Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

With summer quickly approaching, families are eagerly planning their next vacation. But when traveling with kids, all destinations are not created equal. If you want to enjoy some family time minus all the frustration, consider taking a kid-friendly journey:

Dine, Whale Watch and Sightsee on a Cruise

Alaska, Mexico, Greece, Hawaii — take your pick and instead of booking flights and hotels, choose to cruise instead. You’ll be able to enjoy family-friendly entertainment while on board and experience your destination city through daily excursions. Many cruise lines cater to families, offering onboard rock walls, miniature golf courses, bowling alleys and water parks. Though many cruise ships offer onboard WiFi access, pricing tends to be expensive. If you want to call home, remotely access your security system or check in at the office, wait until you disembark and find an Internet cafe instead.

Trek Through National Parks

With nearly 400 national parks across the U.S., there are many outdoor summer vacation opportunities to choose from. Explore the geothermal features of Yellowstone while waiting for Old Faithful to blow. Hike or ride horseback across the beautiful terrain, pointing out any wildlife you see. Or visit Yosemite and tour groves of giant sequoias. If interested, your kids can even become junior rangers (and earn a Junior Ranger patch) by completing a self-guided booklet.

Snorkel, Swim and Sunbath at the Beach

Besides hanging out at one of its many gorgeous beaches, San Diego has plenty of free fun for the whole family. Spend the morning sampling fresh produce at a colorful farmers’ market. Watch sea lions play at La Jolla Cove. Museum hop at Balboa Park — many of which offer free admission on Tuesdays. Roast marshmallows on one of the county’s bonfire-friendly beaches. And of course if you’re willing to spend money, there’s always Sea World and the world famous San Diego Zoo.

Museum Hop Around Washington D.C.

Rediscover history with your kids while exploring our nation’s capital by bike, bus or on foot. Wander through the Smithsonian museums, touching a moon rock at the National Air and Space Museum or seeing a recreated woolly mammoth at the National Museum of Natural History. Don’t miss other national monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial and Capital Hill. To keep the kids happy, stop off at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens or National Zoo as well.

Road Trip Across the Northwest

Stop your road trip in San Fransisco long enough to bustle through Fisherman’s Wharf and catch a glimpse of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Explore the city by cable car then travel down the coast stopping by the many famed beaches and eventually making your way through Los Angeles. A detour to Hollywood could keep you busy for a day, but after you’ve had your share of museums and amusement parks, head west to Las Vegas. Spend a night or two in Sin City, walking the strip and catching a few family-friendly shows. Drive four hours then hike your way to a campground in the Grand Canyon for the night. After a few days of roughing it, you could go home or continue north stopping off in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.