It doesn’t matter if you have a big baby on board or not — you’ve decided to travel as soon as it’s safe for your family. Where should you go when you have a toddler or two in tow?
Little bodies crave tiny amusements in the form of parks, and many of America’s small towns have attractions perfectly suited for the youngest members of your clan. Plus, you’ll get to see what pundits refer to as the “real” America on your journey. Here are eight of the best places in the U.S. to travel with toddlers and why they deserve a spot on your itinerary.
1. Santa Claus, Indiana
You don’t have to wait another year for the holidays to return to have fun in Santa Claus, Indiana. Your kids will flip for the town’s name alone, and you can cross some folks off your gift list at one of their many holiday-themed shops. History buffs can take in Abraham Lincoln’s childhood stomping grounds at the memorial dedicated to his early years.
No trip is complete without visiting Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. You can take in live shows and let the kids play in the water park or ride Comet’s Rockets — the mastermind of Rudolph’s buddy.
2. Cascade, Colorado
From Santa Claus, travel west to hit the North Pole — as in the amusement park designed for all things winter wonderland. While it’s temporarily closed, The North Pole attraction plans to reopen in May of 2021 and have rides perfectly sized for tiny tots with their eyes all aglow.
In the meantime, you can take the scenic pancake rocks hike — the formations resemble something you might see on Mars. Visit Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods for more dramatic photo opportunities.
3. Elysburg, Pennsylvania
Hop on the plane or load the family truckster to head back east next. Pennsylvania is no stranger to amusement parks, but Knoebels features plenty of rides with no height restrictions.
You have lovely lodging choices, with numerous creekside cottages offering room for the whole gang. Take a hike through Weiser State Forest or rent an ATV and hit the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.
4. Branson, Missouri
Travel to where the east meets west and hit Branson, MO. This town promoted the heck out of its tourism industry before COVID hit — help them rebuild by visiting attractions like the Titanic Museum and Ripley’s Super Fun Zone.
Next, head to Silver Dollar City theme park, where your little ones can enjoy rides like Elephant’s March and Happy Frogs. If it’s hot, hit the attached water park, and keep your lodging on the inexpensive side by staying at the adjacent campground.
5. Salem, New Hampshire
You won’t find many witches prowling the streets of this Salem, but you will discover a host of places to see. The kids will flip for Field of Dreams, a unique community park and playground, and adults will marvel at America’s Stonehenge.
While there, visit Canobie Lake Park, which features antique car rides and a wilder autobahn for older children. Even your youngest can splash in the Lil’ Squirts lagoon while you perfect your tan.
6. South Carver, MA
While in New England, head to South Carver, MA, where you’ll find dinosaurs prowling the woods of Edaville Family Theme Park. Relive your county fair years with your little one by riding the F erris wheel or climb aboard A.J.’s Express.
Make your trip partially educational by learning about the history of the pilgrims in nearby Plymouth, MA. If your child is a budding Dr. Doolittle in your crew, hit Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary in Norton, MA.
7. Hershey, PA
Head south for a sweet treat you won’t soon forget. When you visit Hershey, PA, you can learn how your favorite chocolate treats are made at their factory tour.
While there, walk a short distance to reach Hersheypark, an amusement park that started small but has grown considerably in recent years. Kids can enjoy a Balloon Flite or go for a spin in the Dizzy Drums.
8. Pigeon Ford, Tennessee
End your toddler travel trek in Tennessee, where you can visit Dollywood. Your kiddos can ride the Busy Bees and learn about bald eagles and other birds of prey at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.
Head out to explore the town of Pigeon Ford, and you’ll find miniature golf or go-karts to delight any older children in your group. Outdoorsy families can explore the nearby Smoky Mountains on a hike.
Hit One of These 8 Best Places to Travel With Toddlers This Summer
If you are traveling with your toddlers in tow, you want to find kid-sized fun perfect for them. The eight locations above offer affordable lodging and small-town charm with nearby amusements to delight your youngest family members.