For us the start of the new year means planning our travel for the coming year. Based on our experiences from 2017, as well as fellow family travel bloggers whom we respect and admire here’s our round up of not-to-miss family travel destinations for 2018. You will also find tips on what to do and how to make the most of your time at that destination. There’s bound to be a destination or two in our round up that you hadn’t thought of and will now be inspired to visit.
Best Family Travel Destinations Your Kids Will Love in the United States
Napa Valley, California ~ Cheryl Ng Collett
Whenever we say Napa Valley is one of our favorite vacations, people always ask us “with the kids?” Yes! Napa Valley is very kid friendly. As with any trip, you need a little planning ahead and here’s our travel tips:
We recommend going to Calistoga in the northern part of Napa Valley which tends to be less touristy and more laid-back. There are many family-friendly activities to do as well as a few opportunities to slip in some wine drinking along the way. Here’s how:
- Pack a picnic and head to Old Faithful Geyser in California. There’s plenty to do to while away a lazy afternoon including a geyser that spouts regularly much to our kids’ delight, a geological museum, outdoor games, a small garden and petting farm. Bring your own wine and they provide wine openers and glasses. Less than a ten minute drive is the Petrified Forest, home to the largest collection of Petrified redwoods in the world. The docent-led one hour hikes are easy for little ones and stroller friendly.
- If you have older kids (5 years and up), make advance reservations to Castello de Amorosa. Parents and children get to drink their age appropriate grape juices while touring the medieval style building which includes a drawbridge. during the tour. The walking tour is two hours long and no strollers are allowed.
- Foodie families need to make a stop at Solbar at The Solage. Don’t let the Forbes Five Star rating deter you, they cater to families. There’s even a Kids Menu if you need one. Take advantage of the outdoor bocce courts adjacent to the patio and let the kids play while you enjoy a local wine flight.
Cheryl Ng Collett is a lifestyle travel journalist and Mama to the IttyBittyFoodies, a blog geared towards modern families who like to eat adventurously and travel well.
Pacific Northwest ~ Allison with Becoming a Traveling Family
When thinking about our favorite travel destinations for the whole family, one place that always comes to mind is the Pacific Northwest. This region of the United States has something for everyone in the whole family. Fascinating cities like Seattle offer interesting sites and fun finds. If you visit Seattle, make sure to watch the fish merchants toss their fish at Pike Place Market, and visit the Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe on the waterfront- both iconic places in the Emerald City.
You don’t have to travel far to leave the city behind and enter the great outdoors. National and state parks abound in both Washington and Oregon. Whether you’re into mountains or beaches, there is a place for you. Fort Worden State Park on the Washington peninsula is a great place for families. Kids love exploring old military bunkers and splashing around in the Puget Sound during the summer.
By Allison with Becoming a Travel Family.
St Simon’s Island, Georgia ~ Liana, Insider Families
Beautiful beaches alone are a real treat, but pair that with history and authentic regional food and you’ve got the perfect vacation. St Simons tops our personal list of favorite family travel destinations because of the delight and awe we saw through the eyes of our kids. St Simons Island is a beach town, one of the Golden Isles, located on the Atlantic Coast of Georgia just north of Florida. Not only does the island have spectacular beaches, but also a deep history, authentic southern food and lots for a family to do. In addition to playing and relaxing on the beautiful beach there’s a historic lighthouse to climb, tree spirits to search for via bikes built for two and more.
St Simons Island Insider Tip: Don’t miss searching for ghost crabs on the beach after dark. Our kids were lucky enough to spot one and their undulated excitement at actually seeing a ghost crab scamper across the beach to escape the beam of our flashlight was a pretty memorable experience.
By Liana, Insider Families
San Francisco ~ Julie, More than Main Street
Julie with More than Main Street says her family’s pick for their number one best family travel destination for 2018 is San Francisco, California!
Here are some of their favorite things to do and insider tips:
- Visit Alcatraz- Be sure to get your tickets online way in advance! They sell out early. Even young children and non-history buffs will be fascinated with the audio tour.
- Visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and The Painted Ladies (even if you don’t have a car you can get an Uber or Lyft driver to take you!)
- Take your kids to The Exploratorium! This fantastic hands-on science museum will entertain kids of all ages for hours upon hours.
- Visit the Mission District and take in the street art…it’s like an outdoor art museum!
San Francisco is very easy to get around as long as you’re prepared for the hills- they are no joke! And don’t forget to take a ride on a cable car at least once! Lines can get long at popular stops, so be generous with your timeline, or in our case, get on at a stop with no wait and see where it takes you! San Francisco is one of our family’s absolute favorite cities to visit in the U.S.
By Julie, More than Main Street!
Vail, Colorado ~ Liana, Insider Families
While Vail, Colorado may be best known for its epic ski slopes, the area has even more to offer during summer. With warm sunny days, cool nights, clear skies and the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, summer is the perfect season to enjoy Vail outdoor adventures and nature at its best. From speeding down the mountain on the Forest Flyer or tubing hill or flying through the air on a zip line, to testing your bravery on one of the ropes courses, there is something for kids and adults of all ages at Epic Discovery located atop Vail Mountain.
Bright and beautiful music and culture from around the world converges on Vail in the summer. The mountains come alive with the music of Bravo! Vail and their four resident orchestras — Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. Meanwhile the Vail International Dance Festival brings the best of dance to the stages and streets of Vail. All offer programs ideal for and even specifically for kids and families. Summer camps range from outdoor science and nature camps to mountain biking and BMX camps. The summer concludes with the thrill of adventure racing at the Kids Adventure Games. Kids cross the finish line, muddy, sweaty, smiling and with a much deserved sense of pride and accomplishment.
Vail Insider Tip: Think Vail is too expensive? Think again! While the ski lifts won’t be running, May and October are very affordable and less crowded. Hotels offer highly discounted lodging as do restaurants. While ski season is the most popular season, summer is probably the best for families. Outdoor activities and summer camps abound.
By Liana, Insider Families
Santa Fe, New Mexico ~ Liana, Insider Families
Caribbean Family Travel Destinations Your Kids Will Love
St. Lucia ~ Amanda Bowers VeraVise WOW Travel
A very popular cruise excursion in St. Lucia is the Pitons in Soufrière. Soufrière, however, is three hours round trip from the port. With three young children this wasn’t an option. We opted, instead, to visit Pigeon Island National Landmark (PINL). PINL is 30 minutes from the port and cost approximately $60 round trip. The cruise shore excursion would have cost over $200. In addition to saving time and money, PINL is great for families.
- The entry fee is $8 for adults, $3 for children 5-12, and children under 5 are free.
- PINL offers hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities.
- PINL has two restaurants on site serving local Caribbean cuisine. It was amazing!
- PINL offers a calm bay to swim with your children. Chairs are only $2
- Finally, PINL is beautiful! We were there on an overcast day and were impressed. I imagine that a clear day would be even better.
By Amanda Bowers of VeraVise WOW Travel
European Family Travel Destinations Your Kids Will Love
Bilbao, Spain ~ Alex, My Lifelong Holiday
Asian Family Travel Destinations Your Kids Will Love
Tokyo ~ Vanessa, Wanderlust Plus One
There’s no place like Tokyo for families who want to experience culture and diversity, it is unlike anywhere else. Future and traditions come together in a surprisingly harmonious metropolis. Kids will enjoy discovering the unusual everyday objects, from high tech toilets to vending machines on every corner, game arcades, an abundance of exciting museums and superfast lifts that will whizz high up in the sky scrapers to offer views never seen before. Once the senses are on overload head to one of the many traditional parks and gardens, crazy playgrounds or the peaceful temples and shrines that dot the city to relax. Tokyo will never cease to amaze, surprise and inspire you and your little ones, you will without doubt, want to return again and again.
By Vanessa, Wanderlust Plus One
The New Bali: Siargao Island, Philippines ~ Mart, Raf’s World
Twenty years ago I set foot on a remote island completely unaware it was about to change my life. It became my home for seven years after I got married to the girl of my dreams, settled into tropical living, and started a family. Back then the island was a remote tropical backwater, but now it’s fast changing into Asia’s newest travel destination: Siargao Island.
Siargao has a lot to offer visitors, including families wanting a super adventurous getaway. From the moment you look down upon acres of mangroves and palm trees flying in, you begin to fall in love with this beautiful place. No matter how many days you plan to stay, there is always something to do. On one day take a pump boat to a paradise island (we recommend Casulian) or explore a beautiful lagoon (try Sugba). On another have a surf lesson or cruise around the island on a motorbike. If you’re already a good surfer, try one of nine waves to die for on Siargao.
Whilst the island first became popular with surfers, it’s so much more than waves. If you make the effort to go, you’ll be rewarded with paradise beaches, awesome seafood, friendly, English-speaking locals and a unique vibe. Our final tip: go there sooner rather than later, before development reduces some of its pristine appeal.
By Mart at Raf’s World.