For many families, school holidays—most especially the lengthy summer break—present the ideal opportunity to engage in a different type of education: the lessons learned out on the road. Travel is one of the best ways to foster curiosity, inspire awe, and encourage a better understanding of other cultures, languages, cuisine, nature, and the environment. The world is a living, breathing classroom.
It’s also a great way to reconnect with one another, whether we are hitting the road with the people we live with day in and day out, extended or blended family, or are reuniting with our chosen family. When traveling with companions who are at different ages and stages of life, it’s important to make sure that every member of the family, regardless of their age, has a fun and memorable getaway.
Between our own time spent circling the globe with our families, as well as feedback we have collected from readers and family travel experts, we’ve compiled the top destinations for family travel in 2023—places that we have vetted ourselves—to set families up for straight-A success. Let our list inspire you and your crew to get out there and create some meaningful adventures of your own.
North and South America
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Perfect for: Urban adventurers, including families with younger kids.
For families looking to explore South America, Buenos Aires is a great place to start. Argentines are super kid-friendly which translates to playgrounds and carousels throughout the city and children being welcome everywhere (even late-night fancy dinners.) A favorite cultural activity for families is the Teatro Colón, considered a crown jewel for any performer because of its superior acoustics. The venue offers kids programming (Colón Para Chicos) in which they do abbreviated performances of their regular shows on weekend mornings. It’s a fun introduction to opera, ballet and symphonic music.
For visual arts, check out the MALBA, the museum of Latin American art. It’s fully stroller accessible and the contemporary collection is engaging for even the youngest visitors. Check the website for kids workshops, especially during Argentine summer holidays, which are mid-December to mid-February. Buenos Aires is also full of street art. Have some fun hunting for the craziest murals the family can find, or try a walking tour. Take a break with some ice cream—there are parlors every few blocks.
For something more low key, head to the Rosedal, reminiscent of Paris’ Bois de Boulogne. Walking around the artificial lake you might catch an open air circus or musical performance. On the weekends, the city offers free classes ranging from zumba to roller blading. You can also rent bikes or a paddle boat if you’ve got some energy to burn.
Where to stay: A vacation rental in Palermo is your best bet if you want extra space for the kids, and to eat dinner before 9 p.m—most restaurants don’t open for dinner before 9 p.m., so having your own kitchen is a must. If you want to have access to a pool and Elena, one of the best restaurants in the city (which also has a generous kids menu), consider the Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires.—recommended by Marianne Perez-Fransius, co-founder of Bébé Voyage, an online resource for traveling families
Perfect for: Culture-curious kids and adults eager to get their museum, architecture, and comedy club fix.
Chicago has a lot of outdoor spaces and museums that will keep children active and engaged while also being home to a plethora of great restaurants for the adults (and their up-and-coming foodie kids). Some wonderful museums for all ages include the Field Museum and the Museum of Science + Industry. An architecture river cruise is ideal for when everyone in your crew is tired—you get to see Chicago’s amazing collection of structures while relaxing on the river. Another solid option for older kids is a kayak tour on the river or Lake Michigan. Millennium Park is a great outdoor space with a climbing wall and concerts in the summer. You can go biking or exploring in the vast Lincoln Park, which has some great beaches for relaxing and a conservatory that houses the tranquil Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. An evening comedy show at the iconic Second City is fun for everyone.
Where to stay: The younger gens will think you’re the coolest when you book a stay at the cheeky boutique property Virgin Hotels Chicago (which has rooms with two queen beds and suites to accommodate fams). Or book this beautiful Wicker Park home on Airbnb with direct access to one of Chicago’s buzzy neighborhoods (and to the L train, aka Chicago’s public transit network for easy access to the downtown Loop). —recommended by AFAR reader Margo James
Key West, Florida
Perfect for: Elementary school kids that are full of energy and love beach time.
