The 10 Best Zoos in the US
There are plenty of fun, interesting ways to walk on the wild side all across North America, but these destination zoos lead the pack by offering some of the most memorable visitor experiences rooted in animal encounters, community outreach, conservation efforts, unique programming and special events.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 on Chicago’s north side, making it one of the oldest in the country. Movie buffs might remember the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House from its appearance in the 1999 film Return to Me; although the habitat has since transformed into the $26 million Regenstein Center for African Apes, the mighty gorillas are still a major draw. There’s also an amazing conservatory on site to check out. Best of all, the zoo stays open 365 days a year, and while you may have to pay for parking, admission is always free.
San Diego Zoo
Long respected for its conservation initiatives, the Balboa Park-based San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals across 650 different species, many rare or endangered. The property is massive and navigation can be a little overwhelming; double-decker bus tours make it easier to get the lay of the land. A few of the most popular animal attractions include the Australian Outback koalas, the 2.5-acre elephant habitat and the penguin-populated Africa Rocks exhibit. Hearts broke when the zoo’s beloved giant pandas were returned to their Chinese homeland in spring 2019. However, the adorable red pandas are still around to admire.
Paired with a world-class botanical garden, the Cincinnati Zoo has been delighting Midwestern youngsters and their families since 1875 when it opened under the direction of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A pioneer in successful breeding efforts, the facility launched the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in 1986 to help propagate and preserve globally endangered species. Amid the lovingly tended collection of animal exhibits, visitors tend to gravitate toward the cheetah run, the meerkats and the lions, but the world-famous Fiona — a charming young hippo born in early 2017 — is the biggest animal celebrity in residence.
A much-loved New York City fixture since 1899 and the largest city zoo in the US, the Bronx Zoo gives guests a glimpse into the world-wide animal kingdom within the beating heart of the urban jungle. With more than 260 forested acres to explore and 6,000 animals from aardvarks to zebras, this expansive attraction merits at least a full day to truly appreciate. Expect to do a lot of walking; you can always hop on the Wild Asia monorail or the seasonal Dinosaur Safari for a quick breather. The facility is also notable for having opened the very first veterinarian-staffed animal hospital back in 1916.
Henry Doorly Zoo
Home to the largest indoor desert habitat in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s soaring glazed geodesic Desert Dome has come to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska. Inside, a 55-foot tall central “mountain” divides the landscape into distinctive Namib, Australian and Sonoran habitats; nocturnal creatures make their home in the Kingdoms of the Night exhibits on the lower level. Elsewhere on the property, immersive Asian Highlands, Alaskan Glacier Bay and African Grasslands exhibits transport visitors around the world without ever leaving Omaha. The stunning Scott Aquarium facility showcases sea turtles, sharks and other marine life.
Arranged in five distinctive biome areas, the Indianapolis Zoo delivers a comprehensive visitor experience for animal lovers of all ilks. The organization partners with global researchers to promote animal conservation and education, acknowledging the work of worthy recipients with the coveted Indianapolis Prize awarded annually. The ethereal Dolphin Pavilion often doubles as an event space (guests can even arrange in-water adventures to swim along), and the Simon Skojdt International Orangutan Center furthers efforts to study and support these majestic animals in the wild. Access to the lovely White River Gardens is included in the price of admission.
St Louis Zoo
One of several appealing attractions that populate Forest Park, the city’s verdant crown jewel, the free-to-visit St Louis Zoo receives approximately 3 million visitors each year. A leader in animal management, conservation and awareness with assistance from the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Institute, this friendly Midwestern facility houses and cares for more than 17,000 resident mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects on site. The zoo originated during the 1904 World’s Fair, taking shape around the original Flight Cage that still stands as part of the Cypress Swamp exhibit in the Historic Hill section.
Woodland Park Zoo
This Seattle-based organization enlightens visitors as to the vital roles conservation and sustainability play (particularly in the Pacific Northwest region) through field projects and interactive exhibits spanning 70 developed acres. Bioclimate zones range from tropical rainforest and Australasian to temperate forest and African savanna habitats, housing more than 1,100 animals across 300 species. African Lions and Malayan Tigers and Brown Bears — oh my! Don’t miss the Assam Rhino Reserve, a partnership project with the International Rhino Foundation that raises funds to protect these threatened animals from illegal poaching.
