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When you arrive in Burnet County, Texas, the first thing you’ll notice are the lakes that wind their way throughout the hill country. Some have staggering limestone cliffs that hug the shore and others have trees and soft banks perfect for launching boats, kayaks and paddle boards. You’ll see juniper, mesquite and oak trees, wildlife galore and historic downtowns filled with family-owned restaurants. Perfect for a low-key family vacation, if you love the great outdoors, and want to know what to do with kids in Burnet County, Texas, let us be your guide.

Enjoy the Highland Lakes

There are five lakes in Burnet County: Lake Travis, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Buchanan, Lake LBJ and Inks Lake. Each one has a different vibe, which means whatever type of water fun you and your family want to experience, you can find it here. Whether you want to rent a boat, a kayak or a standup paddle board, this list will help you find what you’re looking for. 

Longhorn Cavern State Park is in Burnet County, Texas

Explore the Natural Beauty of the County

Longhorn Cavern is a Texas State Park that opened in 1938. Formed by an ancient underground river, a seasoned guide will take you 130 feet below ground, where you’ll follow the river’s path. You’ll see famous “rooms,” like the Indian Council Room, the Underground Ballroom (where live music events were held), the Hall of Diamonds and more. Be sure to ask about the infamous Texas Ranger incident! 

If pre-historic geology, incredible hiking trails and a beautiful swimming hole are more your style, Inks Lake State Park is ideal. With 1200 acres and 220 campsites, visitors will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of this popular state park. Pre-Cambian geology can be found here (dating back 600 million years) as well as metamorphic rock and granite. The park is also home to Devil’s Watering Hole, a swimming hole located at the end of a short hike on the east side of Inks Lake. It gets its clear water from the Colorado River, and while it’s not as cold as some of the other swimming holes in Texas, it’s still an incredible spot to spend the day. 

There are 16 miles of manicured trails at Canyons of the Eagles. It’s a resort, but a naturalist is on hand to do guided tours, or you are free to explore on your own. If stars are your passion, be sure to visit the Eagle Eye Observatory. Non-guests can book a spot for the 9 pm talk Wed.-Fri. and Sun. It’s $10 for the talk, plus $5 for the parking fee. If you want to bring your telescope, there are 31 observatory pads available.

Spider Mountain, the only ski lift in Texas, opened in 2019, and while five miles of it are just for mountain biking, a hiking trail was added in Dec. 2021. At the top of the lift, you’ll be awarded breathtaking views of the Highland Lakes region. You can bring your gear or rent a bike and spend the day enjoying nine trails that range from the Itsy-Bitsy (beginner) to the Stinger (expert).

A real gem is Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Established to protect the breeding grounds of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler, and with 25K acres, free admission 365 days a year and 10 miles of trails, this open space is truly worth exploring.

An incredible way to explore the lakes in Burnet County, Texas is to book a trip with Vanishing River Cruise. You’ll board an enclosed pontoon boat (good for summer or winter!) and head out to see the wilds of Lake Buchanan and the Colorado River. You’ll pass stunning cliffs, waterfalls and tons of wildlife, including cormorants, gulls, pelicans and egrets. In the spring, be on the lookout for the majestic bald eagles that migrate to the Highland Lakes to nest. 

The Blue Bonnet Cafe has the best pie in Burnet County Texas

The Small Town Vibes

There are several towns in Burnet County, Texas, and each one has a distinct personality. You can find everything from candy shops to upscale boutiques, lakeside parks, wineries and historic forts. There’s always something to do, like shopping at the farmer’s market or attending the famous Bluebonnet Festival, watching the boats during Lakefest, going to the rodeo and much more. 

Wondering where to eat? The Bluebonnet Cafe, in Marble Falls, opened its doors in 1929. Famous for its pies, many of which are still made using family recipes, they serve breakfast all day, and the pie selection makes it hard not to choose more than one slice! That’s why you’ll want to come in for Pie Happy Hour, Mon.-Fri. From 3 pm – 5 pm. Save The World Brewing Co. is a great place to spend an afternoon. They have food trucks that range from Jamaican Cajun fusion to hamburgers, tacos and nachos. Plus, the story behind the brewery is pretty amazing; the owners are former physicians who were inspired to open the world’s first 100% philanthropic craft brewery (after basic costs, the remaining profits are all donated to charities). If BBQ is on your mind, be sure to grab a bite at Wingman Brother’s Smoke House. All the classic offerings are available, as well as their awarding-winning fire-roasted cream corn and delicious stuffed baked potatoes. 

Canyon of the Eagles Resort is in Burnet County Texas

The Unique Lodging

If spending time in nature while enjoying all the comforts of home (and more) is on your family vacation wish list, then book your stay at the idyllic Canyon of the Eagles Resort. Located on the northeast shoreline of Lake Buchanan in Burnet, this full-service nature resort is perfect for families who want to fill their days (and evenings) with outdoor adventures and then relax and recharge in the comfort of cozy accommodations.

This pet-friendly resort offers 61 eco-friendly rooms to choose from. We suggest booking a suite with a view of the lake so you can watch the sun rise (and set) from a rocking chair on your porch. If you’re looking for more camp and less glamp, there are plenty of tent and RV sites as well.

You’ll also find an onsite pool, two fantastic eateries (Overlook Restaurant and the Eagles Nest Lounge which offers a full-service bar and bar menu), an outdoor movie screen and s’mores around the fire pit. There is a calendar filled with family-friendly activities and every Saturday, the Shake, Rattle and Coil show allows guests to learn about (and even touch) snakes.

Container City is one of the newest spots to hang your hat in the Highland Lakes area. Located at the base of Spider Mountian, not only does it have direct access to the bike park, but all six cabins are built entirely out of shipping containers. Each one is unique, they all have great outdoor patios perfect for lounging. There are also camper and RV hookups, and there’s a gathering spot on the property—Templeton’s Tavern. It’s a full-service bar with pizza and a space for live music. Even better, you’ll be at the heart of the county, so you’ll have easy access to hiking, lakes, wineries, shopping and more.

—Gabby Cullen with Annette Benedetti

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How many times have you seen a baby or parenting product and wondered to yourself “why didn’t I think of that?” One of the reasons why I love working for Tinybeans as Senior National Editor is that I’m privy to the latest and greatest product releases for families. This year marks the first year since 2019 that the ABC Kids Expo was held in person, and I was able to get a glimpse of game-changing gear that I not only wish I had when my kids were younger but that everyone will be talking about this summer and fall. From travel gear (it’s back!) to companies that are all about making parenting (way) easier, here are some things that stood out this year.

Best Baby and Parenting Products: Travel Gear

 

Stokke made waves with its JetKids™ BedBox a few years back, and they’ve added more to their travel collection with the Cloudsleeper JetKids™ inflatable bed. It has side bumpers, comes with a breathable mesh sheet and fits into a packing cube. Even better, it fits perfectly into the BedBox.

babytolove has a great travel high chair, one of the best baby and parenting products

BabytoLove is a French brand (coming soon to the US), and we loved their Easy Up Baby Booster Seat. Easy to clean, easy to carry and available in three chic patterns, parents don’t have to worry about finding a way to feed a baby or toddler if they have one of these on hand. 