Key West is an amazing destination for young kids that happens to also be an incredibly beautiful place. Head to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon for some humbling time with shelled beauties. Go swimming at Bahia Honda State Park and in Islamorada. In Islamorada there is also a great little cluster of independent shops and restaurants—look out for Bad Boy Burrito. Make sure to head to the Hemingway Home and Museum and the Key West Lighthouse, both of which are steeped in history. Some fun off-the-beaten-path restaurants that are great for families include Havana Jacks Oceanside Restaurant in Key Largo (good for live music and cold drinks); Sunset Grille and Raw Bar in Marathon (for sunsets and playing games outside); and Blue Heaven in Key West (true to its name, it’s heaven). Ultimately, Key West has the perfect mix of swimming, eating, play time, and spotting wildlife—a winning formula for a truly memorable family vacation.
Where to stay: Kimptons are known for their classy updates of classic structures and Kimtpon Key West Winslow’s Bungalows are no exception. Located in the heart of Old Town, this historic property dates back to 1856 and now includes three pools and suites and guest rooms that can accommodate larger groups. The resort fee also includes loaner bikes, snorkel gear and continental breakfast. For the full resort experience, book a stay at Casa Marina Key West, which boasts two pools, bikes for guests, ample water sport activities, and a beachfront location. —recommended by AFAR reader Emma Maksimovic
North Shore, Oʻahu
Perfect for: Kids (and adults) of all ages. And all the surfing.
No amount of beach and pool time is too much for kids, so that alone sets families up for endless fun when visiting Oʻahu. Despite its reputation for gnarly waves, the North Shore also has plenty of alcove beaches with calmer waters and soft sand like Kawela Bay. Older kids who want to give surfing a try will find plenty of surf schools at their disposal—and what better place to learn than in such an iconic surf destination. For a break from the beach, visit Gunstock Ranch for horseback riding or a rewarding tree-planting experience, and Waimea Valley for a hike along cultural and historic sites that ends at a lovely waterfall (that you can take a dip in). Get coffee (for the adults) at The Country Eatery and massive burgers at Seven Brothers—or try any of the food trucks and stands around the historic Kahuku Sugar Mill, where kids also have fun climbing the mill’s old gears.
Where to stay: The recently overhauled Turtle Bay Resort is the sole resort property at the northernmost tip of Oʻahu and it does not disappoint. In addition to pools with waterslides and calm, sandy beaches (with complimentary sand toys for guests), there’s a seemingly endless menu of family-friendly activities, including kayaking in search of sea turtles, stargazing, and ukulele lessons. The Stables at Turtle Bay are a great place for horseback riding for the entire family; they even have a pony experience for children six and under. —Michelle Baran, senior travel news editor
Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Perfect for: Families with younger kids and multigenerational travel.
Located about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Punta Mita is a resort enclave that offers families a perfect mix of sun and sand, Mexican culture and cuisine, and beautiful jungle flora and fauna. Whether you’re traveling with younger kids or are hosting a multigenerational reunion, Punta Mita allows families to be as busy or relaxed as they need or want to be. Spend the day sprawled out on the beach or by the pool, or get active with rainforest treks, snorkeling adventures, and whale watching outings. World-class resorts offer the highest level of service and amenities (including kids clubs, spas, and restaurants), while the surrounding region provides day trip opportunities to colorful local towns like Sayulita and San Pancho, where travelers can seek out locally made crafts and bustling markets.
Where to stay: There are two options in Punta Mita proper and you can’t go wrong with either. Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is extremely welcoming to families with its Kids for All Seasons programming (which was recently enhanced with a Kids Well element that focuses on kids’ mental health and wellbeing), specialty kids’ menus, and family-friendly pools and cultural activities. Accommodations range from newly renovated casitas that sleep up to six all the way up to four- and five-bedroom villas, perfect for larger reunions and gatherings. Nearby is the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, which offers family cooking classes, a children’s club, and a full menu of outdoor adventures (from SUP to surf to snorkeling). Nearby, several new properties with family-friendly accommodations and programming have recently been unveiled, including luxury property Susurros Del Corazón, Auberge Resorts Collection (with one- and two-bedroom suites and sprawling beachfront villas with up to seven bedrooms) and Conrad Punta de Mita (with experiences curated for families like movie night and beach barbecues).—M.B.
