Family travel is a special occasion. Discovering new places, trying new things, and spending uninterrupted time with your children or grandchildren is a great way to make lasting memories. Many tour companies even specialize in travel for parents and their older children, or for grandparents and grandchildren.
The tricky part, however, is deciding where to go. Theme parks and cruises always seem to top the list, and these are certainly fine choices. But what if you decided you wanted to do something different? After all, it’s a big world, and there are lots of places that are perfect for family trips no matter what that family looks like.
If you’d like to plan a trip that includes your younger family members, here are four destinations that are all unique in their own way yet also provide ample opportunity for fun and exploration.
1. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A little less of a party town than Cancun but with the same beautiful beaches and Mexican charm, Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations. And it has a lot to offer. You can choose to stay at one of the many all-inclusive resorts in the area, or do your own thing and rent through Airbnb. Regardless, everyone is bound to have a great time.
You can snorkel with the sea turtles at Akumal, head inland to visit the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Coba, or just stroll down 5th Avenue and try all the Mexican food you can handle. It’s a laid-back town with plenty to do for everyone, even if that’s just lying on one of the beautiful beaches all day.
2. Tokyo, Japan
As a boomer traveller, taking your older children to Tokyo wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary at all, but taking grandchildren is another thing entirely. Of course, it would be better to take your older grandchildren, as navigating Tokyo with little ones might be a challenge. But if there’s a city that will surprise and delight your grandkids like no other, it’s Tokyo.
From the Ueno Zoo to a walking tour of trendy Harajuku and the countless science museums, you won’t run out of things that kids will love. And if they were still pining for a theme park trip, then Tokyo will satisfy that craving nicely: there’s Legoland, Disney, and more.
3. London, England
London is a fantastic city for anyone to visit, but it can be especially memorable for your older children or grandchildren. It’s familiar, it’s fun, and it’s so full of history that it can be hard to fit everything in. But if it’s kids you’re trying to please in London — remember, there’s always Harry Potter.
Start with the Warner Brothers studio, which features actual Harry Potter soundstages and backlots, all available for tour. You can also visit platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station in the London Underground, and Leadenhall Market, which was the set for Diagon Alley. There are many tours devoted entirely to Harry Potter’s London.
4. New York City, New York
All the hustle and bustle aside, New York City is one of the liveliest cities in the world, and it’s the perfect destination for a family trip. Times Square, the food choices in Central Park, Rockefeller Centre: there are a lot of family-oriented attractions. And while New York is a very walkable city, taking an NYC sightseeing limousine means you can see all the sights in style, and give the young ones a rest.
Don’t forget the Bronx Zoo, the Natural History Museum, and the Statue of Liberty, as well. In fact, you might want to keep your itinerary small and add things as you go along. There’s so much to do and see, and little ones can tire out easily.
More and more grandparents are giving their older children and grandchildren the gift of travel. It’s such a wonderful way to introduce younger kids to the joys of travel, and for you to connect with your older children on a very different level. So whether you’re happy on the beach in the Caribbean or strolling the streets of Paris, make that trip twice as meaningful by including your family. None of you will ever forget it.
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Photo at top by Karen Roe from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK – The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012Uploaded by SunOfErat, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30482438