Top 10 Destinations For A Fabulous Family Vacation

With school time round the corner and moms and dads thinking about pencil-cases, books and uniforms that have to be bought, tighter schedules and after school activities, children dreading having to get up early in the morning again and homework, it may be inspiring to think about the next family vacation you’ll be able to enjoy together.

Whether you can save money to spend Christmas and New Year celebrations away from home, or you are planning where to spend your spring break or summer holidays, let’s make sure that you all enjoy the most fabulous family vacation ever!

The world is huge and it opens up to you. It offers plenty of beautiful places to go, breathtaking destinations to discover and thousands of activities to try, do and enjoy.

Whether you reach your destination by plane, train, car or on foot, get ready to have the blast of a lifetime! And while some of these locations invite you to chill out and relax, others entice you to explore the surroundings and be active.

1 – Pacific Coast Highway Drive

A road trip through the curvy Highway 1 that joins San Francisco and Los Angeles is the first fabulous family vacation experience in our list. It’s considered the mother of all road-trips and it’s an experience that children will definitely enjoy.

Who doesn’t like looking at the craggy coastal cliffs high above the ocean from the window car? Even if you don’t own a car or if you don’t want to drive it that far, car rental services are always available.

To make sure that it’s a positive experience for everyone on board, our piece of advice is to take it slow and plan as many stops as you think you’ll need. Usually, driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles takes about four days but you can always divide it into smaller portions (which can be a good idea if your kids are too little)

In addition, there are lots of funny activities that are definitely kid-centric! What about kayaking and visiting the Aquarium in Monterey? Are you into camping or hiking? Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is your place to go then! If your children love animals, make sure you visit Carmel’s Pt. Lobos State Natural Reserve as it is one of the best places to spot otters, whales and sea lions!

2 – London

London is a stunning kid-friendly city.that is packed with history-rich buildings, long-lasting traditions, a cosmopolitan and luxurious vibe, gorgeous gardens and top of the notch shops.

Want a tip? Start monitoring flights to London as soon as this city gets under your radar. Oversea flights can be pricey but you can spot attractive fees in European airlines, especially low-cost carriers such as Norwegian Air.

Once there, Buckingham Palace is one of the first attractions you should visit. Even if you couldn’t care less about Royalty, telling your kids that a real queen that wears a crown lives there will make them open their eyes really wide! The Changing of the Guard, where the soldiers march out in their coats and furry black hats is a traditional ceremony that is as delightful as enjoyable. If you are early enough, you’ll get a great spot close to the entrance door!

St James Park has a lovely playground and you can easily spot ducklings, swans and squirrels! Your children will be delighted for sure!

The London Bridge and its fantastic engineering system, Madame Tussaud’s Museum and its stunning wax figures, the Planetarium, the stunning collection of world art and artefacts in the British Museum, Sea Life London, The Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral are only a few of the most renowned attractions that every member of the family can enjoy in London.

Visiting London around Christmas time makes holidays in the city extra special. It’s almost idyllic! Christmas markets, ice skating, shopping sprees at Harrod’s are ingredients that contribute to building a fabulous experience!

3 – Nairobi, Kenia

Adventurous families can expect fabulous vacations in Nairobi, Kenia. It’s true that it is not a destination you may have heard lots about and it’s probably a trip off the beaten path, but it’s a wonderful child-friendly city with AWESOME attractions!

Nairobi National Park is a great place where leopards, giraffes, lions and zebras can roam free within sight of the city. It’s the ultimate and most perfect excursion for a wildlife-watching trip! If you have a soft spot for giraffes or think that such a safari is not the best idea with your adventurous toddler, don’t miss the chance to enjoy a hands-on experience at the Giraffe Center: visitors are invited to feed them from a raised gallery.

If elephants are your dearest, visit David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. There, orphaned elephants are rehabilitated and prepared so that they can be taken again to the wild.

4 – New York City

Christmas time and New York city seem to be a combination made in heaven. The city that never sleeps is busier, livelier and more exciting than usual and the festive spirit makes everybody more joyful and happy than in any other time of the year.

Needless to say, a visit to the majestic Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center is a must-see in your travel bucket-list as well as shopping for Christmas presents at the holiday markets at Union Square. If you want to show off your skating skills to your little ones, head off to the ice rink at Bryant Park.

