Family travel has rebounded significantly in the last year, and expectations are that it will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. With fears of COVID-19 transmission fading, families are more eager than ever to visit popular family vacation destinations such as New York and Orlando, Florida, while smaller cities such as Portland, Maine, and Pittsburgh are also having a moment.
Fresh-air activities remain among the best places to visit with children, making rural areas from Mendocino in California to the Berkshires in Massachusetts appealing. Many of Europe’s most popular family vacation spots are also appealing, thanks to a strong US dollar and the elimination of coronavirus testing requirements.
The best places to go with kids in 2023 continue to balance health and safety precautions with a desire to maximise family vacation opportunities, and include all-inclusive resorts, family beach destinations, national parks, and – as always – the country’s top theme parks. So gather your belongings and get ready: Here are the top places to visit with kids in 2023:
- The city of New York
The attractions of the Big Apple provide nonstop family fun all year. Simply looking at the city’s towering skyscrapers is exciting, and for many children, seeing a live Broadway show is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The TKTS ticket booth sells same-day tickets to select shows at up to a 50% discount.
Even self-proclaimed museum haters should be won over by the American Museum of Natural History’s planetarium and dinosaur fossil collection, while Central Park’s zoo antique carousel and lakes attract families like a magnet by providing a quiet respite from urban energy.
Stay at Thompson Central Park, which has modern guest rooms as well as an in-house restaurant called Burger Joint, which serves one of the best burgers in town at a surprisingly low price.
- Italy’s Lake Como
Italy has always been one of the best places to visit with children, and Lake Como is the icing on the cake. The lake is the sparkling centrepiece of this slice of Italian paradise, with public ferries that are ideal for sightseeing and sleek yachts owned by Hollywood celebrities that will impress even the most jaded teenagers.
The lovely lakeside promenade is even stroller-friendly for families with toddlers, and gelato shops around every corner keep the entire family refreshed. Take the funicular up the steep mountainside and you’ll arrive in Brunate, a frozen-in-time hilltop village with views of the lake and the nearby Alps, in seven minutes.
Spend extra money on this European vacation by staying at Vista Palazzo Lago di Como, where everyone in the family can enjoy full butler service.
- Mendocino County, California
Mendocino County is an immersion in nature, with majestic redwoods and rugged cliffs overlooking the windswept Pacific. Hike through the fern-filled forest at Van Damme State Park, paddle an outrigger canoe in the Big River Estuary in search of seals, and pedal a two-person railbike surrounded by towering trees.
At Frankie’s, where pizza is adorned with adventurous toppings and ice cream sundaes are a frosty fantasy, you can satisfy your hunger. Finish your trip at Little River Inn, which has tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, rooms with ocean views, and Swedish hotcakes for breakfast.
Pittsburgh, once known for its steel and coal, has traded industry for cultural institutions that are heavy on family appeal and light on pretence. Ride the Duquesne Incline’s wooden cable cars for a bird’s-eye view of Pittsburgh’s three rivers, which is a great way for kids to get a feel for the city before exploring its many attractions.
At the Senator John Heinz History Center’s Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, sports fans will appreciate Pittsburgh’s legendary passion for sports, while the Carnegie Science Center’s interactive exhibits will delight curious minds. And kids of all ages will find something to enjoy at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, where cutting-edge art and technology experiences are always available.
Stay at the Omni William Penn Hotel for spacious rooms and grand public spaces.
Canada’s fifth largest city is Victoria, British Columbia.
Victoria, on Vancouver Island, combines old-world charm with Western Canada cool. The rainy weather encourages lush blooms that adorn postcard-perfect parks and gardens.
Families with small children can stroll stroller-friendly paths and take in the floral splendour at Butchart Gardens. Beacon Hill Park features a petting zoo and totem poles scattered among ponds, lakes, and streams. Alternatively, take a whale-watching cruise from the Inner Harbour before heading indoors to learn about Canada’s First Nations people at the Royal BC Museum.
The boutique and family-friendly Magnolia Hotel and Spa is located near the Inner Harbour.
Portland, Maine is number six.
In Portland, Maine, you can breathe salty air and watch seagulls strut their stuff. Kids will enjoy watching the lobster boats dock in the harbour before boarding a ferry to one of Casco Bay’s timeless islands.
Visit the aquarium at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine to see turtles, sunfish, frogs, and other marine species up close, and sample local seafood at Luke’s Lobster, where clam chowder is divine and lobster rolls are luscious.
Stay at Cambria Hotel Portland Downtown Old Port, which is close to waterside attractions.
Houston, with over 140 languages spoken, is one of the best places to visit with children to celebrate the nation’s diversity of cultures and experiences. A mosaic medley creates a vibrant outdoor gallery at Smither Park. On Saturdays, artists work on this evolving project, providing an opportunity to observe the creative process.
Take a trip to Rice University to see James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace. Enter the spaceship-like structure and take in the ever-changing light and psychedelic vibes. Try on a spacesuit and helmet as you explore the workings of mission control at Space Center Houston for the granddaddy of interactive experiences.
Stay at the Hotel Zaza in Houston’s Museum District. Zaza’s extravagant cattle horn accents add a Texas touch.
Williamstown, Massachusetts is number eight.
The Berkshires, a patchwork of cute hamlets nestled among rolling hills and mountains, is a fantastic place to visit with kids for a classic New England vacation any time of year. Consider Williamstown, a charming little village infused with youthful vitality thanks to Williams College.
Browse mom-and-pop bookstores, eat ice cream at Lickety Split, and take in the Clark Art Institute’s extensive family programming and world-class collection of Impressionist art. A friendly herd of pastured cows roams the Clark’s acres of meadows and walking trails, which is an unexpected delight.
The upscale Williams Inn offers family-friendly amenities such as outdoor fire pits and delicious dining.
Curacao, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands that embraces its multicultural identity, combines beach fun and Caribbean culture. Beautiful beaches like Grote Knip have soft sand, gentle waves that are ideal for small swimmers, and sapphire-blue water.
Willemstad, the city’s cosmopolitan capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, enchants visitors with its candy-colored buildings and vibrant street art. Get your hands dirty and paint your own Chichi doll, one of Curacao’s most well-known crafts. Stay at Avila Beach Hotel, which has a protected beach and a tropical infinity pool.
London is one of the world’s most kid-friendly cities, and it’s especially ideal for family vacations with teenagers. The London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, provides a bird’s-eye view of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament. If your children are Harry Potter fans, don’t miss the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter, where the entire family can explore the Wizarding World at the studio where the eight films were made.