With sections that showcase African forest and grasslands dwellers; Arctic animals; and American, Asian and Australian-hailing creatures, the 125-acre Detroit Zoo offers plenty of incentives to visit. The state-of-the-art Polk Penguin Conservation Center is currently closed until summer 2020 for repairs, but once it reopens, visitors will be able to again observe the antics of 75 resident penguins in a spectacular 25 foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic facility. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the butterfly garden, the bird enclosures and a diverse variety of other animal exhibits.
Sedgwick County Zoo
Wildlife park meets mainstream animal attraction at this award-winning Wichita zoo, where guests can watch elephants splash, play and eat in the third largest dedicated habitat in the country. Spend some time in the Downing Gorilla Forest, then marvel at the big cats in the immersive Slawson Family Tiger Trek. Animals are grouped according to geographical origin, making it easy to beeline directly to African, Asian, North American or tropical settings. A leisurely wander through the impressive aviary caps off the adventure in fine feathered form.
Explore The Neighborhoods Connected to Mr. Rogers
While you can watch the legacy of Mister Fred Rogers on film – with a 2018 documentary and a November 2019 release starring Tom Hanks – why not make a trip to where you can learn more about the man who liked you just the way you are? Launched in 2018, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a self-guided “Fred Rogers Trail” marks 15 stops throughout Western Pennsylvania. It connects Latrobe, where Rogers was born, to Pittsburgh, about 40 miles away and where Rogers made a great local impact. Marketed as a three-day itinerary, here are some places along the trail that teach more about the man who known for his cardigans and tennis shoes. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Mister Rogers had been a major supporter of this north side Pittsburgh Children's museum since its inception in 1983. As a thank you to their friend and mentor, Rogers is remembered here through his show puppets and other belongings. In its Nursery exhibit, find King Friday XIII, Queen Sarah Saturday, Henrietta Pussycat, X the Owl, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, Daniel Striped Tiger and Gran Pere. A Roger’s sweater is on display outside of the MAKESHOP space, a place where children can learn how to create things. James H. Rogers Park Named for Mister Rogers’ father, this park in Latrobe has a statue of Rogers seated on a bench. The public can sit down and join him, keep him company and take a selfie with him. The park also is the site of a historical marker signifying Rogers’ connection to Latrobe and his work as a puppeteer, TV show host and an ordained minister. Senator John Heinz History Center A Smithsonian Institute affiliate, the Senator John Heinz History Center along Pittsburgh’s Strip District welcomed in the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” exhibit in its special exhibitions gallery in 2015. It has the largest collection of original set pieces from the show on public view. Select objects on display are the entryway and living room set that Rogers walked through to begin each show, along with King Friday XIII’s Castle, the Great Oak Tree and other props from “Neighborhood of Make-Believe, plus Picture Picture and Mr. McFeely’s “Speedy Delivery” tricycle. Be greeted by a life-like Mister Rogers, complete with his sweater, necktie, khakis and sneakers.Ace Hotel Pittsburgh This trendy hotel is not only a place to spend the night on your route but also another Mister Rogers’ connection. Based in a century-old building in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, this Pittsburgh ACE Hotel location was a former YMCA where Rogers was a regular member and swimmer. “Tribute to Children” While it’s easy to say The Mister Rogers Statue, this memorial at Pittsburgh’s North Shore is officially titled “Tribute to Children.” It was designed by the late American sculptor Robert Berks (other works include the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial and the Albert Einstein Memorial, both in Washington, D.C.). Dedicated in 2009, this 7,000-pound bronze sculpture depicts Rogers sitting down and tying on his sneakers. Placed on a Manchester Bridge pier along the Allegheny River, as a nod to Rogers’ love of swimming, the memorial has a circular walkway and an accompanying sound system playing Rogers’ musical compositions. Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College In Latrobe, this center carries out Rogers’ vocation of fostering healthy child development and houses a multimedia exhibit on its namesake. This exhibit chronicles Rogers’ life and work, from his roots in Latrobe, to his early years and subsequent decades in television, up through his vision on children’s education and growth through the century. See wall panels with photos and narratives, video screens with program and interview clips of or about Rogers, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood related articles. Have fun at a “Speedy Delivery” letter-writing station. Unity Cemetery Pay your respects to Rogers at his place of burial within this cemetery in Latrobe. Rogers lies here in a family mausoleum along with his father, James Hillis Rogers, and his mother, Nancy McFeely Rogers, among other relatives. The mausoleum sits atop a hill near the back of the cemetery, with prime panoramic views of the Chestnut Ridge of the Laurel Highlands. Idlewild & SoakZone At this amusement park in Ligonier, visitors can take a trolley ride through Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an attraction based on the animated children’s TV program that was inspired by the original Mister Rogers program.