To crown a fabulous vacation in New York City, check the amazing shopping windows at the large department stores and let the Christmas spirit sweep you off your feet and take you to Lincoln Center and watch The Nutcracker!

5 – The Bahamas

Spending the Christmas holidays in this Caribbean destination is a fantastic dream of many. But visiting the Bahamas a month or two earlier (say October or November) can be a fabulous reality. Airfare is less expensive, you’ll be able to enjoy sunny days, the gorgeous white-sandy beaches and the luke warm turquoise waters without bunches of screaming kids around.

It’s less hectic, definitely, but much more enjoyable! Visiting the Bahamas off the high season can make fabulous beach vacations for families with toddlers or very young children who love spending hours on end at the beach but you hate the idea of crowds. Besides, you will get back to your daily routine with an attractive tan!

6 – Buenos Aires

Cosmopolitan, vibrant, friendly, culturally rich and varied and with a fabulous night-life that caters to everybody’s interests, Buenos Aires, capital city of Argentina, is probably most enjoyable when it’s autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern hemisphere.

With jacaranda trees in full bloom, you’ll be delighted to spot their beautiful lilac flowers covering the streets lined with trees. September can be rainy but October and November are definitely drier and sunnier.Temperatures are warm and some days can be hot but they are definitely far from heat stroke.

Buy tickets to a soccer match, catch a tango show in San Telmo (one of the most traditional neighborhoods in the city), watch a play at any of the big theaters downtown, enjoy a tasty meal at any of the high-end restaurants downtown, in Palermo or Puerto Madero and don’t leave Buenos Aires without eating a traditional parrilla or Argentine steak at any of the parrilla restaurants in the city.

Buenos Aires is super family-friendly and the city offers an interesting and varied bunch of activities that will definitely keep everybody engaged and busy. There are hundreds of parks that offer vast green extension areas that are great for biking, skating, running, playing or simply having a rest. The Lakes of Palermo is one of the locals’ favorite one, with the Rosedal and the Japanese Gardens just a few stones away, the Botannical Gardens also nearby and the stunning dome of the Planetarium.

The Children’s Museum at the Abasto Shopping Center will awe children with the many hands-on experiences that it offers. They’ll have a blast working on a supermarket, changing money at a bank or driving a metro! The Konex Cultural Center, just a few blocks away, usually offers child-centered shows and its large patio will make the delights of the youngest members of the family.

In addition, most museums offer special visits, activities or treats for children so that they can enjoy themselves and learn at the same time. Ah! Are any of your children in the “dinosaur era”? Any dino fans in the family? If so, don’t miss a visit to the Natural Sciences Museum! It’s collection of prehistoric animals, mammals, birds and insects is just awesome!

7 – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

While planning fabulous vacations with kids can usually be easier, if teens or pre-teens re coming on board finding plans that keep them engaged and connected and not hooked up to their mobile phone can be way more difficult. But we are convinced that an adrenaline-boosting experience at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can do the magic.

Just picture you and your family looking at and exploring red-hot caleras, oozing lava, smoking craters, smelly steam vents and unique ecological zones and you can understand why planning a visit to the big island of Hawaii can be a great idea.

Before venturing yourself at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park don’t miss the Kilauea Visitor Center that is just inside the park’s entrance. You’ll receive lots of important (essential) information about getting oriented in the park, ranger-led activities and safety precautions that you need to take in mind at all times plus interactive displays, a gift shop and toilettes.

Once there you’ll be able to see the active volcano and its flowing lava. You should bare in mind that this is easier said than done as fulfilling this endeavour is not inexpensive nor exactly easy. Hiking to the critical area can be challenging and almost impossible for young kids and it can take almost a day to get there. Riding a helicopter or going on a boat excursion can be pricey but definitely good options!

The Thomas A. Jaggar Museum is small and informative. There are very interesting displays and you’ll be able to learn tons about volcanology and how volcanoes were born in the area. But what curious kids will love the most is to have the chance of checking the equipment that scientists use when studying volcanoes or jumping up and down to see their own mini earthquake registered on a seismograph. You’ll be surprised by the stunning views of the main crater of the Kilauea volcano!

Another interesting activity to do is walking along the boardwalk trail that leads to the sulphur banks. The characteristic smell, the venting steam and the red-stained clay offer children the best ingredients for a gross and stinky experience they’ll tell their friends about at school!

