Western US

26 Things To Do in Santa Barbara with Kids

There is more to SoCal than just Los Angeles; only slightly farther afield families can explore Ojai, play in Palm Springs, and indulge in Santa Barbara. A 150-mile jaunt up the coast from LA, Santa Barbara is chock full of fun and educational things to delight kids and adults. Day-trippers can make it an extra-special jaunt (or maybe just avoid traffic and parking) by taking Amtrak from any of the LA or OC stations then spending the day or weekend riding Santa Barbara's downtown and waterfront shuttles—or the water taxi—to enjoy the 26 local attractions below.

20 Easy (But Gorgeous) Hiking Trails To Do with Kids and Babies

By Shanti Hodges

Looking for a hiking trail near you? Great walking trails top our picks for fun summer activities and fall outings with kids. A hike is an opportunity for quality family time, exercise for kids, and of course, discoveries small and large, from bugs to waterfalls.

These getaway-worthy, family-friendly hiking trails are just a sampling of my favorite trails, highlighted in my new book, Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Adventures with Babies and Toddlers. As founder of Hike it Baby, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families get on the trail with kids, I’ve been fortunate enough to sample nature trails across the country, including at our best national parks and campsites, and even those extra-special, smaller local parks that often offer the best hikes for toddlers and families with little kids.

Now I’m sharing 20 of my favorites, from Connecticut to Florida to Washington state, that are perfect for your next day trip or family vacation. Most are easy loop paths, but I’ve included some moderate trails and top destinations, such as Mt. Rainer and the Badlands. Many of these hikes are FREE, too. The list also highlights family-friendly perks like bathrooms, and benches for a rest or a nursing mom.

9 Must-See Dinosaur Theme Parks and Attractions for Kids

If your kid is fascinated by dinosaurs, chances are everything in your home revolves around the prehistoric creatures, including your family vacations. Your nearby natural history or kids' science museum is a great bet for a quick trip to study major fossil displays. For an even bigger thrill, families might want to check out one of the many outdoor dinosaur parks, from full amusement parks to nature walks and mini fossil digs.

We've rounded up a list of 10 great places for dinosaur lovers across the country. These dinosaur-themed attractions offer up-close encounters with lifelike creatures, thrilling rides, impressive fossils, and more fun things to do and see for kids, including dino-theater.

For more family vacation ideas—that may, or may not, involve dinosaurs—check out our United States Family Travel Guide.

Joshua Tree: 12 Things Not To Miss with Kids in this Desert National Park

Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is an otherworldly experience: groves of twisted trees and giant boulders create enchanting settings so unique, you might think you have stepped into a fairy tale—or landed on an alien planet. Approximately a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, and a stone's throw from Palm Springs, this park is great for a family camping adventure or just a day hike, because it captures everyone’s imagination. Stroller-friendly trails make it a great option for little trekkers, as do several walks easy enough for young kids (or tired grown-ups) to maneuver. But teens and tweens who never tire will never run out of rocks and boulders to climb over.

Visit the Old West like the Brady Bunch at this Hollywood Style Western Town

Deep in the Mojave Desert, not far from Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, and just two hours from LA, tumbleweeds roll down dusty, unpaved streets. A saddle shop, an old bank, a bath house, and a saloon line the appropriately-named Mane Street, where transportation is horses-only. There are occasional cowboy brawls (mostly on Saturday afternoons) and a sense that some old character actor might be haunting the jail. If Pioneertown feels like an old movie, that's no surprise—it should.

San Diego: More than 50 Fun Things To Do with Kids

Whether you live in the area or are just visiting, San Diego is a great place to spend some time. What better weekend is there than the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorldLegoland, and the Safari Park? Wherever you live, the SoCal town with the nation's most perfect weather can be a great weekend getaway for families. I grew up going to the Zoo and Sea World, but there are many other ways to enjoy our southern-most county.

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