Ever mentioned a holiday that involves travelling to a new city only to be met with moans and groans about being dragged from one museum to the next? Dial down the 'culture alert' with our picks for toddlers, tweens and teens in some obvious and not-so obvious family-friendly holiday destinations.
Bangkok may not be the obvious choice for fun with a toddler, but this lively city features many enclaves for little ones to run around safely. Beat the heat with a trip to Imaginia Playland in Emporium Mall at Phrom Phong BTS. This modern, creative playzone is spread over two floors connected by a ‘time travelling’ slippery slide. Don’t miss the bouncy nets of the ‘Dream Jungle’ or the inflatable mountain!
You could easily spend your entire Singapore sojourn on Sentosa Island. Singapore’s premier family attraction is a destination in its own right, with amusement parks, themed hotels, shows and beaches all vying for your attention. For pre-schoolers, there’s no better place than Port of Lost Wonder, an exclusive kids beach club of wet and wild adventures.
Kids will feel right at home on the islands of aloha. For a dose of island life, the Polynesian Culture Center showcases the traditions of the South Pacific, with much of the entertainment designed for kids, including craft workshops and shows. On the North Shore, the Dole Plantation will be a hit with its ‘pineapple’ train, maze and tasty Dole Whip servings.
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Copenhagen caters to kids like few other cities, with everything from museums with artwork at kids’ heights to reserved seats on public transport. Tivoli Gardens will delight both the young and young at heart. Founded in 1843, nostalgic rides, including the perennially popular wooden rollercoaster, are nestled within whimsical gardens. So popular is the Tivoli Gardens, its attractions have lured visionaries like Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney and no doubt have been the inspiration behind their greatest works.
There’s more to London than the royals – like the magic of Harry Potter. Wannabe wizards can relive their favourite moments from the series at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour near Watford. Fans can go behind the scenes with walk-throughs of iconic sets, such as the Great Hall, filled with iconic props. I won’t spoil any of the magic, but there are more than a few surprises in store for any Hogwarts hopefuls.
A visit to the Eternal City shouldn’t just be about sampling every flavour of gelato (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). A visit to the Colosseum is one thing, but enrolling in gladiator school for a day will really bring Rome’s history to life, complete with traditional tunic, belt and ‘weapons’.
Amsterdam may be a cultural cocktail of history blended with a dash of notoriety, but its wonky facades and scenic canals hide many teen-friendly sites which can be easily explored on foot, by bike or boat. Bypass the kitschy wax museum for an enriching visit to Anne Frank Huis and colourful Tropenmuseum, or spend the day in the sunshine at Vondelpark.
With cosmopolitan charm and easy access to pristine wilderness, Auckland is the perfect place for a digital detox. It won’t be hard to disconnect from social media with myriad outdoor pursuits right at the doorstep. Inch along a walkway 192 metres above ground on the Sky Tower; explore the city’s sandy stretches on horseback; or navigate rock valleys and waterfalls in the Waitakere Ranges Rainforest on a canyoning adventure.
New York City
A walk through Central Park or Fifth Avenue will ignite nostalgia from books, shows and films the family has grown up with. Eloise fans will love taking tea at the Plaza; gossip girls (and boys) can channel their inner Serena van der Woodsen or Chuck Bass at the New York Palace Hotel; and any late-night show lovers should head to 30 Rock for a chance to spot famous faces heading to a filming of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon!