5 Underrated U.S. Cities to Visit With Kids

Coming up with vacation ideas for the kids can be tough. There are obvious choices like Orlando, Chicago, or New York City. Why not try something different and stop following the crowds? Check out these five underrated U.S. cities to visit with your kids.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Bicultural Mama Underrated U.S. cities
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

Northern Michigan is beautiful to visit in the summer and fall. Traverse City, the Cherry Capital of the World, sits on Grand Traverse Bay. Traverse City is full of art and is a great destination for foodies looking for unique restaurants. For the kids, there’s the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, an adventure park, tall ships, and lake cruises in the summer. Wineries abound in the area. Pick up a pint of fresh cherries at many of the roadside farmstands dotted in the area. To the west is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Get winded climbing dunes, then let the views of Lake Michigan take your breath away.

Portland, Oregon

Portland has eccentric charm. Full of artists, intellectuals, foodies, and adventures, Portland is also great for families. There’s no end of fun you and your kids can have. Stop for a sweet treat at colorful Voodoo Doughnut or get lost in Powell’s City of Books. The surrounding area has great nature trails for hikes through rainforests. The Oregon Zoo is the oldest, and one of the best in the West, featuring over 2,200 animals for your children to see and learn about.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s more to do in and around Asheville than a family can shake a stick at. There are family-friendly breweries downtown that serve root beer on tap. There’s also the Asheville Pinball Museum where all can play unlimited pinball for the price of admission. Biltmore Estate gives you a glimpse of how the wealthy lived during the Gilded Age. Best of all are the surrounding mountains with great trails for day hikes. One of the trails features Sliding Rock, a natural waterslide.

Roanoke, Texas

A small town about 30 minutes from both Dallas and Fort Worth, Roanoke is anything but small on things to do for the family. Your kids will love Hawaiian Falls Waterparks with the largest aquatic play structure in the world. There is free live music from March through September at Austin Street Plaza. The food scene is vibrant enough that Roanoke was appointed the Unique Dining Capital of Texas. There is so much to do in the Roanoke area that you may want to stay in one of the many hotels to enjoy the many local attractions.

Leavenworth, Washington

Visit a piece of Bavaria without having to leave the country. Leavenworth, in the Cascade mountains of central Washington, boasts breweries, distilleries, Oktoberfest, and yes, even reindeer. The surrounding natural beauty inspires activities like geocaching and is home to spas, yoga retreats, wine tours, and more. For your kids, be sure to visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, home to 5,000 nutcrackers dating from prehistoric to modern.

Everyone has heard of Disney World or Myrtle Beach. Change up your family memories and make them original by visiting one of these underrated U.S. cities that are great family vacation spots!


Tips contributed by R. Tyson


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