From Maine to California, we have compiled the perfect list of 16 Charming American Towns Worth Visiting With Kids! Between sandy beaches under swaying palm trees, historic tourist attractions, and downtowns evoking an old-world charm, these locations offer your family an enchanting escape. Visit Solvang, California, for a Danish-inspired town offering bakeries, cozy shops, and a nearby ostrich farm. Looking to slow down a bit? Mackinac Island, Michigan, offers a no-vehicle island where your family can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride while dining on its world-renowned fudge. Next, Savannah, Georgia is the perfect place for families to enjoy a little southern comfort or a spooky cemetery tour amongst charming Spanish moss trees. Families will adore these charming towns, with opportunities to relax, unwind, and connect around every corner. If you’re looking for your next adventure, we hope you try one of these charming towns with kids!
Leavenworth is first on our list of charming towns with kids! Located approximately 2.5 hours from Seattle, this delightful Washington town is sure to impress any age, especially during the Christmas holiday. Plus, the captivating drive from Seattle to Leavenworth will surely add to its charm. Once you arrive, though, you’ll immediately notice why Leavenworth tops our list! Leavenworth is fashioned after villages found in Bavaria, giving it an old-world, Germanic charm you can’t find anywhere else in the US. Strolling through town, you’ll see magical window boxes filled with colorful flowers, classic German timber accents atop buildings, and friendly faces waiting to welcome your family! Then, you’ll also find a plethora of family-friendly activities, including hiking at Lake Wenatchee State Park, exploring lovely boutiques, and even a chance to go ziplining! When you’re ready to dine, you’ll find classically-styled beer gardens, as well as other tasty eating establishments.
Next, families will adore Solvang, described as a “little slice of Denmark in Southern California.” Solvang is also about 45 minutes away from Santa Barabara, making it a wonderful day trip or overnight visit! Offering enchanting activities and events throughout the year, this charming town is perfect for kids looking to immerse themselves in a one-of-a-kind California destination! Arrive in the morning to enjoy freshly baked Danish treats. As you meander through town with your coffee, gaze upon Scandinavia-inspired homes and windmills. Cozy shops and restaurants are sure to fill you with a sense of Danish hygge without having to leave America. If you’re interested in wine, members of our Facebook group, Families Who Love To Travel, suggest Shoestring Winery and Rideau Winery as kid-friendly options. Then, bring kids to the nearby ostrich farm where they can feed the ostriches and emus! Or, embrace the great outdoors at Lake Cachuma.
Cape May, NJ
Cape May offers a kid-centered option for families looking to escape to one of the most charming towns in America! In fact, there’s no shortage of things to do with kids in this enchanting New Jersey seaside destination. First, kids will definitely delight in the chance to go dolphin and whale watching. Afterward, take a stroll along pristine beaches as kids dance in and out of the magnetic waves. Meander back into town using one of the picturesque boardwalks! There, enjoy a historic tour of Cape May on a trolley car. Families will also adore the CMC Zoo, where they can observe alpacas, cheetahs, elk, and more! Perhaps one of the most charming things to do in Cape May is touring a local lighthouse. The Cape May Lighthouse even dates back to the 1800s! Plus, you’ll find ample kid-friendly dining options in town, including seafood, pizza, and American fare!
Mackinac Island, MI
Families looking for a magical island to stroll, bike, or travel by horse-drawn carriage should look no further than Mackinac Island. Located in Michigan, this no-vehicle island allows families to unwind and connect in unique ways. The Mackinac Island adventure begins with a ferry ride from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace. Upon arrival, kids will love exploring the island by renting bicycles or by hailing a horse-drawn carriage. Once you have a sense of the island, it’s time to try its world-renown fudge! Mackinac Island’s Main Street offers families a chance to wander through unique shops, people watch, and grab a bite to eat. Speaking of eating, families can also pack a picnic and head to the iconic Arch Rock! Finally, don’t miss touring the historic Fort Holmes. With so many enticing activities, it’s no wonder that Mackinac Island graces our list of charming towns with kids.
Off the coast of Monterey Bay, Capitola is one of the best small towns to visit in the USA! This hidden California gem is located off Hwy 1/PCH, just south of Santa Cruz. A colorful seaside escape, Capitola is perfect for families touring the California coastline. An exquisite day trip or overnight, families will love roaming the beach and gazing upon the rainbow of homes nestled along the shore. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a sea lion or two! While visiting, discover kid-friendly activities like fishing, paddle boarding, and surfing. Then, check out the historic Capitola Museum for cool facts about local marine and art history. Nature lovers can also relax amongst the iconic redwoods while hiking in Nisene Marks State Park. Need a drink in hand? Members of our Facebook group, Families Who Love To Travel, recommend Capitola for an afternoon of antiquing and wine tasting.