Sonoma County, California
Perfect for: A multigenerational family trip. Wine for the adults, outdoor adventure for the kids. Everybody wins.
Bring the grandparents or older members of the family together with the youngest ones for some memorable, multi-gen family fun in wine country. You can spend a day cycling up and down rolling hills and among vineyards with Getaway Adventures. The company offers guided tours or rentals and is well stocked with bikes and equipment for any age or weather condition. Well-behaved kids are welcome at many wineries in Sonoma, including Truett Hurst, a rare organic and biodynamic operation just outside town where kids can explore the gardens and creek while adults sip zinfandel. Families will also enjoy meandering among enormous redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods Natural Reserve, followed by a rewarding visit to the well-stocked toy store Toy Chest in downtown Healdsburg. For dinner, opt for kid-friendly but elevated food such as big pizzas at Pizzando.
Where to stay: Splash out for Hotel Healdsburg on the main square or the stunning, recently opened Montage Healdsburg, which has all the luxury amenities you’d expect from the name (plus an included kids club for guests ages 5-12, as well a family pool). Hotel Trio is a great spot to use up some Marriott Bonvoy points, with an outdoor pool, bocce ball court, bike rentals, and a car-free path straight into town. —Tim Chester, deputy editor
Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Perfect for: Babies and toddlers. British Colombia is a great starter international trip (with no or minimal jetlag from the U.S.).
Vancouver and Whistler make for an ideal getaway for younger travelers for several reasons. To start, western Canada offers the option of international travel with minimal (or even no) jetlag, which makes getting there with sleep challenged babies or toddlers much easier. Secondly, British Columbia is all about gorgeous natural landscapes that provide the perfect backdrop for getting outside—during the summer temperatures hover in the 60s and 70s, making it a great time to visit.
In Vancouver, the combination of the city and the sea is perfect for littles. Families can really lean into the numerous opportunities for boats and ferry rides, like water taxis that criss-cross False Creek and deliver passengers to Granville Island for a buzzing food market and shops, and to Science World, a kid-focused learning center. Stanley Park and its Vancouver Aquarium and totem poles are also must-sees. Vancouver is a very bike-friendly town, which makes for another fun way to see the sights. Head to the Shipyards on Vancouver’s North Shore for endless food trucks, music, art, and entertainment (plus another fun ferry ride).
Summer is the off-season in Whistler, a popular ski destination, so it makes for a much more mellow time to visit with kids. In this beautiful, mountainous region, walking and hiking trips are the way to go. Children will especially love the Train Wreck hike, a forested trek to the site of an abandoned train crash with train cars splattered about the forest floor and a hanging bridge mid-hike. On the road between Whistler and Vancouver, head to wildlife sanctuary Grouse Mountain, where a gondola ride will bring you to natural enclosures housing orphaned bears and owls.
Where to stay: For family-friendly lodging in Whistler, try Nita Lake Lodge, where you can borrow kayaks and canoes for paddling on the lake, rent bikes, take a dip in the pool and hot tub, and hike the nearby trails. In the heart of Whistler is the extremely kid-friendly and classic Fairmont Chateau Whistler with its indoor/outdoor pool and miniature bathrobes for little guests. In Vancouver, the Douglas, Autograph Collection offers prime access to the False Creek waterfront, while the Fairmont Pacific Rim places you right on Vancouver Harbor with views of sea planes taking off and landing. —M.B.
Amsterdam and Schiermonikoog, the Netherlands
Perfect for: Exploring with device- and freedom-loving preteens and teens.
When it comes to traveling with teenagers, any destination where you can get them outdoors for hours at a time with limited cell-phone reception is key in an effort to keep them off screens and engaging with the world. Enter: A trip to Amsterdam and Schiermonikoog, the latter of which is located in the Netherlands’ Friesan Islands. In Amsterdam, families will get a solid dose of culture and history exploring the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. The Van Gogh Museum offers family tours designed to engage kids. Be sure to hit up FEBO, a Dutch chain where food is served out of vending machine–like Automats. For active exploration, opt for a bike ride to see windmills and a trip to the sprawling urban recreational space Vondelpark. For some post-city relaxation, head to Schiermonikoog, a mostly carless self-contained island where kids are issued a bike and the independence to ride around, head to the beach, grab lunch, and play and socialize with their peers on their own, without parents having to worry too much.
