Traveling with a little one can be complicated, especially when that little one starts toddling around.
Vacations with toddlers can be disastrous and unenjoyable if the location doesn’t have any toddler-friendly amenities.
You need to know ahead of time, that there’s going to be something to engage your little traveler.
Where to visit with toddlers in the USA? Here are 9 toddler-friendly places across the U.S.:
- Columbia, South Carolina
- Orlando, Florida
- Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
- Carlsbad, California
- Plano, Texas
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Branson, Missouri
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Atlanta, Georgia
With little ones, you can’t just go somewhere and hope for the best; you need to be prepared.
They need entertainment, space, and plenty of ways to let out all their energy. As such, we’ve picked out 9 places that can wow a toddler in the USA.
Columbia, South Carolina
It may not be on your list of dream vacations, but Columbia SC has a lot to offer. Columbia is filled to the brink with local activities to do and interesting places to visit with your toddler.
One of the nice things about Columbia is that is in the center of the state, so if you’re wanting to explore the surrounding towns or cities none of them are too far away.
There are two must-haves on your vacation itinerary:
- EdVenture Museum
- The Riverbanks Zoo
EdVenture Museum is a unique, 92,000 square ft. museum full of interactive exhibits dedicated to teaching children – toddlers included – the inner workings of all kinds of systems in a fun and safe way.
It is home to “Eddie” the world’s largest child” – a 40-foot statue and exhibit.
Exhibits include the human body, water canals, agriculture, fire rescue, and more. Kids will get to explore Eddie’s massive jungle gym-type body and park.
The Riverbanks Zoo is equally impressive with its multiple rotating exhibits. You can visit the reptiles, explore other botanical gardens, play and there’s a small splash park, and feed the birds in their interactive bird exhibit.
NOTE: If that’s not enough, head to Charleston and walk the boardwalk or visit the aquarium.
Fun Activities in Columbia
Columbia is filled with fun extracurricular activities that can fill an afternoon or morning.
- They have a local trampoline park called Hiwire that offers hourly services. Depending on which location you visit, they may also have an arcade, bubble soccer field, or laser tag.
- Downtown Columbia is also filled with cool places to visit and fun things to do. You can take your kids to the Mad Platter to make glass seahorses, pet-themed plates, Harry Potter inspired ceramics, and more! Before that you could stop by the Riverwalk and enjoy a beautiful morning by the water and allow the kids to play in the park.
- Downtown will also capture their attention with its specialty ice cream shop and the center fountain dyed for each month activities!
One of the most popular places to visit due to their many tourist attractions and theme parks; Orlando, Florida is an amazing place to take children of all ages, even toddlers.
The trouble with Orlando is typically the expenses. Almost everywhere that your kid would have fun is going to break the bank if you spend more than a day there, but you can get around this if you plan carefully.
Let’s start off with a big one!
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World
The biggest park of them all – or at least it seems like it is there – Walt Disney World. A little kid’s dream come true and a perfect way to spend the day and tire them out while they have fun.
Pick one of the parks within Disney that you believe they will have the most fun. The best one for toddlers is the Magic Kingdom, but the Animal Kingdom is a close second. Each have plenty of interactive stations and rides, like the tiki hut or Tom Sawyer’s Island!
A really sweet treat would be to get a reservation at the character buffet and let them meet some of their favorite characters!
Universal Studios Volcano Bay
If you’re going in the summer, you may want to check out Universal Studios Volcano Bay. They have tons of activities for toddlers like:
- Tapu Spots
- Volcano Exploring
- Splash Park
- Lazy Rivers
- Tot Tiki Reef
NOTE: A Tapu is a bracelet that you receive when you enter the park that allows you to interact with certain areas.
You can scan your bracelet at a station, and something will happen – you may squirt water, make bubbles, or start waterfalls!
Interesting Finds in Orlando
Not everything is as mainstream as Universal or Disney, there are plenty of things that are off the beaten path.
- There is a personal favorite – the Chocolate Kingdom. This is a tour that you and your toddlers get to experience of how chocolate is made and where it is from. Your toddler will get to taste a cocoa bean, Aztec chocolate milk, unsweetened chocolate and more during the tour. There is even a miniature chocolate kingdom inside!
