A Month by Month Guide to the Best Vacations for Kids
The most frequent request I get is for a list of suggested destinations by month (i.e. the best vacations for kids by month). I could easily do posts for Where to Travel in January, Where to Travel in February, etc…, except that I don’t think that’s very helpful. As there are few, if any, destinations that should be visited in one specific month, I think it’s better to have everything in one place so that you can easily see potential vacation destinations for several months. Is Italy better in April than in May? Not necessarily. Scandinavia in August instead of June? Go for it.
This is a highly subjective list. It’s based largely on our travel experiences, both what we timed right and what we could have done better, and I’m including a few wish list destinations and when we want to visit. Really, as with everything on this website, I simply want to give you some travel ideas so that you take your kids to really cool places and open their eyes and minds to different sites and different cultures. I’m not trying to include everywhere that we’ve been – there are dozens of places that we love that I didn’t include, simply because this post was already long enough!
The best vacations for kids? Who knows. Maybe you want to go skiing in January, but maybe you’d rather be on an island. I tried to mix up my destination suggestions below to account for both. Or just go everywhere and see what your kids like!
Where to Travel in January
There’s a small window to visit Antarctica every year – basically November through March. The dark days and sea ice the rest of the year would make it a less-than-optimal trip. We’ve gone twice over New Years and it was perfect – very long days, good temperatures (barely below freezing), and all the penguins and whales you could want! My most recent trip is here.
I’ve been to India in January and I’ve been in the middle of summer and January is far better! It’s cooler (a good thing) and there’s less rain. My favorite places in the north are Varanasi, Agra (the Taj Mahal) and Rajasthan. I haven’t explored the south yet.
January skiing in Colorado is typically excellent. Wait until the second week of the month when all of the holiday travelers have left. My favorite ski areas are Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte and Vail. Definitely one of the best vacations for kids!
Where to Travel in February
When it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere it’s summer down south. Chile is a great destination anytime between October and April (we’ve been twice in April), but February is ideal – good weather, fewer tourists than January, and excellent stargazing. In addition to the best parts of mainland Chile (Patagonia, the Lake District, Atacama Desert), head over to Easter Island for a completely different experience.
We’ve really enjoyed traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (always 47 days before Easter). The parades, and the city as a whole, are far more kid-friendly than their reputation. The parades start several weeks before Mardi Gras itself, so it’s not necessary to actually stay until Mardi Gras.
We’ve visited the Maldives a couple of times during the rainy season, in June and December, and have lucked out weather-wise. For the lowest likelihood of rain and the best temperatures, though, February is optimal. It can also be more expensive since that’s peak-season, but the resorts are on their own islands so even if a resort is full it likely won’t feel crowded.
Visiting Quebec City is like visiting Europe, but it’s closer! It’s fun to travel there any time of the year, but go in February for the snow, the Quebec Winter Carnival, and a night in the Hôtel de Glace – the only ice hotel in North America.
Where to Travel in March
December through May are all good months to visit the Galapagos, for warm temperatures, calm seas and good animal viewing. We went in February/March and it was perfect. And in addition to the Galapagos, we really enjoyed Quito and the cloud forest.
Morocco can get really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter. Given that you’ll likely visit the coast, the mountains and the desert during your trip, you may as well time everything to avoid the extremes. April works just as well as March, but will likely be a little more crowded. Note that Ramadan will be largely in March in 2023, 2024 and 2025, which will impact your experience.
March in Costa Rica is nicely warm with virtually no rain. With its wildlife, beaches and activities (zip-lining, horseback riding, surfing and lots more), it can be a perfect Spring Break destination – especially since there will be virtually no jet lag if you’re coming from the US.
Where to Travel in April
Italy‘s my favorite country and I’ve visited in every month. April is ideal since temperatures are quickly warming up but tourists haven’t started arriving yet. And anywhere in Italy is better without tourists! FYI, most flooding in Venice takes place October through January, so April should be safe for a visit to Venice as well.
