The start of the year is the perfect time to begin planning your travel for the year. For the first time in years, we actually don’t have anything planned for spring break or the summer, due to some uncertainties in my kids’ schedules.
So, I’ll be planning along with everyone else! If you are looking for some family travel inspiration for the upcoming year, here are some options for the best places to visit with kids this year.
Note, we may have visited some of these locations as part of complimentary press trips or with media rates.. All opinions are my own.
The Best Places to Travel With Kids
The theme park capital of the world is arguably the most popular family travel destination in North America. Most people travel to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World, although there are so many other family-friendly activities in Orlando. Highlights include the Orlando theme parks, water parks, the Orlando Eye (now called ICON Orlando), pontoon boat rides, and various museums.
You’ll find hundreds of hotel options when you plan your Orlando family vacation, as well as vacation homes. Find a place that includes amenities you’ll use that is close to where you plan to visit. Plan your Orlando trip well in advance, because it’s a very popular vacation spot. If you are visiting a theme park, often reservations for restaurants book up early.
For a different Florida vacation experience, head over to the Gulf Coast of Florida to Sarasota. This city offers lots of great activities for families, including the Ringling Museum, mangrove kayak tours, an aquarium, a botanical garden, and so much more. Kids will love touring the Circus Museum within the Ringling complex – especially the miniature circus.
There are several Gulf coast barrier islands off the coast of Sarasota, each offering a number of family-friendly resorts. Definitely plan for some beach time in your vacation, because the Gulf coast beaches are absolutely beautiful.
Flying into Sarasota? You’ll have a few different choices for airports. The Sarasota airport is the most convenient, but you could also fly into the Tampa airport or the St.Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
I had the opportunity to visit Vail Colorado last summer. Although I’m not much of a skier, I always have loved traveling to ski resorts in the off season. Vail absolutely didn’t disappoint, and there are so many exciting activities for kids.
Visit the Vail Ski Resort for their Epic Discovery mountain activities, which include a mountain coaster, zip lining, adventure ropes courses, and so much more. I also enjoyed doing goat yoga for the first time – with the gorgeous backdrop of the mountains. See more about kid friendly activities in Vail here.
If you are looking to visit Europe with kids, London can be a great first destination. It’s an easy flight from the East Coast of the US, and there’s no language barrier to worry about.
Once you arrive, you’ll find countless things to do in London with kids, including the Tower of London, the London Eye, West End Broadway-style musicals, Buckingham Palace, and dozens of museums (many of which are free). You may also consider taking a day trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Nashville is one of the hottest cities to visit. While many think of it as a destination for girls’ trips and bachelorette parties, there are lots of things to do in Nashville with kids. My kids loved visiting the Country Museum Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Adventure Science Center. You can also drive a short distance from downtown to tour the Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson’s home.
While you’ll find a number of family friendly hotels in downtown Nashville, I prefer the Gaylord Opryland. It’s a short drive from downtown, but is one of the most unique hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Go during the holiday season to experience ICE! A huge ice sculpture exhibit.
The weather is almost mild and practically perfect in San Diego. There’s lots to do in the area, including beautiful beaches, Seaworld San Diego, LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo, and so much more.
When planning your San Diego trip, you’ll find lots of different neighborhoods/nearby towns to stay in, including Mission Beach, Calistoga, downtown San Diego, and the Gaslight District. I’d definitely recommend renting a car, because you’ll want to drive to the various areas during your trip.
Quebec City is one of my favorite North American cities to visit, and I feel that it sometimes gets overlooked. This quaint, charming Canadian city is filled with culture, and if you stay in the Old City, you’ll think that you just stepped into a European city.
While you are there, you’ll be able to visit several museums, tour the Plains of Abraham, and even see a waterfall that’s taller than Niagara Falls. I’d also recommend visiting the nearby Iles d’Orleans, a small island that is filled with delicious cafes, wineries, and farms. Check out this post to see the best places in Quebec City to stay.
Every family needs to visit our nation’s capital at least once. Plan your trip early, and contact your local US representative if you want access to tour the White House. Last minute requests generally aren’t accommodated.
