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17 Toddler-Friendly Vacations That Are Just as Much Fun for Parents  

As a parent of a toddler, you know your little “threenager” or “terrible two, terrific terror” thrives on routine and has their own way of pacing their day.

Therefore, any vacation you plan with a toddler in tow needs to offer a measure of routine but with plenty of opportunities for unexpected adventures to keep things interesting as well.

Of course, it’s an added bonus if mom, dad, and the rest of the family are also having fun. To give you a few ideas to get you headed in the right direction, consider the following 17 toddler-friendly vacations that are just as much fun for parents:

1. National Parks: Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington, USA.

Going to a national park is not likely your first thought when brainstorming toddler-friendly destinations. However, this type of vacation offers a good mixture of activities and options for parents as well as little ones.

This is an especially good trip if you consider yourself outdoorsy. Experts recommend visiting this area in the fall and summer.

What You Will Like

You will love visiting a national park because it is simply really cool. There are coastal tide pools and bike paths at locations like Port Angeles, Washington at Olympic National Park for example.

There are also stroller-friendly hiking trails, which allow the whole family to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature together.

There is even a neat mineral water-wading pool that is ideal for little ones and refreshing after being in the heat. The area also boasts picnic areas spread throughout, and there are plenty of lodging options both in and outside the park.

What They Will Like

This national park features some amazing creepy crawlies that will keep toddlers entertained while hiking. There are skittering salamanders, and bright yellow banana slugs, just to name a few.

In addition, the park features a visitor center with a Discovery Room that features a Ranger Station pint-sized playhouse, interactive touch tables, dress-up clothes, and puppets.

East Beach in the park also has a shallow swimming area and sandy shore, where your little one can dig to their heart’s delight along with playing in the already mentioned wading pool.

2. Ranch: Rocking Horse Ranch

Most kids will one day dream of riding a pony or being a cowboy, and most grownups still secretly wish to see their own similar childhood dream fulfilled.

Therefore, visiting a ranch, such as the Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, New York, is a great option that is both toddler-friendly and fun for the rest of the family as well.

What You Will Like

This is an all-inclusive resort, meaning when you get here, you won’t have to worry about driving to and from any attractions, or hauling all your gear and luggage.

In addition, there is an in-room babysitting service available, as well as a nursery for kids under the age of 4.

Whether you want to take advantage of this is completely up to you, but it does at least offer you the option of having a quiet meal or experience with your spouse while on vacation with your young child. There are also custom meals available for anyone with food allergies as well.

What They Will Like 

Ponies and wagons, need I say more? There are wagon rides and pony rides available for all kids over the age of two.

There is also an indoor water park, ski program, and tubing available, as well as an interactive playground designed with toddlers and babies in mind.

3. Pigeon Forge

While the excitement and entertainment options of a large city are noteworthy, toting a toddler through a huge, bustling city like New York, for example, can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore, when toddlers are in tow, why not opt for visiting a small city with big charm?

There are many options to choose from, and you can always choose one that isn’t that far from your home to cut down on travel time. Visiting a more laid-back area, yet one that still offers activities, can be a great way to introduce a tiny traveler to the love of adventuring.

I recommend Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and nearby Gatlinburg as examples of this type of destination.

What You Will Like

There is plenty to do right in town, lots of lodging options, restaurants, and more. You can choose from a wide variety of activities and even visit some museums and aquariums all without leaving town.

However, right outside of town, there is easy access to hiking trails and streams as well.

What They Will Like

There are countless reasons for a toddler to love Pigeon Forge. Dollywood is located there, for one, which also has its own separate water park.

This is a family-friendly amusement park with an entire children’s section with rides designed especially for them.

There are also fun family-friendly shows like magicians and bubble shows, as well as plays. It is a very entertaining place to spend a day, and that is just one of many options in the area.

4. Resort Near Attractions

Coronado Island, California

You can choose from many zoos all over the nation for a fun family adventure. However, why not combine a visit to the zoo with a grand resort adventure for the best of both worlds?

You can visit Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, California for a wonderful experience that allows you to visit a zoo and other nearby attractions.

Since the beach is nearby too, this means you can combine the excitement of attractions with the relaxation of the beach. You can visit year-round, but will find the best rates in fall.

What You Will Like

The resort was recently renovated and has a private feel. However, it is mere minutes from both SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo along with countless other attractions located downtown.

In addition, the resort will accommodate young kids when you tell them in advance. This includes childproofing before your visit as well as having special “baby is sleeping” signs to prevent nap interruptions, potties, swings, stools, and more.

You can even ask for baby food to be homemade just for your toddler!

What They Will Like

While it’s easy to understand why any toddler would love visiting the animals at the zoo or SeaWorld, they will also have plenty of fun right at the resort itself.

