In the roller coaster of life, we all need a vacation sometimes. While many people think that traveling with kids can be difficult or that your range of travel destinations is limited, this is simply not the case. While it is undeniable that traveling with kids can present different challenges than traveling as adults, the benefits of travel significantly outweigh any of the extra planning that you have to do or challenges that you face along the way. Just imagine how amazing it is to watch your kids interacting with children from a diverse range of backgrounds while playing in the narrow streets of a European city, taking their first steps at the Taj Mahal, or climbing the Great Wall of China. Isn’t that alone worth the extra effort?
We know that traveling with kids can be a daunting prospect if you aren’t used to it. Here at Let’s Roam, we truly believe in the power of travel to inspire, educate, and develop people so to help you make your dream family trip become a reality, we have put together a list of the best places to travel with kids. These family vacation destinations from around the world are great for kids of all ages! You’ll also find great travel tips attached to each destination to help make your traveling planning even easier!
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Traveling With Family
When you think about the best travel destinations for families, places like Los Angeles and Orlando with their many theme parks, New York City and Washington D.C with their plethora of world-class museums, sightseeing tours, and cultural attractions, and America’s jaw-droppingly beautiful national parks probably pop into your mind. While these are absolutely amazing places for a family-friendly vacation, they can also be very, very crowded and expensive during school holidays.
Luckily, there are plenty of other great destinations all around the world that can be visited at a fraction of the price of a week at Disney and can offer an array of magical experiences. Depending on where you are traveling from, many of these places can be visited in just a week. If you have a bit more time on your hands and are hoping to go further afield, there is an exciting array of destinations out there just waiting to be explored!
Closer to home
If you are starting your journey from the United States or Canada, there are plenty of wonderful places to visit as a family that are just a short drive or a few-hour flight from home. Below you will find a list of just some of the lovely places for your next family adventure located in your own backyard.
From the bright lights of Broadway to the expansive beaches of California and everything in between, the United States has plenty to offer domestic travelers. If you want to learn more about a destination, make sure to click on the handy links to find a full list of all the great things to do in cities.
Also, don’t forget to pick up tickets for one of our fun-filled scavenger hunts before you go. These will have you racing through the streets in search of your next clue. We promise that you will learn a lot and have a great time doing it!
With its pristine beaches, rugged landscape, and interesting culture, it is certainly no surprise that Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations for families. This beautiful string of islands floating in the South Pacific has a lot to offer and can provide such a wide array of activities that you may have to pinch yourself to remember that you are still on the same island! You can spend days visiting different volcanoes, hiking along the many different trails to see spectacular viewpoints, lounging around on one of the many untouched beaches, or exploring the many cultural attractions in Honolulu. Don’t forget to visit Pearl Harbour to pay your respects to the many men and women that lost their lives there and learn more about the day that changed American history forever.
Expert tip: Accommodation and food can be very expensive in Hawaii so it may not be a bad idea to rent an Airbnb with a kitchen if you want to cut down on some of the high costs of traveling there. It is also a good idea to rent a car as public transportation on the islands can be sporadic and the last thing you want is to be stuck waiting for a bus under the hot sun.
California has long been a popular vacation destination and it is not hard to see why! The miles of untouched beaches, great national parks, and vibrant, multicultural cities make it a great place to explore. Oh, and they just so happen to have a few well-known theme parks there (ahem….Disneyland, Universal Studios, and the Wizardly World of Harry Potter, Legoland, and Six Flags, just to name a few!).
Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco all have a lot to offer in the way of world-class museums, a thriving cultural scene, and top-notch eateries as well as fun outdoor activities. In San Francisco, you can rent bikes and ride along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, or hit the water on a kayak. Further south in Los Angeles, you can go for a swim at one of the many beaches or spend the evening walking along one of the many beachfront boardwalks. In San Diego, you can head to one of the beach suburbs like La Jolla to say hello to the seals at Seal Cove or recreate your own version of “Some Like It Hot” at the famous Hotel del Coronado.
Expert tip: While traffic can be intense in the big cities, many places are well connected by public transportation making it easy to get around without having to worry about getting stuck in hours of traffic. Amtrak trains also run frequently along the coast giving you the opportunity to visit many different cities even if you have left the car at home.
Colorado is a wonderland for outdoor activities full of amazing destinations where you can strap on a pair of skis and swish, swish, swish your way down the slopes at some of the country’s most famous ski resorts or tighten up your hiking boots and hike along the miles and miles of trails at one of the state’s four national parks.
