Rediscover the magic of these perennial holiday favourites by making the trip with your kids. You’ll get a whole new and exciting perspective with children in tow and find new activities to share as a family.
This Aussie front-runner isn’t just for beach bums any more. With the perfect combination of light adventure and incredible value for money, it calls to families looking for a tropical escape close to home. Set aside some time to enjoy the beautiful beaches, but don’t forget to try something new!
Seminyak and Kuta make for great bases with plenty of beachside resorts catering to guests of all ages, but there is fun and adventure to be had throughout the island.
This includes the likes of Ubud, Nusa Dua, Bedugul and Sanur. Most day trips are approximately one to two hours away with tours and transport readily available, ensuring your days are well spent expanding your family’s holiday horizons.
There are plenty of purpose-built attractions for kids as well as a heap of engaging cultural activities to appeal to young and old.
All ages can explore the native flora and fauna at one of the many animal parks or delve into a new and fascinating culture at Garuda Wisnu Kencana or Taman Nusa cultural parks.
Older children might appreciate a treetop zipline adventure through Bali’s biggest botanic garden, or snapping a few brag-worthy photos at one of the 3D Trick-Eye galleries.
Don’t miss ...
· Waterbom Bali water park
· A cultural cooking class
Known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, Thailand is renowned for its friendly hospitality. Combine that with a sweep of vibrant destinations, show-stopping scenery and top accommodation and you’ve got the stuff that memorable family holidays are made of. Easily explored with groups of all ages, this captivating country will have you discovering all its charms.
Popular Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai make it easy to get into the spirit of family fun. All of them offer an abundance of family-friendly resorts complete with the facilities to please all guests.
From expansive pools to kids clubs and playgrounds, the little ones are well taken care of, while mum and dad can rest and rebalance with a couple’s treatment at the spa.
Beyond the hotel, a whole world of discovery awaits. Choose from cultural extravaganzas, natural wonders and more.
Why not explore the upside-down house of Baan Teelanka on the outskirts of Phuket Town; visit the golden glory of Samui’s Big Buddha; or explore the landscape and traditional villages on a Chiang Mai bike tour?
There’s no shortage of activities to thrill the young and young at heart.
· Ang Thong Marine National Park
· A Chiang Mai night safari
What if you could board a plane, fly less than four hours from the east coast and find yourself in a secluded island archipelago surrounded by pristine blue water, sugary-white sand and more family-friendly fun than you can shake a stick at? Set your sights to Fiji and it will be the reality of your next holiday.
Viti Levu (Fiji’s largest island) is the starting point for most international visitors, and though it’s tempting to head straight for the outer islands, Denaru and Nadi are perfect spots to decompress as you soak up the local culture.
Visit the open-air markets for a souvenir or two and take the time to show the kids the magic of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant and Sabeto Mud Baths.
Kula Eco Park, in the coastal rainforest reserve, provides a chance to discover Fiji’s beautiful native animals, while Kila World’s rope courses will thrill older children.
Then it’s on to the outer islands. Split into the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups, you’ll have your choice of unspoilt paradise where family-friendly resorts provide perfect getaways.
Days are filled with snorkelling, glass-bottom boat rides, parasailing and more, while nights can be spent experiencing friendly Fijian culture at a traditional dinner (known as a lovo).
Don’t miss ...
· A stroll in the Garden of the Sleeping Giant
· Island hopping through the outer islands
· Eating and singing at a traditional lovo
Singapore has seen plenty of change over recent years, transforming into one of Southeast Asia’s top destinations for travellers.
This is especially true when it comes to family travel, as the city offers all the character and diversity of Asia in a modern and easy-to-navigate package.
Visitors of all ages will be thrilled by the range of activities that span the spectrum of high-energy excitement to cultural enlightenment.
Accommodation is plentiful with options for all budget sizes, and you need only stroll down the street to absorb the city’s energy and charisma.
Colourful cultural hubs such as Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam offer a taste of the vibrant diversity, while kid-friendly meccas like the Singapore Discovery Centre, Singapore Zoo or Jurong Bird Park will keep young ones entertained for hours.
Venture outside the city to uncover family-friendly gems such as Sentosa. This island playground is all about fun with plenty of venues to capture the imaginations of young and old. This includes the Dolphin Lagoon at Underwater World and Universal Studios.
· The cable car to Sentosa
· Sledding at Snow City
· Breakfast with orangutans at Singapore Zoo
Somewhere between the beautiful beaches, lush volcanic mountains and the unique and engaging culture, Hawaii has managed to strike the perfect balance between holidays for kids and holidays for adults.
