The Top States For A Family Vacation | The Ellie Sparkles Show

The Top States For A Family Vacation | The Ellie Sparkles Show

There is no bad time for an American family adventure. So, whether you’re planning an end-of-year getaway or next year’s summer vacation, we’ve got you covered at The Ellie Sparkles Show. 

According to our recent survey of 1,000 parents across the United States, 46% of respondents stated they have never been on a family vacation abroad. Exploring closer to home proved to be more common amongst families, with 79% of families stating they have been on a staycation in the US outside of their state. 

From snowy mountains to golden beaches, there are plenty of destinations to explore without leaving the country. But which state best caters for a family trip?  

To determine the best states for an adventure-filled family trip, we analyzed and compared 50 US states across eight key family and child-friendly metrics including: 

🏨 Accommodation - the number of family-friendly hotels per 100,000 people.

🎡 Things to do - the number of child-friendly tourist attractions in the state.

 Gas prices - the average state price for regular gas for those with a vehicle.

🚌 Local transport - the average cost of a family ticket in the most populated city.

🚶 Walking trails - the number of child-friendly walking trails.

👮 State safety - the state's personal and residential safety rank (out of 50).

👨‍🍳 Restaurants - the number of child-friendly places to eat per 100,000 people.

🍽️ Family meal - the average cost of a meal for four at an inexpensive restaurant.

Based on these findings each state received a ‘family adventure score’ out of 10. Let’s see where your state ranks. 

The Family Adventure Index: The 10 Best States For A Family Vacation 

According to our survey, on average families in the US go on a family day out 8 times a year. So, to help you decide where to go next, our list of the top states for a family vacation are the absolute best for entertainment, connecting, and making lasting memories as a family.


1. California Is America’s Top State For A Family Vacation 

Overall, California comes out on top as the best state for a family vacation with an impressive family adventure score of 6.17. 

Home to Disneyland, numerous aquariums, and plenty of zoos, there are over ​​3,232 kid-friendly tourist activities to explore. California also has the highest number of child-friendly walking trails out of all the states analyzed, with 4,473, so there are plenty of chances to get active as a family and go exploring. 

Another reason that California makes a fantastic option for families is that, getting around the state is affordable, a family of four transport ticket for the most populated city in the state costs $3.97 - which ties for the cheapest in our top 10 with Wisconsin and New Hampshire. 

2. Florida Is The Second Best State For An Adventure With Kids  

The state with the most child-friendly tourist attractions is Florida, with 4,673 places to visit. There are beautiful beaches, botanical gardens, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and so much more! You can even make a trip to Orlando's branch of the Crayola Experience to experience one of Ellie Sparkles' favorite days out.  

Florida is also one of the more affordable states for getting around by car, with the state's average gas price being $3.62. This balances out the slightly elevated public transport costs, where a ticket for a family of four costs $8.47. 

3. Maine Ranks As The Third Best State For a Family Adventure   

Maine has the widest variety of places to stay to choose from, with 33 family-friendly hotels per 100,000 people. Maine is also the third safest state in the US in terms of personal & residential safety, and is home to beautiful scenery making this state the perfect location to visit whatever season.  

Foodie families will also love the huge range of places to go out to eat too. With 994 child-friendly restaurants per 100,000 people, Maine offers the widest variety of dining experiences of any state we looked at. 

The Average Cost Of A Scoop Of Ice Cream In Every US State 🍦 

Nothing says ‘vacation’ better than ice cream, and no family trip away would be complete without it. 

With this in mind, we analyzed the price lists of three of the top-rated ice cream stores in each US state to reveal the average cost of one scoop of ice cream.  

Here is how much pocket money your children will have to save to buy ice cream in each state. 

Overall, our research shows the average cost of a single scoop of ice cream across all states in the United States is $3.87.  

The cheapest city to buy ice cream is Saint Louis, where kids can exchange just $2.36 of their pocket money to beat the Missouri summer heat. Over in Oklahoma City a scoop is $2.42, and in Des Moines, the third cheapest place for ice cream, a scoop costs $2.46 on average. 