Best Baby and Parenting Products: Creative Collaborations

wonderfold tops the list of best baby and parenting products

 

Wonderfold Wagon x Volkswagon 
This fun collab was revealed at the ABCKids Expo. Designed with the same care and all the same perks as other Wonderfold Wagons, this stunner has real working lights and boasts the VW design on the sides. Look for it to hit the market in September 2022. 

baby jogger has some of the best baby and parenting products collaborations

Baby Jogger Summit X3 and Robin Arzon
We already love Baby Jogger for their light four-wheel modular strollers, but their new collaboration with Peleton’s VP of Fitness, Robin Arzon, excites us even more. The new Summit X3 jogging stroller will be available later this year.

 

Products Making Parenting Easier 

morepeas will be a company to watch when it comes to the best baby and parenting products

If there’s a product that will help parents survive and thrive, we’re all for it. Morepeas and Baby Brew are making the feeding game easier with cups that go from snacking to drinking in flash. GoBe has a unique rotating snacking tray that’s perfect for on the go (they’ll get more than one option, and you’ll have less mess). Later this year, Zoli will launch silicone bowls and spoons designed for the youngest eaters (the spoons are meant to be held vertically and dipped in food) and Zip Top has a new line of silicon milk storage bags that can be frozen without fear of burn and washed in the dishwasher.

Busy Baby, known for their silicone place mat, has released a line of bottle and toy bungees, which means your toddler can toss their gear all they want and it’ll never touch the ground.

Qdos is releasing kid-safety locks that can be locked and unlocked via a phone app, and Jogger Baby’s City Turn™ convertible car seat makes getting your little one in and out of the car a breeze, and the Mammaease Lumama lactation massager is something every breastfeeding mom needs in her arsenal. 

Thoughtful Play

We saw lots of toys and playthings, and one trend we noticed was an emphasis on simple, thoughtful play. Beautiful wood toys from Wonder & Wise and Coco Village, engaging combinations of lovies and books from Slumberkins, and delightful coloring books from The Quality Education.

 

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We North Texans take our food and entertainment seriously, so what better way to enjoy the warm months than with an awesome meal in a great outdoor space? The metroplex has more than enough kid-friendly restaurants with patios in Dallas perfect for families, and we picked a few of our favorites. Scroll down to see them all and make those reservations!

Gabby Cullen

Breadwinners Cafe at Northpark Center 

Not only do you get a top-notch shopping experience when visiting Northpark Center, but you can grab a bite at Breadwinners while the kids run around in the center green space. We highly recommend their weekend brunch!

8687 N Central Expy.
Dallas, TX 75225

Online: breadwinnerscafe.com

 

The Rustic in Dallas 

One of the most awesome restaurants with patios in Dallas, this popular Uptown restaurant is huge! While best left to the adults for the evening dining and shows, it’s a great place to take the kids for a weekend lunch. 

3656 Howell Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204

Online: therustic.com 

Gabby Cullen

Standard Service in Heath 

Standard Service in Rockwall county has one of the best outdoor spaces in all of DFW. From fire pits to pickleball courts, lawn games, live music and events, this spot has it all. They offer great food, great drinks and plenty of fun for families. Don’t miss their Saturday Staple Goods Market, either! 

4240 Ridge Rd.
Heath, TX 75032

Online: thestandardservice.com/heath

Red’s Yard in Denton

With a full yard full of picnic tables, umbrellas and games, Red’s Yard is one of our favorite spots for outdoor dining. They offer BBQ, a full bar and plenty of space for the kids to run around. 

410 N. Bell Ave. 
Denton, TX 76209
Online: redsyardtx.com

 

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HGSply Co in Fort Worth 

Maybe you're already a fan of the flagship location on Greenville Ave. Well, the Fort Worth location of the popular restaurant not only hugs the Trinity River, but it boasts a huge patio that's ideal for families. 

1621 River Run #176,
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Onlinehgsplyco.com/fortworth

Ferris Wheelers in Dallas

A backyard BBQ joint with a Ferris wheel? The wheel isn't moving right now, but this unique restaurant has plenty of outdoor seating and there are also Midway games!! 

1950 Market Center Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75207

Online: wedothisandthat.com/ferriswheelers

The Yard in McKinney 

Any dining spot that encourages families is going to be on our list! The Yard offers classic backyard food options like burgers, sandwiches, and of course, queso for starters. The kids’ menu is plentiful and there is plenty of space to run around. Be sure to bring your fur baby, too because this place is super pet-friendly! 

107 S. Church St.
McKinney, TX 75069

Online: yardtx.com

Gabby Cullen

Hat Creek Burger in 11 DFW locations

If you’re looking for a fast-casual restaurant with libations and a playspace, look no further than Hat Creek Burger. We love the laid-back vibe and the quick service, and did we mention their range of yummy sauces? 

Online: hatcreekburgers.com 

The Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth

This 14,000-square-foot open-air restaurant sits on the banks of the Trinity River. It features a working garden, backyard games, bike rentals (you can cruise down the Trinity Trails) and live music. There’s a gravel area where dogs are welcome (there’s even a menu for furry friends!) and you can choose between your own plate or family-style meals. 

3201 Riverfront Dr.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Online: woodshedsmokehouse.com

Toller Patio in Dallas

There aren’t any indoor tables at Toller Patio, but with heaters and fans, you’ll be comfortable no matter the weather. You order food and drink from an app, and then find a spot at one of the colorful picnic tables. Menu items range from sandwiches and salads to french toast sticks and breakfast tacos. Toller Patio is very dog friendly, and with 17 big-screen TVs and swings, so this is a fun spot for the whole family. 

3675 Ross Ave. 
Dallas, TX 75204

Online: tollerpatiobar.com

Legacy Hall in Plano

We love this food hall for its huge outdoor dining area where you can listen to live music, join in on the themed trivia nights, watch dance performances, play lawn games or just enjoy the outdoor space. We also love the fact that you can pick from tons of different types of food (think ramen, tacos, BBQ, pizza, burgers, sushi and more) depending on your mood. 

7800 Windrose Ave.
Plano, TX 75024

Online: legacyfoodhall.com

Nico's Cocina in Carrollton

This hidden gem is a staple for families in Carrollton. Not only is the food great, but there's a playground located right next to the outdoor patio. What could be better on a warm night than a margarita and kids too busy to ask for anything until it's time to eat?

3065 N Josey Ln.
Carrollton, TX 75007

Onlinenicoscocina.com

 

 

 

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If you’re looking for a beach vacation that doesn’t feel like you’re on vacation with the rest of the country, look no further. We found the low-key beach cities that are also big on coastal charm. So pack up the swimsuits, sunscreen and sunglasses, and head for one of these 17 beaches that are packed with family-friendly fun without being so, well, packed!

