids and kids at heart that make traveling to the state a great option no matter what time of year you plan to visit.

  • National Aquarium in Baltimore - Wow the kids with more than 16,500 specimens. Dolphins, birds and other gorgeous wildlife take up four floors of the aquarium.
  • Salisbury Zoo - Which one will be your child's favorite -- the macaw, the river otter, the spider monkey or another one of the zoo's many animals? Find out without paying a dime. Zoo admission is always free.
  • Water and theme parks - Get your thrills at several theme parks and water parks in Maryland.
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05 of 12


Camels at the Franklin Park Zoo

TripSavvy / Kathleen Messmer

Pack up the kids for Massachusetts travel plans that include a trip to the oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in use or a weekend spent relaxing on Martha's Vineyard. With so many age-appropriate options, everyone in your family will be happy.

  • Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum - Take a 90-minute train ride aboard one of the 1920's passenger cars. A vintage diesel-electric train takes you on this 20-mile round trip between Lenox and Stockbridge.
  • Boston Children's Museum - What's going on today at the PlayLab or in the Construction Zone? More than 15 different exhibits challenge young minds while they play.
  • Fenway Park Tour - Ted Williams swung for the fences at Fenway Park. Red Sox rookie Babe Ruth pitched his first major league victory here. Tour the famous baseball stadium that continues to make history today.
  • Franklin Park Zoo - Walk among the kangaroos or pet a goat in this zoo home to hundreds of animals. Located in Dorchester.
  • Martha's Vineyard - There's plenty of family fun on Martha's Vineyard. Ride the Flying Horse Carousel, visit Gus Ben David's World of Reptiles and Bird Park, or take a sail around the island. There's even a concierge service who can help with the kids if mom and dad want to spend some time alone.
  • New England Aquarium - In Boston, dive into this massive aquarium featuring 20,000 animals of 600 species. Penguins, seals, whales, jellyfish, and sea turtles are waiting for you to watch them swim.
  • Skywalk Observatory - Up, up, up you go to the top of the 50-story Prudential Tower in Boston. Two self-guided audio tours are available, one for kids and one for adults.
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06 of 12

New Hampshire

Children playing in the waves at Hampton Beach, USA
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You'll find plenty of activities in New Hampshire for kids, but the whole family will have fun together. This jewel of the Northeast features relaxation time for mom and dad, plus adventure even the tiniest members of your family will enjoy.

  • Charmingfare Farm - You'll find traditional farm animals as well as birds of prey, cougar, otters, and other wildlife. Guided horseback tours are available and so are seasonal hay and sleigh rides. Located in Candia.​
  • Hampton Beach - The whole family will enjoy a day or weekend trip to Hampton Beach. Special "children only" events feature free activities just for kids.
  • Kaleidoscope Children's Museum - Put on a puppet show at the theater. Bake your own play pizza in a brick oven. Play pit crew, changing the tire of a race car. About 10 different play areas are within the walls of this Manchester museum for kids.
  • Meredith Children's Museum - Housed in a retired elementary school, this 8,000 square foot museum features a bubble room, fire truck, grocery store, log cabin, and other kid-friendly play activities. Located in Meredith.
  • Theme parks - There are many theme parks scattered throughout New Hampshire, including the fairytale theme park Story Land.
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07 of 12

New Jersey

Pirates Cove New Jersey Water Park
Land of Make Believe

Your New Jersey travel itinerary is packed with fun things to do for kids. Family-friendly activities spread throughout The Garden State.

  • Adventure Aquarium - With more than 2 million gallons of water, kids can see seals, penguins, hippos and a huge variety of aquatic life. Older kids can even swim with the sharks! Located in Camden.
  • Cape May County Park and Zoo - The zoo is open year-round and features 250 different species and more than 550 animals to take pictures of on your visit. Free admission! Located in Cape May Court House, New Jersey.
  • Insectropolis - The kids will bug you to take them to this insect museum. Thousands of bugs are on display and you can even touch some of them. Located in Toms River.
  • Jenkinson's Boardwalk - Hit the beach. Ride the train. Visit the aquarium. There's more to this boardwalk than a crowded walk alongside the ocean. Located in Pleasant Beach.
  • Liberty Science Center - Exhibits center around science and technology with live science demonstrations too. An IMAX theater is also on-site. Located in Jersey City.
  • Meadowlands Environment Center - Let the kids learn about the ecosystem through a hands-on program. An observatory is also on-site. Located in Lyndhurst.
  • The New Jersey Children's Museum - Play on a 1954 fire truck, pilot a helicopter or pretend you're a famous news anchor in the TV studio. About 20 hands-on exhibits encourage learning through play in Paramus, NJ.
  • Theme Parks - For the thrill-seeking family, check out this list of theme parks located throughout New Jersey.
  • Tuckerton Seaport Museum - Visit a real maritime village in action. Other attractions include historic houseboats, a sawmill, boat works, lighthouse, and more.
  • Water Parks - New Jersey offers plenty of indoor and outdoor options for your next water adventure.
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08 of 12

New York

American Museum of Natural History
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New York family vacations plant unique, lifetime memories in every visitor. But with all you can do in New York, it's easy to get overwhelmed when trying to choose what attractions you should visit. All it takes is a little planning for you and your family to pack a lot into The Big Apple and beyond.

