If you’re looking for some family travel inspiration, then here are the best 25 family travel bucket list destinations and experiences that this planet has to offer!
We reached out to some of the most experienced family travel bloggers and asked them what their top family vacation bucket list item was. From Macchu Picchu in Peru to snorkelling in Egypt, visiting the pandas in China and ziplining in Costa Rica, there’s something here for everyone.
This inspiring list goes to show that travelling with kids certainly doesn’t slow you down, it only adds to the experience. So check out this inspirational family bucket list from all over the world, and get booking!
- 1 Visiting the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland
- 2 Cruising in Halong Bay, Vietnam
- 3 Bikepacking in the Rocky Mountains, Canada
- 4 Snorkelling in Dahab, Egypt
- 5 Experiencing Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- 6 Visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- 7 The Pandas of Chengdu, China
- 8 The Beaches and Parks in Nice, France
- 9 Chilling out on Fraser Island, Australia
- 10 Family-Friendly Safari, South Africa
- 11 The Kansai Region, Japan
- 12 Thrillseeking Rigid Inflatable Boat Ride, Wales
- 13 Snorkelling in Underground Caves, Mexico
- 14 Visiting Machu Picchu, Peru
- 15 Rural Homestay, Northern Thailand
- 16 Riding Trains Through The Mountains, Switzerland
- 17 Family Ziplining, Costa Rica
- 18 Visiting the Dinosaurs in Outback Queensland, Australia
- 19 Family Bike Tour, Bali
- 20 Exploring Salvador Dali’s Costa Brava, Spain
- 21 Visiting the Caves and Tunnels at Marble Mountain, Vietnam
- 22 Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, USA
- 23 Experiencing Wadi Rum, Petra and Ancient Castles, Jordan
- 24 Hiking in the Dolomites, Italy
- 25 The Northern Island of Sylt, Germany
Visiting the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track place to visit in Europe for your family bucket list adventure, then you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Lapland in Finland. Your kids will have so much fun jumping over, around and across the official Arctic Circle line.
Rovaniemi is known as the ‘official’ home of Santa Claus, so while you’re there you can visit the amazing SantaPark Christmas theme park where your kids can graduate Elf School, decorate cookies with Mrs Gingerbread, post a letter from Santa’s official post office, make Christmas crafts, see the Ice Princess in her underground cavern and meet the big man Santa himself.
During the summer it’s incredible to experience the Midnight Sun where it literally stays light all evening, and in winter it’s the perfect place to spot the Northern Lights – be sure to wrap up warm though as it’s regularly -10 to -20 degrees Celcius! We loved our stay at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel – gorgeous chalets amongst the Lapland forest.
Looking for the best gear for travelling with kids? Check out our must-have essentials for family travel here.
Cruising in Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is one of the most scenic regions in Vietnam and is a must do for anyone visiting the country, including adventurous families. The bay is filled with thousands of giant limestone cliffs which jut from the water and are covered with lush rainforests.
Halong Bay is best visited by a 1 or 2-night cruise. There are some great family boats with large rooms able to cater the entire family.
During the day families will love kayaking among the spectacular scenery and during the warmer months you can even jump right off the boat for swimming. Most of the boats follow a similar itinerary which includes a stop to explore some caves as well as climbing to a look out where you can get a fantastic view across the bay – perfect family photo opportunity!
All meals are provided on board and most boats even have a bit of a karaoke party and disco. Our daughter said this was the highlight of the trip for her!
Other activities during the cruise include night squid fishing and if you can manage to get up early enough, Tai Chi. Some boats even have cooking classes. If you can manage to get a few minutes alone, for me, I just loved sitting on the deck and watching the gorgeous scenery pass me by.
There are a range of cruise boats to choose from, but I recommend looking for a mid range one – as these boats usually have great family rooms so you can bunk on in together.
Cruises depart from Halong Bay, but the cruise operators will arrange transfers for you from Hanoi, around a 4 hour drive from Halong Bay.
For families visiting Vietnam an overnight cruise on Halong Bay is an absolute must and will be something your families remembers for a lifetime.
Bikepacking in the Rocky Mountains, Canada
The Rocky Mountains are majestic and parts are totally accessible by bike, even with kids, due to a system of old gravel roads scattered throughout the provincial and national parks just west of Calgary, Alberta.
Bikepacking is like cycle touring except mostly off-road. We love it because the bikes — our “steel horses” — carry the load for us and can even carry a kid or two (with the right bike or trailer). Like backpacking, you try to pack on the lighter side (albeit a challenge with young children) and due to the usually rougher gravel roads or trails, you aim to place your load as close to your frame as possible, by using a frame bag or handlebar roll, for example. Unlike backpacking, the weight is on your bike and not your back — one of my favourite things!
