From all-inclusive resorts, sunny beaches, traditional family destinations, and cruises, to parks, mountains, and historic attractions, the following are some of the best kid-friendly destinations to visit with your rugrats in tow in 2024.
These unique and interesting destinations will offer motivation to get your family adventuring this New Year. Read on to learn more specifics about these 22 fantastic family destinations.
1. Royal Caribbean International
Going on a cruise can be a great way to take a family vacation with little to no effort on your part in terms of setting an itinerary and planning activities. After all, the all-inclusive nature of a cruise, providing meals, on-board activities, and entertainment, is perfect for a family vacation.
An added bonus of choosing Royal Caribbean International, in particular, is that it runs promotions throughout the year that allow kids aged 12 and under to cruise for free if they are sailing with paying parents.
While the cruise you choose with Royal Caribbean is up to you, many of these promotional kid’s sail-free cruises depart from Miami, Florida, and visit various locations throughout the Caribbean.
However, some European and Alaskan cruises also offer kids sail-free promotions. If you want to attempt to sail when kids are free, simply look into the available dates with Royal Caribbean.
2. Disney Cruise Line
With over five ships to choose from and nine fabulous destinations, Disney Cruise Lines are the crème de la crème of cruise lines for families.
Of course, anything Disney does is done better and bigger and more magical. In fact, you can expect the same magic that creates the “happiest place on earth” at Walt Disney World on land on the open seas when sailing with Disney Cruises.
Disney Cruises offer many similar experiences to Disney parks, including character experiences. However, cruises also feature live shows, lounges, nightclubs, spas and more.
There is even a kids’ club if you want to take advantage of this, to say nothing of the aqua play areas, pools, and water slides.
Slightly older kids will enjoy an area geared just towards them with independent spaces with TVs, video games, and more. This offers them a little bit of freedom while still keeping them in a safe, structured environment.
3. Paul Gauguin Cruises
This luxury cruise line features only one cruise ship and is a smaller ship, holding only 330 guests, which makes it ultra-exclusive.
Also, due to its smaller size, a Paul Gauguin Cruise can access ports in the South Pacific, Fiji, and Tahiti that larger cruise lines cannot access.
The three dining options once boarding The Gauguin (the ship’s name) vary in both their menu and their overall ambiance. There are options of both informal and formal dining settings.
Kids who are vacationing on this ship can participate in the free kid’s program entitled the Moana Explorer Program or can enjoy on-board stargazing, treasure hunts, or even design their own Polynesian tattoos.
This is a different type of cruise experience than the typical cruise as this is a smaller, more intimate excursion that will be most assuredly unforgettable.
4. Carnival Cruise Line
There are 24 ships on the Carnival Cruise Line with over 12 destinations.
While Carnival Cruise has a bit of a reputation in the industry for being a party cruise destination, the prices are extremely affordable, and plenty of activities and features on certain ships make it worth considering for families.
The Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras ships even have the first roller coaster, the Bolt Ultimate Sea Coaster, a unique onboard attraction.
As far as culinary options, on all 24 ships, New Orleans’ own Emeril Lagasee, famous Food Network star, is the Chief Culinary Officer.
There are three original restaurants and plenty of dining options.
Onboard activities in addition to the already mentioned roller coaster at sea include water slides, Family Feud Live and karaoke. There is also an IMAX theater and family-friendly tours and excursions including a wildlife safari and beach bonfire.
5. Mackinac Island, Michigan: The Grand Hotel
Known as “America’s Summer Place,” the Grand Hotel in the Upper Midwest has been one of the most popular family destinations since it opened its doors in 1887.
This historic and secluded island hotel is only accessible via a ferry, with no cars allowed. This family vacation can truly be a great way to reset in the New Year, though it is best to visit during the summer months.
The historic significance of the Grand Hotel is found in its original purpose of being a summer retreat for vacationers making their way from Michigan via train and then ferry to Mackinac Island.
Today, the Grand Hotel is identified as a National Historic Landmark that offers old-world hospitality, inspired enhancements, charm, and heritage.
Its 13 on-site restaurants and bars, along with beautiful settings such as the spacious grand porch, make this a must-visit hotel for families, couples, and groups of all kinds.