There are plenty of things to do, discover, explore and enjoy at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and it is definitely a destination where you’d like to be able to stay overnight so that you can plan your visit at your own pace. That said, take care of accommodation way in advance. There are some cabins and accommodation facilities within the limits of the park but they are booked in almost no time in the high season!

8 – Lisbon

The subtropical Mediterranean weather turns Lisbon, in Portugal, an attractive European destination for those travelling in autumn. In fact, while Paris or London usually get chillier, Lisbon still enjoys nice and pleasant temperatures while avoiding the strong summer sun.

Lisbon is an affordable and family-friendly city, with good value accommodation and inexpensive food. Public transport is safe and reliable and even taxis are not that expensive. Driving a rental car is easy as well.

A visit to the Lisbon Oceanarium, the local aquarium, is an enjoyable excursion for all the family. It is considered one of the best in Europe and it will keep your children enthralled s soon as they walk by the entrance hall. There are four gigantic tanks that represent different oceanic regions and each of them is filled with marine life. Visitors can view the different animal species through submerged tunnels that have glass walls or from above water level.

As you leave the Oceanarium, don’t miss the chance to explore the Expo Park! It’s a vast area packed with attractions for children. From hiring a bike to ride to a cable car that runs the length of the park to interactive outdoor features, you can rest assured that you’ll have your children busy and entertained for many hours on end! And the Pavilion Knowledge, an interactive, hands-on museum focused on space and science is a must-see attraction!

Lisbon Zoo is also a great attraction in the city. It’s modern and animals are well cared. There is a large pool where you can enjoy performances by dolphins and sea lions. The reptile and snake house is stunning while the farm will allow smaller children to interact and pet the animals.

The city itself is really attractive for children. Most of them find a tram ride absolutely fascinating with the screech and clatter. They can get crowded as in any other city but you can usually travel more comfortably early in the morning and during the evenings.

If you take advantage of the 24-hour unlimited tram/bus/metro ticket, you get access to the funiculars and the Elevador de Santa Justa lift., that take you to the upper neighborhoods and allow you to enjoy fabulous views of Lisbon.

9 – Maribor

Slovenia is a small country that can be the stage of fabulous family vacations. While Ljubljana, the capital, is a magnificent city, we suggest you to rent a car and drive north to Maribor. Maribor is a city that welcomes visiting families with a great package of activities. Depending on the time of the year when you travel to Maribor you’ll be able to enjoy different activities.

Summer months invite you to go canoeing on the river Drava while winter seduces you with skiing sessions in the nearby resort of Pohorje.

Don’t miss the chance to visit the local Jewish District and visit the local synagogue! And nurture your adventurous spirit with a balloon excursion at the Balon Center. You’ll have the chance to appreciate the stunning countryside of the town from a totally new perspective. Don’t forget your camera as you’ll be able to take wonderful pictures and create great memories!

10 – Puglia

Puglia, located in the heel of Italy’s boot, is an attractive destination and a great choice for  fabulous family holiday. Pristine beaches are endless and the Salento peninsula is absolutely amazing!

Otranto, a picturesque city by the sea, is a friendly and appealing choice as base town for a family on holidays, not to mention the magnificent castle that overlooks the area. Children will definitely enjoy spotting the fairytale trulli: pint-sized limestone dwellings with conical roofs that are dotted throughout the region.

And the bonus track is…

Miami Beach

Miami Beach, despite being famous for its cosmopolitan, luxurious and festive atmosphere can also be the perfect stage for fabulous family holidays. Besides, with its growing Latin American and European vibes, you’ll have an unbeatable opportunity to introduce your children to multiple cultures.

Beaches are great! They are tropical, luscious and are bathed by warm waters. When you are tired of spending time sunbathing, surfing or building sand castles, Miami awaits you with must-see attractions. The Children’s Museum and Jungle Island is a very popular excursion that will keep children and adults entertained.

Lincoln Road is a must-go to satisfy your shopping needs. It’s a stylish promenade where you can find some of the world’s most famous fashion, toys, beauty and apparel brands.

Where would you like to travel next? Wherever you choose, enjoy it!

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Lived in England since 1998 and travelled the world since 2005, visiting over 100 countries on 5 continents. Writer, blogger, photographer with a passion for adventure and travel, discovering those off beat places not yet on the tourist trail. Marco contributes the very best in independent travel tips and lifestyle articles.

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