Any parent who’s ever tried to shush a tantrum-ing toddler in a boutique hotel lobby or brought a newborn to the beach (sand + diaper cream = never again) has learned that certain vacations are more suitable for certain ages. Here, we break it down so that your next family getaway will give you the warm fuzzies—not PTSD.

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kid trips paris

Age 1 and under: Europe

They have no real sleep schedule, so the time difference won’t throw them. Neither will your 3 p.m. glass of vino in a palazzo or your three-hour lunch in a Parisian café. (Hello, isn’t that why they invented the K’tan?). An afternoon spent slowly strolling the grounds of the Gaudi museum? That’s called naptime, baby.

kid trips beach

1 to 3: Beach House

Pack as many families with young kids as you can into a weeklong rental on Fire Island or Nantucket or Kauai. No one will judge you for being fanatical about the nap schedule. Or the pulverized Cheerios on the floor. Or the 24/7 nakedness. Or the 3 AM screaming. Toddlers bring about a particular kind of parenting misery—and joy! Of course, joy—that’s best shared with others going through it.

kid trips disneyland

4 to 7: Disney

Go after they’re potty trained but before their sense of wonder wears off. Just be sure to reserve your meet-and-greet with Ariel the same day you buy your plane tickets, and get in line for Jedi training school the instant the park opens at 9 a.m. And FYI, that princess restaurant atop Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom books up to 180 days in advance. (Note: You might need a vacation after this vacation.)

kid trips atlantis

8 to 12: Atlantis

So much of what’s amazing at this Bahamian aquatic paradise can be only enjoyed by older kids. Want to swim with the dolphins? That requires a half-day training course. Want to ride a tube-encased waterslide through a tank of live sharks (and really, who doesn’t)? The height requirement is 48”.  Go when they’re old enough to remember it forever (you know, by posting about it on social media). 

kid trips yellowstone

Tweens and Beyond: Yellowstone

Geysers. Waterfalls. Hot springs. Bubbling mud pots. Hike daily among the elk, bison and grizzly bears that roam free. And watch as the spirit of your teenager rises high like the Grand Tetons. The best natural wonder of all? Your family after this trip. 

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