As you settle into a new decade, consider going on an adventure to usurp all others. Create new memories, solidify bonds, and take your brood around the world to experience the aurora borealis, cowboy culture, urban escapes, voluntourism, wildlife encounters, or romps in wide-open spaces. Read on to discover 23 incredible vacations that are perfect for traveling with kids in tow.
Stay In an Old Schoolhouse
Imagine how cool it would be for your kids to spend the night in an old schoolhouse. The Society Hotel Bingen in Washington state has a history that dates back 80 years. Now operating with a hotel, hostel and cabin concept, since 2019, families can shoot hoops in the original school gym, swim in the pool, steep in the hot tub, practice yoga in the Sanctuary, and enjoy a hearty breakfast in the Café & Lounge. Book a private cabin, which features a sitting room area, stocked kitchenette, outdoor hammock, and bunk beds for the kids. The best part: your family will be close to all of the hiking, cycling, and rafting fun in and around the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
Catch the Northern Lights
The Wilderness Camp in Kilpisjärvi, Finland is made up of three mobile sleeping huts, which are placed in the best possible locations to view the Northern Lights each winter season. Each hut has a gas stove, super-wide bed, table, heater, dry toilet and includes the use of snowshoes and kicksleds. Their most amazing feature is the glass roof that allows guests to lie back and gaze out at the stars (and hopefully the aurora), making for a truly unforgettable experience. You will be transported by snowmobile to your hut in the evening and left to enjoy the wilderness and the aurora alone. Local snacks and hot drinks are included as well as an Arctic grill for dinner and breakfast the following morning. Children are welcome to join this adventure and share the extra-large bed with their parents (each hut only has one bed).
Travel in a Hotel on Wheels
Explore our national parks by traveling in a recreational vehicle. Not only will you have a hotel on wheels, with elevated views out of large windows, but you’ll also have access to the parks at later hours because you won’t have to get back to your accommodations. One of the best resources for booking an RV is Outdoorsy. You can choose from a variety of types and sizes, depending on what your family needs.
Another way to experience the great outdoors is to book your very own Conestoga wagon. Yosemite Pines RV Park offers these fully-heated and air-conditioned wagons that sleep up to six people. Available year round, your wagon comes equipped with modern comforts like a mini fridge, microwave and coffee pot. In the warmer months, you can swim in the resort's pool, enjoy activities planned by the staff and take the YARTS shuttle right into Yosemite.
Learn How to Paddle Down a Whitewater River
Snowmass Colorado is a year-round destination perfect for outdoor-loving, intrepid families. In the summer, whitewater rafting is a bucket list adventure for most families, and you’ll find lots of opportunities to splash in rivers here. Blazing Adventures is our top pick for family-friendly rafting excursions. You’ll fly down the rapids of the Roaring Fork River, the Colorado River or the Arkansas River. Depending on the ages of your kids, you can pick different classes of rapids, varying in difficulty: Kids as young as five, for example, can float down the Lower Roaring Fork and older kids and adults that are ages 16 and up can paddle over Slaughterhouse Falls, which has a six-foot waterfall drop. Adventure awaits in Snowmass!
Have a Far-Flung Global Travel Experience
There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, especially when it comes to international travel. Utilizing an expert travel planning resource, like Abercrombie & Kent, will take all of the guesswork out of getting from point A to point B so that you can focus on making memories with your family. With the use of an on-the-ground guide, leading the way for your custom-built family-forward itinerary, your kids can experience travel in a whole new way. The Luxury Family Journeys include itineraries to exciting destinations like Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Egypt, Japan or Africa.
Live Like Royalty
If your crew has always wanted to live like kings and queens, book your vacation in this 12th Century majestic Irish castle. Only an hour's drive from Dublin, the castle sits on 180 acres of lush green land that includes its own golf course and gardens. Reserve all 11 bedrooms in the castle for your epic family reunion and you can go back in time with daily activities like archery and falconry. View the property from the back of a horse or travel down the River Barrow on a boat. Want to try a different castle? We've got more to choose from here.
