You’ve earned that family vacation! Much more to the point, you need that family vacation. What better way to regroup, reforge family bonds, and create precious shared memories? So maximize it by visiting one of these best family vacation spots.
It would help if you made certain, though, that the longed-for vacation delivers for every family member. You want the genuine quality time that’s more than just a weary cliché. It’s vital, then, to pick a spot that’s the right fit.
To help you make that all-important choice, we’ve put together a list of our favorite places for some of the best family vacations. So whether you’re after an adrenaline rush, or need a break from the busy world, check out these family vacation ideas.
Show Table of Contents
- Best Family Vacations in the World
- 1. Dune du Pilat, France
- 2. Honolulu, Oahu
- 3. San Francisco, California
- 4. Lake Champlain Islands, Vermont
- 5. Gurnee, Illinois
- 6. Panama
- 7. Quebec, Canada
- 8. Central North Island, New Zealand
- 9. Aruba
- 10. Orlando, Florida
- 11. Los Angeles, California
- 12. Chicago, Illinois
- 13. Sydney, Australia
- 14. London, England
- 15. Cape Town, South Africa
- 16. San Diego, California
- 17. Mexico City, Mexico
- 18. Banff, Canada
- 19. Toronto, Canada
- 20. Martina Franca, Italy
- 21. Melbourne, Australia
- 22. Shanghai, China
- 23. Santorini Island, Greece
- 24. Argentina
- 25. Montreal, Canada
- 26. Phuket, Thailand
- 27. Bangkok, Thailand
- 28. Pai, Thailand
- 29. Copenhagen, Denmark
- 30. Lapland, Sweden & Finland
- What are some alternative ways to enjoy a family vacation?
- Are there any family vacation destinations that don’t require passports?
- What’s the best way to get cheap flights for family trips?
|Best Family Vacation in the US||Hawaii|
|Best Family Vacation in Europe||London|
|Best Family Vacation in Asia||Bangkok|
|Best Family Vacation in Africa||Cape Town|
Best Family Vacations in the World
1. Dune du Pilat, France
At more than 360 feet above sea level, Dune du Pilat is Europe’s tallest sand dune. Located on France‘s Atlantic coast, the majestic Dune attracts about 2 million visitors annually. That’s no surprise, though.
After all, beach vacations are some of the best spots to bond with nature. And this impressive natural wonder is perfect for kindling children’s awareness of the world around them — kids will enjoy the guided story-time walks on the Dune. Dune du Pilat is also famous for moving up to 15 feet eastward every year due to prevailing winds and tides.
The Dune has no shade, so come prepared with plenty of sunscreen and water. Even better, arrive for sunrise or sunset, when the sun casts a magical light over the pristine sand. There’s quite a climb to the top, but it’s worth it for the fabulous views and family photo opportunities.
2. Honolulu, Oahu
Another beautiful beach destination is the world-famous Waikiki Beach, with its pristine sands and turquoise seas. There’s plenty for the family to do here, from renting out bodyboards or paddle boards to taking a family surfing lesson. Waikiki Beach can sometimes get crowded, but you should be able to find a quiet spot. And smaller family members will love the wave-free Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon.
In fact, because of the importance of family – Ohana, in Hawaiian culture – you’re sure to find plenty of kid-friendly activities. Lots of resorts will have a kids club, or offer lei-making, snorkeling, or scuba lessons. And the beauty of the city makes it a gorgeous spot for family vacations. Check out the view from its historic Aloha Tower, a short walk from the Children’s Discovery Centre.
A trip to nearby Pearl Harbor will help you get close to the poignant events of December 7, 1941. Here you’ll find the USS Arizona Memorial, submarine and aviation museums, and the Battleship Missouri. Kids, especially, will enjoy the Pearl Harbour Virtual Reality Center.
There’s also the excitement of a day trip to the world’s largest dormant volcano, in the Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui. You could even camp overnight, to maximize the fantastic stargazing opportunities in this unique national park.
See Related: Where To Stay In Hawaii
3. San Francisco, California
Known for its cable cars, hilly streets, and row homes featured in the hit series Full House, San Francisco is unlike anywhere else in Northern California. The city is also packed with a wonderful range of activities, making it one of the best family vacation destinations.
