While traveling with little ones can come with some challenges, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo a vacation. There are lots of destinations that are ideal for the whole family, including toddlers. Whether you’re looking for a European getaway, an amusement park or a destination in the United States, these spots are sure to get you packing. Don’t forget to bring some of your toddler-friendly travel toy as well as comfort items, like a blanket and stuffed animal, along with a positive attitude and a good time is likely guaranteed for all.
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Custer State Park and the Black Hills, South Dakota
The Black Hills of Western South Dakota are famous for Mount Rushmore, but this region offers a ton of things kids, including toddlers, are sure to love. And, the adults will have plenty of fun too. One of the best spots to visit is Custer State Park which is filled with wildlife, offering close encounters with the friendly begging burros, as well as lots of sightings of bison, elk, mountain goats, deer and more that can be seen in abundance along the Wildlife Loop Road. You can also take a paddle boat out on Lake Sylvan, enjoy splashing in the water, fish and hike, with all sorts of easy, family-friendly trails. In nearby Hill City ride the historic 1880 steam train to Keystone and back, embark on a wildlife safari at Bear Country U.S.A. and get up close to a giant Aldabra tortoise at Reptile Gardens in Rapid City.
San Diego, California
San Diego is a fantastic vacation destination year-round with its wonderful sunny weather, beautiful beaches, theme parks and family-friendly hotels. San Diego Zoo is considered one of the country’s very best and is renowned for its conservation efforts as well as its vast number of creatures with nearly 4,000 to date, including favorites like tigers, orangutans, gorillas, and of course, its famous pandas. The zoo also hosts Safari Park where you can ride a tram to see many exotic animals. What toddler wouldn’t love that? Afterward, they can enjoy building sandcastles on one of the many beaches in the area.
Yellowstone National Park
There are few kids that don’t enjoy Yellowstone National Park, from tiny tots to teens. They can watch Old Faithful shoot steam as high as 185 feet into the sky, and gaze at many lesser-known geysers too. There are multi-colored hot springs, colorful paint pots, bubbling mud pots and more geothermal features than anywhere else on Earth. Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the country, was named for its striking coloration in hues that match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism of orange, yellow, red, green and blue. Of course, they’ll also love seeing all the wildlife, including elk, bison, Bighorn sheep, and perhaps even the more elusive bear or wolf.
England is a top European getaway for travelers with toddlers, as there are a ton of things to do that toddlers will love, including Peppa Pig World. They’ll be enthralled meeting their favorite cartoon characters in real life. Plus, there’s Paddington Bear, Harry Potter and a long list of other kid-friendly attractions like the London Zoo. You can spend an afternoon at St. James Park to let the kids run around and even watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – while they may be young, it’s still an experience they will never forget. What a story to tell during show-and-tell at preschool!
Chocolate lovers of all ages will love visiting Hershey with its endless chocolate-themed activities and sweet treats. This top family destination in Pennsylvania offers a chance for the family to learn how chocolate is made at the Chocolate Lab in the Hershey Story Museum, and visit Hershey Park, an amusement park with rides for all ages, games and live entertainment. At Hershey’s Chocolate World, the Hershey’s Chocolate tour is free, and there are also other special experiences for an extra charge like the “Chocolate Tasting Experience”, “4D Chocolate Mystery” and “Create Your Own Candy Bar.” You might want to book a total package through the Hotel Hershey for access to its outdoor pool complex, admission to The Hershey Story’s Museum Experience and Hersheys Gardens.
If you want to enjoy the tropics, Cancun, Mexico isn’t just for parties, in fact, it’s a fabulous family-friendly option with many resorts offering babies’ and kids’ clubs as well as fun-filled water parks, multiple pools, often including shallow pools for the little ones to splash around along with all sorts of fun activities. Plus there are an endless number of white sandy beaches for playing on and even wildlife to see. Xcaret is an eco-park with an underground river for swimming, archaeological marvels and animals like manatees, monkeys and jaguars.
Grand Cayman Island offers plenty for families who want to enjoy spending time in the water. Older kids and adults can enjoy snorkeling or diving in a magnificent underwater world in this water lover’s paradise, but there are many other family-friendly activities and attractions suitable for toddlers. At Sting Ray City, a shallow sandbar, take the little ones by hand, wading out into the crystal-clear water where they’ll almost instantly have hundreds of gentle stingrays all around them. They can even feed them by hand for an especially unforgettable, if ticklish, experience.
Captiva Island, Florida
Located just off the coast of southwest Florida surrounded by the aquamarine Gulf of Mexico, Captiva Island is known for its shallow waters with gentle waves that are ideal for families with small children. You can have a ton of fun with a beach vacation here, searching for all sorts of seashells, playing in the receding waves, building sand castles, throwing a ball, flying a kite and more. The island is great for biking – you can bring your own or rent them from an outfitter like YOLO Watersports which offers kids’ bikes, beach cruisers, tandems and more as well as tag-a-longs, trailers, and baby seats.