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Family vacations create lasting memories of a slower pace of life, fun activities and new adventures. If your kids are young, it may be easier to drive to your weekend destination. Older kids can have fun exploring a new city, unique museums and historical sights. Be sure to leave plenty of time for family dinners, group activities and relaxation by the pool.
The Big Easy turns the Big 3-0-0 this year, and in this city where the good times roll, the parties will be epic — think citywide art shows, supersized Mardi Gras parades, and a festival of lights using landmark buildings as backdrops. Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina, there is much to celebrate: The Central Business District, once a dead zone after dark, now crackles at all hours thanks to four new hotels (the Ace, Troubadour, Catahoula, and NOPSI), each with its own rooftop bar. The neighborhood is also home to new restaurants like Maypop — a Vietnamese-Creole joint from acclaimed chef Michael Gulotta. Another area coming to life is the three-mile riverfront, where a renovated Spanish Plaza will reopen this spring. More riverfront updates, including a new Four Seasons Hotel, will roll out in the next few years. Toast the tricentennial at the Sazerac House, a French Quarter museum dedicated to the official cocktail of New Orleans, opening later this year. —Allison Entrekin
Presidents Hall of Fame Clermont Lake Central Wax website, next to the Florida Citrus Tower, wax figures of U.S. presidents, authentic miniature replicas of rooms in the White House, and other representations of Americana
Categories: 1971 establishments in FloridaAmusement parks in Greater OrlandoBuildings and structures in Lake Buena Vista, FloridaBuildings and structures in Osceola County, FloridaResorts in FloridaTourist attractions in Orange County, FloridaTourist attractions in Osceola County, FloridaWalt Disney Parks and ResortsWalt Disney WorldAmusement parks opened in 1971
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Hawaiian culture and natural resources are the main sources of entertainment at this ride-free Disney resort. Located on a crescent of white sand along Oahu’s western shore, Aulani caters specifically to vacationing families. Spacious, minimalist rooms incorporate charming touches like a surf-happy Mickey carved into a wooden lamp base. Restaurants offer casual kid-friendly fare as well as upscale dining for when a babysitter is on duty. Outdoor adventures abound, including swimming with stingrays, watersliding through lava rock into the swimming pools, snorkeling lessons, and paddleboarding. There’s not only a supervised children’s club for guests ages 3 to 12, but also a teen spa that offers DIY body-polish workshops and treatments for boys as well as girls. Surf parties by the pool feature special appearances by Disney characters, and there are nighttime screenings of Disney classics.
A new crop of five-star brands are coming in 2018, including the Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas, the Montage Los Cabos, 1 Hotel & Homes, and the first Nobu Hotel in Mexico. Foodies will want to make a reservation at Acre, a restaurant-farm from executive chefs Kevin Luzande and Oscar Torres, who are set to unveil 12 new treehouse guest rooms on site. —Christopher Tkaczyk
Eataly is great. And I highly recommend it for kids and families. It’s big and loud and has lots of great food and treats. There are 7 sit down restaurants with a variety of table and bar seats. Every restaurant (except Baita on the roof) is situated next to the market area that provides its fresh ingredients. The trouble is getting a seat as only Manzo takes reservations. Try off-peak hours like late lunch or early dinner. The Nutella bar with waffles, crepes, gelato, and nutella lattes is wonderful.
This good-value small chain’s casual and convivial atmosphere belies its well-organised formula: comfort and style rule and, while the food is tasty, you can draw directly on the tables – so it’s a great place for children. The Odiham branch has excellent walking from the back door, and is set in a Grade II-listed 16th-century inn. Behind the car park there’s a footpath that leads through fields and along a canal up to the ruins of Odiham Castle. Alice Holt forest is nine miles (14.5km) away and has trails and a Go Ape ropes course for daredevils. Read expert review
On February 10, 2017, Disney revealed a deal to purchase Kingdom Holding Co.’s shares of Euro Disney S.C.A. as first step in purchasing the remaining shares held by others. Disney has offered about $2.12 a share, a 67% premium over the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange value as of February 9. The company expects the buyout and delisting to be finished by June. Plans are for the company to invest another $1.4 billion into Disneyland Paris after the buyout to counteract the recent Paris terrorist attack, which hurt a previous 2014 park hotel investment. If this buyout is successful, it would make the resort the only resort 100% owned and operated by Disney outside of the United States of America. On June 13, 2017, The Walt Disney Company reached the 95% threshold required for a mandatory takeover according to French law, owning 97.08% of Euro Disney S.C.A., paving the way for The Walt Disney Company to become the sole owner and operator of Disneyland Paris.
