My Top 10 Kid-Friendly Destinations of 2016

Family Friendly resorts and destinations that we have visited and loved. Find the best family vacation in this list of the top 10 kid-friendly destinations

Finding the perfect place to spend your family vacation can be a daunting task. So, when I come across kid-friendly destinations that I think are incredible finds I get super excited to share them. Last, year I traveled a ton (18 trips total) and while each trip was amazing in its own unique way, the following 10 kid-friendly destinations left a very special mark on my heart. Get ready to take notes, your 2017 family vacation is about to be unveiled.

My Top 10 Kid-Friendly Destinations of 2016

1 Prague

Charles_Bridge_Prague

Your kids will easily fall in love with Prague’s fairytale landscape, gorgeous medieval architecture, warm people, awesome outdoor playgrounds and weird art. It’s like a real world Disneyland of sorts. Plus, parents will love the amazing public transport, budget friendly accommodations, cheap food, and pivo (that’s Czech for beer). Which is why Prague is my #1 destination of 2016. Make sure to see The Charles Bridge from every angle, eat your weight in ice cream from Angelato’s, check out the Prague Castle, take this Food Tour, climb the clock tower in Old Town, visit St. Vitus Cathedral (and the tiny village that is there as well) and find a secret garden. Grown ups should also try drinks at Hemingways and join in on any singing that takes place in a pub (also kid-friendly). You will also want to stay at this charming hotel right next to St. Nicholas Cathedral. It has fantastic room option for families, an included breakfast, a trolley stop right outside the front doors and its located within walking distance from the Charles Bridge!

2 Rome

Gorgeous photo of the side of the Colosseum in Rome

Okay, yes, you probably hear this one a lot. But, seriously as touristy as it may be Rome is one of my absolute favorite cities in the world and guess what? It’s perfect for kids too! The passion Romans have for their wine, cheese, pasta… okay all food items, their women, their family, their culture and their history. It’s contagious and you cannot leave there without a piece of your heart yearning to return. Some of my favorite things to do in Rome with kids include taking a tour of the Colosseum with Overome, eating more pizza, pasta, and gelato than one should consume. Also, trying the most amazing local dishes, getting a taste of Roman culture, walking around the local fruit and veggie markets, and drinking wine in a wine cellar older than the Colosseum on this food tour. Also, don’t miss tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, visiting the Spanish Steps, hanging out in Piazza Navona and relishing in the live music and entertainment. Although, I don’t recommend eating in the piazza. Instead, be sure to walk down an alley a block or two away to find better food at way cheaper prices.

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3 Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs Bucketlist

This trip was a last minute booking we made on a whim and it turned out to be our all time favorite snow experience. Steamboat Springs is a gorgeous mountain resort and it’s also incredibly family friendly. We stayed in a lovely 3-bedroom Wyndham Vacation Rental right on the mountain with sweeping views of the slopes and a warm fireplace. Our rental included free door to door shuttle service which was amazing and it was located right in the heart of everything. Steamboat has a ton to offer skiers and snowboarders but they also have a bunch of other activities like snow tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, bumper cars on ice and dog-sledding.

Hands down my favorite thing we did in Steamboat was this dog-sledding tour. But, quite honestly the snow itself had us giddy. Being from Southern California we don’t see much snow. So, having snow that was fluffy and deep enough for my boys to literally dive into it head first was an incredible experience for us. Visiting during the Cowboy Downhill last Jan. made things even better as we were able to experience the hot air balloon glow on the mountain, as well as the crazy cowboys skiing like maniacs down the slopes in chaps. I highly recommend it!

See my run down of everything we LOVED in my Ultimate Guide to Steamboat Springs here.

4 Cancun

Transracial family playing in the pool at the Hard Rock Cancun

Last year I learned that Cancun is NOT just for college kids on spring break. In fact, it could be argued that Cancun has some of the best resorts and activities for traveling families. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel while we were there and it ‘Rocked Our Vacation’, pun totally intended. With the fastest, most delicious 24-hour room service, huge hot tub smack dab in the middle of every room (our kids thought they were rock stars), top notch service, amazing restaurants, first class cocktails and more kids activities than your kids will be able to handle. It was one heck of a resort! Cancun also was where we experienced Xel-Ha an amazing aquatic adventure park, swam with turtles in Akumal, explored cenotes and basked on the beach while gazing at the crystal clear ocean water crashing on the shore. It should be noted this is one trip that can be very budget friendly too!

