Discover the most beautiful family-friendly winter destinations.
Winter doesn’t always have to be all doom and gloom – though the cold season is upon us – it presents the perfect opportunity to explore the best winter and winter sun destinations around the world.
If you fancy hitting the slopes this winter, there are plenty of spectacular ski resorts out there, from the famous Vail Mountain Resort in Colorado to Canada’s top ski destination – Whistler Blackcomb.
However, if you’re looking to escape the winter gloom altogether, then The Family Vacation Guide can help you find the best winter sun locations, so whether you choose to explore grand cities or charming villages you can enjoy a well-deserved rest and catch some rays while you’re at it!
To help you find your next winter or winter sun vacation, we took a closer look at the best winter vacation destinations from around the world, taking into account affordable accommodation, average winter weather, snowfall, and more to determine the best family-friendly destinations.
The best winter destinations to visit in the US
- Mammoth Mountain, California – 6.89/10
Mammoth Mountain ranks first place as the best US winter destination for a family vacation with an overall score of 6.89 out of ten. This comes as no surprise due to its wide array of ski and snowboard areas and diverse variety of activity offerings which not only make it worthwhile but also a wonderful location to go skiing with kids.
On average a one-night stay at a hotel in Mammoth Mountain during winter is expected to cost around $356 (£290 | €336). Not only does this ski resort have a decent 4.4-star review but it experiences an average of 281 inches of snow yearly, its towering rocky mountains filled with fluffy white snow.
Located in Mammoth Lakes, this ski destination also offers a range of relaxing winter adventures for all ages, making it a truly epic playground for kids and adults alike. From the Mammoth Ice Rink to its adventure center, Mammoth Mountain is a major hot spot for families.
- Palisades Tahoe, California – 6.71/10
Host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Palisades Tahoe comes in second place on our list with a score of 6.71. Voted as the best ski resort in North America for three consecutive years, this renowned ski destination upholds its legacy by adopting a fun and vibrant ski culture.
Well known for its skiing and snowboarding, Palisades Tahoe receives an annual average of 343 inches of pristine snowfall spanning 200km of slopes and 50 km of available ski routes. This popular winter destination also offers the ultimate mountain adventure at Lake Tahoe Via Ferrata, it truly is a unique experience for the whole family to enjoy.
When it comes to the cost of accommodation at Palisades Tahoe, it comes at a slightly heftier price, you can expect to pay $522 (£426 | €494) on average for an overnight stay during the winter months.
- Heavenly Mountain Resort, California – 6.69/10
California – also known as the Golden State – hits three home runs as the best destination for the perfect winter vacation in the US. Ranking in third place on our list with a score of 6.69, Heavenly Mountain resort is undoubtedly one of the best family-friendly ski resorts in the US.
Also located at Lake Tahoe in California, this ski location boasts 94 km of snow-covered slopes and 40 km of ski routes. Overlooking beautiful sapphire blue waters, Heavenly is one of the most distinct outdoor recreation destinations in the world.
Costing around $311(£254 | €295) a night, the world-class ski resort also offers plenty of child-friendly activities. From skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and gondola rides, this location is truly a top-notch destination for the winter season.
Not only does the average winter weather reach as high as 59°F in California but this ski resort has an average annual snowfall of 250 inches – one of the largest snow-making systems in North America.
The best sunny destinations in the US to visit during winter
- Davenport, Florida – 7.08/10
Davenport, Florida ranks as the best winter sun destination in the US with an overall score of 7.08. This comes as no surprise considering the holiday destination is largely popular due to its proximity to major theme parks such as Disney World. As a matter of fact, one of the most pressing questions for families is, how far is Davenport from Universal Studios? – It’s pretty close!
Despite being a small city, Davenport has plenty of tourist attractions of its own. Featuring plenty of family-friendly adventures, visitors can take part in boating activities at Lake Kissimmee State Park or simply explore the city’s nature and horse trails. According to Tripadvisor, the city’s Fossil Funatics kayaking and canoeing activities offer guests a five-star experience.
With the average winter temperature soaring as high as 71°F, this truly is the ideal winter sun location. Davenport is also very much affordable as it costs just $160 (£131 | €152) on
average per night, during the winter season.
- The Everglades, Florida – 6.08/10
In second place on our list is the Everglades. This 1.5-million-acre wetland preserve is surrounded by mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods. Home to hundreds of animal species and wildlife, the Everglades National Park in Florida scores a 6.08 rating.
