With only eighteen summers to create memories that will last a lifetime, every family vacation is precious. Drawing on Lonely Planet’s recommendations for travel in 2013, we’ve combed through the best trends, destinations, journeys, and experiences for where to take the kids this year.
US Travel Editor Robert Reid describes Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013 as aspirational, for dreaming about destinations that are “ahead of the curve;” not the most popular destinations (like France and Italy,) but those that will see significant rise in the next five years. What makes this a great resource for family travel inspiration is that the guide is filled with memorable and affordable travel ideas.
Best in Travel 2013 – Top 10 Lists
- Top Region: The Gulf Coast, USA
- Top Country: Dominican Republic
- Top City: Montreal, Canada
Selecting the most family-friendly places from Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Lists was tough, but we were looking for destinations that are easy to get to from our base in New York. For example, while ‘Top 10 Cities’ ranks both San Francisco and Montreal, the latter is the closest (only a 3.5-hour drive!) from our New York home. More interestingly, these destinations offer features that are uniquely appealing to families.
Take the Kids to The Gulf Coast, USA
Ask kids about their favorite family trips, and you’ll find that beach vacations top the list. And that’s what the Gulf Coast is all about – swimming, sailing, and sinking toes into miles of golden beaches. Why go in 2013? The Gulf Coast is poised to make a comeback from the 2010 oil spill disaster, with $60 million in tourism grants and Blue Wave Certification for several area beaches from the Clean Beaches Coalition.
Take the Kids to the Dominican Republic
If beach vacations are what the kids crave, you can’t do better than the year-round warm waters of the Caribbean. But why choose the Dominican Republic in 2013? Lonely Planet cites major development: new roads, new hotels and resorts, and new ways of getting there. Airlines are offering new stops and flights, including many direct flights available on JetBlue and American Airlines, and cruise ships are turning the island nation into a major port of call.
Take the Kids to Montreal, Canada
Visit Montreal in 2013 for its cultural adventures. In winter, go see the Canada Snow Village, a frozen spectacle that runs from January through March. In spring, return for the launch of the newest addition to the ‘Space for Life‘ natural science museum; the new Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium will join the Biodôme, Insectarium, and Botanical Garden. Year-round, stay for the food, festivals, and shopping at this “urban dream.”
While the Top 10 rankings are excellent, even better are the Top Travel Lists. Families will find inspiration for thematic travel in guides that run the gamut from ‘Best-Value Destinations’ to ‘Snakes Alive! For family travel, Robert Reid recommends ‘Cities with Bike-Sharing Schemes‘ because the “huge trend” is a “great family activity, and a much more pleasing way to take in a city.” Look for Top City Montreal (and links to bike-sharing programs) on this list, as well as Washington, DC. We also love the following quirky but informational travel lists for families:
- Best Back-In-Time Entertainments – experience ancient arts at cultural sites such as the Greek amphitheater in Epidaurus or Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London.
- Best Places To Do Something New – extremely random travel list includes: visit a new country – the Caribbean’s Saint Maarten, formerly a Dutch territory, now a constituent country of the Netherlands; experiencing the newest vacation concept – ‘digital detox’ in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and watch the newest sport – kronum, a mashup of football, basketball, and rugby now being played in the greater Philadelphia area.
- Legendary Last Stands – bring history to life at the scene of epic battles from Custer’s Last Stand in Little Big Horn, Montana to the site where Bonnie and Clyde met their end in Gibsland, LA.
- Best Places to Hunt for Buried Treasure – if you’re into rockhounding, geocaching, or digging fossils, here’s where to step up your game in the US and around the world.
- Oddest Food Museums – our bucket list would not be complete without the Jell-O Gallery in Leroy, NY or the Spam Museum in Austin, Texas. No siree!
Where will you take the kids in 2013?
The 40th Anniversary edition of Best In Travel is more than an inspirational travel guide. Small enough to jump from coffee table to purse, it’s been described as a “Did you know” book where you’ll discover, as did Robert Reid, “There’s a lot more out there than you know.” Much like family travel.
Need a little more inspiration for travel in 2013? Check out Huffington Post’s Destinations to Watch In 2013.
Sandra Foyt | Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @SandraFoyt.