It’s that time of year again when we survey other family travel writers for their opinions about the best places to go for a family vacation for the upcoming year. The results are all over the world, offering a variety of choices for families. We love these vacation ideas because they are tried and true. These writers have traveled to these destinations and experienced them firsthand. If you’re looking for the best places to travel with kids, you’ll want to check out our best family vacation destinations 2019 and start planning. (And if you still need ideas, here is the 2020 family travel guide, as well as the best family destinations for 2023)!
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Table of Contents
Best Destinations for Family Travel in 2019
Fun Places to Go in the United States with Kids
Alaska’s Denali National Park
National Parks make for perfect family destinations. One of the best National Parks is Denali National Park in Alaska. Not only does Denali stand as the highest peak in North America, but the park itself also stretches over 6 million acres. That’s plenty of room for a whole lot of family fun.
We recommend spending at least 3 days getting to know Denali, which offers hiking trails, working sled dog training and some amazing Visitors Centers. Complete your trip by booking a Denali Backcountry Adventure tour that takes you deep into the park which chances of seeing bears, moose, wolves, and more.
For those looking for a little extra adventure, many outfitters near Denali offer incredible flightseeing tours to get you closer to the peaks of the Alaska Range. A trip to Denali National Park will not only make 2019 incredible but will also help you create a lasting memory with your kids while seeing some of America’s most impressive wilderness. (Sarah of Trekaroo)
From the weekly farmers’ markets and toddler-friendly city events like the Boise Art Museum’s Art in the Park Festival to the very walkable downtown area, complete with huge city parks, nature centers and the zoo, Boise is our top family-friendly destination not to miss in 2019.
It’s easy to visit Boise with tons of direct flights into Idaho’s capital city, making it an easy home base for exploring southwest Idaho, where you could easily road trip up to McCall for a long weekend of boating or skiing fun.
Boise’s food and beer scene will more than satisfy the parents and there are so many fun things to do in Boise with kids. They will be exhausted from all the amazing outdoor adventures like hiking Camel’s Back park, biking around Esther Simplot Park or kayaking at Boise Whitewater Park.
Boston has everything a family needs for a fantastic vacation. In a few days, the entire family can ride in a swan boat, watch an indoor lightning show, throw a crate of tea into the harbor, sit in a vintage firetruck and learn about the start of the Revolutionary War. These are only a few of the countless things to do in Boston with kids.
If the Red Sox are in town, take the family to Fenway Park to see the Green Monster and cheer the World Series champion on to another victory. Already explored Boston? There are several day-trip options from Beantown: Cape Cod, Plymouth Rock, Minute Man National Historical Park, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library or Lowell National Historical Park. (Jason from Carltonauts Travel Tips)
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach, Florida is such a wonderful place for a family vacation. It’s one of the best beaches near Orlando and Disney World and has a perfect laid-back surfer beach vibe. Families are spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodations. There are many, many options to suit every budget. The same goes for food– there are big grocery stores and lots of family-friendly restaurants and diners at every turn.
But the real draw of Cocoa Beach is, of course, the beach. The sea is wavy enough to be fun but not overly rough, with spots suitable for surfing and others perfect for paddling. We absolutely love Cocoa Beach and look forward to visiting as much as we can. (Corinne of Have Baby Will Travel)
Gallup, New Mexico
If you’ve heard of Gallup NM at all, it’s probably from a line in the classic rock song “Route 66.” But Gallup, 2 hours west of Albuquerque and less than 3 hours east of Flagstaff, is worth seeking out.
There is plenty of hiking and mountain biking in the area, but the can’t-miss activity is hot-air ballooning. An annual rally in December brings 200 balloons to the area for a series of daytime flights and magical evening balloon “glows.” You can book a private 90-minute ride at any time of year with locally-owned X-treme-Lee Fun Balloon Adventures.
