family friendly short breaks

Soar to new heights and discover Chicago’s unique architecture in the Willis Tower. (Photo: Getty Images)


7 Quick, Kid-Friendly Trips That Bring the Fun (and Some Learning, Too!)

Summer may be winding down (or perhaps it’s already gone) but that doesn’t mean your family’s travel time has to come to an end. Make sure everybody gets their homework out of the way during the week so you can take off on one of these great trips that — don’t tell the kids! — will keep the learning (and fun) going all weekend long.

As always, before any trip check for any travel restrictions or closures before planning your vacation.

RELATED: Off to NYC with the Littles? Dazzle Them on a Kid-Friendly Weekend Getaway

Look Up for Architecture in Chicago

Have a budding engineer or architect in the family? Go big on her hobby with a tour to the architectural wonderland that is Chicago. Bring extra layers to stay cozy during a Architecture Tour on the river. (This is, after all, the Windy City.)

Then indulge everybody in the family in some of Chicago’s best fried chicken. Honey Butter Fried Chicken is … divine (and don’t you dare skip out on the house-made ice cream).

Later that day, the Chicago Architecture Center may sound like a place just for professionals, portfolios stashed under their arms as they run off for a meeting, but it’s truly terrific for all ages, with programs like Lego and architecture labs.

Somewhere in the mix, get on line (and it can be quite a line) to head up to the Skydeck at Willis Tower. The windows feature clear boxes you can walk into, and when you look down, you will feel like you’re floating on air (and seeing a stunning view of the city while you’re at it).

Build It in Boston

From construction with Legos to learning about the building blocks of life, Boston’s kid-friendly museum scene will have your kids giggling while learning about science and so much more.

family friendly short breaks
Tap your creativity at Legoland. (Photo: Getty Images)

Start the day at the Museum of Science for hands-on learning that your kids will be talking about for a long time. (Take a break at nearby Toscanini’s Ice Cream after. Yes, they build the perfect sundae.)

Want some outdoor time? Take a walk on The Freedom Trail to find out how America was built. Cap the daytime activities with a shopping stop at the Legoland Discovery Center Boston‘s store.

Move Forward in New York City

You could just ride around on New York City’s subway all day and, really, some kids would be thrilled. But don’t do that. Instead, take a bus or the subway to the New York Transit Museum for a lively look at everything from the history of the subway to the vintage train cars and buses in the collection. (The museum itself is housed in a decommissioned subway station in Brooklyn. So nifty.)

After your transit fix, fill up on excellent Italian food at Layla Jones in Cobble Hill. The kid’s menu — featuring just four kid-friendly items (including a near-naked rigatoni that will please picky eaters) — is a winner.

Take your aspiring aviators to Midtown and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for a look at moving forward in a big way. Your kids will love snapping a photo next to the space shuttle Enterprise. For a final splash, after dark, head to the legendary Blue Man Group show. You’ll all be moved to amazement.

Sea Fun Outside of Los Angeles

Have kids who dig marine life and other biology topics? Well, yo-ho-ho, the Aquarium of the Pacific is the place to go. Time your trip to coincide with one of the two-hour Junior Biologist programs that introduce kids 7 to 12 to topics from fish to marine mammals and, yes, sharks.

Then it’s time to have breakfast for lunch (or, shall we say, second breakfast?) at The Crooked Duck, a laid-back spot that serves the morning meal until 3 p.m., daily. Then it’s time to head into the water for surf lessons. Yup, kids as young as three are welcome at Banzai Surf School in Huntington Beach.

Get Your Mini Naturalist Giggling in West Palm Beach, Florida

If the thought of winter weather has you shivering, it’s time to take a quick trip to Florida. West Palm Beach is a great place for nature-loving kids to explore. Walk the easy trails at the Okeeheelee Nature Center, and after lunch at the retro-perfect Howley’s Restaurant — serving locals for 69 years — it’s turtle time 12 miles away in Juno Beach. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center will teach the whole family about the efforts to save endangered sea turtles and protect the ocean itself.

Chow Down in Atlanta

It’s time to turn your minis into the foodies of your dreams. Or at least show them where their food comes from and get them interested in helping do a bit of prep work back home. Sign up for a hands-on cooking class at the Young Chefs Academy.

family friendly short breaks
Channel your child’s inner chef. (Photo: Getty Images)

Though the kids may not be hungry right after the class, the city offers many options for family-friendly dining. A local favorite that will have you thinking about a move to the city: My Parents’ Basement, where a very tasty menu is joined by plenty of comic books and pinball games. For families with teens, wind food and history together during one of the Atlanta Food Walks.

French for Small Fries in Montreal

No time to take a trip to France? Don’t be sad. Montreal is no slouch when it comes to celebrating la vie en rose. Whether you speak French or not, Breizh Café will have your entire family saying “oh, la la.” It’s great fun for kids and adults to watch the chefs cook up your crepe order.

Then consider hiring a private tour guide for a wander around the city with a bit of a French lesson thrown in. (You’ll all, for sure, remember the names of the pastries tasted along the way.) And don’t forget to get in a bit of children’s theater, in French, of course. The fun of shows at the Maison Theatre transcends language, and soon enough, your kids may surprise you with a “C’était amusant.” (It was fun!).