Who doesn’t love a list? When it comes to the best family holidays these destinations and places most definitely make my top ten family travel list. My little baby, Nova, has had an amazing start to his life of travels, but there’s still SO much more to see. I’m constantly bookmarking ideas for our upcoming years of exploring as a family. My memory can be a bit hazy, so this list is a selfish reminder, but as it’s full of some epic family travel ideas I hope at least one or two will make your own list as well.
10 of the Best Family Holidays…
Nova loves animals. He chases our poor cat, Buddha, eyes wide with excitement and a very animated babble escaping his open-mouthed grin. Admittedly I’m not a fan of zoos and we didn’t enjoy our safari in Kenya (it felt like a glorified zoo), but I just can’t help but think that a visit to the Giraffe Manor in Africa would be incredible.
I first saw some photos on fellow family travel blog, Travel Babbo, and couldn’t believe my eyes. Giraffe Manor is a unique hotel in Nairobi where you can get up close and personal with giraffes. They roam the property, poking their heads into some of the bedrooms and into the swish dining room to grab their own meals. Yep, that’s right, you get to feed them whilst you enjoy your own food!
Can you imagine how excited the children get? It’s a wild adventurer’s dream come true – like something out of a fantasy film. It’s not just all about whimsical fun though, there’s a serious message too. The property is home to a number of endangered Rothschild giraffes and operates a breeding programme to reintroduce breeding pairs back into the wild.
If Nova carries on the way he is now with animals I have no doubt that he would absolutely love this. Mama and dada might also like it just a tad.
The Jacobite is a vintage steam train and it runs in Scotland from Fort William to Mallaig. It’s a route that’s often referred to as the most beautiful railway line in the UK. Not only that, but the Hogwarts Express (from Harry Potter, obviously) was inspired by this beaut of a train. I’ve been lusting after this charming experience and those mesmerising views ever since I first saw a pic on Pinterest.
Nova loves trains (I’m basing this on his love for Thomas the Tank Engine) and I love Harry Potter, so it’s a win win, right? One thing we both have in common is exploring new places and we haven’t been to this part of Scotland, so it’s very much on the list.
Uluru – Ayers Rock
I desperately want to take Nova to this magical place. I travelled the east coast of Australia during my round-the-world trip, but sadly never ventured inland to see Ayers Rock. I’d love to take Nova, but when he’s a little bit older so that he can stay awake to watch the sun set and then fall asleep in my arms underneath an epic blanket of stars.
I’d stay at Ayers Rock Resort and I’d love to do some all of the tours, especially the ‘desert awakenings’ and ‘field of light’ ones. The first is pretty obvious – you get up early whilst the stars are still glowing so that you get to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the desert waking up. The second is a beautiful art installation – just look at that video to see how amazing it looks. It’s only there until March 2017 so I’m not sure I’ll get to see it with Nova, but I can dream.
This place made my top destinations list for 2015 and 2016, but I haven’t made it there…yet. Now that Nova is here I really think that it’s somewhere he’d love too. It’s seems like a real Indiana Jones experience (not that he’d have a clue about that reference). Perhaps one for when he’s six or seven years old, I think it’ll be so much fun being explorers out here. It seems an ideal place to indulge curious little minds and a great place to be educational, but not in a boring kinda way.
Perhaps a cliché, but I don’t really care. I dreamed about this place when I was little, but never got to visit. Maybe I’m being selfish by wanting to fulfil one of my own childhood wish list places, but I’m certain that Nova would love it. It’s taken all my self-restraint not to book it for this Christmas, but as he’ll only be one I know it’ll be wasted on him. We’ve said we’ll go when he’s around five, so that he can really get the most out of it and hopefully remember it when he’s older, or when we’re feeling indulgent we say that we’ll just go every other year!
Besides the thick, white blankets of snow everywhere (which is enough to bring out excited squeals in their own right), there’s also reindeers to meet, huskies to spy, snowmobiles to play on and a certain bearded guy named Santa to get acquainted with. Oh and let’s not forget the beautiful starry sky to gaze into and snuggly bedtime cuddles in the crisp, fresh air. In my eyes it’s exactly as Christmas should be – magical.
So you know that self-restraint I just mentioned? Well, we’ve booked to go to Disneyland Paris for Christmas! It was the compromise for not going to Lapland this year. Yep, our first one as a family of three will be spent here.
I’ve been to Disneyland a few times over the years and love it. I know it’s essentially a theme park, but I adore the parades and shows that captivate your attention, taking you to a dream world. I love the magical rides and the general happiness of the place. It’s fun, light-hearted and upbeat – traits that I want my Christmas to be filled with. It’s also super easy to get to from the UK (a short ride on the Eurostar all the way to the resort).
Obviously you don’t have to visit at Christmas. It’s fun throughout the year. You don’t even have to visit with children – I’ve always gone with friends and family – but something tells me that it’ll be even more amazing with little ones. I can’t wait to see Nova’s excited face light up.
Nickelodeon Theme Parks
Whilst we’re talking about theme parks, I’m just going to leave this one here too. Nova loves the TV channel, Nickelodeon Junior, with his faves being Dora the Explorer (I credit Dora to teaching Nova his third word, map) and Bubble Guppies.
In Madrid there’s a theme park with an area full of Nickelodeon themed rides. You can ride a bus, Dora’s jeep and even a jellyfish! In Minnesota you’ll find Nickelodeon Universe; a seven acre indoor fun zone. You can also meet the characters from some of the shows. I think that either of these places would make him giddy with excitement. Mama and dada not so much, but then this list isn’t really supposed to be about us.
Going back to the natural attractions of our world, Mount Etna is well and truly on my list. It’s probably not the first place you’d think to take a little one, but it really appeals to me. What little boy wouldn’t want to climb Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, learning about fiery lava? Nova’s personality is still developing, but I’d bet good money that this would be right up his street.
I’d like to hire a car and have a bit of a family road trip on this gorgeous island. There are lots of ruins and beautiful villages that we could happily get lost in. Oh and don’t even get me started on Italian food.
This place has also made my top destination list for the last few years, but it wasn’t until Nova arrived that I really realised how much family stuff there is to see and do there. Everything happens for a reason and I was obviously meant to go there with my mini-explorer.
In San Antonio there are stroller art tours and some of the hotels have lazy rivers and evenings to make s’mores. One hotel also has themed kid suites. There are drive-in movie spots – so American and SO cool! And let’s not forget the gorgeous river walks on offer. Of course, part of me just wants to see Nova in a lil’ cowboy hat. It may be a fickle excuse to visit, but any reason to travel is good enough in my books.
So after my first ah-may-zing trip to Canada earlier this year I’m desperate to get back there and SO many people have recommended Vancouver. Jay has been before and he admits it’s the only place he’d ever move overseas for, so I need to see it for myself. Nova loved Alberta (recap here), so I’m sure he’d love Vancouver too.
It’s the natural beauty of the place that calls to me. I just love those mountains and trees so much. The beach is an added bonus. Nova enjoys playing out in the fresh air and like I said earlier, he loves animals, so if we’re lucky like last time maybe we’ll spot some bears. The suspension bridge walk above the Canadian Rainforest is just one of many, many reasons to visit Vancouver too.
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Do you have anywhere to add to this list?