One of the best ways to break up the long months of wintertime is to take the kids on vacation. Whether you prefer skiing and snowshoeing trips to embrace the snow or you want to bury your toes in the heated sand on a beach, we’ve got you covered. Here are some family-friendly travel suggestions that are ideal for securing quality time with your favorite people over winter break.

See the Splendor of a National Park in Utah

skeeze via Pixabay

Play: National Parks are definitely America’s best idea and exploring the great outdoors is such a healthy and fun activity for families. Utah’s first and most popular national park, Zion National Park, is a great destination for the winter months. Seeing the multi-hued sandstone cliffs, slot canyons and wildlife (bighorn sheep, mule deer, bats and a mammal called the petite kangaroo rat) are what draw visitors to this park all year long. Due to relatively mild seasonal weather, travelers can go on super scenic drives, hiking and cross country skiing. Take the kids on a ranger-led winter hike or participate in the Junior Ranger program to earn a badge. The best part: the crowds have thinned out, and you’ll feel like you have the park all to yourselves like nature intended.

Other activities nearby, outside of the park, include St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site, Washington City Aquatic Center, and ghost towns in Grafton, Silver Reef, and Old Irontown.

See Why Kids Love Aruba


Play: Aruba, known as One Happy Island, is the ideal warm-weather destination for families in the southern Caribbean Sea. Not only are there excellent beaches, like Palm Beach and Baby Beach, but also the island is chock-full of kid-friendly adventures worth exploring. For animal lovers, visit the island’s Ostrich Farm, Butterfly Farm, Donkey Sanctuary, and Philips Animal Garden. For adventure seekers, take an off-road safari or UTV tour with De Palm Tours and see the California Lighthouse and Arikok National Park. Snorkel cruises are another way to get on the water and enjoy the super-charged sunshine that the island offers.

Stay: To make planning easier, stay at the all-inclusive Barceló Aruba and spring for the Royal Level, which includes perks like personalized check-in, exclusive dining, complimentary Wi-Fi, accommodations on higher-level floors and room service. 

All-Inclusive Ski Vacation in Quebec


Play & Stay: If a ski vacation is on your must-do list, you'll want to check out this brand-new Club Med resort that will make schlepping all that ski gear that much easier. A vacation at Club Med Québec provides guests with all the luxuries of an all-inclusive vacation while also allowing travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in Canadian culture. Guests can enjoy activities like ice skating, dog sledding, and sugar shack visits.

The spacious accommodations echo the character of the region with the colors of Québec (winter white, twilight blue, and yellow sun) emulated through decor and other rooms feature elements like blond wooden floors and lofty ceilings akin to the warmth of the region’s ancestral homes. The resort also features three on-site restaurants that serve locally inspired cuisine like fondue and raclette, local Québec cheeses and charcuteries, freshly baked cookies, and Québec’s famous maple taffy and are decorated to celebrate different gastronomical elements tied to Québec: hunting, fishing, agriculture, foraging, and livestock farming. 

Channel Elvis in Hawaii

Matthew Brodeur via Unsplash

Play & Stay: Leave your passport at home and fly to the Hawaiian Islands. The islands of Lanai and Maui are full of adventures that are perfect for families. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai can arrange cultural experiences for families like hula dance lessons, ukulele instruction, floral leis making, and even an oral history lesson given by Lanai’s elders. Take a guided island tour in a UTV, go sailing on a catamaran, stroll through the botanic gardens, and lounge by the lagoon-style swimming pool at the resort. Enjoy a sunrise hike to Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, go horseback riding, or snorkel in the warm water—the options are endless.

In Maui, the Valley Isle, try your hand at outrigger canoeing, visit the Ali’i Kula Lavender Garden, see sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, and go snorkeling to see a wide variety of colorful sea wildlife. Older kids, ages 12 and older, might like to try tandem paragliding with Proflyght. During the winter months, you can see migrating humpback whales and nothing beats seeing the sunrise at Haleakala National Park, where you can see a massive volcano.

Winter in New York City

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Play: Visiting New York City in the winter is an enchanting experience for families—the city is still alive and electric in the chillier months. Create enduring memories for your family by ice skating at Rockefeller Center and seeing the larger-than-life Christmas tree, watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, or visit one of the many incredible museums—Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex, Guggenheim Museum, and of course, the Statue of Liberty. For something really special, take a behind-the-scenes tour of Yankee Stadium, visit the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (you can also do a backstage tour of the music hall) or see The Nutcracker at The New York City Ballet.

