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Top U.S. spots for family fun

Top U.S. spots for family fun
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POSTED: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 2:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 2:04am

Spread across nearly 3,500 square miles and home to some 60 animal species and almost half of the world's geysers, visitors could explore Yellowstone National Park for weeks and not see everything in the country's first national park.

Parents seem to agree the park in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is a don't-miss spot in the United States: Yellowstone was named the top "favorite family destination" and top "nature escape" in FamilyFun magazine's first travel awards.

FamilyFun surveyed some 2,000 U.S. moms with children ages 3 to 12, asking the adults to rate 360 popular destinations. The destinations were divided into regions (West, Midwest, South and Northeast) with parents voting within their respective geographic area. Fun, accessibility and affordability were key elements of the survey.

"Most families only have a few weeks of vacation each year, so the choice of where to go and what to see really carries a lot of weight," said Ann Hallock, editor-in-chief of FamilyFun magazine. "The great thing about our list is that the winners in each region are chosen by families who actually live there, so you know you're getting the real scoop on what's going to be fun."

Favorite family destinations

It's not just Yellowstone. Parents are focused mostly on nature, according to their Top 10 picks. Coming in second place is Acadia National Park in Maine; third place is Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and fourth place is Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Rounding out the top 10 are Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota; Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan; Yosemite National Park in California; Disney's Magic Kingdom Park in Florida; Glacier National Park in Montana; and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center/USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.

The magazine also announced winners in other categories. Here are the top three spots in those areas:

Top nature escapes: Yellowstone National Park, Acadia National Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Top tourist attractions: Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, Pearl Harbor Visitor Center/USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii and the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York.

Top tourist towns: Mackinaw City, Michigan; Monterey, California; and the Lake Tahoe region in California and Nevada.

Top museums, zoos and aquariums: Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington; Omaha, Nebraska's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium; and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Top amusement parks: Disney's Magic Kingdom Park in Florida, Disneyland in California and Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Indiana.

Top family resort: Walt Disney World Resorts hotels; Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach in Hawaii; and Loews Coronado Bay in California. 

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