We get ask this question frequently. What were your top family vacation ideas? or What were your best destinations for kids? or What are the most family friendly vacations we’ve done? Those a hard question to answer because what’s your favorite really depends on what you are looking for and every country, every city offers something special and unique. But we’ve attempted to compile our list of best family vacations from our travels depending on what you are looking for. And to make this impossible task easier, we settled on picking our current top 3 places from each category. We hope this can give you a head-start in planning your family travel!
Top 3 countries for travel with kids
Having traveled around the world with our son, we were quick to discover the countries and cities most welcoming to children. Spain is our absolute No. 1 country, with Peru and Singapore both a close second. There are literally parks on every corner, kids are welcome everywhere, and being together as a family is a big part of the lifestyle even later into the night. In Singapore, one steps off a plane and immediately sees how kid-friendly the country is: there are actually child-sized potties inside the airport.
Top 3 beach destinations for kids
Bali (Indonesia), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Eleuthera (Bahamas)
Beach destinations have to have calm waters and stunning beaches, of course. But for us, we also like beach destinations that offer culture and things to see when we aren’t lounging by the sea. Bali is a great example because it has so much to see and do in addition to its beaches. Visiting temples, enjoying great food and great snorkeling experiences—all with extremely budget-friendly rates— make Bali a top destination! In Dubai, you get to rest and relax plus enjoy the incredible energy of this thriving city. And, for the most pristine beaches we have ever seen, Eleuthera in the Outer Islands of the Bahamas tops our list.
Top 3 countries for food with kids
We like countries that can offer us incredible diversity in foods with multiple regions offering different styles of cooking. China surprised us the most because it was the best food experience we had on our big trip. Each region has a different type of food, from Turkish-like flavors in western China to curries in southwestern China to the soup dumplings, hotpot, and seafood dishes along the eastern coast—it’s all incredible. In Spain, we love that the people make eating an experience, plus the ability to sample so many foods during a meal by ordering tapas. And yes, we are slightly biased when it comes to Indian food. But again, the country has so many different areas with different styles of food, all of which are incredibly flavorful. Yum!
Top 3 cities for food with kids
Cape Town, New York, Shanghai
Our need for diversity in our dining continues into cities. There are just certain cities that experiment with foods from around the world. Filled with neighborhoods with people from around the world bringing their culture’s favorite dishes to a new place means we get to sample more cultures and foods in one place. In New York, Shanghai, and Cape Town, you can find Italian, Greek, Indian, Turkish, French, Chinese, Ethiopian and more! Each are truly cosmopolitan cities with so much to offer.
Top 3 cities to travel with your kids
When we think of an incredible city, we think of energy and spirit that comes experiencing strong growth, great diversity in people, world-class cuisine, awesome sightseeing, and great shopping. Shanghai, Vancouver, and Dubai have all of these things in spades! These are places that have so much to offer not only to tourists but also its residents. We enjoyed them so much we could see ourselves living in any one of these three cities.
Top 3 unexpectedly awesome cities to visit with kids
When you plan trips to certain cities, it is because you have heard great things and have high expectations. Other times, you stumble upon cities that you never realized would be so awesome. Cape Town has great diversity of people and cultures due to its geographical location, plus you get to enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of the entire Cape Peninsula. And both Zagreb and Tallinn are up-and-coming cities with young, growing democracies that offer lots of energy.
Top 3 historical destinations for kids
AJ is the one who especially wants to uncover history on our adventures, but we were both wowed by China, Peru, and Italy. Thousands of years of history tell the story of how these countries, and the world, have evolved over time as seen through museums, architecture, and artifacts. In China, think about the Shang Dynasty that dates back to 1600 B.C. There are written records from these ancient people who built what is now modern China. In Peru, places like Pachacamac outside of Lima teaches us about the rise and fall of the Inca civilization. And finally, Italy’s history is embedded in Western Civilization, with the Roman Empire affecting Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. To us, these are must-see countries.
Top 3 nature destinations for kids
Iceland, Patagonia, Alaska
Sometimes travel can show you places and people you would never have encountered at home. Sometimes travel can show you such beauty that you’ll never be able to clear your memory of it. We have traveled to places with incredible beauty, but Iceland was just breathtaking and #1 on our rankings of Top nature and beauty destinations. Filled with geysers, rocks shooting out of the the oceans, glaciers, and hot springs… it’s just so unique and offers a setting we may not see anywhere else in world. Patagonia and Alaska are also similar in providing some of the last remaining untouched lands in the world.
Top 3 wildlife destinations
Tanzania, Galapagos, Botswana
There is something humbling about seeing animals still occupying nature, living life without human interaction. Of course, children also adore animals. Instead of seeing animals held captive in the zoo, visiting them in their natural environments can provide wonderful memories. In the Galapagos, we found some of the best underwater life we’ve ever seen while snorkeling and diving. In the African nations of Botswana and Tanzania, taking a safari and seeing a lion just a few feet away or a herd of elephants making their way to a watering hole is a surreal experience.
Top 3 human-made wonders to amaze your kids
Hoover Dam (Nevada), Panama Canal (Panama City), Burj Khalifa (Dubai)
When you stand before the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal or the world’s tallest building of Burj Khalifa, you cannot help but say “Wow!” It’s hard to comprehend how man could create these wonders. The creativity and how the mind works, especially to create solutions to help people, is fascinating. The Hoover Dam powers multiple states with its water, while the Panama Canal shaved months off of travel by creating a cut-through between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is a symbol of how fast the city is growing; a symbol of man’s achievements. Again, “Wow!”
Top 3 natural wonders to visit with kids
Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Grand Canyon (Arizona), Natural Geysers (Iceland)
How can anyone visit one of the world’s natural wonders and not be in awe? It’s nearly impossible to look at the Grand Canyon and not be stunned by the amazing monument that has been carved out of water over millions of years. The size, scale, and scope of Victoria Falls in Africa are difficult to put into words. It is simply the most incredible waterfall we have ever seen. And in Iceland, geyser is actually an Icelandic word that means “to rush”. Watching geysers shoot off into the sky where the word was invented is quite a moment.
Top 3 Instagram worthy destinations
Greek Isles (Santorini, Mykonos), Amalfi coast (Italy), Iceland
These days, travel is also about capturing the perfect shot. For the most stunning backdrops to your family photo, the best pictures will be taken oni the Greek Isles of Santorini and Mykonos, where your colorful clothes can pop off white-washed homes and cliffside views of the Adriatic Sea; along further cliffs with dramatic views along Italy’s Amalfi Coast; and, again, against the stunning beauty that makes up the entire island of Iceland.
Top 3 family cruises
Mediterranean cruise (on Princess), Alaska Cruise (on Norwegian), Scandinavia Cruise (on Norwegian)
We love cruising and have taken several cruises in different areas of the world. And what we’ve realized is that we prefer cruises with a great mix of things to see over the party cruises that go to the Caribbean. We want to see amazing ports of call and use a cruise ship to get us to multiple destinations, while also providing some family fun onboard. The Mediterranean cruises offer amazing itineraries where in one sailing you can experience different countries and cultures. The Alaskan cruises will showcase wildlife, glaciers, and beautiful scenery. And on a cruise in Scandinavia, you get a combination of both.
What do you think about our family vacation ideas? What are other destinations for kids that we are missing? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.