There are several kid-appropriate routes in the Rockies, and riding a loop from above Canmore to Banff and then back again would be one of my top suggestions. This loop follows the rough old gravel road of Goat Creek to Spray River and lands you in stunning and bike-friendly Banff, Alberta. The route has a lot to offer for kids:
– traffic-free riding,
– easy-to-intermediate level mountain biking,
– huge mountains
– bridges to cross, and
– a waterfall.
When in Banff, you can refuel and add an extra day to your trip if you like, so that you can soak in the world famous hot springs, visit the historical cave and basin, hunt for tropical fish along an estuary in the Bow River, and explore this town by bike — all super kid-friendly fun!
(Please note that you must be comfortable and experienced with backcountry travel in order to complete the full loop. If you are not, consider riding the paved off-road Legacy Trail portion only.)
Lindsay from This Mom Bikes
Snorkelling in Dahab, Egypt
Our baby boy was three months old when we took him to Dahab, Egypt for the first time. Dahab holds a special place in our hearts and we had a wonderful time! We have many friends in this relaxed coastal town in South Sinai and even own a holiday house there.
Our time in Dahab inspired us to travel with our little boy around South East Asia for almost a year when he was 1,5 years old. Returning to The Netherlands was hard, but fortunately we can always ‘escape’ to Dahab. We’re both scuba divers and were impatiently waiting until our little world traveller was old enough to go snorkelling with us.
Diving and snorkelling in Dahab is fantastic and we were eager to show him the amazing underwater world of the Red Sea. Our first attempt at snorkelling was when he was 4 years old. At first he didn’t even want to put on the mask, but after a few tries he didn’t want to take it off anymore! Our little boy has always been very free in the water and although he can’t swim without floaties yet, he took to snorkelling straight away.
It truly was a bucket list experience to introduce our curious little boy to the reef and teach him about all the amazing creatures that live in our seas. Now, we’re waiting for him to be old enough to go scuba diving with us!
Experiencing Dubai, United Arab Emirates
While people might think Dubai is only for the people interested in luxury and world records, it is also a perfect destination for families with kids of all ages.
Dubai has several fun beaches – and how many kids love beaches? I assume, almost all do. Most of them are free and not overly crowded.
The best beaches are probably at La Mer – with so many fun activities, street art, and colorful details children will love it. It is located at the Jumeirah area, not too far from Dubai Downtown.
But there are more places to see – visit one of the waterparks in Dubai. Either spend a day at the Wild Wadi Waterpark or the Aquaventure Park at the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. Sliding, swimming and resting – it is not only for the kids.
Children of all ages will also love the water fountain show in front of Dubai that takes place several times a day – in the evening it is probably even more fun when the Burj Khalifa is illuminated in the background.
If you are on a budget and your kids would like to do a boat tour, just hop on an abra – the water taxis are super cheap (less than 0,20€ per person) and you have a real authentic Dubai feeling. If you are a family just hire the whole abra for yourself – it only costs around 5€ and even a big family fits in.
But if you prefer it more modern and fancy, go on a yacht cruise with your family – which kids don’t love boat cruises?
If your kids are fans of theme parks, Dubai is the place to visit. As you can see, the city is perfect for families – it is not only fun for the little ones, but actually a perfect destination for people of all ages.
Visiting Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Cambodia had long been on my bucket list and many had people told me not to bother with young kids as its too hot, they will be bored, they’ll get ‘templed out’. I waited for a while then decided that travel isn’t just about them and I really needed to tick this off my list. So I decided to put other peoples opinions aside and do it!
I’m so glad I did! It was one of the best holidays we have had. We decided to stay a week in Siem Reap and really see everything there is to see and spend as much time as we could at the temples. We were there in during the wet season in early July, we were lucky with weather and got little rain and everything was so green and lush.
We decided it would be best for the kids if we explored the Temples of Angkor of a morning and then allowed for a bit of pool time in the afternoon so we kept the kids happy. I booked a fantastic tuk-tuk driver, Sok and he was fabulous with the kids. We got up at the crack of dawn and experienced sunrise at Angkor Wat and it totally blew us all away.
The kids loved exploring and the temples and particularly Ta Prohm Temple made famous by Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. This temple is in part ruins and required some climbing which was right up there alley. On the last day we treated them to Angkor Zip lining, flying through to tree tops of the Angkor Archaeological Park. The whole trip was perfect and the kids loved every minute of it and I am so glad I didn’t wait another minute. We know our kids, we know their limits!