10 Most Family-Friendly Cities in Europe
If your motto is "Have family, will travel," you'll be glad to know that Europe is within your reach; in fact, these 10 cities will greet you with open arms. To save on sightseeing, book in advance and consider buying the multi-attraction discount passes most cities offer. If a traditional hotel room is too pricey (or small) for your brood, or leaves you wanting for the comforts of home, rent an apartment through Airbnb; owners typically leave their "must-see" list and restaurant recommendations so you'll have a truly local experience – especially if you download a few local apps before departure. Ready? Set? Go! 1. Amsterdam (Swisshippo/Dreamstime) There's more – a lot more – to Amsterdam than the red light district. In fact, with paddle boats and bike paths galore, you can – and should – give it the green light for your next family adventure. Eating is easy and photo ops abound in this walkable, bikeable, boat-able city. Patat met (French fries with mayo) will keep hunger at bay as you take in the sights, possibly stopping to smile in an oversize Dutch clog – or perhaps with the pair you plan to bring home. What to do Everything is more fun when you arrive on a boat or a bike, and in Amsterdam, that's the way to go. Be sure to swing by the NEMO Science Museum for hands-on exhibits that include a chemistry lab with experiments for young scientists and a bubble display for those that can't resist getting their hands wet. Older kids will appreciate the history of the Anne Frank Museum while kids of all ages will find something of interest at the Van Gogh Museum; just be sure to buy your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines. If you visit in the spring, a day trip to Keukenhof to see the tulips in bloom – hundreds of thousands of them – should top your list. Consider a Holland Pass to save time and entry frees to major attractions. And don't miss Amsterdam's legendary singing tour guide. Where to stay The Radisson Blu in the city is centrally located and offers a great breakfast buffet. The hotel itself is not too big and not too small and with croissants and Nutella for breakfast, everything seems just right. Where to eat Have a steak with the locals at Café Loetje in the Museum Quarter neighborhood. They don't take reservations (or cash!) but it's well worth the wait - especially if you can get a table on the patio. 2. Dublin (Lucian Milasan/Dreamstime) It's not just the Irish eyes that will be smiling when you touch down in Dublin; the welcoming locals will have everyone smiling from the top 'o the morning 'til the rise of the moon. With relatively short direct flights and no language barrier, Dublin is the perfect starter-city for a family of aspiring adventurers. What to do Admire the "doors of Dublin" as you stroll over to St. Stephen's Green. Pack a picnic lunch, romp at the playground and feed the ducks before you depart to see ducks of a different sort at the National Museum of Ireland - Natural History. A taxidermy tribute to Ireland's wildlife is artfully displayed over two manageable floors. Assuming you have some animal lovers in your midst, they'll be pleased to know they can see the real thing at the delightful Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park. For a bit of (dark) Irish history, plan a visit to Kilmainham Goal; Gaol is Gaelic for jail and this one housed almost every notable Irish rebel. If day trips are your thing, consider taking the train south to Bray to visit the aquarium, stroll along the sea or hike up to Brayhead; you might even pick some blueberries along the way, depending on the season. If mountains are more your style, head to County Wicklow where you'll be dazzled by the gardens at Powerscourt and awed by the scenery and history at Glendalough. Where to stay The modern Mespil Hotel is well-located on the Grand Canal in the heart of Dublin. The renovated 1960s office building has retained a bit of the biz-casual atmosphere, but the rooms provide good value for families. Where to eat Just a short walk from the hotel you'll find Milano, equally equipped with high chairs and a post-work crowd and just loud enough to drown the din of your overtired tots. 3. Paris (Aprescindere/Dreamstime) Croissants, baguettes and crepes, mon dieu! Paris isn't just for romantics in the spring; it's for everyone, all year long. Kids will love the boulangeries on every corner; you'll love how easy it is to navigate the Metro and catching a view of the Eiffel Tower from vistas around the city. What to do Leave the Louvre for your next trip. When traveling en famille, take in Paris' plentiful