5 Best Baby-Friendly Vacations The Whole Family Will Love

by | Aug 12, 2023 | Family Adventures, Travel Tips

(This article may or may not contain affiliate links. What does that mean?)


I’ll never forget my first cross-country airplane ride with our firstborn. He was just four months old, and I was flying solo with him from Seattle to Burlington, Vermont, for a multi-generational family vacation – on a red-eye, no less. I packed a carry-on bag for a small army of two, with changes of clothes, blankies, a nursing cover, diapers, all of it. My husband saw us to the gate, where I took a deep breath and boarded. And you know what? For all my worrying and nervousness, he nursed and slept like a champ and we both came out the other side beaming as if we had won a gold medal. 

Fast-forward 16 years and that big kid, plus his younger brother and sister, are well-versed in flying cross-country. When I went for it with Jack when he was a baby, I was setting into motion a traveling spirit and an attitude that no matter where we wanted to go in the world, there’s no reason a baby can’t come along. 

With that in mind, we offer a few of the most baby – and toddler-friendly destinations in the US and Mexico, places where it’s not only easy to tow along a newborn, but these places go out of their way to make it no big deal that some of your family is still in diapers. There’s really no excuse. If you want to get out there on vacation, now’s the time to go. (Plus, better now than when you’re hemmed in by school breaks when they’re older!)




San Diego 

San Diego is a perfect place for a family-favorite vacation destination for a reason. With a year-round mild climate, beautiful beaches, a world-famous zoo, stroller-friendly Balboa Park, gardens, and more, kids of all ages have much to love, and their parents love seeing and hearing those happy grins and giggles. The city practically plans its own itinerary with so many offerings for all ages. Among the best places:

Model Railroad Museum: Mesmerize your little one – and maybe even inspire a nap – as they watch model trains whirl around on the tracks and trestles of this expansive museum in the heart of Balboa Park.

New Children’s Museum: Just a short walk from the railroad museum, check out toddler time every Friday morning at 10 am or 11 am at this fantastic kids’ museum. With music, movement and social play for ages 5 years and younger, it’s an hour well spent at the museum. Free with admission. 


family on beach, baby friendly vacations

There’s nothing like little toes in the sand for the first time. Photo by Lawrence Crayton.


DON’T MISS: 6 Tips to Survive Your First Hotel Stay with a Baby


Baby-Friendly Hotel In San Diego

La Jolla Shores Hotel: With a flat, sandy beach directly in front of the hotel, a park with a playground next door, and a heated outdoor swimming pool and wading pool, you may not even want to leave this family-friendly favorite. Plan to spend a full day here during your sightseeing, enjoying how easy it is to head to the beach, then back to the room for a siesta, then out for more sand and water play in the afternoon and early evening. 


Pro-Tip: During the month of October, kids 12 and under get in free with a paid adult admission to more than 50 of San Diego County’s museums, botanical gardens, aquariums, historic sites and more.


Outer Banks, North Carolina

North Carolina’s dreamy Outer Banks are consistently ranked as one of the best family beach trips around. Even with a wee one, families can experience the allure of the wide-open, stunning shoreline and charming seaside villages of these barrier islands. Don’t be afraid of taking the baby to the beach – those little toes are dying to dip into the surf and wriggle around in the sand for the first time. A few of our Outer Banks’ favorite places for the whole family include:

NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island: Let your newborn’s eyes follow floating jellyfish in the Delicate Drifters Exhibit, a soothingly lit room devoted to these translucent creatures. 

Island Farm: Take a walk to meet some loveable animals of a different kind at this farm in Maneto (open April through November). Young kids ages three and under are free and love seeing ponies, cows and more up close. 

Elizabethan Gardens: Take a stroller walk through these bright and colorful gardens designed to entertain Queen Elizabeth I during her reign. Keep an eye out for the variety of birdlife that flits through during all seasons.


Pro-Tip: Consider a family photo session to capture your little one’s first vacation moments. The Outer Banks make for a gorgeous sunset portrait on the beach during the summer months.


boardwalk, lighthouse, baby friendly vacations

Long walks on the beach will put Baby to sleep. Photo by Kyle Calhoun.


Baby-Friendly Hotel At The Outer Banks

Beachwood Resort: Spread out in large, family-sized rooms, with a full kitchen, a private balcony or studio, and separate bedrooms. The four-star resort also features indoor and outdoor pools, a game room, a lazy river, and, for the caffeine-craving parent, coffee in the lobby. 


Disney World 

If you’re considering theme parks like Disney World with a baby in tow, it’s likely you have older family members who are begging to go … fret not. You can experience the most magical place on earth with the other kiddos while the youngest one goes along for the ride … and you can survive! There’s a little extra planning required, of course, but for the most part, Disney World understands and caters to families with newborns. Our favorite baby-bonuses in the land of Mickey include: 

Free tickets and dining: Disney World does not require a ticket for admission for guests under age three, nor do they need a Park Pass reservation. Same goes for dining options. There are several Disney World restaurants at which guests under three are able to dine for free.