Hawaii‘s rainy season runs through March. If you travel in April you should see warm temperatures, very little rain, lower tourist numbers and good prices. Hawaii’s always one of the best vacations for kids (beaches, waterfalls, fun hotel pools, culture), but try to avoid the peak crowds and you’ll have a better time.
I’ve visited Japan primarily in the fall, which is great for weather and fall colors, but April gets you good weather and cherry blossoms! Note: cherry blossoms start in late March further south and may not be out up north until May. The last week of March or first week of April is generally safe for central Japan. Avoid Golden Week at the end of April – too crowded.
Tulips in the Netherlands typically bloom from late March to mid-May and are at their peak in mid-April. Keukenhof in Lisse is gorgeous in April, as are the fields all around the gardens.
Likewise, the wildflowers in California are best in March and April. If California has a rainy season at all, it will only go through March. An April visit will have good overall weather and smaller visitor numbers, and spring break travel should be over with.
Where to Travel in May
Greece is one of our favorite places in the world, and the Greek Islands are the best place to go. Most islands essentially close down in the winter, reopening in April. Go in May when you’ll have good weather and everything open, and the summer tourists (and cruise ships) haven’t yet arrived.
I’ve been to China and Hong Kong throughout the year and May is the best – the weather is good and, as long as you arrive at least a few days after May 1st (Labor Day), there are no major holidays where the Chinese will be traveling domestically. A tip: if you want the Great Wall to yourself, go on a May afternoon. It’s worked for me every time!
Turkey is next to Greece, so it probably makes sense to have them in the same month. They’re very different destinations though and both worth seeing. We visited Turkey at the end of May, traveling to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Bodrum, and the weather was perfect everywhere. Go before all of the European vacationers do!
Where to Travel in June
We’ve been to Bali throughout the year and June is pretty much ideal – little rain, temperatures down from their April peaks, non-peak hotel rates and the Bali Arts Festival. We typically split our time between Ubud and the beach – my blog post based on several visits with kids is here.
Whether you define Scandinavia as just Norway, Sweden and Denmark, or you include Greenland, Finland and Iceland, chances are good that we’ve visited in the summer. I even studied several summers in Oslo before getting married. June, with its peak daylight, is amazing. It may not be quite as warm as July, but Scandinavians head outside in the summer, and the later it’s light, the later they stay out and enjoy both nature and being social – probably simultaneously. Go and enjoy it with them!
European schools are typically in session through June, so June can be a good time to explore much of Europe, including Croatia. When my son and I traveled to Zagreb and then did a day trip to very popular Plitvice Lakes National Park in June, we had the park largely to ourselves. Other areas like Dubrovnik will be more crowded, but early/mid June will still be a lot better than the rest of the summer.
Where to Travel in July
There really isn’t a bad time to head to Africa for a safari – the animals are always there. March and April (for Tanzania at least) are the rainy season, but we visited at the end of February and had great weather and lower prices. For the best overall experience though it’s hard to beat July. It’s dry season so it’s easier to find animals (look for the watering holes), and you can see the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti. Definitely a bucket list destination – really along with any African countries that offer safaris – and easily one of the best vacations for kids.
The Faroe Islands
Tourist numbers in the Faroe Islands are limited by the small number of flights, hotels and rental cars, so even during peak season you won’t see many crowds. July has the best weather, and July 29th is the National Day of the Faroe Islands. One of our favorite destinations. Note: be sure to spend a night on Mykines with all the puffins!
Sri Lanka‘s tricky, since there are two distinct weather patterns, but July should be safe wherever you want to go. You’ll likely see some rain, but it will pass through quickly, and the temperatures are pretty much perfect. Be sure to take the train from Kandy to Ella or at least to Nuwara Eliya. It’s iconic and stunning!
Where to Travel in August
We’ve visited Paris several years during August and really like it. Some restaurants and stores will be closed, since August is when Parisians leave for vacation, but all of the major sites are open, we’ve always been able to do any tours or cooking classes that we wanted, and it’s nice when the city has fewer people. Plus the weather is largely perfect – although we have experienced a few heat waves and downpours.