Surrounded by Native American land, Gallup has become a center for high-quality Native crafts and jewelry. You can meet some of the very best craftsmen at the Gallup Native Arts Market in August. Perry Null’s Trading Post sells locally crafted wares year-round. Null is known for supporting local artisans, so you can trust the quality and authenticity of his wares.
If you are looking for hotels in Gallup NM, head to the El Rancho Hotel. The walls are lined with photographs of Hollywood stars who stayed here while shooting westerns nearby. They preserve much of the historic look and feel of the place with one laudable update: The hotel restaurant serves only regional beer and craft cocktails with local artisanal spirits. (Eileen Gunn at FamiliesGo!)
Hilton Head, South Carolina
We’ve been vacationing at Hilton Head, South Carolina for almost 20 years and love it as much today as the first time! There are miles of beaches in Hilton Head, biking and horseback riding trails, giving adventurous families lots to explore.
Coligny Beach on the Atlantic side of the island offers free parking, a boardwalk, public showers and swings under palm trees to relax, making it a great place for beach lovers. If you like water sports, you can kayak or SUP on the intracoastal waterway, go deep-sea fishing, take a dolphin tour or rent wave runners for the day.
Hilton Head is a golfer’s paradise, too, though I stick to the putt-putt courses on the island! For a special vacation, consider Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, providing Disney excellence, low-country style. (Karen of Family Travels on a Budget)
If you have an active family, there’s no better city to explore than Indianapolis. Grab a bike-share and hop on the Cultural Trail, an urban bike lane full of art that connects downtown shops and restaurants, before heading to White River State Park to check out the zoo or one of the city’s family-friendly museums.
Catch a game at one of the downtown stadiums or head to Midtown for great parks and the world’s largest Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. You don’t want to miss their new Sports Legends Outdoor Experience.
You won’t be bored at the end of your visit to the Circle City, but you might be a little bit tired! (Lindsay at Let Me Give You Some Advice) Recommended hotel in Indianapolis: JW Marriott
Mackinac Island is a little island that has become a huge destination for families. In 2018, TripAdvisor named it the No. 1 summer destination in America. Since the island has banned cars, the main mode of transportation is a bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
You can reach the island on the Mackinac Island ferry, which is itself, an exciting experience for kids. One place to visit is Fort Mackinac, which has historical re-enactors, cannons, and the best view of the island. If you plan ahead, you can book the opportunity to fire the cannon at Fort Mackinac. This experience is only for kids ages 12 and older.
Mackinac Island is also known for fudge, and there are several shops happy to give tourists a sample. If time allows, rent bicycles for your family to explore this island, it’s not hilly and with no cars, it’s pretty safe (just watch for horses!). (Kim of Oh My Omaha) Recommended hotel: Grand Hotel
New York City, New York
The city that never sleeps is an incredibly family-friendly destination that truly offers something for everyone at every age. New York is home to some of the most famous attractions in the United States, such as the Natural History Museum, Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty.
There are guided NYC tours about hip-hop music, graffiti, and every kind of food from Chinese to kosher to pizza pies. Kids can work off their energy walking on the elevated High Line or visiting the animals at the Central Park Zoo.
And no visit to the Big Apple is complete without seeing a family-friendly Broadway show, such Frozen, The Lion King, or Dear Evan Hansen. We love New York! (Claudia of The Travelling Mom) Don’t miss these extra ideas about things to do in NYC with kids.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Making a family vacation fun, as well as an incredible learning experience is definitely not a difficult thing to do in the Outer Banks. As an area filled with many firsts, it makes for an amazing area to learn about the country’s history, but, it is also a wonderful beach destination.
This is where you can discover all about the “first flight”, visit the new Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, or learn all about the “Lost Colony”.
For a little adventure, visit the incredible sand dunes in the area and experience the lift of the winds as you parasail off the dunes; enjoy some surfing in the area’s frothy peaks of water, or go ghost grabbing at night along the beach! The kids will love this!