The Pandas of Chengdu, China
Visiting the pandas in Chengdu is top of many people’s bucket list when they travel to China.
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding boasts the world’s largest captive panda population. Here visitors can wander along the bamboo-lined pathways that meander through the park and visit some of the 146 resident pandas in their spacious enclosures.
Getting to see so many pandas in one place and watching the younger pandas playing together is definitely a highlight of a visit to China with kids. Don’t expect to have the park to yourself though — this is one of China’s most popular tourist attractions and so you will be sharing the pandas with many other people!
For the best chance to see baby pandas, plan to visit in July/August. We visited in early May and the pandas were still pregnant. The youngest pandas when we visited were around 9 months old. They are still pretty cute at this age!
The Chengdu Research Base also has the world’s largest population of red pandas, with 76 red pandas in residence. The red pandas are all free to roam anywhere within the enclosure, which includes along the pathways — we even had one coming right up to us and sniffing our feet!
Getting to the Panda Research centre is easy – it is less than 10 kilometres outside of Chengdu and can be reached by taxi, private car, public bus or sightseeing shuttle bus. It took us around 25 minutes to get here by car.
As this is such a popular tourist attraction, my best tip is to get there early. The park opens at 7.30am and gets busier as the day goes on. We arrived at 8.30am and left around 11.45am and it was much busier by the time we left.
The Beaches and Parks in Nice, France
If you’re planning a family holiday, Nice on the Côte d’Azure in the south of France isn’t the first place that springs to mind.
Why would you want to visit a busy city with kids?
The answer is, because it’s an amazing, vibrant, beautiful place full of culture, charm, beaches, parks and museums that your whole family will fall in love with.
First off, it’s easy to get to. The international airport is France’s third busiest and you can fly direct to Nice from all over the world. Once you’re there, it’s just 8km to downtown Nice; you can even catch an Uber car or van, so carting all the kids’ paraphernalia will be easy.
One of our favourite places in Nice is the Promenade des Anglais. It runs between the city and airport and has a wonderful wide pedestrianised area between the grand Art Deco hotels that line the road, and the sea. At the weekends musicians play live jazz music, lovers stroll, kids mess around on scooters and bikes. It’s got a wonderful atmosphere.
If you get bored you can always nip down to the beach, just below the Promenade, for a glass of wine and bite to eat while the kids build rock castles and paddle.
The public parks are also out of this world. My favourite is the Promenade du Paillon, which runs along the course of the old Paillon river. It starts at the Promenade des Anglais and runs north. You’ll find everything from a whale-shaped climbing frame to the Miroir d’Eau (mirror of water), a 3,000m² paved section dotted with water jets. The jets vary at a moment’s notice – one second there might be puffs of cooling mist, the next vertical fountains of water. As you can imagine, the kids absolutely love it!
Get it on your bucket list!
Chilling out on Fraser Island, Australia
Fraser Island sounds like an adventurous destination but it is actually a really easy place to travel with kids. You don’t need a 4WD car to travel there and you don’t need to know how to drive on the beach either. Kingfisher Bay can be accessed on foot by ferry. The resort is set up for families with a range of accommodation available no matter how big or small your family. It has a resort style pool and a range of eating options too (ranging from a la carte and buffet food down to pizzas and snacks) but you can also take some food over with you and cater for yourselves too.
The resort offers a number of trips so you can get out and explore the island together. Trips include a 4WD tour of the island, whale watching (the water can get choppy so be prepared with seasick remedies if you plan on taking your kids on the water for the first time), bush tucker tasting, night time wildlife walks and there is even a kids’ club called the Junior Eco Rangers at night that includes dinner and involves toasting marshmallows on a campfire while learning about the stars. This means your kids can go off to have their own adventure while you tuck into food from the resort’s signature restaurant — the Seabelle. The menu offers a fusion of modern cuisine and bush tucker and is well worth a visit during your stay.
My must-see sights while you are there are Lake McKenzie’s pure white sand and the famous Maheno shipwreck. And, if you get chance, some tours offer the optional extra of a scenic flight over the island. The tiny plane takes off from the beach giving you incredible island views.
Fraser Island is one of our favourite family holiday destinations as we’ve made so many memories there together. It’s somewhere we can unplug from screens and enjoy the wild scenery.
