It's the start of a new year so why not beat those January blues by booking your next family break? Holidaying with babies and toddlers is a very different experience to an adult break. Instead of just contemplating which beach-side bars you want to visit and how close the local town is, there are a plethora of new things to consider. It's important you know whether a hotel is equipped for little ones, and then there's also travel time, weather and access to amenities you need to factor into the equation. It can be tricky to find the right balance between them all, but there are plenty of family-friendly resorts, towns and cities both in the UK and further afield that parents and little ones will love.
We've rounded up some of the best holiday destinations for families with toddlers or babies in 2020, including breaks in the UK, beach resorts in Europe and even some far-flung destinations for those who aren't put off by the idea of a long flight.
1. Costa Del Sol, Spain
Easily reached within three hours of the UK, you have the guaranteed weather and beautiful beaches every parent craves when they think of a fun summer break. While a self-catering villa or apartment could be ideal if you want to prepare your own meals, it may be worth paying a little extra for an all-inclusive resort, as they will have a selection of children's meals that even fussy eaters will enjoy and offer the convenience of having food available pretty much around the clock.
Puente Romano Marbella is one such stunning resort. With three outdoor pools and a dedicated family one down by the sand, there's plenty of variety for a whole week away. Plus, if toddlers are ready for pony lessons, the on-site equestrian centre is perfect. Under 12s, extra beds or cots are free. Yachts can be booked if you and the family fancy a day out alone, and there are kids clubs in high season from May to September.
2. Ayia Napa, Cyprus
If you think the summer can't come soon enough, then jet off to Cyprus for some early sun. Plus, holidaying around April is likely to offer a more comfortable temperature for little ones rather than the scorching heat that Europe often gets around July. Known for its beaches, Ayia Napa is a great place to go for long relaxing days building sandcastles. At the 5-star Olympic Lagoon hotel, kids can play on the slides in the freshwater pool or enjoy some time at the creche, where babies aged 6 months or more can take part in soft play and surround themselves with toys under the watchful eye of qualified staff.
3. Club Med in the Algarve, Portugal
The newly-renovated Da Balaia resort perched on the cliffs of the Algarve is a veritable paradise for families with young kids. Guaranteed to offer mum and dad the one thing they really need - a break - this hotel has literally everything you could think of for young families. First off, there's the childcare. Taking babies from 4 months old and up to teenagers, there's a club for every age and a plethora of activities to get stuck into. While many parents start the week sure their child will only want to pop in for a session or two, the GOs (the staff looking after the kids) are so amazing and the fun so plentiful, kiddos are usually begging to stay all day.
While children are occupied, mum and dad can get some much-earned rest, either taking a dip in the adult-only, chlorine-free zen pool, getting a treatment in the luxurious Cinq Mondes spa. Food is divine - with bottle stations in each accommodation block and freshly-made purees. Little ones may prefer the more temperate April and May to the blazing heat of the summer - great deals can be found outside of school holidays too.
4. The Baby Hotel, Austria
As the name indicates, the Baby Hotel in Austria is the ideal place to go with your little one. Europe's first baby hotel offers 80 hours' childcare each week for babies, has special menus for nursing mothers and a full-board option for formula-fed babies. You'll also find dedicated baby-and-parent activities, as well as a spa and fitness centre where adults can relax and enjoy some time away knowing their baby is well looked after.
5. Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Dubai
Situated less than 30 minutes from Dubai Marina is probably the most thrilling and entertaining hotel - Lapita - which is ideal for families. Lapita Hotel is conveniently situated inside Dubai Parks and Resorts which is the home of three world-class theme parks and one water park. Can parents think of anything better to keep their little ones entertained?
Lapita is a Polynesian themed resort which offers stunning spacious guest rooms and suites featuring private balconies, five restaurants and bars, a spa boutique, a fitness centre, swimming pools and even its very own 'slow river'.
6. Center Parcs, UK
Each of the five Center Parcs villages across the UK is suitable for holidaying with a baby or toddlers, with lots to explore and activities including swimming pools which have separate areas for youngsters, while the crèche offers three-hour sessions for children up to 35 months. The accommodation is fully-equipped too; lodges are fitted with stair gates and have high chairs and a cot.
There's an array of indoor and outdoor activities for toddlers, from mini football, to pottery painting and much inbetween. Many restaurants include baby stations with free baby food, bottle warmers and anything else your little one could require. There are even soft play zones inside some restaurants so there's no fear of hungry tantrums while you're waiting for supper to arrive.
