10 Wholesome Family Destinations

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    Durango, CO

    Durango got its start as a railroad depot in the nineteenth century, and today, it holds close to its roots with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The hub of Durango's family fun centers around the outdoors, with hiking, horseback riding, river rafting and zip-lining on the activities menu.

    Photo courtesy of Matt Inden/Miles

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    Williamsburg, VA

    Taking the family to Williamsburg has the ability to bring US history to life better than a textbook ever could. In the Williamsburg historic district, you'll find 40 authentic seventeenth and eighteenth century structures staffed with costumed town folk ready to demonstrate their trade, whether blacksmithing, woodcarving or basket making.

    Photo courtesy of Harvey Barrison

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    Sanibel Island FL

    If you're looking for a family-friendly destination where you can unplug and unwind, Sanibel Island's a good place to start. More than a third of the island is designated nature preserve, so you'll find plentiful wildlife and miles of hiking and biking paths. Then of course there's the beach; the sandy stretches of Sanibel Island are some of the best for shelling on the planet.

    Photo courtesy of Dave Meardon Photography

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    Branson, MO

    Branson, MO is like Las Vegas for families -- loads of G-rated entertainment options without the gambling and scantily clad girls. During the day, enjoy some family time at Branson's two theme parks, Silver Dollar City (home to the record-breaking Outlaw Run wooden roller coaster) and White Water, and at night, catch one of the many Grand Ole Opry-like shows.

    Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City

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    Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN

    The towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, located about 10 miles apart, seem made for families. Staying in either town puts you at the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for camping or hiking and only a few minutes away from Dollyworld. In Gatlinburg, you'll find Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and Ripley's Believe it or Not! -- both hits with kids.

    Photo courtesy of Sean Hayslett Photo

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    Bar Harbor, ME

    Located on Frenchman Bay, the charming town of Bar Harbor makes the perfect base from which to explore Mother Nature's playground. Take an early morning hike to the top of Mount Cadillac to see the sunrise before anyone else in the country, head out onto the water in search of whales, sample the region's famous lobster rolls and pay a visit to the magnificent Acadia National Park.

    Photo courtesy of Beth Punches

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    Williams, AZ

    A trip to the Grand Canyon is an iconic American vacation, and the town of Williams makes for an excellent home base. Dine at a historic Route 66 cafe before hopping on the Grand Canyon Railway, vintage diesel, for a trip to the Grand Canyon's South Rim. Other family attractions include the Bearizona Drive Thru Wildlife Park, the Grand Canyon Deer Farm Petting Zoo and a variety of Western-themed dinner shows.

    Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

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    Kissimmee/Orlando, FL

    Florida's Orlando and Kissimmee region seems made for families, with nearly a dozen amusement parks to chose from. When you're not at Disney World, Universal Studios or Seaworld, you'll find everything from restaurants to hotel accommodations are catered to children.

    Photo courtesy of pop culture geek

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    St. Augustine, FL

    There are dozens of reasons why St. Augustine is a great place to take the kids (here are 10 of them), many of which revolve around pirates. After studying up on your pirate history at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, take your family on an adventure cruise aboard the Pirate Ship Black Raven.

    Photo courtesy of Libby McMillan

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    Oklahoma City OK

    Oklahoma City's Bricktown entertainment district is packed with kid-friendly fun. Take a boat ride down a river canal, stroll through the 17-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens, buy a pair of cowboy boots and watch a cattle auction at the Oklahoma City Stockyards or take a trip back in time to the Old West at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

    Photo courtesy of Marcin Wichary

About Lydia Schrandt

Lydia, photo editor and Readers' Choice Production Manager for USA TODAY 10Best, has traveled to more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North and South America, and has lived in Albuquerque, Galveston, Austin, Thailand, Korea, China, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and now Spain. When she's not at her computer in a cafe, she's out photographing the city, writing fiction or cheering on Barça.

Read more about Lydia Schrandt here.

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