Family-Friendly Safari, South Africa
A family friendly safari in South Africa is the most incredible adventure you can plan for your family. Unlike many other safari countries, South Africa offers many malaria free options which is quite crucial when you travel with small children. How awesome to show your kids an elephant, a rhino, giraffes, zebra and many more animals they’ve possibly only seen on the screen in movies like The Lion King.
On the famous Garden Route just a few hundred kilometers from Cape Town there are a few options that are specifically geared towards children. We had the best of times at Garden Route Game Lodge, Gondwana Game Reserve as well as Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. All these reserves offer open jeep safari drives early in the morning and in the afternoon AND they also offer Junior Ranger programs for the children. When we did the Junior Ranger program at Botlierskop we went for a short walk along the riverside where the ranger showed us all kinds of interesting bugs and we took a closer look at the tracks and pooh of the animals. It was super educational and fun and at the end the kids were given a Junior Ranger Certificate which was super cool.
In case you prefer to drive yourself and you would like a more budget friendly option, we would suggest you book a stay inside the Addo Elephant National Park. This is situated about 800 km east of Cape Town and about 80 km from Port Elizabeth Airport in case you fly there. Addo Elephant allows visitors to drive in their own vehicle and enjoy the animals and as the name suggests, you most likely will be surrounded by elephants. Feeling a bit nervous? Not to worry, just leave your car at the gate and join a jeep safari.
The Kansai Region, Japan
Japan’s become a really popular place for family travellers recently, but most people focus on seeing Tokyo and then heading to the ski fields. My favourite part of Japan is the Kansai region, a few hours to the west of Tokyo, because it’s jam-packed with so much culture, history, food and fun.
Kansai is home to several wonderful Japanese cities: Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, all worth visiting for lots of different reasons. Kyoto’s temples are well-known and are very much worth visiting – my son love the orange “torii” gates at Fushimi Inari, and the Golden Temple (Kinkakuji) is beautiful too. In Nara, the sacred (but often hungry!) deer at Nara Park are a great attraction for kids – though if you are travelling with quite young kids do help them navigate the deer as the warning signs that they may kick, headbutt or bite you are true – my son has the bruises to prove it!
My very favourite part of Kansai is Osaka, which is often less-visited because it seems just like a huge bustling city. It is, for sure, a huge city, but it’s colourful, vibrant, and full of incredible food. In Shinsaibashi or other shopping streets near the central Namba station, you can find endless eating options from both formal, Japanese-room style restaurants to street food – and all of it is utterly delicious, though my favourite is the local speciality, okonomiyaki. Other fun in Osaka includes the Cup Noodles Museum (you can make your own to bring home!), the enormous Osaka Aquarium and of course Universal Studios Japan is here too. Osaka Castle and the enormous park that surrounds it is also worth a visit, and if you’re lucky enough to be there during cherry blossom season grab a picnic from a convenience store and sit under the flowers with the locals – that’s a real Osaka experience!
Thrillseeking Rigid Inflatable Boat Ride, Wales
Wales is a great destination for a family adventure, especially for children and parents that love to be outdoors. This country has some of the prettiest beaches in the UK, as well as mountains for those who enjoy hiking. Your kids will have lots of fun exploring one of the area’s old castles, whilst you will appreciate the food in the local pub.
But if you are looking for something a little different, something that will get your blood pumping, then I cannot recommend a rib ride down the Menai Straight enough. It certainly was one of the most memorable experiences of our trip to Snowdonia.
The Menai Straits is a stretch of water that separates Anglesey from mainland Wales. Located right beside Snowdonia National Park, this area couldn’t be any more picturesque. You Rib Ride will start just below the Menai Bridge and will take you all the way to the mouth of the straight.
A RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) allows you to travel over the river at exceptionally high speeds (50 miles per hour). The boat barely touches the water and pretty much skips across it instead. Note that this kind of adventure is probably better suited to
The boat tour is educative too. Our skipper was friendly, fun and very knowledgeable. He pointed out all the wildlife on the riverbanks. Depending on the season this can include sea-lions, little egrets, oystercatchers, curlews, and redshanks. We were also taught a little bit about the local history. Every time our RIB passed an interesting landmark, our skipper would stop for a few minutes to explain what we were seeing.
Adrenaline pumping fun and a bit of education to boot. What more could you want?
Snorkelling in Underground Caves, Mexico
Hands down, one of the best family experiences (IMO) is to explore the Cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are a type of sinkhole found in the Mexican jungle. The entire peninsula is like a giant sponge, with collapsed caves that reveal intricate underground rivers and passageways.
