Summer vacation has come to an end and I found myself looking for a nice destination to take our family to next year. In this quest for new ideas and family travel inspiration I decided to reach out to other traveling families and ask them to share their all time favourite, best family travel destinations worldwide.
Family travel bloggers share their favourite travel destinations
I received a variety of responses covering an amazing variety of family-friendly destinations from all over the world. From winter holidays in the Arctic to desolate beaches in the Pacific, from city breaks to ski resorts – there is something in here for everyone.
I’m happy to say that some of the world’s most well-travelled families have collaborated to this post. These are one by one families that have seen a lot of the world and they share their absolute favourites, hidden gems, places that they keep on going back to. With their help, this guide to world’s best family travel destinations was born. In this post you’ll find some great family trip ideas and plenty of inspiration for family vacations for many years to come. Read about the travel bloggers’ favourite family travel destinations and scroll all the way down to the bottom to find out ours!
Featured image by Eric Stoen from Travel Babbo
Top-20: Best Family Travel Destinations Worldwide
Paul from A Luxury Travel Blog. The island of Crete is somewhere we’ve frequently holidayed as a family. It has everything we could possibly want – a lovely climate, pure relaxation, great beaches, excellent food and a beautifully slow way of life. There are some superb hotels on the island. We’ve often been drawn to a small fishing town Elounda which has some excellent luxury accommodation and plenty to see and do.
Check Paul’s blog for all things luxury travel.
Eric from Travel Babbo. Bali has become one of our favorite family travel destinations the past couple years. There’s a perfect mix of beaches and culture, and there’s always something to do, from attending festivals (which seem to take place all the time) to visiting water parks to hiking through rice fields. The weather is warm year-round, although the rainy season (November through March) is exactly what it sounds like. The food is excellent and inexpensive. My 10-year-old’s favorite restaurant in the world is Cuca, near Jimbaran Beach.
Bali’s hotels are amazing, and virtually all welcome kids. We’ve stayed at hotels on the beach, but also in villas with private plunge pools overlooking river valleys and villas surrounded by rice fields. We always try to do activities through our hotels, like fish feeding, anti-gravity yoga, rice planting, ceramics and local walks. We’re never ready to check out.
Even though there are more tourists every year, Bali never feels touristy. Ubud retains a really cool, artsy vibe. Plus there’s a monkey forest there – what kid doesn’t want to be surrounded by monkeys?
You can find more tips for visiting Bali with kids on Eric’s blog.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia
Caz and Craig from YTravelBlog. One of our favourite destinations for families is the Port Douglas Daintree region in Tropical North Queensland. Port Douglas has the largest reef system and oldest rainforest in the world to explore. What more can you ask for? Our girls loved snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, zip lining over the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest, playing on stunning beaches, searching for wild crocodiles on river boat cruises, and enjoying delicious exotic ice cream made from the rainforest fruits. It’s a relaxed and beautiful tropical destination with plenty for all members of the family to love.
Here you can find everything you possibly may want to know about visiting the Daintree Rainforest.
Kevin and Christina from Wandering Wagars. There are few places in the world that offer the opportunity for family adventure like Iceland. Where else can you spot Blue Whales from a schooner, swim in ice cold glacier water while continents tear themselves apart around you, and feel the roar of Europe’s largest waterfall, all within a few hours drive of each other. If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. You can even look up the Prime Minister in the phone book.
The Icelandic people understand the unique needs of children and families. It’s rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t have an area set aside for children to play.
You can read more about Kevin and Christina’s family trip to Iceland on their blog.
Whitefish, Montana, USA
Nicole – The Passport Kids. If you are thinking about experiencing what a winter wonderland would be like, our recommendation is the Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort in Montana, USA. The resort offers many family friendly amenities and activities including daycare and kids ski & ride school directly on the resort. Enjoy some outdoors winter fun with snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing or sledding; then cozy up by the fire with some hot chocolate. The resort and city of Whitefish offer a small town American feel where life slows down for a while but still offers great selection of hotels, restaurants and shopping.
Check Nicole’s blog for more information about Whitefish ski resort.
Gulf Shores, Alabama, USA
Karen from Family Travels on a Budget. Gulf Shores, Alabama is perfect for families because it’s got all the beach without all the crowds! We love Gulf Shores for its white sand, seashells, sunsets and seafood. But what makes it special is the space — wide beaches and smaller crowds mean we have more space to unwind.
Gulf Shores is more than a beach, though. We also enjoy hiking and biking the trails at Gulf State Park, catamaran day trips, paddle boarding and sunset dinners at local restaurants. It’s our home away from home — at the beach!
