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20 places in America to take your kids before they grow up

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 16-01-2008

We’re lucky to live in a country with a huge variety of natural and made-made wonders to see. There’s nothing like seeing these things for the first time, but a very close second best is seeing them with a child. Here is our list of places you should plan to see with your child before they grow up:


Natural wonders

  • The Grand Canyon, Arizona – one of the natural wonders of the world. The first sight will take your breath away.
  • Niagara Falls, New York – kids will be amazed by the 6 million cubic feet of water that go over the falls EVERY minute. Make sure to take the Maid of the Mist boat ride to get the full effect of the falls.
  • Glacier Bay, Alaska – quick before the glacier melts away.
  • Yosemite National Park – photographed endlessly by Weston and Adams, this is the most rugged of all American parks.

Man made wonders

  • Mount Rushmore – so oozing in patriotic fervor, it looks like it would have had to have been created in  Hollywood, if it hadn’t been built by 400 men over 14 years.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge – spans the beautiful San Francisco  Bay and is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.
  • Hoover Dam – big big BIG

Historic Civil War battlefields

  • Gettysburg – the bloodiest battle of the war, and where Lincoln  made his most famous speech.
  • Appomattox – where Lee surrendered to Grant to end the Civil War.
  • Vicksburg – One of the most famous battles, this one to gain control of the  Mississippi.


  • Badlands National Park South Dakota – like a lunar landscape, run over by prairie dogs.
  • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada – just outside Vegas, and one of the most beautiful red sunsets anywhere.
  • Painted Desert, Arizona – home of the petrified forest.
  • Death Valley, California – 280 feet below sea level, unworldly, and perfect for watching the stars.


  • New York – perhaps the greatest city on earth. Your kids won’t believe it. Make sure to see the Statue of Liberty up close.
  • Boston – history abounds, like a book come to life.
  • San Francisco – a one-of-a-kind wonder, perhaps the most beautiful city for natural beauty in the world.
  • Washington DC – center of American democracy, and the ultimate civics lesson.
  • Chicago – the greatest mid-Western city at the soul of America  itself.
  • Savannah Georgia – historic old South, renowned for its architecture.
  • Charleston, S. Carolina – last remaining remnants of the old South before it  Sherman burned it down.

Great beaches

  • Cannon Beach, Oregon – one of the most untouched beaches in the  U.S.
  • Poipu Beach, Hawaii – kid-friendly, with ample opportunities for shallow snorkeling for children.
  • Ocracoke LIfeguard Beach, North Carolina – so private that “banker ponies” still wander freely.

GreatDad recommends Orbitz and Travelocity for travel planning, and for comparison on plane tickets, hotel reservations, and car rentals.

–  Paul Banas