Where to Vacation with Toddlers

Trying to figure out where to vacation with toddlers can be difficult. Loading up all those supplies that go along with toddler travel is exhausting enough, but there’s the additional challenge of making sure there are appropriate activities to entertain the kiddos while also balancing their naptime needs.

The following locations offer excellent options for toddlers, so rest assured knowing you don’t have to avoid vacations until your little one is in kindergarten. The biggest bonus is, if you are traveling just with toddler-aged children, you don’t have to plan your vacation around school schedules, meaning you can enjoy common vacation destinations during the least crowded times of the year.

disney world

Walt Disney World—Orlando, Florida

  • What to Do: Magic Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney
  • What to Know: Transportation between parks — even with toddlers — is easy with free shuttles and the monorail available.

If you only do one park at Walt Disney World with your toddler, Magic Kingdom is the biggest hit for this age group. Make sure your toddler does It’s a Small World and the famous Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride.

All the parks at Walt Disney World offer a program called Parent Swap. It allows a parent to enjoy any ride while the other parent entertains their toddler elsewhere. After the ride, parents swap the toddler, and the other parent gets to go through the expedited FastPass line. Book an affordable and spacious Disney area vacation home and you'll save money and have a quieter, calmer place to relax at in between park hopping.

Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, Tennessee

  • What to Do: Hike easy trails to waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains
  • What to Know: There is no true off-season, and these two towns adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains stay busy, especially on weekends, holidays, and when school is out.

The Laurel Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains is one of the few paved trails in the park. It’s 2.6 miles round trip, and it can get steep at times;  if your toddler is still uneasy on his feet, you can use a back carrier in those areas. Strollers are not recommended on any of the trails in the park.

Clingman’s Dome offers a shorter paved option at just one mile round trip. Older toddlers can cheer for the North or the South in the Civil War horse show and dinner at the Dixie Stampede. And Dollywood theme park, open late March through the end of December, offers many toddler-appropriate activities and rides in the County Fair section of the park; children 3 and under are free. Browse family-friendly cabin rentals in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for your vacation.

marco island florida

Marco Island, Florida

  • What to Do: Build white sandcastles, and wade in the shallow, gently lapping waves
  • What to Know: Schedule your vacation during times when most school-aged kids are back in school to enjoy fewer crowds.

Marco Island is where to vacation with toddlers at the beach. The beaches are clean and level with an easy slope into the warm Gulf of Mexico water, making it safe for active toddlers. When you’ve finished your day at the beach, wander over to Kids’ Cove, a ship-themed playground with climbing walls, jungle gyms, a play fountain, swings, and many more activities toddlers love.

Toddlers travel with a lot of stuff, so skip the cramped hotel room and find a breezy beach home rental, so you can spread out with your little one. Easy access to the beach is a must for quick trips back to your rental for potty breaks and naptimes.

Hersheypark—Hershey, Pennsylvania

With over a couple dozen rides toddlers can enjoy, this park is sure to thrill any little one. Balloon Flite is a favorite where your toddler pretends to float in a hot air balloon. Take swimsuits for water-loving toddlers; they could easily spend all day at East Coast Waterworks, a huge water playground for kids and adults of all ages.

Be sure to pick up a few Hershey’s chocolate souvenirs. Your Hersheypark ticket gives you a free pass to ZooAmerica that is adjacent to the park. Animal-loving toddlers can see native North American animals like black bears, wolves, and alligators.

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

  • What to Do: Waterski, hike short trails, ride or watch dog sleds, fish
  • What to Know: Lake Tahoe is active all year, so any time is a good time to visit.

The deep, clear waters of Lake Tahoe draw families year round with skiing and fishing in the summer and sleighing and dog sledding in the winter. Lake Tahoe Water Ski School offers waterskiing lessons for toddlers.

If you need a break from the water, Kidzone Museum is wonderful fun for toddlers. There is a farmhouse, art room, magnet zone, trains, and other fun activities. In the winter, snuggle the family under a cozy blanket on a horse-drawn sleigh ride along Lake Tahoe with Borges Family Sleigh Rides. 

san diego zoo

San Diego, California

  • What to Do: Legoland, San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Coronado Beach
  • What to Know: San Diego has many roomy vacation rentals to make your vacation time with your toddler comfortable.

The San Diego Zoo is known for being one of the world’s best, and toddlers love seeing Dr. Zoolittle’s animal show as they can watch polar bears and cubs playing and view pandas and gorillas. There’s a lot of walking, but the zoo offers tram and skyrail transportation within the park to cut down on some leg time.

Legoland theme park has Duplo Village with Lego building bricks, perfect for toddlers. There are a few Lego-themed playgrounds and forts as well as  a waterpark. The park isn’t huge, so you won’t have to walk forever with all your toddler gear as you move through it. They also offer healthy and organic food choices, like yogurt and soy-based foods, for toddlers and children. Luckily, many affordable and toddler-friendly San Diego vacation rentals are available.

SnowmassAspen, Colorado

  • What to Do: Play in the snow with your toddler.
  • What to Know: Ski lessons, snow play, and childcare for ages 8 weeks to 4 years

With 94 ski trails covering 150 miles of slopes, Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado is where to vacation with toddlers when Mom and Dad are seeking adventure. The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center offers full-day and half-day programs, making this an ideal getaway for parents with toddlers.

Younger toddlers love Cubs on Skis where they spend limited time outdoors getting ski lessons. Older toddlers can do the Snowmass Bears program where they learn more advanced ski techniques, including how to tackle slope runs. Snowmass also offers childcare, so Mom and Dad can enjoy some adult time on the slopes. Make reservations in advance to ensure you get a spot. Snowmass also provides rental equipment for your toddler.