If you’re starting to plan your next family vacation, we’ve got you covered with ideas and inspiration. The world is filled with amazing, off-the-beaten-path spots, perfect for kid friendly vacations.
Kayak and canoe the sandy shorelines in the Pacific, bake Florentine pizza in Italy and hike Peru’s Sacred Valley around Machu Picchu. No matter where you go, the memories you make will last a lifetime.
Start planning your next family vacation with these ideas!
1. Baja California
Sand, sun and shorelines are the name of the game in Baja California. Located on the southern part of the Californian peninsula, Baja is home to idyllic white beaches and beautiful weather year-round. This hidden gem is one of the world’s best family vacation spots for those looking to get away from the crowds and stuffy city air.
Take the kids horseback riding on the beach in Todos Santos, then learn to surf in the Pacific Ocean. The sea lions in Los Islotes are especially friendly – when you go snorkeling, they will swim up close and wave hello!
Plenty of serene time awaits in Baja California. Kayak the calm waters of Balandra Bay, surrounded by mangrove thickets and marine life. Take a rejuvenating clifftop hike above the shoreline for spectacular views of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot sea lions, birds and whales along the way.
The people you meet traveling are just as unforgettable as the memories you’ll make together. Through Friends Across Borders, meet children at the Palapa Society, a nonprofit serving the children of Todos Santos for more than a decade. Your family can work with the kids as language mentors, then celebrate with a piñata party!
[LEARN MORE ABOUT BAJA CALIFORNIA]
The epic mountains in the South American country of Peru make this the hiking family’s dream, and one of the best family adventure vacation ideas in the world. Of course, you’ll want to spend a day on the trails at Machu Picchu. But you’ll miss out on so many other great trails if you stop there – not to mention the gorgeous towns and people in the Sacred Valley!
More than Machu Picchu
Peru is home to a large indigenous population that values their cultural heritage. In the Andean village of Chinchero, visit Quechua women who practice a traditional form of back-strap weaving. Then meet up with your Peruvian pen pal though our Friends Across Borders program. You’ll have time to play soccer or just hang out.
[Read the letter exchange between two 8-year-old pen pals – one from Minnesota, one from Cuzco.]
The mountain-hugged Sacred Valley brims with beautiful vistas and indigenous history. On a walking excursion in Cuzco, you’ll discover how the town marries ancient Incan artistry with Spanish architecture, both important parts of the country’s heritage. Nowhere is this more present than at Koricancha, a Hispanic convent built on the single most important temple of the Incan Empire, the Sun Temple.
The surrounding region of the Sacred Valley is home to more amazing ruins and rocky knolls. The Maras salt terraces is a terraced gorge filled with salt pans and an awesome hiking trail.
Want to camp at an Incan granite quarry? Spend a day hiking to Qachikata, then settle down for a night on a beautiful mountainside plateau. The stars loom lightyears above. In the valley below, Incan ruins stand frozen in time.
Kids adore Thailand’s approachable food, beaches and glittering-gold temples, and for good reason. Bangkok’s markets are a foodie paradise, where you can try signature dishes, including dumplings, rice crepes and old-style Thai coffee.
The city is also home to the gold-trimmed Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, where the sacred Emerald Buddha stands. Wat Pho’s 150-foot-long reclining Buddha statue is a hot item for kids who love huge shiny things. They’ll never forget it!
[Here’s a rundown of some Thai temples the kids will love.]
Active adventurers can hike Doi Inthanon National Park, a beautiful landscape of forests, waterfalls and temple ruins. Kayak and swim at Sri Lanna National Park and canoe through Phang Nga Bay’s mangrove forests and hidden lagoons.
When considering your family vacation ideas, it’s important to know that sports and games are the common language every child speaks. When you visit Thailand, hang out with your pen pals and their families through our Friends Across Borders program. You’ll learn to play takraw, an exciting game described as “kick volleyball.” It’s fun for everyone!
4. Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice
For kids, few things in Italy are more exciting than discovering decadent plazas and gargoyle-crowned spires. Walk among the crumbling pillars of Rome’s ancient Roman Forum and Coliseum, then bike the brick-lined Appian Way. Both history heavyweights and art appreciators love these sites.
Floating along the canals of Venice, the narrow waterways feel poetic, lilting back and forth with a gentle sway. The rhythm of the waves on the vibrant architecture become lyrical.
Speaking of poetry, much has been written about the massive dome of the Florence Cathedral. Maybe a few words will come to you when you visit iconic Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti or the historic artisan neighborhood of Oltrarno.
Come for the History, Stay for the Gelato
One reason a family vacation in Italy is a good idea is the chance to experience its rich tradition of artisan handiwork. Don’t just buy souvenirs – make them! Bake pizza in Florence. Paint your own frescoes. Craft your own gelato. Here are some of the best artisan crafts to try in Italy.
5. The Galapagos Islands
Six-hundred miles from the coast of Ecuador lie the beaches of the Galapagos Islands, beloved by snorkelers and sea lions alike. It’s where Charles Darwin performed his famous finch observations. It’s also where kids, grandkids, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone can find something new to do!
Expect to see a ton of new wildlife: frigate bids perch on mangrove trees and steal fish from blue-footed boobies. When you snorkel in Whale Bay’s pristine mangrove forests, you might see king angel fish, damselfish, barberfish and surgeonfish. Ninety-seven percent of the Galapagos Islands are protected national parks, meaning all that beauty is untouched.
Active Fun in the Sun
The Galapagos Islands pack the active adventure of an entire continent into one volcanic archipelago. Family vacation activities include the chance to hike Sierra Negra Volcano, visit a giant tortoise breeding center and kayak, snorkel and bike on the islands. Explore an underground, 1,300-foot-long lava tunnel. Then give back to the ecosystem by helping to plant native Miconia trees.
Thanks to warm year-round temperatures and sandy beaches, the Galapagos are great for an afternoon lounging on the water. You can even learn to surf with the help of a specialized instructor. Hang ten!
[LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GALAPGOS ISLANDS]
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