If you love history, head over to one of the many old mining towns where you can get a glimpse of what life was like for the early settlers there. Make sure to leave plenty of time to get from one place to another—Colorado has some stunningly beautiful scenic byways, making it the perfect spot for a family-friendly road trip!
If you need a bit of relaxation during your family vacation (trust us, we know how it is), there are tons of family-friendly microbreweries where you can try some of Colorado’s best beers while chowing down on filling meals made with local ingredients. Check out our great destination guides on Estes Park, Colorado Springs, and Denver for more information on everything there is to do there!
Home to virtually endless summer weather, beautiful beaches, Disney World, and the mesmerizing Everglades National Park, one of America’s most diverse habitats, and the tranquil Florida Keys, Florida makes a great destination for a trip that the whole family will enjoy.
There are frequent flights from across the United States to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando giving visitors easy access to everything the state has to offer. Accommodation can be very, very expensive in Florida so make sure to book well in advance to try and snag the best deal.
Expert tip: Many short cruises that offer a slew of kid-friendly amenities like swimming pools, kids clubs, games, and entertainment lasting just a few days also leave from ports across Florida. A trip through Florida followed by a cruise to the Bahamas is a great way to combine two very different vacations in one and believe it or not, a cruise can actually help save you money once you begin adding up the costs of hotels, food, and transportation.
The Great Lakes Region
America’s Great Lakes are surrounded by plenty of family-friendly destinations and are easily accessible from most of the Midwest. In the north, Minnesota and Wisconsin offer the welcoming cities of Minneapolis and Milwaukee along with thousands of lakes (seriously, thousands) and untouched nature. Surprisingly, the Wisconsin Dells also happens to be home to the country’s largest concentration of water parks, most of which are open year-round!
Meanwhile, if you head southeast, you can check out Chicago and its Magnificent Mile, as well as its array of wonderful architecture located just steps away from Lake Michigan. Alternatively, you can stop by Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio which is one of America’s biggest amusement parks. After years of neglect and decline, Detroit has emerged as an up-and-coming destination thanks to its wonderful collection of museums and early 20th-century architecture.
If you are looking for something really unique, you can visit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore located less than three hours from Grand Rapids and five hours from Detroit with its enormous sand dunes, lush forests, and crystal clear lakes.
Expert tip: Due to their immense size, the Great Lakes often feel like little seas. If you live in the Midwest, this is great as it is almost like having a beach holiday without having to deal with some of the high costs involved in visiting places like Florida, or California.
The East Coast
While the West Coast of America offers spectacular beaches and amazing parks, the East Coast offers some of the country’s most fascinating cities that make the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway. New York City offers some of the country’s most recognizable sites like the Empire State Building, New York Public Library, and the Statue of Liberty while Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Boston, Massachusetts bring history to life with some of the most important heritage sites in the country. Meanwhile, Washington DC welcomes visitors into its wide array of museums (most of which are free!) and government sites.
Expert tip: Most of the big cities along the East Coast have great public transportation systems and frequent flights to destinations throughout the world so there is no need to rent a car which can save you a lot of money and headaches as parking in the city can be unfathomably expensive and driving can be chaotic, to say the least. There are also many bus companies that help you city hop with ease.
The United States is home to 63 different national parks spread across the country where you can find some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. While the long list of options for camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and more may already be enough to make you want to load the kids up into the car for an epic road trip, what makes this an even more family-friendly option is the fact that all of this can be yours for just $80 per year.
The National Park Pass is available for anyone 16 years or older (anyone under 16 years is free all of the time) gives you access to more than 2,000 national recreation sites including Arizona’s stunning Grand Canyon which stretches a whopping 277 miles long and one mile wide, Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park with its dramatic canyons and geysers, and California’s Yosemite with its soaring sequoia trees. To learn more about these breathtaking locations, make sure to check out our guide to the Best National Parks in the USA.
This incredibly diverse country has a ton to offer families. The too-cute-for-words colonial towns, white-sand beaches framed by crystal clear water, and swaying palm trees that are perfect for snorkeling, ancient Mayan ruins, and vibrant culture combine to form a thrilling vacation destination whether you have just a few days or a few weeks to explore. While many visitors stay around the Caribbean coast, there are plenty of places around Mexico City that are well worth visiting such as Guanajuato (which is said to be the inspiration for the Land of the Dead in Coco!), Taxco, Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, and Queretaro as well as plenty of wonderful spots along the Pacific Coast including Baja California, Sayulita, and Puerto Vallarta.