Jackson is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream vacation! As one of the most charming towns in America, this quintessential western destination hosts an array of family-friendly activities in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Valley. Upon arrival, take time to appreciate the town square’s rustic arches, made of fallen antlers from the local National Elk Refuge. To start your day, our families also highly recommend Persephone Bakery for a sweet treat and a morning coffee! Then, head to Jenny Lake to explore Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Several stunning hiking trails are accessible from the lakeshore. Or, take a picnic to Mirror Lake and enjoy its striking scenery. Next, adventurous families can spend the day whitewater rafting down the Snake River. Want to stay on land? Explore local trails by renting an ATV, Side by Side, or on horseback. Finally, families won’t want to miss the iconic Jackson Hole Rodeo!
Looking for more things to do in Jackson, Wyoming? Check out these recommendations from Traveling Mel as you prepare to visit one of the most charming towns with kids.
New Hope, PA
New Hope is a fascinating Pennsylvania town nestled along the Delaware River. Luckily, this charming Bucks County borough also offers a mix of historic and outdoor activities for families! First, explore Washington Crossing Historical Park. This beautiful park provides hundreds of acres for families to explore. Not to mention, kids will delight in learning that the park preserves the historic site where President Washington crossed the Delaware River. A truly riveting moment in American history! Then, train enthusiasts will adore traveling on the New Hope Railroad through charming Bucks County. Or, take a trek to Sesame Place if you have littles in tow. Meeting Big Bird will be a truly magical moment! Families looking to commune with nature should consider hiking in Ringing Rocks County Park. Or, try Tyler State Park, which offers kayaking, paddle boarding, and horseback riding. There’s plenty to adore in this charming town with kids!
Grand Marais, MN
Tucked along Lake Superior’s northern shore, picturesque Grand Marias is next on our list of kid-friendly charming towns. This lakeside town in Minnesota is still a hidden gem on the national scale (even though it was honored as America’s Coolest Small Town in 2015!) Upon arrival, walk out to Artist Point and the Grand Marais Lighthouse for a full view of the enchanting harbor. Be sure to skip a few stones in the water! Looking to get on the water? Sail on the iconic Hjørdis, the Grand Marais flagship. On board, you’ll truly understand why Grand Marais is one of the most charming towns in America! Next, take a class, like wood fire baking, at the North House Folk School. Or, treasure an unforgettable hike up the Gunflint Trail. Grand Marais also offers a number of family-friendly festivals. Finally, be sure to indulge in Beth’s famous, in-house made fudge!
Did you know Lake Superior is one of the 8 Best US Lakes For Families to Visit During Summer?
Santa Catalina Island, CA
Santa Catalina Island is one of California’s Channel Islands, located southwest of Los Angeles. Next on our list, this island actually offers two wonderful towns for families! Rustic Two Harbors and its larger sister Avalon provide families endless opportunities to connect and make memories together. First, kids will delight in a Glass Bottom Boat Voyage where they’re sure to see countless colorful fish and other marine life. Adventurous families can rent scuba gear, as well as go kayaking or paddleboarding. On land, challenge one another to a round of 18-hole mini-golf in an idyllic garden atmosphere. Or, relax on the beach under breezy palm trees with drinks in-hand. When you’re ready for a scenic stroll, head to the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden. Whether you’re looking for a little adventure or a chance to breathe, Santa Catalina Island offers the perfect mix of both for your next family vacation!
Take a horse-drawn carriage to start your trip in charming Savannah, Georgia. Afterward, stretch your legs and stroll through the historic cobblestone lanes of this captivating southern town. Looking for a great park to let your kids roam? Try Forsyth Park, located in the historic district and lined with giant oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. Next, take a riverboat cruise on the Georgia Queen, where knowledgeable guides will share interesting facts and stories. Fort James Jackson is a must with kids, who will love the cannon firings and interactive programs. Families looking for a unique activity can try a spooky cemetery tour, where they can learn about some of Savannah’s more mysterious residents. Then, don’t miss a chance to bring littles to the Savannah Children’s Museum. The museum features dozens of imaginative exhibits for curious kids. Finally, Tybee Island offers a fantastic day trip for families with spare time!
Our friends at Family Can Travel provide a great itinerary for this charming town with kids. Check out their 2 Days in Savannah with Kids for more information.
One of the most charming towns to visit with kids is just south of Nashville. Franklin is a quaint destination perfect for a Tennessee day trip or a visit all its own! Classic brick storefronts and friendly faces await you in its downtown area, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a ‘Great American’ Main Street experience. It doesn’t get more charming than that! In town, wander through cozy shops and dine on the iconic 100 layer donut at Five Daughters Bakery. Afterward, meet the alpacas at Mistletoe Farm. Then, check out the Lotz House to learn about the Battle of Franklin, a pivotal moment during the Civil War. Kids will see history come alive while touring this historic home. Plus, don’t miss a breathtaking hot air balloon ride over scenic rolling hills and hidden lakes. Finally, adults can taste the spirit of Tennessee at Leiper’s Fork Distillery.