  • American Museum of Natural History - Kids familiar with the Night at the Museum movies will love seeing the location where the books are based. There are more than 32 million specimens housed in the museum. Time your visit just right and your family can spend the night inside to go on an adventure just like in the movies. Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
  • Atlantis Marine World Aquarium - The aquarium's theme is the "Lost City of Atlantis" and with more than 1 million gallons of water, your family will get to explore beautiful indoor and outdoor exhibits. Be sure to take grandma for a sea lion kiss. Located in Riverhead.
  • Broadway shows for families - Broadway shows aren't just for grown-ups. The kids can come along too. This list of family-friendly Broadway shows helps you choose the right one to see when you're visiting New York City.
  • Bronx Zoo - It's close to impossible to see all of the 4,000 animals at the Bronx Zoo. Take comfortable walking shoes because you'll be traveling over 265 acres to see the various wildlife.
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum - The first museum to cater to children puts the kids' bodies and imaginations in motion. Children learn about nature, other cultures and science with both permanent and rotating exhibits to keep the activities fresh every time you visit.
  • Central Park Zoo and Tisch Children's Zoo - In the heart of Manhattan, you'll feel like you're taking a trip out of the country to visit animals from across the globe. Feeding demonstrations and educational shows daily. Children 6 and under can get up close with petting zoo animals in the Tisch Children's Zoo, which is included in the Central Park Zoo's admission price.
  • Children's Museum of Manhattan - Hands-on exhibits help kids learn by doing. An exciting list of current and future exhibits helps you plan your family's trip in advance.
  • Empire State Building - Don't leave New York City without a visit to this world-renowned landmark. Zoom up 102 floors in high-speed elevators for a grand view of the city.
  • FAO Schwarz - A trip to the famous toy store in New York City is always worth a visit if you can convince the kids they won't be leaving with thousands of dollars worth of toys. Just looking at the variety of toys and the decor can take up an afternoon.
  • Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum - Visit an original carousel factory that's now a historic building. Inside, you can ride a 1916 carousel, view a large collection of hand-carved carousel animals and see how carousel animals have changed over the years. Located in North Tonawanda.
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame - Hit a home run with the baseball lovers in your family when you take them to see everything from Lou Gehrig's locker to a collection of 135,000 baseball cards. Located in Cooperstown.
  • New York Aquarium - Near the Coney Island boardwalk, you'll find hundreds of aquatic wildlife swimming around. Within the aquarium's 14 acres, you can see everything from walruses to moon jellies. Located in Brooklyn.
  • New York Hall of Science - Over 450 permanent exhibits and a variety of rotating exhibits give kids a hands-on science and technology experience. Located in Queens.
  • Niagara Falls - It doesn't matter if you're standing on the New York side or the Canadian side of America's oldest state park. Everyone marvels at the wonder of Niagara Falls. Ride a boat into the mist, see the falls from the 282-foot tall observation tower and let everyone take a load off on a scenic trolley tour.
  • Rockefeller Center - If you've never seen Rockefeller Center in person, you've undoubtedly seen it as a backdrop in your favorite TV shows and movies. Ice skate, take a tour and see the inside of Radio City Music Hall.
  • Statue of Liberty - You can see Lady Liberty from afar. But plan to take the ferry so your family can walk up into this crowned jewel of New York.
  • Strong National Museum of Play - In Rochester, there's one stop that will give the family triple the fun. At the museum, kids can play with hands-on exhibits. Then there's the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame and the world's largest collection of toys, dolls, and games to see.
  • Theme parks - Spend a day at one of the many theme parks in New York.
  • Times Square - Eye-candy galore is what you'll find in Times Square. Really give the kids a treat when you take them to Toys 'R Us and let them ride the indoor Ferris wheel or see the towering T-rex and the 4,000 square feet Barbie house.
  • Water parks - Indoor and outdoor water parks are scattered throughout New York.
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09 of 12


Hersheypark Boardwalk - photo courtesy of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company.
Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company

Pennsylvania attractions for kids take the family back in time to where history was made, to a more simple life with horse and buggy as the preferred method of transportation or to modern day fun with roller coasters that move you more than 60 miles per hour.

