No. 2: Utah

No state understands families the way Utah does.

According to the 2000 Census, Utah families have, on average, more kids than the average family in any other state, which means you don't get nearly as many dirty looks when your 2-year-old son throws his meatball and screams while at the local eatery.

Add in a changing table at every public restroom and the toughest tobacco and alcohol laws in the U.S. and you have a culture that caters to families.

The Beehive State's seven national parks and numerous state parks make it a Mecca for mountain bikers, hikers, rock climbers, and parents who don't think their kids should watch 21 hours of TV every day. Utah also claims to have the greatest snow on Earth. Although it hasn't been verified scientifically, Salt Lake City did host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

However, the next destination doesn't require an Olympic effort.

Family vacation roadtrip

No. 1: Your hometown

Did you ever notice that your kids have just as much fun at the neighborhood pool than they do at the beach? Did you notice that the Chuck E. Cheese across town is really similar to the Chuck E. Cheese near Disney World?

Did you realize a day with Mom and Dad at the local park is as important to your kids as a day at the park on an exotic island? It's also a lot less expensive.

Plan a vacation in your hometown. Call in sick to work. Stay at a hotel for a night. Budget as you would for an out-of-town vacation and do all those things people do in your town who are from out of town.

You can even dress like a tourist, ask stupid questions, make left turns from the right lane, and be a general nuisance. It doesn't matter.

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