Travelling with children carries its own set of rules and offers its own style of adventure, and for the willing family, it can present some of life’s most intense challenges and satisfying moments. Whether you seek travel with your fledglings in order to maintain and feed your own sense of wanderlust or you want your kids to practically broaden their knowledge of the world, festivals are a great way to learn and experience some of America’s fascinating history and culture, while travelling near and far at the same time. Here are a handful of quirky festivals throughout the United States that are especially appealing to families with children.
1. Chicago Kids and Kites Festival, Chicago IL
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly excuse to travel to Chicago, the Chicago Kids and Kites Festival more than fits the bill. Every May, kids, parents, and kite enthusiasts make their way to Montrose Harbor to check out large-form kites, face painting, sport kites, kite races, live entertainment, festival food, bountiful arts and crafts, and free kite kits so kids can design and create their own unique kite.
2. Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival, Chandler AZ
Located in Chandler, Arizona, the Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival is one of the strangest festivals you can attend, and your children will absolutely buzz with excitement at all it has to offer. Not only does the festival offer opportunities to get up close and personal with the world’s largest flightless bird, but there are ostrich races, pony and camel rides, a carnival, live music and much, much more. The festival caters to families with children by offering a special family pack with discounts, too.
3. Cracker Storytelling Festival, Tampa FL
Located just an hour away from Tampa, this Homeland, Florida festival takes place over two days in October, and the storytelling is of such high quality that everyone in your family will find themselves breathless and spellbound as each tale gets told. Go back in time for stories of yesteryear. Enjoy fascinating puppets and puppetry. Stories from cultures and lands less familiar will also be told. The event takes place in Homeland Heritage Park, a 5-acre park that’s also the site of a number of fascinating historical buildings from the late 19th century.
4. The 152nd Street Cultural Festival, New York NY
In celebration of National Puerto Rican Day, every year the Bronx hosts the 152nd Street Cultural Festival. This street festival and parade celebrates Puerto Rican culture and brings in almost 3 million spectators and features over 100,000 participants. Watch a stellar parade, eat amazing Puerto Rican street food, get your hands dirty at the arts and crafts booth, and dance to the sounds of authentic Puerto Rican music. If you’d like to take a trip to New York City with your little ones, this free festival is a great event to hit during your visit.
5. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington D.C.
During the early summer, the National Mall becomes a place where the celebration of the variety of folklife traditions throughout the world occurs. Each year brings a different group of people, craftsmen, performers, artists, and teachers from around the world who all share their way of life, love, religion, music, dance, food, and more with festival-goers. Hundreds of thousands of people visit The Smithsonian Folklife Festival each year for an experience of other cultures that is immersing, in-depth, exciting, and revealing. It’s a little like taking a tiny vacation with your children to a dozen different countries at one time.
6. Potato Days, Barnesville MN
Do you ever find yourself complaining that the only thing your kids will eat is french fries? Well, instead of resisting, why not take them to Potato Days? A celebration of the potato that’s unlike anything else you’ll find in Barnesville, Minnesota — or anywhere else for that matter. This festival features a potato sack fashion show, a potato peeling contest, mashed potato wrestling, potato sculpture, a potato eating contest, and a Miss Tater Tot competition. Of course, there are plenty of potatoes to be eaten, too, so your picky eaters will always have full bellies.
7. Elkfest, Jackson Hole WY
Take a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Elkfest, an annual celebration of all things elk-related. Enjoy a tour of elk country, a kids’ corner where your little ones can play games and learn more about the area and the elk, and plenty of food and live music. The highlight of the one-day event is the antler auction, where the Boy Scouts sell hundreds of shed antlers from the National Elk Refuge. People use them to make furniture, decorations, and even medicine.
The next time you hit the road or the skies with your kids, do so at one of these great All-American festivals, where everyone can enjoy learning, fun, and the idiosyncrasies of American culture.