The Top 20 Summer Vacation Spots for Families
From islands to cities to deserts, here are the best destinations for some family fun in the sun
With the warmer months fast approaching, chances are you’re wondering where the best place to spend the summer really is. If the kids have been begging to go to the beach for a while (of course they have), perhaps it's time for a holiday. Planning any vacation can get a little stressful, especially if you’re bringing along the family. Luckily, we here at Plum Guide are on hand to help - we are experts when it comes to this kind of thing, so you can trust us. We know all there is to know about planning a trip, from the best places to go to the best things to do, see, and eat. Here is our guide to the best places around the world for a summer vacation with the family. You can thank us later.
1. Palm Springs, United States
This desert hotspot is a great place for a family holiday, with an exciting range of outdoor activities such as the Cabazon Dinosaurs, Indian Canyons, and the Living Desert. If you only do one thing, make sure it’s riding the Aerial Tramway, which takes you up to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains for epic views. You won’t have to worry about rain here, but if you need a break from the hot sun, the Palm Springs Air Museum has an impressive collection of historic planes and flight simulators.
2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is a fantastic option for a family holiday if you want to combine beaches, culture, and outdoor adventures. Rio’s large, sandy beaches are great for families, with restaurants and shops lining the strips. If you need a break from the beach, Sugarloaf Mountain offers spectacular views from 1,300 metres above sea level - don’t worry, there’s a cable car for tired little legs.
3. Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK
An island getaway in the UK? You heard right. Anglesey is a wonderful place for a summer family vacation, with endless sandy beaches offering plenty of space to build sandcastles or try out water sports. Beaumaris Castle and Beaumaris Gaol are fun days out, and there are often costumed plays and other interactive events going on here. Fancy something more energetic? Go horse-riding at Anglesey Riding Centre, or enjoy a fast rib ride along the Strait.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
The coastal city of Cape Town is an exciting playground for kids and adults alike. With beautiful beaches, green parks and wildlife encounters, there's plenty to keep the whole family entertained. Climb Table Mountain for magnificent views, or take it easy at the V&A waterfront. Depending on exactly when you visit, you may even get to join a whale or seal watching tour, as well as meet the penguins on Boulders Beach.
5. Devon, England, UK
Down on England’s south coast, Devon has everything you need for a summer holiday with the family. From rolling countryside to sandy beaches, there are countless attractions to keep everyone entertained. Try cycling or horse riding in the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, or take a scenic ride on the South Devon Railway. You could even take a boat ride to Lundy Island, when you can enjoy climbing or puffin watching.
6. Cairns, Australia
Just a stone’s throw from the Great Barrier Reef, a trip to Cairns is one of the best summer vacations for families. Soar over the lush tree canopy of the Daintree Rainforest with a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, or stay on the ground with a journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. A glass-bottom boat trip to see the Great Barrier Reef is a must, but there are myriad beaches (such as Palm Cove) if you just want to relax.
7. Albufeira, Portugal
Albufeira is one of the best towns in the Algarve, and has long been a family favourite. With its glorious sandy beaches and child-friendly attractions, you’ll never want to leave. Need a break from the beach? There are several water parks such as Aquashow, Aqualand, and Slide & Splash, all of which offer hours of fun. If you can drag the kids away, head to Parque Aventura for outdoor fun involving zip-lines and swinging wire bridges - this one might not be for the faint-hearted.
Antigua is home to 365 beaches, so you could spend an entire year here and not visit the same beach twice. That means if you’re only spending the summer holidays here, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to safe, shallow waters. To switch things up, embark on a rainforest tour where you can zip-line through lush rainforest, kayak through the mangroves, and meet monkeys and parrots.
9. Menorca, Spain
Quieter than other Spanish holiday islands and with numerous sandy beaches, it’s no surprise that Menorca offers the best summer vacations for families. As well as hanging out at family-friendly beaches like Cala Galdana, you can take boat trips around the coast - swim and snorkel around the coves. Menorca is famous for its horse riding, and this is a great way to explore the island - follow the ancient bridle path around the coastline.
10. Puerto Princesa, Philippines
The charmingly-named Puerto Princesa is the ultimate tropical vacation spot. The capital of Palawan archipelago offers countless adventures, with a boat tour of the Underground River being one of the most exciting things to do. Puerto Princesa is also a fantastic launching pad for exploring the other nearby islands, where you can swim, snorkel, kayak, hang out on the beach, or explore underground caves.
