Everyone talks about what they want to put on their bucket list, whether it’s something as challenging as climbing a mountain or learning a language, or as serene as watching the sunset in a certain destination or flying in a hot air balloon. And British organisation English Heritage recently revealed its list of 50 activities to do before children reach 11-and-three-quarters, including playing conkers and having a snail race.
But what about where you go with your little ones? Time flashes by so quickly that before you know it your toddler is a teenager. There are certain destinations that really need to be visited before their childish exuberance is a thing of the past. Here are just some of the must-see places to take your kids before they grow up.
Walt Disney World, Florida
It’s a cliché but it’s true. While older children might love the adrenaline-fueled rides at Disney, they will never quite feel the magic of meeting their favorite characters, watching Mickey and Minnie pass by during one of the parades, or seeing fireworks explode over Cinderella’s Castle as younger ones do. And, there are lots of rides specially geared to younger children, like Peter Pan’s flight where you skim over Neverland and the old-fashioned carousel, where you can ride together as a family on different sized horses. If you’re worn out by too much Disney, you could finish your trip by heading down to the Gulf Coast to make sandcastles on sugar-white sand.
The Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, England
England’s south-western tip is one of its most popular tourist destinations, and with good reason when you consider it has more than 600km of coastline, perfect surfing waves and scrumptious locally-caught seafood. The charmingly-named Lizard Peninsula is one of the best places in the world to visit with young children. There are little hidden coves where your kids can play at being pirates looking for buried treasure, there’s the Flambards Experience theme park, and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is based here, where you can meet grey seal pups being rehabilitated ready for re-release into the ocean. Cornwall’s Mullion caravan park makes a good base, particularly if you’re traveling with children of different age groups because there are kids clubs for little and big ones.
Legoland, Billund, Denmark
While Lego has never gone out of fashion, the release of the The Lego Movie has seen a resurgence in popularity for these little colored bricks. It might take mere mortals hours and hours just to make a model spaceship or house, but the creations at Legoland are truly awe-inspiring. There’s a whole mini world made from little building bricks. You can visit the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, without ever leaving Denmark. You can even travel to a galaxy far, far away at the Star Wars model area. In total, there are 20 million Lego bricks making up the cities and spaceships.
Canal Boating in France
Ratty from Wind in the Willows famously said there was nothing so good as simply messing about in boats. And your children are certain to agree. While boating holidays are for all ages, kids seem to love them most of all as they appeal to their sense of adventure. France is a good choice as there’s a huge network of rivers and canals to choose from. The Canal du Midi is the most famous waterway in the country and, along the route, you’ll find little villages where you can stop for a bite to eat, having a long lunch to escape the heat of the day. Any leftover bread can be fed over the side of the boat to the ducks.
Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
It’s delightful for anyone. But for children, being able to picnic right beside the penguins who have made Boulders Beach, near Simon’s Town in Cape Town their home is a magical experience. These little black and white birds, called Jackass penguins because of the loud noises they made, are completely unfazed by human company, standing within a meter or so of you on the beach. You can watch as they waddle clumsily down to the icy waters of the Atlantic before they plunge gracefully into the ocean.
Wherever you choose to explore in the world with your children, your trip is sure to provide memories that you’ll be talking about together as a family well after they grow up.