Best Family Vacations for Baby's First Big Trip
To state the obvious, you need a vacation. We know it. So, to help you, we've scouted for the most kid-welcoming destinations to suit every parent's predilections – near a beach, surrounded by mountains, in a cute town, at a theme park, and on the sea.
We chose only resorts where no one gets bent out of shape about some squalling or thrown peas, where rooms are welcoming and comfy if you happen to be up all night, and where there are plenty of other young families, so you'll fit right in. All you need to do is pack your bags.
Check out our top vacation spots for families and book one near you – or not so near if that's what you're after!
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Azul Beach Resort by Karisma: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Biggest kid perk: Babies are treated to chef-made purees, using ingredients from a nearby greenhouse, and you can bring your babe to a moms’ morning fitness class.
Biggest parent perk: When you’re ready for “me time,” drop off kids ages 4 and up at Azulitos Play House for games and piñata making.
Book it! azulbeachresorts.com
Franklyn D. Resort and Spa: Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Biggest kid perk: A CPR-trained nanny can spend up to eight hours a day with your family or just the kiddos at the all-inclusive Franklyn D. Resort, in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. “Our nanny did it all,” says Carrie Burrows, a mom of three in Phoenix. “She picked up our kids after breakfast and took them to swim. She tie-dyed T-shirts, played games, and led them on a hike to collect shells.”
Biggest parent perk: So much to see and do -- on tennis courts, at the fitness center (which offers aquacize classes), and on the turquoise sea (don't miss the glass-bottom-boat rides). Rather relax? Hit the Sea Grape Spa, which uses Jamaican spices in treatments.
Book it! fdrholidays.com
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Nickelodeon Hotels & Resort: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Biggest kid perk: Daily slime time. Need we say more? The new all-inclusive Nickelodeon Hotels & Resort Punta Cana, Dominican Republic also wows little ones with character breakfasts featuring Dora the Explorer as well as Chase, Marshall, and the other PAW Patrol canines.
Biggest parent perk: “The resort is beautiful and sophisticated, with fun, cartoony touches that appeal to the kids without making adults feel like they’re at a theme park. And everything is designed to make life easy,” says Parents editor Julia Edelstein, who visited when her two sons were ages 1 and 3. Edelstein appreciated that the water park—a short walk from the main resort—had slides and a lazy river that were just the right speed for pre- and early swimmers. As for the room, a sweet sliding glass door separated the living space from the bedroom, so the evening didn’t have to end when the kids went down for the night. And a loaner step stool in the bathroom made toothbrushing a breeze.
Book it! nickresortpuntacana.com
Atlantis Resort: Bahamas
Biggest kid perk: The resort’s kids’ club is as big as some children’s museums. Its life-size dollhouse, Lego-building area, and kitchen with cupcake- decorating classes will be hits!
Biggest parent perk: In 2017, Atlantis Resort, in the Bahamas, opened The Coral, a family-centric hotel with a kids’ concierge who can help coordinate your reservations and sign up little ones ages 3 and over for a chance to feed the fish.
Book it! atlantisbahamas.com
Club Med Sandpiper Bay: Port St. Lucie, FL
Biggest kid perk: Caregivers engage infants and toddlers with games, songs, toys, and books, both indoors and out, at Baby Club Med. It's for 4- to 23-month-olds, and it's open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Wednesday. For date night, let Peewee conk out in the Pajama Club, open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night, then carry him back to your room.
Biggest parent perk: Club Med's staff is famous for its friendliness, so you'll be invited to a golf or tennis lesson, yoga class, and even a swing on the flying trapeze. If you came strictly to loaf, they'll leave you to lounge by the two pools (one is for adults only) and the large Jacuzzi situated for glorious sunset-gazing.
Book It! sandpiperbay.clubmed.us
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa: Bonita Springs, FL
Biggest kid perk: Chefs puree veggies and fruits upon request. Preorder diapers and formula via BabiesTravelLite.com/hyatt. The concierge can find you a local in-room babysitter ($18 per hour).
Biggest parent perk: Yep, Florida again. With sand and palm trees galore, it's little wonder the Sunshine State welcomes more visitors than any other. This 454-room retreat perches on Florida's gulf coast, a stretch of beach bountiful with seashells for your baby to sift through. Take your tot to spot her first dolphin, put her in a baby seat and bike pretty paths, and dip into three pools (one for kiddos).
Book It! coconutpoint.hyatt.com
Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa: San Diego, CA
Biggest kid perk: Your tot gets a lullaby CD and toiletries to keep. Fisher-Price teams up to lend toys and a potty. Meet other parents and babies at the on-site playgroups for babes ages 6 to 18 months and 19 to 36 months. Ask ahead to have your room stocked with a crib and a fridge.
Biggest parent perk: Families reign at this nonsmoking hotel (408 rooms and 32 suites) on a private peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Take your pick among three heated pools (one for kids, one for adults), or go on a nature tour as part of the hotel's partnership with Silver Strand State Beach. Trying to lose the baby weight? Sign up for a walk to a local farmers' market with the executive chef, who will share healthful eating tips.
Book It! loewshotels.com/coronado-bay-resort
La Costa Resort and Spa: Carlsbad, CA
Biggest kid perk: It's all in the details! Fish-themed mobiles hang over cribs in the nursery. You can order, on loan for your room, a Diaper Genie and babyproofing supplies. The restaurants will puree their offerings into baby food (just ask!). And Splash Landing, a water-play area, has bubbling fountains where babies and toddlers can cool off, plus a stretch of sand next to a special kids' pool.