Mackinac Island, known as the “Jewel of the Great Lakes,” has been enhancing visitors for over a century and still remains a wonderful family destination.
Get around the area either by foot, bike, or horse, just like in times gone by. Bike riding can be a fun way to spend a day or just get from point A to B.
The outer rim of Mackinac Island consists of an 8.2-mile trail that is manageable even for little ones and free of cars. If your little ones are too small to peddle their own bike, or you fear they will tire too quickly, you can get a tag along from a local bike rental vendor.
6. Granby, Colorado: C Lazy U Ranch
The C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado, is an all-inclusive ranch with a fun combination of modern amenities that kids love, like ropes courses and a zip course, while still offering more traditional ranch activities like trail rides.
There is also a seasonal program for kids aged 3 to 17, which means that a trip to C Lazy U Ranch will allow you some alone time as a couple if you want, which, if you are anything like me, you don’t get nearly as often as you would like!
This dude ranch provides a luxurious backdrop for an unforgettable family vacation.
The city of Granby, Colorado – outside of the ranch – also has much to offer on its own. Fun, unique activities like dog sled and horse-drawn carriage rides, snowboarding and skiing, and snowmobiles in the winter can all be accessed in this beautiful town.
In the summer, hiking, biking, and fishing/boating are also available on nearby Lake Granby, located mere minutes from the town proper.
7. Hawley, Pennsylvania: Woodloch Pines Resort
However, just because the kids will love this destination doesn’t mean that you won’t also appreciate it as adults.
In fact, the destination is one that is replete with many family-friendly activities like bowling, pony rides, hay rides, and more, in addition to, of course, the jungle gym, splash pools, and go-karts.
Let’s just say this resort goes above and beyond the typical all-inclusive family resort to offer a unique experience.
It’s also worth noting that the Woodloch Pines Resort has been voted the Best Family Resort by USA Today four times and has been serving families for over 65 years.
The Pocono Mountains, in this beautiful part of Pennsylvania, have been described as where small-town charm meets big adventure.
There are water parks, golf courses, river rafting, horseback riding, a NASCAR Raceway, and more that you can do with your family when visiting this charming area.
While the area is fun throughout the summer, there is year-long appeal here as well, including beautiful fall foliage scenic drives and a ride in a historic train, just to name a few.
8. New Palz, New York: Mohonk Mountain House
Visit Mohonk Mountain House in picturesque New Paltz, New York, for an adventure-packed family getaway.
This beautiful location is on the shores of Lake Mohonk, and is the perfect setting for row boating, kayaking, and swimming.
This all-inclusive family resort is lovely to enjoy when the leaves are changing, and the weather is crisp. It also offers a variety of options for picnics and hiking that the active family will love.
Admittedly, I would recommend this getaway for families with slightly older kids who are able to hike, not turn over a kayak, and appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors.
However, it is a beautiful setting to plan a needed getaway. Just know that there aren’t a lot of ways to carry your kids through these activities.
Therefore, you want to wait to visit this particular location until they are old enough to at least attempt to keep up with the rest of the family.
9. Port St. Lucie, Florida: Sandpiper Bay
While this location does offer the beloved feature of a beach, Wyndham’s Sandpiper Bay All-Inclusive Resort offers a step beyond a mere beach vacation.
At this all-inclusive resort, your family can enjoy a kid’s club (meaning child care), golfing, the resort’s multiple pools, water sports of various types, and even private beach access.
This Port St. Lucie, Florida, location is nestled away in a bit of a more low-key area, giving you that true exclusive feel. However, this is just a mere two-hour drive away from both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World in Orlando if you want to visit these locations but aren’t crazy about the idea of staying on-site.
This amazing destination was formerly named Club Med Sandpiper Bay, so you might know it by that moniker.
The dining options feature a wide variety of food and beverage options available all day for all age groups.
As mentioned previously, there are many water sports available. However, there are also training programs available in tennis, volleyball, soccer, and golf for kids to enjoy. This will keep them busy while you enjoy resort amenities like the spa and private beach!
10. Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Nickelodeon Hotels
For a bit of a step-up in terms of amenities and overall destination, you can visit the Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya in Mexico.
This five-star, all-inclusive resort, which features beloved characters like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Square Pants, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, offers unbelievable amenities, perhaps the best of which is the fact that each and every room is a swim-up oceanfront suite!
Some highlights of this unbelievable, core memory-forming vacation include live Nick-themed shows and entertainment, as well as character breakfasts and even a water park that spans some six acres, which includes splash pads and other rides.
If you are worried about traveling to Mexico with your family, there is no need, as this beautiful paradise of a resort is located near a host of other Cancun resorts and is a mere 30 minutes from the International Airport.
City Destinations & Abroad Locations
11. New Orleans, Louisiana
Known as the Big Easy, New Orleans is predominantly known as an adult playground. However, visiting this historic and unique location shouldn’t be left to just adults as it can make the perfect place to visit with kids as well if you plan right.
Aside from this, your family can visit Mardi Gras World, located near the Port of New Orleans, and see how the world-renowned Mardi Gras parade floats are created.
(Word to the wise: if you want to visit this location, make sure you take a streetcar or free shuttle, as parking can get a bit pricey).
You can also tour the Honey Island Swamp via an open-air boat to get up close and personal with this unique ecosystem.
12. Lake Como, Italy
For a location full of beautiful architecture, history, and culture, to say nothing of the delicious culinary delights like gelato, adding this to a family vacation must-try in 2024 might not be the most obvious choice.
However, even though the city might exude culture and romance, it has always been considered a family destination by those in the know. In fact, Lake Como in beautiful Italy has enough splendor, such as the sleek yachts owned by Hollywood celebs, to elicit a wow from even the most jaded teen.
For the entire family, Lake Como is a great place to go for sightseeing and is its own slice of Italian heaven on earth. The lakeside promenade and public ferries are perfect for families with little kids, as the pathway is stroller-friendly.
13. Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine, is practically a New Hampshire city and the largest in the state. It butts up right to the ocean and features salty air and fun seagulls.
Kids will enjoy watching the lobster boats come and go and dock in the harbor, and they will also love the ferry that you can board to view any one of the Casco Bay Islands.
Be sure to visit Luke’s Lobster for some truly inspiring, unequaled seafood that serves the best and freshest fare taken from local waters.
While not an all-inclusive hotel, the Cambria Hotel Portland Downtown Old Port is within walking distance of many popular waterside attractions.
Be sure to stop by and visit the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine as well when in the area. You can see all sorts of marine species like frogs, turtles, sunfish, and more, all up close.
The pristine Caribbean island of Aruba features white sand as soft as sifted flour and turquoise water you can see clearly through. It is a beach lover’s paradise but has some Continental flair thanks to its strong ties with the Netherlands.
The island’s local fare is a unique mixture of traditional Dutch flavors, like Gouda cheese, and various types of tropical produce you would expect to find in the Caribbean.
While the beaches are visit-worthy to be sure, if your family tires of spending time on the beach, you can also venture a bit inland and explore some of the stark desert terrain found in the Arikok National Park.
This picturesque national park contrasts with the rich waters of the Caribbean as it features rugged terrain, tall cacti, and desert-like hills.
Interestingly enough, the Arikok National Park makes up about 20% of the entire island.
15. Tokyo, Japan
Admittedly, the toughest part about choosing Tokyo, Japan for your 2024 family adventure is the fact that it requires quite a plane ride to reach.
However, if you can manage to plan ahead in terms of entertainment galore for the arduous plane ride (lasting between 13 and 20 hours, depending on where you are traveling from), the end destination is well worth it as Tokyo is one of the most kid-friendly destinations in the entire world.
You won’t believe your eyes when you see young Japanese children navigating public life on their own as the city is immensely safe due to the culture being one of heightened social trust, unlike anything you would experience anywhere in America or likely anywhere else in the world.
16. Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas, is one of the best locations in the nation to go with children and experience the diversity of our nation in terms of experiences and cultures.
It also happens to be the fourth-largest city in the entire nation. This Texas city is also a bit of a mixing pot with more than 140 spoken languages.
