Curious where all the cool kids are vacationing this year?
With summer heating up, families are booking vacation rental stays across the globe. Out of 1,800 travelers surveyed, 59% percent plan to stay in a vacation home this year in the US alone. In addition, travelers claim that friend or family recommendations often influence their decision to book a trip, according to a recent Yahoo Travel Perception Study. Indeed, it’s nice to know your next family vacation destination has a strong stamp of approval from trusted peers.
That’s why TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals asked 25 of the top family travel bloggers what their favorite destinations are.
A memorable family trip involves more than sand castles and amusement parks, though those are certainly kids’ favorites. It’s the experience that matters. Showing your children that a world exists beyond their back door. With beautiful colors, eclectic cuisine and rich history.
Of course, affordability and family-friendly attractions are important, and our 25 selected bloggers offer advice on that too. From the fields of Bali, the islands of Spain and Italy to America’s Golden Coast, see which vacation destinations these family travel bloggers say are can’t-miss.
The food is fabulous and perfect for kids. The history is tangible enough for children to really appreciate it, with sights like the Colosseum or Pompeii, and everything is so lovely, including the people. Families can have a wonderful time just hanging out in piazzas or parks and letting the kids kick the soccer ball around with locals. It’s so easy to balance sightseeing with downtime.
– Tamera Gruber, We3Travel
It can be hard to know where to point your camera because Hawaii is bursting with gorgeous flowers, fruits, palm trees, beaches, ocean and mountains in every direction. Each island has its own vibe, so a vacation on secluded Kauai feels very different from a trip to bustling Honolulu on Oahu. The people are so friendly on every island; as my first grader son said during our visit to Maui last summer, “No one is unhappy or mean in Hawaii!”
– Colleen Lanin, Travel Mamas
An all-around fabulous place to travel with children. Children are welcome everywhere in Italy and there’s always something delicious and fresh for kids to eat. And there are more UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy than there are anywhere else in the world – so a trip will expose kids to some amazing history, art and culture.
– Gretta Schifano, Mums Do Travel
Hong Kong is our favorite family destination because my daughter was born there and still feels deep connection to it. While a booming center of international finance thrives within its famous skyline, Hong Kong is surprisingly family-friendly with world-class theme parks, amazing food and plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors via hikes, UNESCO sites, beaches and excursions to outlying islands.
– Katie Dillon, La Jolla Mom
My favorite family vacation destination is Thailand and we try to get there at least once a year. Beautiful beaches, accommodations to suit all budgets, amazing culture, friendly people and most importantly, the best food (in my opinion) on the planet!
– Nicola, Jetlag and Mayhem
There is one place we always return to. In fact we’ve visited twice already in 2015 alone, making this our 10th visit to… Bali! The Island of the Gods offers a budget-friendly vacation with a touch of luxury. On top of feeling like royalty for minimal outlay there are so many family-friendly activities, from the #1 waterpark in Asia (as voted on TripAdvisor) to trampolining, water sports, kids clubs, rice paddy walks, Balinese dances, monkey forests and so much more! And if that isn’t enough, the Balinese adore children so youngsters will find a constant friendly environment in restaurants and even shopping at the markets.
– Erin Bender, Travel With Bender
From surfing to river rafting and skiing to wine tasting or just soaking in that California energy – it really makes you want to dream big. Where else could the kids swim while you try first class flight of wine (Coppola)? Or pick up a Starbucks coffee on a ski run (Squaw Valley)? Or learn about glaciers while looking at one (Yosemite)!
– Susanna Scott, A Modern Mother
We stay in Playa Blanca which is gorgeous, with beautiful beaches and views across the Atlantic to Isla de Lobos and Fuerteventura (easily reachable by ferry). It is a wonderful place for walking with a promenade right beside the sea, and also boasts an abundance of shops, ice cream places and restaurants. If you rent a car, you can go on the most fantastic trips, with the lunar-type landscapes of the Timanfya National Park and the Fire Mountains both must-sees. And let’s not forget the Cactus Gardens or the atmospheric underground caves at Cueva de los Verdes!
– Sarah Ebner, Family Travel Times
I checked with my son, and he recommends Cozumel, Mexico. It’s a laid-back, small island in the Mexican Caribbean that has amazing scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s a great place to relax but also has enough activities to keep things interesting. There are lots of food choices from adventurous to the familiar. If you don’t speak Spanish, it isn’t a problem. You’ll find plenty of bilingual locals almost everywhere you go.
– Talon Windwalker, 1 Dad 1 Kid
There are so many reasons to love St Lucia, from the gorgeous beaches and coast to the mountains, chocolate plantations and activities like rainforest zipwiring. But it tops my list because it’s also so child-friendly. The attitude is so welcoming to kids, and even if you’re traveling with younger babies and toddlers, people bend over backwards to make sure you have a great time. Add in some delicious food and fresh fruit, the chance to swim in the Caribbean and family-friendly accommodations and it’s perfect.
– Cathy Winston, Mummy Travels
Our favorite destination is anywhere we can park our RV! An area we tend to return to over and over again is South Dakota. Beyond the well-known Black Hills and Mount Rushmore the area is a natural wonderland! We’ve dug mammoth bones at The Mammoth Site and learned about Spanish Mustang Preservation at Windcross Conservancy in Hot Springs, cycled the Mickelsen Trail, hiked the barren ground of the Badlands, explored below ground in Wind Cave National park, and eaten one of the best meals (ever) at a small bar and restaurant in Pringle. Each time we visit we find more incredible adventure to draw us back again!