There is a kiddie pool designed just for them to use, a playground and even singalongs and animal shows.

The resort also joins the Silver Strand State Beach, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for building sand castles.

5. Barrier Island Getaway

If you like the idea of a beach vacation, but would rather have an even more chill experience, you can instead opt to visit the Barrier Islands.

One of the best locations to visit is Captiva and Sanibel Islands in Florida. A great place to stay when visiting this area that is toddler-friendly is Captiva’s South Seas Island Resort.

If your family likes to chill at the beach and/or pool and doesn’t require a hopping nightlife and lots of overly structured activities, this is ideal for you!

What You Will Like

It’s laid-back, quiet, and relaxing. In addition, if you opt to go to the resort mentioned, you are nearly right on the beach and can be “at home” in your fully stocked beach villa. This means it’s super easy to get back to your room for lunch breaks, naps, etc.

Also, this beautiful Gulf of Mexico beach features on-site restaurants, shops, and even a hot dog boat that pulls up at the south end of the beach during lunchtime.

What They Will Like

If your tiny tot loves to collect shells to take back to grandma and grandpa or even collect them to decorate their newest sand creation, then they will absolutely love this beach destination.

In addition, there is also a family-friendly water park nearby, and you can even have your little one take swim lessons if they are 6 months of age or older.

There is also plenty of entertaining wildlife to observe, like pelicans dive bombing for fish, dolphins, which you can see on a cruise, or crabs running across the sand.

There are even manatees that frequently hang out at the dock, all of which are fascinating finds for young kids.

6. Hawaiian Disney Resort

Disney’s Aulani Hotel Resort and Spa

While I have listed several beaches back-to-back here, there is something different about a Hawaiian destination that deserves its own place on my list.

Visiting the “Aloha” state can be a great family-friendly gateway with plenty to do for all ages. This is especially true if you live on the West Coast and travel time isn’t bad.

If you plan on visiting, I recommend the Aulani Resort and Spa in Oahu, Hawaii, as a toddler-friendly, Disney-branded spot.

What You Will Like

Well, for starters, it’s Hawaii! How could you not love it? More specifically, though, you will be surrounded by lagoons and lush mountains, serene grounds, and enjoy Disney Magic within the rooms.

Also, the Laniwai spa is there, where you can get a massage for the whole family. There are also poolside cabanas you can reserve for an extra fee, along with parent-child playdates with character meet and greets.

Aunty’s Beach House also provides childcare for potty-trained kids aged 3 and older.

What They Will Like

They can meet their favorite Disney characters at breakfast as well as enjoy Toddler Splash and Play on the beach, where they can dig for treasure or build sandcastles.

They can also dance away with various Disney characters at the Shake Shaka Pool Party or enjoy the shallow refreshing waters of the Waikolohe Pool, which offers kid-friendly zero-entry.

7. Farm-Stay

This idea is a bit different from the luxurious resorts and beautiful beaches mentioned previously.

However, if your tiny traveler loves animals, you live in the city, or perhaps have never experienced farm life, then visiting a farm and staying on-site can be a unique, interesting, and even educational vacation.

One of the best locations to visit is Hull-O Farms Family Farm-Stay Vacations in Durham, NY.

What You Will Like

This allows you to introduce the wonders of a working farm to your toddler and let them see the field-to-fork connection.

It is also an opportunity to find out once and for all if your toddler really does wake up before the rooster crows!

You will absolutely love the cottages you can rent on-site, just a short walk from the barn, allowing you and your kids to enjoy all the farm has to offer.

What They Will Like

They can help with simple chores on the farm and enjoy visiting with, petting, and caring for goats, pigs, turkeys, cows, horses, and more. They can even feed baby animals.

Your toddler will also get to help with gathering freshly laid eggs, pulling produce out of the ground, or watching a cow being milked.

If this is something they have never seen, it can be a very exciting and entertaining prospect, all with a low-key vibe that isn’t hurried or rushed.

8. Train Travel

There is something magical about combining the wonder and awe of the toddler years with the thrill of railway travel.

Traveling via train can be a great experience that can get you to a destination. Instead of having your toddler strapped into a car seat for hours or on a plane, they can enjoy the thrill of travel via the railways and use this to get to your desired destination.

A good example of this type of trip would be Amtrak’s Coast Starlight Line. This travels from Seattle to Los Angeles.

What You Will Like

No long airport lines, flight delays, or cancellations. You can sit and enjoy the views with your toddler instead of having to worry about navigating.

There are also no restrictions on bringing liquid for your toddler to drink while on a train. You will also love that any kid under the age of 2 can ride for free on your lap!

What They Will Like

It takes the yucky part of a vacation away, the “are we there yet” experience.