There is so much to do in the Outer Banks, you may have to go back again to experience everything…. Just don’t forget to visit incredible lighthouses in the area, and make sure to add seeing the wild horses in the area to your list…you won’t regret it! (Rossana Wyatt)
Seattle is known for its coffee, but as a family destination, this beautiful Pacific northwestern city offers visitors great coffee and so much more, including access to three national parks within a three-hour drive of the city.
A day at Pikes Place Market in downtown Seattle should always include a stop at the fish market to watch the fish mongers toss whole fish to each another, a visit (and purchase) at one of the many fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, a peek at the world-famous gum wall (look, but don’t touch), and a bite (or two) on snacks from one of several bakeries and other food shops on Pike Place Street, including the very first Starbucks.
Space Needle Park, including the iconic Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, and Chihuly Gardens is just 10 minutes north of Pikes Place.
Take the ferry across Puget sound and drive three hours west of Seattle to a whole other world at Olympic National Park, an authentic Pacific Northwest rain forest. Mt. Rainier National Park, with its majestic peaks and family-friendly hiking trails, is just two hours southeast; Northern Cascade National Park, known as the American Alps, is two hours north of Seattle.
Make sure to visit Snoqualmie Falls, about 30 minutes east of Seattle. The 268-foot-high waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls, but you can get up close and personal by parking below the falls, perfect for families with younger children. (Julie of A Cork, Fork & Passport) Don’t miss these other Seattle day trips!
Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora, North Dakota
The U.S. National Parks are more popular than ever and sometimes the crowds, especially in the summer, can take away from your enjoyment of nature. However, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Western North Dakota is just far enough away to be the exception to the rule.
Here in North Dakota’s Badlands, you will find beautiful scenery, quiet hikes, and plentiful wildlife including feral horses, prairie dogs, elk, and herds of bison. What you won’t find are large crowds and lines.
Just outside of the park is the quaint country town of Medora. Rarely can you find an authentic western town that doesn’t slide into the realm of dingy or cheesy. Yet Medora maintains the small-town western charm and the legendary Medora Musical is a must-do for good, old-fashioned American fun. (Tamara of We3Travel)
It’s time to dust off those history books and bring the kids to the nation’s capital for some good old fashion learning. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do in DC with kids. There are free museums, and gigantic monuments and memorials they can run around. The food scene has exploded over the past decade, so make sure you don’t get stuck downtown on the National Mall.
The neighborhoods are where you will find the stories and the locals living out their days next to politicians, lobbyists, school teachers, journalists, and tech guys (Amazon is coming, or didn’t you hear).
It is also where the best restaurants and shops are opening up. When you need a little break from the city, day trips out to the Shenandoah Valley offer up plenty of hiking, or you can head to the coast to see the wild ponies of Assateague Island. (Keryn of Twist Travel Magazine)
Best Family Vacations in Canada
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia is the perfect mix of gorgeous scenery, unique cultural attractions, and recreational activities for families. The highlight for families traveling with kids is a visit to Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which encompasses 366 square miles, 5 campgrounds, numerous beaches, and lots of hiking trails.
If you only have time for one hike, make it the world-famous Skyline Trail, an easy, 4.3-mile walk where you can meander along the bluffs, look for wildlife, and watch the best sunset ever.
Other things to do in Cape Breton include the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, whale watching off the coast of Meat Cove, and the thriving Acadian village of Chéticamp.
All of Cape Breton Island embraces maritime traditions in a big way, so whether your family chooses to paddle a quiet cove, embark on a seafaring tour, or simply indulge in your fair share of seafood, you’ll be enthralled by the magic of the sea and the people who live on the craggy coast of Cape Breton. (Tara of Backroad Ramblers)
Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City, one of the oldest cities in North America, is a great choice for a family vacation at any time of the year. Quebec offers the perfect blend of historic sites, natural beauty, family-friendly museums and festivals – all in the Old Town which is easy to explore on foot.
The province is French-speaking so it’s a great opportunity for families to practice language skills but English is widely spoken so there’s no need to worry if your French is a little rusty.