Ogunquit, Maine is surely one of the best charming towns to visit with kids! This idyllic town boasts pristine boardwalks among grassy dunes leading to sandy beaches. In fact, Ogunquit was named by the local Abenaki tribe, as it means “beautiful place by the sea.” We can’t think of a more charming name for it! After exploring the beach, remember to take a shaded hike among the trees in Mount Agamenticus. If you have a stroller in tow, try Marginal Way, a flat path offering enchanting coastal views while you make family memories! In town, don’t miss the fantastic playground next to the fire station. Here, kids can let loose and enjoy a lovely afternoon. Ready to eat? Our Facebook members recommend mornings at Amore Breakfast and dinners at That Place in Ogunquit. For seafood, try Footbridge Lobster to munch on tasty lobster rolls and watch boats go by!
Looking for an itinerary? Try this one from our friends at 2-for-1 Around the World.
Next, families will adore Provincetown, Massachusetts, lovingly referred to as P-Town. In town, stroll through cute shops and dine at inviting restaurants. Look no further than the Lobster Pot for tasty fried clams and lobster. Given its extensive menu, it will also be foolproof for even the pickiest eaters! School-aged children will love visiting Provincetown, as it is the historic landing site of the Mayflower. Families can even visit the Pilgrim Monument Provincetown Museum! Next, get on the water for a little whale watching. Kids will delight in observing these charming creatures. Back on land, discover the legends of local pirates at the Whydah Pirate Museum. As you walk along the beach, challenge kids to find the three local lighthouses. Then, active families can also rent kayaks or bikes to spend a lovely afternoon exploring. If you’re looking for a classic seaside experience, look no further than Provincetown.
Families looking for great history, beautiful scenery, and an expansive beach will cherish Charleston! This South Carolina port city has had a front-row seat to many of America’s most important historical moments. Winding through Charleston’s cobblestone streets while gazing upon quaint southern homes will perfectly showcase the true beauty of one of the most charming towns in America. Be sure to grab an ice cream for your stroll from Kilwins, a local favorite (offering pecan pralines too!) Families looking to tour this magical destination can do so by foot, horse-drawn carriage, or boat. Then, encounter an array of marine life at the South Carolina Aquarium. Or, check out a different twist on marine life at Patriots Point, featuring the USS Yorktown. Finally, don’t miss the oldest running theater in the United States, Dock Street Theater. Here, Charleton will come alive on stage – and in the hearts of your children!
If you’re set on Charleston, here’s a few itineraries to get you started. First, Maps, Memories, and Motherhood share their tips on Charleton with a focus on learning, exploring, and the beach. Then, Macaroni Kid offers tips accompanied by darling family photos that make Charleston come alive!
Galena is our next charming town to visit with kids! This rural Illinois community welcomes families with arms stretched wide. Known for its historic buildings, hilly landscape, and diverse shopping opportunities, Galena is also an educational treat for families. For example, about 85% of the buildings in Galena are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, making Galena a must for history buffs. In fact, you can even retrace the steps of President Ulysses S. Grant by visiting his home! Afterward, head to Apple River Fort to learn about the 1832 Black Hawk War fought between settlers and the indigenous Sauk tribe. Next, families will adore Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery for a glass of wine perfectly paired with charming country scenery (dog friendly!) Back in town, wander Main Street, offering 100+ cute shops and boutiques. Not to mention, darling candy and ice cream parlors to treat the kids!
Located in the heart of California’s Central Coast lies Cambria. This enchanting town declares itself “a place where you can escape from it all.” And we can see why! From pristine boardwalks to a quaint, historic downtown, Cambria offers the perfect places for families to relax and unwind. Families won’t find any big-box stores here, since this captivating coastal town has stayed true to its local roots, housing a variety of family-owned shops and boutiques. Kids will particularly love exploring Bluff Trail within the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Plus, don’t miss the Covell Clydesdale Ranch, where your family can gaze upon these amazing creatures as they enjoy wide-open pastures. Various art galleries are also sure to charm older kids, while adults can treasure moments together at one of the local wineries, like the Stolo Family Winery. Finally, a visit to Cambria isn’t complete without enjoying a dazzling sunset from the beach!
Happy Charming Travels!
Whether you are looking for a little adventure, a chance to relax, or simply a change of scenery for your family, there is a destination for you on this list of 16 Charming American Towns Worth Visiting With Kids. You won’t regret ditching the hustle and bustle of a large city in favor of one of these magical escapes. Your kids will also delight in one of the many activities offered, while you soak up the uninterrupted family time. Visiting one of the most charming towns with kids is also sure to remind you of what’s most important in life – each other!
Thank You to Our Community
As always, this article would not have been as charming, informed, or family-friendly without the contributions and input from the amazing members on our Facebook group, Families Who Love To Travel! For more travel recommendations on vacationing with kids in tow, be sure to join us on Facebook at Families Who Love To Travel. It’s a community of dynamic families who love to adventure and explore through travel. It is also a place to ask questions, share tips, and get travel inspiration! Plus, follow us on Instagram (@families.love.travel) to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer. And to get sneak peeks of upcoming articles!