Best of the Southwest

There are adventures for everyone here on the frontier

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Space Center Houston, Texas

If you're the parent of an aspiring astronaut, there's no place like Space Center Houston at Johnson Space Center, home of the U.S. Astronaut training program and Mission Control. Enjoy cosmic experiences like riding a lunar rover at Kids Space Place or getting a glimpse of life on the International Space Station. A tour of the real Mission Control is a thrill for any space lover, big or small. After all, this is the place where the Apollo 13 crew directed their now infamous "Houston, we have a problem" call.

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Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting, Phoenix

Little fans of big red fire trucks will be in seventh heaven at the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting in Phoenix, one of the largest museums of its kind in the nation. Kids can climb on trucks from different eras, try on real firefighting gear, meet real firefighters, and make their very own firefighter badges. A kids' play area can keep young kids occupied for hours, and best of all, they'll be learning about something useful while they're enjoying themselves.

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Stockyards Rodeo, Dallas

You'll have no doubt that you're deep in the heart of Texas when you're watching a cowboy ride a bucking bull at the Stockyards Rodeo in Dallas, Texas. Held at the historic Cowtown Coliseum each and every week, kids can get into the action by participating in the mutton scramble or the calf chase. The first kid to pull the ribbon off the creature wins a prize. A down-home American vibe is plentiful at this ever-popular spectacle, with patriotic music, an opening ride around the ring by the Rodeo Queen, and plenty of rhinestones.

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The Grand Canyon Railway, Arizona

What a way to make the trip to one of the most spectacular natural sites in the world: The Grand Canyon Railway is a two-hour ride aboard a vintage train that will transport you and your kids back in time, with gorgeous scenery, Wild West performers and musicians, and a final stop just steps away from the Grand Canyon's South Rim. The train began operating in 1901 and is today the only train servicing a national park that remains in the country.

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The Alamo, San Antonio

History comes to life for kids and adults alike in this fascinating old mission where the epic battle of 1836 took place and Davy Crockett sealed his place among American legends. The Alamo experience lies at the heart of one of the most popular vacation experiences in Texas, making San Antonio one of America's most-visited cities.

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Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe

Rose-pink rock cliffs are, at first glance, just a backdrop to a spectacular Santa Fe, New Mexico, hiking area but with a closer look, visitors to Bandelier National Monument will notice something else: the ancient ruins of people's homes, carved right into the rock. Named for 19th-century anthropologist Adolph Bandelier, the cliff dwellings were the 12th-century home of Pueblo Indians who once ruled the area and whose descendants continue the culture to this day.

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Vikingsholm at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

In 1969, Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark. When your family comes to Lake Tahoe, you can decide which one is more jaw-dropping: the panorama of mountains or the sparkling blue lake. Either way, it is easy to see why thousands choose to spend their summers here every year.

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