Biggest parent perk: This stylish 610-room Spanish colonial oasis near San Diego spoils parents at the Chopra Center spa (run by Dr. Deepak). You can also tee off on two championship golf courses, hit the tennis courts, perfect your Downward Dog in yoga class, take a water aerobics class (there are six pools here), or sign up for nutritional counseling. You'll sure have a head start on shedding the baby weight!
Book it! lacosta.com
Keystone Resort: Summit County, CO
Biggest kid perk: If you take your family in the winter, the Keystone Children's Center cares for babies as young as 2 months old, keeping them amused with bouncy seats, Exersaucers, swings, and a cozy play corner with soft toys. (It's open during ski season, which is roughly November to April.)
Biggest parent perk: Go tubing or spin a mountain bike along 60 miles of trails, then go Zen at the peaceful spa. River Run Village and Lakeside Village offer more than a dozen restaurants (casual to swanky) for a great date night. Ask the Children's Center for a list of local independent babysitters.
Book it! keystoneresort.com
Aulani: Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii
Biggest kid perk: You can call the Laniwai spa to book an appointment for an infant massage class; an instructor will teach you and your husband how to use it to aid your child's sleep and digestion. The staff at Aunty's Beach House entertains toilet-trained kids (3 years and older) for free, but parents with babies are welcome to stop by to play with the toys and meet Disney characters, who also perform daily in the "Shaka Shaka Pool Party."
Biggest parent perk: The meticulously groomed grounds include a meandering 3-foot-deep river pool for lazing as well as several regular pools for swimming (one for adults only), a snorkeling lagoon with fish in every color, and Jacuzzis that offer views of the beautiful beach. Cabanas let you nurse discreetly or give Baby a break from the sun without returning to your room. Learn how to dance a hula or string a lei, and at night, snuggle by the beachside fire pit while native storytellers sing ancient tales.
Winnetu Oceanside Resort: Martha's Vineyard, MA
Biggest kid perk: A staff photographer can snap Baby and company on the beach (what a souvenir!). There's a playground, and at meals, the Lure Grill plays movies for tots while parents decompress. For one-on-one babysitting, ask for Winnetu's list of local providers.
Biggest parent perk: Consider bringing grandparents or friends; this 51-acre treasure offers 48 one- to four-bedroom suites with kitchenettes; there are also six studios for wee families. A rolling green lawn calls out to toddlers, while mommies use it for morning yoga. Each afternoon, an antique fire truck takes guests for a ride. Dip into the heated pool, stroll pretty South Beach only a short path away, or step aboard the free shuttle to quaint Edgartown, where celebs and even presidents are spotted.
Book It! winnetu.com
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Tyler Family Place Resort: Highgate Springs, VT
Biggest kid perk: The infant and toddler programs engage even newborns and encourage parents to join in art projects, such as making prints of Baby's hands and feet. Activities include tummy time, when tots learn about textures on blankets made of fur, felt, ribbons, and more. During the summer, a helper is assigned to every family who has an infant or toddler. Hire her for as much or as little one-on-one child care as you need; pay her directly.
Biggest parent perk: This all-inclusive hideaway, owned by the same family for 79 years, aims to keep kids happy while giving parents a break. Open Memorial Day weekend to just past Labor Day, it offers simple pleasures such as birding, hiking, biking (with a baby seat), and cocktail hour with other moms and dads.
Book It! tylerplace.com
Smugglers' Notch: Jeffersonville, VT
Biggest kid perk: Take your tyke to playgrounds, the gradual-entry wading pool, and the petting zoo. Craving adult time? Treasures Child Care Center welcomes babies as young as 6 weeks. Peek through one-way windows to be sure your little one is enjoying himself. In summer, babies can bask on a screened porch with infant swings situated to enjoy the breeze. If you'd rather your tot stay in your condo, babysitters work for hire.
Biggest parent perk: This 3,000-acre hideaway, tucked in by maples, offers 300 condos a stroll away from a charming village. Relish a massage, hot-stone reflexology, or a yoga class at the Wellness Center. You can also canoe and kayak, walk woodland trails, and slip into an outdoor hot tub!
Book it! smuggs.com
Rocking Horse Ranch: Highland, NY
Biggest kid perk: Children of any age are dearly tended at the Tiny Troops Tykes program, in the rustic-looking Fort Tiny Headquarters. However, the whole family is bound to enjoy a wagon ride, and you can take your baby to see the zoo's dromedary camel, plains zebras, and miniature donkeys.
Biggest parent perk: You'll get a kick out of joining trivia and archery contests, laughing at comedy shows, or climbing a rock wall. You can go waterskiing or rollicking atop a banana boat on the lake. Ride horseback along picturesque trails with the help of a guide. At night, line dance to country songs or enjoy gazing at the stars.
Book it! rockinghorseranch.com
Mackinac Island, MI
Biggest kid perk: Order a free crib for your room and Baby gets a stuffed Scottish Terrier to keep, in honor of the hotel owner's pup, a first-place winner at the 2010 Westminster Dog Show. Staff members moonlight as babysitters ($15 per hour).
Biggest parent perk: Your vacation starts when you park on the dock at Mackinaw City or St. Ignace and ferry across Lake Huron. On the island, you'll find cobblestone streets, gazebos, and old-fashioned fudge shops, but no wheels except bikes and carriages (drawn by horses or pushed by parents) -- cars are forbidden. The giant porch (more than two footballs fields long) is full of white wicker rockers and ideal for soothing your little one or sipping a Dark 'n' Stormy.
Book It! grandhotel.com