Sun and Fun: The Top 10 Summer Spots for Kids

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, New York

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Hot dogs. Rollercoasters. Sea creature costumes. The trifecta of pleasures for the pint-sized set happens every year at this offbeat parade, which brings together more than 1,500 people dressed like, you guessed it, mermaids. Scheduled for June 22, the parade’s now a bit short on funds, so mermaids, mermen, and merkids can now donate to a Kickstarter campaign, or just cross their tales that it will “float” this year.

The Color Run 5K, Jackson, Mississippi

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Forget Tough Mudders and other mean races. This running event is all about happiness, colorful, fun: dress in white, and at each kilometer, volunteers will douse you with not water, but a different color of paint — purple, red, etc. It’s been compared with “a crayon box exploding” and is for all ages and speeds. If your fam can’t make the Mississippi event on July 13, there are a slew of other races:

Wisconsin Dells

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Do your kids want waterparks? They got waterparks at Wisconsin Dells: 20 indoor and 4 outdoor playgrounds dedicated to the art of slipping, sliding, splashing, and laughing your way through summer. Little kids will love the 80-plus interactivities at the Polynesian Resort and the zero-depth entry pools at the Great Wolf Lodge; older kids can brave the Screaming Hyena at Kalahari. You, perhaps, a dry martini.

Cheley Colorado Camp

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Stop checking the mailbox. Kids at Camp Cheley in Estes Park, CO—home to the gates of the famed Rocky Mountain National Park—don’t have a second to get homesick, let alone write letters home. They’re too busy hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, singing, and cooking s’mores in this four-week camp that teaches children as much about being good people as having a good time.

Out ‘n’ About Treehouse Resort, Oregon

It’s not a resort, it’s a treesort — a series of treehouses strung among the pine trees of the Pacific Northwest, equipped with beds, bathrooms, decks, and more. Located in the southwest corner in a small town in Oregon, there are even ziplines, plus river rafting and arts & crafts classes. “Tree Musketeers” will devour the full breakfast of eggs, waffles, and “Fantasy Flakes.” Out on a limb? Maybe.

Fenway Park, Boston

Summer after summer, this baseball park remains a classic for a myriad of reasons: The Green Monster, the singing of “Sweet Caroline,” the taste of a hot dog just slightly tinged with sea salt air from the Atlantic Ocean. For kids and adults alike, Fenway is one of the most magical places to spend a warm summer evening. Even for Yankees fans.

Paradise Ranch, Wyoming

There’s nothing like the giddy feeling of galloping through a Western field of wildflowers, and this dude ranch does it right. Its award-winning kid’s program sees the youngest tots turning into cowpokes, and has fishing derbies, talent shows, and rodeos just for kids. The ice cream socials for teens don’t hurt, either.

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

This is the North Carolina beach that you and your family dream about all winter long while suffering through snow and sniffles: 70 miles of pure brown-sugar sand, peppered with rental bungalows and seafood shacks. Fly a kite. Collect hermit crabs. Body-surf the waves or dig sandcastles. Just remember to take some sand home for next winter.

Columbus Zoo, Ohio

Let’s face it: Some zoos can be, well, a zoo, in the heat of summer. Who wants to be around a hot rhinoceros in July? But the Columbus Zoo rises above others in the U.S. for the careful handling of its 7000 critters (and all the people who come to see them). You can bring in coolers, take a boat ride on Dinosaur Island or chill with the penguins; at every corner, kids are treated so well, you might think they were animals.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Baking-soda volcano school projects come alive at this little-known national park. Lassen Volcanic National Park contains all four types of volcanoes found in the world — and a fraction of the tourists found at other national parks in the summer. Kids will have so much fun stopping at the Sulfur Works, giggling at the name of Bumpass Hell, and hiking to Mill Creek Falls, they won’t even know they’re getting.

10 Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas

Although Las Vegas is commonly known as an adult playground, the city actually offers plenty of activities and options for families with children. There are many hotels in town that will especially appeal to kids. The 10 best kid-friendly hotels in Las Vegas are Circus-Circus, Excalibur, New York-New York, Stratosphere, Mandalay Bay, Treasure Island, the Mirage, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Paris and Trump International Hotel & Tower.

1. Circus-Circus

Circus-Circus is perhaps the best hotel in town for kids as it offers free circus acts featuring trapeze artists, juggling, wild roller skating, acrobatics and clowns. Circus-Circus also features an indoor amusement park called the Adventuredome. This five acre park includes several thrilling rides including a full size roller coaster called the Canyon Blaster that turns riders upside down a total of four times! Other major attractions in the park include the Disk’O, Sling Shot, Chaos, Inverter, Sand Pirates and Canyon Cars.

las vegas strip

2. Excalibur 

Excalibur’s exterior medieval castle appearance is sure to excite kids before they even step foot into the hotel’s lobby. A long time favorite for families, the Excalibur features a large arcade for kids called the Fun Dungeon Arcade. In addition, Excalibur’s dinner show ‘Tournament of Kings’ appeals to kids with jousting, fireworks and more.

Excalibur Hotel Las Vegas
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3. New York-New York

There is not much more exciting to a kid than peeking out their hotel room window to find a roller coaster zooming right past their eyes! In addition to New York-New York’s looping coaster, the hotel features the Coney Island Emporium. This huge themed arcade offers over 200 arcade and skill games, and is open from early in the morning to late at night.

New York New York Hotel Las Vegas
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4. Stratosphere

The imposing 1,149 foot tall Stratosphere structure is sure to excite kids upon arrival! For those kids brave enough, the tower features several thrilling rides at the top of the tower including the Big Shot, the highest amusement ride in the world. The other rides are Insanity, X-Scream and SkyJump Las Vegas.


5. Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay is well known as having one of the best pools on the Las Vegas Strip, and this appeals to kids just as much as anyone else! This is especially true since the pool complex includes a huge wave pool and lazy river attraction. Kids will also enjoy Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium which contains giant rays, crocodiles, piranha, sea turtles, sawfish and of course sharks.

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas
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6. Treasure Island

The theme alone of Treasure Island appeals to kids as they can dine and sleep among pirates, skulls and more. The hotel also features an arcade area and a nice pool area for splashing around.

Treasure Island Las Vegas
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7. The Mirage

Kids will immediately love arriving into the lobby area of the Mirage with the check-in desk backed by a beautiful aquarium. The Mirage’s exploding volcano in front of the hotel is also a huge appeal. In addition, kids will enjoy visiting Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat with its leopards, white tigers, panthers and bottlenose dolphins.

Mirage Las Vegas

8. MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

The MGM Grand contains one of the best pool complexes in town, with five separate pools, caves, a winding river and more. In addition to playing in the water, kids will enjoy the hotel’s Rainforest Cafe with animatronic animals and jungle setting.

MGM Las Vegas

9. Paris

Kids will enjoy racing up the steps at the Paris Hotel’s Eiffel Tower to get an incredible view of Las Vegas. Also, the hotel’s Le Provencal restaurant features singing waiters that are sure to bring out a smile from kids of all ages.

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10.  Trump International Hotel & Tower

This laid back hotel off the Strip is a nice choice for families with kids as it offers an excellent Kid’s Program with coloring books, board games, children’s books and more.

Trump Tower Las Vegas
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