Read more about Alabma Beaches here.
Cape Town, South Africa
Keri from Baby Globetrotters. Everything about Cape Town is simply breathtaking. Nestled beneath the unmistakeable Table Mountain, many start their South African adventure at the lively V&A Waterfront. Near to the city you will find the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and Tree Canopy Walkway, the Table Mountain Cable Car or why not take a ferry and tour around the now infamous Robben Island?
Heading further out of Cape Town for a couple of days is a must – head to where the oceans meet at the Cape of Good Hope, visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach and spot the seals at Hout Bay. Next head East to the Stellenbosch wine region – so many family friendly wine farms it’s hard to choose where to start. Finish off your Cape Town adventure with a simply breathtaking sunset over the Atlantic Ocean from Signal Hill or Camps Bay.
Find out more about Cape Town family vacation on Baby Globetrotters blog.
Allison from Fun Family Vacations. We consider ourselves bona fide beach bums and enjoy most of our family vacations at or near the ocean. Our kids will spend the entire day playing in the water, building sandcastles, and snorkeling. Beach days are low cost and lots of fun; we can pack a picnic, our snorkeling gear, and a few beach toys and everyone is entertained for the entire day!
One of our favorite beach spots is Cemetery Beach on Grand Cayman Island. It is on the far West End of the famous Seven Mile Beach. Because it is away from the busiest areas, this beach is not usually over-crowded and offers an excellent snorkeling with a reef accessible by shore.
Check this post if you want to learn more about Grand Cayman.
Erin – Travel with Bender. If you ask the Bender kids out of the 67 countries they have been to in their 6 years of life, which was their favourite they would unanimously agree – Finland. More specifically Rovaniemi to the North of Helsinki. Why? So many reasons! But #1 it’s where the real Santa lives. When you send a letter to Santa it goes here. You can see all the pigeon holes from around the world with letters to Santa. You can even post your own! You can spend an evening with the elves in the forest, decorating trees, baking cookies and learning Santa secrets.
When you are not visiting Santa you can spend the days riding husky sleds through a winter wonderland, taking a reindeer sleigh through the forest or snow tubing down giant hills and through ice caves. Top that with snow mobiles to capture a glimpse of the Northern Lights and a hot dinner of reindeer meat and what could be more perfect?
Here you can read more about winter holiday in Roveniemi Finland.
Alex – My Life Long Holiday. Central Portugal has been a family favourite for us since my parents emigrated there a few years back. The area has such a laid-back vibe, great food and culture and beautiful scenery.
For adventurous families there are activities like cycling, hiking and kayaking, but my kids equally like exploring little old villages up in the mountains which haven’t changed for ages, so long as there’s ice-cream at the end of it! The Portuguese love children and you’re welcomed wherever you go with genuine smiles and warm hospitality, add to this the warm sunshine and you have the formula for a relaxing, easy holiday.
Check Alex’s blog for more inspiration for a trip to Portugal.
Update: inspired by this suggestion, we have visited Portugal a few times. You can find our Portugal travel tips here.
Eileen – Families Go Travel. Philadelphia is close enough to home that it has been a frequent day trip for us. Now that we travel with a child we have begun to stay for a night or two, which has given us new appreciation for all that this city has to offer for families.
Federal Hall is an essential for your first visit (the Declaration of Independence was signed here). The city also has a lot of family-friendly museums. Please Touch Museum will be a hit with younger kids, while school-going children will appreciate the Franklin Institute and the sprawling Museum of Art. Philadelphia is also known as a great city for eating out. I recommend Federal Donuts near Rittenhouse Square, Hawthorne’s near South Street and Reading Terminal. Great city break for families.
Read more about Philadelphia here.
The Canadian Rockies
Melissa – Parenthood and Passports. As a family who wants to see as much of the world as possible, it’s rare for us to visit the same destination twice. But there is one place we return time and time again: The Canadian Rockies. The Canadian Rockies are one of the most naturally beautiful wonders on earth. The mountains have a rugged, majestic appeal. Nestled between them are glacial lakes that shimmer a vibrant shade of blue.
Banff National Park, located in the heart of the Rockies is one of the most family-friendly places we’ve ever visited. The establishments are very accommodating to children, and the area is great to explore with kids. Banff is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll find everything from easy hikes to backcountry camping and winter mountain sports. We love exploring outdoors and hope to instill that same passion in our daughter. I can’t think of a better place to do so.
Read more about visiting Banff here.
