The 15 Best "Non-Disney" Places To Travel With Children

The 15 Best “Non-Disney” Places to Travel with Children

Where can you take the littles ones if Disney is not high on your travel bucket list? The answer can easily be "anywhere else" to parents who are not looking to spend a fortune on a few days of entertainment, juggle massive crowds of overexcited children high on sugar, or wait in line for hours for a ride that lasts a minute or two

London, England

The kids will never be bored in this mega-city. The museums are interactive and entertaining, but the little ones will especially like the dinosaur exhibitions at the Museum of Natural History. Take them to see the third largest clock in the world, Big Ben, step inside one of the most famous bridges in the world, paddleboat in Hyde Park, and of course, take a ride on the iconic London Eye, the world's largest cantilevered observation wheel. They will love the stunning views of the entire city.

Oahu, Hawaii

The number of adventures on this beautiful island is endless. Surf the north coast, trek up Diamond Head and stop in for some shaved ice at Uncle Clay's. Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the famous beach known as Waikiki are in Oahu. It is also one of the coolest surf places in the world. Snorkel in Turtle Bay, and visit the Pearl Harbor National Monument. The island offers every version of stand up paddle boarding. The kids will love Oahu's dramatic jungle and waterfalls, which they will probably recognize from favorite TV shows and movies including Jurassic Park.

The Galapagos Islands

Take the kids on a long historic tour to explore some of the Earth's richest wildlife that has captivated adventure travelers for centuries. Thrilling adventures include swimming with the sharks. A dive into the waters of the Galapagos offers the chance to encounter several species of sharks, including hammerhead, dusky, and whale sharks. Plaza Sur is among the best snorkeling destinations in the world. The friendly sea lions, the largest animals on the islands, will surely entertain them. On-land ventures are also a possibility – hike along lava trails and relax on their pristine beaches.


Cruise ships are designed to keep you and your children entertained at all times. The kids will love the swimming pools, snorkeling opportunities, water slides and parks, movie theatres, and other adventures. You can still "go to Disney," but avoid the hassle and crowds. Disney cruises – the happiest place at sea – are a great alternative to the theme park. They are basically family-friendly floating cities. 

Skiing in Utah

Did you know that the best state for skiing is Utah? At least this is the case according to a brand new study outlining the top 10 best skiing destinations in the country. Four of the 10 resorts are in the Beehive State. The Deer Valley Resort, for example, is home to one of the best ski schools in the country and offers a licensed childcare facility for those too young to learn. Mountain mascots and a Children's Adventure Map are just some of the family-friendly features.

Camping in Death Valley National Park

Have you ever met a child who didn't want to be an astronaut? He or she will love sleeping overnight in Death Valley. More than 3 million acres of wilderness and almost 700 miles of backcountry dirt roads are open for camping. This is where they can see meteor showers and lunar eclipses, as there is almost no artificial light disturbing the breathtaking views. This is a Gold-Certified International Dark Sky Park because of its dry climate and clean air, as the area is rugged and undeveloped. Just don't go in the summer when it gets scorching hot.

Canada’s national parks

This will be a family trip that won't break the bank because all parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada are free of charge this year. Take the kids on a thrilling nature exploration by hiking along huge glacial lakes, soaking up the sun on sandy beaches, exploring unique rocky coasts, and getting lost in lavish forests. Canada's national park system is one of the oldest and largest in the world with 47 locations.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Look beyond Denver for a thrilling vacation in one of the most "outdoorsy" states in the U.S. This beautiful place at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains is close to the glacier-carved Pikes Peak, which is a popular attraction in the Pike National Forest. The little ones will find adventure in hiking various trails and the cog railway that leads to the 14,000 feet top. The Garden of the Gods park is home to picturesque red-sandstone formations and mountain views.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Think of any exciting adventure you want your kids to take part in and you will find it in this small city in Costa Rica – zip lining, kayaking, hiking active volcanoes, whitewater rafting, surfing, wildlife watching. La Fortuna is a true outdoor recreational paradise. Go on a walk across hanging bridges, relax in hot springs, and trek to the iconic Arenal Volcano. It is a beautiful hike filled with interesting plant life and scenery.

Road trip

Taking a road trip is an easy way to travel and explore nature. With so many parks, historic landmarks, nature preserves, and recreational lands to choose from, no matter what state you live in, the opportunities for adventure and discovery are nearly endless. Traveling with a car along the legendary Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica is one of the craziest adventures you can do, and a rite of passage of many teens. Stop by Pontiac and visit the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum; go west from Kingman past the saguaro cacti and loose boulders and get to Oatman, an old gold-mining town. Visit the Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is 50,000 years old.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon sits atop many of our bucket lists. A fun activity is Virtual Caching. Sign up and you will be led to discover a certain location on the rim. Who knows where that will take you... Visit in the spring for comfortable temperatures. Hiking, biking, overnight backpacking, and trips along the canyon rim are all available. Climb to the top of the stone Watchtower, which is 70 feet tall, for a panoramic view covering more than 100 miles. The park is also a popular destination for whitewater rafting.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The 200-mile-long stretch of picturesque barrier islands is perfect for camping. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a string of islands surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the mellow Pamlico Sound on the other, where kayaking and kiteboarding are common activities. Try hand gliding, too. Visit the famous black-and-white-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, ride the waves of the Atlantic which are quite warm in the fall, and catch some rays.

Destin, Florida

Destin is a popular family vacation spot on the Florida Panhandle, especially in the summer. They come for the beaches, the iconic bright white shores that are made up of pure Appalachian quartz. The city is also a paradise for golfers and kids who love water parks. Snorkeling off the coast or a boat is another favorite activity the littles ones enjoy.

San Diego, California

Why go to the unbelievably crowded Disney parks when you can bring the kids to roller coasters and other adventures in the Belmont amusement park in San Diego. Other than giant rides, the kids can go rock climbing, play Escapology where they have to find clues, unlock doors, pick locks, and escape rooms; enjoy arcade classics; duck, dive and roll through a timed course; zip line and even surf.

Puerto Rico

Head to Puerto Rico for warm temperatures, discount rates – unless you're going in the middle of the winter – and a little bit of everything. Enjoy everything from historic cities like San Juan to nearby islands with perfect beaches like Vieques. The glowing Mosquito Bay is a vision of bizarre beauty. Go kayaking or get on a boat glide along the neon waters. Snorkelers love the clean and undeveloped beaches. Old San Juan is a must-see because of its colonial past. Explore one of the most accessible rainforests – El Yunque.  Zip-lining and caving in Rio Camuy are other popular activities.