On the other end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay up to $5.95 for a single scoop of ice cream in Miami - the most expensive city on our ranking.  

How Much Do American Families Spend On A Family Adventure? 💵 

It is not just ice cream funds that parents need to prepare for when taking their family on vacation. We surveyed 1,000 parents across the country to reveal how much families are spending on their family vacations in the United States and abroad.   

On average, a family of four (two adults and two children) spend around $1,666 on a week-long vacation abroad. However, this is a cost faced by only three in 10 (30%) families who go on vacation abroad at least once a year. 

Going on vacation outside of your state in the US proved more expensive than vacationing abroad, with a family of four being set back $1,748 on this type of staycation. On average families in the US go on vacation to other states 2 times a year.  

On average families opt to go on vacation within their state 2 times a year. Each time families can expect to pay around $1,457 for their trip, equalling to $3,525 a year. 

For a shorter family adventure, family days out in the US cost a family of four an average of $382. This is the cheapest option for families due to most day outs not requiring accommodation expenses. However, with the average family going on a family day out 8 times a year, that amounts to a cost of $3,189 annually.  


The 10 Top-Rated Free Activities For Children In The US 🚸

You don’t always have to pay extortionate amounts of money to have a good time. Many attractions around the US offer free entry to children under a certain age or on certain days.  

So, to discover the best FREE attractions across America we analyzed TripAdvisor data to reveal the top-rated activities for children that don’t require an entry fee. 

Georgia’s Savannah Historic District and Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park share the top spot, with 83% of each attraction’s reviews being 5 stars. These locations offer beautiful views and architecture that the whole family can enjoy without a hefty price tag.   
Not far behind them is the Getty Center in California with 82% of their reviews being 5 stars. At this attraction, you and your children can get involved in a wide range of fun and educational activities all for free.

Five Top Tips For Planning Your Next Family Adventure 📝

Now that we’ve given you some ideas for fun family adventures, here are some top tips to help you make the day as enjoyable as possible for you and your loved ones.  

1. Choose an activity that’s fun for everyone. The best family days out are the ones that have something for everyone to enjoy. Think of each family member’s favorite thing to do and try to incorporate each one into your plans for the day. 

2. Think about the weather. A little rain never hurts anybody, but it can put a real damper on outdoor activities if you’re underprepared. Make sure you check the weather forecast before you leave the house and pack ponchos or umbrellas if you need to. 

3. Try not to overschedule. You might be tempted to try and pack as much fun as you can into one day, but overscheduling can make the day feel rushed or even stressful. Instead, take things slowly and focus on making memories at a pace that works for your family.  

4. Have a backup plan. Despite all your careful preparation, sometimes a plan just doesn’t work out, so it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan in place to avoid any disappointments caused by an unexpected situation. 

5. Plan activities for the journey. Whether you’re traveling by car or public transport, the fun starts when the journey begins.! Make sure you pack plenty to eat and drink as well as activities to help kids pass the time, like coloring books, video games or puzzles. A good old fashioned game of ‘I Spy’ goes down a treat too! 

Wherever your next family adventure takes you, the memories you make will bring a smile to yours and your loved ones’ faces for years to come.  



Sources and Methodology 

To reveal the best states for a family vacation, we created the family adventure index scoring each of the 50 US States on eight relevant metrics including the number of child-friendly tourist attractions and walking trails, family-friendly hotels and restaurants per 100-000 people, state personal and residential safety, family transportation and dining out costs. Each metric was ranked and scored to give a total ‘family adventure score’ out of 10.  

To discover the average cost of ice cream in each US state we analyzed three of the top-rated ice cream stores on TripAdvisor for each region. The cost of a small single scoop of ice cream (classic flavor) was researched for each store on their online menu or using visitors' photos or reviews. An average price was then calculated for each state. 

This research was commissioned by WildBrain Spark, owner and producer of The Ellie Sparkles Show. 

Tags: Parenting

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