Cool places to travel with your children before the start of the school year

The glorious summer months seem to slip by so quickly. Here are some memorable excursions to include before the kids go back to school.

Five decades of family fun culminates with the golden anniversary of Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. With the introduction of Orion, Kings Island’s longest, tallest and fastest steel roller coaster in 2020, there are now 15 roller coasters to scream with joy on. The Beast, the longest wooden roller coaster in the world, just got longer. Off-season work extended it a few feet and accentuated the first drop.

Kings Island also includes Planet Snoopy, an award-winning children’s area, and Soak City, a 33-acre water park. Summer evenings are crowned with a final fireworks display of 200 synchronized drones, bursts of fire and laser projections.

Swish around America’s first rotating waterslide in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

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

Rolling around Madison, Wisconsin

Want to tackle a wet, wacky, and wild sport that’s sure to make you laugh? Do your best to balance yourself on a floating, spinning log in Lake Wingra with Madison Log Roll. Young and old alike will enjoy this lumberjack sport. Free classes are available from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

While in Madison, stay at the hip Hotel Indigo, a former paint factory now splashed with colorful murals. Tweens and foodies will eat on a Bike n’ Bites Food Tour with Madison Eats, sampling seven food and drink samples while pedaling through the city on a guided e-bike tour. Start at Garver Feed Mill for samples of Ian’s Pizza (known for its mac and cheese pizza) or KOSA Spa’s vegan Indian cuisine. Also in Garver, check out Roll Play, an Asian street food board game cafe. Sip bubble tea while playing over 150 board games. Rent kayaks at nearby Olbrich Park.

Vegetarian in Rockford

Rockford lives up to its dubbed City of Gardens. Anderson Japanese Gardens offer a tranquil landscape of 12 acres with flowers and waterfalls dotted with stone pathways. The Japanese Summer Festival at the end of July features unique performances and cultural demonstrations.

Visit Rock Cut State Park for over 3,000 acres of space for picnicking, hiking and camping. Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens on the Rock River features a beautiful 10-mile recreational trail decorated with sculptures and parkland.

When you’re ready to eat, you’ll find plenty of vegan options, including Pig Minds Brewery, America’s first vegan brewery. The Zoodle Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowl is delicious, while its 10-beer flight is a generous tasting. Rue des Prairies Brewery has a fantastic patio along the Rock River, and the kids can’t get enough of their arcade games. Have brunch at Norwegian. Families eat breakfast treats like the cinnamon Swedish knot. Looking for a place to stay? The Embassy Suites By Hilton Rockford Riverfront is a hip, modern hotel with bright downtown views, an indoor pool, and a hot tub.

Ride the Waves on Your California Vacation

If a California beach vacation is calling your name, Huntington Beach, aka Surf City USA, is the perfect place to hang 10 this summer. The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, with its relaxing atmosphere and waterslides, offers family accommodations that will wow your team.

From there, take a short drive to Buena Park for Knott’s Berry Farm, California’s original theme park. The rides range from crazy coasters to kiddie rides with Snoopy. Our family’s favorites are Jaguar!, a glide over a Mayan-themed temple, and the Pony Express, a unique ride that starts quickly on “horseback”. Stay at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel so you can take a mid-day pool break, then come back for more rides.

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

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