Cenotes were sacred to the Ancient Mayan people who used them not only as a source of life but also as graveyards and a place of sacrifice. One cenote near Tulum, Pet Cemetary, has the preserved bones of an ancient camel under the water. Another, Carwash Cenote, often turns bright green due to algae blooms, making it the perfect place to snorkel and take photos.
So why do I think the cenotes are the perfect bucket-list item for families? Because, not only is it an exciting place to explore, filled with education and wonderment. But also because life-vests are provided at almost all the popular cenotes, making it super safe for children and giving adults absolute peace of mind.
The Cenotes in Mexico are a like a giant natural swimming-pool adventure park for families with children of any age. There are open cenotes filled with clear aqua water and mangroves where you can spot colourful fish while you snorkel, magical caverns with animal fossils in the walls and ones where you can jump from the cavern walls into deep, cool waters.
The Yucatan in Mexico is the only place in the world where you can access this many sinkholes in the one place. There are hundreds of cenotes to choose from that you would be sure to find one that suits your family.
Crystal from Castaway With Crystal
Visiting Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru is a destination that even the most adventurous families can find intimidating. Talks of epic, multi-day hikes through the Andes Mountains can make even the bravest parent a bit nervous. But visiting Machu Picchu doesn’t have to be an arduous trek through sweltering jungle. It can even be done as a day trip from Cusco for those who don’t mind a long day. But taking a train to Machu Picchu Pueblo and a bus ride to the entrance to the ruins is the way that most families choose to enjoy Machu Picchu.
Once there, even young children will be in awe of the inspiring views of one of the most famous ruins in the world. With clouds rolling through the peaks of the nearby mountains, and llama’s wandering aimlessly through the Incan ruins it’s hard not to feel like you have been transported back in time.
What makes Machu Picchu even more special for children is the story of how legendary explorer Hiram Bingham was led to the hidden city by a couple of young children. In fact, the home that the children lived in can still be seen from the edge of the mountain if you’re brave enough to peer over the edge.
Make sure to explore the Pueblo while you are there and take in the fascinating cultures that make Peru one of the most amazing countries in the world. Enjoy the delicious local food, and the amazing eco-hotels of the region during a longer stay.
Rural Homestay, Northern Thailand
My family and I wanted to have some authentic homestay experiences when we travelled through South East Asia in 2017. We sought to connect with people of other cultures and support families and small communities with our tourist money, rather than big corporations. We were very pleased to find a program [run by the Mahouts Elephant Foundation] in northern Thailand, set up to help the people of a small village as well as to return elephants to the surrounding forests.
The mahouts from the village care for the elephants in the forest, and take guests to see them in their natural environment. And several families in the village take turns in hosting guests within their homes or purpose-built dwellings next door. Our host family was just lovely; although shy they were so happy to have us stay, and they cooked and cared for us really thoughtfully.
To live in their village for a few days and get a taste of life there was a wonderful experience for us all. Our children loved meeting people in the village and visiting small shops and work areas. My daughter thought the cold bucket shower was the best fun ever! And seeing the elephants in their natural habitat was just magical, even with a huge hike to find them.
We had the opportunity to chat properly with our hosts Por Yor and Suda on our last day. They were just as interested in our life back home, and getting to know them better was the connective experience that we were hoping to have. We have since sent them photos and information about our town in Australia, and we will go back to visit them again one day.
I can highly recommend a quality homestay experience for families. When organised well they can benefit the host family, their whole community, and forever open your heart too.
Riding Trains Through The Mountains, Switzerland
Switzerland may not be the cheapest destination for a family holiday but it offers plenty of fun activities that should be on every family’s bucket list.
In a country that boasts a modern and efficient train service, a train ride or two in Switzerland is a given and there are lots of options that both kids and adults will enjoy.
The Interlaken region alone offers a wide variety of train excursions on both old-style and modern trains.
From Brienz, on the lake of the same name, the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn has been operating with a steam locomotive since 1892 and the Victorian-era engine and carriages are still used today.
In one hour, the train chugs its way through lush forests and alpine meadows to the Brienzer Rothorn (2,350 metres above sea level) for panoramic views.
An open-sided cog-wheel train is the nostalgic form of transport on the journey from Wilderswil to Schnyige Platte where you’ll be greeted by a pair of alphorn players. An alpine garden with over 650 plant species awaits you at the top.
A slightly different kind of train, a funicular, whisks you to Harder Kulm from Interlaken for magnificent views over both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. With an average gradient of 64%, you will marvel at the incredible Swiss engineering of the funicular.
