Winter is coming (let’s get the heck out of here).
Winter and its nippy temperatures are coming fast, so now is the best time to get planning your tropical escape! Warm sand beneath your toes, the wonderful sound of kids splashing and giggling in the pool, you with a large umbrella-topped cocktail in hand—we can almost picture it now, can you? To help you plan your next winter getaway, here is a list of hot weather destinations perfect for the whole family.
Hawaii’s island jewel offers a little bit of everything for the family that needs sunshine pronto. The temp is balmy, but not sweltering, the sun shines always, and often resorts have everything you need (food, pool, magic massage hands to work out parental stress), so you don’t have to go anywhere if all you want to do is chill and relax. It’s easy to rent a car and explore, plus there are plenty of gorgeous, easy-sloping beaches for safe swimming and snorkelling. Activities on and off-property abound, ukulele lessons, boat trips, hiking, eating, museums and aquariums—Maui truly has it all.
This Mexican town off the Pacific is a mainstay for families of all ages. You’ve got the long sandy coast for older kids who want to swim or try parasailing, and the comfort of that everything-you-need resort that’s right on the beach. The warm hospitality and delicious food in Mexico will charm the whole family, and the old town of Puerto Vallarta (if you can pry yourself away from the pool and all-inclusive margaritas) is so cute and easy to walk around in. Checking out the markets for hand-crafted toys or pottery, or taking in the ocean views at a local restaurant for authentic Mexican food will be a treat everyone remembers.
Switching Mexican coasts, Playa Del Carmen is another great option for the family who loves the water and ample sunshine. And on this side of the continent, the beaches are white and the water is a gorgeous turquoise blue. You can have the whole resort experience or plan adventures to see Mayan ruins, waterfalls and cenotes (natural lake pools that have formed in the rock).
This pastel art-deco city is a warm destination year-round, but winter is the best time to visit because of the drop in humidity. It has the world-famous beach and its 30-acre kid zone Flamingo Park, obviously, but there are so many other activities for families to enjoy. The Fontainebleau Miami Beach has eight pools with different depths for kids of all ages, there’s a fantastic zoo, Seaquarium, Museum of Science, children’s museum, and a Jungle Island just to name a few. And you can stay in a resort hotel or a budget-friendly Airbnb.
It’s hard to make a list like this and not include the destination at the heart of every child’s hopes and dreams, Disney World (with Mickey, the princesses, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter). But the Floridian weather this time of year is perfect and it truly is a family’s paradise. Orlando has Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland (a.k.a. the alligator capital of the world), Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquarium and an iconic ferris wheel to boot.
Belize is beautiful—emerald water, white-sand beaches—and the people in this Central American gem could not be more friendly. Just like cities in Costa Rica and Mexico, safe and small-town Placencia has a strong family culture, and is a little more unexplored than touristy. Its proximity to the ocean and national parks means you can try more active adventures like snorkelling, sailing, horseback riding, mountain biking, zip-lining, canoeing, but also just hang out and soak up some sun on a beach lounger if you wanted to.
Isn’t it fabulous that North American winter is the same time as Australia’s summer? Shed your puffer coats and fur-lined mittens and put on your chino shorts, because in Sydney you will most definitely be hitting the beach—Bondi is right in Sydney and is that quintessential Down Under beach with surfers, endless sand, beach shacks and cafes. Kids will love the Taronga Zoo, hopping on the ferry to visit Manly Beach or Northern Beach and the kid-friendly Darling Harbour is packed with slides, swings, climbing ropes, plus it’s where you’ll find the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife Park. The novelty of exotic Australian accents will be fun for kids to hear (“How you going, mate?”), and everyone speaks English if you need directions.
For something totally different, take your adventurous family to the clean, safe and other-worldly Dubai. The monolithic skyscrapers are as stunning as the beaches of the Persian Gulf, and there’s plenty to keep kids and parents occupied. The Dubai Fountain show blows anything you’ve seen at Vegas out of the water, and the Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark and the Dubai Mall (the second-largest mall in the world) are another couple of must-visits.