With its recent 150th anniversary celebration, pop-culture cred (Drake, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Bieber have Canadian roots), and charismatic prime minister, the Great White North has finally begun to receive the international recognition it deserves — and Toronto has been preening itself for this lead role. Luxe properties and forward-thinking restaurants have been popping up across the city: there’s Queen Street’s historic Broadview Hotel, which reopened in the burgeoning East End with guest-room details like vinyl turntables and burgundy velvet drapes, and the stylish Bisha Hotel downtown, where the likes of Lenny Kravitz and celebrity chef Akira Back have lent their design and culinary expertise. In stereotypically modest Canadian fashion, Brothers Food + Wine — one of the city’s most exciting new openings — is housed inside a tiny, nondescript space just above the Bay Street subway station, but dazzles with seasonal dishes like crispy steelhead trout with braised gem lettuce and yogurt-and-caper sauce. Next up: in Spring 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Art will move into a century-old former factory in the Junction Triangle. —Jennifer Salerno
Washington, DC is a vibrant city with dozens of free attractions and events that make it an ideal destination for a family vacation. Once you’re near the Mall, major landmarks and iconic government buildings are everywhere you look: the Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and many more. Have your kids pull out their coins and dollar bills to see replicas of the very buildings they’re standing in front of. Book a line-skipping VIP tour and check them all off your list.
theme park ticket windows. More Information Beginning of tooltip content *Savings compared to the price of the same ticket sold at theme park, Guest Relations and water park ticket windows, along with Sports Welcome Center. End of tooltip content
To better accommodate the millions who visit Iguazú Falls, a UNESCO site of 275 mighty waterfalls straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, nearby Cataratas del Iguazú Airport is being modernized and enlarged. Within Iguazú National Park, the Ecological Jungle Train, which takes visitors on a 25-minute journey to the epic Devil’s Throat cascade, is converting from gas to environmentally friendly electric trains. Starting this February, travelers will be able to bed down at the long-awaited Awasi Iguazú resort where 14 rainforest villas will each have plunge pools and guests will have access to a personal excursion guide and 4WD vehicles. Expect visits to native Guarani tribes, river kayaking, and jungle treks led by a resident biologist. Selvaje, an upscale 12-room lodge, will also open early this year and will offer a menu of couple-friendly activities, from picnics to spa treatments. For the ultimate in romance, though, Argentinean travel outfitter Mai 10 (run by Travel + Leisure A-List Agent Maita Barrenechea) can arrange private dinners alongside the falls under the light of a full moon. —Nora Jean Walsh
Toy Story Land due to open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on June 30, 2018. This plans to feature various Toy Story themed rides and attractions including a Slinky Dog Roller Coaster and Alien Swirling Saucers, and Woody’s Lunch Box, a quick-service restaurant.
Adding Park Hopper Plus to a Base Ticket is a good deal if you will be visiting the water parks at least twice or playing three rounds at Oak Trail. Adding Plus to a Park Hopper is worth it if you will be visiting a water park or Oak Trail even once! The value of the other options (ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland) is much lower. There’s really not much worth doing or seeing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports unless you’re seeing an event, and most of those have their own admission tickets which will include admission to the complex. (See the Other Admissions section of this page for regular prices.)
Star Wars Hotel — planned to be built on the south side of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, just east of World Drive and just outside of the under-construction Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land theme park planning to open in 2019. 
We’ve been told by friends that we have to visit Shake Shack. But now I hear the lines are crazy long. Can you recommend the best Shake Shack for kids and avoiding lines? We’re staying at the Doubletree/Hilton Chelsea.
Satellite Beach is a lesser-known but equally lovely section of the Atlantic coast. If you’re planning on visiting in June or July, you can enjoy sea turtle nesting season. Check in with the Sea Turtle Preservation Society for a guided tour. Once booked, you’ll be led out by expert guides equipped with the knowledge (and turtle-friendly lighting) to find mama turtles as they venture onshore to lay their eggs. Truly amazing!
“We wanted to spend time at the Grand Canyon so I looked for a place that could accommodate all 9 of us (this included some children). Rather than rent numerous hotel rooms I decided it might be fun to all stay together in a house. The description of this house made it sound interesting and close to town so we chose it. Best decision ever!” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
The family-friendly Williamsburg area is also home to Busch Gardens (an action-packed adventure park), Water Country USA (Virginia’s largest water park), and the York and James Rivers, where you can enjoy beautiful scenery and outdoor activities such as fishing, boating and swimming.
What are you waiting for? Purchase your tickets today and make your FastPass+ selections for popular attractions like Avatar Flight of Passage, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, Toy Story Mania! or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Star Wars Land 14 acres (5.7 ha) themed land for both Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios announced at the D23 Expo on August 15, 2015. Construction began at both locations on April 14, 2016.
