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Destinations & Inspiration

Best places to holiday with your family this winter

Ellena Morgan
By Ellena Morgan - 10 minute read

Whether you’re looking for suggestions on family ski holidays, a selection of winter sun holidays, or even an assortment of family snow holidays without skiing, we’ve come up with a juicy selection of our ultimate child-friendly retreats. Brace yourself people, because your dream travel bucket list is about to get a whole lot longer…

Whistler, Canada

Family ski holidays don’t get much more exciting than in Canada! With the deepest powder snow, child-friendly facilities and high-end ski lifts making it that much quicker and easier to get where you want to go, the side-by-side mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb make for an exhilarating vacation. Voted one of the best ski resorts in North America, the family-friendly resort boasts 200+ marked runs, and is constantly working on making both the town and mountains accessible to wheelchair-users. The entire region is perfect for the outdoorsy types, with a host of things to do including dog sledding, their famous tube park, ziplining, ice skating and snowmobiling, as well as a number of activities in the Olympic Park like bobsleighing.

However, if you’re looking for a family snow holiday without skiing or snowboarding (no judgement here – we love all types of vacation!) then our top tip would be to hop on the PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience. This impressive sightseeing gondola is a continuous 13.5-kilometre loop that connects Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain, offering stunning views below. If you’re tired from a day of skiing, or you just don’t fancy exerting yourself, then hop on the glass-bottomed gondola for a heart-racing experience. Make sure you stop at the infamous ‘Crystal Hut’ at the top of Blackcomb Mountain for a hot chocolate and waffles with a view. Heavenly!

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Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town may not scream ‘cosy winter getaway’, but if you’re looking for a truly lovely winter sun holiday, it’s a really great destination. With plenty of outdoorsy activities to take part in, the city boasts loads of unforgettable sights and things to do for nature lovers, making it the perfect place to explore with children.

Although Cape Town is heaving with numerous fabulous beaches, one of our favourite places is Boulders Beach, which also happens to be home to a resident penguin-breeding colony. With viewing platforms or the chance to see the penguins from the water (hire a kayak to make this happen), this unforgettable sight will be a huge hit with kids of all ages. There’s also an abundance of parks and open spaces which lend themselves to leisurely cycle rides and picnicking options.

If you’re wanting to fit in something a little more adrenalin-fuelled, then try out sandboarding – because what Cape Town lacks in snow, it more than makes up for in sand! Similar in technique to snowboarding, this unique sport is growing in popularity in the city and makes an unusual and memorable day out for the whole family.

If the weather’s not on your side, then you’ll find plenty of indoor activities including aquariums, go-karting and a host of museums. Need some more inspiration? Then check out our blog on ‘The best things to see and do in Cape Town’.

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New York, USA

This bustling metropolis makes for a great winter getaway – and with a high chance of snow from December through to the end of February, it also happens to be one of our top destinations for a family snow holiday without skiing!

If you’ve got energetic children with you – or teenagers who want to cook up devastatingly impressive TikToks – then your first stop should almost certainly be Central Park. Go ice skating at Wollman Rink or Harlem Meer Center (formerly Lasker Rink) where you can take in the mix of urban and rural views. You can also do one of the many tours of the park (bike and carriages are both great options) or see a real-life snow leopards in Central Park Zoo.

If you want to provide the family with a little bit of culture, then catch a show on Broadway, or make the most of the many affordable museums and galleries that provide a very welcome respite from the cold. The American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (all with great complimentary classes and programmes) will be hugely popular with every generation.

Finally, if you’re visiting during the festive season, other must-see New York sights include the famous Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre, plus the beautifully-decorated storefronts along Fifth Avenue. Make sure you leave some space in your luggage for the inevitable shopping extravaganza that will happen once you hit Saks!

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Florida, USA

Florida is a big state, but with its cooler, more bearable weather in the winter (it can get seriously humid in the summer months!) and endless sunshine, there’s plenty to explore in this southern state – making it a truly great winter sun destination.

From the rollercoaster capital of Orlando for the thrill-seekers (think Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld) to the Cuban vibes of Miami which offers fantastic cultural and culinary experiences, there’s simply something for everyone here.

As the state is huge, so are the temperature extremes, and you could find yourself needing a cosy coat or your shorts, depending on where you are and the activities you’re planning on taking part in. Regardless of the weather, Florida offers lots of fun things to see and do. Meet sloths at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, or hop on the train at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens for a safari-style adventure. Play a round of golf at one of the many top public golf courses in Florida, or go for a stroll on the 825 miles of beaches! Horseback riding, hiking and cycling are all on offer in Lake Louisa State Park, or try your hand at snorkelling or swimming with dolphins at Florida Keys.

One of our top suggestions would also be to take a visit to Florida’s Everglades. With its own National Park, it’s the only place in the world where both alligators and crocodiles co-exist together, making this a fantastic experience for the whole family to enjoy.

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Wales, UK

For those dreaming of a British countryside retreat, you should look no further than the lovely country of Wales. With the most incredible countryside, a beautiful coastline, exciting cities, pretty towns and the loveliest population of people, this minute country is one of the best winter holidays for families.

In the north of the country, you can enjoy an action-packed holiday for the whole family. Enjoy Bounce Below, which houses trampolines inside a series of underground caves, or brave Zip World, which is the world’s fastest zipline – travelling at speeds of up to 118pmh, it’s one for the daredevils. You’ll also find plenty of castles in the region, and the lovely beachside town of Llandudno offers cable cars and a tram to the viewpoint of Great Orme.

In the south, you’ll find an incredibly beautiful coastline of rugged beaches and charming seaside towns such as St. David’s in Pembrokeshire and The Mumbles near Swansea. For city-based thrills, head to Cardiff where you can shop ’til you drop, explore the Cardiff Bay area or even catch a rugby game or football match at the impressive Principality Stadium.

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Lapland, Finland

Lapland will always be regarded as the ultimate festive trip of every child’s dreams. Although notoriously pricey, there are ways to save money in this magical place – including home swapping rather than staying in hotels, and eating in rather than dining out.

If you want to make this the ultimate family snow holiday, we’d suggest doing a little research in advance to discover the Christmas experiences and excursions that are worth splurging on. If your kids are little, it goes without saying that a visit to Santa is a must – but do make sure that you look into what comes in the package. For example, how long will you get to spend with Santa, and what gifts are involved?

A trip on a husky-led sleigh will be a huge hit with absolutely everyone, and if you’re blessed with a clear night, you’ll see the epic Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). With gorgeous National Parks and the most beautiful mountains to explore, hiking and skiing are also popular in the region – which is unsurprising when you consider that Finland has the cleanest air in the world! In fact, we’d go so far as saying that Lapland is one of our top contenders for the ideal family ski holiday.

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The topic of best winter holiday destinations for families is something that we love to debate in the Love Home Swap office. Some of our team are keen skiers and are forever lusting over the amazing ski chalets on our website, while others are passionate advocates of winter sun holidays – in which case you’d do well to read our round-up of the best warm places to escape the cold this winter. Whatever type of holiday you’re dreaming of, we’d love to help you plan it. If you’re already a member, then start chatting to our members in our Facebook groups to plan an amazing winter home swap. Or if you’re new to the idea of home swapping, then start your free trial with us today…