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Best places to travel with kids: 4 family-friendly destinations for the summer

by A. Pawlowski /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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With the school year wrapping up, many parents are making plans for a summer getaway with the kids.

But where should you go to find the perfect mix of fun, relaxation and a bit of discovery?

Family Fun magazine asked 2,000 families who travel with kids ages 3-12 to name their favorite getaways.

Here are some of their top picks:

1. Sanibel Island, Florida

This beautiful island off Florida’s Gulf Coast was voted the No. 1 overall destination.

“This town is famous for its laid back vibe, where families can just chill out and hang out. They also are known for more than 250 varieties of sea shells,” Mary Giles, deputy editor of Family Fun magazine, told TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

The building code adds to the charm because structures on the island can’t be taller than the palm trees, so you won’t find any high-rises.

“Because the buildings aren’t tall, it’s such a quaint, beautiful place,” Hoda said.

2. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska

This destination, which was voted No. 1 animal attraction in the survey, is home to the world’s largest indoor desert.

“They also have the largest nocturnal exhibit in the world… also, the largest rain forest in North America,” Giles said.

3. Mackinac Island State Park

The No. 1 state park in the survey sits on an island in Lake Huron. Sorry, no cars allowed.

“Not only is it just beautiful for things like biking because it’s a gorgeous state park, it’s part of the charm that they don’t have cars there so you have to get around by horse-drawn carriage or on horseback.”

Kathie Lee pointed out it’s where the movie “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Semour, was filmed and she recommended seeing the movie before you go.

You can tour a Revolutionary War-era fort and explore the nearby town of Mackinac, which was voted one of the magazine’s top 10 tourist towns. Here’s another sweet reason to visit: It’s also famous for its fudge.

4. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Voted the No. 1 destination on the West Coast in the survey, this attraction is home to 35,000 sea creatures.

“They’ve got a 90-foot-long wall where you can observe everything from sharks to turtles,” Giles said.

For the full list of favorite family-friendly destinations, follow this link.

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