Jessica McKenzie

Seabrook, WA

“Washington’s Beach Town” sits 70 feet above the shoreline, giving its community of over 450 nestled homes (the majority of which can be rented) stellar views and much to do all within a five-minute walk. There’s a park on the hill and down by the water and a slew of fun activities to be found throughout the town: community fire pits, horseshoes, bocce and volleyball courts, an indoor pool, and definitely a whole lot of bike riding. Shops and restaurants galore also await.

Good to know: For a little day trip, you’ll want to check out Olympic National Park (and it’s some million acres of mountains, coast, and rainforests).

Find out more: seabrookwa.com

Lodging nearby: This adorable home sleeps 8 and is the perfect option for your beach vacation. There's a hot tub when the ocean just isn't enough and it's right across the street from some gorgeous horses. This oceanfront cottage sleeps 10, is a two-minute walk away from downtown, has a twin bed and a trundle for the kids and is dog friendly, too! 

Jacober Creative for Visit Surfside

Surfside, FL

Surfside offers families the best of both worlds: You get a small beach town feel with the excitement of Miami right at your fingertips. Located about 30 minutes north of Miami Beach, there's plenty to keep you busy: hitting up the paddleboard festival, seeing if you can spot all of the "Surfside turtles," riding a bike to the 96th Street Park and Playground, or spending the day at the Four Seasons Hotel's Surf Club. Food choices abound, and you can choose between pizza, steakhouses, healthy breakfast and lunch spots, Greek and more. 

Online: townofsurfsidefl.gov

Airbnb nearby: You're just a one-minute walk to the beach when you stay at this home that can sleep a large group. You'll love all the bedrooms for your crew to spread out; it's perfect for when you want to vacation with the grandparents. 

Courtesy Official Tourism Development Authority for Hanover County Wilmington Beaches CVB

Kure Beach, NC

Instead of heading for the Outer Banks, take a peek at Kure Beach, instead. Ocean Front Park is a hot spot for families, with the pirate ship themed playground, tot lot and rain gardens, with access to the dunes. Fort Fisher Recreation Area is the best place to find starfish and other ocean critters and the super popular North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher has a variety of hands-on animal encounters, including feeding lorikeets and touching a stingray. 

Good to know: Freddie’s Restaurant is a must-try, family-owned Italian joint known for their pork chops.

Find out more: wilmingtonandbeaches.com/kure-beach

Airbnb nearby: Soak up the sun at Still Waters Resort! You'll have private beach access as well as access to a number of indoor and outdoor pools. This home sleeps 6 and is the perfect beachfront destination. 

Port Aransas Mustang Island Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce

Port Aransas, TX

Located on 18 miles of beachfront on Mustang Island, this sleepy island town has plenty of family-friendly activities. You can go birding at one of six sites along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, take the ferry to San Jose Island, a former ranch that is now an uninhabited wildlife preserve or have a beach day at Mustang Island State Park or at the Padre Island National Seashore. As far as food goes, this fishing mecca and foodie destination has 11 different restaurants that’ll cook up what you catch that very day.

Check out our full review

Find out more: portaransas.org

Airbnb nearby: You'll love the easy life at this Port Aransas beach house that's just a short walk to the beach. Rent a golf cart while you visit to travel anywhere on the island. 

 

Park Point, MN

Duluthians know and love Park Point, a skinny shoreline that runs for six miles between Lake Superior and Superior Bay, bordering Wisconsin. Park Point Recreation Area, with grills and volleyball courts, is more popular (and lifeguarded) than other stretches, but with all six miles open to the public, there’s plenty of room to spread out, watch boats pass in the bay, and feel the winds as they dance over the dunes. For visitors, nearby Canal Park has plenty of hotels and restaurants. Be sure to educate the whole family at The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center at the base of Canal Park’s Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the entrance to Duluth Harbor. The museum is free of charge and is open daily.

Find out more: duluthmn.gov

Airbnb nearby: The kids will especially love this rental home that's right next to the iconic Lift Bridge. Gorgeous views out every window, you are right in the middle of the action here. 

Bay St. Louis, MS

Any community that had to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina is one strong community. That can certainly be said of Bay St. Louis, tucked onto the Gulf of Mexico some 90 miles east of New Orleans and as quaint as they come. When it comes to exploring the town, you’ll find good eats in the Depot District (as well as the Historic Train Depot itself, which is now home to Mardi Gras and folk art museums). Find more art, antiques, souvenir shopping, and the local library over in Old Town. Then follow Main Street right to the beach for all your favorite ways to have fun in the sand (including tossing a Frisbee to your pup as the beach is pet friendly). A bike path also extends for three miles between two piers, making for a fun pier-to-pier walk or ride challenge. When you’ve washed off the sand, check out McDonald Park’s impressive splash pad on Dunbar Ave.

Find out more: baystlouis-ms.gov

Airbnb nearby: This colorful home is the perfect spot when you are visiting Bay St. Louis. It sleeps 10 and you can spend your days at the beach and afternoons by the pool! 

 

Terra Marin

Rodeo Beach, CA

When it’s summer in San Francisco, “Karl the Fog,” as the city’s infamous weather condition is nicknamed, can often turn beach trips into bundled-up affairs. So head over the Golden Gate, take the exit for Rodeo Ave, and wend your way west to Rodeo Beach, a crescent crown of the Marin Headlands. Less well known than its sandy cousins—San Francisco’s Ocean Beach to the south or Marin’s Stinson Beach to the north—it’s the perfect spot to take in NorCal sun and surf.

Also known as Fort Cronkhite, its World War II military barracks add major character to the setting, while the cove is beloved by local surfers and rarely all that crowded. If the family wants to stretch its legs, hunt for colorful pebbles by the boulder wall, explore the lagoon or take in the view from the coastal trail above the barracks. Dogs are welcome, too! And dolphin pods have been known to frolic close to shore.

Check out our guide to all there is to do in the Marin Headlands. 

Good to know: There’s nothing commercial in the Marin Headlands, so be sure to pack a picnic or get back on Highway 101. Sausalito is just one mile north and great for grub.

Find out more: nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/focr

Airbnb nearby: You'll never want to leave this Muir Beach retreat with gorgeous views of the Bay. Spend the day beachcombing or hiking; there's a ton to do nearby. 

courtesy Brunswick County Tourism Development Authority

Holden Beach, NC

Holden Beach in the Brunswick Islands of North Carolina has small-town charm, but plenty of activities (check out the North Carolina Festival by the Sea) to keep your family busy. You can take the kids crabbing and fishing, and explore the island by foot, by bike, or by kayak or canoe excursion along the Intracoastal Waterway. And, there’s plenty of wildlife to spot: dolphins swimming offshore, endangered (and protected) loggerhead turtles making their journey from the nest to the ocean, and ghost crabs that make their way along the beach at night.

Good to know: All of New Brunswick Islands’ beaches are dog-friendly!

Find out more: ncbrunswick.com/holdenbeach

Airbnb nearby: This bright yellow oceanfront home is perfect for beach days and sunset nights. It comes with lots of toys for the kids as well as a ping pong table. 

