With a third of a billion people, 3.8 million square miles, and eighteen of the world’s 100 largest cities, the USA has an embarrassment of riches for the tourist. With so many places to choose from, a multi destination holiday is a good option.
The USA is a great place for families, with legendary customer service, and every conceivable type of attraction, including music, arts, culture, open spaces, bustling cities, night-life, restaurants, theme parks, even history! They even speak the same language… well, almost.
Here’s a brief selection of multi destination family holiday ideas, but with so many variables you will, no doubt, want to put together your own itinerary.
Multi-centre Family Holidays with Young Children
Everywhere you go in the USA, there are things to do for all ages, but for families with young children, the first place you are likely to think of is Walt Disney World, Florida.
But let’s start with America’s largest city, New York City. It’s not just the fantastic shopping on Fifth Avenue, with world famous stores like Bloomingdales, and Macey’s - it’s not just Broadway, with a huge range of spectacular hit musicals, including plenty for children of all ages – and it’s not just the fact that almost every street corner reveals a location from a blockbuster movie.
New York is famous for hot dogs, but you can also take the family on a pizza-tasting bus tour, a chocolate tour of Brooklyn, and a cupcake tour of Greenwich Village. Are you hungry yet? The Empire State Building is world famous, but some say the Top of the Rock is better because from there you can see the Empire State! You have to visit Central Park with the carousel, Heckscher playground and more, there’s the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian and cycle walkway, Museum of Natural History, to mention just a few attractions.
Then there’s Florida. Orlando is not just the home of Disney’s collection of parks; Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Disney World, Blizzard Beach, and Animal Kingdom – Universal pictures are close by, offering Volcano Bay, Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, A day in the park with Barney (the dinosaur), and of course the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The only problem you might have is deciding which parks you don’t have time to visit.
Having, hopefully, worn out the kids with all the fun of the theme park, you could relax and enjoy some people watching on South Beach, take a stroll along the boardwalk, cruise on Ocean Drive, and shop and dine on Lincoln Road. If you still need to keep the youngsters amused, there’s the Miami Children’s Museum, and Jungle Island reopens in spring 2018 (after repairs following hurricane Irma).
Multi-centre Family Holidays with Teenagers
While NYC is the largest city in the USA and, by the way, an amazing place to take teenagers and grandparents too - over on the west coast - Los Angeles is the second largest city in the USA and is, famously, the home of Hollywood. Like any large city, it has plenty of great shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment for all ages, as well as being in Southern California, an amazingly diverse state. You could surf on Malibu Beach in the morning, then ski at Bear Mountain in the afternoon. Visit the Hollywood walk of fame, take one of the many tours available, or really splash out on a helicopter flight over the city. With teenagers especially, don’t miss out on Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And of course, Disneyland may be a lot smaller than its Florida counterpart, but it’s still amazing.
Chicago is the third largest city after New York and Los Angeles. Lying on the edge of Lake Michigan it is famous for its architecture, as well as being the “Windy City” although the origin of the nickname is disputed. For sports fans, a visit to Wrigley Field (Baseball) and Soldier Field (American Football) would seem worthwhile, but two of the biggest tourist attractions are Millennium Park and Navy Pier. Millennium Park is a 24-acre corner of the much larger Grant Park and offers a variety of attractions. Since it is built over an underground carpark and railway station, it is arguably the world’s largest rooftop garden. The Navy Pier is over a kilometre long and over 100 metres wide, crammed with attractions and amusements. For comparison, it is about four times the size of Brighton’s Palace Pier! Chicago is also the home of Lincoln Park, including the free zoo, the Magnificent Mile, the Sears Tower, and the Art Institute of Chicago and much more.
Boston is one the oldest cities in the USA, having been settled in the 17th Century. Later it became a focus of the War of Independence, the Boston Tea Party being the most famous of several events. You can visit Paul Revere’s house and stand on the spot where the Boston Massacre occurred, while Faneuil Hall offers a combination of history and shopping all in one. If sport is your thing, you’ll probably want to make a pilgrimage to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912, and of the celebrated “Babe Ruth”. Every city in America can offer excellent food and drink to suit all tastes and budgets, but while in Boston, TV comedy fans of a certain age may want to track down the bar that inspired Cheers, although perhaps not with any teenagers in tow.
Multi-centre Family Holidays with Grandparents
Remember, you could just as easily take younger, or older, family members on any multi destination family holiday in the USA. But let’s look at three more fantastic locations with older holidaymakers in mind. Hawaii, San Francisco, and Washington DC.
Oahu is Hawaii’s most populated island. Pearl Harbor is an obvious destination, then consider the Bishop Museum and Polynesian Cultural Center. Horseback riding at Turtle Bay is popular, relax with a Mai Tai and lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants, or simply laze about on sandy beaches. Alternatively, the largest Island in the state of Hawaii (also called Hawaii but also known as Big Island) has a slightly more laid-back character. With at least half a dozen botanical gardens, numerous impressive waterfalls, five volcanos, zoos, museums, and the Mauna Kea observatory. Take a drive around the rim of Kilauea Caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
New York has served as the backdrop for over two thousand feature films, Los Angeles has featured in well over a thousand and San Francisco comes in third with 393 films, so as the song says, ‘let’s go to San Francisco’. The first thing to tick off the bucket list is Alcatraz Island, where you can see first-hand, where prisoners like Al Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, and Robert Stroud ‘The Birdman of Alcatraz’, were held, and hear their stories from professional guides. San Francisco city guides can take you on a free walking tour of the Golden Gate Bridge, and there are a visitor centre and outdoor exhibits. You’ll want to go on a cable car (not wheelchair accessible) if only to say you’ve done it, and Golden Gate Park has much to offer including the Japanese Tea Gardens and Botanical Gardens.
Washington DC isn’t even in the top twenty largest cities in America, but it comes in fifth on that league table of film backdrops I mentioned. Naturally, America’s capital city is also home to many famous monuments and buildings, as well as plenty of history; the White House and Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Museum and National Gallery of Art, Ford’s Theatre (where Lincoln was assassinated) and the National Arboretum. As ever, the biggest problem here is what to visit in a limited time period.
Rest assured, there’s plenty to do for every age group, on any multi destination family holiday in the USA, so don’t let these few suggestions limit your imagination. Create your own holiday, you’re sure to ‘have a nice stay’.
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