Vacationing with kids is always fun— but it can also be a challenge, too. Finding stuff to keep them entertained, but also engaged is key to making your family trip a success… and if they’re tired of the same old museums and state parks, it’s time to start thinking outside the box when planning a family vacation. Luckily, we’ve gathered a list of unusual and exciting places that kids and adults alike will love. Get out there and get exploring!
Natural Waterslides: If your kids love waterslides, but standing in line for hours isn’t your cup of tea, check out these gorgeous natural waterslides.
Sliding Rock in North Carolina is popular for tourists and locals alike, with its wide, smooth slide. Just be prepared for crowds: you might be waiting in line after all for this one! It’s worth it though. And once you’ve worn yourselves out on the slide, then head back to the Mt. Pisgah Campground for the night— it’s on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so you know it’s in a lovely setting.
Meadow Run in Pennsylvania’s Ohiopyle State Park has slowly been earning a reputation as one of the best natural waterslides in the country. Its long corkscrew waterway dumps you into a shallow pool at the end. It can move you pretty fast, so you might want to wear jeans to protect your skin! This park offers RV-friendly camping, making this a great weekend trip during the summer.
Weird and Wacky Playgrounds
St. Louis is home to one of the most brain-bending museums in the country: The City Museum. It’s part playground, part surreal art installation, part history and science museum, and all fun. As you explore (and they don’t have maps to guide you around, since the place is all about the wonder of unexpected surprises and discovery), you never know what you’ll come across— maybe you’ll wind up in an airplane fuselage, a massive whale, or on a five-story slide. And, the St. Louis R.V. park is within walking distance of the museum— totally perfect!
Joshua Tree National Park is a quirky RVer’s dream come true. Set up your home base at the park’s Cottonwood Creek Campground and explore some of the country’s most offbeat and intriguing folk art.
The Noah Purifoy Outdoor Art Museum is a collection of found-object sculptures from a famous folk artist. It feels like a whimsically curated modern day ghost town, and Noah Purifoy was incredibly prolific.
The Desert Christ Park is a strange collection of concrete Jesus statues that's just as inspirational it is interesting.
Ghost Towns: There’s a lot of intrigue in a ghost town. The abandoned buildings, the empty streets, the forgotten hopes and dreams of the people who lived there . . . It’s no wonder a visit to one is hard to resist.
Bodie, California is a former gold town. Its demise was slow and lingering, and it didn’t turn up its toes until 1942. Today it’s in a state of “arrested decay.” Don’t pick up any souvenirs when you visit, though. It brings down a n ambiguous curse on anyone who removes anything from the site! It’s close to Yosemite National Park, which means there are RV parks a-plenty around.
If you want to camp out in the ghost town, head to Calico Ghost Town. It’s been restored and transformed into more of a touristy destination, but they have some historic buildings as well as recreation and tons of campsites.
Chocolate Waterfalls: Willy Wonka fans rejoice, because all the record-holding chocolate waterfalls in the world are right here in the U.S.
Although it hasn’t been recognized by Guinness yet, Alaska’s Wildberry Products in Anchorage claims to have the world’s biggest chocolate waterfall in their store. It’s 20 feet high and pumps out around 3,000 pounds of chocolate. It’s also located right near the Golden Nugget RV Campground just outside of Anchorage, making it a great stop on a trip through Alaska!
The tallest chocolate fountain in the world (and yes, this one’s corroborated by Guinness) is in Las Vegas. Located in the Bellagio promenade, it’s part of the Jean Philippe Patisserie. It’s 27 feet tall and circulates 2,100 pounds of chocolate daily. The Bellagio does have limited RV parking.
Coral Castle in Miami is hardly a traditional castle, but its history is just as fantastic as any fairytale. Allegedly spurned by his fiancée just a single day before their wedding, Ed Leedskalnin fled to America and began to secretly and single-handedly build this strange “castle.” How a 100-lb man using only hand tools was able move tons of rock is part of the mystery of the place. Ed himself used to claim he had “discovered the secrets of the pyramids.” Interesting… and enchanting. Equally enchanting is the nearby Gold Coaster RV Resort, perfect for a stay in southern Florida.
Death Valley National Park is also home to a castle— it’s more of a Spanish-style mansion, but Scotty’s Castle has quite an interesting story to go along with it: it was built by a rich guy named Albert Johnson for his best friend, Scotty… the two met when Scotty conned Johnson out of some money in a fake mining scheme! It’s close to the park’s awesome Mesquite Spring Campground, too.