It is only a few hours’ flight to reach many parts of Mexico from both the east and west coasts making it very convenient to get here. In addition, most major tourist locations in Mexico are well connected by comfortable buses and it is also easy to rent a car and drive, especially in the Yucatan. There are also plenty of American ex-pats living throughout Mexico along with many English-speaking doctors, and a slew of restaurants and shops that are aimed at the North American market. This can come in very handy if you have a few picky eaters.
Expert tip: Many people are worried about safety in Mexico; however, I personally traveled throughout the entire country as a solo female traveler for one year and never had a problem. Most of the violence is located near the American border or in rural areas. While it is always important to be vigilant anywhere you go, please don’t let this deter you from exploring this spectacular country.
Costa Rica has been a popular ecotourism destination for decades and you can spend weeks hiking along the untouched trails and checking out volcanoes and waterfalls. This is a great spot if you are looking for outdoor adventure activities and although it is more expensive than other parts of Latin America, it is incredibly safe. As with Mexico, you will find a large ex-pat community throughout the country and all of the amenities that come along with it.
Many visitors arrive in the welcoming city of San Jose, which is home to the historic National Theater (and one of the best cafes in the country!), and from there, it is easy to get to the tourist hotspots of La Fortuna, which serves as the gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park, Tortuguero National Park, famous for its nesting turtles, and Manuel Antonio’s wide, sandy beaches.
Peru is a wonderful place for families with slightly older kids and has become an extremely popular destination for backpackers and families who are looking for something a little different. While you are there, you can explore the bustling city of Lima, hike or take a train to the dazzling citadel of Machu Picchu, or wander around the ancient town of Cuzco. If you are feeling really adventurous, you can even fly to Iquitos and join a tour of the Amazon rainforest where kids can learn more about this important ecosystem and the fascinating flora and fauna that live there, or do an overnight hike of the stunning Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons.
Since Peru has been a popular travel destination for decades, there is a well-developed tourist infrastructure of buses and flights linking most of the popular tourist destinations.
Expert tip: If you want to trek the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, make sure to book months in advance as space is extremely limited. If you are traveling at the last minute and can’t get a spot on the Inca Trail, you may also want to consider the Salkantay Trail which takes you through 50 kilometers of strikingly rugged mountain terrain before reaching Machu Picchu.
A bit further afield
If you want to go a bit further afield, it is easy to get to many destinations in Europe in less than 10 hours which is still doable for a week-long trip. If you have more time, you can catch connecting flights to Africa or the Middle East for a truly unique experience.
Europe is loaded with great bucket list destinations like Paris, Rome, and London where you can visit some of the world’s most iconic sights. Most areas are highly developed with great public transportation systems and the same luxuries that you are used to at home, making it an easy place to travel with kids. Older kids will likely have already been exposed to Ancient Roman or Greek history so this could be a great way to bring history to life for them.
Traveling in Western Europe can be very expensive so if you are traveling on a budget, try to think outside of the box a bit as to how you can give your kids a fantastic Euro-trip without breaking the bank. There are plenty of destinations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans that offer amazing value for money with oodles of historic sites, charming towns, natural wonders, and cosmopolitan cities.
Italy’s historic sites, picture-perfect Mediterranean beaches, and cultural hubs have been enticing visitors to its shores for centuries. It is the perfect spot for a family vacation full of art museums, and ancient Roman ruins, and if that’s not enough, the icing on the cake is the never-ending array of mouth-watering food that happens to be ideal for families (I mean, what kid is going to turn down a week of pizza, pasta, and ice cream?)
Expert tip: Try to avoid going to Italy during August if possible. This is the period when many Italians take their annual vacations and you may find the beaches swarming with tourists and many of the local businesses in the big cities will have limited operating hours or be closed entirely.
Croatia is one destination in the Balkans that has exploded onto the travel scene thanks to the fabulous walled city of Dubrovnik, the fascinating old town of Split that was built amongst the ruins of a Roman palace, and enough pristine beaches and charming walled towns that you could spend months exploring and never even see half of what the country has to offer. Things are well connected, and English is widely spoken. Although it is significantly more expensive to travel through Croatia than some of the other destinations in the Balkans, it is still more budget-friendly than most of Western Europe. You can find plenty of excellent information on traveling there, including our Comprehensive Guide to an Incredible Croatian Adventure.