Castaway on Your Own Private Island
Sheltered behind the world-famous Belize Barrier Reef, Coral Caye is a completely private island that can be yours alone for a once-in-a-lifetime family getaway. Once used as a commercial fishing camp, Coral Caye has been enhanced to offer sleeping quarters for up to 10 travelers, full bathrooms and cooking facilities. Your caretakers will prepare all your meals for you including Creole-style BBQ with fresh-caught seafood. Swing in a hammock in the shade of a mangrove tree or swim among seahorses.
Give Back on a Family Volunteer Vacation
Looking to expose your kids to new cultures and give back to communities in need? A volunteer vacation is right up your alley. Discover Corps offers small group trips where you can choose a Nature & Wildlife Adventure where you join conservationists to protect endangered species or a Cultural Exploration where you can teach English to local children among other activities. Trips like these really open children's eyes to the world outside their own home and teach them an appreciation for the greater planet.
Swing from the Trees in Your Very Own Treehouse
If you've ever wanted to spend your night suspended in the trees, look no further than Vertical Horizons in Southern Oregon. Here you can rent out one of four treehouse cottages and truly immerse yourself in nature. Wake up to the sound of birds and an awesome breakfast provided on site and then spend your days climbing trees, fishing or playing disc golf. Kids are welcome, and the cottages can sleep your whole crew. All of the treehouses come with a half bath—showers and BBQs are located near the main house.
Explore a Culture Unlike Your Own
Istanbul, which straddles both Europe and Asia, will awaken a whole new world of wonder for your family. From the first the call to prayer echoed from the minarets around the city to the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, it'll be an eye-opening experience. Spend your day shopping, and then view the city from a boat on a Bosphorus tour. Check out all our recs of what to do and where to eat when you are in Istanbul (bonus: you may even be able to snag a free hotel room if you take advantage of the Turkish Airlines stopover service). The kids will come home with a new appreciation for the world outside the U.S.
Get Up Close and Personal with a Polar Bear
If your dream is to get close to the majestic polar bear, this tour is for you. Families can traverse the frozen tundra via Polar Rover in search of northern wildlife such as Arctic fox, Arctic hare, snowy owl and ptarmigan. Take a dog's-eye tour while gliding through the boreal forest on a traditional dog sled driven by an expert team of sled dogs. Then, soar over the tundra on a helicopter flight that offers a chance to spot polar bears heading out toward the pack ice forming on Hudson Bay. All of these activities are offered by Natural Habitat Adventures who partners with the WWF to ensure environmentally-friendly travel.
Learn to Live Like a Native American
Lodgepole Gallery, tucked in the breathtaking foothills of the Rocky Mountains bordering Glacier National Park, is a place of gathering for those from all over the world for an authentic venture into the life of the Blackfeet Indian. The traditional Blackfoot tipi retains airflow and lets in outdoor acoustics of the natural environment so you will be able to hear crickets (and maybe even howling wolves!) at night, under star-lit Montana skies. Warm up with a fire in the center of your tipi and socialize with other guests at the communal fire for a trip like no other.
Be Environmental Stewards in Fiji
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort gives adventure-seekers young and old the chance to experience scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, traditional spearfishing, paddle-boarding, sailing, local pearl farm tours and rainforest and mangrove excursions—to name just a few activities that are offered at this eco-luxury resort in Fiji. The socially-conscious resort offers travelers immersive and authentic cultural experiences including visits to the local village, for which guests are taught about the culture and customs by a village elder before being given permission to enter the village and meet the Chief. Kids can participate in the Ambassadors of the Environment program where they can learn from resident marine biologists on how to preserve and protect our oceans for the future.
Stay in a Hotel Made of Ice
Live out your Frozen dreams when you stay the night at this Canadian hotel made entirely out of ice. From January through March, guests can bundle up in igloo-like suites that can sleep up to six. Warm up in the hot tub or sauna before you settle in for the night in your sleeping bag designed for sub-zero temps. They even have kid-sized sleeping bags so the whole family can get in on the fun.
