Keeping the kids busy and engaged while traveling can cost a small fortune, especially as major theme parks continue to raise admission fees. However, there are plenty of less expensive options that fall under the $25-per-person price point. Here are 25 attractions — located across the U.S. — representing a variety of entertainment, including zoos, museums, historic sites and amusement parks:
Written by Traci L. Suppa
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
If your family appreciates music, you'll love the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an exhaustive collection of memorabilia, instruments, sheet music, albums, costumes and videos of concerts, newsreels and documentaries. Interactive displays at this museum include video kiosks where you can search for and play classic hits, and you can climb aboard Johnny Cash"s 1979 tour bus.
Rates: Adults: $22 each; children 9 to 12: $13 each; children 8 and under: free.
New to attractions -- one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the nation -- is the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. It was designed according to national science standards, with technology, hands-on activities and bells and whistles to keep kids of all ages (even teenagers) interested. The summer concert series is also popular with families.
Rates: Adults 13 to 64: $15 each; children 3 to 12: $10 each; children 2 and under: free.
In addition to hiking and biking, Stone Mountain Park -- the most-visited attraction in Georgia -- offers a variety of outdoor adventure and activities, including Geyser Towers, SkyHike, Summit Skyride, Camp Highland Outpost, a 4D movie theater, scenic railroad, mini-golf, an Antebellum plantation, Discovering Stone Mountain Museum, the Great Barn and seasonal live entertainment.
Rates for the all-day Adventure Pass: Adults: $24.95; children: $19.95 each.
One of the country's top-rated aquariums, the Tennessee Aquarium is situated along the Chattanooga riverfront and is home to 10,000 animals. In the freshwater exhibit in the River Journey building, you"ll see river giants and some scuba divers, too. Embark on an Ocean Journey where sharks, tropical fish and stingrays swim above and beside you.
Rates: Adults: $24.95 each; children: $14.95 each; children 3 and under: free.
One of America's premier historical attractions, Pamplin Historical Park, located on 424 acres in Petersburg, Virginia, includes four award-winning museums, four antebellum homes, living history venues and shopping facilities. A Discovery Program, aimed at children ages 8 through 13, leads them into fun and interesting activities, and provides them with personal MP3 players with narration scripted for kids.
Rates: Adults: $12.50 each; children 6 to 12: $7.50 each; children 5 and under: free.
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is designed with kids in mind. Animals are easy to see, and there are ample locations to get up close, including the Lorikeet Landing and Stingray Bay. The crown jewel for kids is the Wallaroo Station Children"s Zoo, which recreates an Australian outback. There are just enough rides throughout the zoo spaced between the animal exhibits, like the Reptile Encounter and Birds of Prey amphitheaters.
Rates: Adults: $24.95 each; children 3 to 11: $19.95 each; children under 3: free.
Dinosaur World in Plant City, Florida, leads you along a tropical trail, where you"ll encounter more than 150 life-sized dinosaurs in themed areas, such as the Carnivore Boardwalk, Deinonychus Island and the Skeleton Garden. Kids can also try the Dino Gem Excavation or the Fossil Dig, or check out the Triviasaurus Rex Game or the Exploration Cave Show. Dinosaur World also has locations in Cave City, Kentucky and Glen Rose, Texas.
Rates vary, depending on location: Adults: $12.75 to $14.95 each; children 3 to 12: $10.75 to $12.95 each; children under 3: free.
Wonderworks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, blends a science museum with a high-tech video arcade. When you arrive, everything is upside down, until you travel through an ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œInversion TunnelÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â into the main area with more than 100 hands-on exhibits, including the Hurricane Shack, the bed of 3,497 nails, the 4D thrill ride, Bubble Lab and Virtual Air Hockey. WonderWorks also has locations in Pigeon Forge, Orlando, Panama City Beach and Syracuse.
Rates vary, depending on location: Adults: $23.99 to $24.99 each; children 4 to 12: $14.99 to $16.99 each.
ABQ BioPark is four-in-one family fun in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It features the 64-acre Rio Grande Zoo, with 250 species of exotic and native animals; the 36-acre Rio Grande Botanic Garden with glass conservatory; the 285,000-gallon Albuquerque Aquarium; and Tingley Beach. The train, which takes visitors between the facilities, is a kid-pleasing attraction in itself. The combo pass provides access to all.
Rates: Adult 13 to 64 - $20 each; children 3 to 12 - $6 each.
Opened for public tours in 1881, the caves at Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs, Colorado, are the highest in America at 7,000 feet. The most popular ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œDiscovery TourÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â is an easy 45-minute walking tour with knowledgeable guides describing the cave history and geology as you explore the Majestic Hall, Bridal Chamber, Temple of Silence and more.
Rates: Adults: $20 each; children 6 to 12: $12 each, children 5 and under: free.
This is the only museum anywhere that displays musical instruments from nearly every country in the world. Visitors at the Musical Instrument Museum can play instruments in the Experience Gallery, as well as view instruments played by musical icons such as John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Taylor Swift. Wireless headsets provide continuous information on the musical culture of each instrument.
Rates: Adults: $18 each; teens: $14 each; children 4 to 12: $10 each, children 3 and under: free.
