This summer, leading online travel community IgoUgo.com is providing plenty of fodder for “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essays with its top ten most unexpected city escapes for family travel.
“IgoUgo’s community is diverse enough to offer inspiration for families of all shapes and sizes,” said Cameron Siewert, editorial director at IgoUgo. “Our members have put cities around the world to the test, and they’ve discovered some unexpected ideas for memorable family vacations this summer. Of course, we encourage anyone who visits these or other family-friendly destinations to share their travel photos and reviews at IgoUgo.”
IgoUgo’s editors combed through thousands of recommendations from real travelers, and they found plenty of ways for families to avoid the serpentine lines and high prices of traditional hot spots in favor of quirkier—but equally fun—destinations. Without further ado, the top 10 most unexpected family escapes for summer travel are:
Despite the rising mercury in Tucson’s summer months, “be ready to spend lots of time outdoors,” says an IgoUgo member and local dad of two. Top places to visit: the Reid Park Zoo; the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; Tucson Electric Park (great seating for families with little ones); the grown-up science fair Biosphere 2; and the 6,000-foot Mount Lemmon for a picnic with scenic views.
London’s museums and leafy parks won over a British IgoUgo member and his restless one-year-old son on a recent trip. Top places to visit: the Science Museum; the Tower of London; the Original London Walks (including Harry Potter tours); the iconic London Bridge; and London’s own take on the ferris wheel, the London Eye.
It took only a few hours to make one IgoUgo member and young mom a believer in Duluth; the northern Minnesota city is packed with “space for kids to run wild.” Top places to visit: Canal Park for boat-watching; the Aerial Lift Bridge; Lake Superior Zoo and Great Lakes Aquarium; Park Point Recreation Area for strawberry-picking; and Jay Cooke State Park for family-friendly hikes.
Follow our Canuck IgoUgo members to the Nova Scotia capital of Halifax for “a day-long family party” a few days before the official Canada Day (July 1). Top places to visit: the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History; the International Tattoo Parade; Nova Scotian Crystal for mesmerizing crystal-blowing demonstrations; and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic for ghost- and pirate-story nights just for kids.
An IgoUgo member and father of two little ones recommends skipping the theme parks in favor of Orlando’s less crowded attractions. Top places to visit: Ripley’s Believe It or Not; Orlando’s only upside-down building; the Kennedy Space Center for budding astronauts; Pirate’s Cove Miniature Golf; and Daytona USA.
For families that take a different shape, one IgoUgo member and California resident brings us Provincetown, Massachusetts, where Family Week is held each August for gay parents and their children to enjoy organized beach picnics, movie nights, performances, and clam bakes. Top places to visit: Cabot’s Candy and Highland Creamery (just outside P’town); MacMillan Wharf for dolphin- and whale-watching excursions; the adventure-ready sand dunes; and pirate cruises for kids.
Traveling to Stockholm with his six-year-old son, one of IgoUgo’s most frequent contributors was delighted by the Swedish capital’s array of kid-friendly offerings. Top places to visit: the canal for historical sightseeing tours; an open-air living history museum; the Story Train for a ride devoted to the creator of Pippi Longstocking; and a Scandinavian amusement park with roller coasters and more.
3. Quebec City
Alongside Parisian cafes and historical buildings, this capital city reveals a surprisingly kid-friendly side, as one IgoUgo member discovered on a trip with her five-year-old grandson. Top places to visit: the annual Quebec City Summer Festival; the zoo and aquarium; Montmorancy Falls; the Wax Museum of Quebec; and Les Dames de Soie, a local shop that specializes in handmade dolls.
A G-rated Amsterdam might sound too good to be true, but IgoUgo members beg to differ. One young mother and frequent traveler from Atlanta, Georgia, found numerous opportunities to keep her 12-year-old son entertained—at a safe distance from the city’s famous coffee shops and Red Light District. Top places to visit: the Amsterdam Dungeon; the Anne Frank House; interactive science museum Nemo; and the area’s colorful windmill displays.
1. Atlantic City
Skip the casinos in favor of Atlantic City’s all-ages attractions, as one IgoUgo member did when her whole family arrived from Ohio last summer. Top places to visit: Steel Pier; the jaw-dropping show of acrobatics at Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy; and Lucy the Elephant (a national historic landmark) in nearby Margate, a six-story, elephant-shaped building that dates from 1881. The beautiful Atlantic coastline is hugged by an action-packed boardwalk and dotted with public beaches.