Top 25 Family Friendly Activities Around the World: 2015 Viator Travel Awards

December 9, 2014 by

Family & Kids, Things to Do, Viator Travel Awards

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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 2015 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. Have an outdoor adventure

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The incredible greenery surrounding the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

One definite way to keep both kids and adults interested is to explore the outdoors. Try this Private Tour: 4×4 Desert Adventure Safari from Dubai, where you’ll not only ride in a 4×4, but visit a camel farm and ride down sand dunes. For somewhat older kids, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Including the Treetops Adventure and Cliffwalk offers an incredible view of the stunning landscape splayed out beneath you. You can also try Xplor Adventure Park, a unique theme park which offers a variety of fantastic outdoor experiences ranging from ziplining to cave rafting. If you’re looking for something a little more tame, try the Eco-Safari at Forever Florida, where you’ll ride an open-air coach to get a view of the wildlife and you’ll even get to visit a ranch to see some animals.

2. See a show the whole family will love

Seeing a show with the whole family can be a great way to unwind and keep everyone entertained. See a truly unique spectacle with the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino featuring animals, juggling and more. And is any trip to New York City complete without having your kids see their first Broadway show? From The Lion King to Mamma Mia!, Broadway’s never been a more family-friendly place. And the Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theater in Chicago rivals that of Vegas. It might not have the pomp of a theatre show, but an Island Breeze Luau on the Big Island is just as entertaining and even filled with culture. For a truly magnificent show try La Nouba at Walt Disney World Resort, which combines to incredible entertainment institutions, Cirque du Soleil and Disney, for an amazing experience

3. Take a cooking class

Everybody in the family loves food, right? Well then, why not learn about its secrets while abroad? You can eat your way through your vacation while learning a trick or two to bring back home. If you want something specifically geared towards children, try a Kids Pizza Cooking Class in Rome. You can also gain insider knowledge of Italian food on this Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florence or a Florence Cooking Class: Learn How to Make Gelato and Pizza. 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.

4. Have the ultimate theme-park experience

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

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. Find out what happens behind the scenes with our Universal Studios Singapore One-Day Pass or have a simply magical day with our Disneyland Paris Ticket: 1 Day 2 Park. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, try an ESCAPE Adventureplay Theme Park Entrance Ticket with One-Way Transport, which includes entrance to a phenomenal eco-themed park, where you can practically live in the wild by swinging through trees and ziplining across the ravine. No matter which you choose, it’s sure to be an interesting day.

5. Get hands-on

One surefire way to get kids interested is to get their hands dirty. Try getting your children involved with these hands-on tours that can be just for kids, or the whole family as well. If you take an Experience Shanghai: Chinese Pottery Class, you’ll get to learn not only the history behind this incredible art form, but take part in it yourself. For something with a bit more glitz and glamour make sure to try the Accessory-Making Class in Paris: Cancan or Marie Antoinette Theme, where you’ll hand-make your own fabulous jewelry, something sure to keep the kids entertained. Another educational, but physical tour is the incredible Roman Gladiator School: Learn How to Become a Gladiator, where you’ll learn about gladiators and they way they fought, all while getting to do it yourself!

6. Go for a ride

Getting kids off their feet and having someone else do the work can be a great way to see the sights of the city without getting tired out. Create a truly magical experience for the children on a Lapland Reindeer Safari from Rovaniemi Including Husky Sled Ride, where you will not only visit a reindeer farm and a husky farm, but be pulled along in a reindeer- and then a husky-drawn sleigh. Known for their incredible scenery, why not try a simple Private Tour: Lake Tahoe Sleigh Ride or Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride in Banff to view the beautiful surroundings, while enjoying the charm of an old-fashioned-style sleigh.

7. 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. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square offers tons of unique and wacky things to keep everyone interested, while the 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. Try our San Diego Natural History Museum Admission and witness tons of incredible sights, including the tomb of King Tut if you choose the upgrade.

8. Walk in the footsteps of their heroes

If your tweens or teens are fans of J.K. Rowling’s books, and especially if they’ve seen all of the Harry Potter films on the big screen, you’ll want to book one of our related tours on your next trip to England. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter gives you an up-close-and-personal look at some of the authentic sets, costumes and props that were actually used in the Harry Potter movies. Or upgrade to our Warner Bros. Studio: The Making of Harry Potter with Luxury Round-Trip Transport from London or try the London Harry Potter Walking Tour. For more TV- and movie-related tours, try the The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg or visit a truly iconic childhood show at Sesame Place.

9. Make friends with a fish

Snorkeling is a wonderful way for active families to introduce kids to the underwater world in tropical vacation destinations. We suggest practicing at home in the bathtub with a basic snorkel set so kids can get a feel for the equipment. Then you’ll all be prepared to hop on such exciting trips as the Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Adventure Half-Day Tour or the Leeward Coast Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise. The Na Pali Coast Kauai Snorkel and Sail includes a buffet lunch to satisfy your hunger after a fun day out doing some underwater exploring. Or for something with some extra kid-friendly activities like a waterslide and banana boat ride, try a Bali Reef Cruise and Lembongan Island Day Trip.

