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Bright lights, big city: Kid-friendly travel tips

Don't leave the kids behind if your travel plans include a big city. Include these 5 ideas in your itinerary and make incredible family memories.
Amy Peterson, FamilyShare Modified: May 21, 2014 at 12:21 am •  Published: May 27, 2014

My husband and I moved to the Boston area when our first child was 4 months old. I commented to a new friend that I wished we had moved there before we had children. She immediately told me that it was easy and fun to take kids to the city. She said, "Do everything you'd do if you didn't have kids with you. You'll learn to adapt and they'll learn to enjoy." It was great advice. Since then, my family has enjoyed visiting several big cities in the U.S., including Washington D.C., St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle. Use these 5 tips the next time your family travel plans take you to a big city.

1. Eat like a local.

Skip the national chain restaurants and try local favorites when traveling to cities. Most cities have at least one dish they're famous for. When in Philadelphia, find a cheesesteak. In Chicago, have a slice of deep dish pizza. I wouldn't visit Paris without having a croissant or macaroon, and a scoop of gelato is a daily treat when visiting Rome or Florence.

If you encourage your children to try the foods that are important to cities and regions, you can teach them about the culture of that area. You'll also meet great people who are passionate about the foods they make and serve. We often stop at farmer's markets to pick up produce for snacks, as well as unique local food items that serve as souvenirs.

2. Ride public transportation.

If you have small children, particularly boys, a ride on a subway train or bus might be the highlight of the trip. When we visited Chicago, we bought a 3-day pass that allowed us to use all the buses and trains for unlimited rides. It was a great way to get around during our visit. Using public transportation, which is generally clean, relatively safe and fairly inexpensive, is the perfect way to see a city. It's also easier than navigating busy traffic and finding parking.

3. Visit an amazing museum.

Most cities pride themselves on having world-class museums to visit. Besides children's museums, there are also science and natural history museums, art museums and aquariums. Because these places can be expensive to visit, budget accordingly. CityPass, available in several cities, offers passes that will allow you to visit several attractions for one price.

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