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Favorite Family Vacation Spots

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This site has lots of info on top vacation spots for families: Orlando, Caribbean, Hawaii, Florida, and more. Below is a more personal list of places that stand out from our own travels with kids.

Paris & London

Top Vacation spots: Paris and London with Kids
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
Paris... Ah, the City of Light: not to mention famous (free for kids) museums; the Eiffel Tower, my kids' top attraction ever; the river Seine with its wide walkways so perfect for strollers; and heavenly patisseries. More Europe destinations are found below. We also loved our week of London Sightseeing.

Walt Disney World

Top Vacation Spots - Walt Disney World, photo Mission Space
Mission Space, photo © Teresa Plowright
Orlando FL --just a swampy spot back in 1966-- is the theme park capital of the world, and Walt Disney World is still the colossus, with four huge theme parks, two waterparks, 22 resorts, and an area the size of Boston.

Visitors enjoy attractions, great rides, character greets; spectacular parades, fireworks, and live stage shows. Tour the world via Epcot's 11 pavilions from different countries. Animal Kingdom is in a class all its own: fun rides, of course, plus experiences such as Kilimanjaro Safari, viewing African animals in open habitats. Something for everyone, all done with excellence.

Universal Orlando

The Hulk coaster. Photo © Teresa Plowright.

The other multi-day theme park attraction in Orlando has two theme parks (Islands of Adventure, and Univeral Studios Florida), three resorts, and CityWalk shopping/ entertainment zone.

No surprise, the attractions are themed to movies: Jaws, Revenge of the Mummy, Shrek, etc. Teens love Universal Orlando for thrill rides, such as The Hulk. But there's lots for little kids, too: such as Seuss Landing.

Universal Orlando also has a permanent theatre venue for the Blue Man Group. And new in 2010: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, aka the Harry Potter theme park, a superb place.

Yellowstone National Park "Family Adventure"

Top vacation spots - Yellowstone National Park, photo of Old Faithful geyser, ©  Teresa Plowri
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
In Yellowstone, we sampled a "Family Adventure": a (nearly) all inclusive escorted tour with hiking, rafting, horse-riding. Yellowstone was far better than I'd dreamed-- as was the "family adventure" concept. Think: no hassles, check-in line-ups, or "where'll we eat?" Think: a small group of fellow travelers who turn out to be great company, and guides who go the extra mile to make your trip wonderful. All this, in one of the world's best destinations.

Jamaica All Inclusive: Franklyn D. Resort

Photo courtesy of Franklyn D. Resort.
All inclusive resorts are common in the Caribbean, and many places offer great beaches, watersports, kids programs, and the conveniences of all inclusive eats, snacks, and drinks for kids. But only FDR includes a "vacation nanny" throughout your stay. FDR is a mid-sized resort on Jamaica's north coast; fun includes biking, water-sliding, and scuba diving (for ages 12 and up).

US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands, one of best family vacation spots - Photo ©  Teresa Plowright
Photo © Teresa Plowright
No passports are required for U.S. citizens to visit "American's Caribbean", where three very different islands offer family-friendly resorts, a land-and-sea National Park, super snorkeling, colonial towns and forts, duty-free shops, and some novel ways to explore the underseas.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mayan Riviera a top family vacation spot
Photo © Teresa Plowright
A top family vacation spot, that combines beach fun with interesting (and even educational!) outings in the area. Just south of busy Cancun is a very different Mexico, with a sleepy beach town, beautiful coral reef, a unique eco-archeological theme park, lagoons for snorkeling, cenotes, Mayan ruins, and attractions such as Rio Secreto.

New York City with Teens

Photo courtesy of Top of the Rock.
Visiting the Big Apple is fun with kids of any age, but a trip with a teen has an extra thrill as they know they're in one of the world's great cities. Click to see highlights from several visits with teens ranging in age from thirteen to eighteen: from harbor tours on The Beast, NBC Studio tour, movie tours, Top of the Rock (birds-eye view from the Rockefeller Center), Lower Eastside Tenement Museum for a dose of history (and a cool spot 'cause it was filmed in Men in Black), great art museums that will wow your kids...

Oahu, Hawaii

Polynesian Cultural Center, photo © Teresa Plowright.
One small island, so much to do: from famous Waikiki Beach (great place for beginner surfing lessons, for kids as young as eight); eco-tours to see whales, dolphins, sea turtles; Pearl Harbor, a National Park with Junior Ranger program for kids; luaus with canoe rides and crafts for kids; glider rides on the North Coast, and much more. Hawaii's island of Oahu has an amazing range of fun for family vacations.

Quebec Carnival - Winter Festival

top vacation spot for families - Quebec City winter carnival - Photo ©  Teresa Plowright
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
Ice Palaces, ice sculptures, snow sculptures (left), giant slides for sleds... the Quebecois people know how to celebrate winter. Quebec City is easily reached from northeast cities, and its 2-week carnival in February is a joyous and friendly good-time-for-all, especially kids. (If you don't parlez, don't worry; people in the tourist industry speak English.)

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for some of these destinations for the purpose of review. While this has not influenced this article, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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