Looking for the best family vacation destinations? Check out the best family vacation ideas for 2020 including the best places to travel with kids. We will share some of our favorite family vacation spots around the globe, highlighting kid-friendly attractions and what makes each destination family-friendly.
What do you consider great family vacation spots? Is it kid-friendly accommodations? Sights and activities for both parents and kids? Or can any location be considered a great family vacation destination? Check out this list and then let me know your favorite family-friendly vacation spot.
Without further ado, here are the best family holiday destinations in the world!
1. Costa Rica
If Costa Rica hasn’t been on your list, it should. As one of the best family vacation spots in the world for adventure travel with diverse wildlife, beautiful sandy beaches, jungle rainforests and a range of activities for all ages to enjoy. Costa Rica was one of our favorite family getaways this year.
Listening to your children squeal as they race along a zipline high over the jungle, giggle as they watch capuchin monkeys playing in the branches overhead or learn about volcanos up close, there are a plethora of opportunities. Plan your next trip for 2020 to see what “pura vida” (pure life) is truly about in Costa Rica.
When to travel: December-April to enjoy the dry season.
Why Costa Rica is great for kids: the little ones in your family will enjoy safe beaches, calm shores, and plenty of watersports, resort pools, and temperate weather year-round.
Older children will enjoy plenty of activities ranging from ziplining, white water rafting, and waterfall rappelling. In addition, kids will enjoy hanging bridges, chocolate tours, parasailing, and night tours to find fun creepy crawlies. Children as young as the age of five can participate in a full range of activities.
Fresh fruit, smoothies and simple dishes are on local menus for easy dining and high chairs are available upon request.
Best for families that enjoy the great outdoors, wildlife, animal encounters, adventure travel, and relaxation.
Where to go in Costa Rica: Costa Rica is a beautiful country from the northwestern coasts with plenty of all-inclusive resorts to choose from to the towering Volcano and the beautiful town of La Fortuna with its thermal baths and activity hub.
How much time to spend in Costa Rica? I highly suggest two weeks, but a week at a minimum.
Recommended Resort: Tulemar Bungalows and Villas.
2. Lapland, Finland
Looking for one of the best family vacation destinations in the winter? Lapland, Finland is a winter family vacation paradise with dog sledding, reindeer sleigh rides, Santa Claus visits and elf school where your little ones will pass through a magic door to discover the secrets of becoming an elf in an indoor Santa Park.
Soak up the Christmas magic near the Arctic circle while roasting s’mores while hunting for the Northern Lights. Visit arctic animals at the world’s only arctic zoo and enjoy the evenings soaking in a hot tub under the stars. Finland is magical year-round, but especially in Winter.
When to travel: December-February for a winter wonderland.
Why Finland is great for kids: Hop aboard the overnight Santa Train from Helsinki and it will drop you off in 12 short hours near the Arctic Circle. Kids will love the bunk beds and walking along the train cars in their PJs. Once you reach Finland, there are plenty of family-friendly activities including dog sledding, reindeer sleigh rides, posting cards with an official Arctic Stamp and of course, playing in the snow.
Even little ones can take part in the calmer activities and children of all ages can soak up the ambiance of a winter Christmas wonderland year-round. Friends who have booked said that is has been one of their top family vacations.
Best for families that enjoy being outdoors in the snow, winter activites, and Christmas cheer.
Where to go in Finland: The capital city of Helsinki is great for at least a day or two to explore the Christmas markets, taste your way through the food market and check out the historic museums and churches in the town.
If you want to skip the city, head straight to Lapland, Finland near the town of Rovaniemi. Here you’ll find the Santa Claus Village, indoor Santa Park, the Ranua Zoo (arctic zoo), the cute town of Rovaniemi and all the activities described above.
How much time to spend in Finland? If you are visiting in the winter months, around five days is plenty of time to see and do everything or pair your trip with Levi, Finland to do some skiing.