This is more than a well-preserved collection of pinball machines representing the evolution of flipper pinball. The Pacific Pinball Museum is dedicated to one of America's great pastimes. There are five rooms full of early machines from the 1930"s and 40"s in this Alameda, California museum. You can play all 100 of them, all day, for the cost of admission -- no quarters needed.
Rates: Adults 16 and older: $15 each, children under 16: $7.50 each.
More than 23,000 pieces of art are on display at the downtown Seattle Art Museum, representing a wide variety of cultures and time periods. Take a break from the museum's galleries in the Knudsen Family Room, where kids can play dress up, play instruments or build with blocks. Regularly scheduled family programs include several annual festivals and Family Fun Saturdays.
Rates: Adults: $19.50 each; teens 13 to 17: $12.50 each; children 12 and under: free.
In 1982, the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, now a National Historic Landmark, became the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, in New York City. You can experience a legendary aircraft carrier, the first space shuttle, the world"s fastest jets and a Cold War-era submarine.
Rates: Adults: $22 each; Youth 7 to 17: $17 each; children 3 to 6: $10 each.
This museum is the place to visit if your kids are intrigued by spies. The International Spy Museum offers a collection of espionage artifacts, including disguises, weapons, invisible ink and buttonhole cameras. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHands-onÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â exhibits include a crawl-through air duct and a satellite surveillance kiosk.
Rates: Adults: $20.95 each; children 7 to 11: $14.95 each; children 6 and under: free.
Come in contact with millions of LEGO bricks under one roof at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Yonkers, New York, just outside of New York City. There are plenty of opportunities to build, as well as ride with the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride and Merlin"s Apprentice Ride. The DUPLO Village, LEGO Construction Site and Fire Academy appeal to pre-schoolers. There are also locations in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston and Kansas City, Missouri.
Rates vary, depending on location: Adults (13 and older): $17 to $19.50 each; children 3 to 12: $15 to $16.50 each; children 2 and under: free.
In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, this 10-acre outdoor living history museum depicts 300-plus years of life in a waterfront neighborhood through 37 preserved buildings and eight heirloom gardens. Traditional craftspeople and costumed interpreters portray nine families who lived in this neighborhood, now called Strawbery Banke Museum, from 1695 to 1954.
Rates: Adults: $17.50 each; children 5 to 17: $10 each; children 4 and under: free.
Combining historic collections with highly interactive exhibits, the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, contains the world"s largest and most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games and other electronic games. Exhibits include a life-sized Sesame Street, a kid-sized supermarket, a 1918 carousel and a video arcade. You can also visit the National Toy Hall of Fame and the region"s largest indoor butterfly garden.
Rates: Adults and children 2 and older: $13.50 each; children under 2: free.
This 1876 National Historic Landmark in Philadelphia was transformed into the Please Touch Museum and provides learning opportunities through hands-on play. Seven interactive exhibit zones and three toddler areas include: Roadside Attractions, City Capers, Flight Fantasy, Rainforest Rhythm, River Adventures, Wonderland and Centennial Exploration. Other highlights include the 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty"s arm and torch made from toys, and the Dentzel Carousel.
Rates: Adults and children 1 year and older: $17 each; children under 1: free.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a 472,900-square-foot facility housing 11 major galleries. Visitors can explore the physical and natural sciences, history, world cultures, the arts and see how dinosaurs lived. The new Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit gives an in-depth look at China"s first emperor and his painted warriors.
Rates: Adults 18 to 59: $19.50 each; children 2 to 17: $14.50 each.
With outdoor gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that can be enjoyed throughout the year, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Scuplture Park also includes Michigan"s largest tropical conservatory, five indoor theme gardens, nature trails and boardwalk and sculpture collections. In the Lena Meijer Children"s Garden, kids can dig into a sand quarry and explore tree houses, a log cabin, a butterfly labyrinth, a sense garden and a child-sized beaver lodge.
Rates: Adults 14 to 64: $12 each; children 5 to 13: $6 each; children 3 and 4: $4 each; children under 3: free.
Hosting more than 1.2 million visitors annually, the Detroit Zoo provides expansive habitats for more than 2,600 animals representing 265 species in naturalistic exhibits, including the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, National Amphibian Conservation Center, Great Apes of Harambee and Arctic Ring of Life. Other highlights include the Butterfly Garden, free-flight aviary, Australian Outback Adventure, the Giraffe Encounter and the Penguinarium.
Rates: Adults: $14 each; children 2 to 14: $10 each; children under 2: free.
The largest reptile zoo in the world, Rapid City, South Dakota's Reptile Gardens house more species of reptiles than any other zoo or animal park. You"ll find rare, unusual, and legendary animals in the reptile enclosures, like the deadly Boomslang and the elusive Bushmaster snakes. After catching a gator, snake or bird show, let the kids run around Bewitched Village, a recreated Old West ghost town.
Seasonal rate ranges: Adults: $12.50 to $16.50 each; children: $8 to $11.50 each.
A sculptor"s vision in St. Louis transformed a shoe factory into City Museum, an architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. Inside is an eclectic mix, including MonstroCity, a four-story playground; the Enchanted Caves; a funhouse; miniature train; natural history exhibit; aquarium and more.
Rates: Adults and children 3 and older: $12 each; children under 3: free. Access to the World Aquarium for adults and children is $7.95 each.