Does your family love Disney? Check out the Walt Disney Family Museum where you can explore the life of Walt Disney with hands-on exhibits and original artwork. Another great museum for kids is the Exploratorium, full of interactive games and exhibits. Or you could rent bikes and cruise around Golden Gate Park, San Francisco’s 1000-acre oasis.
Fancy a ride on a ferry or a boat tour? Visit San Francisco’s island prison, Alcatraz, once home to notorious mobster Al Capone. There’ll be plenty of great views of San Francisco Bay along the way. Then there’s the fleet of historic vessels at San Francisco Maritime National Park, a must-see for boating enthusiasts.
Union Square, downtown San Francisco, and Ghirardelli Square – famous for its chocolate treats – are other great attractions. There’s also Presidio of San Francisco, a good place for outdoor recreation, with woods, a golf course, and hiking trails.
See Related: Best Road Trips in California
4. Lake Champlain Islands, Vermont
From the ski slopes of Mount Snow to the natural beauty of Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont provides wonderful opportunities for outdoor fun. Its most-visited place, though, is Lake Champlain – a great destination for family vacations.
A haven for wildlife, Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake, and perfect for bird-watching. You can also go canoeing and kayaking, not to mention snowshoeing in winter. Kids also enjoy looking out for Champ, the underwater monster reputed to live here.
Lake Champlain contains roughly 80 islands, as well as lighthouses and parks, and there are tons of trails and picnic spots to explore. There are less energetic pursuits, too. Check out the museums in Plattsburgh on the New York side of the lake, and the Echo center at Burlington on the Vermont shore.
5. Gurnee, Illinois
The best family trip locations provide something for everyone. Gurnee has to be one of those destinations and is one of the best family vacation spots in Illinois.
Gurnee is a vibrant village, known for its outstanding tourist attractions. These include a theme park with exhilarating roller coasters, an indoor water park, beer tasting, and endless shopping.
For example, you can scream at the top of your lungs at Six Flags Great America amusement park, or float down the lazy river at Great Wolf Lodge. Get your bounce on at Launch Trampoline Park for a workout and a way to burn some energy.
For the older members of the family, there’s the Midwestern-themed architecture of Gurnee Mills shopping mall to enjoy. And you may want to time your visit to catch the annual September “Legions of Beer” festival.
See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World
Linking Central and South America, Panama is a beautiful country with plenty to offer active families. There are tons of exhilarating things to do for older kids as well as adults, such as deep-sea fishing, kayaking, and diving. Or you could visit the top-rated beaches Red Frog Beach and Starfish Beach.
You’ll also find a wide assortment of attractions in Panama City. Sample the historical delights of the Casco Antiguo, with its seafood restaurants, high-end shopping, and great museums. These include the stunningly designed Biomuseo and the little Museo Panama Viejo with its cathedral ruins.
A fifteen-minute drive away from Panama City is the must-see Panama Canal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The country also boasts waterfalls, abandoned castles, stunning rivers, and hiking trails.
And don’t miss World Heritage Site Coiba Marine Park, where you can see rainforests with some of the world’s greatest biological diversity. You can even go whale-watching!
7. Quebec, Canada
If you prefer a trip based in a city location, Québec City in Canada is one of the best family vacation spots. The history, culture, vibe, and attractions make it a standout family vacation destination. Not only that, but thanks to its continental climate, it offers a wide range of activities throughout the year.
Summer activities include the panorama hiking circuit around Montmorency Falls Park, a few miles from the city center. Here you’ll take a thrilling walk over a waterfall 90+ feet higher than Niagara.
For the more adventurous there are also zip lines across stunning scenery. You could even try the via ferrata routes (a cross between hiking and climbing) taking you right up to the waterfall.
In winter check out the many tobogganing areas or snow slides. For example, at the Dufferin Terrace in Old Québec, you can reach speeds of up to 40mph sliding down one of its toboggan lanes.
All year round, in fact, Québec City has plenty to offer. There’s the Observatoire de la Capitale – get fantastic views of the city from its observation deck – Village Vacances Valcartier, the 19th-century Château Frontenac, and Domaine de Maizerets. And children will love the small but packed Aquarium du Québec, with both indoor and outdoor exhibits.
See Related: Best Family Vacations on a Budget
8. Central North Island, New Zealand
Have you ever dreamed of visiting New Zealand? Family vacations don’t get much more exciting than this. For first-time visitors it’s good to start with the Central North Island area, sometimes considered the heart and soul of New Zealand. Here you’ll find stunning volcanic landscapes and forests, as well as New Zealand’s largest lake, Taupo.
