Plan a Trip

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Family vacations can be great—as long as they don’t involve endless lines at a brain-dead amusement park. Good thing there are plenty of less crowded, more enriching alternatives.

  • Hoover Dam, Border of Arizona and Nevada
    The famous exterior is striking, but this dam’s insides are where the real magic happens. Check out the 30-foot-diameter pipes that carry 90,000 gallons of water a second to the hydroelectric power plant, then watch 17 generators turn all that rushing water into electricity.
  • Thomas Edison National Historical Park, West Orange, New Jersey
    Screw Menlo Park! Edison’s West Orange lab contains the stuff of legends, including a tour intimate enough to put you within inches of the great man’s chair. Don’t miss the Black Maria, a replica of the first movie studio.
  • Ford Rouge Factory, Dearborn, Michigan
    US manufacturing may be struggling, but the Ford assembly line still pumps out 350,000 trucks a year. The factory tour will show kids what an industrial-size Erector set can do.
  • The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
    Travel back to the golden age of archaeology (i.e., before countries in the Middle East clamped down on such plundering). Treasures include a clay tablet from Mesopotamia and parchment from the Book of the Dead. (Pro tip: Don’t read it out loud. There are mummies nearby.)
  • Launch Control Center at Delta-01, South Dakota
    Take an elevator 31 feet above the surface to an original launch control center where Air Force officers worked 24-hour shifts, ready to launch 10 Minuteman missiles. This relic of the Cold War (below) is run by the National Park Service. (Don’t touch the red button.)

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