Destinations to Travel with Kids
Family holidays needn't be flop-and-drop affairs in Bali or Fiji. Add a bit of spice to your family travel album with our top 10 overseas itineraries.
Peel back the facade of this steamy island nation and discover a Noah’s Ark of creatures lurking within the concrete jungle. Singapore is a unique urban wilderness packed with wildlife encounters to enthrall the little ones. Start at the zoo, where the children can eyeball white tigers and size up Komodo dragons, then join a night safari and keep your eyes peeled for nocturnal critters. Catch the cable car to Sentosa Island and get set to peer at giant sharks and manta rays in the world’s biggest fish bowl at S.E.A Aquarium.Sentosa is Singapore’s amusement playground and is also home to Universal Studios, a water theme park and various other adrenaline thrills. With an efficient underground train system and free travel for children under seven, Singapore is worth more than an idle stopover.
Surely no destination captures the family’s imagination quite like Middle Earth. Venture to New Zealand, location epicenter of Hollywood blockbuster The Lord of the Rings and let your kids discover their inner hobbit. More than 150 locations were used to shoot the cult trilogy, showcasing some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes. See glimpses of ‘Mordor’ on a day hike or helicopter flight over Tongariro Crossing on the North Island, and pass the fortress of ‘Isengard’ en route to Glenorchy on the South Island.As a family-friendly, adventure-holiday destination, New Zealand has it all. Jaw-dropping mountain scenery, glaciers, steaming volcanoes, bubbling geysers and even the chance to swim with dolphins.
Desperate to get the kids to ‘unplug’ from their high-tech habits for a while? Take them deep into Malaysian Borneo where the only ‘angry birds’ are those fluttering in the treetops, and tweeting is of the organic variety. Malaysia is a tropical tapestry of lush jungle and sparkling beaches ensconced in a safe, relatively clean, kid-friendly pocket of south-east Asia. Take a boat cruise down the Kinabatangan River, home to the region’s highest concentration of wildlife, and keep a lookout for crocodiles, monkeys and elephants.Let the kids get up close and personal with their primate relatives at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, and then hit the beach. There are countless to choose from, and coral reefs, turtles and thousands of tropical fish await.
Los Angeles, USA
They could rename this city Kids Paradise. It tops the bucket list for most kids, and for good reason; Los Angeles has theme parks aplenty, including the granddaddy of them all – Disneyland. Families sometimes spend days here exploring Walt’s rides and attractions. Then there’s Knotts Berry farm, Universal studios and the California Science Center. For a unique high out of the city, test your family’s nerve with a trapeze lesson above Santa Monica Pier.
Come back down to earth on a hike through the Hollywood hills, where you can take family snaps in front of Tinseltown’s famous sign. Afterwards, saunter down Hollywood Boulevard, and celebrity watch as the kids search for the names of their screen idols.
Lake District, England
Discover the picturesque cluster of lakes, fells and hamlets that inspired one of the most celebrated children’s picture book authors – Beatrix Potter. It was here that the much-loved characters Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Tom Kitten were conceived. Let the countryside enchant your children as illustrations from the popular stories come to life.
This is a majestic place to let your children roam free. Explore with them 3500km of walking and cycling trails, take a cruise on one of England’s 12 largest lakes and chug through the Leven Valley on a historic steam train.
It’s the United States but not as you know it. Aloha and welcome to Hawaii – the chain of Polynesian islands that makes up the 50th US state. Families travelling to Hawaii can enjoy the excitement of an exotic island escape with the security and comfort of US hospitality. And it’s much closer to home than mainland America. With six major islands, Hawaii is a choose-your-own-adventure destination. Try stand-up paddle boarding at Waikiki on the island of Oahu, build sandcastles on pristine beaches on Maui, or seek out bigger adventures on the Big Island.
The Big Island is famous for the Volcanoes National Park, where visitors can safely explore craters, historic lava flows, underground lava tubes and steam vents. Watch lava flow into the ocean, snorkel with manta rays and visit the high-altitude Mauna Kea observatory for guaranteed bragging rights at school.
Name a child who doesn’t love Lego. In Denmark you can visit the home of Lego and take a trip to the original Legoland theme park in Billund. Discover the nation that gave birth to a childhood phenomenon that has produced more than 500 billion Lego parts since it was first created more than 60 years ago. If fairytales inspire your family more than figurines, head to Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen, where whimsical rides, games and shows will have the kids in raptures.Take your little princes and princesses to the royal palace, home to our own Princess Mary, and intrigue them with tales of yesteryear as you explore ancient medieval castles.
Saddle up cowboy. Have your kids ever wondered what it’s like to live on the land, herding livestock in one of the world’s prime cattle grazing regions? Treat them to the full ‘gaucho’ experience where they’ll learn about the legend of the South American cowboy, hone their horse-riding skills and tuck into a traditional ‘parrillada’ (Argentine BBQ). Argentina’s other legends are made on the soccer pitch, and a trip to Buenos Aires would not be complete without attending a Bocca Juniors game.
The family will have to scream to be heard above the fervent supporters, which is good practise for Argentina’s other top expedition – a trip to Iguazu Falls. Hearing the roar of up to nine million litres of water tumbling down the falls every second will leave your children awestruck.
Forget the zoo, an African safari offers raw and unmitigated wildlife encounters unlike anywhere else on earth. Tanzania is a bold destination for a family holiday but one packed with life-changing rewards. Journey to Serengeti National Park, one of the top game reserves for spotting the Big Five, and feel sheer exhilaration as lions, leopards, rhino, buffalo and elephants parade in the wild.Meet the colourful Maasai people, whose traditions remain untouched for generations, and give your children an appreciation of different cultures. Leave the savanna for time out in the alluring archipelago of Zanzibar and enjoy fun in the sun on powder-white beaches.
As the world’s second largest country, it’s no surprise Canada serves up a heady banquet of tourist offerings. In winter, hit the slopes around Whistler, North America’s largest ski resort, and teach the kids to ice skate on Ottawa's Rideau Canal. In summer, take to the Rocky Mountains and bask in the magnificent alpine scenery characterised by turquoise lakes and jagged peaks. Even a sedentary teenager would struggle to resist slipping hiking boots on here.
Keep an eye out for ubiquitous moose and, for more heart-pumping animal encounters, join a polar beer tour of the frigid Hudson Bay tundra or track grizzlies in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. The kids won’t wander out of sight. Guaranteed.