10 Places In America To Take Your Kids Before They Turn 18

By @MarkJohansonIBT on
  • No. 1 Walt Disney World, Florida
    Disney will drop its Guest Assistance Card program for visitors with disabilities next month in favor of a new, stricter system.
  • No. 2 Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
    Tourists look out over Arizona's famed Grand Canyon.
  • No. 3 Niagara Falls, New York
    Niagara Falls, which forms the border of the U.S. and Canada, came in at No. 3.
  • No. 4 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
    Yellowstone National Park, the world's first natural preserve, in Wyoming.
  • No. 5 San Diego Zoo, California
    The San Diego Zoo, one of the finest in the world, came in at No. 5.
  • No. 6: Time Square, New York
    New York City's flashiest neighborhood, Times Square, came in at No. 6.
  • No. 7: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
    Historically significant Pearl Harbor took No. 7.
  • No. 8 Yosemite National Park, California
    California's iconic Yosemite National Park came in at No. 8.
  • No. 10 National Mall, Washington, D.C.
    The National Mall in Washington, D.C., rounded out the top 10 list at No. 10.
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Disney Parks commissioned a blind study earlier this year that asked 1,000 parents of children age five to 17 to share thoughts on quality time at home versus quality time on vacation. Naturally -- as Disney no doubt planned -- the parents said their lives were hectic, quality time was ephemeral and that a vacation was the solution.

Indeed, 97 percent of the parents responded that their children learned new things about them while taking a family trip, including more about their childhoods (86 percent) or facts about other family members (74 percent). Those surveyed said they ate twice as many meals together on the road, expressed more affection and rekindled family bonds.

“We know vacations are important, but to have parents validate how important vacation time is to their families was insightful,” Leslie Ferraro, executive vice president of global marketing for Disney Parks, explained. “As we’ve learned from families who participated in the survey, those moments of quality family time can feel fleeting in our everyday home lives.”

Tom Gilmore, CEO of VacationHomeRentals.com, said traveling not only brings everybody together but also helps kids learn and it expands their horizons. “But it’s really about the memories. I look back at photo albums and 70 percent of the photos are from family vacations. These memories will last a lifetime.”

But where is the best place to make those memories? VacationHomeRentals.com conducted a separate survey of 5,000 Americans who offered up some surprising tips, according to Gilmore. “We expected Disney World to win, but the Grand Canyon was only a few votes behind. I’ve never been there myself, so clearly we need to put this on the family wish list.”

For Gilmore, who has two young sons, destinations such as Disney World or the Grand Canyon will keep the family talking 20 years later. “Didn’t the Brady Bunch go to the Grand Canyon,” he joked. “It’s that kind of a list -- places you can see the whole family having fun.”

The website for family-to-family vacation home rentals conducted its survey last month through its online database. Participants were asked to rank top destinations in the U.S. to take children before they turn 18. The places should all be familiar, but the order in which they’re ranked may surprise you. Scroll through the slideshow above for a look.

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