Taupo is famous for its awe-inspiring Maori rock carvings, breathtaking scenery, and geothermal springs. It’s also a great place for kid-friendly outdoor fun, with a mini golf course, boat cruises, farm parks, and playgrounds.
The Central North Island boasts many other world-famous attractions. There’s the Hot Water Beach at Coromandel, where thermal water bubbles under the sand, and the impressive Cathedral Cove rock formation. A little further south is the Rotorua area, also jam-packed with fun activities.
For nature lovers, there’s Paradise Valley Springs wildlife park or the National Bird of Prey Centre. You could also try bungee jumping at Velocity Valley, or visit the scenic Whakarewarewa Forest where you can hike, cycle, and ride horses.
But what would a trip to New Zealand be without a visit to Hobbiton? Take a guided tour of the Matamata film set featured in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and you’ll feel like you’re wandering over the gently rolling pastures of the Shire.
A trip to the sunny Caribbean paradise of Aruba, known for its pristine beaches and surfing, can relax the soul. So its sun-filled surroundings, plus the luxury of waking up beside your very own private beach, make this island a wonderful vacation spot for anyone.
Aruba makes one of the best family vacation spots, too, because of its reputation as one of the safest places in the Caribbean. Added to this, there’s reliably calm weather, as the island is outside the hurricane belt. There’s also lots to do for everyone in the family.
Young children will like Baby Beach, with its soft white sand and calm waves. Older kids will enjoy the livelier Palm Beach, where there are snorkeling activities, kayaking, surfing, and windsurfing.
There are also petting zoos where you can meet donkeys and ostriches, as well as a butterfly farm. And history buffs will enjoy visiting the lighthouse and the gold mill ruins – perhaps in one of the All Terrain Vehicle tours available.
See Related: Where To Stay in Aruba
10. Orlando, Florida
Orlando, packed with theme parks, is sometimes described as the entertainment capital of the world. And just as no list of best family vacations is complete without mention of a Disney destination, no family vacation to Orlando is complete without a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort.
In Orlando, home of ‘The Most Magical Place on Earth’, you’ll find the superlative Disney experience. This is Walt Disney World – perhaps the ultimate family vacation destination.
There are 47 square miles of Disney theme parks to enjoy, including the Magic Kingdom Park, Disney Studios, Epcot, and 2 water parks. And if you stay at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando you’ll get early theme park entry and extended evening hours.
But there’s more to Orlando for great family vacations than the classic Walt Disney World Resort experiences. For example – have you ever wanted to stay in your own spaceship? Enjoy a 2-night, immersive space adventure at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. In this Star Wars-themed hotel, it’s like you’re in one of the movies.
Try Universal Orlando Resort, and enjoy movie-themed amusement park rides, tours, and adventures. Get arty with the creative hands-on activities at the Crayola Experience Orlando.
Or cool off at Aquatica water park, ranked as one of the best water parks in the world, with its 42 slides and vast sandy beaches. And fans of the Harry Potter books and film series must visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, filled with all things magical.
11. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles has to be one of the best family vacation spots. Here you’ll find tons of exciting things to explore: vibrant neighborhoods, luxury restaurants, beaches, museums, and amusement parks.
Consider visiting Disneyland, Joshua Tree National Park, Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, or Kidscape Children’s Museum. Or why not take the Catalina Express ferry for a day trip to the lovely island of Catalina? There are plenty of things to see and do within walking distance of the harbor. There are even zip line and rock climbing activities for the more adventurous.
But no trip to Los Angeles would be complete without strolling on Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, and Rodeo Drive. If you’re a movie fan, you can hike and see the world-famous landmark on a Hollywood Sign tour.
Or take the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and then search for your favorite stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – although do be aware that it can get very busy. You might want to sign up for one of the many Los Angeles highlights tours available.
See Related: The Ultimate Weekend in Los Angeles Itinerary
12. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is another great choice for a city-based family vacation. Within the last year, Chicago hosted a whopping total of 30.7 million domestic and international visitors.
And with such a diverse range of things to get into, it’s no surprise. There are tons of parks, tours, vibrant shopping districts, and world-class museums to explore.
