There are really only two different kind of vacations in your life—the kind you go on with your family and the kind you go on without them. Seriously, think about it. You’re young and single and exploring the world with your backpack. Maybe you’re just going to a country on your own for some soul searching, to find yourself, but once you have a family, the vacations tends to change. You’re a lot more restricted once you have little people that you’re responsible for. And we all know how kids can be—difficult, neurotic, irritable, wild, and funny. Kids are just a ball of sunshine, and sometimes, the sun can get too hot and burn us. So, really, there are only two kinds of vacations in your life. That being said, you probably need to be aware of what kind of vacation you’re going to take.
We have you covered with that. This is a list split down the middle. On one hand, we have places that you should never take your kids to. Now, we don’t mean to say that these are horrible places or a nightmare to bring kids. We’re only saying this to consider these vacations for times when you don’t have the little rascals with you. We also balance this list out by giving you a selection of places that are perfect for families. So, hire a babysitter or pack the stroller because here are 10 Places Parents Should Never Take Their Kids (10 Places Perfect For Fam Jams).
20 Don’t - Aspen, Colorado
There probably isn’t a place that so successfully blends the attraction and appeal of high-end living with the excitement and adventure of winter sports as well as Aspen. This ski town in Colorado was once a mining town before silver crashed and the city lost its blue-collar origins. It soon grew into a hotbed for celebrities like Hunter S. Thompson and John Denver who found refuge in the snowy alpine. All around the world, you’ll find that high-end fashion goes with skiing when the conditions are right. Something about the sport attracts people with deep pockets.
Aspen is the prototypical town for that attitude. The amazing skiing on the slopes combined with the high-end fashion boutiques and shops lining the main street have made Aspen into an iconic city for skiing and luxury.
Sure, you can take you family up skiing, teach the kids how to pizza and french fry, but don’t do it in Aspen. There’s actually a strong stigma against children here. For one thing, the high-end shopping doesn’t exactly work well with children. And for another, the nightlife and bars in Aspen are too fun to risk bringing your kids here.
19 Do - Grand Cayman Island, Cayman Islands
There are a number of tropical warm water, white sand, palm tree swaying locations compiled on this list and that’s because warm weather and warm beaches are the perfect reasons for you to bring your family. You have the luxury of relaxing on the beach or ramping up the energy and playing in the water. Beaches just provide so much in way of entertainment that it works perfectly for family vacations. The Cayman Islands are one such place where you could have an entire vacation centered around the beach and still feel like you haven’t done all there is to do.
Grand Cayman, the largest and principal island of the three, is one of the best places to bring a family. So many tourism groups and travel agencies have set up programs and itineraries that will blow your mind and excite your family.
The leisurely activity available to the beach-goers is there–surfing, swimming, boating, snorkeling–but it’s the wildlife encounters that really make Grand Cayman such a family-friendly venue. The turtle center and starfish point are great places to go as is Sting Ray City. With each, your kids can encounter these animals up close. The coolest one, though, is the ponies. Weird, right? But these ponies walk in the ocean as you ride them. Quite an experience.
18 Don’t - Ibiza, Spain
It’s not mandatory, but there really should be a rule about forbidding kids to visit the Spanish island of Ibiza. Just off the eastern coat of Valencia, Ibiza is one of the larger islands of the Balearic Island chain, an autonomous nation in Spain. The island sits in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and has long been considered one of the biggest party destinations in the world. It’s hard to say what exactly caused this phenomenon, but for decades, people have gathered on this island as the sun sets and lit the place up with late-night partying. There are many bars, clubs, boats, and beaches that cater to the nightlife agenda here. There’s plenty of water activities catered towards adult vacations such as jet ski rentals and paddle boarding along the coast too.
But for all of the partying and nightlife in Ibiza, there’s actually some other activities you can do there. Surprisingly, we know. Ibiza has some amazing scenery and hikes and also has some horseback riding along the beach. There are also historical sites you can visit to learn more about the island and churches that share the rich culture of Ibiza. And the seafood. Ibiza has some amazingly fresh, delectable seafood.
