The Families Have Voted: These Are Their Favorite Destinations

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Sanibel, Fla., with its abundant seashells, was named the top overall family attraction. (Photo: Thinkstock)

If you’re thinking of a family trip and wondering where in the U.S others are taking the kids these days, one survey suggests they favor an itinerary like this: picking up seashells on a small Florida island, observing animals in a rain forest, and of course, eating at the Cheesecake Factory.

FamilyFun magazine just announced its travel awards, the result of polling 2,000 American families to rate their favorite destinations across five categories. The top overall winner was Sanibel, Fla., an island town with ample white beaches and seashells, and the power to chill out even the most high-strung parents and kids. The magazine reports one Texas mom as saying, “It’s just a relaxing place that lets kids be kids.”

Also ranking in the top three for favorite tourist towns were Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Savannah, Ga.

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A spider monkey posing at Henry Doorly Zoo. (Photo: Thinkstock)

In the favorite animal attractions category, the big winner was the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb., which was also the top-rated zoo among TripAdvisor users in 2014. Here families can find the largest nocturnal zoo exhibit in the U.S., the largest indoor rain forest in North America, and a three-acre gorilla habitat.

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Finishing second and third in the animal attractions category were the Saint Louis (Mo.) Zoo and the Monterey Bay (Calif.) Aquarium.

Coincidence or not, the favorite state park among families is on an island where cars are banned. Mackinac Island State Park, on Mackinac Island, Mich., invites you to ditch your car and walk, bike, ride a horse past limestone caves, an extensive forest, or Fort Mackinac.

The No. 2 and No. 3 overall winners were also best in their category for top science museums: Washington’s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis was No. 3 on that list.

Finally, with a massive menu bound to have something your kid likes, and 177 locations to feed them, the winner for top casual restaurant was the Cheesecake Factory.

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For the full list of winners, visit FamilyFun’s award page.

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