In case you haven’t been watching the news lately, winter is here. In a big way! While I’m lucky enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area where it never really gets that frigid, I feel for my friends in New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and in many other places where winter can really be a drag. Ready to escape shoveling snow and driving on slick roads already? Why not plan a little winter getaway with your family to a warm weather destination this year?
Here are 17 amazing destinations that offer warm weather and family-friendly activities and accommodations for a winter getaway. And while I’ve personally visited the vast majority of the destinations on this list, I haven’t written about them all. So I’ve collected and linked to the very best destination guides from several trusted fellow family travel writers so you can research these destinations in greater depth.
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Warm Weather Winter Getaways for Families
1. Las Vegas, Nevada
While it certainly lives up to its reputation as Sin City for adults, Las Vegas offers a multitude of family-friendly offerings and great weather year round. We’ve visited Vegas with our kids multiple times and haven’t run out of things to do and see yet.
What is there to do in Vegas with kids? Hit a magnificent hotel pool like the one at Mandalay Bay, see a kid-friendly show like Blue Man Group, ride roller coasters at New York New York or Circus Circus, or hop aboard a gondola at the Venetian. Vegas is also an ideal home base for outdoor or educational adventures as well, from hiking in Red Rock Canyon to touring Hoover Dam.
More information: 15 Things to Do with Kids in Las Vegas
More information: The Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas
2. Palm Springs, California
Southern Californians have been taking their kids to Palm Springs for many decades, but Palm Springs is a destination that doesn’t immediately occur to a lot of family travelers from farther away. We have visited Palm Springs several times in chillier months with extended family and always have a blast!
With a world-class zoo (the Living Desert), an amazing aviation museum, an aerial tram, and family-friendly luxury resorts, the greater Palm Springs area is an ideal destination for families looking for winter warmth. Don’t miss a classic and wacky California road side attraction, the Cabazon Dinosaurs (made famous in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure). For outdoor hikes and desert exploration, Joshua Tree National Park is within an hour’s drive. Family-friendly hotels and resorts abound in the area, many of which have epic pools.
More information: Palm Springs with Kids
3. Disney’s Aulani (O’ahu, Hawaii)
Disney in Hawaii? It doesn’t get any more family-friendly for a tropical getaway than that. How do we know? Our family has taken 5 vacations there in the past decade and never tire of all the resort has to offer. Meet Mickey and Stitch, splash in the amazing pools and waterslides, hit the beach, or enjoy a splurge at Aulani like the luau or a character meal. Plus, you can often snag a winter discount as long as you aren’t planning to visit during the peak Christmas and New Year weeks.
Now that family-friendly Southwest Airlines has lots of Hawaii flight service there are flight deals to be had and lots of opportunities to redeem points to save money on other aspects of your trip. Aulani is an expensive destination, so a lot of families split their stay, spending a few days at the property and then a few days elsewhere on O’ahu like on Waikiki Beach.
More information: Complete Guide to Disney’s Aulani
More information: Top 10 Fun Must-Dos in O’ahu
4. Cancun, Mexico
Speaking of great beaches and pools, Cancun and the Riviera Maya have them too! The area is also home to a multitude of family-friendly resorts. Lots of resorts in this area also have kids clubs, so parents can get a break and a night out while still making family memories. We stayed at the Westin Lagunamar in Cancun a few years ago, which had a kids club for ages 4-12 as well as kitchenettes and laundry in each unit. Consider an excursion to nearby Chichen Itza to add educational value to your tropical getaway.
More information: Visiting Chichen Itza with Kids
5. Tucson, Arizona
Tucson flies a bit under the radar as a family travel destination. It’s probably overshadowed by its big name Arizona neighbors like Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona. But it might just be my favorite city in the state. Tucson offers lots of challenging and scenic desert hikes, one of the country’s best air and space museums, Saguaro National Park, and more than its fair share of family-friendly dude ranches.
More information: 10 Tips to Visit Tucson on a Budget (from DesertChica.com)
More information: 18 Things to Do in Tucson with kids (from CrazyFamilyAdventure.com)
6. Atlantis, Bahamas
Atlantis in the Bahamas, one of the world’s largest beach resorts, is a perennial favorite of traveling families looking for a warm weather getaway. It is perfect for families with little adrenaline junkies, with lots of crazy waterslides and water sports offered. Think of it as a cruise ship on land. Atlantis is a sprawling complex with many different towers at different price points, so it works for many different budgets too.
More information: Atlantis Bahamas Review: The Good and The Bad (from We3Travel.com)
7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
While Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic definitely has a reputation as an adults party spot like Las Vegas, it has a family-friendly side as well. As home to the luxury Nick Resort and the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, Punta Cana is seeing a lot more family travelers of late. The area has lots of water parks, water sports, and eco-adventures for kids at a variety of ages and stages. Plus, it can be a really cheap flight for East Coast travelers, especially with my favorite Southwest Airlines now in the mix.
More information: Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana (from StuffedSuitcase.com)
8. Sedona, Arizona
While spring is probably Sedona’s best season, it has a lot to offer in the winter months. It is a tad chillier in December, January, and February than a lot of the rest of the state, but the cold really only hits at night. During the day, plan a variety of hikes with the kids, enjoy a jeep tour in the red rocks (my family recommends Pink Jeep Tours), and check out some of the nearby national monuments like Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle for some educational opportunities that really engage kids.
