Isn’t it ironic that after having a baby—when your nerves are shot, you’re sleep deprived and you really need to go on vacation—traveling is the last thing on your mind? Well, it shouldn’t be. Especially when there are so many destinations designed with families of young ones in mind. From full-time (and free) resort nannies to stroller-accessible trams, these out-of-this-world locales go the distance when it comes to baby amenities. Ciao, bambino!
Why go: Flanked by beaches and forests (snatch!) and all of the beauty that each has to offer, Belize is one of the only countries in Central America where English is the official language. This is a great thing if you aren’t fluent in Spanish, but need to find a replacement pacifier or a pack of diapers at midnight. Just sayin’.
Where to stay: The range of tot amenities at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort is super-extensive—backpack nature tours (pack that baby carrier), sitting services for when mom and dad want to check out the spa, and three ocean view pools for splish-splashing around. Bonus: Babies stay free … no questions asked.
What to do: Your little monkey will get a kick out of the friendly primates that roam around Belize freely. For a more controlled animal encounter visit the Belize Zoo, which is home to hundreds of species including big cats, iguanas, and Belize’s national animal Baird’s tapir. Don’t you dare leave the country without dropping by Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm, where a gorgeous butterfly is bound to land on your baby’s gorgeous bald head. Photo opp!
Why go: One of Japan’s oldest and most fascinating cities, Kyoto is packed with amazing temples and shrines for savoring the culture building by building. But, is it baby-friendly? Totally—especially if you are open to pounding the pavement (with a stroller or carrier in tow).
Where to stay: For easy access to Kyoto’s train station, check out Ryokan Ginkaku, a well-kept lodge with Japanese-style rooms (think: tot-accessible low tables and cushy floor futons). Little ones will love the garden on this hotel’s first floor—there’s a small pond filled with giant Koi fish. You’ll be enamored with the peaceful tea room that the garden leads to.
What to do: Strap your little one on you and hop on the train for the picturesque town of Nara where deer wander the parks freely. Instead of salty pretzels or candy bars, street vendors sell deer food so that you and the littles can feed the beautiful Bambis. Take your train loving tot to Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, where she’ll get an up-close look at 18-plus steam engines, and even go for a 10-minute ride on one of them. If the bambino has started on solid foods, make a pit stop at one of Kyoto’s many noodle shops for some authentic ramen.
Why go: You may think that Ireland is a place better suited for boozy bus tours or travelers with years and years of adventure under their belts, but the country—and Dublin in particular—is actually extremely welcoming towards families with young kids. Plus, there’s no age restriction on Blarney Stone kissing. Plan on renting a car (since Ireland’s public transportation is limited) and map out a light-but-lively plan of attack. Don’t forget your ‘ellas!
Where to stay: They probably won’t remember it, but spending the night in an actual castle (like Ashford Castle) is an experience not to be missed. In addition to having cribs and highchairs in the rooms, babies can toddle around the massive gardens until they’re pooped out, and babysitters are on call should you want to venture out solo in the evening.
What to do: Snag a ride at Phoenix Park Bike Hire (they rent out toddler trailers and tag-alongs, too) and pedal push it around the capital. Stop by Greenan Farm and strap on baby to go through the hedge maze. Raining? Dublin’s kid’s museum Imaginosity offers interactive exhibits—think a cool dress up stage—for toddlers. And surprise! Even the pubs allow little ones; during the afternoons (typically before 8 p.m.) parents can enjoy a pint while listening to live music as the wee ones play nearby.
Prague, Czech Republic
Why go: For a city-esque destination, Prague is tops—especially with a little one in the fray. The best way to travel is by foot and stroller or on the tram (and what babbler doesn’t love that?). The best part: With horse drawn carraiges and hill-perched castles to your left and right, the entire city looks like a page out of kiddo’s favorite bedtime tale.
Where to stay: Aquapalace isn’t just a baby-friendly hotel (with the cutest lobby level baby corner), it’s also a waterpark with mini slides, wading pools and splash pads. Venturing beyond the hotel? Snag a free bike with kiddie seat from concierge and enjoy the ride!
What to do: One of a baby’s favorite past-times is people-watching. They’ll get their fill at Old Town Square, where there are a slew of street vendors selling super-cute wooden toys and puppets. Strap on baby and take the funicular up Petrin Hill where you’ll find an observation tower and a vintage hall of mirrors (perfect for your little ham to stare at himself).
Why go: Whether you dreamed of honeymooning in Fiji or you really did, you may find vacationing on the exotic island with a beby just as awesome. That’s because the islands are teeming with blue oceans, warm water springs and a sweet kid-centric vibe (translation: he or she won’t want for attention).
Where to stay: Many of Fiji’s resorts offer kids’ clubs or on-site nanny services, but a must-check-out is Jean Michel Cousteau Resort, an all-inclusive spot that offers free vacation nannies for babies and tots. One nannie is assigned to your family during the entire length of your stay, which is great for a few-and-far-between grownups-only dinner date.
What to do: Where there’s a beach, there’s most likely a happy baby. With blindingly white sand and crystal clear blue waters, if you do nothing else on this vacay, slather everyone in SPF and head for the shore. If baby is on solids, find a fresh mango or pawpaw stand for an afternoon snack. Cool off with a ride on a glass bottom boat—a fave for the baby and toddler demographic.
Why go: Playgrounds are tucked into nearly every free corner of the city, making it easy for tots to play off some of their schnitzel-fueled energy before naptime. Another perk to vacationing in Vienna is the city’s across-the-board respect for new parents—even subway signs suggest giving up seats to baby-attended grown-ups.
Where to stay: Skip the tour-bus headaches by staying at Hotel Karntnerhof, which is located smack-dab in the middle of city center. Shopping, museums and the underground are literally around the corner. It’s that kind of flexibility that makes for the most fun with-child getaways.
What to do: Break up your playground hopping (remember, they are all over the place) by catching a kiddie concert at Vienna’s Hausdermusik museum or popping into Zoom Children’s Museum, which caters to itty-bitties in their Ocean-themed activity playroom.
Have you gone on an amazing vacation with your bambino? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.
— Ayren Jackson-Cannady
Photos courtesy of Joshua Berman via Creative Commons, Phoenix Park Bike Hire via Facebook, Alfonso Jimenez via Creative Commons, myjedilightsaber via Creative Commons, Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort via Facebook, Mario’s Planet via Creative Commons