- If you’re willing to travel a little bit, you can visit some of Florida’s natural attractions such as a spring or beach. There is a beautiful natural spring only 45 minutes from Disney called Wakiwa that you can swim in as well as Paddleboard, kayak, and canoe.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Tennessee is a beautiful state with gorgeous and interesting cities, and they offer tons of family activities.
With so many things to do, you will never have a boring day or find yourself stuck not knowing if there is anything to do – if anything, you’ll have a hard time picking from so many choices!
Although Tennessee is well-known, some of their best activities are not. They have attractions of all types for any toddler.
- Dollywood. One of the more popular attractions, Dollywood, is a great place to start! You can ride on the Dollywood Express or explore her childhood home. You should definitely make time for the county fair – a section of the park dedicated to little kids – and visit all the play areas located within the park.
- Goats on the Roof. If you’re searching for a quick thrill with your little one, Pigeon Forge has something for that too! Their infamous alpine coaster, Goats on the Roof. This affordable ride down a mountain, seats both you and your toddler comfortably. You can ride fast or slow yourself down with the brakes, depending on your mood!
Need something else to do? Try Wonderworks. It may not be the most original, but kids will be fascinated!
Pigeon Forge is a mixture of natural beauty and tourist attractions, making it the perfect place to explore and kill time.
This city is built for family fun and you can enjoy it by visiting the wax museum, the Great Smoky Mountain, or Firefly village.
If you’re trying to find something less time consuming, try visiting their Big Top Arcade or Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.
You can even set up a dinner at the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show.
TIP: Head a couple towns over to Gatlinburg and enjoy their rustic city-sights.
Carlsbad in sunny California is known for its peaceful beaches and gorgeous scenery. It’s one of the best places to bring your little ones.
Carlsbad is also known for having LEGOLAND, but that’s not the only thing they have to offer to enjoy as a family. (Though, don’t skip LEGOLAND. The kids will love it and so will you!)
Do you want to know more about Legoland? Check out this article.
- LEGOLAND. So, yes, if you’re going to Carlsbad, you need to visit LEGOLAND. It has everything you need to make your toddlers happy. It has everything from LEGO™ pits to LEGO™-themed rides along with other interactive LEGO™ activities. You can even stay at a LEGO™-themed hotels!
- Sea Life Aquarium. Right next to LEGOLAND is the Sea Life Aquarium which offers tons of touch pools for kids to experience and learn. Even though this makes for a quick trip, you can also do the quiz trail which has ten questions that kids can go around and answer the questions by looking at the exhibits; of course, you may need to help them out with that one.
- Go-Karts. You can also try racing go-karts! Your little ones may be too small to ride all by themselves, but they can definitely enjoy riding beside you. They’ll love having the wind blow on their face and racing against others.
- Chuao Factory. Take some time and try exploring how chocolate is made and where it comes from. Chuao has a guided tour.
It wouldn’t be a vacation if you couldn’t enjoy some of the beautiful sights found in California – and there are plenty of family activities that allow you all to enjoy them.
Try taking a helicopter tour, and while this activity is going to be a hit or miss, it just depends on what your toddler is comfortable with.
Some have trouble with loud noises and may not feel comfortable up in the sky, but others will enjoy the view and find it cool that you can look down on the city.
If buzzing around in a ‘copter is not for you there are still plenty of places to enjoy the sights that California has to offer and that will keep your kids entertained as well:
- Carlsbad Flower Field
- Leo Carrillo Ranch
- Batiquitos Lagoon Walks
- Cape Rey Carlsbad
- Aviara Community Park
The most fun might be had at Batiquitos Lagoon, you’ll not only be taking walks, but they also have fun parks and areas where toddlers can play and have fun.
Plano, Texas is a buzzing city designed to thrive but is not designed to cater towards tourists and would not be on your vacation list if you did not have toddlers. That being said, your toddler will love traveling to Plano.
There are plenty of places to visit and activities for them to enjoy and learn a little on the way. It has everything from play camps to food fun, making sure you’ll never run out of things to do!
The Crayola Experience. This is the number one place to take your toddlers while in Plano. It can keep them busy for the whole day or even a couple days as the season pass tickets are slightly more than the one-day ticket.
Crayola offers many different experiences for a toddler:
- They can make their own crayon with a unique name that they come up with.
- They get to make shapes out of melted wax, color pictures using special melting markers, play with play-doh, and much more.
- You’ll be able to stay for a whole day – and possibly come back the next!