Recommended Resort: Santa Claus Village Cabins
Looking for some dalmatian coastal sunshine? Hoping to get a bit more value for your money? Croatia continues to hit the charts for a country where you can enjoy traveling, but save a bit of cash. It is also one of the best places for a family vacation with crystal clear blue waters, stunning national parks with waterfalls and ancient cities to explore.
Need a place to relax for the whole family? Include a stay at Family Hotel Amarin with free childcare in the state of the art kids zone, enjoy world-class meals throughout your stay and let the kids run free in the giant net climbing zone, as well as indoor/outdoor pools, and a plethora of outdoor playgrounds. Family Hotel Amarin is one of the best places to travel with kids if you are looking for some family fun for everyone.
When to travel: May/June or September/October to avoid the high tourist season and the sweltering heat.
Why Croatia is great for kids: Croatia is meant to be relaxing for both the parents and the kids. With warmer weather, there is less to pack and what kid doesn’t love a beautiful beach? Spend time splashing in the waters, let the children roam in car-free cities, eat ice cream as you explore the promenade and play hide and seek in ancient palaces.
Croatia is also home to beautiful islands just off the shore. Hop on a boat to explore the islands and truly soak up the Croatian lifestyle.
Best for families that enjoy the beach, warmer weather and history.
Where to go in Croatia: Croatia is a beautiful country from the Northern fishing towns to the famous walled city of Dubrovnik in the south. Dubrovnik is a highlight for Game of Thrones fans but requires babywearing for little ones while exploring the city. However, there are plenty of options for day trips from the city to delight the whole family.
Head up North to the city of Split to wander the promenade, explore Diocletian’s palace and take a boat out to the famous Golden Horn to enjoy a nice sandy beach. Day trip to Krka National Park for gorgeous waterfalls, wandering streams and forest boardwalks. Continue further north, stopping in Zadar to listen to the sea organ and watch the dancing lights of the “Greeting to the Sun”. End the trip near Rovinj at the kinder hotel “Family Hotel Amarin” to take a break from your trip and relax.
Plitvice National Park is a bit of a side trip but can be done from Split or Zadar. It is absolutely stunning, but best with older kids who can walk a few miles or babies in carriers.
How much time to spend in Croatia? Croatia is best explored with at least 10 days to two weeks. That allows enough time to explore from the North to the South without moving hotels each day. If you have a shorter amount of time, stick to exploring either the North or the South.
Recommended Resort in Croatia: Family Hotel Amarin
4. Grindelwald, Switzerland
With snow-capped mountains, views that will take your breath away, delicious cheese fondue and Swiss cows that will delight you with the jingle of their bells, Switzerland is absolutely stunning. Although it is one of the more expensive countries in Europe, it offers an expansive train system that makes traveling throughout Switzerland a breeze.
If you are looking for kid-friendly vacation spots that include stunning views, alpine playgrounds, waterfalls cascading into lush green valleys and children’s trails to explore, then Grindelwald, Switzerland should be considered.
When to travel: May till September for the best hiking weather.
Why Switzerland is great for kids: Kids under 16 travel free with parents on major railways throughout Switzerland. Switzerland is perfect for kids because the majority of the activities take place outside and there is always a playground to explore nearby, even at cafes and restaurants. Restaurants are able to provide high chairs and often have kids packets in tourist towns such as Grindelwald.
Kids will enjoy riding cable cars up to the tops of mountain peaks, exploring kid-friendly theme trails and if they are brave enough, exploring obstacles along cliffside walks (completely safe). Older kids can enjoy toboggan runs down the mountain, swimming in the crystal clear lakes and challenging themselves on ropes courses. It is one of the best places to vacation with kids who love being outside!
Best for families that enjoy being outdoors, hiking, and alpine activities.
Where to go in Switzerland: Switzerland is a stunning place to visit, from it’s larger cities of Zurich and Bern to its sleepy car-free towns of Murren and Zermatt.