If you’re visiting for more than a couple of days then an excursion outside the city is a great idea. Our favorite Quebec City day trip is to breathtaking Montmorency Falls which is located just a short distance outside the city and accessible by public transit.
This spectacular falls is almost 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls, although much narrower, and can be crossed via suspension bridge or zip line if you’re brave enough!
Don’t be afraid to visit Quebec City during the colder months. This is a city that embraces winter and as long as you dress warmly then you will be able to enjoy the outdoors as well.
One of the best times to visit Quebec City is during the Quebec Carnival which takes place each February and draws thousands of tourists to the city to join in the winter fun. Carnival activities include nighttime parades, visits to Bonhomme’s Palace, outdoor skating, sleigh rides, tobogganing and eating maple taffy.
Rest assured that your family will find plenty of things to do in Quebec City that you will be planning a return visit on your way home! (Lisa of Gone with Family)
Whistler, British Columbia
It’s less than 2 hours away from Vancouver to Whistler, making this BC city a must-visit for families. This picturesque village at the base of the Whistler & Blackcomb mountains provides a wealth of outdoor recreation activities for any age, during any season, with breathtaking scenery.
Winter is the high season, thanks to 8000+ acres for skiing/snowboarding. However, snow sports abound for 6 months, from November – April, and crowds are lighter during the shoulder seasons, perfect for families. Head out to ski or snowboard in the morning & then spend the afternoon biking, hiking or sitting by one of the many lakes.
During warmer months, families have a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy such as ziplining, mountain biking, or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).
The Peak to Peak gondola between Whistler & Blackcomb mountains will take your breath away and while you’re on the mountain, snap a few photos at the Olympic Rings or Inukshuk statue from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Kids will love the Family Adventure Zone (complete with a luge-style ride) or Treehouse Playground in the village to burn off some energy. Nearby Brandywine Falls is a short drive from the village and offers amazing views of the falls – keep your eyes peeled for black bears along the road to the falls, too! (Jen at Thrifty Northwest Mom)
Best Family Beach Vacations in the Caribbean and Mexico
The Bahamas was one of our family’s favorite destinations this year! The weather is great nearly ALL YEAR long and the Bahamas is great for Spring Break, Fall Break, Thanksgiving, or Christmas Holidays. The sand is amazing, the food is yummy, and the water is warm and crystal clear.
The Bahamas is by far one of the best Caribbean destinations and is super easy to get to with only an hour and a half flight from the International Airport in Atlanta.
One of the greatest things about the Bahamas is that there is so much to do for all ages and is very family-friendly! There are water parks, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, historical tours, and pirate lore that the kids LOVE! (Shani of Our Family Passport)
Los Cabos, Mexico
Is Los Cabos safe? It’s a question I fielded before and after my family’s recent vacation to the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
While travelers should always be mindful and aware wherever they go, I’m happy to report that our family vacation was filled with nothing but great new adventures and warm, welcoming people.
Nature takes a starring role in this area. Whether releasing turtle hatchlings into the ocean at your resort, snorkeling with schools of colorful fish in Santa Maria Bay or taking a glass bottom boat or a water taxi out to El Arco, a natural rock formation near Cabo San Lucas, there’s a perfect nature adventure for every member of the family.
But that’s not all there is to enjoy. A vibrant artist community puts its creativity on display in San José del Cabo’s Plaza Jose Antonio Mijares. And there is always something delicious to try whether it be in an eatery at the Cabo San Lucas Marina or in the farm-to-table field kitchen at Flora Farms. So, don’t let fear hold you back, get yourself to Los Cabos, Mexico! (Kristine at Trekaroo)
My favorite destination for families this year is Jamaica! This Caribbean island, while known as a popular cruise port of call, has so much to offer, not only on its tropical paradise-like beaches but also in its lush inland jungles.
Jamaica’s indigenous name “Xaymaca” means “land of water and wood” and this small island country lives up to its name. Jamaica has a long history of colonization so you will see South American, Spanish, and British influences in many aspects of the culture.
