The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us in one way or another. Whether you’ve suffered through illness or the loss of a job, residence, or loved one, family vacation ideas may well have been the furthest thing from your mind.
But while we still have a ways to go before pandemic-era restrictions are lifted, more and more parents are thinking about places to visit with kids when the pandemic is finally in the rearview mirror.
As you update your family travel bucket list with new must-do experiences, here are some family vacation spots that deserve serious consideration. Each offers a bevy of child-friendly tourist attractions, family-oriented activities and the chance to make memories.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
For a small island, Iceland packs more than its share of fun vacation activities. Start in the capital of Reykjavik, where the sun barely sets between mid-May and mid-August and the temperatures never get too hot or too cold in the summer months.
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You’ve probably heard of the Blue Lagoon and its steaming geothermal waters, but one of the trendiest things to do with older kids is the Ritual at Sky Lagoon. This immersive geothermal experience is an upscale take on the geothermal spa experience, blending warm water, cold water, warm steam and dry heat with fresh air in an unforgettable experience that even the sulkiest teenagers will enjoy.
Other fun places to visit with kids include Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, the most famous hot dog stand in the country; Omnom Chocolate Ice Cream Shop, where you can enjoy a Nutty Wolf, arguably the greatest ice cream concoction on Earth; and Perlan, an innovative exploratorium with the world’s first indoor ice cave and a simulated Northern Lights experience.
Whether your kids grew up reading about Madeline and the “twelve little girls in two straight lines” or are currently obsessed with “Miraculous Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir” on Netflix, a trip to Paris is going to blow their minds.
And when you choose to get there on a new Frenchbee flight from Newark, New Jersey, you won’t be blowing your budget, either. This low-cost carrier offers the perfect combination of 11:00 p.m. departures from the States (allowing you to sleep as you cross the Atlantic) and evening return flights (which gives you bonus time in Paris on the last day of your trip).
In the City of Light, treat the kids to lunch at Les Café des Chats, an actual cat café where a dozen fluffy cats live and lounge among the patrons. Almost everyone can find something to enjoy at the Louvre Museum, but a postcard-perfect afternoon in Luxembourg Gardens might appeal to kids if museums aren’t your family’s thing. The absolute best places to visit with kids, though, are the winding streets and twisting alleyways where you can wander freely and make surprise discoveries – always with a fresh baguette or Nutella crepe in hand.
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3. The Maldives
Taking a dream vacation to paradise with kids has never been easier, more rewarding and more relaxing thanks to one resort’s expanding menu of family-friendly offerings. Visiting the Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa should be near the top of your post-pandemic bucket list, because kids are pampered and treated every bit as luxuriously as adults there.
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Think family cooking classes, rejuvenating spa treatments and yoga sessions designed for young people. Add in a two-bedroom beach villa with a garden, outdoor shower and a private turquoise pool and you have the makings of the most magical post-pandemic vacation on the planet.
4. New York
Maybe you stayed away because the Big Apple was the epicenter of the virus in the U.S. during the first wave. But today Broadway theaters are open, concert venues have robust calendars and the city that never sleeps is once again opening itself to tourists.
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Your kids will love exploring the Vessel, Little Island and the High Line, three of the best free things to do in NYC. Listening to buskers and jazz musicians jamming in the parks is another fun activity. Even if you’ve visited the usual tourist sites in Midtown before, there’s always something new and different to see in the Villages (East, West and Greenwich).
5. Alaskan cruise
Cruise ships are already a bastion of kid-friendly fun, what with the waterparks, 24-hour soft serve ice cream, roller coasters (on the new Carnival Mardi Gras), surfing simulators and laser tag (Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas), and go-karts (Norwegian Encore). But family cruises to Alaska on an affordable cruise line like Carnival is a next level-family vacation.
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Book an epic 10-day post-pandemic cruise from San Francisco or a weeklong journey from Seattle to Alaska to see nature in a whole new light. You’ll eat fresh seafood, enjoy excursions to places like the Yukon Territory and have opportunities to high above the glaciers on a seaplane or get up close and personal with bears in the wild.
6. Athens and ancient Greek sites, Greece
Take your Percy Jackson-obsessed grade schoolers straight to the source material once you feel safe and comfortable exploring crowded cities again. Start in Athens and see some of the most iconic Europe tourist attractions, including the Acropolis, Parthenon and Temple of Athena.
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But that’s just the start of the Ancient Greek fun. There are so many more amazing ruins to see, including Hadrian’s Library, founded by Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD; the Olympieion, also called the Temple of Olympian Zeus; the Temple of Poseidon on the Aegean coast in Sounion; and Delphi, where your kids can listen to the prophecies of the Oracle while visiting the Temple of Apollo.
In many ways, Singapore seems like a fantasy land. It’s both a big city and a tiny country in Southeast Asia – yet when Singapore is measured by ambition and cleanliness, few places on Earth show more promise for the future. It’s also the most family-friendly destination in Asia, and almost everyone speaks enough English to meet you in the middle after you and your family have learned some Singlish (a hybrid language of the many ethnic groups in the country).
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Take Gardens by the Bay, for example. This naturalistic escape features iconic structures and a chance for your family to connect with unusual plants, blooming flowers and a literal floral fantasy on the ground and in the air via the OCBC Skyway. In the evening, you can see thousands of animals from around the globe in their natural environments during the Singapore Night Safari.
Splurge on a stay at the glorious Marina Bay Sands Hotel to cement your family vacation memories.
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