Ogden Dunes, Dune Acres, Porter Beach, and Beverly Shores, IN

The lakefront communities that make up the Indiana Dunes region have as much of a groovy vibe as any other beach town—the only difference being that the stretch of water belongs to Lake Michigan, rather than the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean. Families can enjoy hiking and birding along the Great Marsh Trail in Beverly Shores, dine al fresco at the lake view picnic area before walking miles of pristine, sandy beaches, or kayak the waters of Lake Michigan.

There are plenty of eats, including pizza made to order off the back of the Rolling Stonebaker, a food truck that can often be found near the entrance of Beverly Shores. There are plenty of public access points to the lake, and if you decide to rent a spot in one of the beachside towns, you’ll have access to private beaches, too.

Find out more: indianadunes.com/lakefront-communities

Airbnb nearby: This stunning modern home overlooks private sand dunes on 5 wooded acres just a mile away from beautiful Lake Michigan beaches and surrounded by the Indiana Dunes National Park. Enjoy the trails in the backyard, the friendly community, and local attractions near by.

Colby Lindeman

Avila Beach, CA

Not quite as populated as Pismo Beach but sunnier than Cayucos, Avila Beach is a quintessential California beach town. The shallow water and far-out breaks make play easy for the littles, there are BBQs and swing sets right on the beach, and a great Farmer’s Market on Fridays. The kids can head to Harford Pier to watch for whale and sea otters, and you can rent boats and paddle boards. There's also lodging for every budget: hotels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds.

Check out our guide to what to do in Avila Beach. 

Find out more: visitavila.com

Airbnb nearby: La Casita at Avila is only 150 yards from the sands of beautiful Avila Beach. Enjoy your morning coffee and evening happy hour on the deck and then head down to the pier to see sea lions sunning themselves. 

Jamestown, RI

Beavertail Lighthouse and Park is a must-visit in this quaint Rhode Island town, but Mackeral Cove is the hidden gem for family beach days. There are regular lifeguards on duty, a parking lot, and it’s within five minutes of downtown. If you need a break from the beach, there’s plenty of other water activities: sailing, fishing, kayaking. Also, history buffs can wander through historic buildings: the windmill, the house on the rocks, and the firefighter museum before heading over the Newport Bridge for a glimpse of those famous gilded-age summer homes.

Find out more: jamestownrichamber.com/useful-links  

Airbnb nearby: This affordable rental is just a short walk to the beach and sleeps 5. It's located in a quiet residential neighborhood with easy access to all the town has to offer.. 

 

Gloucester, MA

Gloucester is one of the sleepy beach towns in Cape Ann. We suggest heading straight for Wingaersheek Beach, a kid-friendly spot known for low waves. There are lobstering tours, sailing tours, kayak rentals, and the St. Peter’s Fiesta is a five-day festival celebrating the patron saint of fishing—a perfect event for America’s oldest fishing port. If there's time, be sure to check out the three(!) lighthouses, and the country’s oldest art colony.

Good to know: Starting in June, visitors can park at Stage Fort Park and take the free shuttle to the beaches on the weekends.

Find out more: gloucester.com

Airbnb nearby: Wake up with the sweet smell of ocean air and the sound of seagulls calling at this cute, waterfront home. Enjoy your breakfast with a million dollar view on the 4 season porch with 8 sliding windows overlooking the harbor. 

Bethany Beach, DE

Bethany Beach is all about family. It boasts a boardwalk just like its more frequented neighbor Rehoboth, but with fewer tourist attractions. The one-mile long, 150-foot wide stretch of sand is ideal for little kids and offers all sorts of fun activities: Monday night movies on the beach, Kids Nature Adventure Saturdays and the summer concert series. Especially sweet is the comfort station near Garfield Parkway. Open 24/7 with spots to change sandy little bottoms, the cool space (read: it has AC) is a welcome retreat from the blazing sun.

Find out more: townofbethanybeach.com

Airbnb nearby: This A-dorable beach house located on Bethany Canal is an easy walk, bike ride, or trolley to the Boardwalk and beach! 

San Clemente, CA

A SoCal beach town that hasn’t been overrun by development? When can we go? With the coin-operated showers and clean bathrooms, San Clemente State Park offers one of the best family-friendly beach camping spots around, but North Beach is where it’s at when you’ve got the kids in tow. Easy access parking will get little piggies digging in the sandy stretches in mere minutes, the playground helps your wiggly kids release extra energy, and the Amtrak train that chugs by on occasion is an added bonus.

Insider Tip: You can easily make the trek from the beach to downtown, where the flip-flops and cheesy beach tees can be bought in bundles.

Find out more: sanclemente.org

Airbnb nearby: Set foot inside the beautiful courtyard and leave all your cares behind! Newly remodeled, this two bedroom, two bath cottage is designed for privacy and relaxation. You’ll love the serenity of the gardens, fountains and Dutch doors to let in the ocean breezes!

Tarpon Springs and Dunedin, FL

You’ll enjoy Greek culture at its best in Tarpon Springs, with its bakeries, shops, shrines and cathedrals. This is also where you’ll embark on a unique experience: a boat tour that celebrates the “Sponge Capital of the World.” You’ll want to visit Honeymoon Island, a 385-acre secluded natural barrier island off Dunedin. Kids can fish, snorkel, ride bikes, picnic beneath a covered pavilion, hike on nature trails, visit a dog park and build sand castles. Adventurous families will love the four-mile kayaking trail through the shallow waters full of mangrove forests where mangrove crabs, osprey and other wildlife can be seen. The trail opens up to St. Joseph Sound into open water and sunshine providing a unique experience you can’t have anywhere else.

Check out our Clearwater guide

Find out more: visitpeteclearwater.com

Airbnb nearby: This bright blue beauty is ready to welcome you to your next beach vacation. It sleeps up to six and is a quick drive to pier 60 for sunset and is equipped with chairs and towels for the beach!

Racine, WI

North Beach, in Racine Wisconsin, has a beach vibe that makes you want to get lazy and not do much except snooze in the sun—or give those castle building skills a workout once in a while. Kid’s Cove is an awesome nautical-themed playground right smack dab in the middle of the 50-acre sandy stretch, and free parking makes access easy.

Good to know: You can head to the Racine Zoo when the kids need a break from the water and don’t forget to scout out family-owned Bendtsen Bakery for their famous (and super-tasty) Danish Kringles.

Find out more: realracine.com

Airbnb nearby: Steps away from Racine's nationally recognized North Beach, this cozy 1920s sunny home is designed and updated for modern living. Read a book, enjoy a game, spend time at the beach and make your vacay count! And pets are welcome - they are family! 

Westport, WA

Ocean Shores is a popular family vacation spot but Westport flies right under the radar, and it’s worth a visit for the razor-clamming alone (North Cove will be filled with kids and their buckets, trying to snag enough clams for dinner). Boogie boarding is also a blast, and the water is the best north of the marina. Want to take a hike? Strap on your boots and baby backpack and head for the docks. The 2.2-mile pedestrian trail leads to the Grays Harbor Lighthouse and the Maritime Museum, where you'll get your fill of old salty sea dog tales.

