Yahoo Travel released a list of 10 destinations that every child should experience before they turn 15. It makes me feel like I had a deprived childhood, which I know I didn’t. The first four destinations are in states I haven’t yet visited. The fifth selection, Carlsbad Caverns, I visited when I was 16 — a year too late according to Yahoo (and I visited #6 when I was 17). In all, I’ve been to four of the listed destinations.
Did I have an uninspiring childhood because I didn’t visit a couple museums in Alabama? No! My parents took my brother and me on plenty of wonderful vacations when we were younger — we have a lot of great memories despite the long drives.
We experienced national parks and historic landmarks (mostly along the east coast). I may have not been to Sea World San Antonio, but I have been to Sea World San Diego. I’ve also been to more zoos and aquariums than I remember. And who needs the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama when you’ve been to Cape Canaveral and the Air and Space Museum?
The U.S. has many great destinations for children, but visiting them depends on the family and the child. I was fortunate enough to grow up near New York City and all its wonderful museums and landmarks — I got a better education in those museums than I did in school. I still love visiting the Museum of Modern Art (I’ve lost track how many times I’ve been there). But I’ve also been to our national parks to better appreciate our natural heritage.
It’s important to offer children a variety of destinations — historic, cheesy/touristy, natural, educational. They need to understand more of the world and experience it in order to appreciate it. It isn’t always necessary for children to travel abroad when they’re younger because there is plenty of diversity here in the U.S. (though it is still a good idea to see what’s outside every now and then).