Travel Destinations Baby Friendly – If you’ve always loved to travel, there’s no need to check your wanderlust at the nursery door. Believe it or not, now – while your child is still, well, a child – is a great time to get up and running. After all, children and babies are easy and portable – and it is possible to plan a family vacation with them. Best of all, many airlines and hotels offer free travel! Not all family vacation spots are created equal, however, if you have young children.
Beaches are one of the most popular destinations for all travelers. If total camaraderie — not ocean views — is your main concern, look for beach resorts with plenty of family attractions and services.
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What parents love: “Quick Response Line,” allows parents to order anything they need to care for their child; Special diets for severe food allergies; Johnson & Johnson Gentle Travel Kits; Atlantis Kids Adventures (AKA) and Sea Squirts seafood and dining program for children ages 3 and up; CPR-certified babysitters; Mandara luxury spa.
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Why kids will love it: 141 acres of water attractions including Splashers, a water playground just for toys; 50,000 fish and marine animals; your stuffed animals in Atlantis Pals; free family movies in the evening.
The National Park is the perfect place to cultivate a lifelong love of nature. Small children will open their eyes and be in awe of the tall trees, blue skies and curious things they encounter in these large green spaces – best seen from a stroller, baby carrier or pram – bike.
Why parents will love it: With mountain views, tropical forests, and coastal lakes, it has three natural settings to discover; there are several bike paths and walking paths suitable for strollers (get suggestions from the visitor center); East Beach has a shallow swimming area with a sandy beach and a fort; Sol Duc Hot Springs has a flowing pool of roasted mineral water (and daily use rates), so you can soak with your little one safely by your side; picnic areas are scattered throughout the park for alfresco dining; and there is accommodation inside and outside the park.
Why kids will love it: In the jungle they’ll find bright yellow banana slugs and salamanders gliding, and worms that sing after sunset; tidepools filled with starfish, crabs, snails and small fish; The Discovery Room in the park’s main visitor center features interactive touch tables and a life-size pink Ranger Station playhouse, complete with puppets, costumes and more.
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Young children love to feed the baby animals and help bake homemade cookies, two of the many activities that are often a part of farms. Plus, visiting a family-friendly farm can be a fun and economical place for your whole group.
What parents love: Escape to the city for a relaxing change of pace; enjoy warm hospitality and delicious food; teaching children about farm life.
Why kids will love it: Feeding baby animals; milking of cows and goats; playing with cats; hay rides; autumn corn mazes; bonfires and s’mores; fishing; a flying kite.
Best for: Families who enjoy animals, nature and home-cooked meals — especially those who need an escape from the big city.
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With their proven appeal, Disney World, Disneyland and Legoland (now in Florida and California) are often considered common carriers. Families visiting Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter can stop at Seuss Landing for an easy ride.
Why parents will love it: Lots of creative opportunities for young children, all rides and attractions are designed for children from 2 to 7 years old; and a special 10,000 square foot pool for children and toddlers.
Why kids will love it: Sesame Street characters; nine sizes of water rides; Elmo’s World, a 21,000-square-foot play area with character exhibits; a daily rockin’ show for the Neighborhood Street Party.
With their calm waters and family attractions, the lakes are a popular holiday destination for families with babies or young children. Lakes can also be great places for family outings, which save a lot of money on travel costs.
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Why parents will love it: An all-inclusive resort with plenty of opportunities for “me” time; nine unique programs for babies from birth to 30 months; a children’s camp program for young children; Parents’ Night Out – whenever you want; cocktails and parents-only dining by candlelight; guardian of one or two children; special activities for families with young children; Art and water sports activities, bicycles with child seats; Parent helpers and evening sitters are available for an additional charge.
Why kids will love it: The Playhouse Playground; Perch fishing; Splash Pad and indoor/outdoor water play areas; themed groups; camp fire; telling a story; teepee and tree house.
Best for: Water-loving families, parents of young children looking for some romantic time alone and families opting for all-inclusive vacations.
