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Toddler vacation ideas

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Where do you all take your toddlers? My sister and I would like to have a group family vacation this year. She's on the west coast, we're on the east coast and we've both got toddlers.

We'd like some affordable all ages fun. I've traveled with my guy quite a bit now and it seems like everything for kids is geared for over 5's.

Where have you all had success? Thanks in advance, Christa
post #2 of 18
We 'almost' went here http://www.knoebels.com/index.asp last summer. It has a lot of things for little kids and you can camp out (if you like camping). I think we are going to try to go this summer.
post #3 of 18
I would suggest a cottage/chalet with water/beach. In my experience, young kiddos (toddlers thru 5) just want to be in a quiet place where they can play without too much fuss.

We went on a disney cruise in November (thanks mom & dad) but it was horrible with my group of youngins - too structured, too many sit-down meals, the boat wasn't at all geared to my almost 2 year old - so my sister and I are renting a cottage in Maine next year. We plan to play at the beach, nap, each too many bbq'd hot dogs and let the kiddos play (she has 2 who will be 6 & 5, and I have 4 who will be 6,4,2, and just 1).

We have been to Club Med in Florida (awesome because unstructured) but my favourite vacations are the cottages. I want to try car camping and eventually real camping with them when they are a bit older.
post #4 of 18
Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, SC is a great young child destination if you are looking for the "lazy days let them play" type of place that is still great fun for adults. It can seem pricey when you first look at it, but a closer look might change your mind. Accommodations range from hotel room like small units to large private houses. Some are for rent from the private owners and others through the resort. Peak tourist season is expensive, but the weather at Sea Pines makes off peak times very enjoyable.

You can find a house to rent privately directly from the owner, some for as low as $900 for a week off-peak - well below hotel costs. These can sleep 8-10 or more and full kitchens mean you save a lot of money by eating in most of the week even with admittedly higher grocery store prices. Most houses come with internet, cable, dvd players, etc. They have nice kitchens and decent linen service. Some owners provide game rooms, beach toys and more. Some homes have private pools or hot tubs.

Bike rentals are around $20 for a week (there is a place not far outside the resort that has coupons in all the tourist handout mags there that makes them even cheaper) and child seats or trailers are only a few dollars extra. There are over 30 miles of bike paths within the resort, plus the beaches, and they are some of the best groomed trails I've ever seen. The bikes are large frame with big cushy seats and the trails are wide, smooth and mostly flat so you don't have to be a habitual cyclist to enjoy it. You can rent bikes and basically leave your cars parked at the house. The trails lead to all the places you'd want to go; the beaches, a little nature center and larger nature preserve that offers programs some of the year, Harbortown shopping and restaurant area and marina, Harbortown playground - large with several different structures plus a huge tree house, public pools, fishing ponds - some designated for children only, golf courses, historical sites, etc.

Wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, bike to one of the above mentioned places, let the kids romp and play- build sandcastles and fly kites, whatever, then have a picnic lunch, bike back for naps, hit another 'lazy' destination in the afternoon, make dinner at the house, put the kids down for a slumber party. Adults have all the typical resort amenities and excursions available limited only by your pocketbook. Rainy day? Just outside the resort is a hands-on children's "museum" called The Sandbox. Admission is $5 for each person over 2 but I believe they publish coupons and have special events for free or reduced cost. The kids can spend all day playing in the space shuttle, a pirate ship, the arts and crafts room, constructions site, etc. Also, Hilton Head and the surrounding area has lots of arts, nature and sports available - from museums to sea kayaking (you can do this even with toddlers) to nature walks to horseback riding to historical tours. Again, peak season is expensive, but off season the weather is balmy, the prices are reasonable and the trades have lots of coupons.

The only drawback we have found is the price in getting there. None of the low fare airlines, like Southwest, fly into Savannah or anywhere else close by, so you have to troll the fare watcher boards to get good airline deals.

Hope this helps!
post #5 of 18
I tavel all of the time with my toddler.. its a ton of fun IMO.. and i usually go alone w/him. Hes now 25months

So far since June We have gone to the Beach in FL
The Creationism Museum in KY
Gatlinburg TN
Skiing in Colorado (hubby went on this one)
Chicago to see Macys (Old Marshall fields) Last week
he and I are going to Sedona in 2 weeks for 3 weeks and to Boston a week after we get back. We are also taking him to Scottland in June and My friend and I are taking our toddlers (she has a 3 yr old) on a yoga retreat in Hawaii April.

I think all of these places are great to take a toddler.. I am esp looking forward to Sedona.. it will be such a great spiritual place.

I dont think its so much of where you go.. but what you do while you are there. You know your children best.. if they are the adventerous type that like to climb and explore then maybe campin in sedona or moab are a best pick. If you children just like to chill with each other an need a more calming vaca.. then maybe a beach house would do the trick.

There is a new resort in Jamaica that is geared towards children also.. even provideds in room sitters so you can have a couple hours to yourself if needed. I *think* its Beaches resort that does it but Im not 100%. I hope these give you some ideas..
post #6 of 18

they have family yoga retreats that look wonderful...
post #7 of 18
I agree with a lot of the PP. Somewhere you can rent a place, with a pool, be it near the beach or not. Room to romp around. Unstructured activities. We went to the Outer Banks with DS last year, he was 1 1/2 and it was GREAT. We hung out at the pool, went to the beach a few times, nothing structured so that we could hang onto his naps. Surprisingly, he slept well. He was truly worn out from all the pool and beach play. It was pretty relaxing for us, too. Not our ideal vacation, but there will be years ahead to go adventure traveling when kiddos are a little older. Not that you couldn't do that right now, but, for us, it would be too stressful.
post #8 of 18
Originally Posted by fairyandgnome View Post
I think all of these places are great to take a toddler.. I am esp looking forward to Sedona.. it will be such a great spiritual place.
Sedona is great. A few unsolicited tips - they have a great cd/dvd tour available for about $20 at the park service welcome center in town. You probably have to ask for it, the rangers and volunteers there don't all seem to know about it. You can load it into your car cd player and follow the directions to many of the area formations. It gives explanations of the different vortexes and the types of energies they attract, information about the formations' historical significance, and hiking ideas. It is set to some cool native music and poetry, and is timed to the drive between stops. You also get the dvd which has been great for us to watch once in a while since our visit - my ds loves to "see the big mountain I climbed, Mama!"