parks. You could spend the whole day at Jardin Luxembourg, which in addition to a stunning palace built in 1612 by Marie de Medici boasts modern-day delights like peddle cars for racing and toy boats for sailing – not to mention a playground with zip lines and an Eiffel Tower bungee for your pint-size thrill seekers. If the weather drives you indoors (the kids may not see the romance in the rain), visit the Musee de Cluny and go for a treasure hunt among the tapestries. Should your tots be avid climbers, Paris will not disappoint. If your brood is physically fit, the 1,600+ stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower will suffice for a workout with a view. For a more gentile ascent, climb the 300 steps to the top of Sacre Coeur for a view of the city that is magnifique. Where to stay Citadine in the Bastille/Marais neighborhood includes a galley kitchen and is walking distance to a great open-air market Where to eat Anywhere and everywhere; it's hard to go wrong in Paris! Pick a local café in the morning and neighborhood bistro at night. If you want an atypical but memorable experience, visit the quirky Le Refuge des Fondue after climbing those steps to Sacre Coeur. 4. London (Ukphotoguy/Dreamstime) How could you go wrong in the city that gave us Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and Harry Potter? And then there's real life princesses and castles to die for (as more than a few did!). What to do You have to see the sights memorialized by Chevy Chase in European Vacation ("Look kids, Big Ben! Parliament!") but your tweens will love posing with One Direction at Madame Tussaud's. And while you have to pay to see the Crown Jewels (and Torture Tower) at the Tower of London, there are some great (free!) museums and lesser-known attractions you won't want to miss. Ever wonder how they developed the symbol for the pound or how it feels to hold a bar of gold? Find out at the Bank of England Museum. If your pint-size flyers are also fans of buses and trains, you won't want to miss the interactive London Transport Museum, with more than 80 vehicles including a double decker bus and the world's first Underground train. To get your fill of history, visit the Museum of London and time travel from the days when lions roamed Trafalgar Square to today's thriving city center. Last but not least, if J.K. Rowlings is a family fave, you won't want to miss the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios Tour. When the royal sun is shining, plan a day at St. James Park. Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and then stroll down Horse Guards Parade and Mall to the lake; watch the pelicans get fed daily at 2:30 or settle into a deckchair while the kids frolic on the playground. Where to stay The Park Plaza offers several locations with spacious rooms to accommodate a family of four and easy access to sights and public transport. Where to eat Don't miss the Sunday roast or anyday fare at a local pub like The Marksman or The Engineer. If you need a taste of home (but better), GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen) has several locations where you can get your burger on any way you like – from buffalo to veggie and everything in between. 5. Rome Gladiators meet gelato in this city of ancient history and modern cuisine. The locals love kids, and they love food. Need we say more? What to do No family trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Colosseum and the pious will want to pop in on the Pope and visit the Vatican. Keep your shoulders covered and hold onto your hat as you look up at Michelangelo's masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Splash in the Trevi Fountain, climb the Spanish Steps, and enjoy a gelato in one of the city's many central piazzas. Pizza is plentiful but if you want an insider's look at the Rome's food scene, take one of Elizabeth Minchilli's food tours. In case one gelato just isn't enough, she offers a two-hour all-gelato tour that's a favorite with the junior set. If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, take a day trip to Ostia Antica. Once Rome's harbor city, it's now a maze of ruins that evokes Pompeii, providing ample wandering of ancient alleys and passageways. Spend an afternoon exploring the remnant rooftops, storefronts and latrines – which kids of all ages always get a kick out of. Where to stay The Roma Resort Trevi has spacious rooms by Roman standards and is walking distance to many attractions including the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. WHERE TO EAT For the best carbonara in town, go where the locals go: Perilli