Stay: The city is full of great overnight possibilities. The Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel has a fantastic midtown location, a fitness center, a complimentary crib if needed and extra space in their Parlor Room with a built-in Murphy Bed, plus kids 12 & under eat free. Other family-friendly hotels include Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, which is pet friendly and has a cool Terrace Suite with panoramic views of the city and New York Marriott Marquis, with family connecting suites, restaurant options and concierge services.

Check out our ultimate guide to New York with kids here.

Backpacking and Day Trips in America’s Southwest

Wendy Altschuler

Play: Finally, something for the older kids in your family—backpacking and day hiking in some of the most beautiful parts of America’s southwest. Imagine how proud your tween will feel when she hikes for multiple miles, from beginning to end, and learns about geology along the way. If you don’t want to worry about how to get from point A to point B, and you don’t want to pack gear or figure out food options, check out Four Season Guides—they lead groups and private hiking trips through Havasu Falls, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

See Grand Canyon National Park like you’ve never seen it before—dip below the rim and hike past layers and layers of various geological history to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and stay at the famous Phantom Ranch before heading back out of the canyon on the beautiful Bright Angel Trail. Everyone will love the physical challenge and remember the adventure for years to come. 

Pro Tip: Invest in a good pair of hiking boots—Vasque has quality trail footwear for kids—and break them in before your trip to prevent sore feet or blisters.

Find out more:

Home Sweet Chicago

Wendy Altschuler

Play: If you ask any Chicagoan what they love the most about their city, they’ll likely say they love the culture—museums, theater, restaurants—sports, lakefront and neighborhoods (Chicago has more than 100 neighborhoods). Take the kids ice skating at Maggie Daley Park’s ribbon. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum (you’ll love the new Maximo Titanosaur), and the Museum of Science and Industry—all of the museums have a free or discounted admission day and nearly all have sleep-at-the-museum overnight opportunities. Travel 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile and check out 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, home of the sky-high moving platform TILT, that gives you a kaleidoscopic view, high above the city. Take your family to a fun-for-winter show via Broadway in Chicago, Drury Lane, First Folio, Marriott Children’s Theatre, or The Chicago Theatre—check the websites to see what productions are running. 

Stay: Hotel EMC2 is a modern hotel with robots that deliver anything you’ve forgotten or need. Another cool option is the Intercontinental Chicago where you’ll find a stunning pool, Michael Jordan’s Steak House, and an onion dome that was meant (but not used) to dock blimps before the Hindenburg disaster.

See our favorite Chicago events and happenings here

Be Trendy in T-Town

Kate Loweth

Play: Toronto is a diverse and bustling metropolis that offers a plethora of indoor and outdoor adventures for culture seekers. It’s easy to see why this Canadian city is rising to the top of the list for best places to visit for multi-generational families. Explore gems like the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Hockey Hall of Fame and Toronto Botanical Garden. Thrill seekers will be challenged walking around the top of CN Tower—on the outside—116 stories high. And, of course, with a lot of immigrants—half of the population was born outside of Canada—you’ll have plenty of dining options to choose from (not everything is covered in bacon and maple syrup either).

Stay: Is there anything better than a hotel with an indoor water slide? We don't think so. The Chelsea Hotel is the perfect spot for families visiting Toronto and their four-story water slide is just one of the reasons that you'll love it there. The hotel has two-bedroom suites that are perfect for visiting families, as they come with a full kitchen. In addition to the corkscrew water slide, the hotel has a kids club where you can drop off your little ones for some play time with the resident bunnies while you enjoy a meal out.

Check out our Toronto guide here

Go Greek in Tarpon Springs, FL


Play: Do you want to feel like you are in a different country, exposing your kids to a rich culture, without ever leaving the states? Check out Tarpon Springs, Florida, a small town with the highest population of Greek-Americans of any city in the U.S. Families will love seeing the sponge fisherman working on the Sponge Docks on Dodecanese Boulevard. You can even take a cruise and watch a sponge diver, wearing a vintage suit, dive down and pull out a fresh gooey sponge. Enjoy the sweet sunshine and walk along the street full of shops, restaurants and museums full of Greek heritage. Opa!

