Every parent planning a vacation faces the same dilemma at some point: How do you find a destination that kids and adults will both enjoy? Parents want a chance to unwind and have some grownup time; kids want adventures and places to run around. How do you find the right balance?
It’s all about seeking a family-friendly destination. Family-friendly vacations cater to kids without sacrificing parents’ much-needed down time. If you’re planning a getaway for the whole family, look for vacation destinations with these family-friendly features. It makes a huge difference when it comes to maximizing family fun time and minimizing stress.
A vacation stops being relaxing when you cram too many people into one little room. Look for destinations with suites or adjoining hotel rooms — the extra space makes a world of difference, especially when you have little ones who go to bed early or teens who want to stay up late. In some areas, rental homes and cabins are more affordable than larger hotel rooms, and some even come with a swimming pool. No matter where you find lodging, make sure the room includes a fridge or mini-fridge for leftovers and breakfast items like yogurt and milk.
Try: Mountain Laurel Chalets in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Lots of Dining Options
Vacation shouldn’t mean an endless parade of pepperoni pizza and french fries. And because every family has a picky eater or two, look for vacation destinations with plenty of dining choices. Family cruises have some of the best dining options available for vacationing families. Many family resorts also cater to both picky little eaters and parents craving a culinary experience. Room service is always a plus.
Try: Disney Cruise Line
Activities for the Whole Family
You may have outgrown the nightclub scene, but you still deserve to have some fun on vacation. Look for destinations with activities everyone in the family can enjoy. Try theme parks that have rides for smaller kids and thrill rides for teens and adults. Look into outdoors activities like bike rides, hiking trails and water sports. Plan your entire family-friendly vacation around specific activities or play it by ear and visit a destination with lots of activities to choose from.
Try: High Life Adventures in Warrenton, Oregon
No matter how much you want to spend quality time with your kids, you still need a little bit of grownup time. Don’t feel guilty about this! Many hotels and resorts offer in-room babysitting and kids clubs, and this is the perfect way to get an evening free for dinner at a fancy restaurant or a nice long nap in the afternoon.
Try: Franklyn D. Resort in Jamaica
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is picking a destination that isn’t frequented by other families. Staff members and other guests who aren’t used to being around kids may be short-tempered with your little ones, and you’ll spend too much time trying to keep your kids from acting like kids. Choose a destination that frequently draws in families. You’ll connect with other parents and your kids will make friends. Best of all, you’ll know that everyone will be used to the little ups and downs that come with vacationing with children.
Try: Orlando, Florida
It’s hard to pin down exactly what constitutes a family vibe, but you’ll know it when you feel it. And that particular vibe depends on your family. Do you enjoy the peace and quiet of the backcountry? Are you into arts and culture? Are natural and historic landmarks important to you? Look for a destination that fits in with what you want your kids to experience in life. For some families, this might mean a national park; for others, it might mean an adventure at an iconic theme park. Follow your instincts. No one knows your family as well as you do.
Try: San Antonio, Texas