17 Do - Rome, Italy
Rome may be one of the world’s greatest gems of historical and cultural significance, but it can be difficult imagining that it’s well-suited for children. Italy’s capital is thousands of years old and full of some of the greatest feats of architecture and art the world has ever seen. It’s not hard picturing the crowds and the lines and the general chaos of such a place. Indeed, most visitors tend to use Rome as their jumping off point for a much larger tour across Italy. Because it acts as a port of sorts for travelers, the city can be even more chaotic. But have no fear, this city is actually a great place to bring kids and the educational opportunities abound are reason enough to jet your family to Rome for at least a few days.
When it comes to what to see, it’s hard to go wrong. Almost every block, you’ll find something worth taking a picture of or learning about. We find it best to stay in a hotel when in Rome with family. The front desk can be your best friend. Take for example, the inside tip of purchasing a Roma Pass Card which will give you preferred access to places like the Colosseum and some museums, as well as three free days of rising the metro.
16 Don’t - Amman, Jordan
It doesn’t necessarily say that any of these destinations are dangerous for kids. Actually, you could probably bring your entire family along with you to any of these places and return home in one piece. We only recommend that you avoid these ones if you have kids and stick with the cities that are perfect for the fam jam instead. Amman, Jordan is one of those places where we’re sure you could bring your kids and still have an enjoyable time. Jordanians are actually quite fond of children and many people will approach children in the street to stop and give them treats.
Indeed, children can be spoiled here by the locals, and whether or not you’re comfortable with your children receiving that kind of affection from strangers, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Part of what makes Amman a bad place to bring kids is the crowds.
The city is extremely crowded. And because it’s so old, it can sometimes see some crazy congestion due to inadequate infrastructure. Public transit too can be a headache, so trying to get around with a bunch of mini humans can be a bit of a struggle. Another issue is the activities available in Amman. Much of it revolves around historical sites which, because of the crowds, can be difficult to reach with kids. Another is the sites outside of the city that require traveling through the harsh dessert climate of Jordan.
15 Do - Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen was featured on a list we did earlier this year about places to visit where the sun doesn’t shine and we mentioned there that this lovely city had a lot of fun activities. In fact, Denmark’s capital and most populated city actually has some of the oldest amusement parks in the world, a feat that makes Copenhagen a great place to bring children. In general,
the city is considered ideal for families who want to bring their children on vacation. The city boasts plenty of child-friendly attractions and amenities that make transporting children around town fairly easy.
There are plenty of activities to do with the kids when in Copenhagen such as Norrebro Park. Actually, there are a number of parks perfect for the kids. Kongens Have and Faelled are also great parks to visit. Established in 1583, Dyrehavsbakken, just outside of Copenhagen, is the world’s oldest amusement park. This is a great place to take the kids but also as equally fun for the parents. The fairgrounds-style amusement park has rides and attractions as well as a beautiful garden. Not only does Copenhagen have the world’s oldest amusement park, but it also features the world’s second oldest amusement park in Tivoli Park. Closer to the main city, Tivoli was established in 1843 and is one of the most visited amusement parks in the world.
14 Don’t - New Orleans, Louisiana
Like many entries on this list, it’s hard to imagine anyone voluntarily bringing the family to New Orleans. Perhaps New Orleans is not as sinful as Las Vegas or as much of a playground as Dubai, but this Louisiana city is a hopping place and one full of a history that adds weight and culture to the nightlife and the good times. In any case, New Orleans is a great place to go if you don’t want to bring your kids. The famous French Quarter of New Orleans may well be one of the best bar scenes in the entire world. It’s the oldest section of New Orleans and sits at the banks of a bend in the great Mississippi River. The French Quarter is instantly recognizable and iconic in image. Inspired by the French population in the area and built to beautiful standards, the French Quarter is full of wonderful attractions, sights, and restaurants. But it’s also full of bars. Any time of the year, you’ll find unique themed bars with equally unique drinks as New Orleans allows people to walk the streets with alcohol. And during Mardi Gras, this place is alive like no other place in the world. The crowds pack the streets and throw yellow, gold, green, and purple beads around. The area is more catered to adults with places like the Voodoo Massage or the Naked Sushi.
13 Do - San Jose, Costa Rica
For a long time, Costa Rica has been regarded as the ultimate destination for families in Central America. Somehow, this place has managed to build up an entire tourism industry around attracting families to their wonderful jungles, beautiful cities, and marvelous beaches. In fact, the entire country seems ripe for vacation and vacation with family, but we chose to include the capital city of San Jose not just because of its cultural relevance and the accessibility there, but because this is the perfect launch pad for a Costa Rican trip.