Expert tip: Thanks to Croatia’s central location within the Balkan Peninsula, it is convenient to get to other countries from there. From Dubrovnik, you can take a day trip to Montenegro or to Mostar in Bosnia or venture a bit further to visit the intriguing city of Sarajevo.
If you are searching for a great European destination that is easy to travel around, and that is rich in historical sites and natural attractions, then the United Kingdom may be the perfect choice for you! Here, you don’t have to worry about any language barriers (Some of the British accents can be a bit tricky to understand sometimes though!), and there are tons of things to see in a pretty compact place. Most visitors will arrive in the lively capital of London where you can find some of the most famous buildings in Britain including Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace and you can easily spend months there exploring the city’s diverse mix of neighborhoods.
If you are used to driving on the left side of the road, England, Scotland, and Wales could be the perfect places for a road trip, stopping in quaint towns along the way to check out centuries-old castles, and interesting museums. Further north, the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow offer plenty of attractions where you can learn more about the history of Scotland and the Highlands provide a tantalizing glimpse into the nation’s beautiful natural landscape and plenty of hiking trails if you want to get closer to nature.
Expert tip: If you are planning to travel by public transportation, try to book your train and bus tickets as early as possible as the prices can skyrocket if you try to book at the last minute.
Sadly, Africa is often overlooked as a family-friendly destination due to the high cost of traveling there, lack of infrastructure, and security issues. However, in reality, this incredibly diverse continent provides an incomparable mix of attractions and it is a wonderful place to visit on a family vacation.
If you want to give your kids a once-in-a-lifetime experience, head to the savannahs of East Africa to see some of the continent’s highest concentrations of wildlife. Safaris are a great way for families to get close to nature and this region is very safe to travel through. You can also easily combine safari trips in the Serengeti with a beach vacation in Zanzibar to get a glimpse of some of the amazing natural wonders that Africa has to offer.
Expert tip: While safaris in Tanzania can be very expensive, it is possible to do one on a shoestring in the Masai Mara in Kenya using public transport or private cars to reach the park edge. Then hire a safari car and driver for a day trip. This will save you a ton of money that you can use to visit other parts of Kenya like the alluring Lamu Island or the interesting cultural hub of Mombasa.
If you have some budding history buffs on your hands, Egypt provides ample opportunities to see some of the world’s most important archeological sites. A cruise along the Nile with stops to see ruins that date back thousands of years is something that kids will remember forever while the vibrant city of Cairo is a great introduction to the diverse cultures of North Africa. Although Egypt did face some security issues relatively recently, the situation has improved greatly and it is now a safe place for families, especially if you stay close to the main tourist routes.
Expert tip: Egypt is fairly easy to travel by public transport which can help save a lot of money on pricey tours. It is also possible to find great last-minute deals on Nile River cruises. Rather than booking through a big international website, try to book directly through the cruise line to see if it is cheaper.
A land far, far away
If you would like to expose your children to a completely brand new culture, there are plenty of places in Asia where they can learn more about different religions, foods, and beliefs. Each country offers its own interesting history, language, and customs that can be very eye-opening for kids of all ages. Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia can give you a little dose of “home” while offering an amazing array of natural attractions.
Home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan offer an enchanting look into this rich history while looking firmly to the future. This juxtaposition between the old and the new offers an intriguing glimpse into how countries in East Asia have been able to hold on to ancient customs while adopting new technology. Since Greater China is an immense entity, most tourists tend to visit the string of cities along the east coast including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macau but if you have more time, you can venture inland to see some of the country’s jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, hang out with some pandas, and eat delicious food.
Expert tip: Public transportation throughout Greater China is incredibly well run and inexpensive (though it can get a bit crowded) and getting from Point A to Point B can actually turn out to be a bit of a cultural experience. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, this gives you a great opportunity to skip the pricey tours and branch out on your own.
As a travel destination, India has pretty much everything to offer including a rich history, beautiful beaches, mouth-watering food, and friendly people. From exploring the chaotic streets of Old Delhi to admiring the sparkling Taj Mahal, to staying in the tranquil houseboats of Kerala, you can design any type of vacation that you want. India is also a very, very good place to introduce your children to a completely different culture.
Expert tip: While many people may be concerned about traveling to India with kids, don’t worry—you will be surrounded by about a billion babysitters. Joking aside, Indians tend to adore children and chances are that you will never be far from an adoring auntie that is willing to take your kid off your hands for a bit. There are also children everywhere, many of which speak English, so it won’t be hard for kids to find someone to play with.
