Family Travel: City Survival Advice

Families are packing up the minivan and heading out to make memories more than ever. But anyone who has ever traveled with little tikes knows that there are unforeseen logistics that can throw a kink in any itinerary. Here is our guide to navigating three of the top U.S. cities with the little ones in tow.
New York City’s Statue of Liberty
A family explores New York City’s Statue of Liberty  (Eyecandy Images/Thinkstock)

Americans are done with the notion of the staycation. In fact, more than 80 percent of consumers surveyed by Orbitz said they plan on taking a vacation this summer. For families that means loading up the car or rolling through the airport to head somewhere fun, educational, and family-friendly before the kids head back to school. Here’s how families can navigate summer’s top destinations with the kiddos in tow:

With two major airports, solid public transportation, five pro-sports teams, and a lakefront with ample water activities, families can choose from a wide variety of Chicago vacations. Millennium Park’s famous “Bean” is a must-see on the way to the waterfront and Navy Pier. The Chicago Children’s Museum is close to the pier and has many family activities—from riding the Ferris Wheel to catching movies at the IMAX theater. Meanwhile, mom can slip away to the Magnificent Mile shopping district while Dad and the kids check out the breathtaking views from the top of the John Hancock Building and the skydeck at the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower.

Washington, D.C.
Away's D.C. Family Travel Survival Guide reinforces that the District is the perfect place for a big-city family getaway. Divided into four manageable quadrants and home to one of the cleanest subway systems in the country, Washington, D.C., makes it easy to have a fun (and even slightly educational) summer break. Nearly everything is open to tour, from the Capitol Building in the heart of the city to the National Cathedral in Glover Park. The Washington Monument offers an elevator ride that can whisk the whole family up over 555 feet where they can view panoramic scenes spanning 30 miles, and the Kennedy Center rooftop terrace offers a bird’s-eye view of Georgetown, Arlington, and the east side of the National Mall. Greenscapes such as Rock Creek Park and Alexandria’s Founders Park allow a slip away into nature and are just steps from the city. But perhaps the best thing about a trip to D.C. is that there are plenty of free things to do, thanks in large part to the Smithsonian’s 20 properties, including the National Zoo (which are all free).
*Editor's Note: The Washington Monument is closed until further notice due to the August 2011 earthquake. Check the National Park Service website for updates.

New York
To a tourist, New York City can seem overwhelming. But with a map and a little bit of planning, the Big Apple can be conquered without losing sanity or members of the family. One of the keys to exploring NYC is to take it in bite-size sections (or neighborhoods). Thankfully, New York has one of the best public-transportation systems in the world. It takes more than 3.5 million people to and from the office each day, and subway lines run up and down the East and West sides of the island, across town, and even down to Nathan’s hot dogs in Coney Island.  Must-see landmarks include the New York Public Library, Union Station, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, Central Park, Times Square, Ground Zero, Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, and, if timed right, a Yankee’s game in the team’s new stadium. A trip to NYC also offers nearly every type of food a palette can desire—from corned beef and pastrami sandwiches in Times Square to greasy gyros from street vendors.

Published: 10 Jul 2012 | Last Updated: 24 Jul 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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