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Some kids’ movies are annoying. Okay, a lot of kids’ movies are annoying. But others are entertaining—inspiring, even. For your next vacation, let your child’s cinematic obsession spur a getaway the whole family will enjoy.

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Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. | Credit Robin Wendell / Flickr Creative Commons.

The Little Mermaid: Weeki Wachee, Florida
Pity the poor unfortunate souls who think shelling out big bucks for theme park tickets is the only way to rub elbows—er, fins?—with Ariel. Satisfy your little mermaid’s under-the-sea fantasies with a visit to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, about 90 miles west of Orlando. Catch a performance of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale in an underwater auditorium that’s low-tech but surprisingly impressive. After the show, stick around for a photo op with a mermaid. If your little one wants even more, enroll her in Mermaid Camp, where she’ll learn to swim like the show performers, get a mermaid makeover and truly become part of their world.

Hôtel de Glace. | Credit Matias Garabedian / Flickr Creative Commons.

Frozen: Quebec City, Quebec
Wanna build a snowman? Then head to this Canadian metropolis that’s home to one of the world’s largest cold-weather celebrations. The annual Quebec Winter Carnival is a wonderland of snow sculptures, ice slides, colorful night parades and more. After a day of frosty fun, retire to your suite at Hôtel de Glace, a subzero hotel that would even give Queen Elsa the chills.

Credit the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

Cars: Detroit, Michigan
Before Lightning McQueen, there was the Model T. A visit to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in the Motor City will show your little auto aficionado what life was like before cars had DVD players and heated seats. Then at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, check out vintage car ads and race cars. And if you time your trip for the August 19 Woodward Dream Cruise, you can join thousands of other car enthusiasts who line Woodward Avenue for one of the world’s most anticipated classic car shows.

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Monterey Bay Aquarium. | Credit Justin Ennis / Flickr Creative Commons.

Finding Dory: Monterey, California
For an aquatic adventure, just keep swimming to this coastal city. At Monterey Bay Aquarium, families can take a Shark Tour, marvel at the giant Pacific octopus and keep an eye out for Nemo’s relatives. Take a deep dive into ocean life with a scuba experience for kids 8 to 13 or an overnight at the aquarium for the entire family. After sleeping with the fishes, round out your trip with a visit to the California Sea Otter Game Refuge and a scenic ride along 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.

Cafe Du Monde. | Credit Kaige / Flickr Creative Commons.

The Princess and the Frog: New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy may not seem like the obvious choice for a family getaway. But there’s plenty of kid-friendly fun in Princess Tiana’s stompin’ grounds. Scope out gators on a swamp tour, get your feet stomping at Jazz in the Park and try on costumes at Mardi Gras World. In the movie, aspiring restaurateur Tiana is known for her beignets, so cap off your trip with a stop at legendary Cafe Du Monde for sugary fried dough. While you’re there, the adults can slurp some chicory coffee as fuel for the journey home.

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Tagged: California, Canada, Family time, Feature, Florida, Midwest, Orlando

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Dalia Colon

Dalia Colon

Dalia is a multimedia journalist in Tampa and the Smart Travel Insider for VISIT FLORIDA. Follow her on Twitter @daliacolon.

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