Cool Places to Travel With Your Kids Before School Starts

From Kings Island to Medusa's Slidewheel and more, here a few last-minute excursions to enjoy with the kids before the new school year.

The radiant months of summer seem to whip by so fast. Here are some memorable excursions to fit in before the kids head back to school.

Celebrate 50 years of Kings Island

Five decades of family fun culminate in the golden anniversary of Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. With the introduction of Orion, Kings Island’s longest, tallest and fastest steel coaster in 2020, there are now 15 rollercoasters to happy-scream on. The Beast, the world’s longest wooden coaster, just became even longer. Off-season work extended it by a few feet and steepened the first drop.

Kings Island also features Planet Snoopy, an award-winning kids’ area, and Soak City, a 33-acre water park. Summer evenings are capped off with a fireworks finale of 200 synchronized drones, fire bursts and laser projections.

Swish around America’s first rotating water slide in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Water slide enthusiasts will definitely want to try the innovative slide, Medusa’s Slidewheel, a huge waterslide that spins like a Ferris Wheel, found at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park Resort. Up to four people can splash in a raft for 96 seconds, experiencing G-force and airtime, as they glide around a spinning series of tubes. Mt. Olympus also expanded its indoor water park. The outdoor wave pool is one of the world’s largest with nine-foot waves every 90 seconds.

Nosh and ride at the U.P. State Fair

Head up to Escanaba Aug. 15-21 for the U.P. State Fair. Since 1928, generations have enjoyed this Upper Peninsula tradition. Concerts, carnival rides, car shows and livestock competitions fill a whole week full of fun.

“Watch blue ribbon winners at the horse and livestock shows. Feel the thrill of a fast-moving midway ride. See newborn lambs wobble to their feet in the Miracle of Life exhibit,” says Sheila Krueger with the Delta County Chamber of Commerce.

Weekly passes or daily admissions available, including grandstand entertainment. Kids under 5 are free.

Camp at the only Michigan state park on Lake Erie

An hour from Detroit, sandy beaches, boating, shore fishing and lakefront camping can be all yours. Ten fully-equipped waterfront cottages that sleep up to six opened in 2021. Each has a queen bed, futon and bunk beds, a screened-in porch, bathroom and kitchen, which means these cabins book up fast. Summer weekends might be full, but week days are more flexible. Or you can overnight at the campground, where you can hike, bike and fish and kids can participate in camp-led crafts or romp around the playground and beach.

Surf the waves on a California vacay

If a California beach vacation is calling you, Huntington Beach, aka Surf City USA, is the place to hang 10 this summer. Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, with its chill vibe and water slides, provides the family-friendly accommodations that will wow your crew.

From there, take a short drive to Buena Park for Knott’s Berry Farm, California’s original theme park. Rides range from insane coasters to sweet kiddie rides featuring Snoopy. Our family’s favorites are Jaguar!, a glide above a Mayan-themed temple, and the Pony Express, a unique ride that jets to a quick start on “horseback.” Stay at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel so you can have a pool break in the middle of the day, then return for more rides.

In neighboring Santa Ana, little ones love Santa Ana Zoo for its monkeys, train ride and carousel.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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