Where to stay: Reserve a family suite at the Pulitzer Amsterdam and you’ll have accommodations for up to four guests right on two of the city’s main canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. Alternatively, your wanna-be-adult teens will love the sophistication of Conservatorium Hotel in the city’s museum district. On Schiermonikoog, it’s all about scoring a great vacation rental like this stylish two-bedroom house in the heart of the main village. —Laura Simkins, chief operations officer
Perfect for: Families traveling with babies and younger kids.
Portugal is extremely family-friendly. There are parking spots just for pregnant women and airport security lanes just for families. Toddlers are welcome at wine bars and in trendy restaurants like Prado in Lisbon. Portuguese playgrounds are also next level. Or you can simply let the little ones loose in the centuries-old castles of Sintra and Óbidos and the open square of the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, where history provides more than enough entertainment. Take the tots to the bustling Time Out Market Lisboa, a 50-stall food hall in the old fish-and-meat market, Mercado da Ribeira, where even the pickiest eaters are likely to find something they fancy. Pro tip: Rent an automatic car and bring a baby carrier, because the hilly cobblestone city streets are not friendly to manual transmission or strollers.
Where to stay: Martinhal apartments are famed for their kids club and baby concierge and The Lisboans feature stylish one- and two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens, along with hotel-style services like check-in, room cleanings, and breakfast delivery. —Laura Dannen Redman, digital content director
Paris and Provence, France
Perfect for: Whether you’re traveling with le bébé, energetic younger kids, or more sophisticated high schoolers, there’s something for everyone in the City of Lights and south of France.
Let the youngest members of the fam scurry up the stairs of Sacre Coeur, marvel at the magnitude of seeing the Mona Lisa firsthand at the Louvre, and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Or head to Luxembourg Gardens, where kids will delight in a carousel ride and playing with the toy sailboats—Paris is full of fantastic playgrounds and parks. Have a high schooler who is learning French? Let them lead the way and practice their français by helping with ordering meals at bistros and cafés.
When you’re ready for a break from the city, rent a car and explore southern France’s endlessly charming Provence region. Make the antique streets of UNESCO World Heritage site Avignon your home base while roaming Provence’s lavender fields, wineries, art history (numerous impressionists lived here in the 19th century, including Van Gogh), and impressive churches and palaces, such as the gothic masterpiece Palais des Papes in Avignon.
Where to stay: When traveling to Paris with kids, a little extra space and access to parks are key. This effortlessly stylish two-bedroom Airbnb right by Luxembourg Gardens offers both. You can also opt for Residence Nell’s full-service apartments in the Ninth arrondissement or go all-out at the eternally elegant Le Bristol Paris, which is as kid-friendly (with its pool and kids club) as it is classy. We’ve also rounded up a selection of chic Paris hotels with rooms big enough for families. In Avignon, babies and younger guests are welcome at Le Prieuré, a small and luxurious property built inside a 14th-century monastery, surrounded by gardens and complete with a pool. For a beautiful guest house with a pool and some family-friendly suites, check out Les Jardins de Baracane. —— recommended by AFAR reader Shira Berger (Provence) and Lyndsey Matthews, senior commerce editor (Paris)
Perfect for: A laid-back island vacation the whole family can enjoy.
Spetses is close enough to the mainland to make for an easy ferry ride, yet offers the relaxed vibes of a typical Greek island. Get your culture fix at the Bouboulina Museum and eat fresh seafood at countless waterfront restaurants. Beaches are located right in town, or you can venture a kilometer or two away for something quieter. Let your kids play in the rocky sand for hours while the local beach club brings lunch and a cocktail straight to your lounge chair. The island is mainly car-free, but horse and carriage rides make for a great way to transport the kids to dinner. Should you find yourself with an hour or two sans kids, rent an e-bike and cruise the scenic road that goes around the entire island. Make sure to stop at one of the hidden beaches you’ll encounter along the way. Pro tip: Greek sidewalks are not terribly welcoming for double strollers. If you have two kids in tow that need one, it’s better to pack an umbrella stroller for each of them.
