A Storybook Vacation

Not much can coax a kid away from a hotel pool or game room… except maybe these lesser-known adventures.

The all-ages Wild West shoot-out, 1880s style 

At Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse in Scottsdale, kids (and adults) can pan for gold, ride a mechanical bull, and see the Sonoran desert from atop a stagecoach. Plus, there’s a zip-line and the “Deadman’s Drop” wall-climb for older kids. Most folks cap their visit with dinner at the steakhouse.


An idyllic theme park

At Children’s Fairyland, Oakland’s Storybook Theme Park, interactive, analogue fun is designed around enduring fairy tales. About 40 storybook sets, easy kid-sized rides (like the Jolly Trolley), and ten acres of gardens with animals make this an easy family respite. Fairyland even influenced Walt Disney himself to build is larger attraction farther south.

family-Children's Fairyland - Entrance

family- Children's Fairyland Card Maze

A natural history lesson with many bumps and detours along the way

Choose to scramble deep into the San Andreas Fault, stargaze after dark, or hike among spectacular rock formations as passengers in an off-roading Jeep, with Desert Adventure Eco-Tours. Be sure to bring along your budding photographer’s camera. Children 5+ years old welcome. 

A time-traveling good time

The Sixty-Eight Rooms is topping many summer reading lists. To see the mini-worlds that inspired Chicago author Marianne Malone to write the books, visit theThorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Your kids will see firsthand where fictional sixth-graders Jack and Ruthie shrink and travel back in time.


A treasure map to the South Pacific

Expose your children to a different culture without leaving the United States at the Polynesia Cultural Center. Think Epcot of the Polynesian Islands, with authentically reproduced villages, Tahitian spear-throwing, hula, Fijian drum ceremonies, and other activities.

family-Maori Poi Balls 02_courtesyPCC


Fairyland, cards, Photo by Trung Nguyen, Courtesy of Visit Oakland
Fairyland sign, Photo by Stephen Hollingsworth, Courtesy of Visit Oakland