April Family Travel Guide

Exploratorium Lobby, San Francisco
San Francisco’s Exploratorium bustles with families ready for hands-on activities that educate and entertain folks of all ages (courtesy, Exploratorium)

Louisville, Kentucky's Slugger Museum
The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory sits a ball toss away from where "Bud" Hillerich created the first Louisville Slugger at his father's woodworking shop in 1884. Since that time, almost every baseball great has held an adaptation of this bat on his shoulder, waiting to clobber a ball over the centerfield fence. Famous bats on the walls include the one Hank Aaron used to hit homers 698, 699, and 700, and the 1927 Louisville Slugger Babe Ruth came to the plate with to hit 21 home runs. Ruth carved 21 notches on the top of the bat, one for each round-tripper. Tour the factory and purchase your own personalized bat at the gift store on the way out.

Solitude Mountain, Utah
Former home of the Winter Olympics, Park City generates most of the buzz when it comes to skiing in Utah. Yet, magnificent ski areas outside of Park City stand worthy of your attention. Only a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City, Solitude's 10,000-foot peak averages more than 500 inches of snowfall each season. With little or no lift lines and a great terrain park, it's a hit with families. On Easter Sunday, Peter Cottontail skies down the bunny hill to start the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

San Francisco's Exploratorium
Listen up! A new exhibition at San Francisco's Exploratorium delves into the art of listening. See how quietly you can walk down an aisle, find out if you can hear the slightest vibration from a tuning fork, and learn how well you listen on a telephone. Housed within the walls of San Fran's Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium contains countless hands-on activities that investigate the realms of science and art. Be forewarned, the exhibit mesmerizes parents just as much as their children. For once, your kids will be tearing you away.

Fiesta San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Held each April to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, Fiesta San Antonio is a ten-day party with more than 100 events, including parades, live music, mucho food, sports, and pageantry. The Fiesta features Cornyation—a humorous show lampooning San Antonio headlines and personalities, the St. Mary's Oyster Bake, and the Women's Fiesta Soccer Tournament, featuring top teams from around the nation.

Saint Albans, Vermont
In the heart of maple country, Saint Albans, Vermont celebrates its world renowned maple harvest with their annual Vermont Maple Festival, held in April. Sample the maple-covered popcorn and maple cotton candy, and view the coronation of the Maple Queen and King. But the highlight for most is the pancake breakfast, served with authentic maple syrup. Grab several jugs on your way out.

Washington, D.C.
One of the latest attractions to entice families to Washington, D.C., the Spy Museum lies just four blocks from the National Mall, and offers an intriguing peek into the craft and history of espionage. The old standbys continue to please visitors as well, including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Mint (where, unfortunately, they don't give away free samples), and the Air & Space Museum, all of which bring children's history lessons to life. April features the height of the cherry blossom bloom, culminating in a parade, usually mid-month.

Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Only a few miles east of Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Saint John has virtually nothing in common with its overdeveloped neighbor. More than 60 percent of the island and its surrounding waters comprise Virgin Islands National Park, an oasis in the Caribbean for the active family. Twenty hiking trails weave through the arid and semi-tropical terrain past some 800 species of plants. On the shore, white sand beaches lead to coral-covered bays (Trunk and Leinster are two of the best), where snorkelers spend hours mesmerized by neon-colored fish. Spend your evenings at Maho Bay Camps, where owner Stan Selengut has reaped accolades for his eco-sensitive resort featuring 114 tent-like cottages woven into the tapestry of the landscape.

Whale Watching in Oregon
Every spring, gray whales make their way north from the breeding grounds of Baja California to the summer playground of the Bering Sea. Traveling about five miles per hour, it takes the whale some three weeks to make the journey, passing the scenic Oregon coast in late March and April. Stop in Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock, the artsy little hamlet of Yachats, backed by verdant Cape Perpetua, and Sea Lion Caves, where you take an elevator down 200 feet to view hundreds of sea lions squawking on the rocks.

Costa Rica
Bordered by both the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica certainly has its fair share of beaches. While the beaches impress, the active volcanoes, mangrove swamps, lowland jungle, rainforests, and cloud forests will amaze every traveler. Find 850 species of birds, including toucans and parrots, 600 species of butterflies, and such exotic mammals as three-toed sloths, tapirs, and giant anteaters. Must-see stops include the Monteverde Cloud Forest and the volcano at Rincón de la Vieja National Park.

Walt Disney World, FL
Visit Disney's four theme parks including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, or Animal Kingdom Park, and you'll surely find something to please each member of the family. Sail on magic carpets, dive down waterfalls, and hurtle through space, or visit Cinderella's Castle, the Haunted Mansion, and Tom Sawyer Island. Indeed, dreams are coming true at Walt Disney World.


Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at farandaway@comcast.net.

Published: 23 Feb 2007 | Last Updated: 22 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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