Where to stay: The Poseidonion Grand Hotel is just steps from the ferry terminal, offering stunning waterfront views and kid-friendly amenities, including two outdoor pools. Just a short distance up the road you’ll find Nissia Traditional Residences with suites and residences that can accommodate a large group and serves as absolutely delicious Greek salad. —Anni Cuccinello, director of audience development
Africa and Asia
Perfect for: Elementary school aged kids and up.
India is a wonderful trip for kids who have graduated from the more challenging younger (ahem, toddler) years and are ready to explore and engage in the rich history and culture of this beautiful South Asian destination. After landing (and adjusting to the time difference) in Delhi, head to Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City,” which is famous for its grand palaces and Rajasthani culture. Kids can run around in the courtyard of the Hawa Mahal, a palace made of red and pink sandstone and will stare in bewilderment at the mustachioed guards at the adjacent City Palace (some of the mustaches are seriously giant). Then, hit the shops in search of shimmering silver jewelry and traditional Rajasthani outfits. At the Chokhi Dhani cultural village, families can ride camels and indulge in a Rajasthani feast.
Where to stay: Book one of the beautiful and spacious suites at the the Johri at Lal Haveli from AFAR’s 2021 Stay List or get lost at the Oberoi Rajvilas, a sprawling and palatial resort where rooms range from over-the-top villas with private pools to luxury tents inspired by royal caravans of yore.—Sarika Bansal, editorial director
Nairobi and Masai Mara, Kenya
Perfect for: Even jaded teens who will be totally awed by the nature and beauty of a safari experience.
Start by splurging on a night at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, because who doesn’t love feeding giraffes during breakfast? Then it’s off for a safari adventure. Take the group to Elewana Elsa’s Kopje in Meru, which is the site of the original camp of Kenyan wildlife conservationist George Adamson. Follow that up with Mahali Mzuri in Masai Mara. The entire family will be captivated when they spot lions, elephants, wildebeest, and zebras in the wild. Consider using a luxury Africa travel specialist such as Mahlatini, which handles everything including airport transfers, bush flights, tours and all the little details. A bucket-list trip for sure and something teens will be excited to do even if they are over being excited to travel with family.
Where to stay: If you feel inspired by the idea of doing an African safari with the family, we’ve rounded up some additional family-friendly safaris—including lodgings—that will make planning an epic safari trip much easier. —recommended by AFAR reader Jenn Thomas
Perfect for: Kids of all ages, but you’d be surprised how much Tokyo will surprise and delight even young toddlers (just make sure to build in some buffer for jetlag).
This beautiful, bustling capital city is a feast for the senses that will thrill the younger gens to no end. Just walking around and taking in all the sights is fun for kids, with countless stores to pop into and fun snacks to try. Head to a robot-themed show at the Robot Restaurant, visit the city’s owl and hedgehog cafés, and explore Sakurazaka Park in Roppongi (also known as “robot park”) and Ueno Zoo. The Tokyo Disney Resort, which features both a Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme park, is easy to get using the Tokyo subway system. Another great stop for kids is the Tokyo Skytree—head to the top terrace, 1,500 feet above the city, and walk around, and then down below to the mall that has tons of restaurants. Get your noodle knowledge fix at the ramen museum in Yokohama, which has a nearby giant Ferris wheel called the Cosmo Clock.
Where to stay: Splurge on a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi, with a pool, playroom, and discounted breakfasts for younger guests. Another luxury option is the iconic Grand Hyatt Tokyo in the lively Roppongi nabe. Or book a kid-friendly vacation rental through Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy, like this sleek apartment downtown. —recommended by AFAR reader Lauren Ide
Michelle Baran Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.