Every parent is keenly aware that kids grow up quickly. I’ve found that if we don’t live with intention at each stage, kids change before you know it. There are places to enjoy with children while they are still children, either because kids will appreciate the destination in a certain way while they are young, or the destination itself is in flux. Here’s my list of the 10 top places to travel with kids …. while they are still kids.
Why visit a fake castle when you can experience the real thing? The inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Neuschwanstein Castle brings kids’ fairytale dreams to life. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Europe and is located just two hours from Munich in Bavaria.
This iconic U.S. National Park has been beloved by tourists since it was established in 1872. It’s a wonderful place to introduce children to natural wonders, including geysers, mountains and incredible wildlife. An early introduction to eco-centric treasures like Yellowstone National Park will give kids a sense of how diverse our landscape is in the United States and why it’s important to preserve our natural treasures.
The coexistence of ancient Rome with modern Rome is something that must be experienced to be believed. I’m still awestruck every time we visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum and travel back in time to imagine what life was like during the Roman Empire, an essential period in our global cultural heritage. Kids will study the rise and fall of this empire in school; nothing makes academic lessons stick like an in-person visit to a historic destination. See our exceptional Rome with kids landing page for more information on how and why to visit the Eternal City.
Not all parents love Disney, but I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love and appreciate Disney magic. Disney knows how to transport families to a happy place, and this is something to be cherished, as our daily life is so scheduled that it’s easy to forget to appreciate time together. The experience is just not the same when children aren’t children anymore … either Disney park will do!
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Taking a family safari in Africa is the ultimate family adventure. Parents and children alike will come back with a new worldview and appreciation for the essence of life. Safari camps have become increasingly kid-friendly over the years and are offering amenities for families with kids of all ages. See my tips for planning an age-appropriate African safari; it’s an especially fantastic trip to connect and engage teenagers on vacation.
A family vacation in Hawaii isn’t necessarily an educational opportunity for kids; it’s about the ultimate relaxing vacation for the family unit. I’ve been to many wonderful beach destinations, but none are quite as perfect as Hawaii … it’s beautiful, safe, you can eat everything, and the islands are diverse and loaded with adventures. It’s expensive to fly to Hawaii, but the huge list of accommodations mean that families can find a way to make it more affordable. I’ve never met a family who didn’t come back from a Hawaii beach vacation glowing.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. It can be seen from space. Irrespective of what you believe about climate change, the reef has lost massive amounts of coral cover during the past few decades. This creates a sense of urgency: There are places in our world that are radically changing, and the Great Barrier Reef is one of them.
One thing I cherish about international travel is the opportunity to teach kids about cultural acceptance. This message readily sinks in when children see firsthand how differently people live around the world. Despite the Internet, movies and the spread of popular Western culture, Asia is still a radically different place from Western Europe and North America. And although China’s global leadership is growing and touring China is fascinating, I love the diversity of Bangkok in Thailand. It’s exotic in every way, and families can experience new and ancient Bangkok within a small geographic area. It makes a fantastic introduction to Asia!
This destination is a must for our American readers. Nothing brings American history and government to life with kids like a visit to our nation’s capital. From the phenomenal Smithsonian Museums to visiting the White House, Washington, D.C. combines fun and education like no other city in the United States.
I prioritized a Galapagos adventure with Lindblad Expeditions for our family — it was an incredible way for us to learn about evolution in a powerful way, firsthand! We’ve also taken wildlife trips to Africa and Costa Rica. I jump on any opportunity to inspire our son to be conservation-minded, now and forever.
This is my list of 10 great destinations, but remember that the world is a vast place and travel experiences are endless! Travel changes lives, and you don’t need to go far for that to happen.
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