Karilyn – No Back Home. One of our favorite family destinations is the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. For West Coast travelers it’s a short overnight flight with only a 3 hour time change. The largest and main island, Rarotonga, is actually quite small with a ring road only 29 miles long! You will be welcomed to the island by beautiful white beaches with excellent snorkeling in calm lagoons and lush green mountains as your backdrop. With plenty of adventure activities from hiking to buggy driving to kayaking to private islands, your family will have the time of their life in this island paradise!
Read more about the family-friendly Cook Islands here.
Glacier National Park, USA
Craig and Bryanna – Crazy Family Adventure. Glacier National Park is an amazing family travel destination. The views are out of this world and you won’t find better hiking.
We really enjoyed driving the scary yet breathtaking beautiful Going to the Sun Road. You can see Glaciers, Waterfalls, and Huge Mountains. And you may even see a mountain goat, big horn sheep, or a bear! We really enjoyed hiking to Hidden Lake, on the Trail of Cedars, and Apakuni Falls. Each hike has something to offer from being able to step into the frigid cold glacier water, to seeing amazing waterfalls, or a lake surrounded by mountains. Everywhere you turn in Glacier National Park you are met with a view more beautiful then the last!
Read more about our time in Glacier NP.
Big Island, Hawaii, USA
Bethany – Flashpacker Family. Our family’s new favourite destination is the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii is such a special place but the Big Island really takes the cake. You can do everything here! We swam with turtles, stayed in beautiful resorts, enjoyed a luau, went whale watching, hiked to waterfalls, visited an active volcano and even sailed in a submarine. The Big Island is great for families because it’s easy to rent a car, drive around and enjoy something new every day. There’s no excuse to be bored on the Big Island!
Read more about Big Island, Hawaii here.
Scarlet – Family Focus Blog. Our favorite family travel destination so far has been Florence, Italy. It is wonderful for families because there is so much to do and see both indoors and outdoors. It is a great city to walk around in and explore and make memories that will last a lifetime. The whole family will enjoy the delicious Italian food, culture, and attractions.
More tips for a family trip to Italy.
Hamilton, New Zealand
Nadine – Le Long Weekend. My favourite family travel destination is Hamilton in New Zealand. Hamilton is New Zealand’s best-kept secret when it comes to family holidays. Our favourite activities include the Waikato Museum with its dedicated kid’s discovery areas; the Zoo where cheeky Kaka land on your shoulder in the walk-through aviary; and the themed Hamilton gardens which will transport you into a new civilisation at every turn! But what really sets Hamilton apart are the many ‘destination playgrounds’. These amazing parks have the usual fun fixtures, plus water features, in-ground trampolines and multi-story playhouses. Great for keeping the little ones busy while you enjoy coffee from a nearby cafe!
Read more about Hamilton, New Zealand on Nadine’s travel blog.
Carrie Anne – Everything Mom. When thinking about traveling to Florida with the kids the first place to pop into your mind is probably Orlando. Perfect if you’re looking for thrill rides but the Florida Keys can offer families the chance to experience the more natural side of the state, specifically Marathon. Take in a little history exploring the oldest home in the Florida Keys outside of Key West as well as remnants of the Flagler Railroad that connected all of the Florida Keys.
Kids, especially those too young to enjoy more adventurous water pursuits, will enjoy a nature scavenger hunt, swimming with fish or meeting rescued birds at the Wild Bird Sanctuary. You can even enjoy lunch under a large tiki hut restaurant just off of the scenic Seven Mile Highway. Marathon also makes a great family destination due to how close it is to the other islands like Key West and Islamorada ensuring a Florida vacation adventure doesn’t have to mean roller coasters.
Here you can read more about Marathon, Florida.
Kirsten – Kids are a Trip. The Dordogne region in France is one of our favorite places to explore as a family. With beautiful castles, rivers for canoeing, and medieval towns for exploring, it is the perfect place to get away. We enjoyed the bucolic landscape and the friendliness of the locals and found there was plenty to do for families.
If you want to learn more, please read Kirstin’s post about her family visit to Dordogne.
Jurga – Full Suitcase. Hey, that’s me! I thought I’d join my favourite family travel bloggers in this Top-20 and share our favourite family destination as well.
Switzerland in general and Swiss mountains in particular has been one of our favourite travel destinations for years. We love the Swiss Alps! We try to go at least twice a year: skiing in winter and hiking in summer, and every time we don’t want to leave. Kids have asked several times if we could just move to Switzerland.
Charming mountain villages and small towns have such an amazing atmosphere that is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Add to that stunning landscapes, great food and a huge variety of things to see and do for families with children and you cannot go wrong planning a family trip to Switzerland.
Here you can read more about some of our favourite places in Switzerland.
What’s your favourite family destination? Let us know – leave a comment below!
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