Family Friendly National Park Trips

There are many national parks and national historical sites within the United States and while all are sights that welcome families and offer traveling families many sights to do and activities to entertain themselves, there are some that are much more family-oriented than others. Here are three of the top national parks that are family-oriented that are not always the first ones that people think about.

Colonial National Historical Park in Jamestown Virginia is comprised of the town of Jamestown and the nearby Yorktown Battlefield. This area where pioneers first settled is known for its natural beauty and decent weather. Being that the area is tucked in between the James and York Rivers, the natural beauty is seen in the tall trees and beautiful beaches.

Of course, history resounds here with the original historical sites within Historic Jamestowne. Many people are unaware that a group of men and boys settled here 13 years before the Pilgrims from the Mayflower even set sail for America. Also, while in Jamestown, families will want to see the beautiful statues of Pocahontas, one of the most famous women of this area, and John Smith.

Families will enjoy taking a tour of Old Towne, the site of the fort that once stood there. Also, in New Towne, families will be able to see where the settlers moved when they were no longer using the fort and where they chose to build their first State House. Here is a chance to really teach children a little more history if they know anything at all about the settlers and the settlements that began in Virginia.

In Yorktown, families can take a guided tour of the battlefield and children can learn some more about the history of this area and how it affected the United States history by listening to the park rangers who give the tour and by watching the film at the visitor’s center. During the summer months, there are also tours given of the historic town of York and an artillery demonstration that boys especially will enjoy.

Children, ages 6-12 should take part in the Junior Ranger Program that Yorktown’s Battlefield offers. The program is a 2 hour long event that allows the young visitors to learn about the last battle that was fought there during the American Revolution. Once, they complete the program they are given a certificate of completion and a patch with a picture of the site. They might also want to take part in the Young Soldiers Program which allows them to dress in costume and learn hands-on about life as a soldier during the American Revolution as well.

Parents who want to really give their children a real history lesson, consider also taking a trip to Colonial Williamsburg while in the area as well. In Williamsburg, they will have an opportunity to see some of the most historic sites in the entire state. In the 1770’s, Williamsburg was the first capital of the state. Stepping into Williamsburg is like stepping into colonial times and the middle of the American Revolution. Families will enjoy touring historic homes, dining in recreated taverns, and shopping in the 18th century stores that are located within town.

The second national park that families will want to see is on the other side of the country from Virginia in Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park. This park is an absolutely perfect trip for parents of school aged children and the perfect chance to share an introduction into the history of the West.

Start your trip here in the Far View Visitors Center. This is a great opportunity to introduce your family to the park and a chance to learn about the tours that are available. One of the most common tours is the ranger guided Cliff Palace tour. This tour is an hour long and will allow families to see an architectural wonder that was built in 1200 A.D. Families should also consider the self guided tour of the Step House. These dwellings are very important to the history of the area and are almost like doll houses tucked inside the rocks. Park rangers are always available to answer any questions that you might have about the Step House. There are several other tours available but they are more strenuous than these.

Families that need a place to stay while in the area should really check out the Lake Mancos Ranch. This working dude ranch is the perfect chance for the kids to learn what it is like to be real cowboys and cowgirls. Children are divided into age groups and take morning horseback rides with their new friends and given the opportunity to take part in many other activities. Even the kids, ages 3-5, are given an opportunity to take guided pony rides and a chance to take part in other organized activities. While the parents are given a chance to get together with other adults and do some work around the ranch and talk about how the muscles are talking as well.

A trip to Mesa Verde is a perfect time to learn more about the Wild West and the history of the area. The history of the west doesn’t start with some of the famous cowboys that we might think, but with the Anasazi that were settled here way before the cowboys.

The final family friendly trip that I will mention in this is an area that many families may know a little about. Denali National Park, home to Mount McKinley, is located in the beautiful state of Alaska. Many children know that Mount McKinley is the highest peak in North America but are not aware that it is located within a national park.

Denali National Park is comprised of over six million acres and is home to many forms of wildlife. Children will have an opportunity to see grizzlies, moose and Dall sheep along with many others. If families are really wanting an opportunity to see the wildlife roaming in their natural habitats, then it is suggested that they take a bus tour. There are many shuttle buses available to take visitors from one area of the park to another.

While in the area, families will want to take a trip to Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park is a 44 acre theme park that includes a Pioneer Air Museum where guests can view many of the aircraft that have flown over this Alaskan territory. Guests can also see how Fairbanks looked when it was a bustling gold rush town and can see a replica of a Native village or play a game of miniature golf. This is an excellent place for families as it is a free attraction.

Speaking of gold, families might also be interested in knowing that they can tour a real gold mine at Gold Dredge No. 8. Kids will enjoy mining for gold more than they will watching the video that describes the process. However, kids and adults alike will enjoy all of the exhibits that are here for families to explore.

Whichever national park you choose to visit, check it out on the government website and learn all you can about the surrounding activities that you and your children might enjoy. There are always free things that families can take advantage of when traveling if they just search them out.

Sources: talks with friends, personal experience


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