Visit Smither Park, an outdoor gallery with a medley of mosaics constructed by over 300 artists. This project is evolving, allowing your family to actually watch some of the creativity in action on Saturdays.
When visiting the area, be sure to visit the granddaddy of interactive experiences at the Space Center Houston, where kids can try on a helmet and a spacesuit or pretend to work on mission control.
Another neat addition to your vacation itinerary in this unique cultural city is a visit to the James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace at Rice University.
The Children’s Museum Houston, known as the “playground for the mind,” is 9,000 square feet of action-packed fun that offers year-round activities and is also worth visiting when in Houston.
17. London, England
If you have older kids, then visiting the city of London, England, can be a great idea. Visits to Big Ben, the House of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace can be interesting for older kids or teenagers.
In addition, Harry Potter fans will especially love the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Making of Harry Potter. This adventure allows your whole family to explore the Wizarding World at the studio where the beloved films were produced.
For younger kids, in addition to the Harry Potter world, there are also playgrounds and parks. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground is one option. There is also a huge Captain Hook’s pirate ship made out of wood, complete with a collection of teepees.
The London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, is also worth visiting with kids of all ages.
18. Charleston, South Carolina
A visit to this beautiful southern city has a bit of everything to offer, from waterways, beaches, and historic sites, to kid-friendly museums, restaurants, and beautiful parks. There is a little bit of everything to offer families, all wrapped in southern charm.
The South Carolina Aquarium is a must-visit destination. This 385,000-gallon tank is full of sharks, sea turtles, and fish that kids will love to observe.
There is also a neat destination to not miss out on downtown at the Old Exchange. This historic building is fun to explore and even includes a dungeon where both Revolutionary War prisoners and pirates were held!
At Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, your family can check out the USS Yorktown, which is an aircraft carrier.
The Children’s Museum of Lowcountry is also worth a visit as it allows kids a fun opportunity to explore and play. The museum is designed to engage young children’s potential by inviting exploration, sparking imagination, and stimulating curiosity, all through the fun power of play.
19. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Pittsburg, once known only for its coal and steel, is now a family-friendly destination with lots of activities to offer.
Ride the wooden cable cars at Duquesne Incline to get a sky-high view of the city’s three rivers. This is a perfect way for your whole family to see all the city has to offer from a bird’s eye view before you go exploring.
If your family loves sports, make sure to visit the Senator John Heinz History Center’s Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.
The Carnegie Science Center is also a neat stop with plenty of interactive exhibits ideal for curious minds.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is another quality addition to your itinerary. Here, there are cutting-edge experiences in both technology and art for the whole family to enjoy. From teens to toddlers, the children’s museum features innovative programs that offer a little bit of fun to every member of the family.
20. Mendocino, California
With rugged cliffs overlooking the Pacific and majestic redwoods, a visit to Mendocino, California, is an outdoor lover’s dream.
Your family can hike the fern-filled forest Van Damme State Park, where you can paddle an outrigger canoe and spot seals in the Big River Estuary. You can also pedal a two-person rail bike while surrounded by towering trees.
Visit downtown Mendocino to enjoy beautiful quaint storefronts overlooking the ocean, where you and your family will be transported to another place and time.
Travel a bit to the most northern part of Mendocino County to drive through giant redwoods, which is truly an unforgettable experience.
Mendocino offers a bit of everything with its wild and rugged landscape as it is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and ancient redwood forests.
21. Williamsburg, Virginia
A visit to Williamsburg, Virginia, is ideal for you as a family if you have a history buff in the family. Perhaps the most popular location to visit is the open-air Living History Museum.
However, kids will also love the Jamestown Settlement which offers costumed historical interpretation demonstrating the day-to-day life of the first permanent English settlement.
Your family should also consider a visit to the original Jamestown’s town and fort.
Getting back to the historic offerings, Williamsburg is also a great city for walking and exploring. Named after a member of British nobility, the Duke of Gloucester Street, this famous Williamsburg street features 18th-century architecture from the Capital of the Wren Building.
According to visiting President Franklin Roosevelt, this beautiful city street was dubbed “the most historic avenue in all of America.”