Santa Barbara trolley — Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Trolley Company
In beautiful Santa Barbara, America's "Riviera," the Waterfront provides a full day of enjoyment for young and old. Stearns Wharf, at the beginning of popular State Street, provides a gorgeous view of the coastal city's shoreline and its hilly backdrop. Several restaurants, including the quaint Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, and gift shops line its pier, and water taxis, such as Captain Don's Pirate cruises with its pirates at the helm will take you around the bay for only $10/person. They can drop you at the marina, where you can tour the historical Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Back at the pier, be sure to stop in the Ty Warner Sea Center for the kids to see the giant whale display and enjoy the touch tanks.
For a little more cash, there are also whale watching, dolphin cruises and the amphibious 90 minute narrated "Land Shark" tour, showing off the city both by land and sea (Adults $25, Children under 10, $10). A little more affordable way to view Santa Barbara is by trolley. Leaving every hour in the afternoon, A Santa Barbara Trolley Company takes in local sites such as the famous Santa Barbara Mission and the beautiful County Courthouse. A ticket is good for re-boarding all day (Adults, $16, Children $8).
Peabody Duck March — Photo courtesy of eschipul
Sure, we're all quite acquainted with the main attraction in Orlando (Walt Disney World) but you probably don't know about the Peabody Orlando's quite entertaining (and free!) 75 year tradition of the Peabody Ducks March. Hotel guests and visitors can hardly believe their eyes when a highly decorated Duck Master leads his web-footed guests from their penthouse suite onto the elevator and to the lobby fountains by way of red carpet at 11 a.m., cameras flashing. The process is reversed at 5 p.m., when, after a long swim, they retire for the evening. Kids love the pomp and circumstance (the ducks are accompanied by the exciting sounds of Sousa) and are even asked to help.
U.S. Capitol — Photo courtesy of United States Capitol
When in Washington, D.C., what better historical landmark to take your older child to than the U.S. Capitol Building, where with its 540 rooms, decisions about our country are continuing to be made over 200 years later. Guided tours to see Congress in session are free (tickets are first come, first served) from 8:45 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday - Saturday.
For younger kids, you'll be glad to know admission is free to the National Zoo (part of the Smithsonian Institution). If you don't want to pay for parking ($15 for 2-3 hours), there is free street parking close by.
Adventure Science Center — Photo courtesy of Adventure Science Center
Music City USA has more to offer than great honky tonks, tunes, and country music stars. Families also have the opportunity to visit our renowned Adventure Science Center where history, science, and magic come alive. The perfect exploration for the whole family, the Science Center boasts hours of joyful activity and entertainment. From the unique Planetarium to the captivating Adventure Tower, this museum is chock-full of dynamic, interactive, and educational activities. With an out-of-this-world gift shop, full-service Subway® and cost-effective option for visitors to bring a packed lunch to enjoy in the outdoor picnic area, this low-cost option (free for toddlers) is a must-see in Music City.
In Gatlinburg, Mini-Golf is Extremely Popular — Photo courtesy of Valerie Everett
Headed for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park area but on a budget? No worries. Gatlinburg has a ton of miniature golf courses - a affordable way for the whole family to while away a few hours and get some laughs. Courses are all over town, and range from super-easy (the blacklight course isn't really challenging at all) to harder obstacle-riddled courses. Mini-golf mountain is an eye-catcher right in the heart of town.