There’s a lot to consider when planning a family vacation. After all, trips away with the kids are all about making special memories that will last a lifetime.
Where to stay, where to eat and what to do are right at the top of most people’s list of priorities when heading away with the kids, but one thing that’s always in the back of parents’ minds is whether their choice will live up to the hype.
Will there be enough things to do to keep everyone occupied and ensure everyone has a great time? Will the hotel or resort be as good as the photos and will restaurant choices leave everyone feeling full?
In this study, we’ve taken a deep-dive into traveler reviews for the 100 biggest cities in the US to help you choose the best one to visit with kids.
- The State of Travel Reviews
- Ranking The Highest Rated US Cities on Tripadvisor to Visit with Kids
- The 20 Best US Cities to Visit With Kids in 2021
- Which US Cities Have The Most Family-Friendly Hotels Rated 4+ on Tripadvisor?
- Which US Cities Have The Most Family-Friendly Attractions Rated 5 on Tripadvisor?
- Which US Cities Have The Most Family-Friendly Restaurants Rated 5 on Tripadvisor?
The State of Travel Reviews
As travelers, we’re often quick to leave a bad review when we didn’t enjoy our time at an attraction, resort or restaurant, but it takes a lot to leave a review when we walked away happy and satisfied. In fact, it has previously been reported that a consumer is 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
It’s only human nature. We often use reviews as an outlet to vent our frustration at the disappointment, and this means that top reviews are rare (even though that probably shouldn’t be the case).
When we’re looking for reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants, most of us head straight to Tripadvisor, arguably the world’s #1 source of traveler ratings.
Because there’s nothing better than recommendations from people who have been there themselves and felt compelled to leave a review (whether that’s good or bad).
In fact, Tripadvisor reports that “83% believe ratings are significant when choosing an accommodation, 70% when choosing a restaurant and 58% when deciding what attractions to do.”
Ranking The Highest Rated US Cities on Tripadvisor to Visit with Kids
With travel in the US having now recovered to pre-pandemic levels, at least domestically, there’s no shortage of families planning their next vacation.
And if you’ve set your sights on a city break, the first challenge you face is figuring out where to head.
So, where are the best cities in the US to visit with kids?
We turned to Tripadvisor ratings and analyzed the 100 biggest cities in the US to answer this question, looking at the following factors for each:
- The total number of ‘family-friendly’ hotels
- The total number of ‘family-friendly’ hotels rated 4 or higher
- The percentage of ‘family-friendly’ hotels rated 4 or higher
- The total number of ‘good for kids’ attractions
- The total number of ‘good for kids’ attractions rated 5
- The percentage of ‘good for kids’ attractions rated 5
- The total number of ‘child-friendly’ restaurants
- The total number of ‘child-friendly’ restaurants rated 5
- The percentage of ”child-friendly’ restaurants rated 5
By analyzing both the number of options available to families and the percentage of top rated reviews, we’ve ranked the top 20 cities in the US to visit with kids according to travelers.
After all, having plenty of options available to you is just as important as those hotels, attractions and restaurants coming recommended by those who have been before.
Read our methodology here.
The 20 Best US Cities to Visit With Kids in 2021
If you’re looking for family city vacation inspiration, look no further. These are officially the highest rated cities in the US for families to visit according to travelers:
|1||New York City||New York||7.61|
|13||Washington||District of Columbia||4.53|
1. New York City, New York (7.61 Index Score)
With 152 family-friendly hotels, 143 attractions and 30 restaurants that are rated top on Tripadvisor, there’s no wonder that The City That Never Sleeps ranks top as the best city in the US to visit with kids.
Some 95% of the city’s family-friendly hotels have been rated 4 or 5 by guests, 34% of family attractions hold a 5 bubble status and 1% of child-friendly restaurants.
Trust us when we say it’s not easy to earn top ratings from guests, but NYC is doing lots of things right!
If it’s a wide choice of top rated hotels, things to do and restaurants that you’re looking for, the Big Apple cannot be topped.
New York’s top-rated family hotels include:
- Casablanca Hotel by Library Hotel Collection
- Library Hotel by Library Hotel Collection
- Hotel Giraffe by Library Hotel Collection
New York’s top-rated family attractions include:
New York’s top-rated family restaurants include:
2. Orlando, Florida (6.54 Index Score)
There’d be something up if Orlando wasn’t right up there as one of the best cities in the country to travel to with kids.
After all, Florida is considered by many as the ultimate family vacation destination, offering perhaps the world’s most welcoming collection of theme parks, water parks and attractions alongside a whole host of beaches within driving distance.
With 209 family-friendly hotels, 66 attractions and 18 restaurants that are rated top on Tripadvisor, it’s easy to see why Orlando, which also ranks 9th in a recent study of the US’ most affordable cities for a vacation, comes in second place in the best cities to visit with kids.
Orlando’s top-rated family hotels include:
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
- Staybridge Suites Orlando At SeaWorld
- Holiday Inn Orlando – Disney Springs Area
Orlando’s top-rated family attractions include:
Orlando’s top-rated family restaurants include:
3. San Diego, California (5.63 Index Score)
If you’re looking for a top-rated city to visit with kids that’s on the West Coast, then San Diego comes out as the most attractive option based on traveler reviews, taking the 3rd spot in the overall ranking.