in the Testaccioa neighborhood. For a great lunch after a morning of sightseeing, go to Nerone and try to nab an outdoor table with a view of the Colosseum. (Via delle Terme di Tito, 96, 011/39-06 481 7952) 6. Munich Munich's motto is München mag dich ("Munich loves you") and indeed it does. There's something for everyone in this Bavarian capital where handcrafted toys are as plentiful as hand-crafted beers. What to do Start your day at Marienplatz, the central square in Munich's Old Town. Secure a spot in front of Neues Rathaus, the New Town Hall, to see the 100+ year-old Glockenspiel chime daily at 11:00 and 12:00. After that, visit the Toy Museum in the other clock tower, the Old Town Hall. For a more hands-on experience, walk over to Munich's biggest toy store, Obletter Spielwarne in Karlsplatz square or visit Kids Kingdom in Deutsches Museum; one of the biggest, oldest science and technology museums in the world, it offers over 1,000 kid-friendly activities. The Munich zoo, Tierpark Hellabrunn, is spread over 89 sprawling acres and offers kid-pleasing pony and camel rides in the summer and a penguin parade in winter. If you believe in "happily ever after," don't miss the German "fairy tale route", especially Neuschwanstein Castle, said to be the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Where to stay The well-located Louis Hotel maintains an atmosphere of German sophistication, with wood furnishings and rooms equipped with the latest tech to keep the kiddos entertained. Where to eat When in Munich... bring the kids to the beer garden! At Viktualienmarkt, Munich's farmer's market, you can sample sausages and more before settling in at the central beer garden to wash it all down. For the true beer garden experience, head to Hirschgarten for the best of Bavarian beers, sausages, potato salad, pretzels, and strudel. 7. Barcelona (Mapics/Dreamstime) With the works of Gaudí around every corner, you'll be in a state of architectural bliss while the kids will think they've landed in the land of Seuss. If that's not enough, you can amble along Las Ramblas or stroll by the sea in the city that gave the world tapas. Bueno! What to do Barcelona's Boqueria is a market like no other with flowers, fruit, and local fare to dazzle all five senses. Grab some goods to go and then get your Gaudí on at the famous Sagrada Familla. From there, hike uphill to Parc Güell where you'll be greeted by "el drac," a multicolored mosaic salamander perfect for photo ops. For a sweet treat, visit The Chocolate Museum, featuring chocolate monument replicas and tasty souvenirs. CosmoCaixa is an interactive science museum with a mini rainforest and crowd-pleasing planetarium. If you have a little inventor along for the ride, don't miss the Museum of Ideas and Inventions, which will spark their imagination and yours too. If you're feeling adventurous, go shark cave diving in the Oceanarium at the aquarium near the Marina in Port Vell. Afterward, enjoy the view of the Mediterranean while nibbling on prawns and jamon at Martina's Brasserie & Cocteleria. As the sun sets, stroll over to the Fountain of Montjuic for an unforgettable display of illuminated dancing "magic" fountains. Where to stay The Petit Palace Hotel Opera Garden is well situated near Las Ramblas and offers an inclusive breakfast buffet. What to eat Tapas, tapas, and more tapas. Barcelona's kid-friendly specialties include fresh fish, fried potatoes, and bread rubbed with garlic, oil and tomatoes. Try them all at El Jardi Terrace & Tapas Bar, nestled away from the noise of the city in a courtyard surrounded by olive trees. 8. Halkidiki, Greece Okay, Halkidiki is not a city but a region of Greece. Why is it on our list? Because not every family vacation needs history and sightseeing; sometimes you just want to soak up the sun. Here, you can actually do both and go home boasting that you've been to the birthplace of Aristotle and bathed in the clear blue Aegean Sea. What to do Situated in northern Greece, the Halkidiki region is comprised of three peninsulas, known as the "three fingers of Halkidiki." The first and most populated is Kassandra, the second, with fewer resorts and more secluded coves, is Sithonia, and the third is Mount Athos, a monastic community closed to the masses. Begin your journey in Kassandra and avoid the crowds with a hillside hike. Try the Koutsoupia-Sivri trail; as you walk the sea cliff from Sani Resort to Sivri village, you'll pass by Roman ruins including a villa and early Christian temple. Spend an afternoon in Athitos, a picturesque village dating from 3000 BC. Stop for coffee and take in the old stone