Instead, you and your entire family can look out at the Pacific shorelines, lush forests, towering peaks and more as you travel from one location to the next and make traveling your favorite part of the experience, not the part you have to get through.

9. Family-Friendly Disney Cruises

There are many types of cruises with various lines that you can enjoy, and that will offer you a great experience when traveling with a toddler.

However, there is simply no substitution for a Disney Cruise experience. Disney Wish is the company’s newest ship and offers a mind-boggling amount of activities.

What You Will Like 

The all-inclusive nature of cruising is ideal for a busy, stressed family. You pay ahead for your food, choose your activities and more, then you simply board the ship and prepare to enjoy!

There are also built-in babysitters onboard these lines that keep your kids entertained while you enjoy a drink or a lounge by the pool.

What They Will Like

It’s all things Disney. If you can take the magic of a Disney experience and then put that on water, that’s what you get when going on a Disney Cruise. It is simply magical.

There are many activities for all ages of kids, along with a fantastically appointed ship that features hidden gems all over. You cannot go wrong with this experience.

10. Camping

Image credit: South Carolina State Parks

While you can camp virtually anywhere across the nation, it’s important when traveling with little ones to have some specific provisions in mind.

For this reason, I recommend visiting the Santee State Park in South Carolina and enjoying a family camping adventure.

Keep in mind, though, that if it’s easier for you to get to, you can always visit a camping site closer to home.

You can also opt to rent an RV, but be sure to watch the movie RV with the great, late Robin Williams beforehand to truly appreciate the trek you are about to take!

Also, make sure you check for any necessary precautions you need to take when in the great outdoors to keep your littles safe.

What You Will Like

Don’t worry about hauling camping gear, setting up a tent, or bear-proofing your campsite. You can rent a cabin on sight, giving you the experience of camping without the sleeping on the ground element.

Of course, if you opt for another camping destination, many state parks offer semi-rustic cabin rentals.

What They Will Like

Aside from sleeping in the wilderness in an adventurous setting, your toddler will also enjoy the flat hiking available for all age groups at this destination.

Take this time to teach them how to fish, how to roast smores, and how to tell a good story around the campfire.

This is an ideal getaway for a little one who loves to explore, see the banks of rivers and creeks, pick up sticks, and find interesting bugs.

11. The Mountains

If snow-capped peaks and skiing sound more fun than the beach, pool, or camping, then you might instead head for the mountains and stay at a beautiful resort like Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Jeffersonville, Vermont.

If your family loves being outdoors, biking, winter sports, hiking, and more, this can be a great choice.

What You Will Like

This amazing resort offers a ski program for kids aged 2 ½ to 3 years of age. There are also full-day ski programs for kids who are potty trained.

There are many family programs and babysitting options as well as pagers and security cards for parents to give you peace of mind when your kids aren’t with you if you opt to use this service.

What They Will Like

This is a different kind of adventure. Kids can enjoy skiing on the Magic Carpet Life or snow tubing in the winter.

Or in the summer, they can enjoy a spray zone water slide or the 4,000 square-foot playground and FunZone, which is an indoor family entertainment center, that features nightly singalongs and story times.

Therefore, regardless of the time of year you go, this destination is a bit different than your typical family-friendly spot.

12. Traditional Theme Parks

Image credit: Orlando Informer. Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure.

This one can get a bit tricky as the long lines, huge crowds, and loud noises that typically make up theme parks can easily overwhelm a toddler.

The important element to remember when planning this type of vacation is to choose a theme park that isn’t overly crowded and to remember to break your day up into sections so your little one doesn’t get too overstimulated.

While, of course, Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a beloved family destination and worthy of visiting, you might find yourself enjoying something smaller even better.

For example, Universal’s Islands of Adventures Seuss Landing in Orlando, Florida is a good option.

What You Will Like

Universal Studios offers plenty of rides for older kids, making it a fun adventure for families. If your kids love Harry Potter, you will especially love this destination.

However, with the little kid’s section designed in Dr. Seuss style, little ones will love the colorful displays and the themed rides.

If you stay at a resort, there are also pools and activities you can enjoy outside of the park in your resort.

What They Will Like

While it is a big amusement park, the little kid zone will offer a respite from the crowds and allow your small adventurer to enjoy rides designed just for them.

The vivid colors and design of the fanciful area will also hold their attention and encourage exploration.

13. Sesame Place

The Sesame Place Theme Park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, deserves a mention all on its own, because it is known as the most toddler-friendly amusement park in the nation and is one of the few theme parks that prioritizes young kids in their design.

It’s worth noting that Sesame Place is the first theme park that was designated as a Certified Autism Center. Therefore, there are quiet rooms along with low sensory areas spread throughout the park.