Jamaica with kids is amazing with all of the swimming, fun, food, and adventure! Relax on the gorgeous beaches, go tubing down a river, listen to reggae, join the Jamaican bobsled team and speed down a mountain, take a cooking class and learn to make your own jerk chicken, or brave a zip line course through the jungle.
Jamaica is renowned for its hospitality. You can stay at one of the country’s luxurious all-inclusive resorts, or at the family-friendly Franklyn D. Resort where each room comes with its own nanny who can watch your kids at the resort or go on excursions with your whole family!
Jamaica has been considered unsafe at times, and while, like any country, there are areas that tourists should probably avoid, it is generally safe. However, I highly recommend hiring a private driver and guide, which you can do for around $50-100/day. The price is well worth your peace of mind and not too much more expensive than renting a car. (Vanessa at Wanderlust Crew)
As you know, we love Puerto Rico and are happy to see it thriving after Hurricane Maria. The city of San Juan is a bustling port city once again, El Yunque rain forest has mostly recovered, and the bioluminescent bay is coming back to life.
Some of the best things to do in Puerto Rico include exploring the Spanish forts in Old San Juan, flying kites on the grounds outside El Morro, and eating paletas on a warm Caribbean day. Try a food tour of the Old Town, or take a day trip to the islands of Culebra or Vieques for snorkeling.
Puerto Rico is an easy trip from the United States (no passports needed), and there are tons of fun things to do with kids, so make 2019 the year to take the kids to Puerto Rico! (Kirsten of Kids Are A Trip) Where to stay in San Juan Puerto Rico: El Convento Hotel
Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Don’t think of the Yucatán as Cancun. Think of it as a part of Mexico chalked full of colorful towns and nature unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. Beyond the enormous beach resorts, the Yucatán peninsula has many small towns, both by the beach and in the jungle, that are ideal for families.
Whether you’re looking to experience sea turtles with small kids or to jump off cliffs into Yucatan cenotes (openings to the freshwater aquifer) with teens, every budget and travel style is doable.
Our top pick for an interesting Yucatán day trip is to the Coba Ruins. More off the beaten path than Tulum or Chichen Itza, the Coba ruins are great with kids and are the perfect way to explore the Mayan civilization and see a different side of the Yucatán.
You can add Coba to any Yucatán vacation getting there early in the day and then continuing onto the coolest town ever, Valladolid… or drive back to the beach for sunset. (Rob of 2TravelDads)
Best Family Holiday Destinations in Europe
With so many amazing things to do in Copenhagen, exploring the happiest place on earth will surely put a smile on your face. Famous for its food, design, Royal family, and author Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen has some surprises in store for families.
Treat the kids to a fun day out at Tivoli Gardens magical amusement park, get very close to the Queen’s guards at the Royal Palace, and enjoy the novelty of walking up the Round Tower. Explore the city like a local and hire a bike, or take a wander along the canals and the famous Nyhavn where you can sit and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. Best of all, Copenhagen is one seriously family-friendly city, which makes a visit so much easier. (Nicci from Travel with Boys)
There are so many things to do in Florence with kids. With beautiful museums and art galleries like the Uffizi; intriguing cathedrals to climb with tight winding staircases like the Duomo, and gelato stores on every corner there is no shortage of things to see.
Our kids especially enjoyed a family pizza and gelato-making class with a company called Florencetown that also showed us how olive oil is made.
In the hills nearby in Fiesole, Leonardo Da Vinci may have even experimented with an early flying machine. (Terumi of An Emerald City Life)
Although often overshadowed by cosmopolitan Edinburgh, travelers “in the know” flock to family-friendly Glasgow. This architecturally-stunning city boasts more than 20 world-class museums and art galleries, and best of all many of them are FREE and indoors (in case of less than stellar Scottish weather)!
