The Best Adventure Trips for Parents Traveling With Young Kids

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On a recent trip with my husband and 7-month-old daughter, a middle-aged man stopped us. He had a 3- and 4-year-old. Keep traveling, he told us—especially now. He pointed to our baby in the stroller.

Planning your family adventure trips with an infant (or with young children in general) can seem like pure insanity. You’ve got the Pack n’ Play crib, the baby carrier, the sound machine, the extra outfits, the burp cloths, and the milk.

But with the right planning and foresight (booking a bulkhead seat, for example, if you want the baby to sleep in a bassinet), traveling with young children can be simpler (and more fun) than it sounds.

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Better yet, just because a trip is kid-friendly doesn’t mean it’s kid-focused. Want to ski double black diamonds for the afternoon, then après with your family? It’s possible.

Plus, if your child is under two, they can fly for free on your lap on domestic flights; international flights, you’ll likely just have to pay taxes on the ticket.

Tempted to go? Consider these seven family adventure trips that have built-in support for young ones and enable you to keep exploring the world.

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Vail Resorts’ East Coast Mountains

An unforgettable ski experience no longer requires a flight for East Coast dwellers.  Not since Vail Resorts closed a $41 million deal to acquire Vermont favorite Stowe Mountain Resort in 2017 and merged with Peak Resorts in 2019, acquiring a slew of other New England resorts. In Stowe, the resort’s industry-famed Epic Pass will give you unlimited access to the peaks; plus, you’re just a short three-something-hour drive from Boston. Book the childcare center (Cubs Child Care) at the base of the mountain in advance or leave the baby in trusted hands (many of the areas top resorts favor a local babysitting service) so you can get your runs in. After, you can ice skate or stroll the walkable “town center” at Spruce Peak. Stay at The Lodge at Spruce Peak—it’s family- and dog-friendly, has a menu of killer cocktails (and mocktails), and quintessential ski lodge fireplaces.

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British Columbia, Canada

Flights and transportation will require effort. Depending on where you’re headed, you’ll likely want to fly into Calgary or Kelowna. But once you’ve arrived in Canada’s wilderness, you’ll find world-class skiing; wintry, walkable ski-in, ski-out villages (read: no car seat drama); and a long list of activities beyond skiing (dog sledding, snowmobiling, tubing, not to mention breweries); and a 30 percent savings thanks to the exchange rate. Consider SkiBig3 in Canada’s Banff National Park where a lift ticket gives you access to three different resorts or Big White Ski Resort, known to be Canada’s most family-friendly ski spot. It’ll be hard to tell who’s having more fun—you or the kids.

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Walt Disney World Resort

Bear with us. Disney sounds like a kid-centric, not family-centric, trip. But runners who time things right can hit a runDisney event like the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend—a 5K, 10K, half, and full marathon. You can even challenge yourself to do ‘em all and run 48.6 miles. We’re eyeing the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend in April. Disney’s 25 resort hotels provide free transportation to the events. We can’t help you with the extra steps—and energy—required for walking around the park, though.

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Bermuda

Traditional Caribbean vacations deliver on a dose of sunlight and saltwater but can leave you craving exploration. Stroller-friendly Bermuda has leisuretime covered with a walkable downtown city (eat outside at Devil’s Isle, known for its harvest bowls full of greens, vegetables, and protein), as well as soft adventures like a network of nature reserves you can hike and a Southern coastline filled with pink sand beaches (and the water sports that come with that). The Hamilton Princess in town might remind you of home with an Exhale Spa, but if it’s golf you’re after, consider Newstead Belmont Hills, which has one of the island’s most scenic courses. Rooms here also come with mini-kitchens and the resort runs a ferry across the harbor into Hamilton. Don’t worry about wrangling with strollers in airports. Rent wheels for the baby from local rental service Little Long Tails.

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Hawaii

When you’ve got a baby in tow, taking a four-wheel vehicle onto a black sand beach, traversing an active volcano, and ziplining is more or less out of the question. The islands’ Four Seasons resorts—including the properties on Maui, Oahu, and The Big Island—might call for added costs upfront but their complimentary children’s programs for kids five and older are worth it. Children can learn about Hawaiian culture at the Four Seasons Maui Academy, go to camp on Oahu, or spend their days doing arts and crafting or swimming on The Big Island. Being the Four Seasons and all, the hotels help with finding babysitters (so you can tour that volcano), provide items like baby monitors, swim diapers, high chairs, and more at no added cost, and create custom outings and adventures (like beachfront picnics) for families.

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U.S. National Parks

Planning a trip to a national park isn’t something you do on a whim—but then again neither is having a kid (usually), right? Grab the baby carrier and prepare for the awe of standing under a sequoia or seeing wildlife from afar. You’ll remember it even if they won’t. Since there are many intricacies to visiting the parks (knowing when to go, what to do, how to do it), consider consulting with a group like Revealed America to streamline your trip (and get the most done between naps). Need to know where to go? Maui’s Haleakala National Park, Yosemite, and Joshua Tree are among experts’ top picks for parks to visit in the winter. Come spring, pros suggest the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, or Yosemite again (seriously, it’s time to go).

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A European Vacation

If you’re going to be up in the middle of the night anyway, why not have it be on an airplane across the Atlantic? But the baby has an early bedtime, you say? A five- to six-hour time difference from East Coast cities means they’ll be able to stay up late without you needing to eschew evening activities for the confines of a hotel room (read: The whole family can go out to dinner). Consider cities like Florence or Zurich: You’ll likely be able to get a direct flight in from many U.S. airports, but also have the option to venture out to the Italian countryside or Swiss Alps, respectively, for exploration in just about 90 minutes’ time (about the time of a nap, right?).

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