  • Amish Country - No visit to Pennsylvania is complete without a visit to Amish country. Families can take in a horse and buggy ride, eat shoofly pie, visit a one-room schoolhouse, and so much more.
  • Cherry Crest Adventure Farm - What isn't there to do at this farm with 50 activities? Explore the corn maze, ride the pedal kart tracks and visit the hatchery to watch baby chicks get their first look at the world. Located in Ronks.
  • The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh - Touch everything! It's okay to get into the action at this children's museum, which features a garage workshop, water play area, and rotating exhibits.
  • The Crayola Factory - See how crayons are made and let the kids explore their creativity with hands-on exhibits. Located in Easton.
  • Hersheypark - A hub of family-friendly activities in one location. Visit the amusement park, zoo, chocolate world and interactive museum in Hershey.
  • Independence Hall - In Philadelphia, a lesson in government awaits as you tour the inside of Independence Hall. You never know what you'll see outside of Independence Hall. Actors in costume take to the streets to recreate conversations from the 1700s and Colonial-era musicians come marching by playing their instruments.
  • The Liberty Bell - In the heart of Philadelphia, kids will enjoy seeing a part of history. Interactive exhibits and a History Channel film tell the tale of the Liberty Bell's crack.
  • Monongahela Incline - Built in 1870, the oldest and steepest incline in the U.S. is 635-feet long and goes up almost 370 feet. Located in Pittsburgh.
  • Philadelphia Zoo - Known as America's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo has more than 1,300 animals living on 40+ acres. Prepare for a long walk to see everything at this zoo.
  • Strasburg Railroad - Catch the train in Lancaster to ride the oldest short-line railroad. Restored passenger cars, lunch and dinner on-board and a mini version of the coal-burning steam train are a few of the activities to enjoy with your family.
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10 of 12

Rhode Island

Water Wizz water park in Massachusetts.
Water Wizz

Rhode Island may be small but the fun is big for kids. The state is perfect for families who want to get away from it all but still enjoy the attractions larger states have to offer.

  • Easton's Beach - There's more to do at Easton's Beach than to park your family on a beach blanket for the day. There are a carousel, playground and water slide to entertain the kids. Located in Newport.
  • Newport Butterfly Farm and Zoo - Walk among the butterflies within lush landscaping. Be sure to have the camera ready for the perfect shot of butterflies landing on your children.
  • Providence Children's Museum - Outdoor play areas and indoor exhibits give the kids plenty of hands-on play time while they're learning. Special activities include encounters with snakes, turtles, and worms.
  • Roger Williams Park Zoo - More than 1,000 animals from all over the world can be found at one of the oldest zoos in the country. Located in Providence.
  • Water Wizz - Ride, slide, tube or relax under an umbrella at the in-park beaches. Located in East Wareham.
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11 of 12


Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort

You can try to prepare the kids for how much fun they'll have when you travel to Vermont. But no amount of preparation will top the looks on their faces when they see what all the state has in store for them.

  • Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour - One of the yummiest tours your family will ever enjoy together takes you through the ice cream-making process and a room to sample the flavor of the day. Located in Waterbury.
  • Montshire Museum of Science - Explore over 100 acres of trails and 60 exhibits. Located in Norwich.
  • Stowe Mountain Resort - The powder is perfect in the winter. But there's plenty of summer-themed activities too.
  • Trapp Family Lodge - The same family The Sound of Music is based on is behind this lodge in Stowe. Austrian decor, swimming pools, skiing, and afternoon tea​ and cookies are some of the lodge's family-friendly features.
  • Vermont Teddy Bear Factory Tour - See how the famous teddy bears come to life. The factory tour shows you how the teddy bears are handcrafted and delivered around the world. Located in Shelburne.
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Washington D.C.

US Capitol Building, National Mall and Northwest Washington at sunrise from Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
Danita Delimont/Getty Images

Washington D.C. vacations aren't just for political junkies. Of course, you'll want to take your family to visit D.C.'s finest monuments, but the nation's capital is also home to museums unlike others in the world.

  • Ford's Theater Museum - Recount Lincoln's time in the White House with a look at artifacts, videos and even the deringer used to assassinate him. You'll also see Lincoln campaign buttons, playbills, ​and documents reliving Lincoln's presidential speeches.
  • International Spy Museum - How does invisible ink work? What does it take to be a spy? See hundreds of spy gadgets and artifacts while time traveling to learn the history of spies.
  • National Monuments - D.C. is rich with history and architectural beauty. Seeing these monuments in person is very moving and a good lesson for the kids about the United States. Plan your trip with this list of monuments to see with your family.
  • National Museum of Natural History - A photo tour gives you a glimpse of some of the 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts on display. Another perk is free admission.
  • Smithsonian National Zoological Park - More than 2,000 animals grace the grounds of this zoo, which is more commonly known as The National Zoo.
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - Hundreds of artifacts are on display that documents the history of flight and space travel. Children of all ages will enjoy exploring the largest collection of aircraft and spacecraft in the world. An IMAX theater is also on-site.
  • Three Houses of Government - Ask adults who visited Washington, D.C. when they were kids what they remember about their trips. No matter how old they were, they'll all say seeing the White House tops their list. Add to your own kids' memories with a look at the White House, the Capitol, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
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