5 NCL Cruise

40 Photos to make you want to hop on the NCL Getaway Today

Okay, not really a destination. But, when trying to narrow down our best family travel experiences of 2016 it was impossible not to include a cruise (or two). Cruising has become one of our family’s favorite ways to travel. The kids love all the incredible activities on board, I love not having to change rooms, or decide on where we should eat dinner. Cruises simplify the whole family travel experience making it much easier for everyone to enjoy themselves. Plus, cruise lines like Disney and Norwegian have amazing kids clubs which are included for kids 3+ years and older meaning parents also get to enjoy some alone time which you know we all need + deserve. Being able to go on multiple date nights while on vacation with my kids, I mean how sweet is that??

This particular cruise was a great fit for our family. It had awesome water slides, a toddler playroom, and great ports including Honduras, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel. I highly recommend visiting Maya Park, an incredible NEW water park in Costa Maya and taking a food tour with Cozumel Chef if you are ever in those areas.

6 Yosemite

Bridalvail Falls at Yosemite National Park. Such a beautiful winter destination

Visiting Yosemite was part of every summer trip I had during my childhood. But, camping (as I had done as a child) with 5 kids in tow never sounded very fun to me which is why I had not returned with my own children yet. That is until earlier this month when I took my father and son, Owen on a last minute trip to this iconic national park. Not only was it my first time with one of my kids in tow but it was also my first experience visiting Yosemite in winter AND first time staying in a luxurious lodge. My father and I quickly realized that we had been doing Yosemite all wrong. A fresh blanket of snow only made all the jaw-dropping sights even more spectacular and the lodge turned our rugged trip into a lap in luxury. Tenaya Lodge is an incredible family-friendly luxury resort with more amenities and activities than you could dream of. Match that with the calmness in the parks and the magic of the snow and you’ve got yourself a dream vacation your family will LOVE!!! I can guarantee we will be back next year!

7 East Coast (DC/ NYC)

Transracial_Adoptive_Family_at_white_house

Visiting DC and New York with our kid’s last spring was a super fun experience. The kids loved explaining things they had learned in school about our country’s rich history when we were in DC. We contacted our State Representative and scheduled a tour of the capital, which I highly recommend. And, springtime turned out to be a lovely time of year to visit, the cherry blossoms had just opened, the weather was nice and there were fewer crowds than you find in the summer months. You can check out all of our favorite things to do in DC in my Ultimate Guide to DC here.

New York was a bit chillier than we had anticipated but we still had a blast nevertheless. The boys enjoyed watching a basketball game at the Madison Square Garden. Ella and I saw our first Broadway play, Matilda and it turned us into playgoers almost instantly. W also saw the statue of liberty, climbed the empire state building, played in Central Park, toured the Natural History Museum, and visited the 9/11 Memorial and toured through it’s museum too. NYC is known for great food so of course we ate way more pizza than we should have, found delicious quick service Indian food (IndiaKitch), had amazing doughnuts from Doughnut Plant, the world’s most delicious cookies from Levaine Bakery, and we even took our Seinfeld-loving kids to the Original Soupman for a bowl of “the best soup ever” in their opinion. You can find all of our favorite activities, favorite places to eat and helpful tips on traveling to NYC here in my Ultimate Guide to New York City with Kids.

8 Multi-Generational Cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise

The BEST Places to Vacation with Kids. My list of the top 10 places we visited last year.

As I mentioned previously, I know cruising is not really a destination but I couldn’t leave it off my list. Anyone looking to book a multi-generational trip would be a fool not to check into taking a cruise. Cruising is one of our favorite vacations because they are super fun and everything is scheduled ahead of time so they are also incredibly easy with a group. That is why when it came time to plan our annual Thanksgiving trip (a trip that includes 20 people ages 3- 75 years old) we knew a cruise was the way to go. And, what better cruise than the world’s largest and newest ship at sea, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas?

