Where to travel with kids in summer

By Janine Clements

Alpacas in Santiago, Chile © Getty Images

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November 2016

Culture, adventure, relaxation and… kids? Yes, you really can have it all. Janine Clements recommends the best destinations around the world, offering everything you’ll need for your next big family summer holiday.

Orlando, USA

Best for… mini thrill-seekers

It’s no secret that Orlando is a paradise for families (what else would you expect from the ‘theme-park capital of the world’?), yet there’s more to the city than rides and roller coasters – with action-packed family adventure still guaranteed. Top tip: buy your tickets in advance at ba.com to save money. For example, you can purchase an Orlando Flexticket Plus, which gives you 14 consecutive days of unlimited admission to six of Florida’s theme parks – including SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Universal Orlando Resort™.

Discover Florida’s natural beauty on an exhilarating private boat tour of the Everglades, and encounter the region’s wildlife, including fish, birds and even alligators

Do the culture bit at…

The Orlando Museum of Art. Ideal for all ages, it’s home to an outstanding art collection, and hosts regular family-friendly tours and hands-on activities, including painting and printmaking.

Let them run off steam at...

Zip Orlando in Kissimmee. Home to eight zip lines (including one of Florida’s longest, fastest and highest), kids and grown-ups will have a blast speeding over the lush forest canopy. Beat the heat and opt for a guided moonlit zip line tour. Every guest is kitted out with a personal glow stick, and you can even watch the fireworks from nearby Walt Disney World as you glide along.

Treat them to…

An exhilarating private airboat tour of the Everglades. Discover Florida’s natural beauty (the area is verdant all year round) and encounter the region’s wildlife, including fish, birds and even alligators.

Restore energy levels at…

The utterly charming bohemian restaurant, Cafe Tu Tu Tango. This fun and funky eatery has a quirky tapas menu, great for family-style sharing. Kids will love the Cajun chicken egg rolls and Tuscan meatballs, while parents will enjoy the Key Lime-tini, made with rum, lime juice and coconut.

Rest weary legs at...

Sheraton Vistana Villages. This is a great family choice, and kids will love the fabulous swimming pool complete with waterfall.

Book flights Orlando >

  • Chill out in Chile with an ice cream from Gelateria MO in Santiago © @exquiseato/Instagram

    Try it for yourself…

    Tuck into tantalising ice cream flavours – from chocolate orange to cherimoya – at Gelateria MO. Open daily from 11:30-22:30.

    Experience Santiago
  • Take a ride in one of Orlando's world-class theme parks © Cristian Lazzari / Getty

    Sunshine state

    Despite being crowned ‘the theme park capital of the world’, thrill seekers have much more to explore than just rollercoasters in Orlando. Book return flights from London to Orlando from:£300 return

    Fly to Orlando
  • Kids will love the fun presentation of dishes at LA’s Au Fudge © Au Fudge

    Not just for kids

    Dubbed the ‘Soho House for kids’, the organic restaurant also has an extensive cocktail list for adults – try the First Base, a refreshing but heady blend of vodka, sparkling wine, strawberries, ginger syrup and lemon juice, topped with lemon thyme.

    Things to do in LA

Santiago, Chile

Best for… mini explorers

This cosmopolitan city is becoming popular with families, attracted by the mix of colonial architecture, historic attractions, parks, grand plazas and modern shopping malls. Start your visit with a hop-on, hop off bus tour to get to grips with the city layout.

Do the culture bit at…

Museo Interactivo Mirador, an interactive museum filled with kid-friendly exhibits on topics from gravity to mining. Get there early to sign-up for the Earthquake Experience and the 3D movie (they have limited spaces). Wednesdays are half price.

Let them run off steam at...

One of the city’s sprawling parks. The Parque Metropolitano is reached via an historical funicular and is home to the Zoologico Nacional de Chile, while the Parque Quienta Normal has pedal boats for hire.

Treat them to…

A fun-filled day at Fantasilandia, Chile’s largest theme park, located in the northwest corner of Parque O’Higgins. Plenty of high-adrenaline rides will keep teens happy, while the park’s compact size makes it manageable for little legs.

Restore energy levels at…

Gelateria MO, an ice cream parlour on Calle Monjitas. Tempting flavours include dulce de leche, chocolate orange and – for the more adventurous – cherimoya, which tastes like a cross between pineapple and banana.

Rest weary legs at...

Doubletree by Hilton Santiago Vitacura guarantees a warm welcome and a signature chocolate chip cookie upon arrival. Adults can take advantage of the hotel’s babysitting service to enjoy a glass of Chilean wine with dinner at Bar 2727.

