When the family’s with me on a trip my criteria for what the destination needs to offer is very different than when I’m traveling with my girlfriends or alone. Kids under the age of 10 need activity and that means that a one-dimensional destination isn’t going to cut it. We need things to do… brain stimulation, physical activity, fun…  and if we don’t get it the vacation quickly goes downhill. When all else fails we turn to our tried and true.  These 5 spots have proven their family-satisfying abilities:

Florida Castle1. Florida – Typically it’s Orlando but on a recent visit to Miami I fell in love with the southern city too.

What you get: Cities that recognize that families travel to them. Between children’s museums, entire areas dedicated to family experiences and yup, even the theme parks they offer the tried and true of a family vacation that focuses on together time. Peek at some  of the fun we recently had in the sunshine state here .

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – It’s the mini-golf capital of the world and folks here take the game so seriously they host the championships every year.

What you get: You’ll find plenty of places to improve your golf skills in big and little ways. Accommodations include larger family-friendly cottages and suites with kitchens that can make doubling up with another family easy and cut costs. We stayed at the Marina Inn at Grand Dunes when we visited  with friends a few years ago and between the beach and fantastic game spots  like  the wand waving world of Magiquest, you’ll never hear “I’m bored.” Another plus: Most restaurants aren’t just family-friendly, they’re family – welcoming.

3. Williamsburg, Virginia – not your parent’s Pioneer Village

What you get: It’s a step back in time without the boring bits. Dramatic vignettes in the streets make visitors a part of the action and offer the back story to important moments in American History in a way that keeps kids and adults informed and entertained. Special areas for younger kids means they can learn what life was like for the pint-size pioneer set as well. Loved it.

4.San Francisco, California – Indoors and out

What you get: Strolls along the wharf, fresh seafood and kids activities that run the gamut from innovative children’s museums (where they can do everything from claymation to shooting their own video) to a visit to the infamous Alcatraz prison (for one of the best tours I’ve ever experienced.) And even thought the weather here is cooler than Southern California, it has plenty of fun neighbourhoods and parks that are both  walkable and manageable with kids.

San Francisco Wharf

Head to places where friends come easy and treats are plentiful

5. Stowe, Vermont – Outdoor enthusiasts meet small-town appeal

What you get: The Von Trapps – of Sound of Music fame – live here and that alone should give you an idea of what Stowe is like:  Wholesome, family fun. Ice cream floats at a 50’s style soda shop, bike rides on well-paved trails and tennis lessons from a pro. Opt to stay at Smuggler’s Notch and you’ll also get family style summer or winter camp-like experience that will keep everyone happy.

Your turn. Have you got a favourite U.S. family travel spot? Add it in the comments below and save a parent some grief. :)