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Vacation Ideas for Parents with Toddlers

I am wondering if anyone has had any great vacation destinations. We have already been Walt Disney in Florida. At the time of our travel our children will be almost 3 and 1 years old. We don't want to fly but are not against driving a distance if the experience is worth it! I have tried to do searches but am having a hard time deciding if the entire family would enjoy it. We would be going this fall. Any thoughts would be great.

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I've been to Hilton Head, and it's wonderful, safe and family friendly. Also, how 'bout the local places, one a day maybe?? Crayola factory, Science museums in Philly, Cherry Blossom Festival in Reading? for instance...
L., 39
Brianna 21m & yes! still bf'ing!
and baby
butterflylindamarie at yahoo dot com

Hi A.,

We like the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. There is a waterpark in the hotel, and only hotel guests can utilize it. There is also other things to do in the area of the Poconos. There is a story time in the evening at the hotel and it is a really fun time for all.

The Outer Banks, as everyone else has mentioned, is also a really family friendly place.

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Tara is right. I have a 5 year and an 18 month old. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is great. We rent a home as close to the beach as possible. Book well in advance. We try and rent on the beach, since we have two children then one of us can run the older one down to the beach and still be close enough to run down and meet them with the younger one or walk back for a nap. Depending on what you are looking for will decide where to go in the Outer Banks. We go all the way down to Frisco which is at the end of Hatteras Island, there are two islands, Roanake (where Kill Devil and Kitty Hawk are) and Hatteras Island. Roanoke is for those who really need lots of services and the crowded beach type atmosphere with lots of people and chotchki. Hatteras is for those who wish to get away. There are plenty of restaurants and attractions just not the craziness of Roanoke. Down on Hatteras Island they also have a Kids Club through Hatteras Realty for $25 a day. They take them crabbing, mini golf, swimming and include a Subway Lunch. My son has done it and we plan on doing it again this year, he loves it. Make sure to take the ferry to Ocracoke Island where things are a lot slower and eat at the Flying Melon. My son had the offer of Disneyland this year and he chose the Outer Banks over Disney. I am glad, because I have heard don't waste your time with Disney until both your children are at least 4 or 5. They just don't last and you are prone to frustration trying to get such a small child to enjoy so much. It is overstimulating for children that young. Just look around Disney and you see all the mad parents with their crying frustrated children. Save it for when they can appreciate and enjoy the activities, it is just not designed for children that young. I really want to take them to Disney but I want it to be magical like it was for me. So I have chosen to wait.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

We took my son up near Lake Erie (Sandusky area) to some of the water parks. There are lots of them up there and they are a ton of fun! There is also the Erie Zoo near by and some other local attractions. It is a great time! We have gone up there twice, once when he was 1 and once when he was 2.


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My girlfriend was just her from Michigan for a week. We both have sons that are nearly 5, and I have a daughter who turned 1 today. We had a blast taking the boys to all of the local places. Since we live in York, there are LOTS of places that are a relatively short distance. We went to Hershey for a day. We took the factory tour at Chocolate World, and the Trolley Tour, although I probably wouldn't recommend that until your little ones are older. We also went to the Crayola Factory for a day, and the boys loved all of the hands-on stuff. We are already planning to do an overnight to New York next time so that we can take the boys to the Corning Museum of Glass. There's also Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Baltimore and Washington D.C. that are all only 1-3 hours away. This summer we're hoping to go to Kalihari in Sandusky, Ohio as that will be a central location for both of us, and we can go during the week with the kids while the hubby's are working. Good luck making a decision. Hope you all have a GREAT time!

We like Knoebles park you can pay per ticket for rides or get day passes...If grown ups arent going to ride you dont have to pay! There are also a few campgrounds around. We made it a camping/2 day amausement park vacation lots of fun. We also like to go to Otter Lake campground in the Poconos, they have a beach/swim area, pools, fishing, paddle boats and activities. If you go to Baltimore Port Discovery is a lot of fun! Philadelphia has the Please Touch Museum great for young kids! We do a lot of day trips because it is less stress for our family and it is hard to get daddy for more than 2 days! Next we want to go to Great Wolf Lodge in the Pococnos! We started a money jar. We want to go in the winter for snow tubing and indoor water park! Sesame place was fun but you really have to plan the with the weather....and it was a little pricey for what it was but fun. I could go on but I gave you my favorites!

One vacation we took - My kids still go on and on about till today. Sesame Place in PA ( sesame street )- It was So much fun, and it's all based on younger kids. There are rides, water slides, shows, and of course you have the characters. We stayed there for 4 days I believe, we had a package deal threw the hotel - we got the hotel, tickets for sesame, sticker for the kids and a autograph book with a neat pen - for like 450 - 500 $$.
That was 2 years ago - My son was 4 and my daughter was 2 1/2, and everything they had there they both could go on, which was a plus!! We are actually looking in to going back this summer!!
Hope this helps!
A. C

I've been to Hilton Head, and it's wonderful, safe and family friendly. Also, how 'bout the local places, one a day maybe?? Crayola factory, Science museums in Philly, Cherry Blossom Festival in Reading? for instance...
L., 39
Brianna 21m & yes! still bf'ing!
and baby
butterflylindamarie at yahoo dot com

I do not have a destination idea but rather a transportation idea. Did you think about taking a train rather than flying. With a train you can relax on your trip and pay attention to your kids, and play games. And you don't have the jet lag I have been flying all day feeling of flying. Have a great vacation!

go to the beach!!!!!!!..rent a house for a week...invite another couple to share expenses or your parents or some other help...the children will never forget this..make it a once a year ritual!!!!!!!!!!!