Water covers nearly the entire Everglades, making it a prime location for boat rides. The Buttonwood Canal is a great location for family-friendly activities – spanning 3.2 miles. This unique waterway is the perfect opportunity to explore wildlife and diverse ecosystems.
The average Florida weather in December can hit temperatures as high as 79°F, making it a blissful location to lodge during the colder months. The average nightly cost to stay at the Everglades is around $221 (£180 | €209) making it relatively affordable for a short stay.
- San Diego, California – 6.03/10
With so many free things to do in San Diego with kids, this much-loved city has earned its place in the top three, scoring a total of 6.03 out of ten.
Costing an estimated $241 (£197 |€228) in winter, this sunny city is not only nice for a short-term family vacation but it’s a must for Lego-obsessed kids.
The average winter temperature in San Diego is 65°F, so you can be sure you will be greeted with a spectacular sunrise in the mornings. To top it off, you can also enjoy a five-star experience on a whale-watching cruise.
The most family-friendly destinations in the US
- San Diego, California
Safety score: 52.99 | Number of family-friendly hotels: 189 | Average winter weather: 65°F
According to Tripadvisor, San Diego is the top family-friendly destination in the US. Packed with plenty of child-friendly activities, this warm-weather wonderland is the perfect place to spend the winter months, especially with an average of 65°F.
Not only is San Diego a relatively safe location with a safety score of 52.99, but kids can also indulge in many fun experiences such as spotting, koalas, pandas, and polar bears at the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Not only will you find the perfect place to lodge while on your stay as the city has 189 kid-friendly hotels, but you’ll also be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the best family-friendly restaurants in San Diego.
- Indianapolis, Indiana
Safety score: 57.06 | Number of family-friendly hotels: 95 | Average winter weather: 52.5°F
Harboring the biggest children’s museum in the world, it comes as no surprise that Indianapolis makes it to the top three list. Based on Tripadvisor’s most family-friendly vacations, this city ranks highly, bursting with many wonderful attractions for children to marvel at.
With a safety score of 57.06, the state capital also offers a decent array of 95 family-friendly hotels, accommodating both the little ones and grown-ups alike.
- Washington, D.C.
Safety score: 59.88 | Number of family-friendly hotels: 72 | Average winter weather: 47°F
For the perfect mix of history and fun family attractions, Washington, D.C. is your go-to. The US capital also has a safety score of almost 60 (59.88) which is relatively higher than most other US states, making it a top location for a family vacation.
You can also expect to find some of the best family hotels in Washington, D.C. Based on Tripadvisor alone, there are 72 child-friendly hotels in Washington, providing plenty of options ahead of your stay.
The best winter destinations to visit in the world
- Kitzbühel, Austria – 6.01/10
When it comes to the top family-friendly winter destination, Kitzbühel takes the lead with a rating of 6.01. This is unsurprising as this ski resort is considered to be one of the best in the world, with a 4.9 out of 5 stars rating based on its test reports alone. This is the highest rating worldwide.
Located in Austria, Kitzbühel has been a venue for regular ski races, since 1895. Not only does it have a spectacular selection of slopes but legend has it that this was where skiing was ‘invented’.
This famous destination is equipped with 188 km of slopes and 45 km of ski routes available as well as 57 lifts to transport guests.
Receiving an impressive five-star rating for its family-friendly offerings, Kitzbühel has plenty of children’s areas that provide full childcare services located throughout the ski resort’s villages. To top it off, it costs a decent $379 (£311| €360) to experience this world-class location for the night.
2. La Molina, Spain – 6.01/10
Located in Spain, La Molina also takes the top position with a rating of 6.01. Embracing a modern and sportive spirit – just right for the winter season – this destination is the perfect fit for family activities and visitors of all ages.
What’s more, La Molina also offers very affordable accommodation options with an average nightly cost of around $149 (£122 | €142).
3. Livigno, Italy – 5.96/10
The well-known Italian ski resort Livigno takes follows behind with a rating of 5.96. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with the most magnificent white winter wonderland.
Scoring five stars for its family-friendly offerings, this snow paradise has many easy slopes and children’s areas as well as plenty of fun attractions for kids to enjoy ranging from a kid’s fun park to race courses. The best part is that it only costs $91 (£75 | €87) a night to experience this winter. The best sunny destinations in the world to visit during winter.
