10 Magical Travel Destinations To Go With Your Toddler That’s NOT Disney

Not everyone has the desire to travel with their babies and toddlers, but for those who are up for the adventure, there are some incredible places in the world to go. And believe it or not, not all of them are Disney! Here’s what we think about destinations around the globe that you should keep in mind if taking your family. Fun times, incredible memories, and major magic ahead!

Grand Canyon Rail

As their official site says, “make a grand trip grander”; and we would add “for the whole family.” Even the youngest minds are captivated by the beautiful motion into the high desert, across the prairie, and through the pines. Listen to Western musicians, spy real life cowboys, and maybe even experience an Old West style train robbery! If you’re there for Christmas, they have as of this year the Polar Express where Santa visits (bringing a whole cart of cookies and hot chocolate) and the “conductor” has a live reading of the namesake book; your little ones even get to have their golden tickets punched! Every detail is magical, no matter what time of year you have your adventure- but one thing is certain, this is not to be missed if you find yourself exploring the Grand Canyon with your little ones.

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

So, as if Grand Cayman wasn’t amazing enough, they also have a this. It’s known as Stingray City and because it’s on a 3-4 foot sandbar, it’s the perfect place to experience these magical sea bats with the whole family. The rays are fondly known as “underwater puppies” and are not only friendly, they are downright affectionate- happy to be fed, petted, and held- and perfectly wild/part of their environment as there are no cages or timetables. They are safe to interact with and your journey will be guided so you and your family are prepared for any specifics you’ll need before getting in the water. The experience is as joyful as it is powerful, so consider making a special trip for such an awesome and unique activity.

Sesame Place, Midtown Pennsylvania

This spot is exactly what it sounds like! It’s a theme park (and water park) all based on the characters in Sesame Street. Because of this, it’s definitely a day that’s 100% for the kids- but you’ll be equally impressed with all there is to do. There’s rides (suitable starting age 2), shows and parades (the Christmas parade is the best!), and even the chance to dine with Elmo and friends. What we like about this park is that you can do the whole park in a day with even your littlest and you won’t get any of the fatigue that usually comes with theme parks (which is a major plus if you’re traveling a fair ways to get here!). That way, a trip to Sesame Place can be a delightful gem in the course of your whole trip and you can come and go equally energized! So get ready to play the day away with the 18 rides, 6 games, and some seriously fun dining options (like Snuffy’s Street Treats). It’s a must-do for your little ones because they’re only little once!

Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

If a trip to Thailand is for you and your family, you will want to go to Chiang Mai to the beautiful Elephant Nature Park. You can see the elephants bathe, eat their favorite foods, and do a special project. You can even spend the night in the park in rustic Thai huts- and these are on a leisurely schedule of spending time out in the park with the herd as they roam freely. Whichever way you choose to see the park, the gentle giants will inspire even the tiniest in your own herd and this park is a huge win for all involved.

You will leave with an unforgettable jungle adventure and a lot more knowledge than you ever thought possible about elephants, their care, their lives, and their environment. There is no experience that is quite like this one, so if you’re in Thailand and not going to Chiang Mai, consider making a special trip- it is well-worth the extra day or two spent!

Rhineland-Palatinate Forest, Germany

Welcome to the warmest climate in Germany! The natural wonders harmonize with amazing local agriculture (including lemons, figs, and kiwis) and wineries. We recommend heading over to the Biosphere House with your family to learn about the seasons and natural cycles in this place. From here, venture out on one of the many beautiful (and child-friendly) trails that, if you are so inclined to let your toddlers amble as they do, are suitable for even very little ones. The Treetop Trail is a huge favorite where you can scope out the forest chestnut and oak- from above (18-40 meters). Enjoy rope and disk bridges, and stroller access throughout most of the trail. The nearby castles and incredible views throughout the park and region are breathtaking- this is a photograph-worthy location no matter what season or weather you encounter while there. It’s not many places in the world you can entwine peacefully with such breathtaking natural wonders- this extraordinary place will leave you feeling a renewed sense of wonder, just like your little ones. Explore, enjoy, and harmonize your adventures through Germany at this gorgeous spot.

