Anyone who has traveled with children knows how challenging it can be. Many travel destinations that are fun without kids can be a logistical and safety nightmare with young children. Before I had my daughter I completely underestimated how difficult it can be to travel with young kids, especially if you don’t plan ahead.
On top of the crazy amount of stuff you have to bring with you (goodbye days of traveling with one small carry-on), there are an array of things you have to take into consideration – the most important being choosing a travel destination that is kid-friendly.
By the time my daughter was 18 months old, she had already visited eight different countries on over a dozen trips with me. Based on our travels together, here are my suggestions for 10 awesome family destinations to visit with young kids.
1) MYKONOS, GREECE
You’d have to pay me a lot of money to visit Mykonos during high season with my daughter. The beaches and beach clubs are jam-packed with tourists and it is loud and expensive.
But if you wait till the shoulder season (we visited in September) Mykonos is the perfect family travel destination to visit with young kids – the beaches are empty, the best beach clubs are wide open and welcoming to young children and villa rentals prices are discounted.
We rented a gorgeous villa with a pool on the hill above Nammos Beach Club so we could easily take our daughter there to play at the beach each day. She loved it and this was by far our most relaxed, fun, family vacation to date.
2) MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA
Montego Bay, Jamaica is the perfect family travel destination to visit young kids! We stayed at Round Hill Hotel & Villas and loved everything about it! Round Hill was voted one of the finest properties in the world in 2018 by Forbes and after staying here it is easy to see why. The service is impeccable and they are extremely welcoming to children.
The villas offer indoor-outdoor dining areas and living rooms with ocean views, and the main beach at Round Hill is located on a peaceful bay with a soft sand beach and shallow, calm, warm water. My daughter spent hours frolicking at the water’s edge and cried when we told her it was time to leave!
3) INVERNESS, SCOTLAND
Inverness is a beautiful, small city, located on Scotland’s northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth inlet of the North Sea. Its Old Town features cathedrals and churches from the 18th-century, and there are a handful of incredible castles in and around Inverness.
I spent three days and nights here with my husband, daughter and mother-in-law. There are an array of fun activities to do here with young children including taking a famous Loch Ness Monster cruise! You can read more about our family trip to Inverness here.
4) LONDON, ENGLAND
While London is not one of the first places that immediately comes to mind as an ideal destination for a family vacation it is actually the perfect place to visit with young kids. In spring, summer or early fall (before it gets too cold) Hyde Park is a wonderful place to have a picnic and let your kids run around on miles of beautiful, grassy parkland.
Located right next to the park is the Natural History Museum which has a tons of great activities for kids. And right next door, the Science Museum has a great play area for young kids called The Garden that is open daily. When we lived in London my daughter went at least once a week, and loved it!
You can check out my London Itinerary for more London tips!
5) DUBAI, UAE
Dubai is another awesome family travel destination to visit young kids. My husband and I stayed at Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort for our babymoon and were surprised at all the activities that could be done on property such as: jet-skiing, paddle boarding, SUP, boat rides, parasailing, yoga, and tennis, as well as well as off property excursions like the Hot Air Balloon Tour and the Heritage Night Safari through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
Most of the hotels on The Palm are built so that their beaches are situated on the inside of island where the water is very calm – perfect for families with small children and great for doing water sports such as SUP.
The Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort seemed geared towards families with water slides, a gelato house, kids-only pools, and an awesome kids club.
Children over 4 years old are offered two free hours of access per day and additional hours can be purchased for AED 60 ($15 per hour) so parents can drop their children off and spend the rest of the day relaxing, knowing their kids are safe and having fun.
You can read more about my experience here.
6) SANTA BARBARA, CA
Santa Barbara is my favorite town on earth! I went to college here and lived here for 10 years so I know the city very well and can say from experience it is a great place to vacation with young kids. The beaches around the pier are calm and fun for children, and the bike path that runs along it provides the perfect place to rent bikes and scooters and cruise around together.
My daughter loves the Sea Center on the pier. During our last visit, she pet a baby shark and could not stop smiling afterward. There are also tons of kid-friendly restaurants and good hotel options.
7) PALM DESERT, CA
If you live in Southern California and are looking for a fun weekend getaway that doesn’t require getting on a plane Palm Desert is a great family travel destination to visit with young kids.
We spent four nights here earlier this month and had a wonderful time. You can rent a large, very nice house with pool on Airbnb pretty cheaply, most of the restaurants are kid-friendly, and there are some fun activities to do with young kids.
I would never want to promote visiting a zoo but if you are going to visit one the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a good one to visit. They focus on conservation and protection of animals, and for just $7 your child can feed a giraffe and the money goes towards their conservation programs.
8) WATERVILLE, IRELAND
Situated on Ballinskelligs Bay, on the Ring of Kerry, there is something so special about this tiny, Irish town that I seriously considered getting married here! I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I know it has to do with the combination of the beautiful landscape, the amazingly kind people here, and the fact that arriving in Waterville is like stepping back in time.
We brought our daughter Sadie here twice in the last two years and had a great time, although I do think of all the destinations on this list Waterville is more ideal to visit with older children.
Older kids will be able to enjoy a visit to famous Skellig Michael rock where scenes from Star Wars was filmed, horse back rides on the beach and the Charlie Chaplin Film Festival. You can read more about things to do in Waterville here.
9) STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Stockholm is a very fun travel destination with young kids! We stayed for a few days in the countryside in Ekerö at Skyttenholm which is a charming hotel, located on a gorgeous lake about an hour drive outside the city.
We also spent a few days in Stockholm and my daughter loved Skansen – the world’s oldest open air museum!
10) OAHU, HAWAII
I traveled extensively through Hawaii in my twenties (when I was a broke surfing girl sleeping in surf hostels and sometimes my surfboard bag on the beach). I have visited Hawaii, Kauai, Oahu, and Maui and out of these, I think Oahu is the best Hawaiian Island to visit with young kids because of the array of hotel options, kid-friendly restaurants, the plethora of activities for kids, and the beautiful, protected beaches of Waikiki.
If you want your kids to learn how to surf in warm water this is a great place to learn, but I suggest trying to visit in the off-season when the beaches will be less crowded and flights and hotels are cheaper.
FAMILY TRAVEL DESTINATIONS TO VISIT WITH YOUNG KIDS
I hope I have inspired you to visit one of these awesome family travel destinations to visit with young kids! While traveling with young children can be challenging it can also be an extremely rewarding experience.
In Jamaica my baby girl tried coconut water fresh out of a young coconut and then spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach with a giant grin on her face, frolicking in the water, repeating over and over I love coconuts! It’s the simple things in life that matter most and traveling with small children is a great reminder of this.
We hope that this article has inspired your next family adventure. If you have questions or advice to share with our readers, please leave these in the comments below.
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