10 Best Family-Friendly Travel Destinations Worldwide
From the Bahamas to the Scottish Highlands, these places have a little something for everyone
While the way we all travel has changed dramatically since the pandemic rocked the world in 2020, our editors have noticed some of the biggest changes are in our approach to family travel. Travel experts are noticing American families with kids of all ages are becoming more willing to travel internationally…and not just to Mexico. Anne Liles, travel advisor and co-founder of The Travel Studio, says she has received tons of requests for big cities like London and Paris, while Katherine Rogers, the travel advisor behind @littletravelmama, is noticing a trend towards once-in-a-lifetime trips to places like Japan and Ronni Kess of @touristtot is excited to see younger families with babies and toddlers heading to the Mediterranean and beyond with their little ones in tow. We asked them for their favorite family-friendly travel destinations worldwide, along with some luxurious yet kid-friendly hotel recs to please everyone in your clan on your next holiday abroad.
Turks & Caicos
“Turks & Caicos has to be one of my top destinations for family travel because it’s a short flight for us Southerners, it’s very family-friendly and there are plenty of incredible five-star resorts,” says Rogers. “We are spoiled in the Southeast with 30A, but my clients are always happy with how beautiful the beaches are here.”
It’s pretty tough to beat the world-renowned Grace Bay Club, which offers the best of Caribbean luxury and family-friendly travel amenities. The property has a building of all-suite accommodations intended just for families, with offerings that expand up to four bedrooms for larger parties. The resort features plenty of exciting offerings with the Kids Town program, an activities center for kids ages five and older, that features an on-site clubhouse, as well as opportunities for on-property and off-site adventures alike. Babysitting and nanny services are also available when you need a romantic night out that doesn’t include chicken fingers. Plus, the resort’s Photography Concierge will make securing the perfect holiday card photo easier than ever.
While Liles warns that even travelers with virtually unlimited budgets may have a difficult time securing the transfers, excursions and hotels they’re looking for in Italy through next year, it’s still worth booking if you expand your horizons. She recommends opting for Tuscany’s Forte dei Marmi over the Amalfi Coast, as it’s not only less crowded but is also much easier to get around for families with younger children. And if you’re jonesing to get to Rome, Lilies says Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Russie and Hotel de la Ville are excellent options for family-friendly hotels with impeccable service, spacious rooms, unique excursion offerings, and culinary programming that will please all palates.
Kess also highly recommends a family vacation at one of Northern Italy’s pristine lakes. Her favorites are Lake Como, Garda and Maggiore. Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a tried-and-true destination for families of all ages on Lake Como, boasting breathtaking pools, an expansive park, and cooking classes that even the little ones will enjoy.
Rogers says she’s been booking more and more trips to Japan lately, particularly for families who are looking for a unique itinerary. This beautiful island country offers something for everyone, whether you’re a family of foodies, history buffs, design enthusiasts or video game fanatics. Rogers usually gets requests for stays in Tokyo with stops in Kyoto and Nagoya to experience more traditional Japanese culture.
“It’s the number one culture shock destination in the world,” says Rogers. “Japan is its own island and extremely different from any other country — there’s really nothing like it. There is a lot of tradition here, and I love to gift kids of the families traveling here books about Japanese culture before they leave.”
Park Hyatt Kyoto offers a welcome mix of familiar five-star hospitality and authentic Japanese experiences for families. Boasting impeccable views of the city’s tiled roof skyline and the Yasaka Pagoda, this luxury guesthouse-style accommodation offers a traditional restaurant, tea house, and wellness experiences, as well as stunning Japanese gardens to enjoy all over the property.
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Rogers says that Costa Rica is perfect for families looking for a bit of adventure. She notes that it’s one of her top international destinations for families because it’s such a fun place to visit with activities to please all ages.
“When kids get older, it’s easier to keep them on the move during a vacation, and my little girl and two boys are always asking what’s next,” says Rogers. “There’s so much adventure here from zip lining to surfing, and I often have families split their time half by the volcano and half by the coast to maximize that.”
Liles says that Auberge Resorts Collection is one of her favorite luxury hospitality brands that has really stepped up its game in the last few years when it comes to catering to families. The brand’s Hacienda AltaGracia property spans 180 breathtaking acres and features plenty of family-friendly amenities such as a sprawling Junior Adventurer’s Club, horseback riding, immersive cultural experiences, as well as two-bedroom casitas with private pools — perfect for soaking up all of Costa Rica’s natural beauty together.