houses, cobblestone alleys, and breathtaking views of the Toroneos Gulf. If you need a break from the sun, visit Petralona Cave at the foot of Mount Katsika, famous for its stalactites and stalagmites. In Sithonia, the luscious green landscape meets the cerulean water of Aegean Sea; settle in on a secluded beach and then go explore the fish tavernas in Vourvourou where you can watch the fisherman bring in their bounty. To see the only monastic republic in Europe, take a boat from Ormos Panagias in Athonia and head toward Mount Athos. No tourists (or women) are allowed, but you won't want to miss the view of the 20 monastaries dotting the coast or the abundant sea life that surrounds you. Where to stay Stay at the Hotel Vergos in Vourvourou. Family-friendly features include a kiddie pool and rooms equipped with a mini-fridge. Where to eat Fresh fish and local wines are the way to go in Greece. Try Paris in Vourvourou, an open restaurant overlooking the ocean that serves local fare or Aristos in Ornos Panagias, where wooden tables and chairs dot the beach and you can dine by the light of the moon. 9. Florence Sunflowers, fresh honey and chianti await in a city that offers fine dining and fine art that are equally accessible to travelers of all ages. What to do Even the little ones will realize what a treasure trove the Uffizi Gallery Museum is when you turn your tour into a treasure hunt for the masters: Raphael, Rubens, Caravaggio, and Michelangelo. Il Duomo di Firenze, more formally known as the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, is worth the visit for many reasons, not the least of which is the incredible view from the top of this orange-tiled cathedral. At Palazzo Vecchio, the kids can live like a Medici for a day; sign them up for a guided tour and some fresco painting while you take a tour of your own through the palace's secret passages. After souvenir shopping on the Ponte Vecchio, stroll over to Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens that rise up behind it. The Giardino di Boboli are famous for the fountains and grottos designed by the Medici family; one of the earliest Italian gardens, it's also a great place to enjoy a picnic from Ino you can pick up on the way. It you want to get a taste of Tuscany and its rolling hills, take the No. 7 bus up to Fiesole. Just 20 minutes north of the city, you'll have an awe-inspiring view of Florence on one side and a stunning set of Etruscan and Roman ruins on the other. Where to stay Villa Tolomei, about 10 minutes outside the city, offers adjoining rooms for families in addition to a beautiful pool and gardens. Where to eat Families are welcome everywhere, but two of our faves that come with a local's stamp of approval include Trattoria La Casalinga and Cinghiale Bianco; be sure to wash down your homemade pasta with truffles with some vin santo and biscotti while the kids enjoy an extra scoop of gelato. 10. Vienna (Sean Nel/Dreamstime) Where to begin? There's the opera, the architecture, and the food – from schnitzel and ratatouille to the famous Sacher torte, you'll be waltzing your way through Vienna from morning 'til night. What to do Channel your inner Mozart or virtually conduct your own Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Haus der Musik. If you haven't had your fill of the classics, the Vienna State Opera offers hour-long children's operas all year with the exception of July and August; these popular programs sell out months in advance, so be sure to book your tickets when you book your flights. Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial Habsburg family, is a palace, children's museum and world's oldest zoo all in one. Belvedere consists of two Baroque palaces, the Oranger and Palace Stables; at Upper Belvedere budding detectives find sport in spotting the mistakes in the paintings. When you've had your fill of palaces and fine art, visit the Zoom Children's Museum and then go to the Dschungel for an afternoon snack; there's a play corner for the kids and comfy couches for you. Finally, take the elevator to the top of the North Tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral for a view of the city you'll remember forever. Where to stay Pertschy, a B&B in an 18th century palace, offers a full Viennese breakfast buffet and kid-loving staff. Best of all, it's walking distance to the Opera, cathedral and more. Where to eat Naschmarkt has been a meeting place since the 16th century and today offers over 120 stands and restaurants featuring both Viennese specialties and international delicacies; grab some takeaway and have a picnic in Rathauspark.
