Life as a parent can get busy fast, Sometimes I've found myself wanting to pack up my bags and take my family somewhere new. A breath of fresh air every now and then can help reset the stress meter that slowly builds as daily tasks pile up.
Unfortunately it's never that easy. Any parent knows the struggle that encompasses family vacations. Sure it's a good time, but the amount of strategic planning to make sure everything goes just right can turn into a massive undertaking.
All a parent can hope for is that their kids will like the place they vacation at. That factor alone can make or break a trip.
Lucky for you, I provided a list of destinations that are sure to be a hit with even the most restless of little ones.
Walt Disney World was essentially created for kids, which is why it's considered one of the go-to spots when it comes to family vacations. Everything there is family-friendly, from all of the attractions to the on-site resorts, restaurants and shops.
There are four major theme parks you can visit: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Universal Studios is also located around there, but that park is mostly for older kids and adults.
All Disney parks are designed to accommodate families with kids, from the stroller rental offices at the front of each park to the interactive displays placed along waiting areas of some rides, perfect for fidgety little ones.
For families with infants or toddlers, take note that all four theme parks have a Baby Care Center. These centers have private areas for nursing, changing diapers and feeding babies. Basic baby-care supplies are also available for purchase.
If you or your kids don't do well in the heat, Disney has two water parks that you can visit. Each have pools, water slides, and play areas that are appropriate for even the littlest of visitors.
Everyone wins at Disney because with so much variety at every single park, it's easy to find something that your whole family will enjoy.
If you're looking for an exotic, yet kid-friendly experience, then Maui Island is the perfect destination for you and your family.
If you have infants, take a trip to Baby Beach where the water is much calmer than most other beaches. An offshore breakwater blocks many of the big waves from reaching the shore, so it will be easier to supervise them.
If they're old enough, you can take your kids snorkeling at Baby Beach. Rent your snorkel gear at the The Snorkel Store, Maui Dive Shop, or Snorkel Bob's for almost half the price they charge at swanky hotels.
Lahaina Animal Farm is a big hit with animal-loving families. Take a day trip and get a private tour of the petting zoo, or learn about Maui's ocean creatures at the Maui Ocean Center.
The aquarium takes about two hours to tour, and includes exhibits about Maui’s sea life, including live fish, sharks, turtles, rays, and others. This is one of the best things to do in Maui with kids.
Overall Maui is a great place to go with your family if you're looking for a hands-on experience.
The Outer Banks (abbreviated OBX) is a peninsula off the coast of North Carolina. It’s a popular family destination renowned for its temperate weather and long sandy beaches. Seriously, if you’ve never been, you’re missing out!
At the OBX you can spend an afternoon sledding down the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, where dune’s height varies from 80 to 100 feet. Sand dune sledding is a casual affair there, and kids of all ages slide on cardboard and body boards throughout the year. The dunes also provide a great spot to watch the sunsets.
If you’re looking for something a little more lowkey, three of the five historic lighthouses in the Outer Banks are climbable.
One of their most treasured kid-friendly attractions, is the North Carolina Aquarium, is a perfect medium. Spend the day looking at alligators, shark, sea turtles, sea otters, and countless other marine animals.
When you get back to your beach house your kids will love hunting for Atlantic ghost crabs. These sand-colored crabs are harmless, and come out onto the sand at night. Bring a flashlight or headlamp and a bucket, then see how many you can catch.
You you’re looking for something lowkey that you’ll enjoy, lounge in the sand or try your hand at fishing. They have excellent beaches and fishing locations.
Overall, the Outer Banks is a great option if you’re looking to spend your time near the shore.
On the opposite side of the coast we have San Diego, an amazing west coast destination for couples with kids. There’s just so much to do.
A day trip to the San Diego Zoo is sure to be a hit with kids both young and old. There you can immerse yourself in the animal kingdom situated at the 100-acre zoo, home to more than 4,000 animals and 800 exotic species.
For a more ocean-themed experience, SeaWorld San Diego offers an amazing underwater experience for visitors. Uncover aquatic adventures, thrilling rides and live animal shows. It’ll be a full day that is sure to entertain both you and you're kids.
If you ever need a break from all the organized day trips, a sandy beach is just a short drive away. Lounge the day away while you’re kids play in the sand.
Ultimately, San Diego is a great trip for kids of any age thanks to the perfect mix of activity and relaxation.
From toddlers to teens, grandparents to grandchildren, family cruises are fun for all ages. Today’s cruise ships are designed to make everyone happy. Want to sip a mimosa while your kids splash away in the pool? Or how about pampering yourself at a spa while your family plays basketball? I’m just skimming the surface of things you can do on cruises today.
Aside from the literally endless variety of activities, cruises are great because they offer great value for your dollar because the fares include nearly everything you’ll need. Food, accomodations, daytime and evening entertainment and transportation is usually all covered.
Because cruise vacations package together transportation and accommodations, they're very easy to plan. Pick your ship, itinerary and cabin, and away you go.
Another important factor to consider is that once you unpack, it’s once and done. Your floating hotel takes you from city to city or island to island and there’s no no to worry about scheduling transportation.
Ultimately cruises are ideal if you have busy toddlers because almost everything is already taken care of for you. Less hassle and more quality time with your little ones.
If you’re looking for something different than sandy shores and hot summer sun, try setting your sights on somewhere in Europe - namely Ireland. Ireland has the most magical locations, breathtaking sights, incredible history and beautiful culture.
It's not a popular family vacation spot, but this little gem is certainly underrated. Take a day to sight-see in historic cities like Dublin, tour grand castles, or drive around the rolling countryside. Ireland is the perfect location for families with a streak of adventure.
Yellowstone National Park is the perfect destination if your family loves the outdoors. Kids will love exploring their trails and lakes as parents get to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
In Yellowstone, there’s no TV, radio, and limited wifi and cell service (wireless internet is available for a fee at select lodging facilities), so you’ll get a lot of uninterrupted family time.
Since there is a lot of driving and walking, this trip may not be the best option if you have younger children. It's doable, though. Ultimately Yellowstone National Park is a great option for active families who are looking for some quality time in the great outdoors.
When planning your next family trip, you may want to avoid going somewhere where your child will need immunizations (if you have an infant hold off on Central America or Africa). They are very beautiful places, but wait until your child is older.
Also keep in mind the time of year you are visiting these locations. For example, if you're planning a trip to Florida or anywhere else on the coast, I wouldn't go during the spring break if you have little ones.
Plan months before so you can put lots of thought into your next trip. That way, it will go smoothly, and you and your family will have an amazing time.