To see the city from a different angle, try a riverboat excursion. There’s also a unique experience to be had in The Magnificent Mile, one of the world’s top dining and retail destinations. And sports fans will love a visit to Wrigley Field – home of the Chicago Cubs – where you can take a selfie in front of the famous ivy-covered wall.
Some of the best sights in Chicago are Adler Planetarium, Lincoln Park, and the Chicago Children’s Theatre. Well worth a visit is the thrilling Skydeck at Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the Western hemisphere.
And kids will love Chicago’s hands-on museums, such as the Color Factory, the Harry Potter: Magic at Play museum, and Sloomoo, dedicated to the world of slime. If you’re traveling with older kids, why not book a Chicago Mob and Crime Bus Tour?
See Related: Best Tropical Vacation Spots
13. Sydney, Australia
Sydney is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Australia, and one of its most popular vacation destinations. With its plethora of family-friendly beaches and attractions, it’s also a contender for the best family vacation destination.
Some of Sydney’s most popular attractions include the Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Queen Victoria Building, and the Sydney Tower Eye. For animal lovers, there’s Taronga Zoo and Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Sydney is also a very cycle-friendly city. A great way to get close to some of the sights, including crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is by renting bikes. For those looking for different outdoor activities, check out the Sydney Harbour National Park, Malabar Headland National Park, and Lane Cove National Park.
And we can’t forget the fabulous Sydney beaches. For example, world-famous Bondi Beach’s big, glassy swells are great for confident teen swimmers and learner surfers.
Smaller beach babies might prefer the North Bondi area, while Clontarf Reserve beach is great for sandcastle-building. But with over 100 beautiful beaches to choose from, there’ll be a Sydney beach to suit you.
See Related: Best Beaches on the East Coast of Australia
14. London, England
London is a fabulous choice for a family vacation. It offers hundreds of iconic spots to visit and is brimming with family-friendly attractions and activities. With its seemingly endless supply of museums, parks, and historic sites, you won’t run out of things to do in the United Kingdom’s capital city.
Fun places to go are the Tower of London, Madame Tussauds waxworks museum, London Zoo, and of course the London Eye, which gives stunning views of the city. All these attractions are incredibly popular, so you must book in advance. And don’t forget to have a look at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Tower Bridge on your travels around London.
Another must-see place is the museum quarter in South Kensington. The world-famous museums here are mostly free to visit and all contain tons of engaging interactive exhibits.
Just down the road is the celebrated Harrods department store. And for more great London shopping, there’s Oxford Street, Covent Garden, and Camden Market.
You can let off steam in the lovely open spaces at Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. And for thrill-seekers, there are two theme parks only an hour’s drive from London – Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Lakes Aqua Park.
15. Cape Town, South Africa
With its majestic mountain backdrop, Cape Town is a stunningly beautiful city on South Africa’s southwest coast. Cape Town offers plenty to do, including adventure activities, museums, parks, and pocket-friendly luxury restaurants. All this makes it one of Africa’s top family holiday destinations.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation, Cape Town is not short of beautiful beaches. For example, there’s Bakoven Beach, a secluded spot where you can avoid crowds.
If you want a more buzzy atmosphere, try Clifton 4th Beach, which is great for beach games and barbecues and is close to the city center. For bigger waves, there’s Clifton 1st beach.
Try riding the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, high above the city – the views are fantastic. At the top of Table Mountain, you can have a snack or take one of the hiking trails available.
In this World Heritage Site, you’ll see wonderful vegetation, not to mention the dassies (a type of cute mammal). Or get the very best views paragliding.
Another key trip for history buffs is the ferry ride to Robben Island, to see where Nelson Mandela was held. You can only access the island through an organized tour, where your guide will be a former detainee.
Even if you’ve booked in advance, be aware that you may still have to queue. And have travel sickness medication to hand – the water can sometimes be quite choppy.
For the best weather, fewer crowds, and the lowest prices, the right time for a trip to Cape Town is March to May and September to November. And when planning, remember that Cape Town is in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that spring starts in September, summer in December, fall in March, and winter in June.
See Related: Best Sabbatical Destinations
16. San Diego, California
San Diego is sometimes known as “Navy Town, USA,” and this shows in the local attractions. USS Midway Museum is a fascinating spot, and not only for history buffs.
You get to see all over this floating city, and kids and adults alike love the flight simulators. There’s also the Maritime Museum, plus the chance to experience maritime San Diego in an amphibious vehicle tour.