From Oahu and Maui to Kauai and the Big Island, this tropical paradise is all about experiences to suit every member of the family.
Honolulu is great for younger children with a variety of resorts that take family-friendly to the next level.
You could easily spend your entire holiday exploring the amenities on offer, from kids clubs to golf courses, but a little island exploration will be even more rewarding.
The Polynesian Cultural Centre and Iolani Palace are top cultural highlights, or snorkel the sheltered waters of Hanauma Bay.
Older children will appreciate the pursuits found on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island as all provide a healthy dose of adventure.
Get below the water’s surface with a trip to the Maui Ocean Centre or the Atlantis Submarine, or stake out a spot on one of the many white, black and even green-sand beaches.
Away from the water’s edge, hiking trails for all levels will reveal stunning waterfalls and pools, or explore steaming fields and lava tubes.
· The Old Lahaina Luau
· A family surfing lesson
· A scenic tour of the Na Pali Coast
England may be small, but it packs a punch. There are few places on Earth that can rival the sheer variety on offer. There are fewer still that can charm visitors of all ages with the perfect balance of rich heritage and modern innovation.
It doesn’t matter if your family is looking for pastoral beauty, cultural enlightenment or a beach getaway, you’ll find it here.
Naturally, the best place to start your English exploration is London. It’s the second most-visited city in the world and welcomes families with an endless list of highlights.
From the London Eye to the Tate Museum; Tower of London to Buckingham Palace; St Paul’s Cathedral to Piccadilly Circus; a month in London would only scratch the surface.
Of course, the charms of England go beyond its most famous city. For seaside fun, get to Brighton or Kent. Walk over ancient stones as you follow in the footsteps of the Romans in Bath.
Cheer on the home team at a football match in Manchester, or cycle the picturesque streets of the Cotswolds’ limestone villages. There is no shortage of family fun right throughout England.
· A trip on the London Eye
· The Roman Baths family audio trail
· A Manchester United football match
7. Gold Coast
If you can’t make it overseas, there is plenty of excitement right here in Australia. Queensland’s Gold Coast is a top spot for family fun, and for good reason.
More than 200 days of sunshine throughout the year means perfect weather to enjoy the 70 kilometres of dazzling coastline and thrilling theme parks.
Beach-going families are spoilt for choice. Head to the golden shores of Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach. Get off the beaten path with a trip to any number of smaller, quieter spots in between. Or make the short trip to Tangalooma or Moreton Island.
Off the beach, there are many theme and water parks to choose from. Warner Bros. Movie World offers up movie-themed thrills, while Sea World Gold Coast lets visitors choose between creatures and coasters.
Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild and WhiteWater World, plus other attractions such as Currumbin Wildlife Park, Australian Outback Spectacular and Paradise Country, are also available.
Just make sure you take some time to explore some of the Gold Coast’s natural wonders, with hiking trails to suit all levels in the World Heritage-listed rainforest.
· The theme park fun
· Glow worms at Springbrook
· Lizard spotting, Burleigh Heads National Park
Families with older children are sure to savour the sights, sounds and flavours of Paris, but the city may surprise with its selection of fun suitable for families with younger children.
History, food, culture and some of the world’s most famous landmarks are all par for the course, but delve a little deeper to uncovered Paris’ less-travelled attractions.
It’s easy to discover (or rediscover) the magic of Paris with your kids. Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for sensational views over the city to the Eiffel Tower.
Walk the halls of the Louvre, while the entire family marvels at the world’s greatest collection of artworks. Or grab a treat with a crepe from a street vendor.
Escape the crowds and please younger minds with a trip to La Cite Des Enfants. Designed specifically for children, this unique museum teaches little ones about science through interactive, multi-lingual exhibits.
Alternatively, check out some of the city’s green spaces to relax while the kids run wild. Parc de la Villette, Jardin d’Acclimation and Jardin des Tuileries are popular choices with playgrounds and rides to explore.
· The toy sail boats in Luxembourg Gardens
· A private Louvre tour
· A sweet treat from the local bakery
Any parent will tell you, one of the deciding factors on where to go for holiday is the time it takes to get there. Luckily, Vanuatu offers up all of the sun, sand and fun of a tropical island escape, and it only takes approximately three hours to get there from the east coast.
Port Vila is a great place to start, if only because most international flights land here. There are ample quality accommodation options for families to choose from and a great mix of things to see and do.
