Traveling With an Infant: 9 Best Places to Take Your Baby
Have a newborn in the family? Don’t turn in your passport quite yet. Millennial parents are traveling with gusto with their littles, and not just to grandma’s house. According to research firm D.K. Shifflet & Associates, 62% of new American parents have taken an international trip with kiddos under five. These nine family-friendly destinations have already figured out this little secret: babies make great travel companions—as long as you have enough diapers.
San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo City has long been known for its family-friendly draws, from its excellent zoo and charming children’s train to the state-of-the-art DoSeum, where some of the hands-on, sensory exhibits are designed with infants in mind. Stay in the Pearl Brewery District (where a historic brew complex has been converted into an urban barrio), where chef-owned restaurants, boutiques, and even a popular splash pad are all within walking distance. The Pearl’s crown jewel is Hotel Emma, which takes care of its littlest guests with cribs and Netherlands-based Naif baby products. While the property’s Sternewirth Tavern is sophisticated, former brew tanks converted into seating nooks are ideal spots for parents to tuck away for a cocktail with a baby in tow. Outside of town, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa feels like a world of its own thanks to its 1,002 guest quarters—many of which have multi-room layouts, ideal for families—restaurants, and golf courses spread out over 600 acres. Babes can splash around with mom in the water park’s young children’s pool (only two feet deep) and retire to shaded cabanas, where fridges keep baby bottles cool.
Whether you’re introducing your half pints to capital sights or exploring the city’s leafy neighborhoods, Washington is an easy getaway with a baby. The D.C. Metro links the city’s downtown and is clean and easy to navigate, not to mention there are miles of hike and bike trails along the Potomac River that make for lovely afternoon strolls with napping tikes. The Willard InterContinental Washington, which welcomes nearly 12,000 children every year, has a dedicated kids concierge who contacts families before arrival to ensure guest rooms (some of the largest in the city) are equipped with the things you need most, from microwaves for warming bottles to extra diapers and pails. While Georgetown Suites is less hands-on, all of its rooms come with kitchens and bathtubs, both of which are mighty handy when traveling with babies. High chairs and cribs are also available. Visit the Georgetown Waterfront Park, where you can feed ducks and splash in a sprinkler-like fountain, before grabbing a stylish souvenir—a little cashmere sweater, perhaps, or a plush baby pea coat—at Le Birdies Boutique.
This Caribbean island, which has direct flights from dozens of U.S. cities, has several resorts that keep families with tiny first-timers in mind. Take the Franklyn D. Resort & Spa, located on the island’s northern coastline, which not only has a kids club for toddlers but also complimentary nanny services. These childcare experts—all of which are CPR trained—greet families upon arrival, lend an extra hand at the beach and pool, and take care of babies and kids while moms and dads go snorkeling or play golf (you know, take a vacation of their own). The property’s 78 one- to three-bedroom suites also have separate living and dining areas as well as balconies or garden terraces. Further west, you’ll find Round Hill Hotel and Villas, a storied 110-acre resort where your baby will join a list of past guests that includes Paul McCartney and Ralph Lauren. Guests can book a fully staffed villa or one of 36 hotel guest rooms; family specialists reach out to ensure your family needs (cribs, high chairs, nanny and babysitting services) are met—and likely exceeded. Along with pools and tennis courts, the property has a lush, tree-lined beach.
Yes, the Iberian Peninsula is farther flung, but here’s a little secret: the younger your baby, the easier he/she is likely to be on the plane. (It’s when they start celebrating major milestones—crawling, walking, climbing—that things get hard.) Portugal is an ideal landing pad thanks to its family-friendly locals, easy-to-navigate roads, and beautiful cities and coastlines. Make the Cascais region—located 25 miles outside of capital city Lisbon, it’s nicknamed the Portuguese Riviera—your landing pad. Here, you can throw on the Ergobaby and explore Carcaevlos Beach’s golden sands or Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, known for its dramatic cliffs and Atlantic views. As for your accommodations, look no further than Martinhal Cascais, a hotel and collection of villas that marries sophistication with family travel. While rooms are fresh and chic, they’re also equipped with conveniences like bottle sterilizers, baby gates, and door handle protectors. The property’s restaurants also have playscapes, and chefs make fruit and veggie purees daily.
