Have Toddler, Will Travel: The 5 Best Summer Destinations With Pre-schoolers

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Picture by Andavis86 on Flickr

Picture by Andavis86 on Flickr

Travelling with babies and toddlers might seem daunting – after all, there’s no such thing as packing light anymore, and there’s always the chance they might have a minor meltdown on a long journey. But, the positives far outweigh the negatives. If your little ones haven’t started school yet, you have more freedom than you will in years to come. And, you get to experience the world once more through a child’s eyes. Suddenly, even destinations you’ve already visited on a previous trip seem completely fresh. Here are just some of the best places to head to if you’re travelling with little ones this summer.

Picnicking with penguins in Cape Town

While Cape Town might not be the first destination which springs to mind when you think of travelling with children, it’s actually one of the world’s most child-friendly cities. The Two Oceans aquarium, with its huge tanks of sharks, will keep them enthralled, while who could resist picnicking near to the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, near Simon’s Town. The open-top red tour buses are good options for getting around as you can hop on and off as many times as you want and food is familiar enough to keep them happy. Kalky’s fish and chips at Kalk Bay are legendary, and you might be lucky enough to spot the resident seals playing in the harbour while you eat.

Caravaning in Devon, England

Caravan holidays are a guaranteed hit with toddlers. They love the idea of their very own bedroom, while there’s lots of room to bring their favourite toys. Add to that a seaside location and it’s an unbeatable combination. While its neighbouring county of Cornwall is perhaps better known, Devon’s beaches are equally beautiful. Parkdean’s Croyde Bay caravan park is a great option as it is just steps from a wide sweep of golden sand, so you can spend every day on the beach, making sandcastles or watching the surfers catching waves. There’s also an indoor soft play area on site for rainy days.

Beyond Disney in Florida

Florida might be a clichéd destination, featuring on every list of travel hot spots for children. But, the Sunshine State is about so much more than mouse ears and adrenaline-fuelled theme park thrill rides. Drive down the Gulf Coast and you’d be forgiven for thinking that time has been standing still – in the best possible way – since the Fifties because of the old-fashioned family atmosphere. The islands strung along the coastline here, most reached by road bridge, all have their own quirks and personality. Hire a villa on Anna Maria Island where canals take the place of main roads and you’ll probably be visited by a friendly heron or two during breakfast. There are play parks on the beaches, which have sand so pale it looks like sugar.

Lérins Islands, France

Cannes is renowned for its glitz and glamour, as a place where A-list film stars flock for the film festival every May to see and be seen at the red carpet movie premieres and where a cocktail at one of the beach clubs will set you back the same as a three-course meal elsewhere in France. But, take a 15-minute ferry journey to the Illes de Lérins and you feel like you’re a world away. Cars aren’t allowed here, so you know your little ones will be safe and there’s a gently shelving sand and shingle beach where you can splash about in the heat of the day.

Lake Garda, Italy

Toddlers are fawned over pretty much wherever you go in Italy, which is renowned as one of the world’s most child-friendly destinations. The Riva del Garda area on the north side of Lake Garda makes a particularly good base. There’s a castle where you can have picnics in the grounds, you can meander along the lakeside walkways and your little ones can let off steam in the gardens and on the beaches. While they may not appreciate the views at the top, the trip to the heights of Monte Baldo is another must because your toddler will love the tram journey to get there – as the old saying goes, it’s not always about the destination, but the journey itself. Camping del Garda is a lovely site with space to breathe between chalets and flower-lined walkways.

Wherever you decide to go in the world this summer, getting there first before the height of the busy summer vacation season means your family can enjoy the attractions without the crowds.

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French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

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