My daughter, Katie, tore through the Harry Potter series when she was in third grade. And now, five years later, she's still obsessed. So I keep Potter-related places to visit on my radar. We've been to a few of the ones below, and have the rest on our bucket list. And if you know of any more, send an owl post or just post in the comments at the end.
At these theme parks, your kids can easily pretend they're Hogwarts students. That's what my daughter did when we visited Orlando last year: She wore her Ravenclaw cape, drank butterbeer, exchanged her "muggle money" for Gringotts Bank Notes, crossed platform 9 3/4 to ride on the Hogwarts Express (chocolate frog in hand), and bowed to the Hippogriff on a not-too-terrifying coaster. The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts castle isn't for the faint of heart (or kids less than 48 inches), but we survived twice. (You can meander through the non-rider line to take in the castle's coolness.) The California version is virtually identical to the Hogsmeade section in Orlando, but it won't include the rides and attractions in Diagon Alley. Still, it's an easier trip for West Coast families.
Washington, DC, area
Having a hard time convincing your kids that a trip to the nation's capital will be fun? Mention that the Smithsonian has one of Daniel Radcliffe's Gryffindor uniforms on display. In nearby Alexandria, Virginia, kids can see Harry Potter-inspired potion ingredients like dragon's blood and Mandrake root at the Apothecary Museum. Register for a event on July 30 to celebrate Harry's birthday.
Mark your calendar for October 21 for this annual spellbinding event in the Chestnut Hill section of the city. This year's activities are still being planned, but previous fun included a Quidditich Tournament, Hunt for the Horcrux scavenger hunt, and Muggles Read-A-Thon. (If you're a Potter fan too, book a babysitter and join the pub-crawl the night before.)
Book a stay at Ocean Edge Resort in Cape Cod during its annual Wizarding Week from February 17-24, 2018. Upon arrival, guests will be sorted into one of the four School Houses, before departing to build their own brooms, design their own wands, and create their own cloaks. Throughout the week, compete with fellow witches and wizards in a round of quidditch on the great front lawn and other games to help your House win the House Cup. Movie screenings of the Harry Potter films can also be enjoyed throughout the week, as well as special classes such as Potions & Charms Class, and Spell’ing Bees.
It's a super-popular theme at camps across the country. This one in Utah sounds particularly cool with classes in wandmaking, potions, and astronomy.
The working studios where all eight Harry Potter films were made are about an hour outside the city. The Studio Tour is located right on that lot—families can explore two soundstages and a backlot filled with original sets, props, and costumes as well as animatronic creatures. One of my daughter's highlights was helping open the giant doors to start the tour after watching a short film. We also bought her an activity passport, which included a Golden Snitch hunt, to make the visit even more fun.
A Harry Potter-inspired hotel room? Yep—it's for real. The Georgian House Hotel in London (near Victoria station) features two wizard chambers with stained-glass windows, potion bottles, leather-bound books, and other impressions of sleeping in a castle. You even have to go through a passageway hidden behind an inconspicuous bookcase to get to the magical rooms.
London and New York City
Suggested for kids ages 10 and older, this two-part play is the hot ticket in London's West End (the equivalent of Broadway) and is expected to open in New York City in April 2018. J.K. Rowling and other writers explore what happens to Harry and fellow wizards after the stories in the books wrap up. Scholastic published the script book last summer, but seeing it on stage was “a million times better than the book,” according to my daughter. The set and the special effects made the experience truly magical. Tickets are extremely hard to get for the London performances (in fact, we could only snag two so I stayed behind); sign up on the website for email alerts for ticket releases in both cities.