The 10 Best Destinations for Children in 2022: Mexico, Aruba, Orlando

Despite the recent surge in coronavirus cases from Omicron, family travel in the US is recovering strongly. Children five years and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which takes away parents’ fear and after many months home, the desire to come out and see the world. Indeed, 2022 could see a return to pre-pandemic travel levels, especially in family vacation spots where social distancing and outdoor activities are still possible.

Health and safety are paramount. Top kids getaway spots in 2022 include all-inclusive resorts, family beach destinations, national parks, and, as always, the country’s top theme parks. So dust off your suitcase and you’re done: This is how it’s done with the kids in 2022.

► Create memories: 27 family vacation ideas for an unforgettable trip

1. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The brand new Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen is the all-inclusive beach resort of your kids’ dreams. Just a 30-minute drive from Cancun International Airport, the oceanfront resort has its own private beach, interactive entertainment revolving around Nickelodeon characters, and a huge six-acre outdoor water park with plenty of space for social distancing. Oh, and each room also has its own swim-up infinity pool that overlooks the Caribbean Sea.

► Fun in the sun: The 10 best all-inclusive resorts in Mexico for families

Improved cleaning protocols and social distancing measures give you peace of mind that health and safety are taken seriously. (You can arrange off-resort day trips to popular tourist attractions like Chichen Itza or Tulum right from the hotel lobby.) With meals, activities, and accommodations, it’s a hassle-free vacation with no sticker shock when it’s time to settle down on the bill.

USA TODAY Travel Newsletter: Get the latest headlines in your inbox every day

2. Aruba

Aruba has a bit of European flair without the long haul flight.

Given the ever-changing COVID-19 travel rules, you may not be comfortable seeing Europe’s top tourist attractions just yet. But even without crossing the Atlantic, the Caribbean island of Aruba offers a bit of continental flair – and the beaches are not shabby either. (Think turquoise water and floury sand.)

Dream Caribbean: The 8 best all-inclusive resorts for families in Aruba

Aruba has been an independent country since 1986 and continues to have strong ties with the Netherlands. Locals speak to each other in Papiamento, a lyrical mix of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Even the island’s cuisine is a delicious mix of tropical produce and traditional Dutch flavors like Gouda cheese. If your family has had enough beach time, the kids will have great fun venturing inland to explore the barren desert landscape of the island’s Arikok National Park.

Stay at Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa, a boutique hotel on one of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches you will ever see.

3. New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

Adventures on the Gorge Resort is on the border of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

A trip to the national park is an immersion in pristine beauty for everyone in the family. However, the recent surge in people seeking solace in Mother Nature means many of the most popular parks in the United States are visited more than normal.

► Lodge life: The 12 Best National Park Lodges in the United States

What makes New River Gorge in West Virginia one of the top kids’ destinations this year is that it didn’t become a national park until December 2020, so it’s still under the radar for most vacationers. The flowing water, which continues to form one of the longest and deepest gorges in the Appalachian Mountains, is great for fishing, and a variety of colorful birds and amphibians make it an animal lover’s paradise. White water rafting, a treetop course and the precarious Bridge Walk over the New River Gorge Bridge are special highlights for families with older children and tweens.

10 miles from the park, Tru by Hilton Beckley offers a free breakfast and a lively lobby with a play area that is welcome for families. If you want to get even closer, stay in the park with Adventures on the Gorge, an outdoor outfitter with a resort right on the edge.

4. Orlando, Florida

A trip to Orlando theme parks and water parks is a must for many families during their children's childhood.

With its many famous theme parks and equally spectacular water parks, it’s no wonder Orlando regularly tops the list of places for a special vacation with children. And with Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary celebrations lasting into 2022, the New Year is a good time to plan a visit.

► Dino-Soar: Is Universal Orlando’s Jurassic World VelociCoaster too scary for kids?

While Disney’s Star Wars Land or Universal’s Harry Potter theme park areas aren’t your thing, Orlando isn’t just a one-trick pony. Other great things to do in Orlando include outdoor activities like ziplining and kayaking, and even golf vacations. Kid-friendly attractions like Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium and Andretti Indoor Karting and Games guarantee fun for the whole family.

When it’s time to put your feet up at the end of the day, stay at one of the many Disney World hotels in Orlando or continue to neighboring Kissimmee, where the Reunion Resort’s water park will keep the kids entertained and refreshed during their vacation break.

5. Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica defies the image of Los Angeles as a car-crazy metropolis.

You’re never too young to think about sustainability. Visiting a city where you don’t need a car is environmentally conscious – and with the sky-high rental car prices these days, it also makes financial sense for a family outing.

► Trips to the west coast: 7 Affordable California Vacations for the Whole Family

Thanks to a robust bicycle community, pedestrian zones and the Expo Line Light Rail, which connects the community with the greater Los Angeles area, Santa Monica defies the image of Los Angeles as a car-crazy metropolis. Visit with the kids and you can all splash around in Pacific waves, pedal the beach bike path, and enjoy rides (including a solar-powered ferris wheel) on Santa Monica Pier, all without a vehicle.

Speaking of Pacific waves, the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows overlooks the ocean. It’s an elegant retreat with outdoor poolside movies, private bungalows, and delicious food.

6. Boston

A swan boat ride is a fun way to explore the Boston waterfront in warm weather.

Compact and walk-in Boston provides a fun setting for an American history lesson that is far more intense than any textbook. Bring the kids and stroll the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, which features 16 historically significant sites including Paul Revere House. Then head to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums for an interactive way to understand a groundbreaking event in our nation’s history.

Sensations on the coast: The 8 best east coast vacation spots for every season

Urban green spaces are also abundant in the Massachusetts capital, including the delightful Boston Public Garden. Ride a swan boat and see the Make Way for Ducklings statue, a must-see for fans of this children’s literary classic.

Stay at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport and enjoy breathtaking views of Boston Harbor. It has one of the few rooftop swimming pools in town and is a family treat.

7. New Orleans

No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop at Café du Monde.

It may have a reputation as an adult playground, but New Orleans has some surprisingly kid-friendly outdoor attractions that make it the perfect place for kids to dive into quirky three-dimensional shapes in 2022. The green city park with boating, mini golf, tennis and a carousel is a dream that smells of magnolia.

New kicks: 11 best kids’ sneakers for school, travel and play

Grab a sugar-dusted beignet at Café du Monde, groove to live music at the Jazz and Heritage Festival, and explore the varied bayou grounds on a guided kayak tour.

With comfortable accommodations, free breakfast, and all-day bites like popcorn, the Drury Plaza is a great choice for family accommodations in New Orleans.

8. Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park in Alaska offers a starry sky, abundant wildlife and endless wilderness.

With starry skies, abundant wildlife, and endless wilderness, Alaska’s beauty is both changeable and far off the beaten path. Denali National Park is home to 6 million hectares of taiga forest and tundra to America’s highest mountain peak, Denali itself.

► Go west: 5 unforgettable west coast vacation ideas for families

Although Denali is hundreds of miles from the nearest port, fewer cruise lines to Alaska will generally mean fewer tourists in 2022, making this a winning time to visit.

Stay at the Denali Park Hotel near the national park, with comfortable motel-style accommodations 10 miles from the Denali entrance.

9. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Because a passport is not required for U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico is always one of the best places to visit with children.

Because a passport is not required for U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico is always one of the best places to visit with children. But that’s never as much as it will be in 2022, when Old San Juan celebrates its 500th anniversary with special art exhibitions, parades and concerts.

No passport required: The 4 Best All Inclusive Resorts in Puerto Rico for Families

Families will enjoy strolling the distinctive blue cobblestone streets and visiting the city’s famous fortress, El Morro, before building sandcastles on San Juan’s fabulous beaches.

Puerto Rico has implemented strict COVID-19 measures to ensure the safety of travelers and residents. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company maintains an updated travel policy page for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Stay at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, where your family can combine city fun with a relaxing beach vacation.

10. Boise, Idaho

Natural beauty abounds in Boise.

Friendly Boise is a humble city with plenty of freedom of movement and access to nature. A number of elaborately landscaped parks and the Boise River Greenbelt offer families rafting, running, biking and rollerblading in the city center. A thriving food truck scene features inexpensive restaurants for al fresco dining surrounded by towering mountains.

► Budget travel: 10 affordable family vacations that are really great fun

Cultural attractions include an aquarium, the interactive Discovery Center of Idaho, and the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, a fitting place for this city with a large and vibrant Basque community.

The Residence Inn Boise Downtown City Center has spacious guest suites with full kitchens that are perfect for families of all sizes and ages.

More from FamilyVacationist:

Comments are closed.