It’s all about water-based fun with soft sand beaches and crystal-clear waters teeming with colourful fish and corals. Snorkel, paddle or jet ski in nearby Mele Bay, or take to the skies with older children for parasailing.
If you can peel yourself away from the water’s edge, exciting inland experiences await.
Both young and old will appreciate the natural beauty of the Mele Cascades reached by an easy jungle walk. Or island hop over to Tanna Island to see the fiery display of the Mount Yasuo volcano.
· Hideaway Island’s underwater post office
· Nambawan Cafe and Moonlight Cinema
· The culture of Ekasup
Beaches and mountains, world-class theme parks and museums, decadent spas and shopping – California calls to families across the globe with fun that spans the entire spectrum of age and interests. The Golden State lays claim to more than 200 days of sunshine every year.
Anaheim is a popular choice for first-time family visits to California, thanks in large part to Disneyland.
The ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ is certainly the king of the state’s theme-park precinct, but don’t forget that Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags, Raging Waters and Legoland are all approximately an hour’s drive away.
Beyond the thrills and spills of roller coasters and cartoon characters, California stuns with its natural beauty, from Yosemite’s scenic mountainscapes to the incredible glory of the tallest trees in the world at Redwood National Park.
Enjoy the laidback beach culture of Santa Monica and its famous pier; marvel at the majesty of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge; spot the stars along Hollywood Boulevard or hop in a car for the road trip of a lifetime along California’s coast on Highway One.
· A day or two at Disneyland
· Animal spotting at San Diego Zoo
· Standing at the foot of a redwood tree
11. Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
When it comes to tropical getaways in Oz, Cairns holds the top spot. Home to the Daintree Rainforest and gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, it more than holds its own among the world’s travel hotspots.
When it comes to families, Cairns really hits its stride. Beachfront hotels and apartments are abundantly available, as are exciting activities.
Your days can be as relaxing as watching the kids splash around in the Esplanade Lagoon or marvelling at the treetop views of the Daintree in the Skyrail cablecar.
For an added touch of luxury, head a bit further north to Port Douglas and famous Four Mile Beach.
The Great Barrier Reef is among the highlights of the area, with plenty of tour options to suit families.
Teens will appreciate getting to the outer reef to view the multi-coloured coral and creatures. There are also pontoon tours available for younger kids, providing multiple reef-viewing opportunities.
· A dip in the Esplanade Lagoon
· Finding ‘Nemo’ on a reef snorkelling tour
· Gliding over Barron Gorge National Park with Skyrail
Sydney serves up the big-city glam yet maintains a certain accessibility that makes it a top choice for families seeking a little cosmopolitan flair.
You can get into the thick of it with a spot in Darling Harbour, or you can bunk up along the fringes to venture into the city when the mood strikes.
The city is ripe with opportunity for families to get exploring. Many of the best museums and attractions are positioned close together, ensuring easy navigation as you start out.
A trip to the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are great family photo opportunities. Older children may even want to brave the climb to the top of the bridge.
The Sydney Aquarium is close by as is Madam Tussauds. Alternatively, ride the roller coasters of Luna Park or catch the ferry out to Taronga Zoo.
The fun isn’t restricted to the city centre, though, with a couple of coastal getaways within a 30-minute drive. Stretch out in the sands of famous Bondi Beach, or head to Manly to test the waters at Manly Cove Beach.
· Cuddle a koala at Taronga Zoo
· Soak up the sun at Bondi
· A picnic at the Royal Botanic Gardens
Appealing to families that appreciate holidays well off the beaten path, Iceland is a fantastic choice. It’s all about new adventures, but that doesn’t mean it’s strictly for older kids.
Quite the opposite. This other-worldly island enchants young and old with its surreal landscapes and incredible hospitality.
While it’s certainly not fair to say that Iceland is all about the landscapes, it’s true that nature’s bounty plays a large part. From Reykjavik to the Westman Islands, the scenery inspires open-mouthed amazement.
Summer offers up blue skies, verdant cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Winter transforms the landscape into a snow-covered wonderland worthy of your children’s favourite Disney movies, while geysers gush, hot springs steam and mud pots bubble throughout the year.
You may be transfixed by the natural surrounds, but don’t overlook the cultural side of this destination. Reykjavik is a compact centre easily traversed on foot that captivates imaginations with a rich history and varied list of activities.
Learn about the Vikings at one of the many museums, relax in the thermal pools or feed the ducks at Tjornin Lake.
· A dip in Grindavik’s Blue Lagoon
· The Aurora Borealis
· The Great Geysir
Words: Carlie Tucker