Find out morewestport-graylandchamber.com

Airbnb nearby: You'll have private beach access at this house that sits on a 170' wide property and has a deck which surrounds over half of it. The large hot tub also offers West and South ocean views. 

—Kate Loweth, Gabby Cullen & Jennifer Massoni Pardini

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) which is a time to spotlight the AAPI culture and bring awareness to issues that the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities face. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many AAPI businesses have had a drop in sales and many have experienced an increase in racism and hate crimes. Supporting these businesses is a step in the right direction toward combatting systemic racism toward AAPI people, and it helps non-AAPI people understand the communities and their incredible contributions to our society today.

There are many thriving AAPI businesses in your community and online, and we’ve chosen to spotlight a few that we know families will love as much as we do.

1. Shoot

Jennifer Tsay is the co-founder and CEO of Shoott, a start-up company that matches you to a photographer in your area. Available in over 50+ cities around the country, simply pick the day that works for you, the location you desire, and a professional photographer will meet you there. Shoott stands out in the crowd when it comes to taking family photos because it’s an uber-affordable option. There’s no session fee; you only pay for what you like ($15 a photo). You’ll get your images within a week, which means you’ll have plenty of time to decide what type of card you want to order. 

Online: shoott.com

2. Artuta

Founded by Takahiro Kawahara, a father of two based in San Francisco, and taught by his brother in NYC, Artuta is an online art program for kids ages four and up. Kawahara has lived in many different countries with his family and understands the importance of cultural immersion, which is why Artuta teaches kids from all over the world. There are creative drawing classes for kids ages four to six (taught in English and Japanese!), creative drawing and sound art classes for kids seven and up, and even a sound art class for adults! You can buy a class back or individual classes, depending on your preference. 

Online: artuta.org

3. Piccoliny

Founder Alex Zagami Ng comes from a long line of business owners. When she opened her shop in Little Italy, it quickly became a favorite for NYC locals and visitors alike. Ng curated a wonderful selection of toys, clothing and books, as well as designed her own line. While she was forced to close her brick-and-mortar location due to COVID, her resilience and determination, not to mention her loyal customers, helped Ng pivot her business angle. Now you’ll find Piccoliny gear online, or if you live in NYC, from these select retailers as well as Saks Fith Avenue in midtown Manhattan. 

Online: piccolinyshop.com

4. Aoko Noko

This family-owned and operated kids’ clothing line is known for its modern and thoughtfully crafted designs. Inspired by their own kids, the owners have over 18 years of experience in the fashion industry; they’re passionate about creating lasting, neutral unisex pieces that can be handed down again and again. 

Online: aokonoko.com

5. Anyday

Anyday is the first-of-its-kind cookware line specifically designed to create sophisticated, time-saving, and nutritious meals entirely in the microwave. Founded by Bay Area resident Steph Chen and launched with Momofuku Restaurant Group founder and Ugly Delicious creator David Chang as a Partner, Anyday is on a mission to save people time in the kitchen by demystifying microwave cooking and bringing greater awareness to this misunderstood and underutilized kitchen appliance, which has been championed by notable chefs, award-winning journalists, and health researchers for decades.

6. Wonton in a Million

Native New Yorker Cynthia Koo is the “founder, designer, and Chief Dimsum Eater” of Wonton in a Million. Cynthia built the company of her dreams by combining her design skills, her love of stationery, and dimsum. The designs are adorable and have resulted in even sweeter collaborations, like this Dimsum Steam Team Life Planner with the brand Erin Condren. Cynthia hopes to inspire people to learn more about the richness of Chinese food and culture.

Online: wontoninamillion.com

Online: cookanyday.com

7. gimMe Snacks

You know Annie Chun from her iconic line of sauces, noodles, and soups. When she sold the company, it was hard for the entrepreneur to stay away from the food industry. Having grown up near the west coast of central Seoul, Chun was raised eating fresh food from the sea, and gimMe was a way to bring her childhood snacks to a broader market. Chun’s seaweed snacks are the first organic version to be available in the United States, and her efforts have even changed the way Korean farmers harvest their products. You can find gimMe online or in most major retailers including Target. Oh, and did we mention they are delicious? 

Online: gimmesnacks.com

8. Happy Masks

Happy Masks has always been a family affair. Founder and owner Melinda Hwang’s father was a co-inventor of a powerful nanofiber membrane filter, which, when the SARS outbreak hit in 2003, was used to create a mask with this technology. When COVID hit, Hwang’s mother sent her some of the masks, and the rest is history. Kids love the beak-like shape because it’s easier to talk and even laugh. Other parents and friends started asking for some, and Happy Masks was born! 

Online: happymasks.com

9. Rae’s Roots

Born out of a quest to re-focus on self-care, founder Joanna Linton turned to the knowledge passed down from her grandmother to her mother to her; she turned to Chinese herbs called adaptogens, which are known to nourish and restore the body. Her line of teas for moms has something for everyone. There’s one for lactation, one for soothing the belly, one for expecting mamas, and of course, a calming tea, too! 

Online: raesroots.com

10. Little Moony

Little Moony is a designer daughter and master tailor mother team. The idea to launch a children’s clothing line was born out of an afternoon watching their niece/granddaughter play in a cute but comfortable dress (which mom had made!). From there, Little Moony has become known for comfortable, well-designed clothes that range from bright and colorful to calm and cool. There’s a brick-and-mortar store in the SOHO neighborhood of NYC, but you can purchase everything from onesies to dress and jogger pants from the website too. 

Online: littlemoony.com

11. Little Hippo

Founders and partners Stephanie and Dennis were on the lookout for high-quality electric products back in 2016, and when they couldn’t find exactly what they wanted, they started their own company! Known for their popular MELLA clock and sleep trainer, they’ve also got WISPI, which is a 3-in-1 humidifier, diffuser and night light!

Online: littlehippo.com

12. Hudson and Bleeker

Founder and CEO Eram Siddiqui launched Hudson and Bleecker when she couldn’t find stylish travel accessories. What started as a single shoe bag has expanded into a line of multi-functional, well-crafted travel accessories. Take a peek at the website, and you’ll find garment bags, cosmetic bags, packing cubes and more. 

Online: hudsonandbleecker.com

13. KidsLuv

Ashi Jelinek founded the Luving Company in 2018, when, as a mother of three, she felt the market for healthy, innovative products for kids was sorely lacking. Her zero-sugar enhanced vitamin water has nine essential vitamins and minerals and comes in three different flavors: Flying Fla-Mango, Starstruck Coconut and Peach Me, I’m Orange. It’s a vegan drink, tastes great, and you can order it from Amazon!

Online: kidsluv.com

14. The Librarian Box

Founders Dayna and Traci love to read, and they love cats! They teamed up to create The Librarian Box, which is carefully curated each month and includes a book with other unique items from small businesses. Past boxes have included fun things like tank tops, jewelry, coffee mugs and candles. 

