The Southeast United States is chock full of family-friendly attractions that will delight everyone in your group and all ages, too! We took a look around the Southeast and found these must-do family-friendly spots — under the sea and out of this world — for your family to check on the next time you’re on the road.
Under the Sea
Whether your family’s a bunch of ocean-loving folks or are simply curious about the wonders of the deep, there are plenty of aquariums in the South at which to take a peek under the sea.
Creatures big and small live in more than 800,000 gallons of water at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach; hands-on exhibits make for fun inside, while a nature path and natural marshlands await exploration outside.
The North Carolina Aquariums in Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Fisher showcase not only marine life found in the nearby ocean, but in the state’s estuaries, rivers and streams as well. In Charleston, the South Carolina Aquarium follows suit, highlighting the entire Southeast Appalachian Watershed through exhibits and hands-on activities.
If you find yourselves in Atlanta, head to the Georgia Aquarium — the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere — and make a beeline for the whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. You can even swim with them! Another spot to swim with the fish is at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, but you can swim with sharks, too. Or, stay dry and watch the penguins as they parade just inches away. Also in Florida, Winter, the star of the Dolphin Tale movies, makes her home at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, along with her marine life friends.
In Chattanooga, the Tennessee Aquarium is a terrific introduction to life that can be found from the mountains to the sea. One of the most popular attractions here is watching the North American River Otters play at River Otter Falls. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg takes the fun a bit further with three unique experiences — Waddle with Penguins, Splash with Stingrays and Sleep with the Sharks, a sleepover adventure.
New Orleans is fun for kids, too, especially if you plan to spend a day at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Many of the sea turtles you’ll see at the aquarium are being rehabilitated for release back into the wild — wish them bon voyage! Thousands of animals from around the world are on display at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, where you can pet a shark and touch creatures that make their homes in a tide pool.
Out of This World
Space has long been the final frontier, but we’re closer than we were, and there are a handful of terrific places from which to set your sights on a galaxy far, far away.
Let’s start in Virginia, just as the U.S. space program did in 1917. At the NASA Langley Visitor Center at the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton, your family can explore the early days of space exploration and check out a variety of artifacts and replicas that show the evolution of spacecraft.
Down the coastline, an entire day — or more — can easily be spent wandering between rockets and exhibits, including “Heroes & Legends” and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and taking the tour to the launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. And if your family really wants a blast, sign up the gang up for Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. If you’d rather sit back and enjoy the solid ground found here on Earth, your kids can participate in day camps and children’s workshops throughout the year.
Only the bravest of family travelers should venture to Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights. Every year, Universal Orlando turns into the spookiest place in Florida, if not in the country. On select nights throughout the season, visitors and locals alike can head to the popular amusement park for frights, scares and thrilling adventures. Explore 10 terrifying haunted houses; five scare zones; live entertainment; and themed attractions, food and merchandise.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
With kids back in school and the grueling temperatures of summer finally behind us, life is starting to get back into the routine of fall. That doesn’t mean, however, that family fun has to stop. Big international trips may not be practical for all family travelers this time of year, but places like South County in Rhode Island offer so many fun things to do for families, a quick trip to this East Coast haven is practically a must.
Take Part in England’s Exmoor Dark Skies Festival Dusk Wildlife Safaris and Children’s Art Competition
Planning a trip to the United Kingdom soon? Time your travel for the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival in Somerset, England, from Oct. 13 to 29. The setting is Exmoor National Park, located within a gorgeous mix of farmland, wild forests, stunning valleys and moorlands in South West England.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Part of a family who just loves a good scare or ghost story? This fall, wherever your travels might take you, chances are you’ll be near an Omni hotel or resort with a history of haunted sightings and other scary happenings. So, why not learn a bit about where you’re staying to make the experience all the more eerie …