The Greek Islands
“The Greek Islands make an amazing family getaway,” says Kess. “We recommend renting a car and exploring islands like Crete, which have exceptional luxury resorts in areas like Elounda. We’ve also stayed in some amazing villas on the islands that have private pools and great amenities for children.”
The Thinking Traveller is an excellent source for finding the perfect luxury villa across The Cyclades, Ionian, Sporades, Dodecanese and Saronic Islands. The company will also work with you to secure one-of-a-kind family-friendly travel experiences, such as in-villa cooking lessons and private boat charters for a memorable day of island hopping. However, if you’re set on a resort experience, you can’t beat the amenity-rich Elounda Peninsula All-Suite Hotel for a Cretan getaway complete with a golf course, Six Senses Spa, a soccer camp, and even a children’s wellness program.
It’s no secret that the U.K. is a white-hot destination for 2023, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid popping across the pond for your next family vacation. Whether your crew is craving a big-city adventure or a lush getaway in the Scottish Highlands, Liles says you can’t go wrong with The British Isles if you know where to stay.
Liles loves sending families to the gorgeous Corinthia London, nestled between Trafalgar Square and the River Thames, for a one-of-a-kind weekend in this legendary city. She says that the service can’t be beat, and the hotel is one of the most accommodating to families around, offering palatial penthouses and suites (many equipped with a personal butler) and plenty of thoughtful touches to ensure a memorable stay, such as personalized robes for the kiddos. If it’s wide open spaces you’re seeking, Liles suggests booking a stay at the beloved Gleneagles resort for a seemingly endless array of family-friendly activities that range from falconry to off-roading in child-sized cars, as well as accommodations designed with families in mind to ensure a comfortable stay for babies, toddlers and teens.
Rogers says that Spain is a must-visit family-friendly travel destination to consider if they’re looking for a European vacation as the country has so much to offer and doesn’t have the crazy post-Covid crowds that Italy does. Plus, your dollar will stretch farther here.
“Spain is just awesome: It’s really laid back with plenty of beaches and lots of cool towns,” says Rogers. “Plus, when you get into the tapas region, the food is just so good.”
Those seeking an island escape should look no further than Malaga’s Marbella Club to please every member of the family. The kids’ club is a nearly 5,500-square-meter wonderland complete with gardens, a library, and an art studio for learning new skills and making fabulous souvenirs. And yes, there’s plenty to offer for parents as well, whether you’re a golf, spa, shopping, water sports, tennis, or sailing enthusiast.
Liles says that Paris is one of the top destinations her clients are requesting these days, and she has noticed a trend of more families seeking to visit this beautiful city. While Paris may not exactly feel like the most family-friendly travel locale, Liles says it’s all about finding the right hotel that will ensure the trip is magical for everyone. Plus, there is a practically endless number of activities and sights to keep the kiddos busy (not to mention ready for an early bedtime). Liles also notes there’s a patisserie around every corner to end the day with a delicious treat.
Liles’s favorite Parisian hotels for families are: Esprit Saint Germain for its fabulous location and array of accommodations that will suit families of any size; Hotel du Louvre for its family room offerings that include bunk beds and teepees; and the Four Seasons George V for its new “bespoke family experiences” and welcome gifts that will make the little ones feel right at home in no time.
The Caribbean will always be a top vacation spot for family-friendly travel, as this stunning collection of islands offers an international escape with just a few hours of flight time. Rogers recommends the Bahamas for its extra-close proximity and array of incredible five-star resort properties that cater to families with varying needs.
She says that Rosewood Baha Mar is one of her top hotel recommendations in the world for young families dreaming of an ultra-luxurious beach vacation. Part of the 1,000-acre Baha Mar resort complex, this property offers all the glamour and top-notch hospitality you’d expect from a Rosewood resort, plus a waterpark, curated family experiences, and a Rosewood Explorers Club for when parents are dreaming of a date night at Café Boulud.
Another affordable and less trafficked alternative to Italy, Kess and Rogers both nominated Portugal for an all-ages vacation. Kess has noticed it trending as a more popular destination for families as it’s a small country that has so much to offer from excellent surfing to unbelievable hikes and plenty of city diversions.
Vila Vita Parc in sunny, sublime Algarve is the ultimate destination for all ages. The five-star, oceanfront resort boasts eight dining destinations — Ocean is one of only three two-Michelin-starred restaurants in the country — with plenty of kid-friendly dining options as well. There are also eight swimming pools, including heated baby pools, special suites designed just for families, and a kid’s club. Plus, there are plenty of incredible experiences to enjoy on and off property, from a private golf academy to charters on Vila Vita’s gorgeous yacht.
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