5 Perfect Fall Trips for Families
School may be in session but getting away for a short trip in the fall is a great way to ease out of summer living. And whether it’s a day trip or a quick weekend, there’s something to make everyone in the family happy. Here are six trips to consider which will enrich everyone’s body, soul and mind. Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA This living museum will engage kids and adults in the history of America in the 18th century. The historic area, which is a reconstruction of the city as capital of Colonial Virginia, includes hundreds of recreated buildings and structures, as well as three main thoroughfares – all of which are peopled with talented docents and translators who interact with guests to tell a more convincing story. See the tools and techniques of 18th century trades, discover pre-Revolutionary military sites and weapons, including the newly opened Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop Public Armory, peruse the British grandeur of Governor’s Palace, and explore the African American Experience, which provides a truthful, historical interpretation of slavery – a painful yet fully American experience. Planning on staying? There are six hotels within the Historic Area, including 26 Colonial Houses which can be booked overnight. US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL Known as “Rocket City,” Huntsville is ground zero for the development of the NASA space shuttle rockets – so it’s no surprise the US Space & Rocket Center is the perfect place to investigate and learn about all aspects of the past and future of the American space program. In addition to the a full-stack Space Shuttle with two solid rocket boosters and external tank, and an authentic, impressive Saturn V rocket with hands-on exploration, other exhibits include the Spacedown IMAX Theater, a Moon Shot simulator, a G-Force Accelerator and a Mars Climbing Wall. If you’re looking for something even more interactive, you might want to book Family Space Camp, for kids between 7 and 18. Here you’ll launch simulated missions to the International Space Station, train to be an astronaut on a gravity chair and make and launch your own rocket. Great Sand Dunes, CO America's national parks are diverse and majestic, offering families a peek into the awesome splendor of this considerable country. And though sites like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite are popular tourist sites, we are partial to the Great Sand Dunes at the base of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. At 8200 feet elevation, these 30 miles of dunes can reach up to 750ft high. Hiking is the best way to appreciate this extraordinary, natural sandbox, and a two-hour walk also lets you explore the stunning Medano Creek, where you can splash around in a little water with your beach. Get your kicks sand sledding and sand boarding down the dunes, cardboard and snow sleds don’t work on dry sand, so you’ll have to stop and rent a board near the park entrance. Camping is allowed to help you experience the beauty of the park at night, and there are also cabins, a motel, a lodge and a ranch if you want something a little more comfortable. Dinosaur Trail, MT Find your very own prehistoric insect captured in amber at Montana’s Dinosaur Trail. This sprawling experience covers 14 locations around the entire state, which is home to some of the most important paleontological discoveries ever made. The exhibits along the trail range from the first baby dinosaur bones at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center to the best preserved “mummy” of a dinosaur ever found at Great Plains Dinosaur Museum. Want to get your hands dirty? Paleontology field dig opportunities are available at three different facilities. Be sure to pick up the Prehistoric Passport, a simple guide to the museums and communities along the way, where you’ll find history, facts and space to collect a stamp at each dino facility – which you can then trade in for prizes. TreEscape Aerial Adventure Park, Vernon, NJ Mountain Creek, best known for its namesake ski resort and water park, has a new park on the block. The TreEscape Aerial Adventure Park, located on the grounds of the Great Gorge Golf Course, is a heady combination of elevated ropes courses, connected wooden climbing platforms, obstacles and screaming ziplines – all in a green, eco-friendly environment. A six-hour window will allow you to finish the entire course, though it’s not a prerequisite, and a shuttle will follow historical logging, mining and horseback riding rails to deposit you at the park. A separate park is available for kids aged 4 to 6 and allows the younger set a chance to try out about 20 different climbing elements. Older folk can also come back when the sun goes down for night climbing on Saturday evenings. If you want to try out some of the resort’s other activities, overnight accommodations can be booked at The Appalachian resort at the base of Vernon Peak mountain or the Crystal Springs Resort – both which offer amenities like dining, pools and a spa.