If you prefer to stay in a city with multiple amenities, but still be close to the mountains and family-friendly activities, I suggest staying in Lucerne. There is a fabulous transportation museum (Swiss Museum of Transport) that you can spend the entire day explore, or you can head up into the mountains via funicular or cable car.
Alternatively, escape the hustle and bustle to Grindelwald where you can easily spend 4 days exploring the mountain peaks, valleys below and activities in the surrounding areas.
How much time to spend in Switzerland? This question really depends on your budget. Switzerland is expensive, so I recommend a shorter visit of around 5 days. You can also easily pair a trip to Switzerland with the neighboring countries of Italy (Lake Como), Germany (Bavaria) or France (Annecy).
Recommended Resort in Switzerland: Hotel Gletschergarten
5. Quebec City, Canada
If you want to enjoy a European city without a long haul flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Quebec City is full of charm and family-friendly sights to enjoy. With quick flights from major cities along the east coast, it is easy why it tops the charts for one of the best family vacation ideas.
Beautiful year-round, but especially during the Christmas markets in December, Quebec offers world-class museums, forts to explore and nearby waterfalls to delight. Top it off with amazing culinary dishes and french pastries that every child is sure to love.
When to travel: Quebec City is beautiful year-round. December- Christmas Markets; February- Winter Carnival; May-September- Summer activities.
Why Quebec City is great for kids: The Old Town of Quebec is easy to explore by foot, making it perfect for families. Kids will delight running along the terrace in front of the Chateau Frontenac, riding the funicular between the upper and lower town, looking for tasty treats along the famous car-free Rue du Petit-Champlain and visiting the children’s section of the Museum of Civilization.
Even in Winter, Quebec City makes sure families are having fun. Take a ride on the toboggan slide, take part in the children’s sing-alongs and crafts in the Christmas Market. Take a side trip to nearby Montmorency Falls to see it in its frozen state and let little ones play in the snow.
Need a break from the city? Valcartier is a resort 30 minutes from the city that features over 100,000 sq ft of an indoor waterpark. In the summer, the outdoor area is transformed into a massive waterpark with slides for everyone. In the winter, the outdoor area becomes the largest snow tubing park I’ve ever seen.
Best for families that enjoy culture, outdoor activities and amazing food.
Where to go in Quebec City: Be sure to stay in the old town of Quebec City to ease of exploring. The upper old town area features historic churches, pedestrian-friendly squares (featuring the European Christmas markets in Winter) and the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac towering over the harbor and lower town. The Fort Museum across the square offers a nice show and depiction of the history of Quebec City.
Ride the funicular down to explore the quaint streets of Rue du Petit-Champlain before crossing over to the Museum of Civilization. Explore along the harbor and don’t miss the Old Market at the Port of Quebec for delicious lunch options.
During the summer months, families will enjoy exploring La Citadelle de Québec and nearby fort. There is also ferry service across to explore the splash pads on the nearby banks of the Lawrence River.
How much time to spend in Quebec City? It is easy to explore Quebec City on a long weekend. If you’d like to stay longer, pair your visit with Quebec City to include the resort Valcartier or nearby Montreal.
Recommended Resort in Quebec City: Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
6. Amish Country: Lancaster, PA
Don’t have a passport? No problem! There are plenty of wonderful locations in the United States to enjoy a family vacation. Lancaster is best for families with younger children who will enjoy the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm, train attractions, including riding on a genuine steam train and doing a farm stay where they can wake up to farm chores (milk a cow, feed calves, collect eggs) each morning before a hearty breakfast.
Teens will enjoy nearby Hershey Park and the ropes courses at Refreshing Mountain. Dutch Wonderland is also located close by.
Learn about the Amish culture, take a horse and buggy ride to see the covered bridges or sample Amish made goods in this small farm town. The Lancaster Central Market also shouldn’t be missed with wonderful locally sources foods and lunch options (open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday).