From San Jose, you can easily access much of Costa Rica from the beaches to the jungles where you can go on thrilling hikes through the famous bridges or zipline through the lush forest. There’re also some exciting river rafting opportunities as well as some family-friendly hot springs. The beaches are always serene here and you can even catch some dolphins on the guided boat tours or go snorkeling. But you don’t have to use San Jose as a port to travel back and forth between. There’s plenty just inside the city for you to do with your family. From historical buildings to art exhibits and museums, San Jose is full of activities.
12 Don’t - St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is one of the more beautiful cities in the world. The Russian port city on the Baltic features some of Russia’s most important cultural buildings and areas, including a number of elegant palaces such as the Grand Palace, Yusupov Palace, and Catherine Palace. St. Petersburg’s main street, the Nevsky Prospect, which leads towards the Neva River and the iconic Palace Square, is a great place to go window shopping or even actual shopping. The shops, boutiques, and cafes on this road are quaint and elegant. And we recommend grabbing some coffee because ‘elegant’ is not the only word used to describe St. Petersburg.
‘Cold’ is also another perfect description here. Russia at large is fairly cold, and with the Baltic right there and the Nordic neighbors just over the water, St. Petersburg can be a fairly frigid place. One of St. Petersburg’s staples is the ballet. This city is considered the heart of ballet and many of the most famous theaters and groups can be found in St. Petersburg. Obviously, elegant theaters like the Mariinsky are probably not the best place to bring a kid. We’re sure you could, but we don’t recommend it. Also, be aware of the midnight sun. Though not directly affected, St. Petersburg is far enough north that the unusual day cycles may make the little ones cranky.
11 Do - Anaheim, California
We might have cheated a little with this entry. While other places on this list garner national attention for their rich history and context within the greater world, this city perhaps was born more out of luck and relation more than any other featured here. In fact, we wonder what Anaheim, California would look like had it not been for Disneyland. This Orange County town was once considered the countryside to Los Angeles’ sprawling cityscape. Over the course of decades, the population began spilling out into orange groves of Anaheim. But it wasn’t until Walt Disney decided to plant his flag here that the little town exploded into a major city with its own sports teams in the Ducks and Angels. Now, Anaheim is home to the one and only Disneyland, not to be confused with Disney World, of which there are multiple across the world. Disneyland has put Anaheim on the map in a way that no other city has been before, and it’s the perfect place to bring kids. Hotels, transportation, and restaurants all operate around Disneyland and make the process of bringing your kids as easy as possible. And if you’re one of the rare few who don’t like Disney, then there are plenty of things in Anaheim to do with kids.
10 Don’t - Las Vegas, Nevada
We thought this one was pretty self-explanatory, but still, it’s worth mentioning. In fact, Las Vegas should be on this list for the sake of showing you exactly what a city looks like when it’s the opposite of family-friendly.
There’s nothing family-friendly about Las Vegas, especially when considering the strip.
We know that there are sometimes conventions and competitions held in Vegas. There are so many hotels that Vegas acts as the convention center of the world. So, sure, there are some kids there. But by and large, Las Vegas, Nevada is Sin City for a reason. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but that’s only because there’s a slim chunk of time in the late morning when most people are trying to sleep off their hangovers. But after 9 or 10, you’ll find the bulk of Vegas visitors frequently in one of the many daytime party activities, one of the most notable being Rehab Beach Club. Rehab is a massive pool party that’s perfect for some weekend day drinking. You’ll find people at the pool bars or lounging in the cabanas and having a good time. With the parties and the night clubs, Sin City is most assuredly not a place to bring your kids.
9 Do - Honolulu, Hawaii
Whether you’re with kids or not, the Hawaiian islands are a perfect place for vacation. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for rest and relaxation, or adventure and new experiences, these islands seem to have been built specifically for a good time. Honolulu is the state capital and is located on the southern shore of the island of Oahu, one of the larger islands in Hawaii. Oahu is one of the more heavily-visited islands and this works in your favor if you’re bringing your family as they have the infrastructure and attractions to accommodate visitors.
