Best family vacation spots for toddlers

Four kid-friendly destinations

When it comes to traveling with toddlers, family-friendly is something parents long to take for granted. It’s not every hotel, restaurant or attraction that welcomes you and your rambunctious little ones. And (hold onto your seats) there are establishments out there where you and your family won’t just be tolerated, but embraced as VIP guests. These fun-filled vacation spots have earned their family-friendly status with age-appropriate activities, family-friendly accommodations and exciting opportunities to explore, discover and make memories with the littlest members of your family.

Sea World

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Family travel guideSan Diego, California

Probably second only to Disneyland itself (and that's less than a hundred miles away), San Diego features a number of family-friendly options ranging from Sea World to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo to its 70 miles of Pacific coastline. Whether your little one is more likely to squeal with delight over splashes from Shamu or by dipping their toes in the chilly waves of the Pacific Ocean, there are so many opportunities for discovery. Other attractions in San Diego and nearby include LEGOLAND in Carlsbad to the north; Birch Aquarium in La Jolla; and the family-friendly Loews Coronado Island, which hosts great family activities like marshmallow roasting, camp fire sing-a-longs and scavenger hunts.

San Diego family travel guide >>

2Chicago, Illinois

While it may not be the first on your list of family-friendly vacation spots, Chicago, Illinois features some of the most exciting attractions for kids – among them are Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, at the Field Museum of Natural History, dolphins at the John G. Shedd Aquarium, gorillas at Lincoln Park Zoo, the Touch Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Hands-on-Habitat at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and that's just to name a few; you'll also find the Chicago's Children Museum at Navy Pier, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, beaches along Lake Michigan, the children's zoo at Brookfield Zoo and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in suburban Schaumburg. The great thing is you can get discount prices on a tour of the city's kid-friendly stops with a Chicago City Pass or a Go Chicago Card.

Chicago family travel guide >>

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Toddler at aquarium

Orlando, Florida

It's the home of Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, which first opened its doors in 1971. And, today, while more than 17 million people visit the park each year, that's only a third of the number of people who visited the city of Orlando last year alone. Considered the top US destination in 2009, Orlando, Florida has plenty more to offer families with kids than just Disney World (though that's a pretty strong feature on its own!). Orlando is also home to Epcot Center, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, as well as Universal Studios, Discovery Cove and SeaWorld. That's only a handful of the attractions you'll find, there are also a number of zoos, gardens and theme parks.

Orlando family travel guide >>

4Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Beaches tend to be a good bet for families with little ones; they're fun, sun-filled and usually free, plus you can bring everything you need to spend the day – blankets for naps, umbrellas for shade, coolers for bottles and water and sand for endless play. Myrtle Beach in South Carolina has long been a family-friendly vacation spot. Sixty miles of sandy beaches, family-friendly restaurants, theme parks, water parks and miniature golf. You'll also find Alligator Adventure at Barefoot Landing, a reptile zoo featuring live animal shows, a magic bus at Children's Museum of South Carolina, and kid-friendly rides at NASCAR SpeedPark.

Myrtle Beach family travel guide >>

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