We often hear people talk about their travel bucket list, but what about ultimate must-sees for kids? Want to make some incredible family memories? Makchic puts together a list to get you planning a holiday that’s full of thrills for your little ones. You know that just means plenty of smiles for you too!
Kids and Nature
#1 – Yellowstone National Park, USA
America’s very first national park is a stunner, and a great place to take in nature and wildlife. Children will love exploring the park’s many trails and marvel at its hot springs and geysers – it has the highest concentration of geysers in the world! They can spot wild animals like bison, wolves, moose, elk and even bears. You’d be going off the grid, which means plenty of quality time with the children and nature. Children who are four and up can partake in their excellent Junior Ranger Programme, and those five and up have the option of joining their Young Scientist Programme. Both offer patches to young participants who complete the required tasks. With plenty of kid-friendly activities such as hiking, boat rides and rafting, it will be a family getaway to remember.
Kids and Those Fun Rides
#2 – Walt Disney World, Florida, USA
It wouldn’t be a ‘bucket list of sorts for kids’ without “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Whether for a chance to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck or for its seemingly endless number of fun rides and activities for children, Disney World will not fail to impress. With four huge parks – Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom, every age group is spoilt for choice. Water play area in Storybook Circus? Check. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Done. Meet Buzz Lightyear or Elsa from Frozen? ZOMG. With so much to do, you will most likely have to dial down activities to avoid getting overstimulated children melting down from all the excitement.
#3 – Efteling, Netherlands
Netherland’s largest theme park Efteling is rated highly by family travel experts, and there are plenty of reasons why. This 180-acre, award-winning park boasts thrilling rides in an enchanting world of princesses, fairies, pixies and trolls. There’s an old steam engine kids can ride on, a Fairytale forest, water rides and six roller coasters. The park’s pièce de résistance is Aquanura, one of the grandest performance water fountains in the world. Built for the park’s 60th anniversary, the water show is a spectacle of water, light and fire that will wow the whole family.
Kids and Museums
#4 – Natural History Museum & Science Museum, London, UK
The Natural History Museum is one of the world’s most renowned museums, its beautiful building instantly recognisable in the UK. It may not have its iconic Dippy the Diplodocus anymore, but this museum has set the standards for natural history exhibits for centuries. Opened since 1881, the museum has plenty of highlights – the excellent Dinosaurs gallery with its animatronic T-Rex, and its Investigate Centre, where kids can examine hundreds of real natural history specimens. Just right next to it is the equally fantastic Science Museum, which boasts fun galleries for kids under five, the Pattern Pod for kids up to eight, and the hands-on and educational Launchpad, which is popular with older kids. Be warned if you want to try and do two museums in a day – there is so much to see and you may tire your kids (and yourself) out!
#5 – Hakone Open Air Museum, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
This one-of-a-kind art museum, located about two hours from Tokyo, is bound to inspire both parents and children. Popular for its harmonious balance of art and nature, it is known for its outdoor sculptures and pieces specifically included for children. These include the famous ‘Woods of Net’, a giant structure featuring knitted play nets which children can climb onto and swing from. Apart from many other sculptures kids can interact with, there is also a garden maze, a Picasso Pavilion and a steaming foot bath for all to enjoy. With such care and thought going to an art museum, Hakone is the perfect introduction to modern art for children.
Kids and Animals
#6 – The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
It might cost quite a bit to get you there, but once you arrive, it is the ultimate place to let your children see animals at their most natural. It’s where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution! Located off Ecuador, the islands are isolated and its animals harbour no fear of humans. This means your curious children will get to get real close to all sorts of animals – from snorkelling with sea lions and swimming with dolphins, to watching rare birds and giant tortoises. Certainly beats any zoo with caged animals! Best for when your children are a little older – great for tweens or teenagers – you can start saving up now for a trip to this gorgeous ecological wonder.
Kids and Celebrations
#7 – Songkran, Thailand
Celebrated in mid April, Songkran is Thailand’s New Year, and it goes on for three full days. One of the most unique new year celebrations in the world, it is a legendary water festival that sees thousands of people throwing water on each other with gusto. All about making a fresh start, this festival is a hoot for children, who get to indulge in water spraying, water guns, hoses, buckets and anything else they can get their hands on to make a splash!
#8 – Holi Festival, India
While Songkran celebrates with water, the Hindu spring festival of Holi celebrates with plenty of colourful lurid gulal (powder) and coloured water. Also known as the Festival of Colours, the event sees kids and grown-ups gleefully running through the streets and throwing powder of all hues on each other. This ancient tradition marks the end of winter and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. With plenty of bonfires, sweets and dancing, this festival is a lovely one to enjoy with your children.
Kids and the Great Outdoors
#9 – Lapland, Finland
Take in the Northern Lights and enjoy a snowmobile safari in this winter wonderland. Your children will have to bundle up, but there will be all sorts of activities to warm them right up. From snow castles to sled trips and ski runs to meeting reindeers and huskies, there is plenty to do in Lapland that will appeal to all members of the family. You can also visit the region’s most famous resident, Santa.
#10 – Oahu, Hawaii
Want to give your children the opportunity to learn to surf the great waves? There may be no place better than to do it than in gorgeous Hawaii. In Oahu, surfing’s a way of life and there is no shortage of kid-friendly beaches there for some good old swimming and sandcastle making too. The waves off Waikiki are said to be the perfect spot for kids to learn how to surf, but if yours are not interested, they can still have plenty of fun in Oahu with big tide pools, snorkelling and a chance to spot green sea turtles or monk seals. If your children love the sun and sand, this is beach life at its best.
By Nellie Liang
Looking for somewhere closer? Check out 5 Family-Friendly Holiday Resorts in Malaysia, Bangkok with Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Thailand’s Capital, or 8 Best Family Day Trips From Kuala Lumpur for some ideas.