When to travel: April- October for the best weather.
Why Lancaster, PA is great for kids: Lancaster is best for younger children, teens will likely get bored quickly. Children who are train enthusiast will delight taking a 45-minute ride on the Strasbourg Railroad (oldest continually operating train in the US). The train passes through a huge farm with a 5-acre corn maze, pumpkin patch, slides, wagon rides, a petting zoo & kids’ festivals which is open from Spring till Summer.
There are plenty of indoor train museums and mini train attractions, including a wide array of buffets for a family-friendly meal. Round out your stay with a farm stay to get even more interaction with farm animals. We stayed at Verdant View Farms and loved the morning chores and then homemade breakfast to start out the day.
Also located nearby are Legoland Discovery Center, an indoor lego play area. Turkey Hill museum and exhibit where you can sign up to make your own ice cream. Or head North to Refreshing Mountain to play on their ziplines and ropes courses.
Best for families with younger children who are looking for an affordable vacation.
Where to go in Lancaster: Lancaster is a relatively small town with an Amish population of over 75,000 and it is best explored by car.
How much time to spend in Lancaster? You can easily spend 5 days exploring all the activities in Lancaster and the surrounding area, but you can also do a weekend trip (if you are short on time). If you plan on doing an east coast trip, Lancaster pairs well with Philadelphia (don’t miss Diggerland across the border in NJ).
Recommended hotel in Lancaster: Fulton Steamboat Inn
7. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia is an absolutely gem and one of my top family vacation destinations suggestions. Slovenia is located just north of Croatia and is a beautiful country with diverse landscapes and sights to visit. Lake Bled is a picture-perfect town with a tiny church on top of an island located in the center of the crystal clear lake with the towering Bled Castle above.
Families can base themselves in Lake Bled and then take day trips throughout the country to the capital city of Ljubljana (fabulous food market on Fridays). Don’t miss the Postojna Cave and Postojna Castle, it is built into a cave with a heroic tale.
Looking to explore and hike? Head over to Lake Bohinj where you can ride a cable car up to the top of the mountain for views and hike, or explore the trail around the lake itself. Grab a pizza and a local beer while the children play on the playground, need I say more?
When to travel: April- October for the best weather.
Why Slovenia is great for kids: The whole family will find activities to enjoy while visiting Slovenia. There are playgrounds at every corner, calm lakes to enjoy splashing around in and plenty of outdoor fun with hikes in gorges to cable cars up to Mt. Vogel.
Kids will also enjoy the train into Postojna Cave, looking for hidden dragons throughout the capital city of Ljubljana. Many attractions are free for children under the age of 15 or are severely discounted. If you have older children, don’t miss the opportunity to do some white water rafting.
Restaurants cater to kids with nearby playgrounds, highchairs and kids menus with family favorites (chicken, fries, sandwiches). Kids will also love staying in a treehouse or tent at eco-friendly Garden Village Bled.
Best for families that like to explore outside, have a sense of adventure and like visiting lesser known places.
Where to go in Slovenia: I suggest basing yourself in Lake Bled, Slovenia and exploring from there by car. Alternatively, split your time between the capital city of Ljubljana, Piran (coastal town) and Lake Bled.
Families will enjoy the short drives between attractions, ease of finding family-friendly hotels and helpful locals.
How much time to spend in Slovenia? I highly suggest at least a full week to explore at a relatively easy pace. At a minimum, four days to enjoy the highlights and you can pair Slovenia with nearby Croatia.
Recommended Hotel in Lake Bled, Slovenia: Garden Village Bled
8. The Netherlands
Great family vacations are a mix of fun for everyone, including the adults. The Netherlands (Holland) is a great blend of stunning landscape, cheese farms, big cities like Amsterdam and theme parks to make it a wonderful destination for families in 2020.