Most of the museums in Washington DC are free, so while accommodations are generally expensive, your activities won’t be. Because they are free, it’s also a good way to check out a few different places that aren’t sure about. If your kids don’t love them, you haven’t spent any money.
You may also consider traveling over to Virginia to tour Mount Vernon. It was one of my kids’ favorite places during our Washington DC family vacation.
Turks & Caicos
If you are looking for the ultimate family beach vacation, Turks and Caicos is one of the best places to visit. Kids and adults will love the turquoise waters and quiet pace of the islands. While water sports are definitely one of the big draws to the destination, it’s also a great idea to find a family hotel that includes amenities that appeal to kids.
We love Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos, which features kids’ activities, water sports, and a water park that includes a number of fun water slides. It’s an all inclusive resort, with loads of bars and restaurants to choose from.
I’ve always loved my trips to North Carolina, and my son and I especially enjoyed our trip to Raleigh. This easy-to-access city offers several free museums, as well as some great outdoor activities.
During our trip, we loved zip lining at Go Ape, and visiting the nearby Jordan Lake. The cuisine in Raleigh is also delicious, with loads of great options. I’d definitely recommend stopping by the Videri Chocolate Factory, which kids will definitely enjoy.
The highlight of Atlantis is the world-famous Aquaventure Water Park, where you can ride an epic lazy river and sail down an iconic water slide. There’s also an on-property aquarium, several beaches, loads of restaurants, family activities, a casino, and so much more.
If you do venture off property (and you definitely don’t have to), there are several popular museums in Nassau. My son loved the pirate museum.
Surprisingly, my family had never visited Bermuda before this past year. It’s just a short two hour flight from Boston, and offers lots of family-friendly activities. My family visited over Thanksgiving this past year, and loved our stay.
Activities include touring gorgeous underwater caves, beautiful pink sand beaches, an aquarium, international shopping (including British favorites like Marks and Spencer), golf, and much more.
During our visit, we stayed at the Fairmont Southampton, one of the two Fairmont properties on the island. We loved the resort, which offers lots of great amenities like a private beach, tennis, a golf course, foot golf, a spa, a family game room, and a kids’ club.
Every family needs to visit New York City at least once. Since it’s not too far from our home west of Boston, we are lucky to be able to visit every few years. I’d recommend NYC for a family vacation once your kids are able to enjoy the attractions. While it’s baby friendly, it’s better for older kids.
You won’t be able to scratch the surface of family activities in NYC on just one visit. It’s best to focus on a few key things that your family will enjoy on your family trip. My kids love going to Broadway shows (visit the TKTS booth for discounted tickets), Times Square, and the Central Park Zoo.
They’ve also enjoyed visits to the One World Observatory, the Empire State Building, and the High Line. There are also lots of fun kid-friendly NYC restaurants, like Alice’s Tea Cup, Eataly NYC, and Ellen’s Stardust Diner.
San Antonio, TX
The first time I visited San Antonio was for a work event. As soon as I saw the River Walk, I knew that I had to return with my kids. This Texan city is known for its rich history, delicious cuisine, and fun family activities.
During your trip, I’d recommend staying on the River Walk. Take a guided tour down the river, and you’ll learn the history of the city. You’ll also be able to walk right over to the Alamo. Definitely spring for the audio tour if you want to learn a little more about the area.
Fort Myers, FL
Another fabulous vacation destination in Florida is Fort Myers. Located on the Gulf Coast, this city is the gateway to other family friendly destinations.
If you are a baseball fan, consider visiting during spring training. The Red Sox play right at Jetblue Park at Fenway South in the area. Other teams play nearby.
From Fort Myers, you can also easily travel to Naples, Marco Island, Captiva Island, and Sanibel Island.
I absolutely love Phoenix, Arizona. Living in New England, I always enjoy seeing the desert landscape. In Phoenix, you can visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, which features many of plants of the area.
When visiting Phoenix, you’ll have the option to stay in several different suburbs, including Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa. I’d recommend looking at specific resorts, and choosing based upon amenities. There are so many luxurious and fun resorts in town, many offering huge pools and other family-friendly amenities.
What are your favorite places to visit with kids?