How to Explore Your Family Roots Through Travel
While taking an at-home DNA test can offer a guide to your genetic makeup, planning a trip can bring you closer to your lineage. Some DNA research companies have gone a step further through teaming up with travel businesses to provide resources for planning a trip. In May 2019, Airbnb and 23andMe announced their partnership in providing bookings for experiences and accommodations based on customers’ test results and tied to their ancestry destination. In 2017, Ancestry and EF Go Ahead Tours jointly launched a portfolio of heritage-centered tours in Ireland, Italy and Germany. If you want to plan a trip on your own, there are some measures to keep in mind while getting excited about what you might find. Here are some tips provided by genealogy and travel experts on how to map out your trip. Start by Building a Family Tree “The first thing I recommend is for everyone to start their own family tree,” said Jennifer Utley, director of research at Ancestry. “Call relatives who know your family history; add their experience.” Also get your children involved in trip planning. “They also can give a different perspective; they may come up with places you didn’t think of.” Know What You Want to Do Another initial step in planning is to understand what kind of trip you want to pursue – is about the destination itself or directly your family? “A heritage trip is about seeing the sites, experiencing the culture and walking in the footsteps of your family in a broad way,” said Cara MacDonald, reference services manager at the Scotiabank Family History Centre at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Whereas, a research trip is to find out more detail about your family during their time in that area, which usually involves visits to archives, museums and genealogical societies.” Reach Out to Tourism Boards Mickela Mallozzi, host and executive producer of “Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi,” whose third season of her TV series used her DNA map to bring her to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, recommends reaching out to a country or region’s tourism boards as a resource. “It is the DMO’s job to promote their own destination, and usually these people are very proud of their country or region,” she said. Make Appointments With visiting archive centers or government offices, learn ahead of time what your accessibility to their records and reference materials might be, in the case they may take some time for being pulled up, or there are required payments for getting copies or other services. “You almost always have to have an appointment and you have to order the files or boxes in advance,” said New York genealogist Terry Koch-Bostic. “If it’s a book from the shelf, it’s usually not a problem, but if you want to look at documents or manuscripts, then you usually order them in advance.” Check Hours of Operation Maybe you went to a center on a Friday and found out that they’re open the four days prior only or closed at certain times or for private functions. “Always make sure you check hours of operation, especially if you are traveling in the off season,” said MacDonald. “Genealogy societies may be staffed by volunteers and only be open on specific days.” Go Beyond Google While search engines are right at your fingertips, and Facebook groups on geological research, do some local digging into your past. Ancestry’s Utley noted that historical societies throughout the U.S. can provide information on the background of a region or even chapters of ethnic groups with a prominent presence such as Italian, German or Irish. Other go-to sources can include the newspapers of the day, census, country or municipal records, city directories (a pre-cursor to phone books), and records from courts, churches, cemeteries and military museums and other venues. Get Extra Help Kudos to you for pursuing your family’s history on your own but don’t hesitate if you need some guidance with your research. Travel expert Charles McCool, who has conducted family research trips to Ireland, advises connecting with a contact within your destination of family origin before the trip for help. “Hire that person to walk you through the bureaucratic maze, like requesting vital records, accessing archives and so on.” Koch-Bostic also recommends hiring a travel agent for bookings or a genealogist for extended research or a guide for showing you around. Embrace Your Surroundings Along with seeing places connected to the past, Valarie D’Elia, a video travel journalist specializing in ancestral travel programming, recommends building your itinerary around local agendas such as going during a coinciding event and partaking in cultural, religious and traditional activities. “Most importantly, add context to these events,” said D’Elia. “How do they relate to your family history?” Also, D’Elia notes to include side trips outside of the city, village or town you’re visiting. Get Engrossed in Culture Gina Paige, president and co-founder of African Ancestry, noted that culture can be a key part of heritage travel. With those of African American ancestry, U.S. cities can be sources for information such Baltimore’s ties to the Underground Railroad specific institutions such as National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Local communities, too, can help. Paige pointed out that African Americans who trace their roots to the Tikar in Cameroon can find significant communities within the U.S. – such as in NYC, Houston and D.C. “They tend to have networks within those organizations already, so when they are ready to travel, they use those people as a resource,” said Paige. Put Your Family in a Historical Context If you’re finding road blocks with your research, look at your background from a historical perspective. For example, Allison DePrey Singleton, a librarian at the Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., noted that those of Irish decent can learn about the vast impact of the Irish potato famine, which led to many Irish leaving their homeland or perishing from hunger. “It’s about putting your family in a historical context; learn about what was going on in that country and that location within a certain time period.” Manage Your Expectations DNA trips can bring up all sorts of emotions, but you want to stay receptive in the moment and around others. “Be respectful of the culture and realize that [your] accommodations can be rudimentary,” said D’Elia, “Be mindful you are visiting ancient places and ancient infrastructure; pack proper footwear. These trips attract multiple generations, so be sure to accommodate specific mobility issues."