The best sunny destinations in the world to visit during winter
- The Whitsundays, Australia – 6.62/10
At the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are a group of continental islands located off the central coast of Queensland, Australia. In first place with a score of 6.62, this beautiful sunshine destination is home to many famous landmarks, the Whitsunday Islands are non-negotiable for visitors.
This tropical coastline does not only guarantee sunshine with an average of 80.6°F but it only costs $101 (£83 | €96) a night to lodge at Airlie Beach – the perfect base from which to explore both the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.
There are also plenty of family-friendly activities on offer, from waterfront parks to palm-fringed beaches making it a beautiful location to escape the winter gloom.
- Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama – 6.37/10
The Gulf of Chiriquí follows closely behind in third place with an overall rating of 6.37. With temperatures hitting 90°F, this is the perfect vacation getaway during winter.
Accommodation is also quite affordable in the Gulf of Chiriquí, costing $105 (£87 | €100) on average per night. There are also plenty of highly-rated outdoor adventure activities to take part in such as river rafting and canoeing.
- Candelaria, Cuba – 5.94/10
Having been on the New York Times as one of the hottest tourist destinations for a few years, it’s no wonder Cuba made it onto the top three list with a rating of 5.94. Not only can winter temperatures reach as high as 81°F but guests can also take family-friendly activities such as visiting Salto de Sorao, a beautiful waterfall, and a fun way to cool down.
Accommodation in Candelaria is also very much affordable. On average it costs around $112 (£92 | €107) to spend the night at a hotel. You can be sure that you’re in safe hands as the crime rate is quite low (28.33).
The most family-friendly countries to visit in the world in winter
Average price of accommodation in winter: $175 (£143 | €166) Number of family-friendly hotels: 38 | Average weather temperature: 70.97°F
Once again Australia ranks in first place as the most family-friendly country in the world. With 38 child-friendly hotels in the country’s capital alone, there is no doubt that Australia has a lot to offer its young visitors.
Temperatures hit an average of 70.97°F, making it a pleasant atmosphere for outdoor activities where the whole family can explore plenty of unique and incredible wildlife.
There are also a lot of affordable options when it comes to accommodation, costing on average $175 (£143 | €166) for a one-night stay.
Average price of accommodation in winter: $161 (£132 | €153) | Number of family-friendly hotels: 46 | Average weather: 22.37°F
Next up on our list is Canada, not only is it one of the largest countries on Earth but it encompasses an array of vibrant cities, landscapes, and wildlife. From skiing and snowboarding to Niagara Falls, Canada has a lot to offer the whole family.
Temperatures average out at 22.37°F which sounds right for a winter destination. The capital city, Ottawa, accommodates the whole family with over 46 options for an overnight stay at a family-friendly hotel. Priced at an average of $161 (£132 | €153), Canada provides value for a short-term vacation.
Average price of accommodation in winter: $119 (£97 | €113) | Number of family-friendly hotels: 60 | Average weather: 35.78°F
Sweden is one of the top destinations when it comes to traveling with kids. Its well-deserved reputation makes it a prime location for families as it is filled with imaginative parks and exciting attractions.
The country also has many accommodation options for families to spend the night, with 60 child-friendly hotels located in its capital alone. The best part is it only costs around $119 (£97 | €113) a night to enjoy a short break.
To find out the best winter vacations in the US, this campaign looked through 481 ski resorts to source the top 50 and rank them in order of test reports, these test reports were scored out of five for each ski resort respectively. All data for this section were sourced from skiresort.info.
Kayak was used as a source to calculate the average nightly cost of a three-star hotel during December, January, and February.
The most family-friendly countries were taken from Tripadvisor’s most kid-friendly places for a family vacation. Likewise, the list of most family-friendly countries in the world was taken from U.S.News.
Figures on the average winter weather temperature for each country were taken from Weatherspark as well as the world population review site which can be found here:
Data based on crime rates can also be found here:
The average annual snowfall figures were sourced from On The Snow. All data based on accommodation prices and how many family-friendly hotels there are in each location can be found on Tripadvisor.com. These figures were originally sourced in USD and then converted into three currencies – USD, GBP, and EUR.
*Please note that all data collected was correct as of 12/01/2022.