Book flights to Santiago >

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Best for… aspiring adventurers

The capital of the UAE is one of the hottest destinations for adventure-seeking families, thanks to its rich culture, desert dunes and dazzling coastline.

Do the culture bit at…

The iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques. The impressive, white marble mega-structure boasts 82 domes covered in 24-carat gold. Don’t forget that women’s arms and legs need to be covered.

Let them run off steam at...

The world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World. It features the fastest roller coaster on the planet, as well as an array of other heart-thumping rides, experiences and live shows.

Treat them to…

A night under the stars at Liwa Oasis. The magical overnight desert safari is a great way to make memories. Learn to sandboard (like snowboarding, but on sand dunes) or take older children on a wadi-bashing expedition (where the rolling desert terrain is explored, at speed, by dune buggy).

Restore energy levels at…

Even a pit stop at the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is an absolute must. This fabulous hotel is built right on the race track, with the restaurants looking out over the Formula 1 Marina Circuit. The Viceroy has a stunning design- it’s covered in an LED canopy of lights. Your kids may well think they are visiting an alien spaceship.

Rest weary legs at...

St. Regis Saadiyat Island. The children’s club is a treat for little ones and their parents. An indoor play area features a sandpit, table tennis, plus hi-tech games, from Playstation and Sega to Wii and Xbox. There’s also a kids-only pool.

Book flights to Abu Dhabi >

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Best for… little nature lovers

With Brazil recently in the sporting spotlight, there’s never been a better time for families to visit. The enchanting coastal city of Rio is known for its sandy beaches, awe-inspiring scenery and vibrant atmosphere.

Do the culture bit at…

Sugarloaf Mountain. The thrilling six-minute cable ride to the top will take your breath away, while it’s fun to take in the 360-degree views over the city. Who’ll be first to spot Dedo de Deus (God's Finger) in the distance? For added fun, combine it with a train ride through the Tijuca Forest up Corcovado Mountain, where you can marvel at the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer (listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World).

Let them run off steam at...

Leblon beach. There’s an area, Baixo Bebe, reserved for families and filled with toys, swings, slides and baby-friendly amenities. Go on a Sunday to see the sands and streets nearby fill with jugglers, musicians, fire-eaters and other entertainers.

  • Families will love Rio de Janeiro’s sandy beaches and jaw-dropping scenery © Rafael Bacellar/Eye Em/Getty Images

    Did you know…

    Brazil served as the capital of the Portuguese Empire from 1815 to 1822, when the exiled royal court of Portugal was fleeing Napoleon’s invasion. In fact, Prince Regent Dom Joao VI’s arrival in 1808 is often credited as a transformation point for the city. Book return flights from London to Rio De Janeiro from:£447 return

    Book flights

Treat them to…

A daytrip to the colonial town of Paraty. From here take a boat trip around the bay’s 40 beautiful islands. Kids will love spotting monkeys, snorkelling among colourful fish and swimming in the shallow bays.

Restore energy levels at…

Confeitaria Colombo, a historic restaurant in downtown Rio. Kids will be dazzled by the glittering chandeliers and regal feel. Opt for the indulgent afternoon tea, complete with dainty sandwiches and exquisite pastries.

Rest weary legs at...

Pedra Da Laguna, a beach hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, poolside snack bar and hot tub. The hotel can organise family activities, including fishing and snorkeling excursions.

Book flights to Rio De Janeiro >

Los Angeles, California

Best for… teeny star spotters

Sunny, smiley LA has plenty of big attractions and sandy beaches to keep the family happy. Celeb spotting and Instagram-snapping will keep the teens on side, too.

Do the culture bit at…

The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s good clean fun to take a stroll through entertainment history along Hollywood Boulevard, where old-time greats are immortalised alongside today’s biggest stars. Bring the names to life with a visit to Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

Let them run off steam at...

Griffith Park is the ideal green space for when you need a break from the urban jungle. As well as being home to an observatory, the park also features a carousel, swimming pool, and pony rides. Pack a picnic lunch and watch the world go by.

Treat them to…

A puppet show at the legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater, complete with the original puppets and free ice cream. It’s kitsch, it’s quirky, it’s very LA.

Restore energy levels at…

Au Fudge is a kid-friendly restaurant co-owned by actress Jessica Biel. Brightly-coloured spaghetti and rainbow bread will tempt the kids, and there are delicious salads and wine for the grown ups.

Rest weary legs at...

Loews Santa Monica Beach has something for every member of the family. While parents enjoy the eco-friendly spa, kids can take advantage of the ‘Kids Closet’ – a library of toys, games and DVDs and games to use during their stay. The hotel also offers car seats, strollers, night-lights and other child essentials.

Book flights to Los Angeles >