Another Place is aimed primarily at families and younger adults. The showpiece 20-metre glass-fronted indoor pool has children’s swimming times, while parents will enjoy the Canadian outdoor hot tub, sauna and spa treatment rooms. Older children can enjoy watersports on the lake including stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking and wild swimming. There’s a fully equipped Kids’ Zone for all ages, from babies to teenagers, with an indoor playroom/nursery, outdoor play area and safari tent for older children. Children’s meals are available, as well as family rooms and suites. Read expert review
Tel Aviv has attracted a lot of attention for its nightlife and creative culinary scene in recent years. These days its center of gravity has shifted south, to the site of the ancient port town of Jaffa (technically part of the city itself). This month, the Setai opens in a former Ottoman prison; a new W Hotel housed in a 19th-century former convent and pilgrims’ hospice is scheduled to open in March. It’s just the latest in a growing list of upscale hotels, restaurants, and boutiques to arrive among the winding streets of this former fishing village. Jaffa’s once-shabby flea market is now populated by a number of high-end antique dealerships, which sit alongside trendy cafés and bars — many offering live music into the night. Don’t miss Maskit, an iconic Israeli fashion house known for its embroidery that has been recently reincarnated after closing in the 1990s. Numerous interesting chefs have also set up shop among Jaffa’s churches, mosques, and archaeological sites. Try Beit Kandinof, a restaurant housed in a 17th-century building, where creative dishes like artichoke-and-pesto bruschetta are served alongside local art exhibits. —Sara Toth Stub
DefyGravity trampoline park is an appealing setting for energy-filled kids. Depending on their age, they can bounce their way through the KidJump, Ninja Obstacle Course, extreme dodgeball, foam pits, and even a trapeze.
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Disney’s fifth resort and its second in Asia, opened September 12, 2005. The resort is located in Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. The resort consists of Hong Kong Disneyland theme park, Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre, and three hotels, with land reserved for future expansion. It is owned and operated by Hong Kong International Theme Parks, an incorporated company jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company and the Government of Hong Kong. The first phase of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort occupies 320 acres (1.3 km2).
It’s no secret that Fiji is home to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery — powdery beaches fringed with palms, crystalline waters with colorful reefs, and rugged coastlines covered in greenery. But the islands’ new crop of luxury accommodations is making a case for the archipelago’s man-made phenomena as well. At the exclusive, family-owned Kokomo Private Island Resort, which is spread across 140 acres of dense tropical rain forest and white-sand beaches, guests will have their pick of 21 beach villas (among the most spacious in Fiji) and four hilltop residences featuring infinity pools and walled tropical gardens. If you’re a diver, you’re in luck: the Great Astrolabe Reef, which is teeming with kaleidoscopic corals and exotic marine life (like reef sharks, rays, and dolphinfish), is in the resort’s backyard. The luxury ante will only be upped in March when a Six Senses debuts on Malolo Island. Set on a private beach, the boutique property will offer the brand’s namesake spa and wellness offerings (including yoga, meditation, and nutrition and sleep counseling), plus a restaurant with ingredients sourced from the resort garden. Also slated to open in 2018: Nihi Fiji, from hotelier James McBride and Christopher Burch — the same duo behind Nihi Sumba Island, which Travel + Leisure readers named the best hotel in the world for 2017. —Melanie Lieberman
The walkability of Austria’s capital city is part of what makes it an affordable stop for families, and there are many free walking and cycling tours. Through the Vienna Pass, travelers can get free access to more than 60 of the city’s top attractions, including museums, a giant Ferris wheel, and attractions like Madame Tussauds and the world’s oldest zoo, Tiergarten Schoenbrunn, which dates back to 1752. The pass comes with multi-day options, from single day (about $72 for adults and $27 for kids) to six-day passes ($189 for adults and $95 for kids).
Variety is the spice of life, and John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art knows this all too well. With a circus museum, art museum, railroad car, and lush garden, here you’ll find a full day worth of activities.
Both Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort have room for future expansion. Disney has made announcements regarding plans for another American theme park and CEO Robert Iger frequently has cited international expansion as one of the company’s three strategic priorities.
An interesting way to make your vacation seem even longer would be to choose one of the northern locales where extended daylight gives you more time for outdoor activities. Long days in Finland, Greenland, and St. Petersburg are fascinating features of northern summers. Ski destinations, like Telluride and Mammoth Lakes, also make perfect summer vacation spots, offering spectacular scenery, mountaintop views, and festivals of all kinds.
Housing more than 2,100 works representing all periods of Salvadore Dali’s eclectic portfolio, this museum is a whimsical dream. The 3-story building itself, designed by architect Yann Weymouth, is a feast for the eyes.
Family Adventure Vacations: U.S. National Parks offer a fun and affordable way to spend time outdoors, learn about nature and explore new destinations. In the Southwest, visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Arches National Park in Utah, Petrified Forest National Park and many amazing places.