The Netherlands is around the same size as Maryland, making it an easy country to explore by car. With the capital city of Amsterdam in the upper left of the country and surrounding farming towns and open-air museums. The coastal beaches are perfect for families, as well as Efteling (a fairytale theme park) on the southern border with Belgium.
Castles, 18th-century windmills, tulip farms, feeding baby goats bottles of milk at local cheese farms and the ability to ride bikes safely through Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Reserve near Efteling. Even the large city of Amsterdam is packed with fun with the Anne Frank House, boat rides to explore the canals and the NEMO Science Museum.
When to travel: April- October for the best weather.
Why the Netherlands is great for kids: The Netherlands is honestly one of the most kid-friendly countries to visit in all of Europe. The food is fresh and plentiful, with options for ‘grab and go’ in major supermarkets. Locals are welcoming, speak wonderful English and are helpful.
There are plenty of cafes to grab a quick bite and restaurants have highchairs and kid’s menus. Bike shops are outfitted with trailers and children’s bike seats. Kids under the age of 5 are free at most attractions and children under the age of 17 receive a discount.
Children will enjoy the variety of playgrounds, farms, coastal towns and plenty of opportunities to get fresh air.
Best for families that enjoy outdoor activities, sightseeing and flowers.
Where to go in the Netherlands: Most families will fly into Amsterdam, so I recommend spending a few days exploring the city. Take a canal boat cruise, visit the NEMO Science Museum and wander the streets and Albert Cuyp Market. Older children can tour with their parents to see the historic Anne Frank House or those with younger children can trade-off.
Then rent a car and head to the countryside. Rent an Airbnb in Aalsmeer, Netherlands and explore the nearby Keukenhof Gardens, ride a bike through the tulip fields (Spring) and visit the local cheese farms. Visit Clara Maria to learn how clogs and cheese are made and be sure to say hello to the calves in the barn nearby.
Explore Castle De Haar or head to the coastal town of Scheveningen, near The Hague. Ride the Ferris wheel, visit the aquarium or soak up the sun at the beach. Don’t miss visiting Kinderdijk with the world-famous windmills.
Head to the south to stay a night or two near Efteling, a theme park based on the Grimm Brother’s fairytales. I highly recommend staying at a cabin in the village nearby. Then rent bikes and explore the nearby sand dunes at Loonse en Drunense Duinen. The nearby Trappist monastery also brews some incredible beer, be sure to make reservations for a tour, it’s family-friendly.
How much time to spend in the Netherlands? You can easily spend two weeks discovering the beauty of the Netherlands. Alternatively, you can spend a long weekend in Amsterdam with a day trip to the countryside. I suggest at least a week with a visit to Amsterdam and then another stay in the central Netherlands to explore the other smaller towns.
Recommended Hotel in Amsterdam: Ambassade Hotel
Book an Airbnb in Aalsmeer, get $55 off your first trip.
9. Northern California
The beauty of the west coast is well documented and Northern California is a nature lovers paradise. From Redwood National Park, coastal towns with stunning sandy beaches and adventure sports in the area, it is the perfect place to get away without leaving the comforts of the US.
If you are looking for some family trip ideas that include a balance of adventure and laid back days, then California should fit the bill. I highly recommend pairing your visit with a white water rafting adventure with OARS on the Lower Klamath River. Kids as young as the age of four can enjoy the 2 night/3 day rafting trip with fully catered meals and full guides.
When to travel: April- October for the best weather. *June-August for Rafting
Why Northern California is great for kids: The Redwoods are stunning and the trails are easy to hike with trees you can climb inside and under. Kids from preschool up to middle school age will enjoy earning pins through the Junior Ranger program offered by the National Park System and the best part, it is free.
There are plenty of stunning beaches (College Cove Beach and Trinidad State Beach) to explore and play in the surf. Little ones can play safely in the streams that feed into the ocean. There are also plenty of opportunities to find ocean creatures in the tide pools.
