The best thing about traveling with kids is seeing the wonders of the world through their eyes. Whether it’s the first time they see the wide expanse of an ocean, discover the different trees at the park or take in the most impressive sites of the world, I always love watching the faces of kids when they see something new.
There’s a way to do that without ever buying a plane ticket: books. The newest, from TIME magazine, Great Places of History: Civilization’s 100 Most Important Sites: An Illustrated Journey, is a coffee table picture book that kids can page through and discover the world on their own. The incredible photos are accompanied by just enough text to help you and your kids understand why that pyramid or this temple or that memorial is important in the context of the world.
After you spend some time paging through the book and discovering these worldwide wonders, think about introducing your kids to one or more of the sites in person. It’s easy to start; Chicago’s skyscrapers are listed as No. 84. While the world’s first skyscraper-the 10-story Home Insurance Building-no longer exists (it was built in 1885 and torn down in 1931 to make way for a taller building), there are plenty of skyscrapers left in Chicago.
Other American sites on the list include the Hoover Dam (No. 87) on the Arizona-Nevada border; the Lowell Observatory (73) outside Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Cahokia Mounds (35) in southern Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. (If you visit that site, plan to stay an extra day or two in St. Louis, one of the most kid-friendly and family-budget-friendly cities anywhere. There are tons of free things to do in St. Louis, including a fabulous zoo, a world-class art museum and incredible science center.)
Other U.S. sites are: New York’s Brooklyn Bridge (86), Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia (81), Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (60), Revolutionary Philadelphia (43) and the Concord Bridge (59) just north of Boston.
If you want to venture further afield, take a look at the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador (72). Home of such rare birds as the blue-footed booby, the Galapagos provide a world of wonder for families. Sadly, a visit there can be expensive. If you’re feeling lucky, visit TravelingMom.com, where we’re giving away a $20,000 cruise to the Galapagos for a family of four. You can enter daily between now and Nov. 8.
Cindy Richards is a veteran traveler and the mom of two well-traveled kids. She is the travel writer for Chicago Parent, writes this blog every Thursday and is the editor of TravelingMom.com.