10. Go under the sea

Great Barrier Reef Nemo

Find Nemo in the Great Barrier Reef

While snorkeling is a fascinating experience for the whole family, these underwater adventures offer a little more than just the average snorkel. Try the the Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun: Small-Group Snorkeling Tour where can also get up close to some sharks, just like on this Bora Bora Snorkel, Sharkfeeding and Lagoonarium Full-Day Tour including Picnic Lunch or Marinarium Shark and Ray Experience. To experience something truly incredible, try what was voted “one of the top 10 things to do in your life” by the Travel Channel on the Manta Ray Night Snorkel from Kona. If you’re not entirely sure you want to head out under the sea, try the Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns which gives you the option to snorkel, relax on the beach or head out on a glass-bottom boat.

11. Sightseeing on wheels

When you’re traveling with family, there can sometimes be a bit of schlepping — whether it’s getting everyone on the train or making sure everyone crosses the street safely, it can seem like a forced march instead of discovery. If the kids are itching to get off their feet, then why not try a tour that removes the difficulty of walking? See fabulous San Francisco and see it from a vehicle that is sure to enchant kids and adults alike on this San Francisco Fire Engine Tour. Plus, if you’re not walking you can save some precious travel time, so try a Washington, D.C. National Mall and Museums Pedicab Tour to quickly see some of the U.S. capital’s most famous sights or learn about the history of South Carolina in an appropriately-themed carriage on this Charleston Carriage Ride.

12. Take a family-friendly tour

While some tours are great for families, they might not be designed to cater a family’s needs. Try a tour that is specifically family-friendly like this Skip the Line: Family-Friendly Colosseum and Ancient Rome Tour, which is not only led by a child-specialist guide, but is interactive and includes role-playing and other exciting activities. If you want your kids to experience the vibrant culture of Paris and still see the sights you want to see, try the Paris Walking Tour for Children and Families, where you’ll have the option of going on the tour yourself, or letting your children go on the tour with a qualified Parisian mother. 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. If the urban jungle isn’t necessarily your scene, try the 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.

13. Get wet!

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. If you’re in Turkey, make it ultra-convenient with hotel pickup and drop off on this AquaDream Waterpark Day Trip from Marmaris or try the Dedeman Aquapark Day Trip from Bodrum. There is the classic Shamu experience with a SeaWorld® Orlando Ticket, and there’s definitely something for everyone if you try the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park Day Trip from Kuala Lumpur, which boasts three different themed-lands.

14. Have a beach day

To say there’s plenty to do at the beach would be an understatement. Plus, it holds fun, engaging — or, if you’d prefer, relaxing — activities for both adults and children. Why not try a combo trip to El Yunque Rainforest and Luquillo Beach from San Juan or Playa Mia Grand Beach and Water Park Day Pass, which hold double the fun for the kids. Even if you’ve never surfed before, experienced instructors will have you up and riding gentle waves that are ideal for beginners during introductory lessons. Though adults can usually handle group classes, try a semi-private instruction for your children, such as with San Diego Kids Surf Lessons.

15. Get a bird’s eye view

Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour

Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour

If you’d really like to soar into the sky with an experienced pilot, check out the Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour or the Big Apple Helicopter Tour of New York. Plane rides can be fun, too — you can experience the beauty and awesome power of Niagara Falls with a Day Trip from New York by Air, or an Abu Dhabi Seaplane Flight from Dubai Including Ferrari World and Return Transfer. If you’re a bit of a braver, try an Open Cockpit Biplane Sightseeing Ride.

But perhaps nothing is more mind-blowing and majestic than seeing the world wake up below your feet from the point of view of a hot air balloon. From the Strip during a Las Vegas Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride to the Magic Kingdom with a Orlando Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride to the surreal landscape of a Dubai Hot Air Balloon Flight, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience the whole family can control.

16. Catch a game (or a match!)

Love them or hate them, but the New York Yankees are a part of the city’s history, as well as the history of baseball. So while you’re visiting the city, take a Viator VIP: Watch a Baseball Game with Yankees Legends in a Luxury Suite tour to get the real inside scoop on the team. But in the way that baseball is America’s sport, so too do other cultures express their national pride through sporting traditions. 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! Experience the utter chaotic fun that is a Mexican Wrestling with Lucha Libre in Mexico City, or check out a Rio de Janeiro Soccer Match.

17. Go wild

Singapore breakfast with oranguatans

Singapore breakfast with oranguatans

 

Few things please the entire family quite like zoos. Plus, there are few places as ideal for seeing wildlife as Australia, which is why the Sydney Taronga Zoo General Entry Ticket and Wild Australia Experience or the Sydney Taronga Zoo’s Australian Animals Tour and Sky Safari are both excellent experiences. You’ll get to interact with the animals and get your photo taken with some of them among other things. Some other classic zoo experiences include Skip the Line: London Zoo Tickets and the San Diego Zoo. For something a little bit out of the ordinary try Vienna’s Schonbrunn Zoo and Giant Ferris Wheel, where you’ll not only get to visit the zoo, but view this incredible city from great heights.