If you do a google search for astronomy in Sedona you'll come up with a few different people/groups offering star tours. If you can afford the prices it is well worth it. If the prices are too high, as they were for us, talk to the guides and find out if they are doing any hotel/resort "shows". We found a guide who gave an awesome tour from the parking lot of one of the resorts. They contract him to set-up his scopes and give open-ended tours for the guests. He can invite you to join and then you just pay his "tip jar" what you feel is appropriate. He was great, explaining his equipment, what we were seeing, it's relation in time and space to other objects, etc. He had a campfire going and was very friendly, even with our toddler around his expensive equipment. Our son is now 2 1/2 and still remembers when he saw the moon through the scope and how "BIIIIGGG" it was.

Have fun!
post #9 of 18
We plan to rent a cottage on the beach this summer in MA. We have done it before it worked out well because we have indoor places to play and the beach right there where the kids can spend the day digging in the sand and playing in the water. Mine loved the beach last summer and I think this summer will be even better as they will be 2.5 years. We have family around where we rent so that helps.
post #10 of 18
where do you find these cottages
do you have a link? sounds like a great idea
post #11 of 18
I take my toddler everywhere- the beach, Kansas City to see family, and we live in the mountains. I would just scope family friendly activities before you go. My 2 yo loves anything outside, and is still happy to do most anything that I will do with her.
post #12 of 18
We go to the Outer Banks and rent a house with some family every year. Last year, DD was just two and it was actually RELAXING!!!!! All there is to do there (Duck or Corolla) is go to the beach. Less choices, less stress, nothing to plan...we made big dinners every night and sat out on our deck and she stayed up late, slept a little later, went to the beach in the morning, and then my husband and I switched off who would go back to the house with her during naptime. And back at the house was great time to sit out on the deck with a drink and a book and enjoy the view.

http://www.vrbo.comis a good site for rentals.

We did Disney and the cruise last year as well, and I too had a terrible time. Maybe in five years we'll go back, when she is bigger and doesn't nap and is more independent.
post #13 of 18
I have two suggestions. First is Moab Utah, if you like outdoor activities. It's beautiful there and there is lots of easy hiking and a lot of big wows to see. The other suggestion is to second the idea of renting a cabin or house for a week somewhere. Toddlers will be pretty much happy anywhere with outdoor places that they can run around in, western Massachusetts has a lot of 'cultural' activities too. I could go on but these are the top ideas I had.
post #14 of 18
A tip about pools...

We went to Hawaii this summer and chose a condo to rent based on the fact that it had a pool (for when we didn't want to go to the beach).

When we got there we got a copy of the condo rules - and it stated very clearly (like 4 times) that only potty trained children were allowed to use the big pool. They had a wading pool for the babies. We were annoyed because when we rented they knew the age of our DD and didn't tell us this. But it was OK because we had enough people to make it work.

But there was this mom who came down to the pool and changed her ~2yo into a swim diaper and then swimsuit poolside. She was told by a bunch of people as she tried to enter the pool that her DD couldn't. She was irate. I don't really blame her. She and her DH had traveled along way (from the mainland) and couldn't use the pool. And of course her DD really wanted to go in.

So - check with the place you rent to make sure they don't have similar rules.
post #15 of 18
the renting a house thing is cool for some, but for me it is too much like home in lots of ways, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. Where exactly is my vacation in all this? It works well with lots of adults to share duties, but it is also nice to stay in a hotel and have someone else cleanup for you.
post #16 of 18

a family tour to Canada

Okay, at present I am in Taiwan and will have a family tour to Canada in late May. I plan to buy only international air tickets to Vancouver, Canada. On my landing on Vancouver, I will immediately transfer to Toronto thereafter. How can I book Canadian domestic air tickets online in Taiwan to facilitate my tour among major cities in Canada? Also, how to pay and where to get the tickets? How to rent a car in Canadian cities at budget price?
post #17 of 18
We've done Las Vegas, Disney World, and a cruise . . . and they were all great successes for our kids. My daughter wasn't yet three when we went to Las Vegas (she's five now) and she STILL asks when we can go back. There was a ton for us to do as a family . . . same with Disney (obviously) and on the cruise.

We're not sure yet what we're going to do this year. Def. a weekend at Hershey Park, and maybe a trip back to FL/Disney.
post #18 of 18
Originally Posted by Kessed View Post
A tip about pools...

We went to Hawaii this summer and chose a condo to rent based on the fact that it had a pool (for when we didn't want to go to the beach).

When we got there we got a copy of the condo rules - and it stated very clearly (like 4 times) that only potty trained children were allowed to use the big pool. They had a wading pool for the babies. We were annoyed because when we rented they knew the age of our DD and didn't tell us this. But it was OK because we had enough people to make it work.
It said that on the cruise we went on, too, but we took our son in and no one batted an eye. I was prepared to tell them he was potty trained if anyone asked. I did bring him down to the pools in his suits, though, and no one could tell they were swim diapers (we don't use the throw-away kind). I would recommend that others do the same at a pool with those rules.
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