South Walton, Florida
The sugar white sand beaches of South Walton, Florida offer plenty of kid-friendly activities, plus a healthy dose of adventure, culture, and beach relaxation that adults will love too. South Walton’s 16 beach neighborhoods are so picture perfect that they served as the backdrop for The Truman Show. The whole 26-mile stretch of beaches are magnificent, but Seaside and it’s surrounding beaches of Seagrove, Watercolor, and Grayton Beach are especially family friendly. Families looking for space to spread out can take advantage of more than 300 rentals available throughout the beach towns, including a number of large, multi-bedroom rentals that feature amenities ranging from pools to game rooms to outdoor kitchens.
As an extra draw, South Walton is in the process of developing an artificial reef, with four snorkeling reefs just off the coast of Grayton Beach, and nine scuba reefs further out to sea. The town is opening The Underwater Museum of Art, North America’s first underwater permanent sculpture park in 2018. Here are the best Florida beaches locals want to keep a secret.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
With a pedestrian-friendly downtown with plenty of inexpensive spots to eat, drink, and shop, this tourist-friendly town about an hour south of Cancun is a great fit for families who like to explore outside a resort, but still want to have hotel amenities nearby. For a local day trip, the ruins of Tulum are just 30 minutes away, where you can cool off with a free dip in the warm Caribbean sea below the ancient citadel (always a kid pleaser), and don’t miss the frozen paletas (ice pops) from vendors in flavors from avocado to watermelon, for about a buck. Stay at the new Ventus at Marina El Cid, an all-inclusive resort with rooms starting at $119 a night including all dining and beverages.
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E! Yes, Anaheim is where you’ll find America’s favorite mouse, but the sunny SoCal destination also offers warm weather and a great base to explore the rest of the southern West Coast’s family-friendly activities. US News & World Report ranked Anaheim #2 in Best Winter Family Vacation Destinations for its access to theme parks and attractions, including Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park, Legoland in Carlsbad and the San Diego Zoo in San Diego, and Universal Studios and much more in Los Angeles. Hotels here offer affordable hotel packages to get travelers to stay in Anaheim as their Southern California base; for example, the Anaheim Marriott offers a Discover Disneyland Package that includes guest room, free parking, free shuttle to Disneyland, and a $100 Disney gift card per paid night starting at $239 per room, per night. Here are 14 ways to save serious money on your trip to the magical kingdom.