21 Bucket List Experiences for Families that Love Travel

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Does your family have a case of wanderlust?  Are you constantly adding new experiences and destinations to your already long bucket list?  Or maybe you are dreaming about getting started traveling with your family and just need a little inspiration.

We asked some of the biggest family travel bloggers what has been their favorite bucket family vacations.  The result is 21 bucket list worthy experiences from all over the world that we are sharing with you today.  From trekking in the Himalayas to experiencing New Year’s Eve in Sydney, these are epic experiences to put on your list.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Our pick!  Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and exploring its underwater wonderland should definitely be  on your family travel bucket list.  Global warming is impacting the Reef and this is one experience you should plan to do soon, sadly.  The 2,300 km size of the barrier reef is almost unfathomable, with its turquoise waters, coral cays and marine life.

We recommend experiencing the Reef from Cairns in far north Queensland where numerous family friendly tour operators run tours to the Outer Reef.  The best way to see the Reef is by getting wet and snorkeling or diving, but there are ways to see the Reef by staying dry too.  Our kids loved seeing huge sea turtles, vibrant coral and many different fish.  Most importantly, out visit provoked a rich discussion and ongoing interest in the health of our oceans and coral reefs.

South African Safari

Sharon from Where’s SharonSouth African safari

There is nothing like seeing animals roaming in their natural environment and there’s no more bucket list worthy way to do this than on an African safari!

We recently went on a safari in Pilaneberg National Park in South Africa with our three kids aged 1, 5 and 7. It was more amazing than we expected with the kids loving to spot wildlife.

It’s also awesome to stay in a lodge in a park so you can be greeted by animals by our porch or at breakfast time (we had an elephant interrupt our breakfast one morning!).

We worried our kids might be too young but it worked out very well. Shorter, private drives are the best way to go with young kids if you can.

It has definitely been the highlight of our family travels so far and I recommend you do it too!

Ziplining at Ankor Wat, Cambodia

Sally from Our 3 Kids vs the WorldAngkor Wat with kids

When we visited Siem Reap in 2016, I was very concerned the kids would get ‘templed out’ and not enjoy Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples as much as I would. I searched for things that would appeal to them and found zip lining in the Angkor Archaeological Park with Angkor Ziplining (previously called Flight of the Gibbon).

The kids were very excited about zipping through the tree tops and flying free as a bird on one of the 10  zip lines with 21 platforms and 4 bridges connecting them. It put the kids out of their comfort zones and challenged them to overcome their fear and let go and have fun. We were lucky we had another family with us who had zip lined before and our kids happily followed along with them. I think this was the perfect break from the temples and the kids still talk about it today.

Wadi Rum Bedouin Camping, Jordan

Keri from Our Globe TrottersJordan with kids

I’ll admit we’re more your resort kind of family than camping, but when we read up about the magnificent Wadi Rum desert in Jordan and the opportunity to spend the night with local Bedouin camping under the stars, I knew it was something we had to try at least once in our lives! First, a day trip around the highlights of the desert, we are taken to Lawrence Springs, giant sand dunes for sand boarding, natural rock arches, siqs, camel trekking and historic buildings from the Lawrence of Arabia era before making our way to our evening camp below the mountains.  Throughout the day and the deeper into the desert we go, the sands and the mountains change colour and we are left with the most magnificent glowing red sunset.  Soon we are blanketed in stars with crystal clear skies while our traditional zarb dinner is cooked underground and Bedouin teas and coffees are served.  After all the running, climbing, insect then star spotting, we crawl into our family sized tent – made of hand woven goats hair. Is it any wonder this was one of the best night’s sleeps of our lives!

Sleep in a Bubble

Zoe from Jugging on RollerskatesFamily bucket list

Sleep in a Bubble is a small Glamping site where guests can sleep in inflated domes with transparent ceilings and walls allowing for the ultimate stargazing session just outside Liege in Belgium. The highlight of our stay was getting snuggled up for the evening then watching the sunset followed by the stars all from the comfort of our own bed. We spent a good hour all sharing the same bed and just chatting about the scene before us as the sky changed colour and the stars appeared. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend some close time as a family enjoying aspects of camping which might otherwise be very difficult with a small child… we certainly couldn’t star gaze with a two year old around a camp fire! The experience is something we’ll all remember for a long time. Best of all the welcome from our hosts was outstanding.