Colorado mountain towns are pretty much perfect in the summer, and Vail’s our favorite. Take the Lionshead Gondola to the top of Vail Mountain and hike or bike down, go fly fishing, enjoy the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, and let your kids play for hours at Solaris in the middle of Vail Village. I love Vail all summer, but August is optimal since Gore Creek has gone down far enough that you can go tubing through town.
The Amazon Rainforest
I absolutely loved going down the Rio Negro in Brazil with my daughter – my favorite kid trip ever. It’s a rainforest so it’s going to be hot and humid throughout the year, but August will have less rain and fewer mosquitos. Go with Our Whole Village – they put together an amazing trip for us.
Where to Travel in September
We love Universal Orlando and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but not when the parks are crowded! To me September is the best time to visit – schools are back in session and there are no school breaks, and the Halloween activities haven’t started yet. November’s good as well from a crowd perspective, but it’s colder. Note: September 1st is the first day of school at Hogwarts!
Vietnam is such a long country north to south that there’s really no perfect time to visit. When one part of the country is drier, another could be colder. I’m including it in September – in between monsoon seasons and when the temperatures are still nice up north, my favorite part of the country. We always love visiting Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue and Hoi An, and Six Senses Nihn Van Bay is wonderful.
Budapest is perfect in September as the crowds have left and the cold hasn’t arrived yet. This applies to much of Europe, but I want to single out Budapest as it’s one of our favorite places to travel with kids and it isn’t on every family’s radar. Explore, take a cooking class, visit the markets, have a picnic, go out on a boat, and enjoy one of Europe’s great cities! Always one of the best vacations for kids.
US National Parks
During and post-COVID, the US National Parks are as popular as ever. They deserve the popularity, but if you go when the parks are the most crowded you’re not going to have a great experience. Avoid summer weekends at all costs, and if you can, avoid summer too! Once school has started the parks empty out and you can really enjoy the hikes and the sites. Still go during the week though, as weekends even in April/May and September/October will be crowded.
Where to Travel in October
October is the start of spring in Argentina. It will still be a little cool, especially as you travel further south, but I’ve spent several weeks there in October and it was pretty much perfect – low crowds, low prices, good weather. If you’ve always wanted to visit Buenos Aires, go for a day or two, but then move on. I think the rest of Argentina is a lot more interesting than Buenos Aires, and my kids have never clicked with the city.
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Bora Bora. When it’s rainier (November through April) there are fewer tourists and overwater villas are more affordable. May through October there isn’t much rain, but then tourist numbers and prices are higher. We visited in February and lucked out with weather, but if you can choose one month go for October for good weather and hopefully better prices as they’re exiting high season.
Phoenix and Tucson are nice throughout the winter, but places like Sedona, Page and the Grand Canyon will get cold. October is a great time to visit practically anywhere in Arizona and find good temps, moderate prices and lower crowds.
Australia is huge so you may need to fine-tune your travel dates based on where you want to go, but for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane October is ideal – the start of spring and still uncrowded. March is similarly perfect. Avoid mid-December to the end of January when schools are out.
Where to Travel in November
Day of the Dead on November 1st and 2nd is amazing throughout Mexico and should be experienced at least once. You’ll also get dry, warm weather and fewer tourists. We find San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City more interesting culturally than Cancun/Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos, but Day of the Dead is celebrated everywhere so you can’t go wrong.
European Christmas Markets
I’ve visited European Christmas markets solo but never with kids – our school schedule has never been timed to allow a trip to Europe between November 25 and December 23 or so. High on our list! The standard destinations are in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but you’ll find Christmas markets in Paris, Prague, Budapest, Tallinn, Copenhagen, Zagreb and virtually any other European cold-weather destination.