If you enjoy interacting with wildlife you’ll find plenty here. There’s the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, open all year round.
And at La Jolla Cove you can see seals, cormorants, and pelicans, and even swim with sea lions and sea cucumbers. For less experienced swimmers, it’s best to take one of the snorkeling tours available.
17. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is becoming increasingly popular with travelers from across the globe. Visitors love its endless sunshine, stunning scenery, breathtaking architecture, and extraordinary Aztec ruins. For families looking to explore Mexico’s rich cultural heritage, Mexico City is a perfect spot.
A top attraction is the National Museum of Anthropology, a treasure house of Mayan and Aztec objects. There’s also the Museo del Templo Mayor and Aztec ruins, next to the Cathedral in the Centro Histórico. And don’t miss the quirky Blue House, Frida Kahlo’s former home and now a museum of her life and work.
The Bosque de Chapultepec, a large park with tons of attractions for the whole family, is also worth a visit. Here you’ll find a zoo, museums, a hilltop castle, orchid hothouses, and a beautiful lake.
And there’s plenty of family fun to be had at another popular attraction – masked Lucha Libre wrestling at the Arena Coliseo. Taking one of the Lucha Libre tours available will get you a ringside seat and your very own mask.
See Related: Travel Tips for Visiting Mexico on a Budget
18. Banff, Canada
Banff is a small yet fully-loaded mountain town, located within Banff National Park in Canada. It’s right on the edge of pristine wilderness and has endless breathtaking views. With its countless outdoor activities, Banff is a great choice for active family vacations.
There are boat tours of nearby Lake Minnewanka, or you can do it yourself by renting a canoe. Nature lovers can boost their chances of seeing the local wildlife – elk, bears, foxes – by taking a guided tour of key wildlife spots.
And check out Banff’s famous thermal spring at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Not too far away is the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Constructed in 1888 to take advantage of the hot springs, this is a great place to stay for family vacations.
See Related: Most Romantic Cities in the World
19. Toronto, Canada
Toronto, Canada’s largest city and the capital of Ontario, is the country’s most visited destination. It’s a buzzy and exciting place with a fantastic range of attractions, making it a great family vacation destination. I’d recommend at least a 3-day trip to ensure you have enough time to check out the major highlights.
A must-see Toronto attraction is the CN Tower, where a glass-fronted elevator shoots you to the summit in less than a minute. In the heart of the city, you’ll find the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the mind-blowing Museum of Illusions, great for selfies. And sports fans will love the hockey memorabilia and interactive games at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
One great way to get a sense of this vibrant city is to take a helicopter tour. Another good way to see Toronto is on a harborfront boat cruise. Or get a taste of the old days by setting sail in the tall ship boat cruise.
20. Martina Franca, Italy
Martina Franca – or simply Martina – is a small city, blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate, in the heart of Italy’s Puglia region. It’s famous for sparkling wine, delicious cuisine, and an annual opera festival. This stunning little historic town is also a great place to base yourself if you and your family want to discover more of this glorious location.
One way to do this is with an electric bike tour, where you get that immersive closeness to your surroundings without the effort. Many e-bike tours can provide infant seats, and a local guide will know all the traffic-free routes.
In an area famed for mouthwatering food, what could be better than a cookery class using top-quality local ingredients? For example, try this cheesemaking class. There are also tons of tasting tours available in the Martina area, whether you’re into cheese, wine, or bocconcini, a luxurious pastry filled with cream and jam.
See Related: Things to Do in Italy & Best Places to Visit
21. Melbourne, Australia
The capital of the Australian state of Victoria, Melbourne is one of the country’s most-visited and magnificent cities. This coastal city offers a good climate, and plenty of kid-friendly places well worth exploring.
One of the must-visit spots in Melbourne is the Eureka Skydeck. If you have a head for heights you can brave The Edge – a glass cube projecting out from the 88th story.
A little over a mile eastward are the Royal Botanic Gardens, with a special children’s garden. And across the Yarra River is the Melbourne Aquarium, where you can have a glass-bottom boat ride and see a giant croc.
A great way to enjoy the city is to take the free City Circle Tram. As you travel you’ll learn about some of the major landmarks en route, including Parliament House, Federation Square, and the Princess Theatre. Trams run every 25-30 minutes, and to catch one, simply wait at any tram stop along the City Circle Tram route.
22. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is China’s wealthiest and most populous city. And while it may not be the first destination that comes to mind for a family vacation, this extraordinary city is a surprisingly good option.
Shanghai is known for both historical landmarks and contemporary, ever-expanding skylines. One modern example is the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower.
It’s beautiful to look at – especially when illuminated at night – and well worth a visit for its sensational views and transparent floor. Or visit the Jin Mao Tower, where you can take a Sky Walk harnessed to the outside of the tower.
A more historical spot is the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao, with its cute shops and wonderful street food. Or try Nanshi Old Town, to get a feeling of old Shanghai. If you need more of an adrenaline rush, try the Jinjiang amusement park, or maybe Shanghai Disneyland – within walking distance of the Toy Story Hotel.
See Related: Most Beautiful Places in the World
23. Santorini Island, Greece
The Greek island of Santorini, known for its cube-shaped white buildings lining the cliffs, is one of the world’s loveliest honeymoon destinations. Along with its jaw-dropping ocean views and sunsets, it also offers plenty of activities for family vacations.
You can spend time on one of the famous black sand beaches, such as Perissa or Kamari, but do remember to bring beach shoes. If you want to sunbathe, the plentiful hotels and restaurants let you use sunbeds for free, as long as you buy something.
Why not try one of the many wineries – tours usually come with a tasting session – or see the ancient ruins at Akrotiri Santorini? And for a great view of the sea and the volcano, try the Santorini cable car, which runs from the town to the Old Harbour. To get close enough to the volcano to smell the sulfur, you can take one of the many volcano tours and day trips available. Top tip: Wear comfortable shoes.
Argentina is one of the most stunning South American countries, with its amazing glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes. Its unique culture and wonderful local cuisines also help to make it one of the best spots for family vacations.
The Iguazu National Park Waterfalls Area is a great place to start. Its walkways give you grandstand views of over 100 waterfalls, the most impressive being The Devil’s Throat.
Get closer on an Iguazu Falls boat trip – if you don’t mind getting wet. Visit the Los Glaciares National Park to see the Perito Moreno Glacier, or take a tour to the penguin colony at Punta Tombo.
Argentina’s capital city, Bueno Aires, is crammed with stunning architecture, parks, and museums. Hire a bike to take in the Obelisco, the beautiful Centro Cultural Kirchner, the Historical Wax Museum, and the lovely Lezama Park. And why not have a coffee at the Sunday market in the historic Plaza Dorrego?
See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US
25. Montreal, Canada
When you’re searching for the best family vacation spots in Canada, Montreal has to make it onto your list. Montreal has a host of wonderful attractions, including Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal), Notre-Dame Basilica, the Montreal Botanical Garden, and Saint Joseph’s Oratory.
Set on an island in the Saint Lawrence River, Montreal is named after Mount Royal, a mountain at the heart of the city. You can climb this hill – there are several stairways – to get stunning city views, and you can toboggan and cross-country ski there in winter.
Kids will love the city’s awesome Biosphere dome and the Insectarium. Another favorite is Montreal Science Centre, crammed with interactive exhibits. And even non-Barbie fans have been known to enjoy Montreal’s amazing Barbie Expo, the world’s largest free exhibition of Barbie dolls!
26. Phuket, Thailand
If you’re craving a warm getaway, consider Thailand, whose tropical climate is toasty and humid all year round. Phuket is one of Thailand’s best family vacation spots, thanks to its crystal clear seas and soft white sand.
A popular beach is Nai Harn, which also boasts a kid-friendly lagoon area. You’ll feel reassured generally by the presence of lifeguards and the red flag system. Check out the beautiful Wat Naiharn temple close by; other gorgeous Phuket temples include Wat Phra Thong, and pagoda-style Wat Mongkol Nimit.
Animal lovers will want to see the Soi Dog Foundation – S.E. Asia’s biggest dog and cat rescue center – and Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. More energetic activities include white water rafting, ziplining, and All Terrain Vehicle tours.
Thailand is home to several budget airlines and well-connected trains, so Phuket has easy access to other Thai cities, such as Bangkok and Pai. The weather is generally wetter around September-October, but there are regional differences, so check these out before you go.
27. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, is another great place for thrilling family vacations. With its affordable hotels, vibrant markets, dazzling temples, and amazing street food, it’s no surprise that Bangkok is so popular.