Online: thelibrarianbox.com

15. Ellie & Becks

Owners Christina and Stephen are first-generation Vietnamese Americans, who, when they were kids, and even now with two kids of their own, had a hard time finding toys and books that recognize and appreciate other cultures. Ellie & Becks is their response to this void, a personal mission to provide a thoughtfully curated collection of toys and books that connect kids to the world around them. With home goods and toys crafted by global artisans, you will appreciate the attention to detail offered in their online collection. 

Online: ellieandbecks.co

16. Guildford Green Wine

If you like wine, then you need to check out Guildford Green. Inspired by the village market concept, their wine selection rotates with the seasons. They focus on family-owned wineries, natural wines and wines you can’t find anywhere else. They hope to bring small businesses and small vineyards to a larger audience. 

Online: guildfordgreen.com

17. Bitty Bao

Imagine this: two first-year teachers ended up being roommates, then friends, and then, when life takes them on different paths to becoming moms, they re-connect and create a really cool company that puts the spotlight on Asian American culture with adorable bilingual board books and gear for kids. 

Online: bittybao.com

18. Loulou Lollipop

This baby gear company is owned and run by twin sisters! Their silicone teethers were an instant hit with the parenting community when they launched in 2015, and since then, they’ve added other chic products made with high-quality materials like pajamas, swaddles, bibs, and more. 

Online: louloulollipop.com

19. Paper Culture

CEO and co-founder Christopher Wu wants his customers to find joy not only in the colors, designs and quality of the photo books, cards and announcements created at Paper Culture but in the mission behind them too. The company believes that fight against the climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our generation, and from products made from 100% recycled and eco-friendly materials to green office practices, Paper Culture completely offsets their production carbon footprint  And, with every purchase, a tree is planted—to date, the company has planted over one million trees! 

Online: paperculture.com

20. Lauren Hom

Known for her hand-lettering skills and bright color palettes, designer Lauren Hom has nabbed clients like Target, Vans, and Google. You can find her iconic style on everything from gift cards to planners (like this one in collaboration with Erin Condren) to album covers. She even has a book based on her blog, Daily Dishonesty. There are lots of reasons to love Lauren Hom but one of our favorites is that she offers courses both on business strategy and art including mural painting and hand-lettering.

Online: homsweethom.com 

21. Pink Moon

When Lin Chen, a second-generation Asian American, launched Pink Moon, an online beauty site in mid-2020, her focus was on curating exclusively female-founded, sustainable self-care, well-being and lifestyle brands. “Practicing self-care/love has positively changed my life and this is why I want to offer other women the opportunity to experience this, too,” she says. These days Chen runs her business from her office in Midtown East, with hopes of opening a flagship well-care and community site for women through every phase of life.

Online: pinkmoon.co

22. Rooted

Rooted may have started out of Ryan Lee and Kay Kim’s apartment in Williamsburg in 2018, but it’s soaring now with a greenhouse in Florida, a Brooklyn team, and a commitment to doing everything through a lens of sustainability. “We’re adamant about doing things as green as possible, even if it’s much harder, for the sake of our environment,” Kim says. The online nursery offers plant subscriptions, as well as one-off orders.

Online: heyrooted.com

—Gabby Cullen with Lambeth Hochwald and Amber Guetebier

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If the beach is your idea of heaven on earth, you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up our favorite beach houses on Airbnb, and our locations span the coasts. Pack the swimsuits and sunscreen, get your snacks squared away and you are ready to go. Scroll down to find one that fits your travel plans, and book it before it’s gone! 

Panama City, FL 

Known for being a family-friendly beach town, there is a ton of stuff to do in Panama City. This charming cottage puts you right in the middle of things, and only two blocks from the beach. There are beach toys for the kids, a fully-stocked kitchen and even an outdoor shower for sandy toes. 

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $239 a night
Online: airbnb.com

Michigan City, IN

This three-bedroom home is minutes from so many things, from the beach to the zoo and the splash pad, as well as shopping and the arts district. There’s a fully stocked kitchen, a fenced-in backyard and a fire pit for after-dark fun. 

Sleeps: 6 
Cost: $105 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

Gulf Shores, AL 

Enjoy stunning views of the white sand beaches of the Gulf Shores, as well as a pool and hot tub. There are beach toys for the kiddos, towels for everyone and there are even blackout shades perfect for kids who need to nap. Grill out or use the full kitchen to make meals. 

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $241 a night
Online: airbnb.com

St. Augustine, FL

This adorable new home is close to historic downtown St. Augustine and the beach. It comes with a cooler and a beach umbrella, as well as a hammock for downtime in the afternoon. 

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $215 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

Mount Pleasant, SC

Just 2 miles away from Sullivans Island Beach and seven miles from downtown Charleston, you’ll get both a cultural and a beach trip when you book this coastal villa. There’s a great backyard for kids, an outdoor grill and two bikes. 

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $226 a night
Online: airbnb.com

Bodega Bay, CA 

You’ll get amazing views and access to all the Bodega Harbor, including a Bocce ball court and kids’ playground, when you book this fantastic two-bedroom rental in Bodega Bay, CA. 

Sleeps: 5
Cost: $242 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

Brandford, CT

This beautiful, four-bedroom house has private beach access at Limewood Beach. A five-minute walk to restaurants, and a short Uber ride to the train station, this is a highly accessible rental that has kids’ books and toys, a pack ‘n’ play crib, babysitter recommendations and even baby safety gates. A perfect getaway spot for families! 

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $216 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

Salvo, NC 

Located just five minutes away from the beach, this adorable family-friendly spot is also close to restaurants, walking/riding trails, museums, a park and a fun ice cream shop. It’s got a bunk bed, and a Roku too. 

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $220 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

Seaside, OR

Located on Seaside’s North Shore, this charming cottage is just 1.5 blocks away from the beach, and there’s access to other activities like kayaking, fishing, surfing and more. There are amenities like a bunk bed, a pack ‘n’ play crib and a backyard too. 

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $131 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

West Tisbury, MA

This charming spot on Martha’s Vineyard is a 15-minute walk to Lambert’s Cove Beach, which some say is the best beach on the island. There’s a sleeping porch and also a newly installed outdoor shower. While this spot might be a little farther away from town, it’s perfect for those looking to get away from it all. 

Sleeps: 5
Cost: $500 a night 
Online: airbnb.com 

Oceano, CA

Smack dab in the middle of California’s central coast, you’ll be near Avila Beach, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo! This adorable house has a game room, a secret room under the stairs just for kids, as well as toys, cornhole and even Adirondack chairs perfect for relaxing after a day at the beach. 

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $80 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

Scarborough, ME

This charming turn-of-the-century beach house is not only super close to Grand Beach, but it’s a family's paradise. There’s a whole playroom complete with a play kitchen, art supplies, puzzles and more, plus there are swings, a slide, a fire pit, a cozy side porch perfect for napping and more! 

Sleeps: 9
Cost: $468 a night 
Online: airbnb.com

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When it comes to feeding our families, parents know that despite our best intentions, sometimes all we can handle is what is quick and easy. But we also know that healthy food choices now set our kids up for better choices as they grow up. So what’s a busy parent to do? We asked some nutritional experts for advice on what to buy at the grocery store to set ourselves up for success, whether prepared foods, frozen veggies, or fresh. So even when you’ve got to bust out the mac and cheese once in a while, take their tips below, and you’ll be on the right track for a happy, healthy, well-fed family.