The most popular train journey in the region, and one that features on many travellers’ bucket lists, is the train to the Jungfraujoch. From Kleine Scheidegg (there are regular connections from Interlaken and Grindelwald), the Jungfraubahn makes an incredible 35-minute journey.
Gaining over one thousand metres in altitude, the train travels through a long tunnel inside the mountain before arriving at Europe’s highest railway station at the ‘Top of Europe’.
Interlaken, one hour from both Bern and Lucerne, is the starting point for all the train excursions mentioned above.
Carolyn from Holidays To Europe
Travelling with younger kids? We highly recommend using a portable travel blackout blind to help beat jet lag and get the kids to sleep in a different time zone. Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Best Travel Blackout Blind here.
Family Ziplining, Costa Rica
While we were planning our family vacation to Costa Rica, I knew we had to find a place to zipline. A few years prior our family had ziplined in Canada and it had been an unforgettable experience. After extensive research I selected a company called ADR Adventure Park near Manuel Antonio National Park. It was the highlight of our time in Costa Rica! (Which is saying a lot since my family describes this as one of their favorite vacations.)
Our adventure began with a Hummer ride up a steep mountain road. Then there was a hike further up the mountain followed by a series of ziplines. The final zipline took us into a waterfall where we unhooked from our safety gear and dropped into the ice cold water below. After climbing out of the water we had the opportunity to rappel down a slope. Finally we hiked back to a small shack where we enjoyed cold beverages. Our guides drove us to their main office in Manuel Antonio for a delicious lunch and the opportunity to view photos from our day.
At the time my kids were 13 and 16 and this might be the perfect activity for teenagers. If your kids are this age, then you’ll know that they aren’t easy to please. Yet both kids enjoyed every minute of this adrenaline fueled adventure. I give great credit to our guides who went out of their way to make this a memorable experience for all of us.
ADR Adventure Park has a very thorough website and offers online reservations.
Visiting the Dinosaurs in Outback Queensland, Australia
We’ve been interstate and overseas but we’d never experienced our own backyard, the Queensland Outback. If you’re looking for an adventure with your family, travelling to Winton in Outback Queensland to see the dinosaurs is certainly worthy of the bucket list.
We hired a six berth campervan and made our way from Ipswich to Winton, the home of the dinosaurs, after a few stops in between. We visited The Age of Dinosaurs Museum to see and learn about the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world. You can take part in guided tours of the fossil prep laboratory and visit the dinosaur canyon.
But what we drove over 1000 kilometres for was the dinosaur stampede site — Lark Quarry Conservation park. Vicki from Red Dirt Tours took us on an epic adventure through Carisbrooke Station to see the dinosaur stampede site. There’s no way you will see or learn what we did if you were to drive to the stampede site yourself; Vicki has special access to this station and is also a wealth of knowledge.
As we stood and observed the footprints of hundreds of chicken sized dinosaurs, emu sized dinosaurs and the obvious footprints of a huge meat eating dinosaur, the feeling was surreal. To experience something so real, at the very spot the event happened 95 million years ago, certainly puts life into perspective and is something everyone should do at least once. Before you leave Winton, the newly rebuilt Waltzing Matilda Centre is a must visit and one of the best ways to learn about Waltzing Matilda, Winton and the Outback.
On the way home we stayed in Longreach. The Qantas Founders museum is great for kids and seeing the different aircraft over time. The Stockman’s Hall of Fame is also a must visit to truly appreciate the unsung heroes of the outback. A Sunset Cruise on the Thompson River is a lovely way to wind back after a long day of sightseeing. You can sit back on the deck and enjoy the wildlife and commentary while enjoying a glass of wine and nibbles. If you’re lucky, your kids might get to Captain the boat too!
Family Bike Tour, Bali
Bali is a fantastic destination for families with lots of things to do with kids. Our favourite thing to do as a family is to explore the gorgeous Bali countryside and get to know the Balinese. Their smiles will warm your heart and appreciate life.
A perfect way to explore is a bike tour and last trip we chose Ubud Cycling Bike. Komang our host was a fantastic tour leader and we soon discovered this was not just a bike tour but a cultural experience. The bike tour was located north of Ubud with transfers from our hotel.
Highlights of our day included a stop at a local school where they invited us to look in the classrooms and chat with the staff. This was such an eye opener for our western kids as there was no air conditioning like they are used to in Australia!