Most people stay in the Waikiki area along the water. Once a lagoon, Waikiki is a man-made beach that has acted as the major hotel and dining area for visitors to the island. Here, you’ll find a dizzying selection of food and lodging. Although there are some resorts further east like Disney’s Aulani, Waikiki seems to be the place to stay. There are a number of beaches to visit like Waimea Bay and Turtle Bay. The North Shore has many beautiful scenic beaches and plenty of opportunities to go snorkeling and shark cage diving. Another unique activity is Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel where guests can have unique experiences with the dolphins.
8 Don’t - Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast lands on this list because of the romance in the air. At large, Italy is a fairly romantic country. From the vineyards of Tuscany to the Italian Alps, there is no shortage of romantic getaways when it comes to Italy. One such romantic destination is the Amalfi coast. Just below Naples to the southwestern coast of Italy, you’ll find the Amalfi Coast on the Sorrento peninsula. Much like Cinque Terre to the north, the Amalfi Coast is a collection of smaller cities along the waterside like the Riviera. And very much like Cinque Terre, the cities that comprise the Amalfi Coast are absolutely stunning and quaint. The towns are nestled within the rocky hillside and the homes are painted in an array of beautiful pastel colors.
The narrow streets and winding hills are not ideal for families. We can already hear the kids moaning and complaining and asking how much longer they have to walk. This place was made for romantics and lovers looking for a retreat from the world.
So, find a nice hotel on the water, eat dinner out on the veranda, and get some champagne and toast to a good weekend with your one and only. The beaches and the boat rides which take you for a tour along the coast provide you with a wonderful escape.
7 Do - Yucatan, Mexico
Mexico can sometimes feel like a trip more catered to adults. With the stories you hear about cruises along the coast by Ensenada or the Spring Break trips college students go on in Cancun, you tend to picture Mexico as a tropical paradise for drinking and staying up late. Yucatan, however, is a little different. This peninsula on the eastern coast of Mexico developed independently from the rest of Mexico’s tourism industry and, because of this, has evolved its own unique experience that is perfect for family vacations. One attraction that really makes Yucatan a special place to visit is the Maya. This peninsula has a vast array of Mayan ruins to explore and learn about.
Scaling the pyramids and learning about the culture is a great experience for both parents and kids. Yucatan also has that famous Mexican coastline ripe with roaring blue waves that are perfect for swimming, but there are also some cool cave systems that you can explore with the kids and even swim in.
One of the places for taking kids, though, is Xel-Ha, a sprawling aquatic park where you can swim, snorkel, and float down beautiful turquoise rivers, shaded by the lush green plants and trees of Mexico, a true paradise.
6 Don’t - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai may perhaps be the modern world’s new playground. Or, it may be the United Arab Emirates’ answer to Las Vegas. In either case, it’s hard to think of Dubai without thinking of the major global city as a hub of entertainment, a modern wonderland. Built with the lucrative oil business that boomed in the area and launched the U.A.E. into the global spotlight,
Dubai is a city built with entertainment and tourism in mind. The city is in a constant state of innovating and reinventing what a city can do and how it can act as a playground for the rich, famous, and for those who want to have a more mature vacation.
From the sky, you can see Palm Jumeirah, the iconic man-made archipelago, and that’s proof enough that Dubai was designed for a good time. You can enjoy the beautiful beaches and go on a cruise around the area while having cool drinks. There’s also the exciting safari experience and the glamorous Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world and one of the most attractive. Dubai dinner cruises and restaurants in the city are perfect for romantic dinners in quiet, serene atmospheres built with the highest quality and severed by some of the finest chefs. Dubai has become such a playground for the world than even in the dessert climate, you can go skiing.
5 Do - Vienna, Austria
Vienna may be a surprising entry on this list and you may not believe us, but hear us out. For all of its rich history as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the Austrian capital is surprisingly accommodating for children. At first glance, the museums and architecture may scream out as your run-of-the-mill tour around the city, ripe with tour guides and ooh’s and ahh’s. But, Vienna has somehow made much of its appeal accessible to both children and adults who come to the city. For starters, Vienna is known for its art and psychoanalysis, but it’s most notable for its music. Vienna is a great city for those who love the history of music or its evolution and here you’ll find The House of Music, which is perfect for any kids who love music or just like to make noise. To reach kids, the House of Music is interactive so that children can stay busy and enjoy the history at the same time. And you can spend almost an entire day at the Schönbrunn Palace. It has everything a child could want to see from museums and gardens to a zoo full of lions and tigers and bears. In fact, this is the world’s oldest zoo which makes it interesting for adults and entertaining for children.
