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Cities make some of the best getaways for families with young kids. Most major cities offer nonstop flights, have excellent public transportation so that you don’t have to lug your car seats along and offer lots of activities and attractions for everyone in your family. We asked members of our group Tiny Globetrotters what their favorite city getaway with little one was and had a huge response! There were many more than 20 cities mentioned, but for this article we will focus on just 20. In no particular order, here are some favorite cities for family vacations, based on the recommendations of some seasoned travelers!
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1. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Erica Louise, from KidTown Melbourne
Australia’s second most populous city attracts millions of tourists each year.No doubt because Melbourne is considered to be the country’s cultural hub. Victorias’s capital city is filled with an eclectic mix of attractions for all age groups and is particularly kind to visiting families.
Melbourne is home to arguably the best cuisines and coffee in the country, but for the kids there’s so much more. Family-friendly live theater and music performances, festivals, bustling markets, lively laneways, and world-class museums and zoos. Let’s not forget the city’s stunning art galleries, with their ever-changing kid-friendly gallery spaces.
Melbourne might not have the Sydney Opera House or the Harbour Bridge, but the city makes up for its lack of global Australian icons with its plentiful beaches, thriving art scene and cultural diversity. Melbourne also happens to be close to one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world: the Great Ocean Road, making it the perfect beginning to a family trip in Australia.
2. TAIPEI, TAIWAN
My own family visited Taipei over Thanksgiving week one year and fell in love with the city! Often seen as a layover city to more popular Asian destinations, Taipei is not to be missed. It is such a family-friendly city with some of the best food in the world. The train system is phenomenal and so easy to use, you can get anywhere in the city just by taking a short train ride. There are playgrounds scattered all over the city, making it easy to stop for a little play break.
Take your kids to the zoo, Taipei 101, the Maokong gondola or just walk around the city and eat all the yummy food! The night markets are wonderful and filled with lots of delicious food. We’ve been to several Asian countries but Taiwan still tops our list. It’s perfect for a family trip!
Rian K. from Our Family Journeys
Known as the Lion City, Singapore is definitely the king of travel for families for a host of reasons.
First and foremost, is the Changi airport, the multi-time winner of the best airport in the world. It has unique art installations, gardens such as the butterfly gardens, upscale shopping, and countless dining choices. And best of all is the Jewel’s Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. For the pickiest of eaters, there are several locations to get simple noodles & broth, or dumplings, which are big hits for our little world travelers. The Avatar-esque gardens were truly amazing for everyone. The spectacular views from the cable cars at Sentosa island far exceeded expectations. Between the enchanting Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands, there is something for everyone in this beautiful and clean city-state.
4. DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Keri from Family Travel in the Middle East
A city with so much to offer for families from strings of luxury beach resorts along the Arabian Gulf, to vast desert plains for camel rides or sand sports. Most visitors start at Downtown Dubai with the Burj Khalifa – taking in the views from the tallest building in the world (currently!) and enjoying the Dubai Mall with its giant suspended Aquarium, Ice Rink, Kidzania and Virtual Reality Park.
Beyond the malls and beaches there are also multiple water parks and theme parks with Wild Wadi and Aquaventure at Atlantis favorites with the older kids, while youngsters will love Legoland with its water park and indoor miniland. Kids also love visiting Dubai Garden Glow and Dinosaur Park in the cooler winter months, along with Dubai Miracle Garden, home to a full-sized floral Emirates A380!
For a touch of culture and history, start with the Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park to get your bearings between the old and new city, then head into the Al Fahidi Historic neighborhood on foot, visit the Dubai Museum to learn more of the country’s Bedouin past and stroll through to the new Al Seef District. From here you can catch a traditional dhow across Dubai Creek to the old neighborhood of Deira on the east bank and the gold and spice souks.
5. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
Leah from An Adventure Is Calling
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland in the United Kingdom, is a wonderful city to visit with children. This beautiful city is very welcoming to children and babies. The locals are friendly, baby-changing facilities can be found throughout the city, and there is no shortage of family-friend activities. The city itself is on the small side (102 sq. miles) and is easily walkable (with the exception of taking a taxi to and from the airport, we were able to avoid taking public transportation). Our stroller was able to handle the lovely cobblestone streets, but a baby carrier is recommended if you would like to avoid dealing with your stroller on the stairs that you’ll find throughout the city. The highlight of the city is Edinburgh Castle, which is fascinating for both children (and babies) and adults! Be sure to visit the play park at the Princess Gardens for fun, castle-inspired play.
6. NEW YORK CITY
Robin from And Miles to go Before we Sleep
Pop-culturally speaking, New York City provides for an incomparable intergenerational experience. Want to see the Empire State Building because of King Kong? They’ve remade that movie so many times, all ages can relate. The city’s been in dozens of superhero movies and according to the Percy Jackson novels, its “600th” floor is the current location of Olympus! Is your family a fan of the ageless band, The Beatles? Cool! Central Park features the John Lennon memorial, Strawberry Fields.
Furthermore, Central Park is location to more fil shoots than any park on the planet: its features will be more familiar to young and old(er) alike. Tweens will also delight in visits Times Square, which suffered utter destruction in the Avengers movies (along with most of Midttown Manhattan). The Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty have likewise been obliterated on celluloid countless times.
Don’t forget to catch the free Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty at sunset. In addition to the landmarks, there’s Broadway, which has kid-friendly titles from Disney and Harry Potter, museums including the by-donation Metropolitan Museum of Natural History and every manner of food, from hot dogs and pretzels on every corner to fine dining for precocious foodies.
7. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Robin from And Miles to go Before we Sleep
San Diego has families spoiled for choice when it comes to vacations and days out including the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Legoland, SeaWorld, the New Children’s Museum, world-class beaches and Balboa Park with its many child-friendly museums and gardens. The entire county is speckled in parks and playgrounds perfect for family picnics, including Mission Bay and downtown’s Waterfront Park, which is right across the street from the historical Maritime Museum. From there, it’s a short distance to tour the decommissioned USS Midway or relax in quaint Seaport Village.
Hungry? Be sure to check out quality kid-friendly eateries such as Station Tavern and Waypoint Public or indulge in gelato in charming Little Italy to keep your little foodies satisfied. Discover California history and heritage in Old Town or catch a Padres game at beautiful Petco Park. Even if you don’t snag tickets to summer’s Comic Con, celebrity sightings and free attractions abound right outside the convention hall. With perfect year-round weather, it’s hard to go wrong in “America’s Finest City.”
8. CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
Kyle from Live and Let’s Fly
Cartagena, Colombia – Positioned on the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena, Colombia offers warm coastal waters, stunning views and colonial history. The original walled city (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) dates back to 1533 and remains the focal point of Cartagena to families looking for something different in the Caribbean. Visiting couldn’t be easier with flight times under three hours from south Florida, roundtrips start at $250. The city is remarkably affordable, an average meal for three runs $18-20, white linen restaurants are about double; taxis range from $1.50-7.00.
Behind the original stones of the wall, a European feel emerges over brick streets and tall colonial buildings house restaurants, hotels, residences and shops. Horse-drawn carriages delighted our daughter following dinner Cuba 1940s, with a band playing over a pool inside the restaurant.
Hyatt, Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels offer something for everyone outside the walled city, though the converted 17thcentury monastery (now a Sofitel) inside the old city is the venerable favorite. For a more secluded stay, consider the Conrad north of the city with its private black sand beach, numerous pools and golf course.
Colombia has shed its 1980s reputation and offers North Americans a picture of colonial European settlements, excellent food, warm weather and sunshine in a safer tourist environment than major US cities.