Experience the Wildlife Wonderland of the Galapagos Islands
For a vacation that combines luxury comforts and amazing wildlife experiences, Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos is the ideal destination. Set on a 480-acre private estate in Ecuador, the Royal Palm offers guided tours to spot local creatures like the Galapagos penguins and Darwin Short Beak Finches and yacht cruises to swim with playful sea lions. Stay in one of the resort's 21 casitas and villas and enjoy luxury services like a chocolate oil massage that the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection is well known for.
Visit a Zero Waste Community
Looking to teach the kids a little bit about how we can reduce our carbon footprint? Plan your next spring break adventure to the town of Taos, New Mexico. Here you will find the community of Earthship Biotecture, where the houses are made out of natural and recycled materials (think wine bottles and tires), and are designed to produce electricity, food, and water. You can take a tour of this unique community and some are even available to rent via Airbnb. Extend your Taos trip by taking the kids to see the Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.
Vacation by Bike
Tired of spending your vacation packed in the minivan with the kids, the suitcases and the snacks all over the floor? Head out to Mackinac Island in Michigan where cars are totally forbidden. Ditch your vehicle and hop aboard one of the ferries that will take you to the island. There, transportation is limited to bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. Rent one of the 1,500 bikes from single-speed to tandems, fat-tires to kids bikes. Set out to explore Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes, which were captured by British forces in the War of 1812. Reward all your exercise with a stop at one of the island's many fudge shops.
Stay at Mission Point Resort, where your family, including Fido-the-dog, can fly kites or play bocce ball on the great lawn. You'll have easy access to Lake Shore Boulevard, which is a looped path that circumnavigates the island for 8.2 miles—perfect for two wheels.
Wrangle Cows on a Cattle Drive
Learn how to be an authentic cowboy or cowgirl by rounding up cattle and herding them to greener pastures at The Resort at Paws Up. Your family will work with an expert Montana wrangler, learning the skills of the trade, and then set out on horseback to the countryside. After the job is done your kids can frolic around the Kids Corps of Discovery, an out-of-doors adventure camp, or test their skills on The Grizzlyman Fitness Trail. Adventures for families abound on this 37,000-acre dude ranch. The resort’s concierge services can set up a custom itinerary for your family to make sure everyone, regardless of age or ability, has the best time possible while vacationing in big sky country.
Reclaim Your Zen
Looking to add some "om" to your spring break? Head to the Florida Keys or Key West where you can enjoy a family-focused wellness retreat. Choose from activities like family AcroYoga, paddleboard yoga or kids meditation. Sprinkle in sightseeing to Dry Tortugas National Park or the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. They even offer "conscious childcare" where the babysitter comes with drums, astrology, and art to entertain the wee ones. End your voyage with a family drumming session to move the spirit and wake the soul.
Go on a Wine Tour
A wine tour for Spring Break? With kids? Why not?! Nowadays, there are plenty of wineries that offer major perks for kids so Mom and Dad can relax and enjoy a sample or two. If you don't plan on taking a trip to Napa, Fredericksburg or another well-known wine region, a day or overnight trip will still do the trick. Wondering where to start? We've got the best family-friendly wineries right here.
Explore the Wild West
Kids who love the Wild West will be gunnin' to explore the IRL towns that inspired their imaginary heroes. From Tombstone to Dodge City, there are plenty of places to explore and things to do: you can ride horses, mine for gold, watch an epic (fake) gun fight and explore historical battlegrounds. Discover the best Wild West towns for visiting with kids by clicking here.
Travel by Train
Whether it's the Grand Canyon route or a historical journey along the east coast, train travel is one for the memory books. There are plenty of daytime and overnight jaunts to choose from (see our faves here), and the Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska Railroad are well-loved train rides perfect for families. You can opt for a 3-7 day adventure across regions of America, too. Discover the best cross-country train trips by clicking here.
Experience the World’s Premier Playground
Looking for a vacation that combines glamour and culture with a side of adventure? Head to Dubai—the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Known around the world for its jaw-dropping architecture, epic shopping malls, extravagant theme parks and resorts and pristine beaches, this city and emirate on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf is like no other. Where else can you spend the morning at the beach, the afternoon skiing and the evening riding a camel in the desert? Check out our recommendations of what to see and do with kids while you are in Dubai and take advantage of Emirates’ abundance of family offerings.
—Wendy Altschuler with Kate Loweth