Best Places For A Family Vacation
We all need a break once in a while, but when you have a family, there’s more than just you to please. Keeping the little ones entertained or the not so little teenagers engaged is key to a happy family vacation. Add in value for money and a travel time that’s not going to tip you over the edge and suddenly your summer trip has become a real challenge. But not anymore, as we have checked out 10 of the best places to take a family vacation.
So, get the kids’ luggage packed, as we’ve taken the hassle out of holiday hunting for you and your young crew…
From the kid-friendly city of Toronto, with its plethora of museums and attractions, to the back-to-nature experience of the Rockies, all within a do-able long weekend trip for a good proportion of the US, we think Canada is the perfect mix for the family that likes to go wild.
Must see/do: Hit the slopes in Banff National Park; marvel at Niagara Falls; take the EdgeWalk around the outside of Toronto’s CN Tower; check out the Northern Lights in the Yukon; get starstruck at the Ontario Science Center.
For an adventure to capture the whole family’s imagination, and all within an average of 7 ½ hours flight time from the US, Iceland is a place like no other. Wild, rugged, stunningly beautiful, and smaller than the state of Kentucky, there’s enough on this family-friendly isle of ice and fire keep you all wide-eyed and entertained.
Must see/do: Take a skidoo on the glacier or go deep inside a volcano; ride across the plains on an Icelandic pony; go whale watching in Húsavík; take a dip in the thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon; explore downtown Reykjavik or marvel at some of Europe’s largest waterfalls.
For an outdoor family holiday with a laid-back beach vibe, then Hawaii has to be a contender. The most recent of US states, the lush Hawaiian Islands are also known as the Aloha state and bask in a tropical climate. The eight main islands offer pretty much every geographical terrain, from lava deserts to rainforests as well as miles of pristine beaches.
Must do/see: Explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can zip-line, rock climb and delve into a lava tube. Snorkel with dolphins and sea turtles or go whale watching before getting down with the local dancing vibe and swing your stuff at a traditional luau.
For a sophisticated slice of the Mediterranean that’s only a six-hour flight from the East Coast, the western European country of Portugal is a cool contender on our top 10 vacation list. You get culture, history, coastal resorts, stunning scenery and vibrant, family-friendly cities all without the crowds you’ll find in other Med holiday destinations.
Must see/do: Dip into Lisbon’s Oceanarium and the city’s gorgeous historic quarter; get your castle fix at the country’s 150 fortresses; cycle, hike and kayak in the Peneda-Gerês National Park; eat al fresco as a family in pretty Porto; go surfing in the swell of the Atlantic.
5. Grand Canyon
No family vacation list would be complete without the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon. Celebrating its 100th anniversary as a National Park this year, now is a good a time as any to and head out for a family-bonding trip you’ll never forget. Think awe-inspiring vistas, the magnificent Colorado river and a natural environment that inspires the imagination.
Must see/do: Join a hike on the corridor hiking trail; saddle up a mule for a canyon ride; go stargazing; take a ride on the Grand Canyon railway; channel your inner cowboy on an organized cook out; splash out on a helicopter ride over the spectacular Horseshoe Bend.
6. New York
A city break can make an awesome family vacation and for sheer scale, attractions and activities for all ages, the Big Apple is pretty hard to beat. From the urban oasis that is Central Park to the shopping and bright lights of 5th Avenue – as well as everything in-between – get set for some awesome family time in New York, the city that never sleeps.
Must see/do: Go ice-skating in Central Park; take in the view from the Empire State Building; explore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; lose yourself in the Museum of Natural History; hop on to a city tour bus; channel your inner scientist at the New York Hall of Science.
7. Disney World, Orlando
Disney is certainly the stuff of family vacation dreams and what better way to share in the magic and wonder of being a child than at the Orlando Resort. With four major theme parks – the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom – there is literally something for everyone, so perfect for that family holiday harmony.
Must see/do: Where do we start! Go Disney-cheesy at the Festival of Fantasy Parade; check out the new Star Wars Millennium Falcon ride; fly high on the Skyliner Gondola; be like a NASA astronaut at Epcot; make a splash in Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.
8. San Diego, California
For a beach holiday that offers much more than sand and surf, check out San Diego on the golden Californian coast. As well as 70 miles of beaches and the glorious Pacific Ocean to play in, you get theme parks, water parks, museums, zoos and outdoor adventures as well as all the family-friendly trappings of an awesome sunshine city.
Must see/do: Grab the Go San Diego Card and check out all the attractions, such as the famous San Diego Zoo, Legoland California, SeaWorld and the Balboa Culture Park. Then head out into nature to test out the waves as well as the caves at La Jolla.
Make like a pioneer and whisk the family off on the epic road trip around the wild and majestic state of Alaska. Base yourself in the lively city of Anchorage, before striking out with the kids to explore the coastal road to the Kenai Fjords. Or opt for the Alaskan Railroad to take in the breath-taking Denali National Park. This is a family adventure at its finest!
Must see/do: Check out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see bison, reindeer and brown bears; take a river cruise on the Kenai Fjords; make a splash on a kayak expedition; go mushing with some sled dogs; take a sea plane for spectacular views of a glacier.
10. Tokyo, Japan
For a trip of a lifetime that will appeal to both the culture fan and the tech geek, why not look at a family vacation to Tokyo. You will need to be prepared for the long-haul flight (11-14 hours on average) but this mesmerizing city in the Land of the Rising Sun is worth it. And, for your gadget-driven family, it could well be a vacationing dream!
Must see/do: Watch a musical robot show; visit a karaoke room; lose yourself in the National Museum of Nature and Science; marvel at the billboards and bright lights of Shibuyu; visit the Visit Meiji-jingu Shrine; sample sushi.
- Tips For Traveling With Children – Rough Guide