18. Have a high sea adventure

Make playtime a reality for the kids on these pirate-themed tours. Adults can relax and explore the local scenery while the kids enjoy the following pirate-themed cruises. On the Punta Cana Pirate Ship Cruise with Dinner, you’ll be part of a live pirate show complete with explosions and all. And if you want to get more of the authentic pirate experience, try this St. Martin Pirates Day Cruise, where you can take a turn at the wheel and even walk the plank. For something a bit more adult, there’s the Pirates Dinner Adventure Orlando, where you and the rest of the audience at this Broadway-level show are all “captured” by pirates for an experience that’s fun for all.

19. Indulge in cheese, chocolate, and other local treats

Dessert Walking Tour in New York City: Cupcakes, Cookies and Gelato

Dessert Walking Tour in New York City: Cupcakes, Cookies and Gelato

Keep the kids occupied and happy by eating and sightseeing at the same time. Try a Rome Food Walking TourParis Chocolate and Pastry Food Tour, or a Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop, and you can leave you full and more knowledgeable! Meanwhile, you can do a back-to-back New York Pizza Tour to Brooklyn and Coney Island and Dessert Walking Tour in New York City in order to get all the most important Big Apple food groups while showing you a unique point of view of a city you may think you already know.

20. Learn about marine life up-close

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. Here’s another idea: The Dolphin Experience at the Miami Seaquarium gives children ages five and up the opportunity to interact with dolphins in shallow water — including shaking hands, leaning in for a kiss and trying out some training signals! Or why not visit Australia’s No. 1 attraction with a Skip the Line: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Entrance Ticket or try General Admission to the Miami Seaquarium, where you can touch stringrays and observe orcas.

21. Sightsee by Segway

Forget hoofing it around a city to check out the most important sights. Instead, book a Segway tour for easy cruising along sidewalks in some of the most-visited locales in the world. Tweens and teens will get a kick out of this unique self-balancing personal-transportation device (okay, you might look a little goofy, but the tours make for some great family photos). Small groups ensure personal attention during the Rome Segway Tour, the Madrid Segway Tour and the Paris City Segway Tour, which passes by the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, among other landmarks. Then there’s the New Orleans French Quarter Segway Tour, which leads you through one of the United States’ most vibrant and historic districts, so there’s much for everyone to see. And with a Washington, D.C. Segway Tour you can zip past some of the most iconic American sights.

22. Go whale watching on any coast

Operators of whale-watching tours know exactly where to go in the ocean to view these magnificent creatures – so typically you’re guaranteed a whale sighting. And if you’re really lucky, you may even see one even breach and leap out of the water. An East Coast adventure is the Boston Whale Watching Cruise, and when you find yourself on the West Coast check out the Whale Watching & Wildlife Eco Tour from San Francisco or Whale Watching from Friday Harbor. Farther west — WAY west — is a Maui Whale Watch Cruise. But what about those going towards Europe? Don’t fear — the Whale-Watching Tour from Reykjavik includes the chance to see the numerous whales of Faxaflói Bay, as well as harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, minke whales and humpback whales!

23. Ride the ducks

London Duck Tour

London Duck Tour

See the sights by land and water from an amphibious vehicle. Just the playful sight of the bus will keep the kids entertained, plus moving from land into water will impress even the adults. Some amphibious trips in the U.S. include the San Francisco Duck Tour, the Boston Duck Tour and the Washington, D.C. Duck Tour. For a more inclusive package try the three-Day Singapore City Pass: Duck Tour, Night Tour, Marina Bay Tour and Universal Studios Singapore® tour. Or try the Dublin Viking Duck Tour, where duck-riders are given Viking helmets to wear and encouraged to try out their best Viking yell on passerby. Regardless, prepare for some lively accompaniment: some tours hand out quack-quack duck whistles to the kids, which pint-sized participants aren’t afraid to use. Loudly.

24. Skip the lines

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? These tours are a bit more adult-friendly, but it’ll be quick and easy to experience with kids. Explore some of the most popular sites in Rome on a Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica Half-Day Walking Tour or a Skip the Line: Crypts and Roman Catacombs Small Group Walking Tour. If you’re one for architecture, see one of Spain’s most stunning buildings on a Skip the Line: Barcelona Sagrada Familia Tour or pique the kids’ interest by learning about sultans and kings on this Skip the Line: Alhambra and Generalife Gardens Half-Day Tour. This next tour requires a bit of adult planning, as it frequently sells out a month in advance, but the forethought is worth it for this Skip the Line: Borghese Gallery and Gardens Walking Tour, allowing the adults to enjoy the art and the kids to marvel at the extravagant gardens.

25. Learn about other cultures

But you don’t have to skip the line to to keep the kids’ interest (though it helps). From a Paradise Cove Luau to Polynesian Cultural Center Tickets, which include another luau and an incredible Polynesian show, family-friendly evenings can include a bit of fun as well as learning. And if sport is the thing that gets your kids interested in cultures, why not watch a Sumo Wrestling Tournament in Tokyo? Plus, there is always the old standby skip-the-line tour, like this Skip the Line: Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour, which is sure to keep the kids interested with all the hidden secrets behind this incredible building.

- Viator Travel Team

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