Cars, locomotives, ships, and so much more!! Kids will flip for the interactive Riverside Museum with over 3,000 objects tracing Glasgow’s time as a maritime powerhouse up through today.
Learn to play Scotland’s unique instrument at the Bagpipe Museum. Spend hours exploring the eclectic collection at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum including art, mummies, arms and armor and other surprises!
You’ll easily fill your time meandering through this compact city’s verdant parks, dining at foodie spots, checking out why Lonely Planet calls Glasgow a “shopaholics paradise,” taking a day trip to historic Stirling, and if you’re lucky, getting a glimpse of its red-hot music scene! (Lisa of Hilton Mom Voyage)
With the recent renewed interest in the royal family, it’s the perfect time for a London family vacation. The lack of a language barrier makes it a great option for a first European vacation with kids.
Things to do in London include the iconic London Eye, where you can get a birds-eye vantage point of the city. Visit during certain times of the year, and you’ll be able to book a tour of the Buckingham Palace staterooms.
There’s also the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the West End Theatre District, Thames Riverboat tours, and so much more. You’ll also find dozens of museums, many of which offer free admission. (Jodi of Family Travel Magazine) Don’t miss our favorite London hotels for families.
Republic of Macedonia
While there are uncertainties about the official name of this former Yugoslav republic, one thing is clear, Macedonia is a great family destination. Why? Here are the three main reasons: there’s lot to see, it’s unspoiled and the food is amazing.
The capital of Skopje offers a great glimpse of 2000-year-old traditions mixed with modern elements. There are fortresses, archaeological sites, historical monuments, and the River Vardar that flows through the city. We enjoyed the narrow streets of the Old Bazaar, the largest marketplace in the Balkans today.
If you venture outside of Skopje, you get a taste of what Macedonia is all about. There’s the beautiful canyon Matka, Mavrovo National Park, and small villages deep in the mountains, completely isolated from everything else.
Macedonia doesn’t have crowds, so it’s easy to explore with kids, who will love how unique and different it is from anything they’ve seen. People are also very friendly and make you feel at home, especially when you are at a restaurant.
The food they will bring like burek, and grilled meat with ajvar (a red pepper relish that’s delicious). Macedonia is famous for its great wine, especially from the Tikves region. There’s definitely something for everyone here. (Inga from Cool Kiz Cool Trips)
Home to the youngest populace in France, Montpellier bustles with fashionable college students. The city’s beautiful central square, La Place de la Comédie is lined with cafés that beckon visitors to pull up a chair and people-watch while sipping a coffee or hot chocolate.
Afterward, take the kids for a spin on the square’s sweet carousel. The nearby grassy park, Jardin du Champs de Mars, features a playground with Dr. Seuss-like flair as well as a duck-dotted pond. Meander through Montpellier’s pedestrian-friendly downtown to find clothing boutiques, patisseries, florists, and other alluring shops.
Parents will be impressed by a Roman-inspired aqueduct built in the 1700s, an imposing Gothic church from the 1300s, the Musée Fabre fine arts museum, and an Arc de Triomphe built in honor of Louis XIV.
Meanwhile, kids will enjoy visiting Montpellier’s zoo, France’s oldest botanic garden, an aquarium and planetarium. Located about eight miles from the Mediterranean Sea, Montpellier makes a more affordable and less crowded destination than the nearby French Riviera beaches. With all there is to explore and enjoy, Montpellier is the best city in France that many travelers have never heard of. (Colleen of Travel Mamas)
Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the perfect spot to explore in Iceland with kids, especially if you only have a few days. It’s like a mini-Iceland with everything that people go to experience in Iceland within a small area.
The driving distances are short and within the peninsula, you’ll find volcanoes, lava fields, mountains, black sand beaches, and waterfalls. We also found it to be less busy than the Golden Circle and the area south of Reykjavik.
Our favorite experiences on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula were hiking from Arnarstapi to Hellnar, visiting the famous Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, and the Berserkjahraun lava fields, all of which were kid friendly. (Celine of Family Can Travel) Don’t miss these off-the-beaten-path Iceland experiences and travel tips.