There are kiddie zones in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, as well as baby trailers to hire to attach little ones onto the back of bikes if they're too small to ride. And if you go down to the woods (which you must - because the play parks are a lot of fun) you might be in for a big surprise. A real life teddy bear's picnic. Sign us up!
7. Nessebar, Bulgaria
Bulgaria has many unspoiled Blue Flag beaches that are both clean and safe, so you can have fun playing in the sand or paddling in the sea with little ones. Nessebar has both old and new towns to explore, with plenty of places to shop and eat during the day and early evening before you retreat to your hotel or villa for your baby's bedtime.
8. Tenerife, Spain
Although it's a slightly longer flight to take with a baby or toddler, the Canary Island of Tenerife is a great choice for a holiday with little ones at any time of year. Some of the most family-friendly resorts include Playa de las Americas and Costa Adeje, but we love the five-star hotel Fantasia Bahia Principe.
Make their dreams come true with the Cinderella-style castle, two splash parks and five outdoor swimming pools and a playground. There is also a heated swimming pool for kids, all-day clubs for children aged 3 and over and plenty of entertainment to keep them occupied in the evening. If you're worried the holiday excitement may impact their sleep, use the blackout blinds to enjoy a slightly longer lie in.
9. Rome, Italy
If you fancy a city break, Rome is ideal for young families. Not only is it easy to explore many of the sites on foot, the streets are relatively flat for getting around with a pushchair. You'll also find specialist tours for kids and families, such as a three-hour scavenger hunt tour around the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Or a pizza- and gelato-making class - bound to put any little monkey in a good mood.
10. Bali, Indonesia
If you're prepared to travel further afield, Bali is an affordable baby-friendly option. Canggu, Ubud, Jimbaran and Nusa Lembongan are among the most family-friendly areas. Hotels are well-equipped with cots and highchairs, while you can easily book a nanny or babysitter to take care of your tot while you have some alone time. A nanny can even join you on your outings to let you have a bit of a break too thanks to an extra pair of hands.
11. Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City is another long-haul destination that is easy to explore with a baby or toddler. Once you've got over the journey, you can take in attractions like the Navy Pier and Shedd Aquarium, or take a free stroller tour at some of the city's museums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art - where you'll want to call by on the first Wednesday of the month, between 11:30am-12:30pm.
12. Tuscany, Italy
Another child-friendly Italian destination is Tuscany, where you can indulge in pizza and ice cream in the Italian sunshine, while your tots can spend their days playing in the pool. The medieval town of Lucca is completely flat and easy to navigate with a pushchair, but you might want to consider travelling out of season as temperatures soar during the summer months and it may be too hot for babies and toddlers.
13. New Forest, UK
You can't go wrong with a trip to the New Forest with youngsters. There is so much to see and do, including visiting Paulton's Family Theme Park – home to none other than Peppa Pig World – sure to be a big hit with toddlers.
There's lots of fantastic places to stay. The Mayflower in Lymington is super for young families - a perfect coastal gastro pub, situated a stone’s throw from Lymington marina – and ideal for children with a garden complete with play area and within easy walking distance to Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve which provids an idyllic place for a toddle or a stroll. They provide scrummy picnic lunches for longer adventures.
Try Sir Richard Branson's Son Bunyola retreat in Majorca for a luxurious family holiday. The estate covers 680 acres of land and includes three villas, which each have their own private chef and a full concierge, while there is also a babysitting service on offer. Alternatively, if you're on more of a budget, head to one of the popular beach resorts like Cala D'Or, which has lots of affordable and child-friendly accommodation, small and safe beach coves, along with activities like the MiniT renet tourist road train and numerous children's parks where toddlers can play.
15. The Sanya EDITION, Hainan Island, China
If you’re feeling adventurous this summer, why not try somewhere a little further afield like China’s Hainan Island? The hotel boasts an award-winning kids club called Playland and launching in summer 2019 is the hotel’s art-based summer camp from 20 July to 21 August. You’ll also find a miniature immersive village for children, a miniature train and bumper cars for the older kids. The Sanya EDITION's restaurants Xian Hai, Jade Egret and Barbacoa all offer children's menus featuring shredded chicken soup with noodles, a children's cheeseburger and fries and fruit platters made especially for kids.
16. Daios Cove, Crete
Beautiful views, six speciality restaurants, a private sandy beach and a children's club and creche club make this resort a great choice for families. Greece is known for its hot, sunny climate and the flight isn't too long to endure with your little ones. The restaurants offer a variety of foods to keep the kids happy, the swimming pool is heated so even a baby can enjoy the water and the resort has babysitting services too. We're pleased to hear that childcare is an important part of the Daios experience, so catch up on your couple time here!