What You Will Like

In addition to the many mild rides that your toddler will love, there is also an onsite water park featuring Bert and Ernies Splashy Shores that is included in the admission price.

There are cabanas and changing rooms as well, meaning you can enjoy getting wet without having to stay in your wet gear all day.

What They Will Like

There is so much to do as all the rides are considered mild, with even the coasters being more family-friendly.

The tallest required height is 40 inches for Oscar’s Wacky Taxi coaster, and others have even less of a height requirement, meaning little ones can enjoy nearly every ride in the park which will keep them entertained.

14. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Located just a few hours south of San Francisco is the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.

There are 45 interactive exhibits, crawl-through tunnels, low exhibit windows designed with little ones in mind, as well as a Splash Zone section in this fun aquarium.

What You Will Like 

While you will likely just spend a day at the aquarium, you can combine this fun experience with a trip to Gilroy Gardens, which is a nearby family-friendly theme park. This makes an ideal short vacation, which can be beneficial for toddlers.

You will love all the exhibits and design of the aquarium as it will keep your toddler fascinated. You will also appreciate the many sea creatures yourself.

What They Will Like

Again, there are 45 interactive exhibits, textured walls, a touch pool with sea urchins, abalones, and other sea life, along with games, buttons, levers, and more for your toddler to push and pull to their heart’s delight.

There is also a dress-up area with seahorse costumes and more fun options relating to sea creatures, located right next to some real-life seahorses in a tank.

There is also a cornered-off padded play area called Coral Reef Kingdom that is designed for kids under 34 inches tall.

15. Desert Getaway

Deserts offer a unique vacation for families, including little ones. The pools look especially breathtaking and welcome set against the brilliant blue sky, canyons, and cacti.

That’s to say nothing of the desert terrain and the many adventures that can be found. While you can visit many locations, one of the best destinations that presents the desert in a family-friendly atmosphere is the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North.

If the idea of exploring southwestern America appeals to you and your family enjoys pool time, nature treks, and more, you will love this destination.

What You Will Like

This resort features a Kids for All Seasons center which offers supervised kids programs for those aged 5 and up.

However, for the little ones, the resort provides diapers, in-room fridges, strollers, wipes, lotions, washcloths, and more.

You can even ask for pureed baby food to be prepared by the house chefs. In addition, the resort’s concierge is happy to arrange babysitting if you so desire.

What They Will Like

This resort features the cutest kids’ pool complete with pint-sized lounge chairs and robes. They serve fresh fruit, and make smores on Saturday.

There is also a nearby park in Phoenix called the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park that features antique train rides and a carousel.

16. The Beach

While I have already mentioned a few beaches and even some resorts, a list of the most toddler-friendly family vacations would not be complete without listing a few beach destinations in particular.

After all, a beach vacation is one of the best options for toddlers. Where you go is up to you, but there are a few that cater to families a bit better than others.

For example, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Grand Haven, Michigan, Outer Banks, North Carolina Gulfport, Mississippi, and Virgina Beach, Virginia, in addition to the many Florida beaches available, are all ideal for family getaways.

» MORE: 11 Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.

What You Will Like

Be sure to choose a beach destination that gives you easy access to the beach. You don’t want to be hauling gear for miles or across roads with little ones.

Also, if they have kid-friendly options like kid’s programs, activities, or the like, that’s even better. Be sure to find a hotel or resort that also has a small pool that is shallow enough for your toddler to enjoy, or a splash pad of some sort.

If you choose a location that also has other attractions like zoos, aquariums, boat rides, and more, that’s even better, as you can stagger your beach days to give your family a break from the sun and heat.

What They Will Like

It’s the beach! If they love exploring, trying to find shells, looking for crabs, and making creations out of sand, they will love a beach destination.

Keep in mind, though, that you will still want to maintain some form of routine when vacationing with a toddler. 

I know this is easier said than done, so any place you stay should have chairs or cabanas you can rent so your toddler can get out of the sun and nap.

17. Lion Country Safari

Last but certainly not least on our list of 17 toddler-friendly vacations you will want to try, consider Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida.

This destination is located around 20 miles west of West Palm Beach. It is a 600-acre safari and adventure park and allows kids aged 2 to 10 to interact with animals and have a great experience.

What You Will Like 

You get to drive through seven natural habitats and see lions, ostriches, giraffes, zebras, and more. There is also a water park and a giraffe feeding area along with a petting zoo for kids who are old enough to enjoy those activities.

For the little ones, there are splash pads, the Rio Grande Train, and a carousel as part of the adventure park.

What They Will Like 

Animals galore will be available for them to see right outside your window, all from the safety of their car.

In addition, they can enjoy a ride on the carousel or train or opt to cool off in the water park via the splash pad. It is a full day of fun adventure and a great add-on to a nearby destination.