The palm trees, lakes, and mountains of Switzerland’s Italian region, Ticino, make the perfect setting for an active family vacation.
Base yourself along one of the two major lakes, Lago di Lugano or Lago Maggiore, and use the Ticino Ticket, free public transport when staying in a hotel, campground or hostel, to explore the region.
Castle fans will love the fortress town of Bellinzona–don’t miss the Saturday market there! Lugano’s mountains, Brè and San Salvatore have stunning views.
Head into the Maggia or Verzasca Valleies for crystal clear (and very cold) alpine waters and quaint villages, or head up Mt. Tamaro for some action with ropes courses, zip lines and other activities on offer.
A secret tip: explore the vineyards of Mendrisiotto and on the path you will stumble upon the southernmost point of Switzerland. (Kristin at Z-Nüni)
Central and South American Vacations with Kids
It’s surprising that Central America is often overlooked by families. There are so many things to do in Guatemala, and it is one of the best places for exciting immersive and transformative travel.
Located less than an hour from Guatemala City, the beautiful UNESCO Cultural Heritage town of Antigua is known for its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and looming volcanos.For a small town, Antigua has an abundance of activities ranging from active to intellectual, with no shortage of options for the entire family.
Enjoy a family cooking class learning to make Guatemalan tortillas and the national dish of pepian, spend the night on an active volcano watching lava explore from the top or visit the Choco Museum to learn the history of chocolate and how it is made from bean to bar.
If you need a little more focus on your trip, sign up for family Spanish lessons at one of the many schools scattered around town. And don’t forget to hop on one of the famous “chicken buses” for a cruise around town.
Antigua is perfect for families in that there are a ton of international restaurants and accommodation options to suit everyone. A family can easily spend 10 days here exploring the local sights, sounds and flavors of Guatemalan life. Believe me, seeing volcanoes at every turn (some of which are active!) in Antigua will mesmerize kids of all ages. (Karilyn of No Back Home)
For a family with older kids who love adventure, there are plenty of awesome things to do in Belize. With a plethora of activities, it’s easy to fill your days with fun. Want to zip line in the rainforest? You’ll find it in Belize.
Rather hang out at the beach or go snorkeling? Spend the day building sand castles or snorkeling at the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Can’t decide? Split your vacation between the two!
For foodies, fresh seafood is the way to go, but Belize specialties include stewed chicken and rice and beans, so there’s something for everyone. We spent so much time trying to decide where to go in 2018. Belize ended up being a really great choice. (Kelly Stillwell, Food, Fun, & Faraway Places)
Costa Rica: nowhere else can you get such an ideal combination of exotic, kid-friendly, easily accessible from the U.S., minimal time difference and excellent infrastructure. With different regions featuring beach, rainforest, cloud forest and volcanoes, the hardest part about planning a Costa Rica trip is narrowing down your top-choice destinations.
Kids of all ages will love the abundant wildlife from four different species of monkey, sloths, coatimundi (very cute raccoon-like animals), butterflies, toucans, scarlet macaws and a zillion other brightly colored birds.
Adventure activities in Costa Rica abound, including waterfall and hanging bridges hikes, zip lining, canyoning, kayaking, river rafting and ocean-oriented activities such as surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling and whale-watching.
My own kids especially loved the guided night-time nature walks and the “bean to bar” chocolate lesson in the middle of the jungle. Do not miss the hot springs around the Arenal volcano! (Julia of Inspire World Travel)
Exploring Oceania countries with kids
Idyllic Fiji in the tropical South Pacific is warm all year round. This sun-kissed destination filled with luxurious resorts is perfect for escaping cold weather – playing in the pool, on a palm-fringed beach, rushing down waterslides or leisurely snorkeling.
Take a boat trip to a tiny uninhabited island to explore the reefs and marine life or give kayaking a go. Or visit a local school or village to learn about the Fijian culture.
