Do your tweens love theme park thrills or bringing history to life? Chilled beach vibes or active outdoor adventures? We’re guessing most tweens would love a mix of all of these when they’re on vacation!
Pre-teens are at that wonderful age where you’re past the diapers and strollers; no more nap times to consider and their quest for adventure and new experiences feels as unstoppable as their energy levels. Electronics can still be pried away and it’s not too uncool to still be seen with your folks.
Could this be the perfect age for travelling with your kids?
You need to get the formula right though for the perfect tween vacation that will match their energy and excitement. So where in the world should you be heading with your family once you reach those magical tween years?
Here we’re going to share 14 terrific destinations from the US, and around the world that will make for the perfect tween vacation for all types of adventure-lovers.
This first was first published on tweenparent.com – republished on Our Globetrotters with permission
Universal Orlando, Florida
Recommended by Adriane from Put on Your Party Pants
Universal Orlando is the perfect vacation destination for tweens. Unlike its Disney World counterpart, most of its rides are geared toward older visitors.
Universal Orlando consists of two theme parks, Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Both are heavily themed with a ton to see and do. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios) is definitely a highlight.
The parks are open year-round, but it is best to avoid the summer because of Orlando’s oppressive heat. You will enjoy your trip more if you don’t have to fight strangers, so try to avoid Christmas and spring break.
Universal Orlando has several on-property hotels. Hard Rock is the best choice for tweens. They will enjoy the theming and pool. As a bonus, your entire party will get free Universal Express Unlimited passes to skip the lines during your time at the park.
A Western Dude Ranch, Montana
Recommended by Keri from Bon Voyage With Kids
One of the best tween vacations to take is to a Western USA Dude Ranch, and feel like a cowboy for a week. Our family has done this two summers in a row at a family dude ranch in Montana, Nine Quarter Circle not far from Yellowstone National Park.
A vacation full of old-fashioned fun and simplicity, a family dude ranch is perfect for tweens because it gets them off screens, encourages them to try new skills, and allows for quality family time with unforgettable experiences. Our family has loved the dude ranch experience as we all learned to ride horses, challenged ourselves with rides into the Montana mountains, and enjoyed a slow-paced electronic free (because there is no cell service and limited wi-fi) old-fashioned vacation.
We even took our son on an overnight pack trip, which was a truly memorable experience. The group – led by wranglers – rode by horseback to a camp about two hours from the ranch, where they helped set up tents, a campfire, fences for the horses and enjoyed a night under the Montana stars.
Lodging and meals are included in the ranch fee, as well as evening activities, horseback riding, fly fishing, and hiking. The best time for a dude ranch experience in Montana is summer, between late June through September, as these are the warmest months in Montana. However, if you choose a ranch in a warmer state, you may be able to extend the time of year for this epic tween vacation.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Recommended by Erin Gifford of Go Hike Virginia
Virginia Beach is an east coast escape that’s just right for a family vacation with tweens any time of year thanks to colorful murals, family-friendly beaches and a three-mile-long boardwalk. Take a selfie with 34-foot-tall King Neptune at the 31st Street beach entrance. It’s an absolute must-do.
Fly a kite at Mount Trashmore, a city park that was once an abandoned landfill. Next, stroll the ViBe Creative District for splashy murals, like the “Greetings from Virginia Beach” mural on 19th Street. Stop in Lolly’s Creamery for a scoop of Real Deal Vanilla.
Get in your steps at First Landing State Park. A hike along the Bald Cypress Trail guides families across a freshwater swamp teeming with curious bald cypress trees. It’s one of the best hiking trails in Virginia Beach.
Sleep in at the Holiday Inn & Suites Virginia Beach-North Beach, which has an indoor lazy river pool and a splash lagoon.
Recommended by Melissa from The Family Voyage
Alaska may just be the ultimate tween vacation destination! It’s exactly the sort of active vacation that tweens need to stay engaged and the outdoor focus will keep their faces out of technology (with some exceptions for drives between destinations, giving you a natural break-point to get them off). Tweens will have more stamina for adventure-filled days than younger kids and won’t yet be too cool for anything you have planned.
An ideal trip to Alaska with tweens should be at least 10 days as there’s a lot of ground to cover. Summer break is the perfect time to visit, with August being a little cooler than June and July but with thinner crowds.
Putting together an Alaska itinerary can be extremely daunting, as there are so many fantastic experiences available. If you only have 10 days I’d recommend splitting your time between Anchorage and a few spots on the Kenai Peninsula. Those areas will give you an opportunity to experience whale watching, glacier viewing, bear spotting, fishing, dog sled riding and plenty of hiking. If you have a few more days you can add on a visit to Denali National Park.
