Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers, and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.
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Welcome to the 2016 Viator Travel Awards: Family Edition! Traveling with kids is always an adventure. Seasoned parents know that staying flexible, going with the flow and always having snacks on hand are some key ways everyone remains happy on vacation. Plus, cool sightseeing and outdoor activities – no matter if your trip takes you to the city, the mountains or the beach – can help keep the entire family entertained and in good moods (until kid #2 drops his ice cream in the sand, but that’s another story).
Consider these top sightseeing trips and tours for your next family vacation. Heck, if you see an adventure that piques your interest, consider planning an entire trip around it!
The tours and activities highlighted are chosen based on traveler reviews, data from the millions of people who check out Viator.com during the year, and information on which tours travelers book most often. We think you’ll enjoy reading about the array of activities available and we also think this list is a great place to start if you’re planning a trip with your family.
You’ll find all kinds of activities listed below, including canopy tours and flight simulators, snorkeling tours and biking adventures, and even historical tours kids will actually enjoy! Join us for this tour of the Top 25 Best Family Friendly Things to Do Around the World!
1. See the sights in only half a day
One of the best ways to make sure a learning experience is kid-friendly is by limiting the amount of time it takes, which is why half-day tours are such a great option for families. Spend part of your day learning about the city you’re visiting and the rest can be spent doing an exciting activity. Learn about fascinating history on a Budapest Half-Day Sightseeing Tour or a Casablanca Half-Day Sightseeing Tour. Explore all that’s modern on a Dubai City Half-Day Sightseeing Tour. See markets and gardens on a Freeport Half-Day Tour. Combine excitement with education on a Half-Day Jeep Safari in Dominica.
2. Skip the lines, avoid the wait
There’s nothing that will make a kid more fidgety than having to stand in a long line. So why not avoid all the trouble by avoiding the lines? Some of these tours are a bit more adult-friendly, but it’ll be quick and easy to experience with kids. Skip the Line at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam. See Italy’s top attraction without the wait with a Skip the Line Family-Friendly Colosseum and Ancient Rome Tour. Avoid the wait and entice the kids with wildlife at the same time with tours like Skip the Line Palma Aquarium on Mallorca, Skip the Line Mallorca Marineland, and Skip the Line London Zoo tours.
3. Safely indulge your daredevils
Get your adrenaline pumping with an exciting or daring activity and you’ll bring out everyone’s inner child. Race down the track at Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Luge or take an exhilarating and Unique Sightseeing and Rafting Trip through Skippers Canyon. Walk high above the trees with a visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, or pack a whole bunch of activities into one trip – zip wiring, balance beaming, tree swinging, and more – with a Tree Top Adventure in Snowdonia.
4. See a show the whole family will love
Seeing a show with the whole family can be a great way to keep everyone entertained without constantly being on the go. Watch incredible feats of human strength and agility at a Beijing Acrobat Show with Transfer or a Shanghai Circus World: ERA Intersection of Time Acrobatics Show. See a long-time favorite live with tickets to The Lion King Theater Show. Witness a world wonder in a new light with a Sound and Light Show at The Pyramids of Gaza. Laugh yourselves silly at Nathan Burton Comedy Magic at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
5. Get personal attention on a private tour
The best way to make sure your family loves a tour is by tailoring it to their interests – and that’s easy with a private tour. Your guide is focused entirely on your needs, and you get plenty of personalized attention. Take a Private 4×4 Desert Adventure Safari from Dubai that includes a camel ride and sandboarding. Get the family to dig deeper into Roman history with a Private Pompeii Rail Tour from Sorrento with Family Tour Option or a Private Herculaneum Rail Tour from Sorrento. Make especially sure your guide is kid-focused with a Private Beijing Family Tour to the Mutianyu Great Wall or a Colosseum for Kids and Families Private Tour.
6. Peek behind the scenes
Sometimes it helps to understand how something works in order to truly appreciate it. Plus, insider information gives kids great stories to tell when they get home. Take a Hollywood Behind the Scenes Walking Tour to find out how movies are made, or explore Disney on Broadway’s Behind the Scenes Walking Tour to learn more about a theater production. Get a ride on a vintage fire engine on a San Francisco Fire Engine Tour. Find out how the incredible floats come together with a Mardi Gras World: Behind the Scenes Tour in New Orleans. Get an insider peek at Sea Life London Aquarium with a VIP Behind the Scenes Tour.
7. Go under the sea
Treat your budding marine biologist to an experience of a lifetime – learning about sea creatures from experienced naturalists. The Sentosa S.E.A. Aquarium™ Admission in Singapore with Optional Hotel Transport lets you arrive with ease so you can relax and enjoy exploring coral reefs, shipwrecks and the Discovery Touch Pool. Get truly immersed with an Underwater Helmet-Diving Experience at the Miami Seaquarium.