9. PARIS, FRANCE
Sierra from Free to Travel Mama
Paris, France is one of the best cities for a family trip! The vast selection of things to do in Paris is sure to please every family member. A busy day could include climbing the Eiffel Tower by elevator or by stairs, along with a visit to the works of art at the Louvre (child friendly tours are available), and a self-guided walking tour of the Saint-Germain Quarter. A slower, relaxing itinerary could include a leisurely breakfast of pastries at a café, a metro ride across the city in search of the best macarons, a picnic at Luxembourg Gardens while sailing the wooden boats for only a few euro, and a carousel ride at Trocadero. No day would be complete without a sunset cruise down the Seine River to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle on the hour– it is pure magic for people of all ages!
10. SPLIT, CROATIA
Krista traveled to Split with her 15 month old and thinks it makes a great destination for a family trip.
I love visiting old cities with our kids (currently ages 3 and 4). There’s a certain magic—especially for small children—to the grandness of old palaces, walled cities and giant statues. Split, Croatia is one of my favorite destinations because there’s a lot to see in a very walkable area (read: fewer complaints from young children about getting tired). You can enter the charming walled city through the Golden Gate or the Silver Gate, the sheer size of which impressed our then 15-month old. The major sites include Diocletian’s Palace, Temple of Jupiter, Saint Domnius’ Cathedral and Saint Duje’s Cathedral, but even if you don’t want to pay for entrance to these sites, the old city itself is beautiful. You can enjoy the scene at Peristil Square, eat at any number of restaurants, or enjoy exploring tiny cobblestoned alleys. Outside the old city, kids will also enjoy the beaches and parks.
11. HONG KONG
Carly from Live and Let’s Fly
Hong Kong is a must see, must do, must eat, family travel destination.
Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway makes getting around Hong Kong’s three islands inexpensive and fast.
Pro Tip: Pick up an Octopus card to ensure the cheapest ride and save time.
Both fun and function, the Star Ferry operates between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon for just HKD $2 ($.25). Take in the sky-scraping sights of stunning Victoria Harbour. The ferry is a charming experience, fun for all ages, and holds a piece of Hong Kong’s history since 1888.
Speaking of sights, you won’t want to miss out on the view from Victoria Peak. The Peak Tram commutes passengers up the steep journey to one of Hong Kong’s most infamous neighborhoods. Take in glistening buildings that illuminate the sky.
Pro Tip: Visit the peak after dark to experience Hong Kong completely lit up; open 7am until midnight.
On Lantau Island visit Hong Kong Disneyland, an abbreviated park. HK Disney is easily completed in one day. Also on Lantau, discover Big Buddha sitting 112 feet high. Feeling adventurous? Climb into the Ngong Ping Cable Car and soar over the waters and hills of Lantau.
Street food “Dai Pai Dong” stalls excite tastebuds with Shumai or Hong Kong Waffles. Looking for something less casual? A combination of local and international food is widely available among Hong Kong’s dining scene.
Lastly, take a stroll through the Ladies Market; never could a child be more content than with $10. From modern Gameboys to wall-climbing remote control cars, gifts and souvenirs will prove there is something for everyone here.
12. COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
Elisabeth visited Copenhagen with 4 young kids and thinks it’s the perfect destination for a family with young kids.
Known for being kid-friendly and the home of the happiest people on earth, Copenhagen did not disappoint! Traveling with four children ages 3-10 felt safe and easy. We took a stroller and, just like the locals, felt comfortable leaving it sitting outside of shops and cafes that we visited. The city boasts of some great playgrounds where we spent a lot of time. Our favorite was between Nyhavn and Amaliaborg Palace, where I could grab a glass of wine at the cafe and watch the children play. Here are some things not to miss:
-Parade through the streets of Copenhagen with the Danish Royal Guard daily starting at Rosenborg Castle at 11:30 am and ending at Amalienborg Palace where the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at noon.
-Explore the grounds at the University of Copenhagen Botanical Gardens where kids can play hide & seek along the winding garden paths and observe the wildlife.
-Take the Hans Christian Andersen guided tour with local history teacher and tour guide named Mads. He brings content to life for children and the tour ends with an incredible surprise! (You can book this tour through AirBnB).