This boat was INSANE!!! There was SO much to do we really didn’t ever need to get off the ship. They had waterslides, two Floriders, a zipline, mini golf course, ice skating rink, carousel & more! Of course, we did get off though because it ported in Haiti at Royal Caribbean’s private island which was pretty cool, Jamaica where we took an incredible excursion with Chukka Adventures and in Cozumel where we had the most relaxing day at Mr. Sanchos Private Beach Club. It was an incredible trip and everyone in the group agreed. Watch for my Ultimate Guide to Cruising on the Harmony of the Seas and my reviews of our excursions as well… coming soon!

9 Disneyworld & Universal Studios (Orlando, CA)

Private 3D Fireworks at Typhoon Lagoon. A private beach party for Disney SMMC | Global Munchkins

Orlando will always be a special trip for us as we have been taking the kids here since they were born. Not to mention, Liv was born in Miami and being adopted we had to remain in the state for about two weeks after she was born and we spent that time at Disney’s Beach Club resort. So, every time we return it truly feels like our home away from home.

But, I think all families find that Disneyworld + Universal Orlando offer families a truly incredible experience. For one EVERYTHING is super family friendly from the hotels to the parks, the transportation, and the restaurants. Secondly, there is non-stop entertainment to keep everyone happy. And, lastly you would be hard pressed to find another town in the states with a higher concentration in family activities than Orlando. Even, expanding your trip outside the parks is a good idea!

For all my tips & tricks on outsmarting the crowds at Disneyworld check out my post here. Or for my Universal Orlando Tips from a Pro check out this post here.

10 Puerto Rico

Snorkeling at El Conquistador Resort. in Puerto Rico at Lobo Natural Park

Puerto Rico is a fantastic option for U.S. families, flights are quick and inexpensive and you don’t even need a passport as an American citizen to enter. Pretty fantastic, right? We stayed at the El Conquistador, a gorgeous luxury resort complete with its own waterpark & private island. Here we enjoyed swimming, mommy & me spa treatments, snorkeling, footgolf, kayaking and so much more!!! They also have a bunch of tasty restaurants ranging from casual family fare to upscale intimate dining experiences. This is one resort that truly has something for everyone!

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Where will you be traveling to in 2017?

9 Comments

  • TPatrick says:

    Great list !! I loved your reference to Yosemite, many times considered a challenging place for vacations. But as you mentioned, the views are breathtaking !!
    TPatrick recently posted…Best gift cards to buy for campers and backpackersMy Profile

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      The resort really makes it easy. I can’t wait to return with my whole crew. In fact we are already looking at next winter for a multi-gen trip with my parents and brother.

  • Great choices!!!! Really need to get cruising with my family!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Thank you Harmony. Looks like you guys have done Hawaii too. Another amazing family friendly destination that we LOVE!! Cruising definitely brings rest & relaxation back into our vacations with included kids clubs, tons of on-board activities and the fact that dinners are all planned out for me. I highly recommend them. Disney, Norwegian and Royal are our favs.

  • Astrid says:

    All these options sound so great, it’s hard to narrow it down. So I guess they should all go on our list. But if I have my way, the multi-generational cruise will take number 1 spot. What an awesome way to get everyone together for a fun holiday!

    Thanks Mama Munchkin for rounding these up – they’ve definitely got me excited to plan a big family getaway!

    Astrid

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      The cruise was an incredible trip, I hope you have an amazing experience wherever you choose to go!! Happy Travels!

      • Astrid says:

        Just thought I’d give an update on my plan to rope all the generations of my family into a trip like this…

        All the grandparents and young ones are game and already want to know when we’re leaving! It’s the parents, aunts and uncles that are a little skeptical. So I emailed them all the link to your article.

        I’m hoping that gorgeous picture of you all in front of the cruise ship will do the trick!

        Fingers crossed! 🙂

  • Travel and enjoy your vacations because you deserve it.

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