Puglia, Italy

So we couldn’t decide where to narrow this down to; thus introducing, the entire region of Puglia, Italy (or, the “heel” of the Italy boot). This extensive guide takes you through twelve towns to see in Puglia, all of which are suitable if you have time and inclination to bring your family. Though our favorite places to bring the family, especially with little ones, are: Lido Morelli Beach, Bari Vecchia, Alberobello, and Gallipoli. Lido Morelli Beach is ultra serene which makes for a great experience for the whole family- when lots of waves are involved for little swimmers it can be a little chaotic, but this beach is as placid as a lake so supervision and safety in the water, as well as relaxation beachside, is as easy as it gets. Bari Vecchia’s old town is perfect for the little foodies in your family- filled to the brim with fresh outdoor marketplace goodies, homemade Puglian pasta (orecchiette- “little ears”), and a refreshing lack of tourists- Bari Vecchia is very much a locally lived and loved town, and completely quaint (thus: doable for toddlers and young children!). Alberobello is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site and looks like it comes straight out of a fairytale with squatty white painted, cone- roofed buildings called “trulli”. You can stay in a trullo to take part in the real life enchantment (and this is a great place to stay during the summer, as they stay naturally very cool and refreshing). Gallipoli is an island connected to the mainland by a causeway, so the journey alone to get there is gorgeous and fun for the little ones to look out the window at their amazing and unusual surroundings! For the adventurous eaters, there is unrivaled seafood selections at incredible restaurants (like Il Bastione), and this is another place with peaceful (though a little more populated) beaches. Walking around this town is like walking around a Medieval fantasy! Wherever you go in Puglia, expect your whole family to go on the imaginative journey of a lifetime. There is so much to see (and eat) that you will leave with plans to come back (guaranteed).

Crystal River, Florida

Just wow- the Crystal River in Florida is a spring-fed sanctuary for one of the world’s friendliest, gentlest creatures: the manatee. And here you and your family have the most

unique opportunity to interact with them by actually getting into the water and swimming with them. Your guides will brief you on proper interaction (e.g. letting the manatees swim to you, or not), and provide you with equipment you’ll need to help the little ones float safely in the water with you and the manatees. This is a relaxing and gentle tour, as the safety of the animals is always priority while you interact with them in their home environment, and you and your family can be reassured of the health and happiness of all living creatures you encounter on your way! The magic is in the air and in the water, and your whole family will have an unforgettable experience in one of the most unique environments in the world.

Royal Ontario Museum, Canada

If Toronto is the place for you and your family to travel, head off to the most incredible museum we know: The Royal Ontario Museum! Besides being stroller-friendly (hooray, there’s even rental strollers available for only $2 at the coat check), there are two entire galleries dedicated to children, live animals to see, and family favorites like dinosaurs, a bat cave, and mummies. With plenty of seating options throughout the museum, it’s a perfect place for little ones (and parents). For adults, there are frequently rotating exhibits so make sure to check the rotation online when planning your visit. The restaurant cafe, Druxy’s, has healthy and delicious options as well so you can plan on eating there and being wholly satisfied with your choice! Oh, and did we mention the free admission and extended hours on the 3rd Tuesday Night of every month? There’s so many reasons this museum will inspire- but the entire experience is just so remarkably pleasant and fun, that you and your family will easily see why this is #1 in our books for museums around the world! Have a blast with this one.

Mesa Verde, Colorado

This is a national park dedicated to preserving Pueblo Heritage. The reason it is so magical is that this particular pueblo gives you and your family access to an ancient cliff dwelling. For the adventurous among you, there is camping available in the park. There is also a lodge, Far View Lodge, that is close to the museum onsite and the cliff dwelling you can enter (Spruce Tree House). Your little ones can navigate in and around the Spruce Tree House without issue, and you will thoroughly enjoy the adventure and spirit of this beautiful place. Keep in mind it is open April-October, so the late fall through winter months are not available. The weather is beautiful in spring and fall but quite hot in summer, so bring adequate hydration as you explore this gem. This is another photograph-worthy spot, abundant with rich earthy desert tones. If nature and history spell “magic” to you and your family, put this place straight to the top of your travel list!

Melia Vacation Club, Puerto Vallarta

This is a traditional resort experience, with one of the best children’s programs for the more independent child(ren) in your family- or for the times you want to know they’re having a blast while you’re enjoying some adults only time. With a full range of activities as well as a children’s pool, you can have your own resort experience beachside, at the spa, maybe taking a golf or tennis lesson. And for the family days, head out on a whale watching tour or step out on the Malecon (Boardwalk) to pop in and out of the amazing shops. This resort is the best for luxury and low-key, which really, is what vacation is all about! Just remember to bring your sunscreen, you and your family (whether you spend days fully together or doing your own thing) are going to be soaking up the warm sunshine for the entirety of your stay. Oh, and did we mention you can go swimming with the dolphins? Just another of the many amazing reasons to check out the Melia Vacation Club. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly!

If you are one of the bold traveling with toddlers and little ones, there are some incredibly delightful options. We hope this list inspires you to step out into the world, wherever you roam, and may all your journeys be magical!