The Play Street Museum. A Plano specialty that you may not have heard of but should still try is the Play Street Museum.
You not only get to play in their play area, but each time you visit, you get to make and paint a piece of pottery to take home.
Hopefully you end up visiting when they have a special event called “paint and play” where they can paint a themed piece of pottery.
The Play Street Museum may be slightly more affordable to visit than Crayola during your vacation, but both would make a memorable experience for your toddlers.
If they happen to really like one or the other, they both offer passes for multiple days of entertainment and activities!
Play Gyms and Areas
Plano is filled to the brim with play gyms and areas that are designed to make your little ones happy. They each have different themes and set-ups to create an interesting and eye-catching play area.
One of the best ones that is highly recommended due to its attention to cleanliness and safety. It is called the “Safari Run” and has an amazing themed play area set up for children.
They offer healthy snacks and try their best to make sure that nothing is brought in that could cause an allergic reaction, like peanut butter.
There is also the CooCoos, a place that is centered around bouncy houses and set for open play. They have bouncy castles, slides, and tunnels that are just the right size for your toddler.
Another fun place to try out is Jumpstreet! They have tons of trampolines as well as platforms to jump off of. They also have challenge courses set up to test your abilities. And of course, it is completely safe as all the pits are filled with soft foam to prevent injuries!
There is no shortage of fun when visiting Indianapolis, and that is for both toddlers and parents.
Since it is such a large city, it has the ability to provide tons of interesting places to visit and things to do. This includes:
- Water parks
With so many things to do, it’s hard to pick your favorites, but in this city, you can’t really go wrong with any place or thing you choose!
Best of The State
Indianapolis truly brings out the best of the state with all the activities that they offer. Even though you can’t go wrong choosing what to do, there are a few things that you should definitely add to your list. Even though they’re toddlers, you’ll want to make sure their trip is memorable.
You don’t want to miss experiencing the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis where there are over 29 acres of space featuring amazing exhibits.
There are fun activities everywhere you turn, but most of the time, toddlers will head straight for the Playscape. You should also try the Sports Legends Experience of you visit during the summer.
The Indianapolis Zoo is not too far away and is another perfect toddler experience. It is one of the most amazing zoos in the entire country, making it a trip to remember.
They’ll get to make faces at the orangutans, watch dolphins flip during the dolphin show, pet sharks in the shark tank, and feed the flamingos while they “kiss” your toes.
When visiting Indianapolis, you need to keep in mind that their summers are hot and humid, which means that you’ll need to find somewhere to cool off.
That’s where the Waterpark at the Monon Community Center comes in. They have a wave pool and a wall climb called the AquaClimb as well as the classics like the lazy river.
Something for Parents and Kids
What makes Indianapolis special is that they have plenty of locations that are designed for both their parents and their child’s enjoyment.
There is a cute, small cafe called “The Urban Cafe” located in Carmel that is perfect for a rainy day. You get to enjoy bottomless coffee while your toddlers get to play and learn.
They get to enjoy playing with LEGO™, making music, and doing yoga. There are also family nights which offer pizza and family games.
Books and Brews is another place that is great for both parent and toddler. It offers beer to parents while also being a used bookstore designed for children.
The store has fun games and puzzles in addition to their book collection for toddlers and children to play with and read.
Indianapolis offers one of the best things that brings parents and toddlers together – ice cream!
RECOMMENDATION: Traders Point Creamery has some of the best (and homemade ice cream and milkshakes).
This dairy farm and creamery make sure that all their products are grass-fed and organic, creating the ideal dessert for all.
While most of the other destinations are focused in the city, Branson offers a beautiful countryside that is fun to camp at. Of course, if that’s not your style, you can still have fun in the city.
Branson is very versatile in what they offer, that’s what makes it one of the best locations. It may also have something to do with the fact that they have what might be considered a toddler’s dream destination.
Dreams Come True in Branson
The main attraction and the thing that your toddlers will go crazy over is the “World’s Largest Toy Museum”. The museum actually consists of six different museums that cover all kinds of toys that will interest all toddlers, some of the attractions include:
- Cast Iron Toys
- Classic Cars
- Lion King
- Lunch Boxes
- Pull Toys
- Tin Toys
- Western Toys
They also have interactive exhibits scattered throughout the museums to ensure that your toddlers and children remain interested. They have things like a Hot Wheels Track, Lincoln Logs, checkers, and tons of coin-operated rides.