One must-see temple is Wat Phra Chetuphon, with its sensational golden reclining Buddha, over 150 ft long. Other stunning historical sites include the Grand Palace, the Golden Mount, the Marble Temple, and the Erawan Shrine.
More modern attractions include Bangkok Ocean World, and the Snake Farm, where you can handle venomous snakes – should you want to. And children will love the Kidzania amusement park, where they can make believe they work in the big city.
28. Pai, Thailand
Pai is a small town in northern Thailand that shows there’s more to the country than palm-fringed beach paradises. Famous for its lush landscape and chilled-out vibe, Pai provides easy access to waterfalls, elephant camps, and natural hot springs. This makes it a great place for action-filled family vacations.
If you’re OK with heights there’s a mesmerizing hike along the Pai Canyon, where you can enjoy stunning sunsets. If heights aren’t your thing, there’s an easy way up, too, but make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Mor Paeng Waterfall also gives you the chance for a gentle climb, and there are places here to swim in the river. If you want more of a thrill, try a white-water rafting experience.
At Pai Hot Springs, you can relax in one of the hot pools whose temperatures range from lukewarm to nearly boiling. Or if you want extra company, visit Thom’s Pai Elephant Camp, where you can swim with the elephants. For a more challenging break, try Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat, where there are courses in both martial arts and meditation.
29. Copenhagen, Denmark
Curious about Denmark? Well, you should be, because it offers endless options for family adventures. Its tranquil atmosphere and fairytale castles make it a wonderful place to explore with the entire family.
The great thing about the country’s capital, Copenhagen, is that many of its top sights and attractions are all near to one another. For example, 17th-century Rosenborg Castle, the Botanical Gardens, and the Round Tower – the best spot for views of the city – are all within walking distance of each other. And don’t forget to look out for the iconic Little Mermaid statue at the quayside.
Other Danish must-see spots include the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, where you can take a ride in a Viking longboat. And of course, we can’t discuss Denmark without mentioning LEGO. There’s a fantastic shop showcasing LEGO products in Copenhagen, but if you want the full experience, head to Billund for the LEGOLAND Resort and the LEGO House.
See Related: The Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary
30. Lapland, Sweden & Finland
Lapland is a region encompassing the northernmost parts of Sweden and Finland. It’s best known for its snowy climate, its incredible northern light phenomena – and its association with Santa. It’s also a destination with exciting excursions and adventures that make for a great family vacation.
The best time to visit Lapland to witness the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights is the winter season, from December to March. Look out for snowmobile tours, or you can travel by husky sled. A view of the Northern Lights can’t be guaranteed, but the thrill of the ride is unforgettable.
Ounasvaara, close to the center of Rovaniemi city, is a great mountain resort. In summer you can hire mountain bikes and e-bikes, and kids can have a go on the dirt bike track.
There’s even summer bobsleighing. And in winter there’s skiing, snowboarding, and, of course, a visit to the nearby Santa Claus Village.
What are some alternative ways to enjoy a family vacation?
A family-friendly cruise is a unique family vacation idea, as there’ll be a range of activities and amenities, such as indoor and outdoor pools, on offer.
Some of the best family vacations include a cultural getaway. Immerse yourself in a new culture by visiting a city with a rich history and vibrant arts scenes such as Paris, Rome, or Barcelona.
Finally, another classic cheap family vacation idea is going on a road trip. Hit the open road by choosing a route that takes you through beautiful landscapes and interesting destinations.
Are there any family vacation destinations that don’t require passports?
We love to travel, but arranging paperwork for kids can be a nightmare. That’s why we’re big on bucket-list-worthy destinations where US Citizens don’t require passports – like the US Virgin Islands, Catalina Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Hawaii.
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Sarah Oliver, a London-based travel writer, has garnered widespread acclaim for her evocative storytelling, keen eye for detail, and exceptional knowledge of the diverse cultures and landscapes she explores. Drawing from her extensive travels through countries such as France, Spain, Greece, Canada, and the United States, she has carved out a niche as a highly insightful and engaging travelogue writer.
With a profound appreciation for both history and the natural world, Oliver’s writings capture the essence of what makes travel so enriching – the joy of discovering new places, the thrill of unearthing little-known facts, and the fulfilling connections forged with local inhabitants. For Oliver, travelling is about more than ticking off a checklist of attractions; her innate curiosity and love for the unknown prompt her to venture off the beaten track and create unforgettable experiences.