Sometimes, you just don’t want to take your kids to Disneyland. Nothing against Mickey, Elsa and the gang — Disneyland and Disney World are both magical experiences that delight parents and young children alike, and the opportunities for deluxe accommodations around the parks are nearly endless. Still, spending your precious vacation time submerged in crowds of passionate and often antagonistic Disney lovers isn’t always enjoyable. What’s more, the world is filled with even more exciting, engaging and educational destinations for the whole family.
This year, instead of spending your family vacation at a Disney property, consider taking your kids to another luxury destination filled with beauty and thrills. The following ideas should inspire you to see the world with your little ones, and see it in style and comfort, too.
Niagara Falls has been a luxury travel destination for centuries — perhaps longer, since Native Americans have traveled to this wondrous natural site for generations. To start your luxury trip, you should book accommodations in a Niagara Falls hotel room with views of the falls. Not only will this give you and your family a beautiful scene to wake up to, but it will also help you see the scope of the falls without fighting high-season crowds. Plus, if you can see the falls, you can also watch the falls illumination show, a lights and fireworks display that occurs every night during the summer months.
Kids will forever remember thrilling falls tours, like the Hornblower Niagara Cruise which takes you to the base of the falls or Journey Behind the Falls where you descend into tunnels to feel the thundering water. There are also plenty of historical sites to visit, like Old Fort Niagara and Lundy Lane Battlefield Museum, as well as quaint shopping and dining experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake and surrounding countryside. In truth, you can craft the exact family vacation you crave during a trip to Niagara Falls because there are unending options for activity and delight.
When the summer heat hits you hard, you can head to the Southern Hemisphere, where countries like Argentina and Chile are deep in winter. Specifically, you should head to Patagonia, a vast, diverse and gorgeous area of South America known for outstanding cuisine, breathtaking natural scenery and unforgettable tourism opportunities. You can book a vacation package to Patagonia, which typically takes you to one or two resorts in the most popular landscapes of the region, or you can plan your own trip around the Patagonian countryside. Some must-see spots in Patagonia include:
- Cerro Tronador. This glacier at the northern gateway to Patagonia is one of the few in the world that you can sleep next to in complete comfort and luxury.
- Torres Del Paine. Known as the “crown jewel” of Patagonia, this national park boasts some of the most stunning mountainous terrain in the world. There are plenty of luxury resorts on the outskirts where you can kick back after a day of trekking.
- Punta Arenas. On the southern edge of Patagonia, this city is one of the largest in the region and the closest urban center to Antarctica, giving you access to some unique wildlife — i.e. penguins.
Not long ago, Southeast Asian destinations like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam were “off the beaten path,” meaning they were dirt-cheap but slightly dangerous — fit only for backpackers and true adventure travelers. More recently, Southeast Asia has recognized the boon of luxury travelers, and there are near-limitless opportunities for safe, family-friendly travel across this region of the world. If you are looking for exotic cuisine, tropical scenery and cultural enlightenment, you should choose from the following Southeast Asian destinations:
- Singapore. A wealthy city-state, Singapore has long been a bastion of safe, luxury travel in the region. Here, you can explore nature, lounge on the beach, learn about culture and history and more with great convenience and high class.
- Thailand. Just traveling to Thailand’s largest island of Phuket, your family can find pristine beaches, beautiful hiking trails and one-of-a-kind cultural sites like temples and monuments. Plus, Phuket offers water and theme parks, perfect for younger kids who want something more.
- Vietnam. Vietnam is a dream destination for almost every traveler, families included. You should head straight for the island of Phu Quoc, which offers both relaxing, quiet beaches and daily activities like hikes or visits to pearl farms.
If wildlife is what your family loves to see, there is no better vacation than a real African safari. Safari trips have become not just safe and pleasant in recent years, but many safari companies are associated with conservation and sustainability groups, which actively facilitate the protection of threatened and endangered African wildlife. A safari experience could put you and your kids in close proximity to some of your favorite wild animals, like lions, elephants, giraffes and zebras, and it could teach your entire family about how these animals live, existing and future threats to their existence and what you can do to help them thrive.
You can find safari tours across almost the entire continent of Africa, but for your family vacation, you should choose a destination that is stable and safe, like South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya or Botswana. Additionally, you should perform research on your safari to ensure you aren’t accidentally supporting poachers or organizations that don’t make the animals’ welfare (and the indigenous people) their top priority. Even with these restrictions, you should be able to find plenty of options.
You don’t have to devote every vacation to Disney. In fact, by showing your kids the wonders of the world, you might never have them request a Disney trip ever again. The world is full of beauty and fun, and by opting for a luxury trip, you can keep your adventures safe, educational and thrilling for everyone in your family.