Southern California’s San Diego is home to 120 family-friendly hotels, 58 top-rated kids attractions and 22 top child-friendly restaurants, and with average monthly temperatures between 57.3 °F in January to 72 °F in August, you can count on being able to enjoy your time along the city’s 70 miles of coastline.
San Diego’s top-rated family hotels include:
San Diego’s top-rated family attractions include:
San Diego’s top-rated family restaurants include:
4. Honolulu, Hawaii (5.53 Index Score)
Honolulu is the perfect destination for a family vacation thanks to an extensive collection of stunning hotels and resorts, miles of pristine beaches, amazing attractions and some of the best restaurants you’ll ever dine in.
Let’s also not forget that Hawaii is one of many family’s dream destinations, and we would certainly recommend visiting if you get the chance to do so.
With 51 top-rated family hotels and resorts, 90 five star kids attractions and 13 top-rated child-friendly restaurants, you’re not going to struggle to find the perfect places to stay, play and dine.
Honolulu offers the perfect blend of city, sun and beaches that kids and adults alike will fall in love with.
Honolulu’s top-rated family hotels include:
Honolulu’s top-rated family attractions include:
Honolulu’s top-rated family restaurants include:
5=. Los Angeles, California (5.38 Index Score)
Los Angeles is the second Californian city that ranks in the 5 best cities to visit with kids in the US, and there’s good reason.
Whether you want to take a trip to one of LA’s famous beaches, head down the Hollywood Walk of Fame or simply take in the many sights of the City of Angels, there’s plenty of options for the whole family to enjoy and who knows, you might even spot some of the world’s most famous superstars whilst you’re there!
It perhaps comes as no surprise that Los Angeles is home to 84 top-rated family hotels, 60 five star kids attractions and 24 top-rated child-friendly places to eat.
Los Angeles’ top-rated family hotels include:
Los Angeles’ top-rated family attractions include:
Los Angeles’ top-rated family restaurants include:
5=. Miami, Florida (5.38 Index Score)
The second Floridian city to rank within the top five, Miami makes the perfect vacation spot for families, often before or after a trip to Orlando’s theme parks.
In contrast to inland Orlando, Miami is home to a 35 mile stretch of beach including the world famous South Beach – a must-visit whilst you’re in town. The city is within driving distance of the Florida Keys, making it the perfect base for the road trip of a lifetime.
Home to 64 top-rated family hotels, 61 top kids attractions and 24 five-star family-friendy restaurants, the city makes for the perfect family destination for those who want to combine culture and entertainment with some of the USA’s best beaches.
Miami’s top-rated family hotels include:
- Novotel Miami Brickell
- Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Miami Wynwood Design District
- Mandarin Oriental, Miami
Miami’s top-rated family attractions include:
Miami’s top-rated family restaurants include:
Which US Cities Have The Most Family-Friendly Hotels Rated 4+ on Tripadvisor?
Finding the perfect hotel or resort is right at the top of many people’s vacation priorities, but choosing the perfect base becomes even more important when travelling as a family.
From children’s facilities to a great location, there’s lots of things that go into a hotel landing top reviews from travelers, and below we’ve rounded up the US cities that have the highest number of family-friendly hotels that have been rated 4 or higher on Tripadvisor.
|Rank||City||# of Family-Friendly Hotels |
Rated 4+ on Tripadvisor
Which US Cities Have The Most Family-Friendly Attractions Rated 5 on Tripadvisor?
When going on vacation with the kids, it’s important to make sure there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
After all, whilst the adults might enjoy a relaxing trip by the pool or on the beach, children often have a different idea.
Below, we’ve rounded up the US cities that have the highest number of family-friendly attractions that have been rated 5 on Tripadvisor.
|# of ‘Good for Kids’ Attractions |
Rated 5 on Tripadvisor
Which US Cities Have The Most Family-Friendly Restaurants Rated 5 on Tripadvisor?
Eating out is something that many of us look forward to when heading away on vacation, but you’ll struggle to find someone that hasn’t had a bad experience in the past when choosing where to dine without reading a restaurant’s reviews.
But things get even harder when you’ve got kids in tow, many of who are often fussy eaters! Therefore, a great kids menu and a family-friendly environment are essential.
Below, we’ve rounded up the US cities that have the highest number of family-friendly restaurants that have been rated 5 on Tripadvisor.
|Rank||City||# of Child-Friendly Restaurants |
Rated 5 on Tripadvisor
We analyzed the 100 biggest cities in the US, according to population data from Wikipedia, against Tripadvisor ratings for ‘family-friendly hotels,’ ‘good for kids’ attractions and ‘child-friendly’ restaurants in each city.
We analyzed both the total number of hotels, attractions and restaurants in each city as well as the number of family-friendly hotels rated 4 or higher, the number of kids attractions rated 5 and the number of child-friendly restaurants rated 5. This then allowed us to calculate the % of top-rated hotels, attractions and restaurants in each city.
We then used the data to create a weighted index to rank the cities, acknowledging that availability of a significant number of options is just as important as the total % that come out top-rated. Creating a weighted index allowed us to rank the cities to account for both of these variables.
You can view the raw data here.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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