-Visit the children’s museum at the National Museum of Denmark. This interactive display allows children to dress up and play with sets from various time periods in Denmark’s history. Don’t miss the red “I’m bored” buttons throughout the museum that make the “boring” artifacts come to life.
-Visit the Workers Museum which explains Danish history through the lives of families from the 1800’s through the present day. This museum also boasts an incredible interactive children’s museum.
It is definitely worth investing in the Copenhagen card, which covers admission to most of the attractions in Copenhagen, plus free transport via bus and metro. Up to 2 children (10 and under) are included free with each adult Copenhagen card which makes it an incredible value.
This summery only covers. some of our highlights from visiting this beautiful, kid-friendly city. Go and wander, your kids will love exploring Copenhagen!
13. SIMON’S TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Naima from JoyChasers
Simon’s Town, South Africa, located on the southern tip outside of Cape Town is an ideal family destination. The quaint town has curious shops, an interesting historical Naval Yard, and plenty of family oriented dining options. Simon’s Town Rail Station offers rides along the cape, as well as a restored steam locomotive all the way up to Cape Town.
Follow the resident celebrities, the African Penguin, down Seaforth Road to the waters edge where the open air market, shops, and seaside lunch from Cafe Penguino keep everyone happily occupied all day. Stop at Coffee + Geltao for a treat, then stroll to Boulders Beach.
Get to know the unique, natural landscape with a wild food foraging and cooking class from Veld and Sea, a one of a kind experience. Be sure to stop for a picture with the statue of Just Nuisance, and as a local to share the story of the Great Dane that could!
14. VANCOUVER, CANADA
Terumi from An Emerald City Life
Vancouver BC has to be one of the best cities for families to visit on a holiday. Not only is it a foodie’s paradise, but there are so many fun things to see and do. Kids will love to ride the skytrain around the city and you can even take it to Science World, where there are hands-on exhibits that the whole family will appreciate.
Granville Island is a fun marketplace where you can see roaming buskers, check out creative art products and head to the docks to catch an Aquabus. Fly Over Canada is a fun experience at Canada Place, where you can virtually experience the whole country on an interactive ride. And if you are visiting Vancouver during the summer months, make sure you bike around Stanely Park, eat all the fun foods at the Richmond Night Market and have a picnic and watch the sunset at one of the city’s nearby beaches.
15. AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Abby from A Jolly Holiday
While vacationing in Amsterdam, you will feel like your family is immersed in history without ever stepping foot in a museum (but there are plenty of those too). You can absorb it’s charm and have experiences throughout the city without spending a Euro.
A favorite with kids of all ages is the ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. The area is very family friendly and the zoo is easy to do in a day. There is a very large play structure near the café that is a must visit. The zoo feeds animals their native diet, so your family will have unique educational opportunities such as seeing the Vultures picking at a hoofed carcass and read about how they have a social hierarchy and no one eats until the dominate male.
Other favorites for all ages include the NEMO Children’s Museum with its unique building full of wonders, plus a special surprise for those that make it to the rooftop, and Vondelpark with its many pathways, ponds, and the Blauwe Theehuis with outdoor games for the whole family. School aged children are sure to feel a connection to the Anne Frank House. When you hear the bells ringing out from the church just as they did for Anne, you feel the memory of her and all those lost in a very deep way.
If you plan to take a canal tour, do it early on in your trip so that your experience walking around the city is more informed while you are there. While walking around Amsterdam make sure to take the alleyways or a side road to see the Amsterdam that only the locals know. For example, the playgrounds are whimsical, full of tunnels and slides, and hidden throughout the city. You’ll also find gems like splash pads within a square of restaurants.
It can be overwhelming to plan a vacation in a new city, but rest assured that almost every area of Amsterdam will give you city charm and access to canals. Make sure to take your time, get outside the touristy city center, and observe the city around you that is unlike any other.
16. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
I took Milana to Sydney and it quickly became one of our favorite cities!