There are also multiple trails located nearby to hike, such as the fern canyon and trillium falls trail. Kids will enjoy the temperate weather and lack of bugs.
Best for families that enjoy taking part in outdoor activities.
Where to go in Northern California: Stay in close proximity to the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The nearby towns are Orick and further south, Trinidad. Either of these locations will give you a good base for exploring the National Parks, trails and coastal beaches.
The Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy is one of the best drives to enjoy the Redwoods and many of the trails start from and end on this parkway. Be sure to pick up the Junior Ranger book at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center before you beginning your hikes. Trails range from less than a mile to 5-6 miles. They are all relatively easy with minimal elevation gain.
You can mix hiking with days spent at the beach, visiting lighthouses and looking for wildlife.
How much time to spend in Northern California? Some visitors drive up the coast from San Fransisco and stay one night, but that hardly does the area justice. I’d recommend at least 3 days and it pairs well with a rafting trip, for a full week’s adventure.
Recommended Hotel near the Redwoods: Elk Meadow Cabins
10. Budapest, Hungary
During our travels, Budapest really surprised me with how many family-friendly attractions the city offered. It is high on the list as one of the top family vacation destinations, even in the winter. Touted as one of the most affordable major cities in Europe, it is a perfect choice.
Families will love the culture of the city with historic buildings all along the Danube river including Parliament, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Be sure to take a cruise at night to see the building bathed in lights.
Kids will delight playing with miniature trains at Miniversum, explore one of the world’s oldest zoos, play in warm thermal baths, and let loose at the waterparks. Central Market Hall is a hub of activity and smells, and the children’s railway (run by children) is a fun way to explore the northern hills of Buda.
When to travel: Wonderful year-round. Christmas markets run from Thanksgiving till Christmas.
Why Budapest is great for kids: Families will find a mix of historic places to visit mixed with playgrounds, indoor kid play spaces, science museums and activities for everyone to enjoy.
A car isn’t required with easy transportation within the city. Kids will enjoy riding the trams and funiculars up to the top of Buda. If you plan to do quite a bit of sightseeing, the Budapest Card comes with free transportation.
If you are visiting in the winter, don’t miss the fabulous Christmas markets surrounding the historic St. Stephen’s Basilica. A light show plays in the evening, which is a delight for children. Children will also enjoy seeing the city from above in the Budapest Eye in Elizabeth Square.
Best for families that enjoy larger cities with lots of activities and sightseeing.
Budapest, Hungary – December 2017: Christmas market in front of St Stephen Basilica
Where to go in Budapest: Stay on the Pest side of Budapest to be close to all the attractions and activities. Spend the first day taking a tour of Parliament (great playground nearby), walking along the Danube and grabbing lunch supplies at the Central Market Hall. Let the kids learn about Budapest as well as play with trains at the Miniversum.
By day two, head across the Danube to explore the Buda side. Ride the Funicular up to Fisherman’s Bastion, tour Matthias Church and grab sweets at the nearby Ruszwurm Confectionery. End the day with a rise on the Children’s Railroad.
With the remaining days, explore the thermal baths, visit the Budapest Zoo or catch the free bus to AquaWorld.
How much time to spend in Budapest? I would suggest at least a long weekend (4 days). Budapest is best to be enjoyed without having to rush. Enjoy the restaurants, the car-free streets and parks.
Recommend Hotel in Budapest: Aria Hotel
I hope this list inspires you to book your next trip for 2020 with your family. Create wonderful memories exploring new cities and locations around the world, take part in new activities you’ve never tried and learn about cultures and traditions. With so many places in the world to visit, I hope I’ve shed some light on a few of the best vacation spots for kids.
Do have a favorite family-friendly vacation destination? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Facebook or Instagram. I created this travel blog to help other families to explore the world with their kids and I hope I’ve inspired you. Want to read mroe about our travels? Head over to my destinations page and explore my interactive map, it’s pretty fun. Until next time!
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