22 Ideas to Inspire the Ultimate Family Vacation
Craving some inspiration for your next family break? Look no further
Whether it’s stopping by the seaside, camping in the forest, or enjoying a week of thrills at a theme park, everyone has special memories of their favourite family holiday. But finding the best vacation spots for families is never easy. All kinds of factors can be involved, from budget and time of year, to the age gaps between the youngsters you’re travelling with - maybe even the grandparents are in tow, too. Here at Plum Guide, given our global experience in all things travel, you won't be surprised to hear that we've gone above and beyond - we’ve scanned the atlas to come up with the best family vacation ideas around. Amid these tips, there’s something for everybody - whether you’re toddling around on the sand with a bucket and spade, or hankering after a wild ride at an adventure park.
Orlando, Florida, USA
The most affordable way to visit America’s premier family attraction is to simply take your time - spread your visits to the four theme parks and two water parks of the Walt Disney World Resort over a week. This allows you to take in the Universal Orlando Resort too, and its many sections inspired by Harry Potter.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
With the Sunway Lagoon waterpark, Skytrex Adventure theme park, and Lost World of Tambun amusement complex, kids will love a trip to Kuala Lumpur. You'll also discover the KL Bird Park and its exotic parrots, the sharks at Aquaria KLCC, and the glowing fireflies at Kuala Selangor - definitely one for the wildlife enthusiasts.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
With nearly 60km of white, sandy beaches lining Queensland’s Gold Coast, this is definitely one to consider when collating your family vacation ideas. Home of Surfers’ Paradise, wildlife sanctuaries, and the Sea World Resort (Australia’s only theme park resort), the whole group is certain to enjoy a memorable trip - for all the right reasons.
The UK’s west coast is as rugged as it is romantic - and brims with adventure. With kids more and more environmentally conscious, the Eden Project in a reclaimed clay pit in Cornwall is a great holiday option. Around domes filled with rainforest and Mediterranean foliage, there’s a zipwire, a giant swing, and the Invisible Worlds exhibition.
Yellowstone National Park, USA
Those looking for the best vacation spots for families should head to north-west Wyoming. Cabins, ranches, campsites, and hotels dot the Yellowstone National Park, allowing you to stay at the world’s oldest national park and explore its nature trails. Everyone wants see Old Faithful, which erupts every hour or so.
Holidaymakers flock to the Algarve because of its scenic beaches and countless cultural attractions. Beautiful coves, gorgeous waters, and plentiful dolphins are key reasons why the coast of southern Portugal is so popular, along with its accessibility and affordability.
If you’re going to do European city break with the family, Paris is a top choice, with Disneyland Paris on its eastern outskirts, famous selfie spots aplenty and boat rides down the Seine. Eurostar travel from London means you don’t have to deal with airports, and urban transport is second to none.
The scenery in Montenegro is sensational, so this isn't one to miss. Fulfil your sense of adventure with trips to Kotor Old City and Lake Skadar, or put your feet up at one of the sandy strips that line the Adriatic Sea - Dobrec beach and Jaz Beach are two favourites, and they're popular for a reason.
Lake Tahoe, USA
Around these pristine waters where California meets Nevada, you can take a mountain gondola, ride in a hot-air balloon, go hiking, take a boat cruise and, in winter, go skiing. Top-quality restaurants line the north shore, too, so your cravings will always be met.
Both a city break and a beach holiday, Barcelona is within easy reach of the relatively unspoiled Costa Brava. The city also welcomes visitors to its Port Aventura theme park, which boasts the highest rollercoaster in Europe, as well as a skydiving simulator. Treat the kids to a game at the Camp Nou, home of football’s famous FC Barcelona.
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Jungle trails past giant fruit bats, and Lutong monkeys lead up from the wild sandy beaches of this idyllic getaway - Perhentian Islands off the eastern coast of Malaysia. Perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, this is where the giant green turtle lays her eggs.
Southern California, USA
Southern California packs a punch for family vacations, boasting everything from breezy beach houses to high-octane national parks. The original Disneyland in southern California keeps adding new attractions, to woo families long familiar with Mickey’s Toontown and Tomorrowland.
Surrounded by 98 islands set in the deep-blue Andaman Sea in Malaysia, Langkawi is tailored for family holidays. A cable car leads to the SkyRex, SkyDome and SkyGlide attractions for young thrillseekers - that is, if you can lure them away from snorkelling, swimming, and paddle-boarding.
Child-friendly Ireland is usually around the top of most people’s lists for family vacation ideas, and Galway ticks all the boxes. With its lovely beaches, Leisureland waterpark, a trampolining centre, horse-riding, and the Burren Nature Sanctuary close by, it's the perfect spot for that precious family time.
For a winter break, the Christmas Market in Vienna can be combined with the Austrian capital’s year-round attractions- think the Butterfly House in town, the old-school Ferris Wheel in Prater Park, and the Haus des Meeres aquarium in Esterhazy Park. Delicious hot chocolate and cake seals the deal.
The Thai capital can be a wonderland for parents and kids alike. Attractions will be found around every corner - visit the region’s largest aquarium, Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World, the Children’s Discovery Museum, or Dream World. As well as these stops, enjoy traditional outings, with canal boat tours and visits to the floating markets a must-do.
The most rugged of the Balearic isles, the lesser-visited Menorca offers the best and emptiest sandy beaches - particularly Cala d’Algaiarens on the north-west coast. Older ones can try windsurfing, younger kids can visit Lloc de Menorca farm and animal reserve, and everyone can enjoy a boat tour around the coast.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi has reconfigured itself to be a family-friendly holiday destination. Home of Yas Waterworld, Wadi Adventure, Ferrari World, Hill Fun City, and the Marina Eye, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.
Yosemite National Park, USA
Active families will enjoy a visit to California’s top national park, with its crashing waterfalls, beautiful rock formations and hiking trails. Climbing lessons and guided tours are also available.
Khao Yai, Thailand
Thailand’s first national park, 180km north of Bangkok, stretches over 2,000sq km of rain- and evergreen forest. Elephants, macaques, and Chinese water dragons can all be seen, along with exotic birds, and even Asian black bears - a guide is essential. Two campsites sit by dramatic waterfalls, with other lodging around Pak Chong by the main entrance.
Easy-to-negotiate Sydney has all kinds of family-friendly attractions, from the sharks and penguins of SEA Life to the Australian animals at Wild Life Sydney Zoo - think wombats, kangaroos, koalas, and more. Take the ferry from Circular Quay past the Opera House to harbourside Taronga Zoo for seal shows, an adventure playground, and a cable-car ride.
The island state may not be the most obvious choice when listing the best vacation spots for families, but Tasmania has unique attractions. Explore the Wilderness World Heritage Area for wild-water rafting, embark on dune buggy rides by the ocean, and enjoy stargazing in the Cradle Mountains - with the best view of the Milky Way on Earth.