Trekking in the Himalayas

Alyson from World Travel FamilyNepal with kids

I’ve had a life-long love for the high Himalayas. Our first taste of altitude trekking, the Annapurna Circuit back in 2000, served only to wet my appetite for more and I longed to return to the mountains. Then kids came along and plans had to go on hold until the boys were big enough and strong enough to take on the steep trails. When they were 10 and 12 we finally made it, a dream come true trip to the Everest region, including that white knuckle Kathmandu to Lukla flight. Nepal with kids isn’t easy, I won’t pretend it is, but it’s an unbeatable experience. Sharing the triumph of climbing to Tengboche Monastery with my son, seeing Everest through a brief break in the clouds, it was magical, spiritual and of immense value to growing boys. Their self confidence got an enormous boost in that 10 days, they know they can take on just about anything and conquer it. We’ll be back for Everest Base Camp next year. An absolute family bucket list highlight.

Dawn’s Note: We were so inspired by World Travel Family, that we visited the Everest Region with our kids in 2019.

Elephants in the Wild in Sri Lanka

Jenny from Travelynn FamilySri Lanka with kids

Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations to see elephants in the wild, all at a fraction of what it would cost in Southern or East Africa. We loved our visit to Udawalawe NP where you are pretty much guaranteed to see them and, sure enough, only twenty minutes into our safari, a Mummy elephant and her calf appeared from behind a bush and stood just a few metres away from us. It was rather emotional watching such a majestic, powerful creature in their natural setting and her peaceful nature created a serene atmosphere in the early morning light. I was struck how my two boys (aged two and three years old) instinctively knew to whisper, so as not to disturb the magical moment. The safari was just three hours long, the perfect length of time for little ones.  Kids under 5 are free, so the total price for entrance fee, private jeep and safari guide was LKR7500 for our family of four. If you ask my three year old for the highlight of his Sri Lanka travels, he answers straight away: Mummy Elephant.

Walk with Lions, Zimbabwe

Karen from Big Adventures for Little FeetZimbabwe lions

A visit to Antelope Park in Zimbabwe is a supreme bucket-list opportunity for adults and kids alike. If there is one thing I love to include in my travels it is the opportunity to see or interact with amazing wildlife and at Antelope Park you can get closer and more hands on with lions than you ever dreamed possible.

Antelope Park just outside of Gweru in Zimbabwe is committed to the preservation of the natural environment and their walk with lion program is part of a larger rehabilitation and release back into the wild effort that they sustain with the help of volunteers, donations and proceeds from the guests who come to stay at this private reserve.

The ‘walk with lions’ experience is truly magical as you get to stroll along with the adolescent lions for their afternoon walk whilst they explore the reserve.

If cute and cuddly (and sometimes a bit scratchy!) is more your thing then you can opt to spend some time with the baby lion cubs for playtime – something you might never do again in one lifetime. Watching the big cats race out for meal times is also a popular experience offered at Antelope Park.

Road Tripping the North Island of New Zealand

Thais from World Trip DiariesNZ with kids

A road trip in a camper van was always a dream of ours, and NZ is the perfect country for road trips, so we just packed up our dog, our 4 kids and did it. We rented a camper and drove around NZ’s North Island for 2 weeks. It’s a lot more work than we’d anticipated, but it was so much fun! Driving your whole house wherever you go, and stopping anywhere because we needed to rest, and end up spending the night comfortably was just amazing! NZ is safe and RV friendly, so it is just the ideal combination!

Visiting Machu Picchu

Ariana from World of Travels With KidsMachu Picchu with kids

Machu Picchu with its mysterious history as a lost city is a place many kids dream about visiting! But why wait until your kids are grown? Visiting as a family you can fulfill one of your own bucket list dreams!  Breath-taking mountain scenery, incredible history and soft adventure to arrive at this city are all reasons why we would recommend adding Machu Picchu to your family bucket list.  Having visited Machu Picchu twice with children (once with one child, once with 2 kids) we had memorable experiences in this stunning place, as well as being able to tick off our own bucket list at the same time.  Machu Picchu can be reached by train (which was the highlight of the trip for the small kids) or by a trek along the famous Inca trail which was doable with a baby, but should only be attempted by older children.