– Jody Halsted, Family Rambling
Forget school; this is nature’s classroom. From the bubbling, boiling, earth busting Ring of Fire to the icy sculptures of Jökulsárlón, every switchback of the road brings a new natural phenomenon. And a new hotpool – almost every settlement has one! There’s quirky museums that celebrate sea monsters and sorcerers. You can sing happy birthday to the cake-shaped waterfall or climb behind curtains of water at Seljalandsfoss. This destination is moody, playful, mercurial and always growing and changing – just like your toddler or teen. They’ll feel right at home.
– Kirstie Pelling, The Family Adventure Project
Our favorite family vacation destination has to be Hawaii, after all we came to visit briefly and 2 years later are still here! There is so much diversity between the islands and within each island that it’s just a perfect spot to accommodate all tastes (important with multiple kids). Having some of the best weather we have ever had the pleasure to live in doesn’t hurt either!
– Mary, Bohemian Travelers
The pristine coastline of Costa Brava, Spain offers families the option to relax on the beach, explore the coast by foot or hit the water sailing and snorkeling. The food is sensational and the locals welcome you as family.
– Dana, The Talking Suitcase
If you have a child interested in the Romans then they’ll love exploring the Colosseum in Rome. There’s also the stunning coastline, particularly Portofino, which is absolutely idyllic, and of course Venice, which is the perfect place to introduce kids to Italian culture because it’s so compact. And nothing tastes quite like real Italian pizza eaten in Italy.
– Liz Jarvis, The Mum Blog
The Margaret River region in Western Australia has some of the country’s most spectacular beaches, forests for mountain biking, hiking and quad biking, and some of Australia’s best food and wine!
– Caz & Craig Makepeace, Y Travel Blog
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is ideal for families and does not require a long and expensive overseas flight. The beaches are just as beautiful as Florida’s beaches, yet they are still relatively undiscovered and are rarely crowded. Also, there are several luxurious beach front homes for rent in Orange Beach. Families will appreciate the extra space that a condo provides on vacation.
– Tamala Prickett, Chic Family Travels
Our family loves the Canadian Rockies, specifically Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in Alberta. We love taking road trips with our little ones because it allows us the freedom to move at our own pace. The Canadian Rockies have it all, from stunning mountain landscapes to endless outdoor adventure. It’s a special place that will continue to call us year after year.
– Cameron Wears, Traveling Canucks
One of my favorite things about Boston is how easy it is to enjoy a family vacation without worrying about air travel. Nearby Rockport is a major gem; it’s just 45 minutes from Boston (accessible by commuter rail even!), making it an easy jaunt for local families, and is replete with charming accommodations, indie shops, restaurants, and nature access – including the ocean, which is my happy place.
– Christine Koh, Boston Mamas
The Riviera Maya, Mexico, has been a favorite family destination of mine for 15 years – since my daughter was a toddler! We love going for our regular beach fix because of its location on the gorgeous, turquoise Caribbean Sea, snorkeling in cenotes (underground rivers), and exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Of course, there are all sorts of wonderful watersports, too: surfing, stand up paddle-boarding, fishing, sailing and more!
– Kara Williams, Colorado Gal, The Vacation Gals
The one place we return to again and again is Maui. Besides boogie boarding, there’s (obviously) surfing and paddle-boarding galore, along with some truly special snorkel and scuba spots. While we used to take 1/2 day catamaran trips to Molokini Crater for snorkeling, the kids and I have found that there’s perfectly great snorkeling right off the beaches — particularly Wailea Beach, which is on the sheltered side of the island with calmer surf — for the price of equipment rental. The Road to Hana is a gorgeous full day trip, but younger children probably prefer hikes such as the ones in Iao Valley State Park, or to go to Whaler’s Village for Hawaiian lunch plates and, in nearby Wailuku, the Maui Ocean Center.
– Jennifer Miner, SoCal Gal, The Vacation Gals
This summer my clan has theme parks on the brain! We recommend Universal Orlando, or hitting Pigeon Forge’s (Tennessee) Dollywood. What’s so great about theme park vacations is they truly cater to the family traveler. Kids meals, stroller rentals, and baby changing centers are all aplenty and, the best part, there is something to do for every age.
– Beth Blair, Twin Cities Gal, The Vacation Gals
The Eternal City has everything you could ask for in a vacation spot: architecture, art, history, religion – the list is endless. Kids love learning about gladiators and visiting the Colosseum. Even the food is wonderful – kids love pizza, pasta, and gelato! Rome really has something for everyone.
– Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist
Prince Edward Island, Canada was one of the first places that we ever traveled as a family, and we’ve been seven times since that first trip! We love the red sand beaches, Anne of Green Gables, Cows Ice Cream and staying in our cottage at Kindred Spirits in Cavendish. PEI has come to feel like a home away from home for our family and the island is the one place that I know for a fact that my family will never grow tired of visiting.
– Lisa Goodmurphy, Gone With The Family
We brought my son to the Osaka aquarium, explored the temples and gardens of Kyoto that my husband had been dreaming about for years, and savored every morsel of food we put into our mouths. You should walk as much of this relatively flat city as possible to get a real taste of the town. English is not widely spoken, but gestures and very bad miming usually do the trick! Kyoto is filled with history, pastries that can rival any Paris bakery, and beautiful gardens for kids to explore. Kyoto walks at a slower pace than Tokyo, which makes it the perfect place to get your family’s feet wet in Japanese culture, art, food and way of life.
– Keryn Means, Walking On Travels