What to Buy at the Grocery Store

Whole Foods/Georg Beyer

Fresh Seafood

Registered dietician and Fresh Thyme Market's resident industry and retail expert Meghan Sedivy recommends parents make seafood a main source of protein twice a week if possible. “In addition to being a great meatless alternative, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout or oysters are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain and heart health." 

If you're not out there with a rod and a reel yourself, the frozen fish you find at the grocery store is usually flash-frozen for optimal taste and freshness, which makes it easy to have it on hand for a quick dinner. Sedivy reminds us that fatty fish is also, "a great source of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, which aids in calcium absorption, immune function, and protecting bone, muscle, and heart health.” 

Whole Foods

Have you ever heard the term “shopping the edges?” It means focusing on the exterior aisles of the grocery store—where the whole foods reside (all the processed food is in the middle). Renowned chef Gerard Viverito, aka “The Sustainable Chef,” stresses the importance of eating whole foods because that’s where you’ll get a nutritional bang for your buck. He says, "emphasize food quality over quantity by focusing on whole, unprocessed foods that are nutrient-dense foods, high in fiber and low in net carbs-but are still packed with other nutrients.”  

Also, according to Nicolette M. Pace, MS, RDN, CDE, CBC, CDN, CFCS, and FAND, you should be paying attention to the labels. “Don't be fooled by packaged items that are marketed as ‘made with fresh fruit’ or ‘contains a full serving of vegetables.’ Single-ingredient foods like an apple or broccoli do not need labels they are whole foods." Instead, Pace recommends that you cut your selections to those with five or fewer ingredients. "More than likely, a paragraph of ingredients will contain additives, preservatives or flavor enhancers which if routinely eaten can harm a child's health.”

Plant-Based Snacks

Often, the snack foods our kids want for lunch or after school are just empty calories. Consider swapping some of them out with plant-based snacks. Kids will still feel like they're eating snacks, but they'll fill up on fiber and protein. Jill Castle, MS, RDN, is a huge believer in plant-based proteins for kids. “For plant-based snack ideas, try edamame in the shell or black bean dip with whole-grain crackers,” she says. Or, if they’re dying to have a favorite like mac and cheese, a plant-based version, like Banza, a high-protein, chickpea-based pasta, is a good substitution. “Not only does it deliver a plant-based source of protein, but it’s also a significant source of calcium and iron,” says Castle. 

Fresh (and, If Possible, Local) Produce 

When it comes to healthy food, fresh is best. The best way to eat fresh produce is to try to eat seasonally and locally. If you can’t swing that, stick with what’s available or frozen veggies. It’s also important to try to “eat the rainbow,” Pace says. “Start with a list of different fruits and vegetables that are five different colors in a rich rainbow of healthy nutrition for a child's mental and physical growth. A colorful plate of food is not only appealing to kids, but the plant pigments in red, orange/yellow, green, purple, and even white are plant chemicals, which are super-smart superfoods that help keep kids healthy and develop well.” 

Sedivy agrees with this concept. “I always recommend picking up fresh, in-season produce when grocery shopping. Not only do fruits and vegetables add a pop of color to your plate, but they add flavor, and texture and increase your nutrient intake. Aim for at least three different colored fruit or veggie options like blueberries, tomatoes, green beans, or Brussels sprouts to ensure that you are consuming a variety of nutrients.”

Healthy Fats 

Fat can be an excellent source of nutrition; it just depends on what type you're eating, and yes, there’s a difference. Fats from things like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish are all filled with healthy-boosting qualities. Chef Viverito is a big fan. His list of healthy fat sources includes grass-fed butter, ghee, avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, sesame oil, walnut oil and Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil. He mentions palm oil in particular. “Malaysian palm oil has scientifically proven benefits for the heart, brain and liver. It is loaded with carotenoids, much more than carrots and tomatoes. It’s also much better for cooking and grilling, as it holds up to high heat and has a neutral flavor.”

Pantry Staples

It’s important to have a few basic ingredients on hand at all times, so you can make a homemade meal instead of deferring to pre-packaged meals, so be sure to always have a running list before you hit the grocery store. If you're wondering what you can make with these few ingredients, check out our roundup of pantry meals

What Not to Buy at the Grocery Store

Sugary Drinks

We’ve known about this one for a while, but sometimes it can be tempting to let the kids have that sugar-free energy drink or even the juice box. There’s not only a ton of added sugar in sodas, juices and other flavored drinks, but there are also a lot of artificial ingredients. According to The Sustainable Chef, it’s important to avoid heavily processed fruit juices and sodas. “Clean hydration is important because they help flush your system,” he says. “Water, sparkling water, green tea, black tea, coffee, protein shakes, milk alternatives, vegetable juice, kefir, and kombucha can all offer interesting alternatives to often chemical-laden and heavily processed fruit juices and sodas.”

Processed Foods

Processed foods are another one to avoid if you can. Processed foods are likely to have far more additives and fewer of the micronutrients your body needs. What’s more, they are associated with several negative health effects, including weight gain, diabetes, overall mortality and heart disease. By choosing processed foods over nutritious, whole foods, you may become deficient in micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins C, D, and K,” says Chef Vivierto.

Non-Grass Fed or Organic Meats

This can get pricey, but it’s worth it. According to the Cleveland Clinic, while grass-fed meats are the best, organic meat is still better than nothing at all. The benefits of choosing these pricer cuts of meats range from being better for the environment to having more nutritional benefits like extra omega-3 fatty acids, less cholesterol and more antioxidants. 

Pre-Packaged Deli Meats

Turkey, ham and chicken cuts can be a good source of protein for kids, but the pre-packaged stuff has tons of saturated fat and sodium. The Cleveland Clinic recommends selecting fresh deli meats because they have fewer nitrates, look for the leanest cut of meat or a low-sodium option. 

 

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lady buying generic labels to shop smart
Shot of a young woman using a mobile phone in a grocery store

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If you’re looking for a perfect Texas road trip for families, we’ve got a solution. Head to Hill Country, where you’ll find plenty of family-friendly fun. From hiking to local history and even a kid-friendly winery or two, this popular destination has activities to keep everyone busy almost all year long. Keep reading to get the scoop on what to do with kids in Fredericksburg, TX.

Gabby Cullen

See the Hill Country

Hike Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock is the second-largest granite dome in the country, and one of the best things to do with kids in Fredericksburg, TX. There are over eight miles of trails to explore within the park; you can spend the day hiking around the base on the loop trail. If you have older kids, hike to the summit for 360 views of Hill Country. Look for the vernal pools that are home to fragile Fairy Shrimp, let the kids do some geocaching, or stay until the sun goes down and watch the stars. Enchanted Rock is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, and you can usually see the Milky Way on clear nights. If you are interested in rock climbing, we recommend booking something with Texas Climbing Adventures, as they offer family friendly expeditions.

