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  • Writer's pictureImogen Hall

Perfect places to travel with your toddler

Not exactly strolling but definitely taking part in the passiegata in Sicily.

Just stepping out of the front door can be adventure enough when you are parenting a toddler so taking your little darling further afield can require some military-style planning. Selecting the right destination is key to ensuring you have a trip that works for the whole family.

Unless you are blessed with the non-trantrumming, early-talking type of toddler it’s likely that you will want somewhere with space to roam, family-friendly cafes and restaurants, and some gentle safe activities that don’t take too long but provide something fun to look at and possibly touch and feel too. Toddlers hands go everywhere so high hygiene standards are a prerequisite, as are shops selling nappies (unless you are happy to hike yours from home) and toddler-friendly snacks. Here are eight ideas from around the world to get that all-important planning started.

Devon & Cornwall, England

The southwest of England is a magical place to visit with kids, with an incredible coastline (think fun seaside towns, rockpools to explore, sandcastles to build) and - crucially for owners of toddlers - plenty of National Trust properties. In recent years the National Trust has focussed on attracting families, meaning that you can usually find play areas and family-friendly cafes. Even without play areas, many properties have extensive grounds where the very little people can run around and make as much noise as they like.

Sicily, Italy

Wherever you go in Italy your toddler will be welcomed, but Sicily is a particularly good option if you love exploring history when you travel. There are so many fascinating open-air sites where you can learn while your little one is free to waddle around, touching whatever they want without attracting dirty looks and tuts of disapproval. The evening passiegata when everyone congregates in the town plaza is also the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy a drink while more waddling goes on. Fountains can keep small minds occupied for way longer than you might appreciate.

With its warm seaside climate and its beach city vibe San Diego is a good place for families who want the buzz of the city but a chance to relax and breathe out at the same time. It also caters perfectly to the toddler crowd with its famous zoo (which includes a ride on the aerial tram), the Birch Aquarium and now the New Children’s Museum. The city is also home to plenty of plazas, fountains and gardens which offer plenty of space for them to let off steam, and has some of the best family-friendly dining options in the States when it’s time to refuel.

Brisbane, Queensland

While all the main cities in Australia have a plethora of fun things to do with kids big and small, Brisbane is particularly toddler-focussed. You can take them paddling at Street Beach, hop aboard a trackless train to explore the Roma Street Parklands and get creative at Toddler Tuesday at the Gallery of Modern Art. And if that’s still not worn them out you can start teaching them about animal welfare at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Many toddlers love transport in all its forms and a trip to Switzerland can help you tick most of the boxes: trains, cable cars, boats, buses (and of course possibly the plane to get there in the first place). Base yourselves in Grindelwald and spend days pottering around the different towns and villages of the Bernese Oberland, accessed by a plethora of different narrow-gauge trains and cable cars of all shapes and sizes. The best bit is that you will usually find a children’s playground up the mountain so you can breathe in the incredible views while the young miss or master has fun on the swings and slides.

Playgrounds with a view are easy to find in Switzerland; this one is near Grindelwald.

Penang, Malaysia

If you are looking for somewhere in Asia which welcomes toddlers and where English is widely-spoken, the cost of travel is relatively low and there’s a good health infrastructure Malaysia should be on your list. Staying on Penang allows you to combine a beach break with plenty of toddler-friendly activities such as indoor play areas, extensive parks and paddling pools and a variety of different animals to see. Your toddler (and you!) can also have fun riding around on a trishaw, taking a funicular or enjoying a different view from a boat.

Maritime Provinces, Canada

From beach-combing to exploring lighthouses, ship-themed playgrounds to hands-on science museums, nature trails to a fun park aimed squarely at younger children, there is plenty to keep the family of an active toddler busy in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick. It’s also an interesting area for adults, with a relaxed vibe, great seafood and plenty of history to explore, and of course the literary sensation that was Anne of Green Gables. Your small person may not be reading yet but hey - it is your holiday too.

Bali, Indonesia

Depending on where you stay and what you do on Bali, you can have very different experiences, meaning some families come home raving about what an amazing destination it is and others vowing that they will never go back. But for a water-loving toddler it’s a great option as there are so many family-friendly resorts with lovely (usually unfenced) pools as well as the huge aquatic playground that is Waterbom Park. When it’s time to leave the water you can find temples to explore, monkeys to gawp up and even a soft-play zone at Parklife Bali.

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