It’s not uncommon for families to pay thousands of dollars for a family vacation only to discover that the kids prefer their phones to the culture and history of a place. Trippy user, Alica Blamey knew this when she asked:
Can’t miss tourist destinations in Australia?
Planning for a family trip!! I need suggestions if anyone has some different options which I have not explored yet. But one condition arises that I am traveling with kids.
To avoid boredom, families usually will resort to taking multiple trips to kid-friendly Disney World or Six Flags and ignore the more exotic and far-off destinations. I did that for several years until I discovered these eight destinations that will captivate both kids and parents:
1. Queenstown (New Zealand)
Known as the Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown boasts of snow-capped mountains, scenic trails and mighty rivers. From blood pumping thrills to slow-moving steamboat, there’s something for everyone in the family.
Trippy user Emily Meets World wrote:
You should definitely hike or take a gondola up the skyline-gondola hill which is very easy to walk to from the center. It’s a gorgeous view of the town and surrounding mountains and river, where you can grab lunch, do the famous luge ride and make your way back down on the zip line ecotours. There is also some great jet boat rides on the Shotover river which is based at the marina right in the center. Obviously tons more as well but I can definitely recommend these for family fun and easy access 🙂
My kids and nieces loved taking the gondola to Skyline Queenstown for the Luge cart ride. Queenstown is also ideal for hiking and cycling, and parents can bring kids on a scenic road trip to Gibbson wineries, only a 40-minute drive from Queenstown.
2. Washington D.C.
DC’s kid-friendly museums, gardens, hands-on attractions, pedestrian and stroller-friendly National Mall and monuments are ideal for families traveling with kids.
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Geographic Museum
- International Spy Museum
- U.S. Botanic Garden
- National Museum of American History
- The Newseum
- National Air and Space Museum
- National Museum of the American Indian
- National Postal Museum
- The White House Visitor Center
Most of these museums and attractions are free. Read 100 Free & Almost Free Things to Do: Family Friendly.
Family with older kids may enjoy Monuments Bike Tour or Monuments at Night Bike Tour with Bike and Roll.
3. Patagonia, Chile
Chile’s Patagonia situated on the southern tip of the country is amazingly beautiful and kid-friendly. It covers a large area of Southern Chile. You can either choose the Lake District (northern part of Patagonia) or the southern tip that covers Torres del Paine National Park, Punta Arenas, and Magdalena Island.
A two-hour boat ride from Punta Arenas through Strait of Magellan will take you to Isla Magdalena, an island inhabited by thousands of Magellanic penguins from September to the end of March. Guided tours are available from Punta Arenas to Isla Magdalena.
I wouldn’t recommend joining Torres del Paine’s W Trek or the Paine Circuit trekking tours when traveling with children under 12. A day tour of Torres del Paine is a better choice where sightings of guanaco (Patagonian llama), puma and nandus are possible. We did see guanacos and a baby puma. Check out Cascada Expediciones for tour information.
4. Merida Mexico
Consider Mexico if long plane rides are not your thing. Trippy user Stan Diamond wanted to visit Mexico with his grandkids ages eight to 15. He posted this question:
Traveling with kids in Mexico
I am considering a trip to Mexico with my adult children and their five kids, ranging in age from 8-15 years old. My wife and I are quite familiar with the country- just about every area and about 15 or so visits- and I speak decent Spanish. But we will have about nine days, and I am not sure where we should locate and kids’ stuff we can pad the trip with. I was thinking about Mexico City, but we will be far from beaches for the kids (We don’t care about that). Any ideas would be helpful. We went to Panama this year and had a great time. Thanks for any help.
A Trippy user replied:
How about Merida? Lively city atmosphere, good food, but not too far from a beach area. Lots to do in the surrounding area, especially visiting the old haciendas, ruins, caves, cenotes, plus the Celestun Biosphere reserve where you can see flamingos in the wild.
According to The Yucatan Times, every Sunday from 8 am to 12:30 pm Merida’s La Bici-Ruta (bicycle route), from La Ermita de Santa Isabel on Calle 77 at 64 to the Main Plaza and Paseo de Montejo to railroad tracks on Prolongación is the best route for cycling and family-fun activities.
5. Beijing, China
Beijing, China’s capital city is steeped in history and culture, but not the museum-style history and culture. Kids get to visit the Great Wall and the world’s most massive palace complex with 9,999 rooms.
Most tourists visit the crowded Badaling part of the Great Wall. Go to Great Wall at Mutianyu for a less crowded, more comfortable and kid-friendly visit. Here you’ll take the cable car to the Great Wall and ride a toboggan down. For added fun in Beijing, take a stroll in Wangfujing, the famous snack street in Beijing and see dried insects, scorpions and seahorses on sticks.
6. Sydney, Australia
Trippy user Juliana Hersh wrote:
A really fun city and lots of things you can do with your kids like the Taronga Zoo or Luna Park! I would look and see when the Sydney festival is, could be another fun option for all of you.
My kids had a grand time in Sydney when they were 12 and 15. The highlight of the trip was the Bridge Climb on Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taronga Zoo was just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, and Featherdale Wildlife Park is only an hour drive away.
7. York, England
York, England is perfect for families traveling with kids. Just two hours by train from London, York’s National Railway Museum, Yorkshire Museum, York Castle Museum, DIG (hands-on excavation pits), Jorvik Viking Centre and York’s Chocolate story are some of the fun places for kids to visit.
The National Railway Museum has one million objects spanning over 300 years. It’s one of the best train museums in the world.
Harry Potter fans may want to take The North Yorkshire Moor Railway from Goathland Station to Pickering Station. Goathland Station was featured in the first Harry Potter’s film as Hogsmeade Station. Tours are available from York to Goathland for the train ride with pick up from Pickering Station.
8. Rome, Italy
In Rome, you don’t have to visit the museums to discover Ancient Rome. My son who had studied Roman history in second grade was so fascinated with The Colosseum and Roman Forum when we visited during a summer school break.
Kids can have two-hours of fun at the Gladiator School of Rome, learning about the history, weapons, and costumes of Ancient Rome. Kids will dress up in traditional gladiator attire, learn sword fighting and have a chance to participate in a gladiatorial tournament.
For night activity, Viator has a two-and-a-half-hour tour called Illuminated Rome Tour for Kids and Families with Gelato and Pizza. This family-friendly tour includes visiting the famous Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain.
There are treasure hunts, quizzes and other activities geared towards entertaining kids. While the kids are having fun, they are being fed too with pizza, gelato and drinks.
Article and photos by Claudia Looi