Visit Pedernales Falls State Park
Down the road in Johnson City lies a popular state park that's known for the river that makes its way through huge slabs of limestone. Especially fun during the summer months, you can picnic, tube and swim in the river or simply admire the waterfalls.

Visit Wildseed Farms
Texas is famous for its wildflowers, so it’s no surprise that one of the largest wildflower farms in the United States is in Fredericksburg. Open all year, Wildseed Farms is home to 200 acres of flowers. Head for the meadows, where you’ll find a stroller-accessible half-mile walking trail surrounding the trial and display gardens and the seasonal butterfly gardens. Be sure to stop by the Brewbonnet Biergarten, where you can sample locally-made jam, jelly and salsa, grab a beer and buy fresh peach ice cream for the kids. Admission is free. 

Walk the Live Oak Wilderness Trail
This easy one-mile loop, located inside Lady Bird Johnson Park, will give kids views of lakes, birds and flowers local to the Texas Hill Country. The trail is also connected to the Vista Loop trail, which has a butterfly habitat and a geology and rock exhibit.

Go to Luckenbach
This world-famous Texas dance hall is always family-friendly, according to longtime property manager Virgil. “There are folks who come here now as adults that grew up sleeping under the picnic benches and playing underneath those oak trees,” he says. And indeed, the venue is welcoming, with a General Store that sells everything from souvenirs to toys, and the Feed Lot, which offers kid-friendly fare like funnel cakes, grilled cheese, cherry limeade and more. There’s live music every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and whether it’s a free show or if you need a ticket, the experience is the same—totally unforgettable.

Watch the Bats
From mid-May to mid-Oct., head for Old Tunnel State Park, where millions of Mexican free-tail bats hang their hats for the season. Snag a seat in the upper deck for no charge or from Thurs.-Sun., reserve a seat in the lower viewing area for $5 per person, and wait for the bats to emerge at sunset in search of food and water.

Gabby Cullen

Explore Fredericksburg

Go to the Peach Haus
One of our favorite things to do with kids in Fredericksburg, TX is to visit the Peach Haus. The original location of Fischer & Wieser (you've probably tried their flagship Raspberry Chipotle Sauce), this spot a few blocks down from Main Street is very kid-friendly. Browse the store for the marinades, sauces and preserves they are known for, and then wander to the back, where, on weekends, you can buy a bottle of wine (from their vineyard) and a charcuterie board before you settle down in an Adirondack chair that overlooks a pod. Watch the sun go down, let your kids play, and enjoy a slice of classic Fredricksburg at this hidden gem.

Walk Main Street
Fredericksburg is known for its shopping, and while many shops are probably best left for adult-only weekends, there are a few that are perfect for kids. Legendary Dooley’s 5 & 10 is filled with toys, trinkets and other old-fashion goodies that’ll keep little ones busy. There are also sweet shops like Lone Star Candy Bar, Big Pop’s Popcorn Co. and Clear River Ice Cream and Bakery, which serves up more than 40 flavors of ice cream and incredibly soft, chewy cookies.

Catch a live show at the Rockbox Theater
Live music is back, and there's no better spot than Rockbox Theater. Located right around the corner from Main Street, its unique design makes for incredible acoustics. If you'd like to bring the kids, there are often 4 pm shows for fun concerts like a Beatles tribute and dueling piano show. If you don't want to bring the kids, shoot for the 8 pm version of any of the fun live events!

Ride the Trolley
Do you want a guided tour of the city? Hop on the trolley for everything from a haunted history tour to a historic Fredericksburg tour. It’s the perfect way to get around: you can leave your car behind and not worry about parking! Prices range from $9 for kids to $20 for adults and up. 

Courtesy Steve Rawls

Learn the Local History

One of the most important things to do with kids in Fredericksburg, TX is to visit the local museums. 

The German Settlers
German settlers founded Fredericksburg in 1846, and a rich culture remains. Right in the middle of downtown, at the Pioneer Museum, kids can sit at desks in the one-room schoolhouse and watch living history demonstrations. Little Pioneers, a family-favorite monthly event includes activities like blacksmithing, making ice cream, making a miniature patchwork quilt and more. During Spring Break, something is happening every day!  At the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm, located at Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, you can watch interpreters perform household chores, cook over an open hearth, farm and even blacksmith, just like German settlers would have done in the 1800s.

World War II
Fredericksburg is the hometown of World War II Navy General Chester Nimitz. The National Museum of the Pacific War has over six acres of exhibits, including full-size planes, hands-on, interactive displays (currently closed due to COVID restrictions) and an impressive amount of curated war artifacts. Two blocks down the street from the museum is the Pacific Combat Zone, which has more planes and a boat, and a recently renovated area where live, reenacted battle scenes (recommended for kids ages 6 & up.) are performed on eight weekends throughout the year. 

Gabby Cullen

Eat the Food

One of the best things to do in Fredericksburg, TX with kids is to eat! There are plenty of family friendly spots to try. Our favorite is Tubby's Ice House. It's within walking distance of Main Street and offers locally-sourced food including homemade tortillas, Texas beef and locally-grown vegetables, plus there are vegan-friendly menu options. There's also an open patio and a play space perfect for families. If it's a pizza you want, try West End Pizza. It boasts an outdoor patio and a kids' game room with air hockey and arcade games

For breakfast, a local gem is Caliche Coffee Bar & Roastery. Family-owned and operated, there's an outdoor space for antsy kids, and their menu includes yummy items like avocado toast for the parents and whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and jelly for the littles. Another great spot is Emma + Ollie, where it's all about fresh ingredients, saying no to processed foods, and serving up classics like biscuits, banana bread and more.

You can have a sit-down dinner with kids in Fredericksburg, too! At the locally-owned and operated Burger Burger, you can enjoy ample outside seating. For an incredible wine pairing experience, go to Cabernet Grill, where the on-staff sommelier will pair your meal (made with local, Texas-inspired ingredients) with Texas wines, many of them grown and made locally. The atmosphere is casually elegant, so while families are welcome, this might a good choice for when you've got older kids in tow.

 

Gabby Cullen

Lodging and Travel Details

If you're looking for something within walking distance of downtown Fredericksburg, we recommend the family-owned Lodge Above Town Creek. They have plenty of suites to accommodate families, and they offer a fantastic picnic basket breakfast. There's a pool perfect for the summer months, and during the cooler months, you'll be drawn to the cozy covered pavilion with couches, complimentary coffee and tea and a roaring fire. 

We also recommend staying at Fredericksburg Inn & Suites. Located on five acres near Barons Creek, not only does the hotel have a pool (heated for year-round swimming) with a slide, but it also boasts an outdoor fireplace and TV area. Activities include outdoor movies, fresh cookies are made daily, and you can explore the creek and outdoor areas.

Fredericksburg is a five-hour drive from Dallas-Fort Worth, just over an hour and a half from Austin, and just over one hour away from San Antonio. 

 

All photos courtesy of Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau unless otherwise noted. 

Editor’s Note: This trip was paid for by Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau, but all opinions belong to the writer. 

 

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