Alexia Santamaria picks five great family holiday destinations for 2019.
Family travel can be a fine balance and it's important to get it right, for everyone's sake.
The ultimate destination is one where adults and children can enjoy themselves and no one feels overly compromised. Consider one of these tried and tested hot spots for your next family holiday.
South Australia as a whole is definitely a hot region for 2019 and Adelaide is a perfect base for a family vacay with its balmy temperatures and easy vibe. Monarto Zoo, just an hour out of the city, is the biggest open-range zoo in Australia, and one of the largest in the world, at more than 1500ha. It's home to more than 50 species of exotic and native mammals, birds and reptiles and you can see prides of lions and towers of giraffes in a natural safari-style setting; great if a trip to Africa isn't in the budget. There's also Cleland Wildlife park, a bit closer to the centre, if you want to see more local animals. A wide variety of beaches can be found only half an hour from the CBD (as much as New Zealanders hate to admit it, Australia does white sand and blue, sparkling water really well). In the city there's shopping, the Botanic Gardens, MOD at the University of South Australia (a futuristic museum of discovery for older kids), the Adelaide Gaol and the incredibly popular Adelaide Central Market with fresh produce and a dynamic range of cafes and bistros for food to eat in, or take away.
A trip to LA for its theme parks is obviously a dream for any child, but when you start to scratch the surface of this dynamic and diverse city, you'll find so much more. With more than 140 nationalities calling Los Angeles home, the city is a culinary melting-pot. It's well worth cruising neighbourhoods such as Little Tokyo, Olvera St (Mexican) and Koreatown to give the family an insight into LA's diverse population while sampling an array of multicultural cuisine (if you don't have time, you can get a whole lot under one roof at Grand Central Market, Downtown). There's also Catalina Island, just an hour away by boat, where you can zipline, snorkel and see bison roaming — yes, really. Of course there's beaches too — Venice, Santa Monica, Laguna, Manhattan, Hermosa and dozens more. For sports fans, LA has more sporting codes and stadiums than any other city in the US. There are so many quintessential American experiences to be had; the LA Rams (American Football), The LA Dodgers (Baseball) and The LA Kings (Ice Hockey), they all call the City of Angels home. Even if you don't like sport, attending any of those games will make you feel like an extra in every American movie you've ever watched. There's also a plethora of museums for all interests — The Academy Museum, The Broad (Contemporary Art) and California Science Centre. No matter what your offspring are into, there will be something for them in this sunny, fun part of California.
In New Zealand we're spoiled for choice for tropical islands close to home. Fiji and Rarotonga are always popular but
is a different type of island paradise, ideal for active families. This stunning coral atoll only has one resort, and isn't full of immaculately manicured white sand beaches; instead you'll swim in caves, chasms and, like movie-set locations, in tiny coves down hidden paths. The scenery is magnificent, and you'll feel thoroughly integrated into the local community, rather than a tourist looking in. Families who love the water won't believe the world-class snorkelling, fishing and diving options; and if you turn up between July and October you've got a better-than-average chance of seeing humpback whales on their migration path. There are some fantastic family friendly places to eat on "The Rock" including Kai Ika for fresher-than-fresh sashimi and great pizza, and Vaiolama Cafe, where you can play mini golf as well as grab a bite.
Don't write off
if you've never visited before. As a stopover destination, it regularly reinvents itself with new attractions for frequent visitors. The SEA aquarium is one of the largest in the world and is seriously impressive; the largest tank measures 36m wide by 8.3m tall. Of course there's Universal Studios too, a dream destination for most children. The Art Science Museum is as much fun for adults as kids, with its huge interactivity factor. Draw a picture, scan it in and it will come alive on a huge digital mural — and that's only one of the many fascinating activities. Then there's the weird and wonderful Gardens by the Bay with its giant living Supertrees in a wildly, impressive combination of technology, art and flora. If you're a shopping family, Singapore has 103 malls with everything from Toys R Us to Gucci and Prada. And many have wonderful food courts, where you can get tasty local cuisine as well more western choices for picky eaters. Food in general is very affordable, with hawker markets providing family-friendly fare — as well as more exotic choices. As most people are aware, Singapore is ideal for families as it's very clean and safe, and an excellent public transport system makes it simple to get around. It's the perfect first step for families new to Asian travel.
is a dream destination for children, without involving any significant sacrifice of adults' enjoyment. Impossibly ancient historical sites co-exist seamlessly with places you think are actually from the future; East blends with West; traditional with the unconventional; and blocks of high rises and skyscrapers are punctuated with temples and green oases. It's a truly beautiful collision. There's mainstream fun for kids — like Tokyo Disney and Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land) — but also plenty of off-beat enjoyment like the celebration of anime at the Ghibli Museum, mad fashion shopping in Harajuku, cat cafes, Tokyo Fire Museum, the Cup Noodle museum as well as other niche, but fun, attractions. Food is a major part of Japanese culture, and since so many elements of the national cuisine are now regular features of the Kiwi diet, you won't have to worry about kids not finding anything they enjoy. There are so many places to experience food with quirky "only-in-Japan" twists too: 40cm tall icecreams; fishing for your dinner inside a restaurant; Ninja restaurants where staff spring out from trapdoors and meals go up in a puff of smoke; or conveyor sushi restaurants where your food is delivered by miniature bullet trains.