The city is safe (huge plus for single traveling parents!) with excellent public transportation. You can take the train, bus or water ferry pretty much anywhere in the city. The playgrounds in Sydney are amazing, Milana particularly liked the one at Darling Quarter. Walk around the city and explore the many neighborhoods, restaurants and sights. During certain times of year, the Sydney Opera House has tours for kids, which was the highlight of our trip! Milana still talks about it and still remembers who designed the structure because they make it so memorable!
Visit the Royal Botanic Garden, you can easily spend hours wandering the trails. Luna Park is a fun, iconic amusement park a short ferry ride away. Taronga Zoo is also a short ferry ride away and has amazing views of the city. Don’t forget to venture into Sydney’s Chinatown for some great food and Market City, which is similar to the markets you’ll find all over Asia. And don’t miss Featherdale Wildlife Park. Just a short ride from the city and you can hand feed the super friendly kangaroos, Milana absolutely loved this!
If you’re looking for a city that will entertain every member of your family, Sydney definitely tops that list. There is so much to do here, 9 days was not enough and we could have used a few more!
17. MÉRIDA, MEXICO
Kyle from Live and Let’s Fly
Mérida, Mexico – Away from the Cancun and Cozumel crowds is sleepy Mérida, Mexico on the north central corner of the Yucatan Peninsula, for which the city is also the capitol. The colonial city dates back to 1542 but its history goes back far longer. Dzibilchaltún, a Mayan site north of the city (30 minutes by Uber – $10), is home to the Temple of the Seven Dolls. On the fall and spring solstice the site is open before dawn to view the sunrise through the temple perfectly. The meteor that destroyed the dinosaurs struck 22 miles north of Mérida in the Caribbean Sea.
In addition to towering cathedrals and Spanish squares enjoy the architecture with your family personally. Stay in a remodeled colonial Airbnb for as little $80/night (two-bedroom home with a private pool.) The epitome of luxury is available to your family for as low as $170/night. The city comes to life on Sundays in Plaza Grande with markets, small food vendors and hundreds of locals joining a giant street dance every week.
Food and transportation are cheap, an average meal out costs about $7/person, Uber is widely available with in-city journeys less than $2; a 30-minute ride to Centro from the airport is $3. Getting to Mérida from the US is quick and easy too, less than two hours from Miami or Houston with roundtrip flights priced around $200, or less than 20,000 British Airways Avios from Miami.
18. St. Louis, Missouri
Tobey, father of 2 young boys and avid traveler shares why St. Louis was his favorite trip with his family.
St. Louis, the gateway to the West, has been one of our favorite family friendly trips to date. Traveling on a budget is made easy in St. Louis. There are so many things to do that are free. The St. Louis Zoo is one of the best that we’ve been to in terms of animal habitats and cleanliness of the park. Our sons’ favorites were the Penguin House and the polar bear habitat. We went as soon as the zoo opened on one of the hottest days of our June trip and the animals were still very active. Another favorite was playing in the Gateway Arch National Park and marveling at the St. Louis Arch. Don’t forget to people watch while the kids play in the fountains at the CityGarden Urban Park.
As diehard Cardinals fans, we also took in a baseball game. We opted for cheap seats thinking the boys 1.5 and 4 wouldn’t be entertained enough to sit very much, but we were surprised by how attentive they were to the field and the crowd. Food was hit or miss for us which is to be expected when looking up kids menus with one picky eater. We loved Schafly Tap Room on Locust Street, tasty beers and amazing food. Next, stop at Park Avenue Coffee for the best gooey butter cake in the country. They make over 70 different flavors, some seasonal. They carry between 10-15 different flavors at a time and no one will judge you if you leave there with one of each!
19. TOKYO, JAPAN
Christie from Our Travel Soup
Tokyo is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. And there’s no shortage of fun things to do, it’s still one of our favorite places to go as a family. Traveling around the city is so convenient with accessible train stations. Bathrooms are very easy to come by. You will also find convenience stores on pretty much every street corner. The city has everything imaginable for all ages. Spend the day at Tokyo Disney, Ueno Zoo, Ghibli Museum and so much more. The whole family will love exploring Harajuku, Shibuya, and checking out one of the many animal cafes. Akihabara is quite a unique experience, and perfect for manga and video game lovers. You can also introduce your kids to the traditional culture by visiting a shrine or temple. The vibrant energy, delicious food, and mix of old and new makes it such an amazing family-friendly destination!
20. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Abby from A Jolly Holiday
The old vision of Chicago as a working-class city that loves a good steak, is blooming into a city of neighborhoods each with its own flavor. Discovering the neighborhoods that match your family’s style is the perfect way to get to know the city and create a truly memorable vacation. Look for Air BnBs outside of the city center to save some money and take advantage of the numerous playgrounds, parks, and local restaurants.
For active families, Millennium Park is a launching point to an amazing day in Chicago! When you are in the park you feel like the skyline is surrounding you on all sides. Here you’ll find “The Bean” – the perfect spot to take tons of silly photos, The Crown Fountain – with lots of children playing in the water, the secluded Lurie Garden, and the brand new Maggie Daley Park.
If you’ve come to Chicago hoping to experience Art with your family, look no further than the park’s gorgeous architectural marvel, the Pritzker Pavilion. This venue hosts events that are free to the public throughout the summer. You can even bring a picnic (wine/beer are fine, just no glass containers)! If you’d like to see an art museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is very easy to navigate and hosts a stroller tour on the first Wednesday of every month.
If you need a break from the big crowds in the city, Lincoln Park is your big city oasis. Normally you don’t consider spending time in a garden as a Big City must do, but the gardens in the city of Chicago make it truly special. Lincoln Park, the actual park, is a favorite with visitors and residents alike! The centerpiece of the park is the (free) Lincoln Park Zoo. Here’s a super-secret tip – Although the opening hours of the zoo are listed as “10:00AM”, the gates to the zoo are open very early in the morning. It acts as a running path for many, but anyone can enter starting at about 8:00am. You’ll have it all to yourself and the animals are usually eating or walking around. Not all the animals will be out, but enough to make it a worthwhile trip. To the north you will find the free Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond. The lily pond is a true hidden oasis within the city.
The MSI is our vote for the best family museum in Chicago and the perfect rainy-day activity. The most impressively large exhibit in the museum houses the actual U-505 from WW2. The museum also features a 40-foot vortex simulator that you can actually step into and a Tesla Coil that fires on the half hour. Make sure to check in and grab a timed entry ticket for “The Idea Factory” right away so you aren’t waiting to get in. This is a can’t miss exhibit for the whole family.
Chicago completed a revitalization of its river walk in 2017 to add park space and increase accessibility. It is now a beautiful walkway with places to stop and enjoy the architecture. There is also water taxi, which is an excellent way to see the city by boat for a small fee and even enjoy a delicious lunch in Chinatown if you’d like. The water taxi does not have any narration like the architecture tours do, but it is much more relaxed and there is no need to whisper. For families with older children who would like to learn more about the buildings around them, an Architecture Tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation is the way to go!
You’ve come to a city of skyscrapers, why not see the view from the top! The SkyDeck at the Willis Tower is not only the tallest, but we also think it’s the most fun. You’ll see the city from 103 stories up and you can step out and enjoy the view straight down from 3 glass cubes that protrude from the SkyDeck. If you’d love to see a “view from the top”, but the ticket prices have you down, consider The Signature Room Lounge atop the John Hancock Building. It is completely free to grab a drink or something to eat up there and from 11:00am to 7:00pm all ages are welcome while accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Make sure to get out of the “Chicago is known for” food groups. While we definitely see these “Chicago foods” as indulgences, our everyday dining is a melting pot of delicious and fresh foods from around the globe. There is a thriving immigrant population here, if you have a favorite cuisine, there is a restaurant in Chicago that is known for it. From the expected like sushi and Italian, to the unexpected like Ethiopian and Cuban.
How many of our top 20 destinations have you visited with your own kids? What are some of your favorite cities for a family trip? Comment below and let us know if we missed any of your favorites!