Don’t overlook cities when traveling with babies. In many ways, kiddos under a year are the easiest urban companions. You can wear them in the Bjorn, and they often sleep on the go. The Queen City is particularly effortless with littles. It’s clean, easy to get around, and oh-so friendly (this is Canada, after all). Green spaces such as Trinity Bellwoods and High Park are dotted with playgrounds, stroller-friendly pathways, and splash pads. A ferry ride to Central Island is also a must for its waterfront trails, old-fashioned amusement park, and quiet lake beaches. Book a room at Hotel X, located on the Lake Ontario waterfront, for its family-friendly amenities (cribs, bath products, and pint-sized robes and slippers) as well as children’s books and a toy gift upon arrival. And large, intuitive room layouts means moms and dads don’t have to huddle in the bathroom when babies bed down at 6:30 PM. Instead, they can sip vino in a separate living room, enjoying uninterrupted views of the CN Tower from floor-to-ceiling windows.
Craving sun and sand? It’s hard to beat the Sunshine State when it comes to family-friendly beaches in Miami, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and beyond. When traveling with a baby, however, consider the Emerald Coast. A string of relaxed resorts and laid-back beach communities line the coastline’s main thoroughfare, Highway 30A, including our pick, Seaside. You might recognize the idyllic village from the movie The Truman Show: Here, pastel houses are framed by white picket fences and manicured streets see more strollers than cars. Restaurants such as the Shrimp Shack overlook its quiet beaches, which are ideal for first-time swimmers thanks to their tranquil turquoise waters. Pro parent tip: when traveling with a baby to the beach, consider bringing a dock-a-tot or empty baby pool. As much as your beach babe might love a dip in the water, sand—which eventually ends up in their eyes—can also be a big irritant.
Just because you’ve got a tiny sidekick doesn’t mean you have to give up on winter sports, especially when you’re traveling to Vail. The ski resort offers childcare for infants starting at two months, meaning you can hit the slopes or snowshoe the trails. Vail also has free public transportation throughout town as well as thoughtfully designed playgrounds. Stay at the Antlers at Vail hotel, located in Vail’s family-friendly Lionshead neighborhood just steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola, whose all-condominium accommodations mean you can spread out and take advantage of a kitchen—there’s also a free shuttle to the grocery store—but still enjoy white-glove service. Call ahead to pre-arrange for anything from baby monitors to bottle warmers and even car seats. And for breast-feeding moms, they’re no cozier corner than by the in-room fireplace.
Believe it or not, the Golden State’s wine country is an ideal getaway with a baby. There’s something restful and unhurried about its farmlands and outdoor draws. This is especially true in Sonoma, thanks to its inviting towns and unpretentious vineyards. At Iron Horse, where you can sip Brut while your baby naps, the atmosphere is casual and agricultural—a welcome surprise for a vineyard whose wines ended up in President Reagan’s White House. Back in Healdsburg, grab an early dinner at Shed, a restaurant and artisan shop that’s lively enough to lull your babe to sleep. If you’d like to wake up among the vines, stay at Beltane Ranch—book one of the stand-alone cottages for additional space and privacy—where you can request a family picnic overlooking olive orchards. Also make a day trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and introduce your infant to centuries-old trees.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Family comes first in Mexico, and traveling to the country with a baby makes you feel nothing short of a celebrity. It’s not uncommon to be stopped—and your baby admired —whether you’re walking through zocalos, or city squares, or strolling down waterfront boardwalks. At the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Puerto Vallarta, an oceanfront all-inclusive, the VIB (Very Important Baby) treatment is taken to another level. Little tikes are greeted with Mexican toys, pool floats, and even baby clothes. Take your wee one to the spa for his or her first haircut, which is celebrated with a certificate and followed by a massage. At mealtime, babies can pair their usual breast milk or formula with freshly made bowls of pio pio purée (chicken breast, carrots, zucchini), so don’t be surprised if their first words are mas, por favor.
Stirling Kelso is a family travel expert and the founder of Half Pint Travel, a community where parents can find tips, strategies, and city guides to help plan unpackaged trips with the kiddos in tow.
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