These Are The Most Kid-Friendly Destinations In The World, According To Samantha Brown
Who's ready to plan a family trip?!
Samantha Brown is not only one of the friendliest faces on travel television, but she’s also among the most well-recognized. Having started her career on the Travel Channel two decades ago, she now has a show of her own on PBS that’s in its second season this year. Her aptly named series, “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love,” not only features Samantha as its host, but also has her working behind the scenes as an executive producer and writer.
As the mother of twins, Samantha also knows a thing or two about family travel. In timing with her TV show, Brown shared a list of her favorite family-friendly places and trip ideas. It’s probably certain that her loved ones like them, too.
Christchurch, New Zealand
“Christchurch is a great central city to stay for those in the South Island of New Zealand (where Hobbiton is),” she says. “It features large parks and playgrounds, a cafe where food is delivered via pneumatic tubes and an outside dance studio open to the public. All of this and more makes this an easy city to be in with delightful experiences.”
California Coastline Road Trip
“Experience the epic beauty of America with the Pacific on one side and mountains on the other,” recommends Brown. “Start in Monterey and visit one the best aquariums in the world then head towards LA on the Pacific Coast Highway, being sure to stop for elephant seals and towering redwood forests along the way. Exceptional family-run fruit and veggie stands for the best roadside snacks and fun surf towns to stop along the way. A must is a few nights stay at the legendary Madonna Inn, where all rooms are decorated differently, not to mention wildly.”
Oregon Family RV Trip
“You know you’ve wanted to try an RV trip and Oregon is a perfect state to do so,” she says. “Head east where the Wild West takes hold (and there’s plenty of room for novice RVers to feel comfortable). Get your family photos at the stunning Painted Hills and head towards Bend, Oregon, for the High Desert Museum as well as the Lava Lands for a walk through a primordial landscape. Then enjoy the perfect family-friendly town of Bend, Oregon, where ice cream and hand-crafted IPAs await.”
“Of course, it’s got the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the Spy Museum, but you also have every nationality in the world in one city,” Brown says of the nation’s capital. “Head to 14th Street where the best Ethiopian restaurants are; kids are finicky eaters but they may love the fact that it’s proper not only to eat with your hands, but feed others with them too.”
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
“Portsmouth is a historic city founded in the 1600s; a perfect place to explore the pristine sandy beaches of both New Hampshire and Maine,” she says. “Hit every homemade ice cream shop and lobster shack along the way. The city itself is a jewel on the coast and home to three friendly tugboats as well as boat excursions for whale watching.”
“Chicago has the rare combination of big city atmosphere and a super friendly Midwest vibe,” according to Brown. “In warmer months, you have public beaches to enjoy and the City Pier with its amusement park as well as the very family-friendly Millennium Park, where the Bean and Crown Fountain are located. Just about every museum has a special discovery area for kids and Chicago is home to Lincoln Zoo, one of the few free zoos in the United States.”
“Tampa is a gateway city to all the exceptional experiences we dream of having in Florida and what makes it a totally enjoyable experience is one of the most efficient airports in the world. (Never knock a great airport as a reason to go somewhere. They could make or break a trip),” she says. “You’ll have access to beautiful beaches of Clearwater as well as a local favorite, Fort De Soto State Park. Throw in Busch Gardens and you have a quintessential Florida vacation.”
New Braunfels, Texas
“Floating down a slow river on a tube is the perfect kid-friendly activity that will have you feeling like a kid too,” she says. “There’s also Naegelin’s Bakery, one of the oldest bakeries in the U.S. with a 100-year-old strudel recipe, and the Schlitterbahn River Park has been beloved by locals for generations.”
“Oxford is a small city just a few hours from London where a child’s imagination can run wild,” Brown says. “Many notable scenes from several Harry Potter movies were filmed using the Oxford University campus. C.S. Lewis wrote ‘Alice in Wonderland’ here; there are tours and a gift shop as well. The Covered Market is a foodie’s paradise, and going punting along the River Cherwell is an Oxford tradition. You can also check out your child’s future college.”
Santa Fe, New Mexico
“Santa Fe is a place to experience both Spanish and Native American cultures,” she says. “Find incredible hikes to take or, for more adrenalin inspired kids, rent a mountain bike. The Meow Wolf art installation is one of the most inspiring experiences that kids can have. You walk through a family’s home that is empty because that family has slipped into another universe. Magical portals lead you from their normal house to incredible realms where you try to discover where they are.”