New Zealand is amazing and deserves at least two weeks to be able to drive around and explore and see a lot of the highlights. As with Australia the seasons are opposite the Northern Hemisphere, so November in New Zealand is equivalent to May in the US, with temperature warming up, kids still in school and wildflowers blooming. The gorgeous lupins start in mid-November around Wanaka and Lake Tekapo.
Where to Travel in December
Only the third place on this list that we haven’t been – after the Ice Hotel and European Christmas Markets. I so want to go though! Snow, Santa Claus, the Northern Lights, cross country skiing, ice sculptures, reindeer, ice carting and snowmobiling, the glass igloo hotel – it’s all a winter wonderland.
You can visit Thailand year-round, and I have, but December is my favorite time to go. It’s cooler and drier, and we’ve enjoyed New Years celebrations in Chiang Mai with the release of paper lanterns – without the crowds (and closures) associated with major Thai holidays.
The Middle East
I realize I’m grouping together a lot of countries here, but much of the Middle East is ridiculously hot in the summer. We’ve survived summer trips, but December/January are far more enjoyable, from Qatar to Oman to Israel to the UAE to Jordan to Lebanon. There are beaches, theme parks, amazing museums and unique cultural experiences throughout the region.
The Best Vacations for Kids by Month: Your Turn
As always, I love feedback. Do you disagree with my suggested timing anywhere? Are these the best vacations for kids, or do you have an even better one for my list? Did you have a trip that was amazing because of the time of year you went, or conversely did you have a terrible time somewhere because of your dates? Please comment below!
This has been a great read thanks! I’m just beginning to plan our family gap year and this has been a great starting point! 🙂
Eric Stoen says
Thank you! I had only been thinking about this from a quick vacation perspective, but absolutely you could string together destinations for a gap year. Have an amazing time!
Tanya Raedeke says
What a fabulous list! I feel like April and October in particular are both fantastic times to travel to so many places, for many reasons. We spent a week in Holbox Mexico at the end of April a couple years back and it was divine. And Colorado destinations could be added to many months . Happy traveling!
Eric Stoen says
Yes! April and October are ideal in most of the world – either fall or spring depending on the hemisphere with very few school breaks or holidays, so few destinations are crowded. Colorado is good pretty much anytime – except that the bigger cities are ugly in winter if there’s no snow on the ground, and the period between snow melting and the wildflowers blooming in the spring isn’t optimal. We were looking at Holbox in July and it didn’t sound great from a number of perspectives. Agree with April!
We did New Orleans and Barcelona over (separate :)) Thanksgiving breaks – both were great.
Eric Stoen says
Barcelona is a great Thanksgiving choice! And we have spent many Thanksgivings in New Orleans as we have family there. So nice compared to the hot/humid summers!
I took my 8-year-old (at the time) to Paris in July 2017. We had a great time enjoying the Louvre, walking up the Eiffel Tower, the carnival in the Tuileries Gardens and simply basking in the beauty of the city—but it was sooo hot! I genuinely worried for our safety.
I started carrying around a very large jug of water and sought shade immediately—when I could find it. I later learned many dubbed that summer “Lucifer” because of how dangerously hot it was!😃 I really want to visit for Bastille Day, but wonder if the heat wave continues.
Paris’ weather in May was perfect.👌🏽
Love your blog!
Been referencing it for years.😊
Eric Stoen says
We always seem to hit heat waves somewhere in Europe in the summers. Paris definitely isn’t fun when it’s over 100. This year it was Florence with high temps – at least Greece was ideal.
Thanks for the tip!
I love this list as it helped me consider some spots I hadn’t considered. Much like an earlier comment we are preparing for our upcoming family gap year and was thinking through how to add a few of these to our list. I’ve loved the idea of Marti Gras but I hate the crowds- I didn’t realize they did many of the activities so much earlier.
I also want to call out that I especially love that you added sone cold snow places during winter. We are headed to Fairbanks Alaska in March specifically so we can see the magic of winter. It’s such a different perspective.
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Heidi! Alaska sounds great. Yep, so many fun places in the winter. Travel doesn’t need to be about beaches and sun all the time!