4 Don’t - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The city formerly known as Saigon has become quite an entertaining city. Nightlife in Southeast Asia doesn’t get much better than it does here, and luckily, as we’ve mentioned with Ho Chi Minh in a previous article, you can have a lot of fun on the cheap side. The downtown city is a crowded and fun place to be, especially at night. Near the waterside, you’ll find Lam Son Square. This is the wealthy neighbourhood where the elite residents of Ho Chi Minh come to do their shopping. It’s an excellent place to explore some of those higher-end retailer and designers without having to pay the same prices you might end up paying in Europe or North America. Obviously, Lam Son Square is not the best place to bring kids, especially if they’re going to want something. Wandering this city is really the best way to explore it. The street food here is amazing, but perhaps not exactly what the little ones would be willing to eat. The nightlife here is awesome. From amazing rooftop bars and parties overlooking the bright neon colors of the downtown cityscape to the super fun karaoke bars on Dong Koi Street, Ho Chi Minh is a great place for going out late and having a little fun.
3 Do - The Black Hills, South Dakota
If you’ve grown tired of the city and bright lights across the world, then we hear you. It’s understandable; some of those big-time cities can be a little overwhelming without having to look after a group of people, much less some little kids. Even if these cities are family-friendly, the crowds and the congestion can be a little too much effort for a family vacation. That’s why we included the Black Hills in South Dakota.
This is the perfect place to bring your family and just let them run wild. The open plains and unspoiled scenery of South Dakota act as the perfect playground for family fun.
Actually, the Black Hills aren’t exactly an unknown secret. In fact, many people travel here around the year and they come here to see the iconic Mount Rushmore. This is one of those monuments you have to see on your American bucket list. The Black Hills is also home to some beautiful national parks, heavily condensed throughout the area. The jagged rocks and outcropping of Badlands National Park and the sight of the roaming buffalo at Custer National Pare are examples of premium national beauty. There’s also cave systems to explore like the Big Thunder Gold Mine.
2 Don’t - Mykonos, Greece
For all of the islands of Greece in the Aegean and Mediterranean, you’re bound to find a handful that are specialized in their attractions. Some garner reputations like Santorini for its sunsets and whitewashed villages. Mykonos is one of those islands that have done exactly that. If you mention the island in the right group, you’ll find some raised eyebrows, perhaps a few stifled smiles, and a general air of nostalgia.
Almost directly in the middle of the Cyclades, the Island of the Winds is most famous for its party-like atmosphere. In fact, even if you show up during the day for some peace and quiet, you’ll find that Mykonos has parties for any time of the day. Whether it’s the beach parties during the day, pool parties at the adult-only hotels, or even cruise parties out on the water, Mykonos is always alive with entertainment.
Sunset ushers in the second wave of nightlife when many clubs open for business and the beach parties reached their peak. You’ll find bars and nightclubs built almost on top of each other and clustered together. Mykonos Town is where most visitors stay and where many of the clubs and bars are. If you’re bringing your family to Greece, there are other options.
1 Do - Tokyo, Japan
In the best way possible, Tokyo might be quite a culture shock to non-native children who are unfamiliar with the rich traditions of Japanese culture. It’s unlike many cities with its bright neon lights, bustling skyscraper metropolis, and old-world charm that all collide like watercolors on a black canvas. Actually, Tokyo is a great travel destination no matter what stage of your life you’re in, but because this list is about spending time with family without pulling your hair out, we’re here to tell you why Tokyo is perfect for a family vacation. First and foremost, with any family trip, you’ll be glad to know that Tokyo has its own Universal Studios and its own Disney World. This Disney World is considered one of the best because of Japan’s general emphasis on clean and smooth-running attractions. Japan also has its oldest amusement park in Tokyo, named Hanayashiki. There are also some sea parks and aquariums worth visiting too. On the other side of the spectrum, we have cultural landmarks. Japan has a beautiful culture and one that your children will appreciate as both an adventure and an education. The Meji Shrine and Tsukiji Fish Market are two different exposures to Japanese culture and lifestyle, one in the form of old religion and one in the commerce and shopping, both fun.