Travel pushes families past boundaries of every kind and provides a plethora of educational opportunities. Here are five ways to expand your horizons.
1. SEE DYNAMIC DINOSAURS IN CHICAGO Take the kids to meet Sue, the largest, most complete and well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on the planet at the Windy City's world-famous Field Museum. The kids' interest in science will be stoked when they check out her 600-pound skull and learn she is 42 feet long and boasts 58 daggerlike teeth. Marvel along with the scientific team as your family discovers how our understanding of the T. rex has evolved through the years.
2. EXPLORE FREEDOM CENTER IN CINCINNATI Through permanent and changing exhibits, the center on the banks of the Ohio River provides a window on the horrors of slavery and honors those who have stood for justice from the days of the Underground Railroad to modern times. The Solomon Northup Tour provides historical context for the story of the man born free and sold into slavery, as revealed in his book and the Oscar-winning movie "12 Years a Slave."
3. LEARN THE VALUE OF VOLUNTEERING Volunteer vacations enable parents to model their most deeply held values while demonstrating compassion for others. Help build a home for another family, teach youngsters to read or work on programs that positively influence at-risk wildlife and the natural world.
4. VISIT THE EXPLORATORIUM IN SAN FRANCISCO Kids can create a marble machine, study plankton populations and check out an "upside-down world" inside this creative center. With more than 600 exhibits on 3.3 acres, every member of the family is encouraged to see the world differently. Collaborations with local artists make possible multimedia performances, theatrical productions, animated filmmaking, immersive installations and walking tours.
5. DISCOVER YOUR NATIONAL PARK With more than 400 national parks for families to explore, the opportunities for discovery are endless. To get started, visit the NPS website, where you'll find news about the centennial, Junior Ranger programs and 35 National Park Adventures for kids of all ages.