Vacation Ideas (Indoor Attractions)

Updated on February 02, 2016
B.D. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
12 answers

My daughter will be taking a medication this summer that will make her photosensitive so our usual vacation ideas are out the window. Can anyone recommend some really cool indoor attractions that would amuse a 13 and 10 year old?

My initial thought was the Smithsonian Museums and the National Aquarium, but I thought I'd call upon you lovely ladies for additional ideas.

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So What Happened?

Dana K. - I can't say for sure yet. They said she'll have to reapply sunblock every hour. I think walking from one location to another would be less damaging than standing in an amusement park line. At least that's my thought as of now in gray Pittsburgh.

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answers from Chicago on

Any indoor water parks. Aquariums, museums especially hands on museums. Places like sky high trampoline parks.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Danville on

There is PLENTY to do in DC inside if that is your destination!
Additionally, most major metro areas have indoor water (and even snow ski parks) for your use.

I have a child, that has for YEARS been on a med that makes us extra cautious regarding sun exposure. However, with her med, I am more than able to slather her with sunscreen...put a hat on her head (under protest mind you), and some stylish sunglasses, and off we go!

Not sure the med/condition with which you are dealing...but for my kiddo (she is 19 now)...if we did not find 'work arounds' for her limitations, none of us (or her 6 sibs) would have gone anywhere!

I wish you the best...but may help if you narrowed the scope of 'where' you wish to vacation!!


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

So many fun things to do inside!! The museums are FABULOUS, and there is so much right around DC, if that's where you're looking to come. Check out the State House in Annapolis too - really neat! The Naval Academy is a great place to explore too.

For non-education fun, Great Wolf Lodge! I can't wait to get back there - and the summer is their off-season...since a lot of people opt for outside pools and beaches then.

What about camps? A lot of the camps my kids went to were indoors (things like cooking, arts and crafts, marshal arts, etc.).

Massanutten has an indoor water park too - and would be closer to you than Williamsburg.

Indoor places like bowling and laser tag are HUGE hits with our whole family too.

ADDED: Also, if you're staying at a hotel, ask the front desk/concierge. Some of the best things we have found in different cities come from that. And Google top indoor things to do in DC/surrounding areas. You'll find a TON of great ideas there.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

As someone who is photosensitive (and LOVES summer), I generally don't let my condition keep me completely indoors. You can go for indoor attractions -Great Wolf Lodge or museums, or even some outdoor activities with precautions. Try to keep outdoor exposure to early mornings and late afternoons and evenings when the sun's rays are less intense and the sun is lower in the horizon. Have her wear a hat, long sleeves (make sure the material is UPF rated), and carry an umbrella (I use a silver UPF umbrella that I call my "sunbrella"). It may not be the coolest-looking thing around, but it does help immensely with the hives and allergic reactions I have with UVA/B light exposure.

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answers from Washington DC on

If you go the DC route, you might consider adding a pass to your trip cards so you can take Metro vs walking and not worry every trip, or consider using Uber to minimize her exposure. The National Aquarium is in Baltimore, so that's a car trip away from DC. Unless there's a lot more you want to do in B-more, I'd go to DC. You can also consider the paid museums of the Newseum or the Spy Musuem. - be aware that Metro is going paperless soon, so anyone traveling around DC this summer needs a SmarTrip card. You can buy them on site (if the kiosk is working) or through the mail.

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answers from Santa Fe on

Indoor pool (Great Wolf Lodge or hotel pools)
National Archives
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
National Building Museum
Trampoline parks
Indoor Mini Golf
Laser Tag
Video Arcade
Music/Show at the Kennedy Center. They have free afternoon music each week.
Our kids loved the National Aquarium
All the Imax Movies! (Air and Space and Natural History Museums have them)
Planetarium Shows (Air and Space)
Indoor Ropes Course
Indoor Camps and classes...rec center pool classes, ice skating, gymnastics, dance, art, etc.
Good luck finding fun stuff!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I was going to recommend exactly what you said, the Smithsonian. You can spend days in that place.

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answers from Rochester on

I agree with DC. There is so much to do there that is indoors. And the monuments for the most part are cool to see at night.

Chicago has lots of fun museums and indoor things to do.

I noticed someone mentioned the Mall of America in Minnesota. Living in Minnesota, that would not be one of my ideas of a fun vacation. It would take a day, maybe a day and a half to see. Minneapolis/St. Paul is a great place to visit, but don't come just for the MOA. Especially if you are traveling from a long distance. Look to see if there would be other attractions that you would be interested in. A lot of the fun things to in the Cities during the summer are outside.

My vote would be DC.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

No great ideas, but everything on the National mall involves a good deal of outdoor walking. How much time outside can she get?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

There are tons of indoor waterparks all around. Many with hotels or lodges with them. I think that would be totally fun for everyone at least once, well, at least one of them. I mean big, huge, indoor parks like The Great Wolf Lodges.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I've never been, but I think Wisconsin Dells has a bunch of indoor water parks, including Great Wolf Lodge as mentioned below. That might be a great way to feel summery without actually being outside.

Mall of America in Minnesota also has a bunch of indoor attractions, so that might be worth looking into as well (again, I haven't been, but I have heard about it).

Washington DC would be great, too. In addition to what you already mentioned, you can tour the White House, the Capitol, the Mint, and much more.

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answers from Los Angeles on

There are so many museums in D.C. you could spend hours a day just doing that.
Then you could find an indoor mall for some shopping. Search for cool places to eat.
See if there is a hotel with an indoor plaza type thing.
Also, research cool places to eat that are very different. Do that from home now.
Lastly, take cabs if you don't want to be out walking in between museums.
Visit the outdoor monuments at night. Hope you have a great trip.

1 mom found this helpful
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