11. Baja California Sur, Mexico
Baja California Sur is one of Mexico’s greatest family vacation destinations, with beaches, crystal-clear waters, mountains, culture, music, and wildlife aplenty. Exciting kid-friendly activities include swimming with whale sharks, learning about grey whales at the Museo de la Ballena, and helping out the sea turtles at the hatchery in Todos Santos. If you have older kids, why not take them hiking in the Sierra de la Luna mountains? The hot springs and natural pools are a welcome reward after the walk.
12. Hong Kong
You may be surprised to learn that Hong Kong is actually a very child-friendly destination. Start off with a ride on the historic Star Ferry for beautiful views of the skyline, or take a cable car up to Ngong Ping village for the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. It’s not all urban landscapes here, however - the UNESCO Global Geopark is home to unique rock formations and rugged islands, crying out to be explored. If it’s a rainy day, the Hong Kong Science Museum has plenty of hands-on exhibits to wile away the hours.
13. Apulia, Italy
Apulia is a very popular region with Italian families who come for the beautiful sandy beaches and family-friendly towns. The Gargano peninsula is one of the best places for nature-lovers, as it’s home to Gargano National Park - known for its karst white rocks and marine landscapes. Amongst exploring caves, snorkelling, and loading up on gelato, be sure to visit Alberobello for the fairytale towns filled with traditional whitewashed trulli.
14. Tokyo, Japan
When it comes to summer vacations for families, Japan’s colourful and quirky capital is the perfect place for your kids to experience natural beauty, culture, and history. There are multiple theme parks, such as Disneyland and Sanrio Puroland, as well as engaging museums like Studio Ghibli Museum or the Samurai Museum. Take in the tastes and sounds of Harajuku, or get a dose of history with a tour of the Imperial Palace and Gardens.
15. Rhodes, Greece
Steeped in history, beautiful natural landscapes, picturesque villages, and some of Greece’s finest beaches, it’s no surprise that Rhodes is one of the most popular family-friendly destinations in Greece. The medieval Old Town of Rhodes is the perfect playground for those kids fascinated by fairy tales of brave knights and princesses, while the adults can take in the aura of the historic buildings. It can get pretty hot in summer, and the Valley of the Butterflies makes for an enchanting reprieve from the heat.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable family vacation, it doesn’t get any better than a safari through Botswana. Starting at the lush Okavango Delta, embark on a motorboat safari - keep an eye out for elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. In the Linyanti Reserve, you’ll see lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas - you’ll feel like you’re living in The Lion King. In between all that animal spotting, make sure you visit Tsodilo Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its rock art.
17. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Set on Croatia’s serene Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik is a wonderful place for a summer holiday with the family. There’s so much to do here to keep your itinerary jam-packed - think mountain top hiking adventures, exploring historic city walls, and island hopping around the coast. Other fun days out include taking a ride up the Mount Srd cable car, sightseeing off-road on a buggy safari, and sea kayaking beneath the city walls into impressive caves.
18. The Rocky Mountains, Canada
For nature loving families, the Rockies offer a huge range of amazing experiences. Hiking is a no-brainer in these parts, with trails available for all kinds of abilities. Alternatively, enjoy a horseback tour, taking in scenic spots like Fall River and Hidden Meadow. Adventurous kids can also become a Junior Ranger, and earn a badge for completing activities like viewing wildlife, hunting for animal tracks, and embarking on scavenger hunts for flora and fauna.
19. Corsica, France
The island of Corsica is the ideal family summer getaway. It’s the perfect place for an action-packed holiday (think diving, sailing, rafting, horse riding, cycling, and hiking), but there is also plenty of opportunity to relax. Not only are the beaches around L'lle-Rousse and Calvi some of the most beautiful on the island, but they’re perfect for families as well - just don't forget the bucket and spade. To escape the crowds, try Campomoro or La Liscia, which happen to be superb for water sports.
With its rolling sand dunes, imposing mountains, and desert forts, Oman is a wonderful, action-packed family destination. There are countless exciting activities, including dune bashing, swimming in the natural pools at Wadi Bani Khalid, camel riding through the desert, and getting lost in the labyrinth of rooms in Jabrin Fort. But that’s not all - you can even go dolphin watching off the coast of Muscat, or snorkelling in the Daymaniyat islands.