14 Travel Experiences Kids Should Have Before They Grow Up


There’s a lot to see and do with kids in this great big wide world, but here are 14 1/2 travel experiences all kids should have in the United States before they are grown up. From musicals to race cars and massive trees to cruising on the high seas, these travel experiences for kids are as diverse as our country.

Here are my favorite 14 travel experiences kids should have before they grow up. We haven’t done them all yet, but we’re getting there — it’s a race against time as the Bear turns 12 in a month!

What would you add to this list?

1) Spend a June afternoon at Road America in Wisconsin on Pirelli World Challenge weekend. Walk around the paddocks, meet the drivers and watch as all kinds of cars do battle on this classic American road track.

Kia-Racing-Road-America Mark Wilkins Car During the Race

2) Enjoy an evening after dark riding the Cyclone, Matterhorn and Ferris Wheel at Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver. It’s the most fun you can have in a time machine without figuring out how to invent a time machine. Meaning, this place is old and hasn’t been made modern yet.



3) Make new best friends while sailing through international waters in Carnival Cruise line’s remarkable (and free!) Camp Carnival program.

Carnival Sunshine Camp Carnival_Travel Experiences Kids Should Have Before Growing Up

4) See a Broadway musical. It can be Hamilton if they’re older (not that I know how to get cheap tickets to see Hamilton), Wicked, Matilda, or whatever else they want, but pay the price so that your kids can see at least one musical on the great white way before they grow up.

hamilton musical

5) Explore one of the iconic gems of the National Park system. I’m talking about taking your kids to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon.

13 Travel Experience Kids Should Have Before They Grow Up_Yosemite

6) Catch a day baseball game at Wrigley Field. The team is better nowadays and the ballpark has been upgraded too, but the early 20th century charm hasn’t been lost. Just as baseball opening day should be a national holiday, every American child, whether they care about the sport or not, should see at least one day game in this northside Chicago landmark.

Wrigley Field

7) Take a selfie with the Hollywood sign while posing like a model, pretending to hold it up, or blowing it a kiss.


8) Go hiking in and quietly stand among a gigantic forest of coastal redwood trees. Even rambunctious kids can let the serenity of these ancient redwood trees overtake them.


9) Drive across the whole of Kansas, the measuring stick for boredom. Your kids will then never be able to say “I’m so bored” again.


10) Hear and see jazz performed inside Preservation Hall in New Orleans.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

11) Eat BBQ in Memphis, TN. Or Oklahoma City. Or Raleigh, NC. Or Austin, TX. Or Kansas City. Or all of them, because they are all different styles and flavors of barbecue…and all delicious in their own way.


12) Interact with actors in period piece costumes, like at Conner Prairie Historical Park in Indianapolis, IN.


13) Ride the retro space age elevators up inside the St. Louis Arch. Even though we’ve done this twice, I still cannot comprehend that there are elevators inside that thing when I see it on TV or standing beneath it in person. Kids should experience the St. L0uis Arch elevator before they grow up, and then go back with their own kids many years from now.



13.5) Oh, and while in St. Louis, every kid needs a day of free range play inside the City Museum. It is the greatest place to be a child in America.

13 Travel Experience Kids Should Have Before They Grow Up_St Louis City Museum

14) Feel the intense dry heat of Death Valley. There’s nothing like it. Your kids will never complain about the heat in your hometown again after feeling 115, 116 or 117 degrees hundreds of feet below sea level.


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