The museum is not only for them, but for you! As you walk through, you’ll be hit with the strongest sense of nostalgia that will bring you back to your own childhood.
With everyone having fun, the Toy is the highlight of any family vacation.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Branson has a beautiful scenery that offers amazing experiences. Besides the simple joys of camping, fishing, and sitting around a campfire, the city offers even more outdoor activities that your toddlers are guaranteed to love; but if you are more of an indoors-family, then there are plenty of activities to try!
You can become immersed into the rainforest world by visiting The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure. It is a self-guided journey of a large venue filled with foliage through the Banyan Tree Adventure or the Emerald Forest Mirror Maze.
You’ll want to take a trip to their Aviary where you get to walk around surrounded by thousands of butterflies.
Also try visiting Fritz’s Adventure. They bring tons of fun outdoor adventures into a huge indoor environment.
You can try climbing, tunneling, sliding, or zip-lining all indoors. Fritz’s Adventure encourages kids to touch and climb while in a safe environment, something that they typically would not be allowed to do.
Whether or not you’ve ever been to Philadelphia, once you are there you will quickly see why it is one of the best vacation destinations for toddlers. They have massive attractions that will keep your toddler entertained for hours.
Even while chasing around your little ones, you’ll still be able to enjoy the sights and the museums you visit!
Tons of Fun
Philadelphia has plenty of places to visit and most of them have a cool little twist to them! With so many museums, they managed to keep them interesting and entertaining.
That is the situation with the Please Touch Museum which is the Children’s Museum of Philadelphia.
This museum lists that the “children are the boss” and allows them to interact with (almost. everything in the building to discover how it works.
Toddlers can find animals in the high grass and a lily pond located in Nature’s Pond or listen to the stories and nursery rhymes in the Fairytale Garden.
They also get to have fun in The Supermarket, a section designed to allow the children to stock shelves, load up carts, and ring up the order.
Another option is to visit The Franklin Institute, a science museum that is filled with kid-friendly activities like:
- Giant Heart
- Space Command
- Sir Isaac’s Loft
- Amazing Machine
- Train Factory
- The Franklin Air Show
- Changing Earth
They’ll be so busy playing that they will not even realize that they are learning – creating a win-win situation for both you and them.
Even More Activities in Philly
Philadelphia is home to the one and only theme park focused entirely on the children’s television show Sesame Street – Sesame Place Theme Park and Water Park.
At the park, you and your toddlers can enjoy rides, interactive activities, parades, fireworks, and shows. If you go during the summer, you can enjoy their water park which is open until Memorial Day.
Also try checking out the Philadelphia Zoo which was the first in the United States and contains over 1,300 animals. The zoo has a unique train going through exhibits called the Zoo360.
Atlanta may have plenty of interesting sights to see, but they also have tons of fun things to do. The city offers activities for all ages – including activities for toddlers.
Toddlers are bound to be curious and dazzled by all the interesting things surrounding them when vacationing here.
Places to Visit
Atlanta offers many places that have opportunities to interact with the exhibit, like the World of Coca-Cola.
Not only will you be able to learn about coke and see Coca-Cola collectibles from the past decade, but you will be able to experience some of their interesting flavors. They have a room that contains coke flavors from around the world, from simple things like Cherry Coke or weird ones like Beverly.
Another place that you should visit with your family is the Center for Puppetry Arts. It is dedicated to making sure that toddlers and young children enjoy themselves while playing games and watching puppet shows.
One of the best things Atlanta has to offer is their landscapes and outdoor adventures.
They may have hot summers, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some of the most enjoyable activities they have.
Stone Mountain Park is a must-visit when traveling to Atlanta. It has all of the basic outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and kayaking. It also has special activities like the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
Your toddlers will be able to explore their two-acre exhibit that has an area for them to dig up fossils as well as a section to walk behind a waterfall and slide down from a treehouse.
There is also the Chattahoochee Nature Center that is a 127-acre Park and nature reserve. They have canoe tours, hiking trails, and bird walks for visitors to enjoy.
You might have been surprised to see some of the locations on this list, but once you have heard what each destination holds, hopefully you are excited to visit one or more of these special places for toddlers on your next family trip!
Want to know more about family destinations in USA? Check out this article.