Does the new year have you noodling over future family trips? Here’s a slightly different approach to choosing the right destination: Let your family’s passions drive your plans! Seasonality and logistics will certainly come into play, but we love the idea of building a trip around your special interests. Try these ideas for the best family vacation spots according to what lights you up.
If your family’s idea of a stellar holiday is to soak up local color and flavors, consider one of these top CB! locales. Vietnam offers a peek into an entirely different way of life — you can bike through local villages and rice paddies, try your hand at net fishing or learn to operate traditional water puppets. Learn about the storied Inca culture in Peru, starting with the energy of Lima and continuing on to famed Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Bustling with creativity and a lively arts, food and music scene, Tel Aviv is another big draw for families. The appeal of this vibrant Israeli city is wide-ranging: cutting-edge cuisine, warm Mediterranean beaches, graffiti walking tours and more.
Few vistas are as iconic as the whitewashed walls and blue-domed buildings of Santorini in Greece. Enjoy relaxed island vibes in the welcoming Greek islands along with a few days in Athens for its archaeological wonders, including the Acropolis and the Parthenon. New Zealand is an outdoor-lover’s paradise with astonishing natural beauty. Be sure to allow time to explore both Auckland and the South Island if you’re making the trek to the Southern Hemisphere. Closer to home, Maine offers rocky coastlines, rugged mountains and tranquil lakes, all worthy of your time. Visit some of the United States’ most scenic national parks, relax at a beachside bonfire and enjoy the freshest lobster imaginable.
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Epicureans will enjoy crafting their itineraries based on the next delicious bite to be savored. Many destinations can tempt families with mouthwatering morsels, but a few spots rise to the top of the list. The art of baking and patisserie-making (and cheese, and wine, and sauces) can only mean Paris. If you like your French-inspired cuisine with a splash of bayou flavors, look no farther than New Orleans. And, if you’re scouring the globe for the best empanadas, grilled meats (asados) and dulce de leche, then Buenos Aires in Argentina is the spot for your family.
Big game seekers, particularly those looking for elephants, will be captivated by Botswana. Home to an astonishing array of landscapes from delta to grasslands, Botswana is jam-packed with wildlife on display. If sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and other marine and aviary creatures float your boat, consider the Galapagos. Accessible year-round, these islands off the coast of mainland Ecuador are enticing to budding naturalists and island hoppers alike. Alaska is another CB! favorite for those keen to go whale watching, enjoy stunning scenery and get a taste of exotic adventure without leaving the United States.
Spread over the southern ends of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a boon for those seeking extreme outdoor adventure, with everything from kayaking, rafting and trekking to fishing and mountain biking. Iceland is another top spot for just about every active pursuit under the sun, including glacier hiking, rafting, quad riding and horseback riding. If your family prefers thrills of the downhill (as well as dude ranch) sort, head to Utah for fun in all seasons.
Does vacation equal beach for your family? CB families rave about the exotic beaches of Thailand, where Phuket and Koh Samui come up tops. The under-the-radar surf culture of Vancouver’s Tofino comes with wild and pristine shores and marine life galore. Or go for the tropical vibes of Turks and Caicos, where sugar-white beaches meet clear water in gradients of aquamarine, turquoise and sapphire.
There are a few world cities that top our list for artistic inspiration. New York City is home to a tremendous array of kid-friendly museums catering to artistic influences from Egyptian to Contemporary and everything in between. Florence is a natural choice for art appreciation, whether in the architecture of the city or its treasure trove of Renaissance master works; buildings like the Duomo are works of art in themselves. And Tokyo earns a place on this list with its vast collections and astonishing variety — there are very few places where you can experience cutting-edge modern photography as well as wood-block prints and Samurai armor in the same day.
Many families find their strongest bonding moments through sports, whether cheering for a favorite team or sharing stats. If athletics keep your family riled up, consider a trip to Cooperstown in upstate New York for a visit to the baseball hall of fame. Soccer-mad families will be in heaven in Spain with its tremendous focus on the sport. Madrid and Barcelona are both strong choices, with storied teams Real Madrid and Barcelona offering stadium tours and team museums in addition to match-day excitement. Boston is another stellar choice for hockey, football and basketball enthusiasts; it’s also home to the storied Fenway Park, the oldest Major League Baseball stadium in the country.
We’ve got a trio of destinations that highlight different eras to delight your family of historians. Rome is dripping with history at every turn and is easily navigable due to its relatively compact size. Check off key sites including the Colosseum, Pantheon, the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Trevi Fountain (for good luck). Cambodia provides fantastic opportunities for exploration as you steep yourself in the history of the Khmer Empire with visits to sites such as Angkor Wat. Students of more recent world history will be enthralled by the D-Day beaches with a visit to Normandy, which also offers medieval gems such as the Bayeux Tapestry.
If quoting movie lines and exploring real-life film settings get your family’s gears going, then consider the big screen power of Los Angeles. L.A.’s Hollywood neighborhood is synonymous with the movie biz and offers gems such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the chance to visit several movies studios for backlot tours. Across the pond, London is crawling with cinematic eye candy. King’s Cross Station has become the world’s most famous railway station for its platform 9¾ of Harry Potter fame, and the Harry Potter Studio Tour is a must for all Muggles. Back in town, other popular movie stops include the St. Paul’s Cathedral steps from Mary Poppins, Borough Market from Bridget Jones’ Diary, Portobello Road from Notting Hill, Westminster Abbey for The Da Vinci Code and 10 Downing Street from Love Actually. Stunning Cape Town and its flat-topped focal point Table Mountain continually draws filmmakers to South Africa. Popular movies filmed here include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Invictus, Rendition and Blood Diamond.
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