Strollers for rent: Don’t want to lug your stroller on the plane? You can rent one – single or double – for the day or for several days at a time. Caveat: You can’t bring it back to the hotel guest rooms with you at the end of each day.

Baby Care Centers: These fully staffed facilities are sheer heaven for families with babies and young children. There’s one in each of the four theme parks, with a nursing room, changing tables, restrooms, a feeding area with high chairs, an entertainment room, and even a shop selling all manner of baby gear and necessities. It’s a great place to slow down for a minute and let everyone regroup.


Pro-Tip: Take a break from the frenzy of the park and visit scenic Lake Eola Park, take a boat ride in Winter Park, or take toddlers to the interactive Orlando Science Center for the day.


balloons, baby friendly vacations

Nothing says magical like Mickey! Photo by Brian McGowan.


DON’T MISS: Baby Travel Hacks You Can Use Anywhere


Baby-Friendly Hotels In Disney World

Beach Club Resort: This pretty resort is next to the International Gateway of Epcot and has easy access to the Boardwalk Area for entertainment and dining. There’s a massive water park, Stormalong Bay, and families are just steps from the Skyliner gondola that can take them to Hollywood Studios. 

Pop Century Resort: This is a fun one that will catapult parents right back to their own childhood, showcasing fads from the 1950s through the 1990s. Everywhere you look, you’ll find nods to Play-Doh®, Rubik’s Cube®, and more timeless toys and fads. The Hippy Dippy Pool has a great kiddie pool area with a nearby pop-jet water fountain. 


Olympic National Park, Washington 

Outdoor-loving parents will want to impart a love of nature and outdoor recreation to their kids. Start them young at Olympic National Park in Washington State, where kids can go tide pooling and marvel at sea stars and crabs, hike in a temperate rainforest, and walk for miles (with a comfortable baby carrier, of course!). Here are some of our favorite things to do with babies (or any age, really!) in this Pacific Northwest national park:

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: Take advantage of the peninsula’s natural mineral hot springs in a variety of soaking pools and hot tubs. Ages four and up can go into all pools (including a wading pool), but you can take kids younger than that into the freshwater pool. Try to get some solo adult time, though, so you can soak a while yourself. Use this as a home base for a road trip exploring the alpine and seashore landscapes of the Olympic Peninsula.

Hoh Rain Forest: Take a quiet walk along The Hall of Mosses Trail (0.8 miles/1.2 kilometers) through maple trees draped in verdant club moss, or The Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles/1.9 kilometers) alongside Taft Creek and the Hoh River. Watch our for bright-yellow banana slugs, salamanders and even glow worms after sunset. (If your baby is napping in a carrier, it’s almost like you’re getting some alone time in the forest!)


lake and mountains, baby friendly vacations

Olympic National Park is a one-size-fits-all outdoor experience. Photo by Ryan Stone.


Baby-Friendly Hotels At Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park Lodges: The park boasts several accommodation choices, from log cabin-style retreats to the Sol Duc Resort, where the hot springs are just steps from the front door. Lake Quinault Lodge and Lake Crescent Lodge are ideally set next to shimmering lakes.



Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 

One of the most perfect places for a baby-friendly getaway? All-inclusive resorts, particularly beachside in a tropical locale. We love Puerto Vallarta’s family-focused resorts like those below for their luxury hotel feel, water sports, golf courses, easy access to the beach, excursions like horseback riding for the older kids, water slides and much more. 


kids, ocean, baby friendly vacations

Seeing the great, wide ocean will instill a love of travel from an early age!


Baby-Friendly Hotels In Puerto Vallarta

Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa: With everything from giant Jenga to pinata smashing, this resort has kids figured out. There are room amenities just for kids, fun activities, specialized kid menus, in-room camping kits and more tailored to the youngest guests. It’s a particularly great choice if you have toddlers and elementary-school age kids in addition to a newborn because they’ll be engaged for hours so the baby can nap (perhaps right on the beside you as you catch up on beach reading!).

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive and Spa: A favorite for its breadth of amenities, from restaurants to the Nakawe Spa to the Fiesta Kids Club, this resort in the upscale Hotel Zone has it all. Just like Villa Del Palmar, the kids’ clubs keep ages 4 to 12 (and teens) entertained all day, making it easier to keep on a newborn schedule. 

As for our own family, we have managed – even with kids in car seats –  to fit in national parks, all-inclusive beach resorts, road trips and a theme park or two, and we’ll just keep going. A zest for travel and working through challenges that crop up, no matter what age your kids are, is a priceless gift to pass down. 




From her home in Seattle, Michelle writes for a variety of internationally based travel companies. When not writing, she’s hiking, skiing, reading, or (in actuality) working her other job as “mom taxi.” Check out her other work at Eagle Eyes Editing.