I lived in India as a single woman for two years and very rarely had any problems besides the usual stares and odd comments. As a family, you are unlikely to receive the same type of attention from men that solo female travelers do and as mentioned, you are more likely to receive a lot of admiring stares from old ladies and fellow moms.
Thailand has been one of the top tourist hotspots in Asia for decades and it is easy to see why. From the shimmering palaces of Bangkok to the white sand beaches of Koh Samui, the Land of Smiles offers a wonderful array of kid-friendly attractions. This is a great place to introduce children to the enchanting cultures of Southeast Asia and the highly-developed infrastructure makes it easy to avoid some of the pitfalls of traveling through some of the other countries nearby.
Much like India, children are very welcome virtually everywhere and thanks to the large ex-pat population and the huge amount of tourists that visit each year, it is easy to find plenty of people who speak English.
Expert tip: If you are looking for a relaxing family vacation, try to avoid some of the more popular tourist spots like Patpong in Bangkok, Pattaya, and parts of Phuket. Unfortunately, many of them have been linked to sex tourism. Although it is very, very unlikely that anything will happen, I accidentally went to a destination in the Dominican Republic that was famous for sex tourism and I have to say that it was very uncomfortable.
If you are looking for an English-speaking country with a seemingly endless list of great activities and attractions on offer and welcoming people, Australia may be the place for you! While it can be pretty expensive to travel through and to, it is a great destination for families with spectacular scenery across the continent, some truly unique animals, stunning beaches, and a laid-back vibe. You also don’t have to worry about any type of language barrier and the currency conversions are very easy (no pesky 0000s here!) Just don’t forget to always have sunscreen and a water bottle with you as the sun there can be a killer and getting burnt and dehydrated is a great way to ruin your vacation.
Expert tip: It is really important to keep in mind that although Australia has a ton to offer, distances between places can be big, like, really, really really big. If you are going for a road trip, it is unlikely that you will be able to cover more than one or two states unless you fly so make sure to plan accordingly.
Often overshadowed by Australia next door, New Zealand has nearly as much to offer (except the koalas and quokkas!) but within a much more manageable space. It is a particularly great spot for families with older kids thanks to the jaw-droppingly wide range of outdoor activities and multiday hiking trails.
Auckland, New Zealand’s gateway, is a beautiful city that stretches across a narrow strip of land from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean and serves as a great base while you get ready to explore the rest of the North Island which is covered with a mix of untouched native forests, emerald green rolling farmland, stunning beaches, laid-back towns, and an eclectic mix of activities including kayaking, skydiving, horseback riding, zorbing (i.e. rolling down a hill in a giant rubber ball) and black water rafting (climbing through caves and floating down underground rivers as you stare up at glow worm sparkling bum—yep, you read that right, I told you that it was an eclectic mix).
The South Island is much more rugged and undeveloped than the North Island and is home to some of the country’s most spectacular scenery (and has been the shooting location for many Hollywood movies). There, you can tackle some of New Zealand’s Great Walks, multi-day treks that bring you up close and personal with this breathtaking landscape.
Expert tip: Throughout New Zealand, you will find a chain of accommodation providers called Top 10 Holiday Parks. With kitchens, laundry facilities, and campsites, these are perfect for families and generally cost significantly less than nearby hotels or guest houses. You can also find charming little historic pubs in many small towns that have accommodation located upstairs. They are usually pretty inexpensive to stay in and a fun way to pay homage to New Zealand’s history.
Many visitors rent campervans which are perfect for families as it gives you the ability to move at your own pace and keep you from having to pack and unpack as you move hotels. This is a very popular way to get around so make sure to book your campervan rentals in advance.
Ready to Roam?
We hope that this list has left you feeling inspired and we can’t wait to hear your feedback!
If this is your first time tackling the art of family travel, make sure to check out these family travel tips and our advice on traveling with kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
From Orlando to Bangkok, there are plenty of amazing places all around the world that could be perfect for your next family trip! Learn more about the best places to travel with kids.
There are so many great places to visit as a family that the list is virtually endless. To get some inspiration, read about the best places to visit with kids.
There are so many American places to visit with kids! Explore one of many theme parks found across the country, head to spectacular national parks, or check out the attractions on a scavenger hunt in one of these cities!
When you are traveling with the kiddos in tow, downtime can become a bit of a challenge. Pack Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition and you’ll never run out of things to do!