8. Focus on a just-for-kids activity
While some tours are great for families, they might not be designed to cater to a kid’s needs. Try a tour that is specifically kid-friendly like an Everglades Family Adventure Tour from Greater Fort Myers/Naples Area, which is not only educational, but allows kids to get up close and personal with the wildlife. If you find yourself in New York, the Family Greenwich Village Tour is a great option for exploring one of New York’s historic neighborhoods while keeping the kids interested with a series of activities. A Rome Tour with Kids: Interactive Ancient Rome Tour helps children understand history. Go on an exciting Family Buggy Adventure in Punta Cana. Let the little ones have an experience that’s uniquely theirs with a New Orleans Kids Only Exploration Tour.
9. Have the ultimate theme park experience
With amazing thrills, food and an all-around exciting atmosphere, theme parks are abuzz with things for everyone in the family to do. Make your kids’ toys come to life, or at least life-sized, with our LEGOLAND® Windsor Admission with Transport from London, which abounds with fun rides and activities for all. Check out the underwater world at Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World. Venture into the Everglades to Explore Wild Florida Wildlife Park from Orlando. Wind your way through the hedge maze at A-Maze Garden Admission Phuket and then, next door, visit the weird and wonderful Upside Down House Phuket.
10. Take a walk on the wild side
Few things please the entire family quite like parks where visitors can have up-close encounters with animals. Enjoy a an Alpaca Farm Tour at Apple Hill Farm in North Carolina. Make your visit easy with a package San Diego Zoo Transportation and Admission. Head out on a 3-Hour Camargue 4×4 Safari from Le Grau-du-Roi to see pink flamingos and black bulls. Have an unforgettable winter experience with a Lapland Reindeer Safari from Rovaniemi including a Sleigh Ride.
11. Hunt for clues and solve puzzles
Puzzle lovers and video gamers will undoubtedly get a kick out of participating in an escape game, during which the whole family works together to come up with a solution to get out of the room you start in. Suit up like a London detective (complete with tea afterwards) to solve a mystery before time runs out in The Escape Hunt Experience Singapore and The Escape Hunt Experience Phuket. Try to find lost treasure during a one-hour Vienna Live Escape Game. Get your adrenaline really going by trying to deactivate a bomb and get out of the room in one hour in the Detonation Escape Game in Blackpool.
12. Get wet at a water park
Combining the thrill of rollercoasters and the wild card of rushing water, water parks are a great way for the whole family to enjoy themselves and even cool off if the weather is hot. Play to your heart’s content with Wet’n’Wild Hawaii Water Park Admission or Wet’n’Wild Cancun Water Park Admission, good all day. Enjoy a day at Yas Island Water World from Dubai with its 43 rides, or go all out at the award-winning Dubai Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark Admission at Atlantis the Palm with optional Lost Chambers Aquarium. Take care of the fun and the transportation in one package with Illa Fantasia Water and Theme Park Tickets with Shuttle in Barcelona.
13. Take a cooking class
Everybody in the family loves food, right? Well then, why not learn some cooking secrets while abroad? You can eat your way through your vacation while learning a trick or two to bring back home. Learn the art of Korean cuisine and Experience Seoul: Korean Beginner Cooking Class. If you’re in China, you can learn how to cook amazing traditional Chinese food on this Experience Xi’an: Dumpling Making and Family Cooking Class. Find out what makes French chefs so revered with a Family Cooking Class at L’atelier des Chefs in Paris. In India, make cooking true family time with a Delhi Cultural Experience: Cook and Eat with a Local Family. In Peru, you can do the same with a Lima Cooking Class with a Local Family.
14. Go on a sightseeing cruise
Seeing a city from the water is always a nice way to change perspectives on a place, and some sightseeing cruises offer especially family-friendly themes. Check out London from above and below with a London Eye and Thames River Sightseeing Cruise combo. Head out in on an exciting Vancouver Harbour Zodiac Sightseeing Cruise. Eat while you float through the city during an Amsterdam Canals Pizza Cruise. Watch for fins and tails on a Maui Whale Watch Cruise. Get into character (and history) on a Fort Lauderdale Family Pirate Cruise.
15. Enjoy discounts with a city pass
Make family travel a little easier by taking advantage of a city pass or city card. These often combine discounts or free entry not only at top attractions but also on transportation. The Chicago CityPass and New York CityPass include major discounts on top sights, including the Shedd Aquarium and Skydeck Chicago in Chicago and the Empire State Building and American Museum of Natural History in New York. The Copenhagen Card gives you free entry to 74 attractions plus free public transport. A Barcelona Card with Guidebook includes free admission to more than 20 attractions plus a full-color guidebook. With a Rome Card and Omnia Vatican Card Valid for 3 Days you’ve got plenty of time to explore top sights for free or at a discount.
16. Explore on two wheels
Enjoy the freedom of riding a bike through a city with an expert guide, giving you family-friendly exercise and sightseeing in one go. See the sights of Downtown Toronto on a Bike Tour, or cover Vancouver Highlights on a Bike Tour. Ride through one of the world’s most fascinating cities on a Berlin Bike Tour. Pedal through centuries of history during a Florence Bike Tour or a Rome City Bike Tour.
