We’re always dreaming about the family vacations we’d like to take—especially since we know that they can impact kids’ life-long happiness. This year, instead of your go-to campsite or theme park, consider splurging on a luxury hotel or retreat for your summer vacation. It won’t be cheap, but the memories you’ll make are totally worth the investment. So, throw caution to the wind, and read on for our carefully curated list of ultimate worldwide family destinations that are worth every extra penny.

Terranea, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Who's ready for a giant dose of vitamin Sea? This 102-acre private paradise set on the Pacific Coast in SoCal brings the spirit and beauty of the Mediterranean stateside. The eco resort has plenty of room for basking in beach-laden sunshine with four ocean-view pools, an oceanfront golf course and a Spa with views of the coastline. Their Villas are a luxurious home away from home with panoramic views of Catalina Island, dedicated on-call concierge services and the conveniences of a private garage and laundry room and a gourmet kitchen. Kids will dive into the pool that's complete with a 140-foot waterslide––and they'll love the local activities of kayaking, surf camps, standup paddleboarding and evening s'mores by the fire pits. 

Peak season (June and on) prices start at $455 per night.

Online: terranea.com


Dromoland Castle, Ireland

Talk about a vacation fit for a queen! This 16th-century castle in Clare, Ireland is the crowning glory. The O'Briens of Dromoland, the Kings of Thomond, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years once called it home. You'll find grand staircases, antique chandeliers and lavishly decorated rooms inside, plus the estate has more than 400 acres to explore with the kids. Take a boat out onto the lake to feed the ducks or try your hand at an archery class or falconry. There's also clay shooting, fishing, horseback and pony riding and more. Stay in one of their Family Deluxe rooms where kids' amenities include junior bathrobes and specially tailored menus. Parents will love being pampered at The Spa and will treasure a plunge in the outdoor, gazebo-covered hydro pool. It might be hard to come back to earth after this royally lovely vacation.

Peak season rates start at $719 per night.

Online: dromoland.ie.com

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana

Here's your chance to try ranch life with a 5-star twist. The Ranch at Rock Creek is an all-inclusive ranch vacation experience in Montana's Big Sky country. The serene, picturesque setting is the star of this vacay, but a stay in the resort's Bear House luxury home will be a close second. The 2,668 sq. foot abode comes with any amenity your family will need plus a hot tub, private deck, sunroom and personal mountain bikes to boot. The Little Grizzlies Kids Club gives little ones a chance to experience the Frontier West with activities like forest exploration, horse safety & care and riding and roping, geocaching and more.

May-Jun. is an ideal time for fly fishing and families can go on this adventure to Rock Creek with a trained fishing guide. Photography workshops, a ropes course, Granite Spa and yoga and meditation classes round out the impeccable offerings at this dreamy locale. And of course, you'll definitely want to horseback ride across the 6,600 acres of breathtaking beauty.

Peak season rates start at $867 per night.

Online: theranchatrockcreek.com

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany, Italy

The Tuscan countryside is definitely on your bucket list, and the one-of-a-kind luxury villas at the 800-year-old estate of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco are a next-level kind of way to experience the famed region. The elegantly restored 17th and 18th-century farmhouses are sprinkled across the bucolic landscape and come complete with private heated pools, terraces, pergolas and gardens. Venture out of this slice of heaven to experience authentic Italian meals made with ingredients from the on-site organic gardens on a terrace overlooking the countryside, take a swim alongside a field of fresh blooming summer lavender, go wine-tasting at the winery or relax with a spa service at the spa where kids as young as age four can choose from a kiddie-themed menu of services.

The Rose Buds for Children program goes above and beyond with offerings as magical as the storybook setting you're immersed in. Kids can take cooking classes, go on treasure hunts, play tennis, go off-roading on a quad tour, learn the art of cake baking and meet and feed all the animals on the estate's farm, to name a just a few of the marvelous adventures.

Rates are available upon request. 

Online: rosewoodhotels.com/en/castiglion-del-bosco

Loews Chicago Hotel, Chicago

Be the ultimate city slickers in the heart of the windy city with Loews Chicago Hotels Urban Explorer Family Package. The breeze will be at your back as you explore the wonders of Chicago and the city's top tourist spots. Kids can keep track of the adventures with an Urban Explorer kit that's stocked with every junior traveler’s biggest survival needs: a backpack, water bottle, sunglasses, journal and pens, a compass and more. Also included: free breakfast for kids and milk and cookies delivered to your luxury suite. Be sure to hop on over to Streeterville Social, a hip rooftop terrace with fun activities for families.

You'll also be well situated to stroll Michigan Ave. or head to the beach or nearby museums including Field, Shedd, Adler, Art Institute or Lincoln Park Zoo and Navy Pier. For indoor activities, don't miss Pinstripes which has a great breakfast buffet and bowling. FTW is right down the street and has video games, air hockey and six-hole mini golf. A must-do dining experience is SafeHouse Chicago––a spy-themed restaurant where you have to know the password to get in. If you don't know the password, they make you do tricks. But it's worth it because there's non-stop fun once you're inside.

Peak season rates start at $326 per night. 

Online: loewshotels.com/chicago-downtown

Beresheet Hotel, Israel

Israel may not immediately spring to mind when planning summer travel, but our guide to Big Fun in Little Israel outlines a plethora of reasons why this destination makes for a memorable family adventure. Stay at the Beresheet Hotel to be situated near the Negev Desert which is home to Ramon Crater, a heart-shaped 200 million-year-old stunner which forms Israel's biggest national park. All ages can rappel down the cliffs of the equator and go on Jeep tours of the desert.

