10 months, 29 days ago
In 1925, The World Conference for the Well-Being of Children declared June 1st as International Children’s Day. Few of us need a special reminder to respect the most important people in our lives. But countries sometimes forget that everything they do and decide impacts in one way or another on their youngest citizens. So if International Children’s Day improves the focus, even one day a year, it’s worth celebrating.
It might a bit late for a June 1st party to show how much you appreciate your kids. But you’ve got plenty of time to pull together a holiday in one of the places where child-friendly is a national characteristic and having one or more kids in tow is a straight route to the best time ever.
Orlando’s great for theme parks, outlet shopping and fast-food highways. But what the Disney city fakes is done for real down on the gorgeous Gulf Coast. From Sanibel’s crushed shell sands to the fun shores of Naples, Florida’s best beaches don’t need Blizzard’s big rides. The mighty Everglades begin on the Gulf Coast and leave the Wizarding World of Harry Potter standing. The Gulf’s also where they keep the US‘s best aquariums, Manatee swim free in the clear, blue seas and you can sail, dive, snorkel, surf and play pretty much all the time because you’re in the south-west and the weather’s amazing.
Cynical about cities for kids in summer? Amsterdam will make a convert of you. Packed with family festivals all year round, it saves the best for June, July and August. There are city beaches, wild swimming in Amsterdam Bos’, real seaside within an hour’s cycle of the city centre and pretty much every kind of pool and water playpark everywhere else. Ferries and canal boats make visiting different districts a real adventure. Several of the best and brightest museums in Europe are in Amsterdam and it’s also home to Artis Zoo and the world’s most child friendly botanical garden, Hortus Botanicus. And bikes are big, but The Netherlands aren’t, so touring around local towns, villages and cities is kid-safe and easy-going, if you get tired of Amsterdam itself – not going to happen.
Kids love Marrakech and Marrakech loves kids. This is the city where you have to factor extra time into everything from wandering the souks to having lunch, because making your children smile is a matter of Moroccan pride. If your kids can walk for a bit, they’re ready to take on the Atlas Mountain foothills and make unforgettable holiday memories. Afternoon story-tellers, snake charmers, soothsayers and musicians on Jemaa el-Fnaa are as mesmerising for toddlers as teens. And there isn’t a curfew here, Marrakech eats late and plays late and everyone’s welcome. Remember, Ramadan is between June 7th and July 7th this year, which means the spectacular festival of Eid al-Fitr is on July 8th.
Eastern Algarve in high summer can be a bit loud and crazy. So for kid-perfect, head west. The stunning Atlantic beaches are excellent for surf schools, playing on the sand and satisfyingly outrageous waves. There’s no shortage of water-park, theme-park, night-time fun in Albufeira. Charming Lagos is enchanting and friendly for younger kids. And the enormous Sudoeste Alentejano coastal park is just astonishing and could fill an entire holiday all by its rugged, breathtaking, beautiful self.
If you’re looking for a kid’s playground where they never turn out the lights and don’t know the meaning of age-limit, welcome to Iceland. Basically, if you can stand on your own two feet, Iceland thinks you’re quite old enough to swim in volcanic lakes, traverse smouldering craters, glacier climb and night dive. Naturally, you’ll want to exercise some parental caution. But that’s about the only curb on children’s freedom here. Reykjavik is an amazing city: looks like a cute fishing village, plays like a metropolis. And there are cheap flights from several UK airports this summer. So Iceland can work as a last minute break or an extra holiday – just because.
Between its museum weeks, free swimming pools, incredible festivals and relentless parade of cross-borough entertainment, New York pretty much ticks every box for a kid-shaped holiday. It’s hot in July and August, but there are plenty of cool-down places to play. And demanding little city dwellers are on vacation too. So your kids get to piggy-back their extraordinarily high expectations of summer in the city.
Got a Game of Thrones fiend in the family? Dubrovnik and Split have starred big in almost every season so far and there are good showings from mysterious and lovely Croatian islands too – where else would you expect Daenerys Targaryen to hang out? The sunny, pretty, beachy Makarska Riviera sits between ancient Dubrovnik and Split. Only perfect as a seaside base for exploring the Red Keep, House of the Undying, King’s Landing and the rest. Unsurprisingly there are some brilliant Game of Thrones location tours – if your kids aren’t geeky enough to find their own way about.
Happy International Children’s Day. And happy hunting for child-centred holidays this summer. Hopefully we’ve given you a few good ideas to start with.