Recommended by Faith from 3 Tickets Please
From the modern city of Lima, through the rainforest of the Amazon to the ancient Machu Picchu, Peru is a wonderful place for an active family to explore.
While it is a privilege to experience Peru at any age, tweens’ curiosity about nature and academic knowledge of indigenous culture make Peru ideal for tweens. Our own family’s interest in traveling to Peru started after our son studied Machu Picchu in school.
We knew seeing Machu Picchu alone would be worth the trip. And yet, adding several days in the Amazon makes this trip unforgettable. In the Amazon, we can not recommend Bonanza Tours more highly.
The best season time to visit Peru is during the dry season, which is May through October. However, be aware that the dry season is also the high season. If you are planning a summer trip, we would recommend timing your trip with Cusco’s Inti Raymi celebration, which occurs in late June.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Recommended by Keri from Dubai Travel Planner
Dubai is simply put a tween paradise! Where else in the world can one city deliver world-class theme parks alongside some of the world’s best water parks, indoor skiing, the tallest man-made tower in the world and the biggest observation wheel in the world?
Our tweens love the adventure parks, zipline through a ghaf tree forest with Aventura or try the beach obstacle course parks at JBR and Kite Beach for hours of outdoor fun in the winter.
The Dubai adventure doesn’t end with the city and man-made phenomena, get out into the desert dunes of the UAE and enjoy dune bashing to camel trekking on a desert safari. A visit to Hatta, nestled in the Hajar mountains, will show you a completely different side of the country with airstream camping trailers through to water slides, horseback riding and kayaking on Hatta Dam.
A city simply full of superlatives ready for a tween trip of a lifetime! The summers can be super hot, so the best time to visit to enjoy both the indoor and outdoor highlights is late October through to early May.
There are so many brilliant family resorts in Dubai but we’d choose one where your water park is attached to the hotel, try Atlantis the Palm or Jumeirah Beach Hotel for a truly memorable experience in Dubai.
Recommended by Natalie from Blissmersion
Cozumel Island, Mexico is an awesome place for families with tweens to visit. The island is stunning, plus there’s plenty to do without being overwhelmed with possibilities. We love staying in Allegro Cozumel, an all-inclusive resort with an incredible beach. It’s calm and beautiful for swimming and selfies.
Just a short drive away is Mayan Cacao Company. Take a tour of the grounds, learn a bit of the history of chocolate in relation to Cozumel, and then make chocolate. My tweens had a blast getting their hands into chocolate making and the bonus was that we also made chocolate drinks (margaritas for the adults and alcohol-free for the kids).
Additionally, there are several beach parks, the San Gervasio Mayan ruins, and Punta Sur Eco Park (which has crocodiles) all located on Cozumel. The best months to visit Cozumel are December through May (avoiding the hottest months and hurricane season).
Recommended by Vanessa from iheartitaly.co
One of the best places to travel with a pre-teen is Italy. With its offering of beautiful scenery, culture, artwork, and history, Italy is a meaningful and memorable destination for both tweens and parents alike. And with the draw of beaches, lakes, vespas, pizza, and of course gelato, what kid can say no to a vacation like that?
The big cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice provide ample opportunities for educational experiences while still being close enough to outdoor fun like Italy’s beautiful coast or mountain ranges. Italy provides some of the most efficient and affordable train travel in the world, allowing you to access much of the country easily.
Possibly the best thing about taking tweens to Italy is that Italians are generally kind to children and families, making you feel a warm welcome wherever you go.
Recommended by Celine from Travel Banff Canada
There are so many fun outdoor activities for kids in Banff National Park any time of year, but visiting Banff in winter is the perfect winter holiday with pre-teens.
With three world-class ski resorts within the park, kids can enjoy time on the hill. Even beginners to skiing or snowboarding will quickly catch on with lessons on the hill. At Mt Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Resort, kids will have a blast on the tube parks.
Aside from skiing, plan a day at Lake Louise to skate on the frozen lake or snowshoe amongst the towering snow-covered trees. Nearby easy hikes, like to the end of the Lake Louise lakeshore or Johnston Canyon, will leave the whole family in awe as you see the stunning frozen blue waterfalls.
Families will love the space at the Hidden Ridge Resort, where there’s an outdoor hot tub and the Premier 2 Bedroom condos even have a games room.