Bike riding with our kids ranging in ages from 18 months to 8 years was such a great experience and included stopping at a family compound to see rice drying and baskets being weaved. There was not a tourist in sight on our ride, we experienced the smells, the real life of the Balinese. We witnessed Balinese women carrying loads of rocks in buckets on their heads from the river below to fix the road surrounded by beautiful rice paddies. The contrast of our lives to these hard working women was so evident and made us appreciate how lucky we are.
After the ride we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a traditional Balinese restaurant overlooking the rice paddies and the kids declared the satay sticks very yummy. If you are travelling to Bali with kids I highly recommend getting out to explore the island. A bike tour is a perfect way to see local life and your kids will thank you for the experience.
Exploring Salvador Dali’s Costa Brava, Spain
While most visitors who head to Spain go to Barcelona, they shouldn’t ignore the rugged Costa Brava, or “Wild Coast”, just north of the city. The Costa Brava is an ideal family destination because it packs a punch of art, culture, and nature. This lesser-known area was made famous by 20th-century surrealist artist Salvador Dali, known for his eccentric artwork like “The Persistance of Memory”, which shows twisted, melting clocks. Costa Brava is the birthplace of Dalí, and it also was his hometown from which he drew much inspiration.
The most famous sites of Dalí are called the Dalian Triangle, and that includes the dramatic Dalí Theater-Museum in his birthplace of Figueres, his wife’s home in Púbol Castle, and his adult home in Portlligat. While art can often be sleep-inducing for children, your little ones will love the peculiar Dalí Museum-Theater in Figueres, where much of his work is interactive and illusional. Check out the stereoscopic art (a two-dimensional images that makes your brain think it’s three-dimensional) or the Mae West Room, where you climb up steps to see an image of actress Mae West’s face created by aligned furniture. Down the street from the Dalí Theater-Museum is the Museu del Joguet de Catalunya, which houses a comprehensive collection of traditional toys, including Dali’s childhood teddy bear.
In other parts of Costa Brava, kids will also enjoy Cadaques, a quaint, whitewashed vishing vilage where Dalí spent many of his holidays. Its charm is the cobblestoned streets of white buildings with painted doors and colorful flowers draping the facades. Enjoy one of Cadaqués’s charming coves, where kids can watch the boats or skip stones in the water while you relax. There’s no fine sand here to build castles but it’s waveless waters are perfect for them splash about. For more nature, head to the Cap de Creus Natural Park, where you’ll see wind-eroded rock formations, islets, and more coves. It’s fun to see Dalí’s sketches of the surrounding nature displayed and dotted throughout the park.
Visiting the Caves and Tunnels at Marble Mountain, Vietnam
Marble mountain is found in Danang, Vietnam and should be on your family’s Vietnamese bucket list. It is a cluster of 5 mountains which are all named after different elements. Kim (metal), Hoa (fire), Thuy (water), Moc (wood),and Tho (earth). The mountains all have caves and tunnels that you can explore which lead to Hindu and Buddhist shrines and temples.
As adults we loved the amazing views from the top of the mountains. And also the sense that this place is sacred. The temples and statues are hundreds of years old. Having them set inside the mountains makes them seem almost mystical.
For the kids, our daughter and her friends loved climbing through the tiny tunnels to get to the top of the mountain. It felt like a maze to them! Also being able to run around and enjoy climbing trees and rocks was a real treat after many months in South East Asia where it’s hard to find parks.
Be warned – there are hundreds of steps to climb. There is an elevator that you can take so you can explore the lower parts of the mountain. However, to fully explore the site you need to be ready with good walking shoes and lots of water.
In order to avoid the busiest times I’d recommend visiting early in the morning. There are lots of cafes and restaurants at the foot of the mountains. Perfect for grabbing a steaming bowl of pho for lunch.
Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, USA
As we’ve been travelling around the U.S. and Canada, we’ve been trying to find outdoor activities for our kids (who are 20, 19 and 14) that would be both exciting and a learning experience. We’ve gone kayaking in sea caves where we learned about sea life, hiked in destinations where the glaciers are disappearing before our eyes and have gone on walking history tours around some of America’s oldest cities.
One activity that really stood out and that our kids enjoyed immensely was sailing on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We booked a 3-hour sailing trip on the Non-Sea Quitter where our kids had the opportunity to learn a bit about sailing. They had the chance to steer the boat, help with the ropes and learn a few sailing terms. As we ended the tour sitting in the bay soaking in the view of the gorgeous sunset, they asked ‘when can we do this again?’
When you travel with your adult and teenage kids, finding activities everyone will enjoy can be a bit hard. A lot of family travel activities can be geared towards the younger crowd, so when I found a gem like sailing in a beautiful location, I jumped on the chance.
