10 Best Cities for Family Vacations

I remember the first time I, a child raised near farms in the Midwest, ventured to the Windy City with my parents. I thought taxis were thrilling, the skyscrapers were (rightfully) towering into the sky, and the attractions were far better than anything I could sample in my little town, barely a blip on the map.

Although my children were born in Atlanta and raised in its suburbs and could sample the city's treasures, they felt the same wide-eyed wonderment when I took them to their first big city they didn't call home: Washington, D.C. Although they fondly recall the airplanes and dinosaurs at the Smithsonian, it's the taxi ride they loved the most -- the first car ride they had ever taken where they didn't have to sit in a car seat!

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When planning a family vacation, consider big city excursions (even if you live in one) and smile at their wide-eyed wonderment. Here are 10 great kid-friendly cities that offer families a plethora of fun:

#1: New York

You didn't think we'd begin the city adventures anywhere else, did you? There is something for children of all ages, from Broadway plays like "Mary Poppins" and "The Lion King," to Central Park's Zoo and Wildlife Center, the Children's Zoo, horse and carriage rides, and Belvedere Castle, in just a few blocks you can fill an entire weekend. Hop aboard the ferry to the Statue of Liberty or ride the elevator to the top of the Empire State building for everlasting views. Pop into the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a bit of culture. Grab a pretzel or slice of pizza from a street vendor or let the kids sample their first frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity. No matter what you find on every corner, the family is bound to have fun!

Recommended Hotel: New York Marriott Marquis

#2: Boston

This city is a mix of old and new. Boston's past remains a fixture of its present in its brownstones lining cobblestoned roads that have been home to Bostonians since the 1700s, one of the country's oldest standing baseball stadiums, Fenway Park, and shopping and dining in the city's original "mall" at Quincy Market. New buildings house the Children's Museum and New England Aquarium, as well as the Museum of Science, all of which provide kids with hands-on learning opportunies that are also plenty of fun.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Commonwealth

#3: Washington, D.C.

Our nation's capital is one of our nation's greatest cities, for where else can you find 19 museums, all free and open to the public? The Smithsonian's 19 museums, including the Air & Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American Art are, indeed, all free, and will provide days upon days of interactive sightseeing. If that's not enough, there's all of Washington's monuments, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Monument and the Jefferson Monument, all located around the Washington Mall, with views of the White House and the Capitol Building. This city makes kids' history books come to life and simply should not be missed.

Recommended Hotel: Willard Intercontinental Washington

#4: San Francisco

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