More information: Top Things to do in Sedona with Kids
9. Miami, Florida
The Miami area offers a wide variety of things to do for families – from beach time to its Seaquarium and Frost Museum of Science to outdoor adventures on the water or in the Everglades. Parents will especially love the swanky hotel options and the culinary choices mixed in with the kid-friendly fun.
Miami is also the perfect jumping off point for a road trip down to the Florida Keys as well. A day trip to the closer spots like Key Largo is entirely possible for a snorkeling adventure.
More information: 7 Things to do in Miami with Kids (from CrazyFamilyAdventure.com)
More information: Things to Do in Key West with Kids (from 365AtlantaFamily.com)
More information: Top Luxury Resorts for Families in Florida (from LuxeRecess.com)
10. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo may have the reputation of spring break party town, but the Los Cabos corridor is a great place to take kids. In addition to having a number of very family-friendly resorts (most of which have magnificent pools), there is a lot for kids to do, from sailing to El Arco to ATV tours. It’s has been one of the safest destinations in Mexico for tourists in recent years. It’s also a short trip for West Coasters – from the San Francisco Bay Area, we can get there in 3 hours of flying time, making it entirely doable for a weekend getaway.
More information: Best Things to Do in Cabo with Kids (from KidsAreATrip.com)
11. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Head a bit farther south from Cabo to Puerto Vallarta, another favorite with families that is quite safe for tourists as well. Many of the resorts offer impressive amenities at reasonable prices. The area has a large waterpark, lots of opportunities for ziplining, whale watching (seasonally), and plenty of Mexican food and culture to explore.
More information: 5 Favorite Kid-Friendly Activities in Puerto Vallarta with Kids (from CiaoBambino.com)
12. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas can get a rare blast of Arctic air every few years, but the weather is historically pretty mild in winter. Families will enjoy visiting the Alamo and exploring the Riverwalk, as well as experiencing the city’s rich culture and amazing Tex-Mex food. Plus, winter means more reasonable crowds and more available hotel deals!
More information: 3 Days in San Antonio with Kids (from RWeThereYetMom.com)
More information: Things to do in San Antonio with Kids (from CrazyFamilyAdventure.com)
13. San Diego, California
There’s never a bad time of year to go to San Diego. It makes my top destinations in California for families nearly every season of the year. But it’s particularly great in winter when you might luck into weather in the 70s, as was the forecast when my family visited one MLK weekend. Take your kids to Sea World, Legoland, the world class San Diego Zoo, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado Island, and much, much more.
More information: 15 Best Things to do in San Diego with Kids (from TravelMamas.com)
More information: Tips for Legoland California on a Budget
More information: 16 Exciting Things to do in San Diego with Kids (from YTravelBlog.com)
14. Maui, Hawaii
The Hawaiian island of Maui is teeming with kid-friendly resorts, restaurants, and beaches. Families can drive the famous Road to Hana, visit the top of a volcano at Haleakala National Park, or enjoy water activities like snorkeling, parasailing, or whale watching.
For a family-friendly hotel stay, I’d recommend the Hyatt Regency Maui on Ka’anapali Beach, Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, or the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas. Why? All have great pools, great locations, and kids clubs.
More information: 11 Kid-Friendly Things to do in Maui
15. Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos is at the top of a lot of family travelers’ bucket lists because of the Beaches all-inclusive resort located there. The resort has childcare even for babies as young as 6 months old which can well be worth it. But be prepared for sticker shock – it’s a pricey splurge in winter months especially. There are of course a number of other family-friendly resorts on the islands that won’t cost quite as much but that will be a welcome warm weather escape.
No matter where you choose to stay, Turks & Caicos gets high marks for family travelers for being a very safe Caribbean destination. It’s a British protectorate that uses the US dollar for currency which makes a lot of logistics easier for American visitors. Activities like beach hopping and snorkeling will keep most kids active and happy.
More information: Guide to Beaches Turks & Caicos (from FamilyTravelMagazine.com)
16. Great Wolf Lodges (Multiple)
For families looking for some place warm that is a little closer to home, an indoor waterpark hotel like the ones offered by Great Wolf Lodge can be an easy last minute getaway. Even if it is frigid outside, the kids can put on their bathing suits, hit the waterslides, and pretend it isn’t!
Great Wolf has had a lot of new locations popping up in the last few years, so there is one within driving distance of many American families. We have one that opened last year in the San Francisco Bay Area so look for that review coming soon!
More information: Great Wolf Lodge Southern California Review (from GlobalMunchkins.com)
17. Mexico City
While the coastal cities of Mexico like Cabo and Cancun are more often visited by American family travelers, consider Mexico’s capital as well. While it’s a tad colder than some other destinations on this list (the city is located at some elevation means cooler temps at night in winter), the city is rich in history and culture. Families can squeeze in learning at kid-friendly museums and archaeological sites in an urban atmosphere with amazing food sure to suit parents as well.
More information: 50 Things to Do with Kids in Mexico City (from Globetotting.com)
Looking for more family-friendly getaways? Don’t miss the top 10 best places to take a family vacation this year!
And if you don’t mind embracing the winter weather, here are 25 more winter family vacation destinations to consider.
Tyler @ The Traveling Toddler
Tuesday 16th of January 2018
Houston Texas is a great destination for kids. The Museum District has a natural history museum and a children's museum and both are free every Thursday. The Space Center will appeal to your space buffs. And Galveston is only 30 minutes away for beaches, Moody Garden, and a great water park.
Tyler @ The Traveling Toddler