17. Make the most of your time in port
Planning your shore excursions in advance means you can relax while you’re at sea and enjoy fun activities and attractions for the whole family on land. Explore the natural beauty of Hawaii with a Kauai Shore Excursion to Waimea Canyon and River. Go from riding on the water to being in it with a Nassau Shore Excursion Bahamas Snorkel Adventure. See the sights with a Tauranga Shore Excursion Rotorua Highlights. Dig into history with an Athens Shore Excursion Acropolis Walking Tour. Get into character with a St Maarten Shore Excursion Pirates Day Cruise.
18. See firsthand where the magic is made
For fans of any age, seeing the filming locations for favorite TV shows and movies can make the places come to life even more. Take The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg to find out about the real-life family behind the popular musical. Follow Dan Brown’s novel on a Rome Angels and Demons Half-Day Tour. See the many New York TV and Movie Sites on a guided tour. Get double the Hollywood with a Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour and Movie Stars’ Homes Tour. To achieve hero status in the eyes of a child, take the Harry Potter Tour of Warner Bros. Studio in London.
19. Play in a winter wonderland
Outdoor fun doesn’t have to be limited to the summer, especially when there are so many great activities that require snow and ice. Take a Snow Day Trip to Lake Mountain and Steavenson Waterfalls from Melbourne. Head up to Mount Titlis for an Eternal Snow Half-Day Trip from Lucerne. Cover snowy ground on two vehicles with a Golden Circle Tour by Super Jeep Including Glacier Snowmobiling in Iceland. Watch mother nature’s best light show with a Northern Lights Experience at the Snow Village from Levi in Lapland.
20. Have fun in the sun
Summer vacations are a staple of family life, and with a beach or island tour you can make the most of the sunshine when you’re traveling. Go for an Island-Hopping Cruise from Miami Beach. Take a Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach Tour from the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Make getting there part of the fun with an Aruba Off-Road Island Tour Including Natural Pool and Baby Beach. Engage the anglers in your family with a Clearwater Beach Day Trip from Orlando with Optional Sea Screamer or Deep-Sea Fishing. Explore a Puerto Rican wildlife paradise with an El Yunque Rainforest and Luguillo Beach trip from San Juan.
21. Make historical and cultural education fun
Learning about different cultural traditions and historic events is always easier and more interesting when you experience it firsthand instead of from a book, so when you travel it’s the perfect excuse to add a little education to the itinerary. Find out more about New Zealand’s native population at a Rotorua Maori Hangi Dinner and Performance. Experience a traditional Old Lahaina Luau in Maui. Learn more about Native American culture with a Tillicum Village Cultural Experience. Combine ancient history with modern life during an Experience Mexico City: Teotihuacan Pyramids by Metro and Dinner with a Local Family tour. Don your fighting gear at Roman Gladiator School: Learn How to Become a Gladiator.
22. Mix it up with a combo tour
Keep boredom at bay with a combo tour, making sure no one is doing any activity long enough to get fidgety. Get everyone’s heart pumping with an Oahu Bike, Hike, Sail and Snorkel Combo and no one will have trouble sleeping that night. Book a Big Bus San Francisco Sightseeing and Alcatraz Combo to see the best of the city plus a top attraction. Explore two fascinating marine creatures with a Dolphin and Shark Encounter Combo in Puerto Plata. Get the most out of the city with the Best Family Vienna Combo: Vienna Card, Schonbrunn Zoo, Prater Ferris Wheel and Madame Tussauds. Check out some strange birds and some underground caverns in Curacao with an Ostrich Farm and HATO Caves Combo Adventure.
23. Show some team spirit
Sports are beloved around the world, so although the game itself might be different the enthusiasm is easy to recognize – not to mention infectious. A Sports Lovers Tour of Melbourne takes you on a tour of the stadiums and museums of cricket and tennis, as well as a drive around the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit at Albert Park. Watch a soccer (football) match in some of the most famous grounds in the world – an Arsenal Football Match at Emirates Stadium, a Chelsea Football Match at Stamford Bridge Stadium, or a Mexico City Match at Azteca Stadium. Watch the ceremony and strength of a Tokyo Sumo Wrestling Tournament.
24. Make museums fun
Museums don’t have to be the places where you drag your kids around while enticing them with treats afterwards. There are plenty of museums where the whole family will find something to enjoy. The Walt Disney Family Museum Admission in San Francisco will delight kids and adults alike with its classic Disney movies, model of Disneyland and plenty of fascinating exhibits on top of that. The American Museum of Natural History has been engaging children of all ages for decades. The International Spy Museum is interactive and designed to entertain kids. The Weta Cave Workshop Tour will enthrall any Lord of the Rings fan. A Tokyo Studio Ghibli Museum Afternoon Tour brings Japanese animated features to life.
25. Indulge everyone’s sweet tooth
Keep the kids (and adults) engaged and happy by eating and sightseeing at the same time. Take a Dessert Walking Tour in New York City to try cupcakes, cookies and gelato. Learn about one of the most popular sweets in the places where it’s made with a Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop or a Small-Group Chocolate and Sweets Walking Tour of Zurich’s Old Town. Indulge down under with a Melbourne Chocolate Tour. Find out what makes French treats so famous with a Paris Chocolate and Pastry Food Tour.
– Viator Travel Team