It’s a new year, which means it’s the perfect time to introduce your family to new destinations. These places are kid-friendly and range from laid-back islands full of natural wonders to bustling cities offering a dose of culture. While cities like Orlando and London typically get all the love, 2019 is the year to try new places, from the exotic island of Bali to the alluring Florida Keys. Read on to discover our pick for the best family vacation destinations for 2019.
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Oahu, Hawaii (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Oahu, Hawaii is a delight for visitors of all ages, with its laid-back island vibes and array of outdoor attractions. The beaches of Oahu are an obvious lure, but you can also take the kids to the Dole Pineapple Garden Maze, go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, surf lessons on Oahu’s North Shore or keep it budget-friendly with a scenic stroll at Diamond Head to soak up panoramic island views. Wrap up your day with a frozen treat at Matsumoto Shave Ice in North Shore. Stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa to experience its kid-approved luau and Fireside Storytelling with Moana.
Tokyo, Japan (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The Land of the Rising Sun is surprisingly family-friendly, offering your family a chance to explore Japan’s rich history and culture. You can visit the Tokyo Disneyland & Sea theme park, visit the home of anime at Studio Ghibli and watch a musical robot dinner show. Sample sushi and ramen, then meet Hello Kitty at the colorful parades at Puroland or take a scenic boat ride at Inokashira Park. To truly immerse yourself in Japanese culture, stay in a traditional ryokan like Hoshinoya Tokyo, which also has a rooftop onsen.
Vienna, Austria (Hotel Prices & Photos)
A walkable city with tons of things to see and do, Vienna is a great family destination for those looking for a cultural getaway. Visit the Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial Habsburg family, to explore its palace grounds, a children’s museum and zoo. Kids can play with interactive exhibits at the Zoom Children’s Museum or House of Music, while the indoor playground at Bogi Park boasts go-karts and trampolines. If you want to admire city views, take the elevator up to the North Tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral or take a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel.
Florida Keys, Florida (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The Florida Keys have bounced back since Hurricane Irma. This string of idyllic islands off the southern tip of Florida offers both indoor and outdoor attractions, from snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to marveling at the fish tanks in Key West Aquarium. Take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park or make sandcastles at Smathers Beach, then visit winged creatures at Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory or discover treasure at Key West Shipwreck Museum. Stay at Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key to enjoy its dolphin experience, kids club and pirate ship pool.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Families looking for a relaxing island getaway should visit Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Home to the iconic Seven Mile Beach and an array of kid-friendly luxury beachfront resorts, this island is also home to Stingray City, where kids can get up close with stingrays in their natural habitat. Browse exhibits in the Cayman Islands National Museum or take a break in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, then say hello to turtles in the Cayman Turtle Centre. Go underwater with Atlantis Submarines to see shipwrecks, reefs and coral canyons. The Britannia Villas Grand Cayman offers spacious suites and family-friendly outdoor pools.
Cartagena, Colombia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Travel to South America and visit Cartagena for a family vacation, where you can enjoy its colonial charm and colorful facades. The UNESCO World Heritage site offers a photogenic landscape with charming cobblestone streets dotted with beautiful churches, cozy plazas and historic buildings. Visit San Felipe Fort and the old city walls, explore museums like the Emerald Museum or Chocolate Museum, then enjoy the panoramic views at La Popa or soak up the sunshine on nearby Rosario Islands.
Bali, Indonesia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While Bali might a further destination to reach than others on this list, it is an excellent choice for traveling families. This Indonesian island offers plenty of outdoor activities, from surfing and white water rafting to hiking through rice paddies, while it’s also brimming with culture and traditions. You can watch the Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple, soak in the Tirta Empul holy springs and visit cheeky monkeys in a monkey forest in Ubud. Slide down water slides at Waterbom Bali, observe wild animals at Bali Safari and Marine Park or admire colorful creatures in Kemenuh Butterfly Park.
Vancouver, Canada (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Surrounded by mountains and beaches, Vancouver offers plenty of kid-approved fun. Head to Granville Island and Stanley Park to explore the Vancouver Aquarium, four playgrounds, an outdoor water park and a miniature train, then walk across the 450-foot-long Capilano Suspension Bridge for an adrenaline rush. Adventurous families will find plenty of hiking, kayaking and skiing to enjoy, while Kitsilano Beach is a great place to relax and unwind with its heated salt-water pool and wrap-around view of the city. Take the SeaBus to North Vancouver or the SkyTrain to New Westminster or visit False Creek for an exploration of the Telus World of Science.
Scottish Highlands, Scotland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Skip the crowds in London and instead head to Scotland for an exploration of the Scottish Highlands, an 11,000-square-mile region north of Glasgow. Families can marvel at the natural splendor of this area on a hike through evergreen glens and along the rugged coastlines and beaches. Harry Potter fans will enjoy a ride on the Jacobite steam train aka Hogwarts Express, you can head along the banks of Loch Ness and do some Nessie hunting or feed reindeer at Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. If you time your visit right, you can also attend the Highland Games to see kilt-wearing Scots compete in games.
San Juan, Puerto Rico (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Puerto Rico is a sun-drenched island where you can enjoy the sunshine, golden sand and warm azure waves. Visit the 18th-century El Morro fort in the Old Town for a day of picnicking and kite flying, stroll the promenade in Paseo de la Princesa or explore hands-on exhibits at Museo Del Niño. Visit Mosquito Bay to kayak in a bioluminescent bay, go horseback riding through El Yunque National Forest or try stand-up paddle boarding at Condado Lagoon. For a private beach and outdoor pool, stay at Caribe Hilton.