It’s been a hard few years for travel, but, if you’re keen to get up and out there again, we have THE BEST holiday destinations for families in 2023.
Whether you’re keen to have a weekend away in NZ, or take advantage of some of the cheap airfare deals to jump across the ditch – or, if you’ve been dreaming of a biiiig trip across the globe after being stuck at home for so long, we have THE places to be next year.
So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are 2023’s hot spots for families!
Disneyland, California, USA
Kids + Disneyland = a complete no brainer. Is there any family holiday destination that could top the Happiest Place on Earth?
Well, if you’ve been thinking and saving for a family trip to see Mickey and his friends, there’s no better time than 2023, when Disney celebrates a whopping 100 years of magic and serves up plenty of surprises and treats to mark the occasion.
The Disneyland Resort in California has been gearing up for some time and will be kicking off celebrations from Jan 27. There will be new openings and parties all year long, including the highly anticipated opening of the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction and two all-new night-time spectaculars: “World of Color – One” at Disney California Adventure Park and “Wondrous Journeys” at Disneyland Park – both featuring new, original songs.
As spring blooms in the US, the reimagined Mickey’s Toontown (excellent for little ones!) reopens, plus there’s a bunch of special things happening that are yet to be announced.
Why jump on a long haul flight, when you can experience a top, international attraction right here at home? In 2021 Rotorua’s Redwood Treewalk Nightlights ranked in a Lonely Planet global top 10 list and it is sure to delight both adults and children alike.
If you haven’t been yet, this is an attraction not to be missed – you walk on a network 28 swing bridges, 20m high up in the redwood trees, getting one heck of a view, and unique experience. By day, it’s beautiful, but by night, it’s simply magical.
Here’s what Lonely Planet said: “The experience of standing up to 20 metres above the fern-covered forest floor, while surrounded by the earthy aroma of redwood trees, is enhanced by mood-lighting from hanging lanterns.”
While you’re in Rotorua, there’s plenty more to do with little ones in toe, from mountain biking, to the luge, to hot pools and more! And then, it’s an easy trip home for most, with no long flights needed (ideal if you’re travelling with little ones).
We have just two words for you: Kids’ Clubs.
There’s a reason so many Kiwis head to the Fijian islands each year, and keep going back time and time again. Not only is Fiji a short hop, skip and jump away (it’s about 3 hours in the air), but it is one of the most family friendly destinations imaginable.
Nearly every major resort can cater for looking after children of all ages, whether it’s comprehensive and fun kids’ clubs, separate activities for teenagers or the option of babysitters and private nannies for the littlest ones.
There are three real options when it comes to choosing where to stay:
- On the mainland at Denarau! This option is great if you want to some exploring, have lots of different restaurants to choose from and get around the cheapest – it’s closest to the airport!
There’s some fabulous resorts to choose from, including the Sofitel Fiji Resort, which is home to the largest swimming pool in the South Pacific. The room configurations are thought of with families in mind, with options including separate annexes with bunk beds.
- The Coral Coast! Around 60-90 mins from the airport, down the south coast, you’ll find the picturesque Coral Coast. Again, this is a great option if you don’t want to have too much hassle getting to your resort or hotel, as you can simply drive there. It’s also where you’ll find some of Fiji’s well known attractions, including the Sigatoka River Safari. Again, there’s resorts a’plenty, including the famous Shangri-La Yanuca Island. Yes, technically this one is on its own island, connected to the mainland by a little causeway. There, you’ll find something for everyone. Kids wil love the Little Chief’s kids’ club, plus there’s also mini golf, tennis, an inflatable water park, basketball, a sandy beach and two family swimming pools.
- The Islands! If your family wants to experience one of those true picture-perfect postcard sceneries, completely with pristine white sands, crystal clear blue ocean and swaying coconut palms, your best bet could be to head a little further afield to one of Fiji’s many islands, like the Mamanuca Islands or the Yasawa Islands. You’ll need to include a boat or another plane ride into your adventure, but many of the island resorts have an even slower pace, allowing for maximum relaxation for the whole family. If you’re a family who love watersports, you’ll find your Mecca here too, with many resorts offering snorkelling, diving and private cruises. Among the many amazing resorts, you’ll find Castaway which is a top family resort destination. With two pools and six restaurants, there’s plenty to choose from. Each bure can accommodate two children, with an option to add a third, while there are also family bures available, which are made up of interconnecting bures, offering maximum space and relaxation!
Ok, if you’re super keen to get your little people – or just yourself! – to Disneyland, but the thought (or cost) of being stuck in a plane with them for 12 hours scares the bejesus out of you, there is another option.
For the first time ever, Disney cruises are coming to NZ and Australia, giving you and your family a full Disney experience, without having to wait with a screaming toddler at US customs after a very long flight.
There are 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 night options available, leaving from right here in Auckland, as well as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. And boy, these cruises are something else. It’s full, fun Disney immersion. There’s award winning entertainment, including Broadway-style theatre shows (onboard Magic, the ship visiting our waters, you’ll see Frozen: A Musical Spectacular, as well as more classical shows like Disney Dreams), there’s Disney fireworks at sea, a pirate party, encounters with Disney characters (also including Marvel and Star Wars heroes), plus, some extraordinary culinary options.
Onboard Magic you’ll find four insanely good eateries/restaurants, including Tiana’s Place (a New Orleans themed restaurant, based on The Princess and the Frog), fine dining at Palo and Triton’s, as well as my pick of the bunch: Animator’s Palate. There, you can try your hand at drawing your own character and can sit back and watch as your character becomes part of the dinner show! Breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service are all included in the cruise fare.
There’s also great babysitting services onboard, as well as private areas for adults, including designated pools and dining options.
ClubMed voted the Italian capital as the best holiday destination for families in the world, based on its number of family-friendly hotels, places to eat and uniquely fun activities for children. That, and the fact it has an incredible 633 ice cream shops on offer!
Besides all that gelato, it’s a great, educational spot for kids. It’s like one big open-aired museum, full of all the things they’ll have learned about and seen on the internet. Walking amongst all that history is one heck of an experience!
Unless you have an excellent stroller though, it’s probably best for slightly older kids – all those cobbled streets can be a nightmare navigating a flimsy pram. But besides the cobbles, Rome is very kid-friendly, with many main attractions catering for little ones. There’s special tours of highlights like the Colosseum – where they can even dress up like gladiators, as well as cooking and art classes!
If your kids are Harry Potter fans, take a short hop across the ditch, to bring their dreams to life! Direct from Broadway, a brand-new production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is now playing at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre and will be for much of 2023.
Quite simply, the show is a must-see for any Potter fan – and any theatre fan! It is the most awarded production in the history of the prestigious British Olivier Awards, winning a record-breaking nine awards, including Best Play. It’s also the winner of six Tony Awards, including best play.
It’s three and a half hours, so it’s not short! But if you have younger children there is a matinee performance at 1pm, as well as the 7pm evening show.
While you’re in Melbourne, there’s plenty more to see with kids, including MOPA – the Museum of Play & Art, the incredible Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, Legoland and Melbourne Zoo. It’s a fab city for kids, so if you can, go for more than just a quick weekend away!