Globetrotting is back! After nearly three years of pandemic lockdowns, lingering restrictions and limited services, most countries have reopened fully and are welcoming visitors. This is poised to be a banner year for family vacations as parents are ready to tackle their bucket lists in a big way — so early action is key to ensure you don’t miss out. Need ideas? Here’s our list of the 2023 travel destinations we’re most excited to explore with kids. Get inspired, then reach out to us for help with your plans!
Australia‘s second-largest city may not have the tourism cachet of its rival Sydney, but its easygoing charm and coastal setting make it an equally worthwhile getaway with kids. Family-friendly favorites include Luna Park, one of the oldest theme parks in the world, with rides and games that suit all ages; ArtVo, an immersive gallery designed for visitors to interact and pose with the artwork (selfies are de rigeur!); and the Melbourne Skydeck, where intrepid kids can stand inside a glass cube that hangs almost 1,000 feet above street level. Fancy a day at the shore? Try picturesque Brighton Beach, known for its colorful “bathing boxes,” or St. Kilda Beach, rife with shops, cafes, playgrounds, bike paths and water sports. Farther afield, take a day tour of Phillips Island, home to a colony of adorable Little Penguins, or rent a car and wind your way along the cliffs of the Great Ocean Road.
Towering skyscrapers, vast aquariums, enormous shopping malls … Dubai does everything on the grandest of scales. Where else can you ascend the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa), splash at the world’s biggest water park (Atlantis Dubai), and take a spin on the world’s largest Ferris wheel (Ain Dubai), all in the same day? By morning, schuss down the indoor slopes at Ski Dubai; by afternoon, catch a few rays at Jumeirah Beach, complete with solar-powered artificial palms that provide free wifi for Insta-happy teens. But this Middle Eastern city isn’t all flash and dazzle — build in some time to explore the Old Quarter, a hub of 19th-century culture where kids can admire the traditional sand-and-coral architecture and pick up souvenirs at a local souk (market).
Sometimes dubbed “Africa for beginners” due to its relative ease of travel, Ghana is one of our favorite places on the continent for families. It’s known for its cultural, artistic and historical riches as well as the warmth of its people — you’ll be charmed by Ghanians’ kindness and hospitality. Plus, it’s safe and English is the official language, making communication simple for younger kids. Pair a few days in the capital, Accra, with a stay on the Cape Coast farther west. In Accra, introduce kids to Ghana’s past at sites like the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum, which honors the man who led the country to independence from Britain and became its first president. Although the Cape Coast is popular for its beach life and access to the Kakum National Park rainforest, it also marks one of the most horrific chapters in Ghanian history: Its best-known monument is Cape Coast Castle, where thousands of African slaves were imprisoned before being sold and sent to the Americas. The tour can be emotionally difficult, so use your judgment as to what your children can handle.
If you’ve gawked at Gaudi’s creations in Barcelona, strolled through the Prado in Madrid and stepped back in time at the Alhambra, where do you go on a repeat family vacation to Spain? Valencia gets our vote for an underrated gem. With reliably sunny weather and far fewer tourists than the marquee cities, it’s ideal for an escape any time of year. Its old town is more compact than many of its European counterparts and thus easier on little legs and short attention spans. Young kids will be entranced by land and sea creatures at Bioparc and Oceanografic (Europe’s largest aquarium); when it’s time to burn off extra energy, head to one of the wide, sandy beaches to play in the Mediterranean waves. Valencia is also the birthplace of paella, which remains a source of local pride — adventurous eaters will lap up the distinctive version made with chicken, rabbit, green beans and snails.
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Between K-pop, Squid Game and cult-favorite skincare, Korean culture is having quite a moment. That makes Seoul a perfect foray into Asia for trend-conscious tweens and teens, but there’s loads to delight little ones too. Adorable kids’ cafes, children’s museums and play spaces are everywhere — check out Play in Museum, or PIM, a wonderland of creativity whose highlight is a vast ball pit filled with translucent orbs that resemble bubbles. With older children, make a stop at the impressive National Museum of Korea, admire the 14th-century Gyeongbokgung Palace and sample the city’s ubiquitous street food, perhaps at a night market. Don’t miss Bukchon Hanok Village, a warren of hanoks (traditional Korean homes) that date back as far as 600 years — it’s a transportive escape from the modern bustle.
Antarctica has absolutely exploded as a top destination for adventurous families, and it shows no signs of slowing down for 2023. Again and again, visitors come away from the White Continent having experienced one of the most transformative vacations of their lives, with a new perspective on conservation and sustainable travel. Kayaking amid icebergs, getting up close and personal with penguins, trekking over glaciers with no other humans in sight, taking a plunge into the frigid waters — these are memories that will never fade. With an increasing number of large- and small-ship cruises sailing to Antarctica, it’s more accessible than ever. The key is to choose one designed for education and expedition as well as one that’s well tailored for kids; our Family Travel Advisor team can help you select the best fit.
This remote southwest Colorado mountain escape is an active family’s playground. Skiing and snow sports are the draw in winter, but we love visiting in spring, summer and fall too. Hike the surrounding San Juan Mountains, take a horseback trail ride through jawdropping scenery, ascend the peaks via gondola, go for a dip in the local hot springs or try out the ziplines and rappelling at the new Telluride Canopy Adventure. A former mining town, Telluride is perfectly positioned for area sightseeing — clusters of nearby ghost towns remain from the days when silver ore was king. Or chug along the tracks in 19th-century style via the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (about two hours’ drive away), which traverses the San Juan National Forest. As a bonus, Telluride offers an especially appealing collection of luxury hotels and resorts if you prefer your outdoor pursuits with a side of pampering.
