Having a picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower isn’t the same with a busy toddler in tow, and the high-altitude, stony streets of Cusco aren’t quite as charming when you’re struggling to push a stroller. Although it can be wonderful to expose children to new cultures and places, some destinations are best experienced before kids enter the picture. From cities with limited kid-friendly options to destinations deemed dangerous for impressionable young minds, here are the best places to travel at least once before you have kids.
Spring break in Mexico is basically a birthright for Americans. College kids flock to Cancun, but the scene in the rest of the Riviera Maya is every bit as wild but geared for the non-keg standing crowd. Everyone deserves to experience a beach trip to Mexico at least once without kids, and hotels like the Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla make it easy by weeding out both the spring breakers and the diaper bag crowd with their adults-only concepts. Sip cocktails on the beach and fill up on the all-inclusive dining options before taking a transfer to downtown Playa for a night of dancing and tequila at places like La Mezcallina or Coco Bongo.
Monaco's playground for the rich and famous doesn't have a lot of jungle gyms. Monte Carlo is a destination best experienced with two free hands, one to raise a glass of Champagne or a Bond-style Vesper Martini, and the other to shake hands with the glitterati about town. You'll find age restrictions certainly at the casinos and but also restaurants. Most importantly, going to Monte Carlo sans kids means you won’t have to worry about finding a sitter while you’re getting the famous Bastien Gonzalez pedicure at the Métropole ESPA.
Kids love animals, but the massive critters you’ll encounter on the savanna aren’t of the petting zoo variety. Many safaris require guests to sign waivers that start out with something along the lines of “you realize you’ll be traveling in remote areas among wild animals in places where aircraft cannot land at night even in a medical emergency,” and end with warnings like, “you understand some areas in which you’ll be traveling are considered malarial.” Let’s just say spotting a lion is an entirely different experience when you do not have to think about protecting your own cub.
This is a city of contrasts, where bright futures and dark pasts coexist. For every luxury hotel there’s a slum, for every Bollywood starlet there’s a gangster, for every Bentley there’s a rickshaw. It’s a place so full of flavor that even the locals can’t handle most street food; it’s also a destination so full of life that it shouldn’t be missed. Head there before kids enter the picture so you’re free to take risks haggling at the Thieves’ Market, get lost gazing at the gold-plated roof inside the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple, and flag down a rickshaw for a night on the town. But even in a country where taking risks is part of the experience, it’s probably best to skip the streets and experience authentic Indian cuisine at a place like Soma Restaurant.
A lifestyle more than a destination, Tuscany is where cycling through vineyards on the way to an ancient castello is as commonplace as twirling forkfuls of homemade pasta around an intricately hand-painted bowl. With each visit, this Italian city becomes more and more of a part of you, which is why it’s best to begin your Tuscan story with a blank slate and an open agenda. Start your Tuscan journey with a weekend at the Castello di Casole for a grown-up retreat of private wine tastings of estate-grown vintages, spa rituals that literally have you bathing in the essence of Tuscany at the Essere Spa, and gourmet wine-pairing dinners beneath Murano glass chandeliers at Ristorante Tosca.
Although friends might scorn the idea of you bringing a child to Colombia, no one would so much as bat an eyelash at the idea of an adult getaway in Cartagena. The city is Colombia’s enchanting fishing village on the edge of the Caribbean coast, and it’s one of the safest in the country. Sleep inside the walled city at the historic Alfiz Hotel, hop a ride on a chiva (the colorful open-sided buses that roll through the city), and sip on fresh agua de coco from the street carts lining the city walls.
Walt Disney World
Stay with us on this. Walt Disney World's latest offerings have made it one of the best adult vacation experiences around. The park is home to the annual Epcot Food and Wine Festival, a slew of new boutique shops at Disney Springs, lavish 13-course dinners by a James Beard-nominated chef at Victoria & Albert’s, and late-night dancing options on the Disney Boardwalk. Go now because there will never be a time in your life you can justify leaving your kids at home while you go to Disney World.
For the rest of the 14 places to travel before you have kids, including Thailand's hottest party island, visit Fodor's.