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Best 2019 Summer Destinations For Families

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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Summer is just three months away. Here are some of the top cities around the world that offer family-friendly activities to help you plan your summer vacation.

Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re not a fan of long flights but want to get out of the country, Lisbon is a great option. The coastal capital city of Portugal is just a 6-hour flight from the East Coast and offers kid-friendly attractions, gorgeous sceneries, and delicious food. If you can go in May, you’ll avoid some of the hotter summer temps and tourist crowds that come later in the season.

What To Do

The Oceanário de Lisboa, voted 2018 Best Aquarium in the World by TripAdvisor, is the most popular cultural attraction in Portugal and a great place for the entire family. Let the kids sit by the window on one of the Lisbon Hills Tramcar Tour. The historic trams provide a guided tour of the city with nine stops that allow you to get off at any time. Castelo de São Jorge is a medieval castle and one of the most famous historical attractions in Portugal. With guided tours and educational services for kids, you can spend an entire day here engulfed in the history of Portugal.

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, Monteverde is a mountainous town known for its lush forests in the clouds. Although May through mid-December is Costa Rica’s rainy season, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the pure vida lifestyle rain or shine.

What To Do


Enjoy hanging bridges, sky trams, and zip-lines at Sky Adventures at Monteverde Park while also learning about Costa Rica’s rich plant and wildlife. The Monteverde Butterfly Garden has up to 30 species of butterflies in 4 different habitats and over 20 species of live insects and arachnids. If bugs are your thing, this is your place. For another look at Costa Rica’s rich wildlife, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to over 100 kinds of mammals, 500 birds, and 120 amphibians and reptiles. Take a hike or pass over the iconic red hanging bridge for a memorable family photo.

Monteverde, Costa Rica, Isabella Juskova | Unsplash

Toronto, Canada

Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, is a beautiful, clean city on Lake Ontario. With many green spaces and all of the conveniences of a major city, Toronto has plenty of activities and dining options for the family.

What To Do

Best known for the CN Tower, which offers an areal view of the city and a revolving restaurant, other attractions may be even better to enjoy with the whole family. With 6 miles of walking trails, the Toronto Zoo is a full day’s event while Ontario Science Center is a great choice for a rainy day. Art Gallery of Ontario is home to more than 90,000 works of art and also has a hands-on area for kids to make art of their own. Lastly, just a few blocks from Chinatown is Kensington Market, where you can find great shops, a variety of restaurants, and brightly painted Victorian homes.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city known for its breathtaking architecture, culture, and food. From land to sea, from Messi to Gaudí, there is no shortage of impressive buildings and vistas to enjoy throughout one of Spain’s most visited cities.

What To Do

Any trip to Barcelona means a visit to Gaudí’s, Sagrada Familia. The unfinished Roman Catholic Church is as iconic to Barcelona as Paella is to its culinary scene. This private walking tour of Barcelona is just for kids and includes stops at candy shops, stories of legends and giants, traditional Spanish treats, and more. Though the entrance consists of a lot of stairs that may be difficult for small legs, it’s certainly worth the climb to visit Park Güell. Children will love the dizzying display of color and architecture and its many play areas. Try to visit these places early in the morning to avoid large summer crowds.

Cape Town, South Africa

If you are up for the over 16-hour flight with the family, Cape Town is a stunning city most recognizable by its incredible Table Mountain National Park, a flat-shaped mountain that defines the city. With so many outdoor spaces, you will have a hard time choosing between surfing, hiking, mountain biking, and just strolling through the scenic hills.

What To Do

Iziko South African Museum offers a cultural experience for the whole family with more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance. With a whale and dinosaur hall, the kids will be fully entertained. Battery Park has the first ever skatepark in Cape Town.  The beautiful outdoor park also includes a range of outdoor recreation, entertainment and retail options. The Giraffe House and Drakenstein Lion Park are great places to enjoy some of South Africa’s diverse wildlife with hands-on tours.

Cape Town, South Africa, John Nolan | Unsplash

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, also known as “The Valley Isle,” is known for its stunning beaches, fresh cuisine, and unforgettable sunsets. Each region of the island offers something a bit different depending on what you are looking for in your family vacation.

What To Do

There are plenty of resorts and hotels in Maui that will offer kid-friendly activities, but exploring the island and its natural beauty is certainly worth the time and effort. From snorkeling to horseback riding and canoeing there is no shortage of outdoor activities. Helicopter tours are pricey but worth it. Blue Hawaiian provides tours all over the island and caters to all ages. Maui Zipline Company promises a thrilling adventure soaring over a beautiful tropical plantation ranging from 300 to 900 feet in the air. Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater just off the coast of Maui that offers some of the best snorkeling sights in the region.

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Leah Freeman-Haskin

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