After years of being regarded chiefly as a layover hub, Singapore is finally on the rise as a destination in its own right. One of the main reasons we love it with kids is that it so adeptly blends the familiar with the exotic — it’s comfortable and ultra-safe, and because English is commonly spoken, there’s virtually no language barrier. Yet families will marvel at spectacles like Gardens by the Bay, where you’ll find the Supertree Grove (those giant artificial trees you’ve likely seen in photos) and an immense indoor waterfall at the Cloud Forest. Stop for photos at Merlion Park, where a statue of the mythical Merlion (half lion and half fish) spouts water into the river. For the ultimate day out, take a tram or monorail to Sentosa Island just offshore, a kid-friendly paradise that includes Universal Studios Singapore, Madam Tussauds, Adventure Cove Waterpark, S.E.A. Aquarium and a handful of beautiful beaches.
Imagine Croatia, and you probably picture medieval towns like Dubrovnik or the impossibly blue waters of the Dalmatian Coast. But don’t overlook the landlocked part of the country. What the capital, Zagreb, lacks in blockbuster attractions, it makes up for in charming churches and town squares, ample green spaces and a leisurely, convivial atmosphere. Explore the quirky Museum of Illusions; take in the pastel buildings of Tkalciceva Street; browse the open-air Dolac Market. Zagreb is also within day-trip reach of Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its singular beauty. Boardwalks and stairways wind past 16 vivid blue-green lakes terraced into the park’s cliffs, many linked by breathtaking waterfalls. The simplest way to visit Plitvice Lakes is by private tour; contact us for help arranging this.
TIP: If you have extra time, Croatia pairs very easily with neighboring Slovenia — Zagreb is less than two hours from Ljubljana by car. Allow at least 10 days to get a taste of the highlights in each country; two weeks is even better.
Families can’t get enough of New Zealand, and who could blame them? This island nation is stuffed with high-octane adventures, renowned for its friendly and welcoming vibe, and home to some of the most glorious scenery on earth (not to mention the Lord of the Rings connection). Nestled on Lake Wakatipu at the heart of the South Island, Queenstown deserves a spot on your New Zealand itinerary. It’s a must for thrill seekers, who can get their adrenaline fix via bungee jumping and jet boat rides (both invented here), paragliding, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, heli-hiking and more. In the mood for something lower-key? Board the TSS Earnslaw, a coal-fired steamship, for a cruise across the lake; take a nature break at Queenstown Gardens; or explore the old Gold Rush village of Arrowtown nearby. And for parents who can squeeze in a day of solo time, the region’s excellent wineries await.
Vibrant and intoxicating, Colombia is a feast for the senses. Oceanfront Cartagena dazzles with brightly colored colonial architecture, lively urban beaches and the constant thrum of street life, while mountainous Medellin is a great base from which to tour coffee plantations or zoom skyward on a cable car incredible views over the city and the jungle beyond. These two destinations pair nicely if you have a full week (summer travelers, consider timing your visit to coincide with the Medellin Flower Festival in early August). More time to spare? Just off the Caribbean coast lie the Rosario Islands, a tranquil archipelago about an hour’s boat ride from Cartagena. Since the islands belong to a national park, they remain largely pristine; although there aren’t a ton of sandy beaches for lounging, the snorkeling, sailing and swimming in clear turquoise waters more than make up for it.
Prince Edward Island, or PEI for short, is best known as the home of children’s author Lucy Maud Montgomery and her beloved classic Anne of Green Gables. Of course, there’s plenty to satisfy Anne aficionados, starting with Green Gables Heritage Place (the 19th-century house that inspired Montgomery’s novel) and regular musical performances featuring the book characters. But there are lots more reasons to make the trip to this corner of Canada‘s Maritimes. Red sand and white sand beaches ring the island, each with its own character — one of our top picks with kids is Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island National Park. You could spend a full day or more in the park combing the dunes, peering into tide pools and exploring historic sites (including Green Gables Heritage Place). Or take a drive to see the lighthouses that dot PEI’s shores, then join in a clamming excursion that ends with feasting on the shellfish you capture. Talk about locally sourced!
It may require serious time and effort to get there, but once you arrive, the journey to the Maldives pays off in spades. These 1,200 islands embody the tropical vacation of your dreams, with tranquil aquamarine water and sugar-white sands stretching in every direction. As entrancing as the scenery appears on land, the real “wow” moments hit when you jump into the sea. Snorkelers are treated to the sight of rainbow-hued fish swirling around coral reefs, while kids old enough to scuba dive in the atolls might encounter manta rays, sea turtles or even whale sharks. Little ones will be happy keeping an eye out for dolphins on a boat cruise or simply paddling in the shallows while you relax nearby.
TIP: If you envision sleeping in an over-the-water bungalow, be aware that many such properties are adults-only or have a minimum age requirement for kids. Contact our Advisor team for help finding the best fit.
Not so long ago, Egypt wasn’t on the table as a family destination. How times change … it’s back on the international travel radar and ready to welcome visitors of all ages. There are so many iconic attractions here that the toughest part of an Egypt itinerary is paring down the list. Cairo, your likely arrival city and the optimal base for exploring the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, deserves at least a couple of days. Its brand-new Grand Egyptian Museum, which will house some of Egypt’s most important and precious artifacts, is slated to open sometime in 2023. From Cairo, you could hop on a short flight to Luxor — either to tour monuments such as the Luxor and Karnak Temples plus the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, or to board a Nile cruise south to Aswan. With very young kids, consider heading from Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh, a beach destination known for its calm, temperate waters and collection of family-friendly luxury resorts.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.
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