Why parents will love it: An all-inclusive vacation; kindergarten for children under 4 years old; taking care of children in the room; and special diets for strong food allergies.
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Why kids will love it: Over 100 indoor and outdoor activities; pony and carriage rides for children 2 years and older; an interactive playground for babies and toddlers; the new indoor water park Big Splash; tubing and ski programs for young children; A complete preschool program.
Best for: Families who love all-inclusive resorts, a variety of family activities and lots of great home entertainment.
It’s comforting to know how much your vacation will cost before you leave, especially when you have people to choose from and other small issues to consider. All family-oriented – hands down – it offers the most comprehensive family services of any location, including babysitting, suites with separate children’s rooms, baby food programs and more.
Why parents will love it: Special Program for Toddlers & Toddlers; Gerber gourmet food; Fisher-Price Little People family-themed suits; Mom’s morning jogging/yoga routine; babysitting or babysitting services at any time for additional income; children’s equipment and toy loan program; Family Friends Personal Vacation Planner; beaches and swimming pools; dinners on a private beach; and new spa and beach massages.
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Why kids will love it: Azulitos Play House Kid’s Club with Fisher-Price toys; Minor Mayans culture system; My Fitness Center Exercise Equipment; Spa Suites for children with Strawberry Ice Cream manicure; family movie night in the bedroom.
Best for: Families who want to be pampered and enjoy lots of amenities like delicious fruit smoothies without the constant worry of how much the vacation will cost.
Snow-capped peaks don’t come to mind when you think of vacationing with kids, but many of these resorts offer four seasons of family fun and daily programs for babies and toddlers. Best of all, these mountain resorts are private vacation spots with great seasonal rates.
Why parents will love it: Year-round Treasures Childcare Center with Fireflies programs (six to 16 weeks); Little Dippers (17 months to 2 1/2 years) and Little Rascals (2 to 3 years); pagers and parental protection cards; Ski programs for potty trained children from 3 years and up; Introductory ski program for ages 2 ½ – 3 (no potty training required) and full day programs for water skiers ages 3 and up; babysitters; and comprehensive programs for children and families.
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Why kids will love it: Winter snow tubing and learning to ski on the Magic Carpet lift; splashing in the summer in pint-sized pools with splash pads and small water slides; year-round entertainment at the 4,000-square-foot playground and FunZone indoor family entertainment center, and evening storytimes and live sing-alongs.
What parents will love: Blankets, bibs, towels, wipes, lotions, diapers, strollers, playpens, high chairs, and in-room refrigerators and microwaves are all provided free of charge upon request; children under 5 eat free, and the resort’s chefs will prepare fresh children’s meals to order; you and your toys can play together at the “Kids for All Seasons” center, which has supervised programs for ages 5 and up; a family concierge will arrange to babysit the children on those date nights.
Why kids will love it: The baby wading pool has pink lounge chairs and robes and fresh fruit served al fresco; Saturday night s’mores are served at Saguaro Blossom restaurants; rabbits, woodpeckers and road runners can be seen in the area; nearby McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Phoenix has a carousel and antique train rides (free with a paying adult).
Time to go: Temperatures are lowest in the spring and fall, but the best deals are in the hot summer.
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Why parents will love it: Back Bay-style boutique hotel with the city’s only rooftop pool; The “Kids See & Do” package includes breakfast, a kid’s fan pack and welcome gift, parking, late checkout and tickets to the Boston Children’s Museum or the New England aquarium; conveniently located near museums, scenic Newbury Street, Fenway Park, and a quick subway ride from historic landmarks.
Why kids will love it: It’s a short walk from the Community Gardens, where they can go through flying fountains, climb the Make Way for Ducklings statues and ride Duck Boats; The Boston Children’s Museum has interactive exhibits; The New England Aquarium has sea lion exhibits; it’s fun to follow the Freedom Trail and see street performers at Quincy Market.
You can’t go wrong at the zoo. Small children love animals, and special children’s sections have interactive petting and feeding areas for critters. Moreover, there are many