After adventuring, cool off in the infinity pool at the Beresheet that overlooks the crater and the ancient spice route. The hotel's desert rooms with balconies overlook the ancient landscape with incredible and unique views. Perks for hotel guests include free baby food (when arranged in advance) and a fully equipped, interactive room with computer games, video games, a tv and non-electronic games. For another extraordinary experience, book a one-hour helicopter ride from the Tel Aviv airport.

Rates start at $566 per night.

Online: isrotelexclusivecollection.com/beresheet

Bali at Sayan, Bali, Indonesia

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan is just another way of saying "paradise." Unwind in the midst of water features, rainforest gardens and the sacred Ayung River. The resort's Family Suite boasts gorgeous, authentic Balinese decor with a romantic hideaway master bedroom. The Pici Pici Club for kids age 4-12 offers daily cooking classes, exploration of the property's Rice Barn Tree House which is nestled in its own jungle wonderland, Balinese dance classes and Balinese Art Deco such as palm leaf folding. Take a relaxing dip in the swimming pool from which you can hear the sounds of the Ayung River, or go on a biking adventure, river rafting, climb an active volcano, or attend cooking school in an open-air bamboo facility. This family vacation is the perfect combo of soothing rejuvenation and wild excursions.

Peak season rates start at $610 per night.

Online: fourseasons.com/sayan

LEGOLAND Holiday Village, Denmark

Visit Denmark's LEGO House and stay at the LEGOLAND Holiday Village to really immerse your family in LEGO culture and blow your little brick lover's mind in the town where LEGO was invented! Choose between NINJAGO cabins, Wild West cabins, Wilderness Barrels, Pirate rooms or a stay in Indian tents on their camping ground. Read all about the LEGO House to learn why a visit to this 12,000-sq. meter "Home of the Brick" filled with 25 million LEGO bricks will be worth the splurge.

Rates start at $383 per night.

Online: legoland.dk/legoland-holiday-village

Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas, Crete, Greece

Fancy living large in a Grecian cove on your own private beach? The Mansion at Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas will put you in the lap of luxury. This tri-level hillside stunner has staff quarters, a private spa with indoor and outdoor heated pools, a gym, breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and most any creature comfort you could ask for. The Resort is situated in its own bay with dreamy white sand beaches. The Kids Club offers childcare for babies and tots in the Crèche Club by UK childcare experts Worldwide Kids Co., and there are programs kids and teens will love at this family-welcoming Resort. From tennis and swimming to trips in canoes, kayaks, water-bikes and pedalos around the bay, or cruise in a private yacht, motorboat or catamaran, all available to rent––you'll get your sea legs in no time. You'll also love dining on traditional Greek cuisine at the Resorts myriad restaurants.

Rates are available upon request. 

Online: daioscovecrete.com

New Zealand

Got a dragon obsessed kiddo? Take him/her on a New Zealand adventure, where they filmed Pete's Dragon, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Our extensive guide to exploring Wellington, New Zealand tells you everything you need to know from the best flight to where to play, eat and must-see spots. Stay at the design-minded, exquisite QT Museum Wellington Hotel in one of their opulent, quirky apartment suites for a truly out of this world experience. Take note that our summer is New Zealand's winter, so pack warm clothes!

Rates start at $221 per night.

Online: qthotelsandresorts.com/wellington

Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa

Your little cubs will ROAR at the chance to go on an African safari! The luxurious Madikwe Lelapa Lodge is the perfect natural haven for families—featuring 12 spacious, gorgeously designed suites to host 24 people. Venture out on a private African safari of no more than eight people to make the experience intimate and personal, led by a Madikwe guide, where you'll head into the wild to see animals big and small from rhinos to dung beetles and elephants to leopards. This all day "game drive" includes breakfast, high tea and dinner. We can't think of a more bucket-list worthy vacation than this!

Rates start at $547 per person per night.

Online: madikwesafarilodge.co

Opio en Provence, Provence, France

There are plenty of good reasons to vacation in France, and the region of Provence is one of them. For a family-friendly experience, book a stay at all-inclusive Club Med at Opio en Provence. Included in your stay are gourmet cuisine, children's club activities, unlimited water and land sports and day and night entertainment. The resort boasts three inviting pools and the Club Med CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil playground, which offers over 25 different activities for guests (like flying trapeze school)! Nestled between the sea and the mountains and calm olive groves, village life and nature, you get the best of both worlds. You can schedule day trips to other areas in the French Riveria too, like Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Antibes and more. 

Peak season rates start at $647 per night.

Online: clubmed.us/r/Opio-en-Provence

The Eloise Suite at The Plaza New York

Life imitates art in the most beautiful and charming manner at The Eloise Suite at The Plaza New York. Designed by Betsey Johnson to reflect the beloved literary character, Eloise, this perfectly pink suite is the stuff dreams are made of. Complete with a king-sized bed adorned with custom Eloise-themed bedding, Eloise books and dolls and a big neon pink Eloise sign, the fun continues way beyond the suite in The Plaza's Eloise-themed tea time in The Palm Court and in the Eloise-themed shop that's chock-full of outfits, accessories and more. Of course, The Plaza is also perfectly poised on Fifth Avenue at Central Park South to take advantage of all the magical, bustling city life. How 'suite' it is.

Rates available upon request.

Online: theplazany.com/eloise

Where’s your dream family vacation destination? Share in the comments!

––Beth Shea


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