I see someone mentioned Lancaster and Dutch Wonderland already. If you decide to try that location I suggest staying at the Willow Valley Resort. It has 3 pools, 2 of which are indoor, one of which has an indoor water park. It's about 15 minutes from outlet shopping, Dutch Wonderland, and Strasburg Railroad. I'm a mother of 2 year old twins and when we go my daughter loves swimming there and my son loves riding the train. There is also a very nice 9 hole golf course for you and your husband. I hope this helps. May you have many wonderful family vacations together!

Sesame Place was really fun for my famliy. When I was younger I used to go with my brother and sister. We are 10 and 12 years apart. It was great for little and big children. I plan on taking my son their when he is at least a year old. Good Luck!

Hi A.,

We like the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. There is a waterpark in the hotel, and only hotel guests can utilize it. There is also other things to do in the area of the Poconos. There is a story time in the evening at the hotel and it is a really fun time for all.

The Outer Banks, as everyone else has mentioned, is also a really family friendly place.

they won't remember much. do beach, what you like to do. Knoebels is great amusement park to take the kids to and good value. The fall, go down toward virginia beeches, etc.

Disney they way too young to enjoy. Save the money and do something bigger in 2 years. like disney, busch, club med

Hey A.
At one time I was researching a place for my family to go on vacation and found this site http://www.vacationkids.com/
and I got the idea off of Regis and Kelly. They said the Cancun vacation comes with a nanny and all very well trained in child care so thats why I was interested. Check it out!
Happy Travels!

We have a 15 month old boy, as do friends of ours, so we're going together to the Outer Banks in NC. Its beautiful, beaches arent crowded, so there's plenty of room for the little ones to play in the sand. We also made sure to get a house with a heated pool, so even if it turns out that the boys hate/are scared of the beach, we can still have fun in the pool. Also, we will still be able to take the baby monitors outside during naptime and enjoy the pool ourselves!

Emerald Isle, NC is a very family-oriented destination. Very laid back with beautiful beaches.
Also, Rehoboth/Dewey Beach Delaware is great because it's a relatively short drive to the beach!

Hi A.,

My daughter is now 3, and for the past two years we have rented a house in Maine in the fall. We used vacationrentals.com to find it and had a great time. We have also stayed in a cottage that was part of a motor inn/b&b that had a central yard with a large sandbox and toys. That website was kennebunkbeach.com.

Both of these places were on or within walking distance of the ocean. Lots to explore, even when it rains. Last year we watched dolphins and lobster boats from our livingroom during a rainstorm. Even in the fall, the kids have fun on the beaches collecting rocks and shells, and exploring the tidal pools. We drove there, stopping a few times for potty breaks, but have also stopped overnight on long car trips (totally worth the extra cost and allowed time in the morning to grocery shop before check in). We invested in a portable dvd player that can hookup to a tv and brought some movies from home. It did help for the long drive.

We have the kid-sized aerobed (has 4" baffled sides) that my daughter loves to sleep on. We took our own outlet plugs and a baby gate to childproof.

The beauty of renting a house is you can just go grocery shopping and cook at home, rather than eat out all the time. You can also cater to your kids own likes/dislikes easier.

Good Luck!


When my kids were very young, we spent the week+ of our family vacation at the Jersey shore and/or Lancaster/Hershey area. Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster is an amazing amusement park for the little ones. FOr a few years we split the time between the Lancaster area and the shore. We would stay in Lancaster and/or Hershey for about two nights and, as far as amusement parks go, just do Dutch Wonderland back then. Then we would spend a day at the Hershey Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which has a butterfly house, something my kids always enjoy. We also have done the caves that are right near Hershey...although it was a lot of steps when I was tired and pregnant with #2! :) We went to the Hershey "Factory" as well. Then, at the shore, we relaxed at the beach and went to Ocean City, a great town for kids, and to Lucy the Elephant...just outside when they were that little, inside when they were a little older and could appreciate it. We always stay right by the beach, in a less touristy town, but we tend to go to Ocean City at least once a summer.

We didn't start taking "bigger" summer trips with the kids until my youngest was 3, and we went to the Mystic, CT, area for 7 days that year, and it was absolutely fantastic. We stayed in Mystic but also visited some of the towns nearby, including Groton, where there is a submarine museum. There's a lot to do up there.

Since that vacation went so amazingly well, we have taken a "driving vacation" every summer since. All have been fantastic; our family's summer vacation is my favorite week of the year!