To book your trip with Captain Paul of the Non-Sea Quitter, visit his website www.nonseaquitter.com. Be sure to look for holiday discounts, as well as read up on what to wear and bring while sailing.
This sailing trip will definitely go down as one of our favourite family activities we’ve ever done!
Experiencing Wadi Rum, Petra and Ancient Castles, Jordan
Jordan was the first destination we visited as a family of four, and it’s still one of our favourite trips to date! You might not have thought of Jordan as being a great family friendly destination, but it’s got something for everyone, even very young children.
Jordan is an incredibly welcoming and beautiful country. If you take your kids they’ll be the centre of attention, and you’ll find that many people will stop and talk to you or help you if you’re lost. The scenery in Jordan is fantastic; covered in olive groves, the north has a very Mediterranean feel while the centre of Jordan is a vast desert full of spectacular valleys called wadis. The south coast has calm beaches and is great for snorkelling and diving, so it’s worth seeing as much of the country as you can.
Wadi Rum was our family’s favourite thing to see in Jordan. The kids were 3 and 1 and both had a blast here; we took a trip on a jeep through the dunes, had a a camel ride and finished the day watching the sun set. We slept in a tent in the desert which was a fun experience for everyone!
We also thought that exploring Jordan’s ruins was fantastic. As well as the amazing ruins at Petra, we saw the relatively unknown ruins at Little Petra which is on a much smaller scale, making it more toddler-friendly. Another ruin which is definitely worth seeing is the Roman city Jerash. It’s one of the most complete Roman cities in the world and you can stroll down its colonnaded streets and walk around its beautiful oval forum. If your kids love castles then they’ll enjoy visiting the crusader castles which are dotted all over the country. Kerak was our favourite.
With its otherworldly landscapes and incredible history, not to mention its friendly people, Jordan should be on every family’s bucket list!
Hiking in the Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites are a mountain range that stands in the North East part of Italy, especially in the region of Trentino and Alto Adige (the so-called South-Tyrol), numbering 18 peaks that raise the altitude of 3.000 metres. High grey peaks that get purple-reddish at dawn or sunset and that look like a marvellous painting, the Dolomites are a perfect destination for families travelling through Italy.
Not only for professional hikers or outdoor addicted, the mountains that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, are a great family destination for people who approach this kind of holiday for the first time as well.
The Dolomites are special for many reasons. First of all the scenario. When you get there, it’s almost unbelievable for the beauty, the energy and the history these mountains have. You breath all the power of nature, when you walk there.
Families can relax, have fun and do plenty of sports and outdoor activities even with babies and toddlers. There are hiking and MTB trails for all levels of training and length, rafting, naturalistic itineraries and so many playgrounds close to best mountain huts that kids (and parents too) can’t get bored.
I can’t count the path I’ve walked there since I used to spend most of my summer holidays with grandpa there. The best places to visit are Fassa Valley (choose your accommodation in the village of Canazei) and Alpe di Siusi.
The Northern Island of Sylt, Germany
Most visitors to Germany head to alpine Bavaria or maybe hip Berlin but very few head all the way up to Sylt, Germany’s beautiful and northernmost Frisian island. Laid-back with a 40 km sandy beach and old Frisian-style thatch-roofed houses, tiny Sylt is a wonderful place for families.
To reach the island, which is located just a few miles off the mainland, you can drive, take Deutsche Bahn’s “Syltshuttle” train or you can fly into Sylt’s small airport. If you drive, you’ll take the 40-minute “Autozug Sylt” (car train) from the mainland to reach the island. I recommend two days on Sylt at the bare minimum (stay longer if you can) — one day for relaxing on the beach and one for doing something more active, like exploring the island’s extensive bike paths (my favorite!) or windsurfing.
There are so many things to do on Sylt: watch the sunset from the Rote Kliff (red cliff) near Kampen, visit the island’s lighthouses, rent a Strandkorb (canopied beach chair for two), go horseback riding, take a wildlife tour, play golf, sneak off to the spa, learn to surf, take in the traditional northern German architecture, explore Westerland (the island’s largest town), get a glimpse into the old Frisian way of life on Sylt at the Altfriesisches Haus museum, or even take a day trip on the “Sylt-Express” ferry to Havneby on the Danish island of Rømø.
For a tourist destination, Sylt can be surprisingly tranquil and relaxing — and a unique way to discover another side of Germany that you won’t find on the mainland!
So there you have it – the best 25 destinations and activities that should be on your family travel bucket list stat! What would you add to the list?
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