The secret to this idyllic island vacation is the Fijian people. This family-focused culture means that children are cherished. This makes for resorts with amazing kids’ clubs and nannies.
Knowing that your kids are well cared for means that you and your partner can have some rare time alone. For us that was bliss! (Kirralee of Escape with Kids)
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Kangaroo Island is the ultimate South Australian destination for families hoping to encounter koalas and kangaroos in the wild. One-third of the island is protected in natural preserves, making it a ruggedly beautiful landscape to explore. Seals lounge by the sea, wallabies hop through pastures, and rainbow lorikeets fill the sky. (Heidi for Kids Are A Trip)
Melbourne can be quintessentially adults only. It has some of the best coffee in the world and alleys of street art and eclectic shopping. But over the last two years, we’ve found it to be a plethora of family fun.
On a hot day, a play at Brighton Beach amongst the colourful Bathing Boxes is a must or a visit to any number of theme parks from the ancient ones like Luna Park to the newer ones like Funfields. Long summer nights are great for outdoor cinemas in the Botanical Gardens on jumping in the back of the car at the Drive In.
When it’s raining, we have spent hours indoors at Artvo taking pictures of ourselves in 3D images. We’ve spotted Great Whites at Sea Life and built Lego at Legoland Discovery.
There’s not been one day we’ve run out of things to do and if you’re looking for a guide, look me up I’d love to continue our quest for family fun! (Erin at Explore with Erin)
Best Holidays for Kids in Asia
Galle, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a country full of highlights but one of my absolute favorite places to visit is Galle Fort. This 17th century fort was originally built by the Portuguese before being extensively fortified by the Dutch. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a beautiful place to explore.
Start your visit by walking the old ramparts; if you’re lucky you’ll see some of the cliff divers performing or catch a glimpse of a cricket game being played.
Afterward, take your time to wander the narrow streets that are lined with charming old houses and historic churches. It’s also a great place to shop with some lovely boutiques and galleries as well as some excellent restaurants.
What’s really interesting about Galle Fort, however, is that it’s not just a carefully preserved tourist destination, it’s a living, breathing community; you’re just as likely to spot someone on their way to work as you are children heading off to school. And, of course, once you’ve finished enjoying the fort, you’ve got some of Sri Lanka’s best beaches not far away. (Katja from Globetotting)
You could explore Japan with kids for decades and not experience it all, but a great place for traveling families to start is Kyoto. The temples and shrines of the ancient capital are just as beautiful as you imagine. Yet there is a modern, youthful energy fueling the town that only adds to its grandeur.
Kyoto is home to many of the country’s major universities. As a result, these students add an artsy filigree to many of the cafes and restaurants between the UNESCO Heritage sites. Kyoto is a great place for walking. In fact, kids will enjoy roaming along the Philosopher’s Walk and along the banks of the Kamo River, which runs straight through the city.
Want even more open space? If so, then kid-friendly hiking trails to hillside shrines are a short train ride away. There are food options for both cautious and adventurous eaters. And as for accommodation, a night in a Kyoto ryokan (traditional Japanese inn with hot springs) is something that they’ll never forget. (Jason at An Epic Education)
There’s a lot to do in Thailand for kids. With so much to do in one country, your family can have almost any type of experience. If you are nervous about visiting Thailand rest assured that the touristy areas are extremely safe.
In Phuket take a boat tour out to Phi Phi Island and feed monkeys with My Phuket Tours. In Chaing Mai take a bicycle food tour with Grasshopper tours and learn all there is to know about Thai cuisine. Taking a cooking class is another great way to learn about Thai food.
In Bangkok see the sights. Bangkok is full of interesting things to see including temples, museums, markets, and more. I recommend taking a hop on hop off Tuk Tuk Tour so you can go at your own pace. No matter where you go in Thailand, you are in for a one of a kind family vacation full of culture, delicious food, animal encounters, and memories to last a lifetime. (Meagan of Mommy Travels)