We started traveling with our children when they were very young. Our son took his first plane ride at 18 months to Jamaica and our daughter was around 2 when we traveled to the Mall of America in Minnesota. And although they might not remember those earlier trips vividly we hope they will always remember spending quality time together as a family experiencing new things.
We've traveled quite a bit as a family my top three summer destinations were:
Panama City Beach- This laid back beach town in Florida is so quaint and I loved that everything was accessible. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort and it was right on the beach plus it had a little water park area on site for the kids! And right next door (walking distance) was a mini golf course. Also within a mile or two there were several restaurants and fun places to visit like Ripley's Believe It or Not! Every night at the pool they pulled out a big inflatable screen and showed family friendly movies. The beaches in Florida are beautiful and even though we were in the U.S. it felt like a tropical vacation.
Road Trip from Texas to California- A road trip was on our family bucket list but I have to admit I was always hesitant. My patience is pretty short and I just doubted my ability to make a trip that far BY CAR. Not to mention sometimes I get a little motion sickness. But that trip has by far been my favorite! We were actually supposed to fly from Houston to Arizona and then drive to California but bad weather had our flight looking iffy, so we decided to bite the bullet and hit the road from Houston at 3am. When I woke up my husband had practically gotten us to El Paso before I took over the drive. We rented a roomy van with a TV and DVD player. We also had snacks galore and the kids had their favorite blankets and pillows. It was my first time seeing the glory and expanse of the Texas landscape (I'd only driven to Austin, Dallas and San Antonio). We drove through New Mexico and then stopped in Arizona to sleep. The next morning we had a big breakfast and headed to the Grand Canyon which, even as you're looking at it, it doesn't seem real. We then drove to the Hoover Dam and HOT isn't even an adequate word to describe the heat! But the structure itself is amazing, it just felt like we were in an oven! Afterwards we went to Las Vegas and drove down the strip; the kids were totally fascinated by the lights and action. We actually stayed one night in a hotel off the strip but the next morning we did walk the strip, so that the kids could see inside some of the incredible hotels. (Sidenote: Las Vegas is way more fun without kids! ;-) After leaving Vegas we headed to Palm Springs. Very picturesque but also very HOT!! We stayed at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort for a few days before our final destination of San Diego. We went to the San Diego Zoo and spent the last few days of the trip at Carlsbad beach before driving back home. It was incredible to bond that way with my family, my husband was patient and kind (he always is) and my kids were on their best behavior (they aren't always angels ;-). I'd suggest a road trip at least once before your kids get too old.
Bahamas- We were in the Bahamas for one week. We stayed at the Atlantis on Paradise Island for three days of our stay and then moved to the more affordable Comfort Suites across the street. The great thing about our Comfort Suites stay was that it was more than half the price of the Atlantis and we still got to enjoy the amenities at the Atlantis property thanks to a partnership they have with Comfort Suites. The Atlantis is a magical place for kids and it just so happened the summer we went it was Cartoon Network summer, so everything was Cartoon Network themed and my kids were really into the shows on Cartoon Network at the time. There were obstacle courses, character parades and movies on the green every night. My kids still talk about this trip, so hopefully it's one they will always remember!
What is your favorite family travel destination?
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