(I don't know if you're thinking summer or another season. We do fly to Florida every spring, to visit one set of grandparents, and my kids always have enjoyed that, too...about an hour north of Miami...with a lot for the kids to do.)

Good luck!

Caesars Pocono Resorts is a wonderful vacation spot. My husband and i honeymooned there and had an amazing time. There are four resorts, with one that you can take your family. Brookdale is located in Scotrun, PA. I havn't visited Brookdale yet, but have visited two others. They offer family friendly suits and activities. The two I have visited are wonderful and I can't imagine Brookdale not being equally as wonderful. They offer all inclusive deals that are (trust me) worth it. I could go on and on about Caesars Pocono Resoert and the surrounding area but instead I will give you there web address so you can look around for yourself. www.CaesarsPoconoResorts.com . Brookdale is for families

I vacationed in Virgina Beach with my family when I was younger. I remember our family vacations - my parent's always rented homes along the coast.
When I got older, I bought a home in VA Beach and a vacation property too. I love it there. You can try Sandbridge Realty or Atkinson Reality they have homes to view and a schedule of in and out of season and prices.

Other cool spots are Ormond Beach - right outside of Daytona, FL. Martyl Beach (my spelling cap isn't on) and San Deigo, CA. Those are all beach cities.

Another family friendly place is San Antonio, TX. Its a great city and has Seaworld, Bush Gardens and a terrific downtown/Riverwalk scene.

Good Luck, let me know what you decide.

Friends and family with young kids have taken vacations to Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach (I think they are both in Delaware/DelMarVa Peninsula) as well as the Outer Banks and Hilton Head. My brother and his wife are taking their daughters (3 and 5) to Treasure Island in Florida this summer. They mentioned looking forward to visiting an aquarium down there and searching for seashells.

If you want to go to the Pittsburgh area they have a the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh Zoo/PPG Aquarium, Gateway Clipper Fleet/Goodship Lollipop, National Aviary, Phipps Conservatory/Botanical Gardens, Carnegie Museums and Heinz History Center. You can ride the Monongehela or Duquesne Inclines to the top of Mt. Washington for an incredible view of the city. Nearby amusement parks such as Kennywood and Idlewild (with Storybook Forest and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood) might have limited hours or special events in the fall. There is a theater called The Gemini that puts on interactive plays for toddlers. And there are plenty of parks around the area with beautiful scenery in the fall and many local farmers markets have hayrides, etc.

Have fun planning your trip.

Outer Banks NC is very family oriented.

When my son was 2 we went to Sesame Place. He had a good time. It is more a water park than amusement place, but they do have some non-water rides and a parade. At that time he wasn't into the water rides that much, but still had a good time. Then from there we drove to Hershey Park. He really liked that. There were so many rides that he could go on either by himself or with an adult.

hi A.. last summer we took my then 7 month old to chincoteague island, virginia. it was nice. not nearly as crowded as ocean city, md... (where we used to go before we had a baby!) its really laid back. lots of shops, ice cream palors, ducks running around. we stayed at a hotel with a pool, but they have condos you can rent too. you have to drive to the beach, that was the only down side. but there are no hotels on the beach. its very quiet and clean. there was never any wait at any of the local restaurants either which was nice with having a little one. also, they have a great pony center where you can visit the horses and even let your kids have a pony ride if you choose so. we are planning to go back this summer we had such a great time! my advice would be to travel during nap time or something though. we traveled in the morning on the way down and it wasnt fun :o( so on the way back we left at 8 pm and my baby slept in her car seat the whole trip home! hope you find a nice place that works for you and your family. have fun!

Winter Clove Inn in Catskill Mtns, NY. My family has been going their since I was five. I'm now 30 and will be bringing my son their this year (he's 7 months old now). It is a very family oriented place. Its very secluded (the last inn on top of a mountain). Three meals a day are included in the price. There are hiking trails, indoor & outdoor pools, a tennis court, a bowling alley (though its not the best quality, but it is fun) and lots of beautiful scenery. Its a throw back to the past. No phones or tvs in the rooms. Everyone's friendly & you often find yourself relaxing on the porch talking to other guests or employees or even the owners. A wonderful place to relax. (They also have a kids club, with activities or crafts everyday).

Hi A.,

We travel every year to Florida. Our youngest 2 are now 5 & 3 1/2 we've been traveling since Patricia was 7 months old. We travel by car. The children LOVE riding in the car. We also get to see the beautiful states between and including Pennsylvania and Florida. Our favorite place to visit is Sea World. The kids LOVE the shows - animals etc. Plus it's not too big of a park. We also ENJOY the beaches and collecting the shells. A must for us every year is Sanibel Island. Our other favorite beaches are Daytona Beach - Cocoa Beach.

A little about me: I'm a stay at home MOM of 4. Kristy (23) - Tony (19) - Raymond (5) - Patricia ( 3 1/2 )
Kristy lives in Florida with OUR FIRST Grandchild Nicholas!
I have a Home Based Business which allows me the FREEDOM to ENJOY my Family and work when I feel like it!
Whatever way you decide to travel with your FAMILY - ENJOY your time together they GROW so quickly!

I. B.

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