Christmas in NYC

Kirsty from Barts Go AdventuringWinter in NY

I don’t have many ‘must do’ trips with my kids but if pushed I’d have to say spending Christmas in New York City would have to be one of them.  We were lucky enough to score a house sit there so could take in all the city had to offer over the holiday period.

It was all we hoped for, amazing store decorations, a really lovely atmosphere, we even got snow as we walked up 5th Avenue!  We’re a big movie fan family so we scouted for movie locations, saw the big tree at Rockefeller’s and generally just wandered around in awe at being there.  One of my favourite things to see was the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz!

It was extremely cold so bear that in mind, much colder than we are used to back home in the UK.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat though!

Climbing Hills in Scotland

Natasha from Meldrums on the MoveScotland with kids

We highly recommend hiking and climbing some of the hills in Southern Scotland as a family. We are lucky enough to have brought up our son in a valley for the past two years and have managed to get him out hiking and climbing many times. We found that it gave him a sense of adventure and built up his confidence for longer hikes and days out. The hills in rural Scotland are not overrun by tourists so you can explore totally secluded places without any distraction. You will be rewarded with incredible views for following simple trails through the forests and hills. Get out in the fresh air, work in a little fitness and  spend some time together as a family in Scotland.

Overnight Hut Hike in the Alps

Linda from Travel TyrolTyrol hike

Hiking to an overnight hut in the Austrian Alps has been one of our best family travel experiences. Our hike started in the Stubai Valley near Innsbruck in Tyrol. It followed the Wild Water Trail past 2 amazingly beautiful waterfalls to the Sulzenauhütte at 2191m above sea level. The kids enjoyed clambering over rocks, getting close to mountain goats and racing each other to get to the hut first. Fortunately, there is an Alm (traditional mountain restaurant) half way to the hut where one can stop for lunch. The Sulzenauhütte also caters for all meals, so there is no need to carry food in backpacks. Once there, the mountains, pastures, and streams are the kids’ playground. We highly recommend an Austrian hut hike for families who love the outdoors and spending time away from technology.

Cruising Halong Bay, Vietnam

Kylie from Our Overseas AdventuresVietnam with kids

Cruising through the beautiful waters of Ha Long Bay, a stunning area of over 1,600 islands, limestone pillars and inlets should be on every family’s travel bucketlist!

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO heritage site in Northern Vietnam and taking a few days to cruise around is a great way to discover more about this beautiful area. 

Along with the stunning scenery, many cruises offer additional fun activities like kayaking, cycling on Cat Ba Island, visiting local floating villages and exploring centuries old caves with amazing rock formations hidden inside.

On board the boat we also experienced fun activities like a Vietnamese cooking class where we learned to make fabulous spring rolls, and late night squid fishing off the back of the boat which our kids absolutely loved.

Boats range from budget backpacker style to luxury 5 star cruises, so there’s an option for every budget.  This is another great trip to add to the bucket list for families.  

Hiking in Iceland

Kevin from Wandering WagarsIceland hiking

There are few places in the world that offer the epic hiking that Iceland does. But hiking in Iceland isn’t just for grown-ups. Whether you are looking to explore one of the stunning waterfalls, wander through fields of Icelandic horses, or climb a mountain to see where volcanoes have torn the earth in two for miles, hiking in Iceland is an experience that the entire family can enjoy.

Iceland offers the chance to hike among puffins in Latrabjarg. Or you could stand beneath the massive statue of the Icelandic giant Bardur and learn about the mystical beliefs of many of the Icelandic people in Arnarpstapi. Whatever you choose during a family-friendly hike in Iceland, you are guaranteed to enjoy it with a smile on your face!

Canoeing Lake Louise, Canada

Laura from Let’s Go Little OneLake Louise with kids

Visiting Lake Louise in Banff National Park is a truly incredible experience year-round, but during our summer visit, we were able to experience the lake in the most memorable way: by canoe. The boat dock next to Lake Louise offers hourly canoe rentals that you can bring the whole family on to enjoy. You can choose from sunrise or daytime canoe rides, depending on what interests you most. Canoeing through the lake, between the massive Rocky Mountains and away from the crowds is so breathtaking. Not only does it get you away from the crowds, but you’ll also have plenty of time to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. This should be included on every good family bucket list!

