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Best Day Trips for Kids

Vacations aren’t the only way to create fun summer memories. One-of-a-kind day trips can be ju...

With gas prices likely to hit $4 a gallon, airfares running 15 percent higher than last year, and hotels hiking their room rates by 7 percent, you may not be ready to spring for that big summer vacation. But even if you don’t go away, great summer day trips can be fun and memorable -- with far less hassle and expense.

No matter where you live, there’s likely to be a small theme park or festival within two hours of home that will give your family a taste of adventure. Here are some local attractions around the U.S. -- just a sampling of what awaits your family this summer.

Small Theme Parks
The rides may not be as thrilling as the big-name parks, but what you’ll save on admission certainly is. At small amusement parks like Land of Make Believe in Hope, N.J., and Dixie Landin’ in Baton Rouge, La., you’ll pay half to one-third of what you’d spend for admission at Six Flags, Universal Studios or Disney World, which can run anywhere from $52 to $82. For small parks near you, visit Here are a few of our favorite picks:

  • Land of Make Believe, Hope, N.J. (Star attraction: Pirate’s Cove ride)
  • Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn. (Star attraction: Zoomerang rollercoaster)
  • Kennywood Amusement Park, West Mifflin, Penn. (Star attraction: Thunderbolt rollercoaster)
  • Adventureland, Altoona, Iowa (Star attraction: Himalaya rollercoaster)
  • Dixie Landin’, Baton Rouge, La. (Star attraction: Azuka tornado slide)
  • Castle Park, Riverside, Calif. (Star attraction: New Screamin’ Demon spinning rollercoaster)

Factory Tours
Ever wonder how they get toothpaste into the tube, or what makes Gummy candies so gummy? Factory tours are fun, informative and unique experiences, providing an inside look at how a wide range of products are made. (If you pick a food-related tour, the samples are particularly good!) For tours near you, visit And if you’re close to any of the following, we highly recommend them:

  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Waterbury, Vt.
  • Harley-Davidson Motor Company, York, Penn.
  • Golden Flake Snack Foods, Birmingham, Ala. (Kids must be 5 or older)
  • Chelsea Teddy Bear Company, Chelsea, Mich.
  • Gibson Guitar Factory, Memphis, Tenn. (Kids must be 5 or older)

May through September is festival season -- with food, music and cultural celebrations everywhere, from the smallest towns to the biggest cities. For ones within easy driving distance from you, check out In the meantime, here is a sampling of events taking place throughout the country in the month of June alone:

  • Cambridge River Festival, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Redneck Circus, Fort Pierce, Fla.
  • Washboard Music Festival, Logan, Ohio
  • The New York Book Festival, N.Y.
  • Tremont Turkey Festival, Tremont, Ill.
  • Portland Rose Festival (and Fleet Week), Portland, Ore.



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