Recommended by Sinead from Map Made Memories
Costa Rica is a fantastic destination for tweens. The country is packed with incredible nature including volcanoes, white sand beaches, the hot springs in Arenal, and rainforest and cloud forest around Monteverde. There are ‘up close’ wildlife opportunities throughout the country including volunteering opportunities at turtle sanctuaries in Guanacaste and at Proyecto Asis in La Fortuna.
A Costa Rica vacation is ideal for adrenaline loving tweens. Choose from mountain biking, white water rafting, hiking, surfing or horse-riding activities. Walk the hanging bridges in Arenal and La Fortuna, brave the thrilling zip lines over the rainforest in Monteverde or attempt the leap of faith tarzan swing.
The best time to visit Costa Rica is from November to May, avoiding the ‘green season’ or rainy season. An ideal location in Guanacaste is Guacamaya Lodge which offers tennis courts and an outdoor swimming pool and is minutes from a golden beach.
Recommended by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Every one of us, at some point generally as a tween, had to read mythology and learn about Ancient Greece. And what is the best place to learn about it if not in Greece?
Ancient Greece is one of the most interesting and important parts of world history. Athens is the best place to learn about it – not only does the city have some of the oldest ruins in the world, but it’s also full of artefacts and museums that help bring ancient Greece to life.
You can walk with your kids around the Acropolis and discuss mythology or democracy, which all started here. It is the best place to help your kids to fall in love with history., mythology and architecture.
Besides museums and ruins, Athens offer lots of other activities like strolling through Palaka visit one of the many traditional taverns to eat amazing greek food.
The best time to visit Athens with kids is in the spring or fall when the weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists. The summer months can be very hot and crowded, and the winter months can be cold and rainy.
Far North Queensland, Australia
Recommended by Leah from Kids Bucket List
If you are looking for a tropical paradise for your tween that offers not only incredible goldilocks weather, but a plethora of activities that they will love, then Far North Queensland in Australia is a top choice.
Boasting two world heritage sites, The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, you can fill your days up here with adventure and sightseeing.
Base yourself in Cairns, Palm Cove or Port Douglas where you can take a day trip out to one of the many tropical islands and swim with turtles whilst glimpsing the incredible coral reefs or head to the Daintree. At 150 million years it is the oldest and most biologically diverse tropical rainforest in the world where you can glimpse colourful butterflies, the cassowary and more.
Cane toad racing, crocodile feeding, waterfall swimming, train rides, sugar cane farms, and more, Far North Queensland never fails to get a giant tick from both my kids.
If you are looking for a real treat for the family, we highly recommend booking a swim out apartment at the Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort & Spa for the length of your stay.
Recommended by Maraya from Stuff Mums Like
Bali is the ideal place to holiday with your tween. The best option is to rent a villa with a private pool somewhere like Seminyak or Canggu for beach life or around Ubud for the mountains. Then you have the opportunity to enjoy all the activities Bali has to offer.
Our favourites are the beach clubs such as Jungle Fish (Ubud) or Ku De Ta (Seminyak), the temple at Ulluatu and the Monkey Forest at Ubud. There’s also the Bali Safari park where you can stay over.
Bali has so many options of things to see, eat and do, so avoid the resorts and get out and explore!
Recommended by Brad from Family Travel in the Middle East
Jordan is a land of mystery, with the incredible Lost City of Petra its most famous site, but did you know it’s also home to the ancient Roman city of Gerasa, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Mount Nebo and the Madaba Map? It’s one small Middle Eastern country with an incredibly deep history dating back thousands of years; the perfect destination to complement the Middle School learning of little explorers who love bringing lessons to life.
Unlike many of its neighbours, Jordan has remained a peaceful moderate in the region, perfectly safe for a rich and incredible family adventure back through time. If history alone isn’t enough to capture their imaginations, tell me a child who doesn’t want to visit the lowest point on earth and float in the Dead Sea?
I recommend 7 to 10 days for your first trip to see all the best highlights of Jordan, with spring and autumn the best times of year to visit. You’ll be moving around a lot, but I can highly recommend Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp as one of the best overnight stops for sleeping under the vast starlit sky of Wadi Rum Desert, a tween adventure of a lifetime.
Ready for a Tween Vacation?
Before you take off on a tween vacation, you may also be interested in:
- Awesome travel toys for keeping tweens entertained
- A printable packing list to help guide your tweens in packing their own suitcase
- The best types of travel backpacks tots to tweens
- Gifts for adventurous tween girls
- See all our tween and teen family travel advice here
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