The Australian Outback

Melissa from Thrifty Family TravelsOutback with kids

This is such a great experience for families, to travel hundreds of kilometers’ without passing a single other car, sometimes down dirt roads, stopping at small outback towns along the way.  Families can visit iconic Australian sights such as Uluru, Kings Canyon, towns like Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin and the fantastic landscapes of national parks such as Litchfield and Kakadu.

This is a great opportunity for families to learn about Australia history including Aboriginal culture and how locals live in the harsh environment of the Australian outback. For anyone travelling through Australia, you must include a road trip through the Australian outback – particularly through the red centre.

Surfing in Ireland

Thassia from Family Off DutyIreland with kids

Surfing was the number one activity we wanted to check off in our bucket list as a family. While visiting the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry, Ireland we came across this huge stunning beach called Inch beach. It is a heaven for surfing! There are local surfing instructors available in the beach with all the equipment you need for surfing (wet-suits and boards). The lessons are available for small groups and we booked for the whole family. It starts with the basics of surfing techniques and safety tips on the sand. Afterwards the group goes to the water where the instructor helps each member to catch waves and improve their techniques. Our daughter got to stand and surf many times while us parents weren’t so lucky (or skilled)! Nevertheless it was an amazing experience for all of us and we had a great time surfing together.

Seeing Puffins in Scotland

Kaylie from Happiness TravelshereScotland puffins

Broad orange beaks, curious eyes and a walk like a determined toddler make puffins one of the cutest birds you will see. My kids fell in love with puffins when we happened across the Irish children’s cartoon Puffin Rock on Netflix. Puffins stay at sea for many months of the year, so when we realised we would be in Scotland during Puffin season we were all excited. Staying on the gorgeous Isle of Mull we took a guided tour to one of the uninhabited islands nearby. An easy walk to the top of the cliff. We found our spot to watch the puffins returning to their burrows. Unlike other wildlife encounters patience isn’t required here, making puffin spotting great for kids. Since our presence near the burrows keeps the predator gulls away the puffins take the opportunity to rest on land and return with tiny silver fish to feed their pufflings.

Yellowstone National Park

Jennifer from Made All the DifferenceYellowstone with kids

Yellowstone National Park has everything a family could want on a vacation.  It has prime wildlife viewing from bison to grizzly bears to the cute chipmunks and if you are really luck wolves.  There geothermal features such as Old Faithful Geyser to the rainbow pools of water.  Yellowstone offers a range of hikes to fit all ages from the boardwalks in the geothermal areas to the multi-day hike along the Yellowstone River.  The hikes all offer astounding views of the national park.  A plus is that cell service is very limited in the park, so everyone in the family has to put down the cell phone and interact with each other.  Camping in the park offers a chance to get away and experience nature without distractions.

Just remember that all the wildlife is wild and should be kept that way so no feeding or touching them.

NYE in Sydney

Kellie from 4 Worn PassportsNYE Sydney

The single biggest “WOW” event of our ‘round-the-world (RTW) journey was spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is an especially great location to experience a family New Year’s Eve for the following reasons:

1) It’s summer Down Under so you can also explore Sydney’s fabulous beaches and other outdoor adventures,

2) The backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are second-to-none, and

3) Sydney provides TWO complete fireworks shows on NYE—one at 9 p.m. for the kids, and another at midnight!

Things to know:  Rooms with harbor views book up a year in advance and typically run $700-1,000+ per nightwith a 5-10 night minimum. Definitely not budget friendly! Fortunately, scoring an inexpensive room in Sydney isn’t completely impossible. For tips on how you can celebrate a Conde Nast style New Year’s Eve with a Budget Travel wallet, visit 4 Worn Passports (above).

I hope you are inspired by these awesome bucket list vacations for families and are ready to start planning your next trip.  

What awesome bucket list experience have you done together as a family?  What’s on your future bucket list?  I would love to hear, in the comments below.  

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