Stay: Say goodnight on 900 wooded acres at Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort. You’ll be minutes from the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and a stone’s throw from Tampa International Airport. The resort has a relaxing atmosphere, with a spa, multiple restaurant options, and a large Loch Ness Monster Pool with slides. Kids can take golf or tennis lessons, go fishing, have fun in the kid’s club, and rent bikes to explore the area. 

Wisconsin Wonderland

Wendy Altschuler

Play: From snowmobiling to cross-country skiing to sledding to snowshoeing to dog sledding to ice fishing to fat bike winter riding—you won’t run out of outdoor things to do in Wisconsin during the winter months. Beginners will love learning how to downhill ski at Granite Peak, Christmas Mountain, Alpine Valley, Devil’s Head Resort, Cascade Mountain and Mt. Crosse, among other places. Visit the Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world, for indoor slide and amusement park fun. For something truly special though, visit Door County in the winter months, when it’s quiet, peaceful and not flooded with tourists. Take a horse-drawn carriage, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, and check out one of the many events happening throughout the 75-mile-long stretch between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. 

Stay: Book a cozy stay, in the middle of the forest, at Sunrise Shores Log Cabin in Sturgeon Bay, Door County. The cozy cabin, with a large front porch and side-screened porch, is within walking distance to a public beach, dogs are welcome, and your entire family will love the warm stone fireplace.

Explore Art in Houston

courtesy visit

Play: Of course, the fourth largest city in America will be ripe with fantastic museums, dining and shopping, and Space Center Houston is an obvious standout, but there’s something else that Houston offers young visitors: art. Toward the end of November, families can go to Hue: Houston Urban Experience Mural Festival, part of Houston Art Week, to see artists from around the world use a variety of techniques and color to brighten up urban landscapes. Mural tours will be available during the event as well as throughout December. After seeing the street art, bring your family to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston where kids can take part in weekly family programming including Creation Station, Family Tours and Story Time.

Pro Tip: The Houston CityPASS allows families to visit several museums and attractions throughout the city, like the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Downtown Aquarium for a discounted rate. If you click on, you can also print off coupons for discounts at hotels, restaurants, transportation and more, all over the city. Also, on the website is a link for Houston for Free, which lists free family-friendly activities.

See our insider's guide to Houston here

Get Wild in Wyoming

Wendy Altschuler

Play: Wyoming is a huge state full of fun cowboy culture and mountain adventures. On one end, you have Cheyenne, Wyoming, the nation’s rodeo and railroad capital. Don your SmartWool sweaters and thick socks and visit Terry Bison Ranch to see over 2,000 bison grazing on 30,000 acres of rolling hills. Take the family on a downtown walking tour or hop on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley (Christmas Lights tours are available in December). Pop in the Cheyenne Depot and Depot Museum, and let the kids burn off energy in The Paul Smith Children’s Village (in the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens), which is home to Engine 1242, the oldest train engine in Wyoming. Admittance to the gardens is free and open year-round.

On the other end of the state, sits one of the most beautiful and evergreen cities in our country: Jackson Hole. This western town is near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, which opens up a world of adventure for families. Outside of the park, families can have many fun experiences such as winter fat biking, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, snowshoeing and, of course, skiing.

Stay: Rest your head in Jackson Hole at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, located next to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, where your family can go skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, tubing or riding on a horse-pulled sleigh. The resort has great deals, like the National Parks Explorer package.


Get Your Play On with Nickelodeon in the Riveria Maya

Gabby Cullen

Imagine hanging with Dora, the Mutant Turtles and Sparkle and Shine, all while exploring a six-acre waterpark in the Riviera Maya!

Play: The waterpark has 21 slides, the entertainment in the Snick Lounge includes magic shows, glow parties, live music and more. Don't miss the daily 1:30 pm sliming at the water park, and be ready for amazing food, whether you dine with Raf, Mikey, Donny and Leo at Piazza Tavola or enjoy ocean views at the Bikini Bottom or the Yacht Club. 

Stay: The Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya has six different restaurants and every hotel room boasts its own private pool. It's a short shuttle ride from the seaside hotel to the main lobby and waterpark, which is where you'll be able to enjoy Aqua Nick and the main entertainment. 

—Kate Loweth & Wendy Altschuler



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