Travel Rankings & Advice

Best Family Vacations in Central and South America

Taking your family to inspiring places, like Machu Picchu's iconic ruins or Costa Rica's unspoiled rainforests, can be life-changing. To help you find a suitable Central or South American destination that your group will enjoy exploring together, U.S. News ranked the top family vacation spots by taking into account accessibility, family-friendly activities and lodging options, as well as expert and traveler opinions. Help us determine next year's list by selecting your top picks below.

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Machu Picchu
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Why go: The pilgrimage to the Inca's lost city is long, but overlooking Machu Picchu would be a missed opportunity to witness the remains of a powerful ancient civilization. Once you board the train in Cusco, you and your clan will be in for an adventure.

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Why go: In Costa Rica, you and your kids can create unforgettable memories while ziplining above rainforests and sprawling across Nicoya Peninsula's sandy shores. Suited for beachgoers and adrenaline junkies alike, this tiny nation features a variety of ways to keep everyone smiling. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

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89 38

Why go: The Galápagos play host to an array of enchanting species, and whether you're exploring caves or admiring the magnificent white-sand shores of Turtle Bay, you won't be bored. However, the Galápagos is by no means cheap or easy to reach, so come with a thick wallet. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Galápagos Islands

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Why go: You and your family will have a blast exploring this wind-whipped destination. Climb the towering peaks of Torres del Paine National Park or mingle with Patagonia's curious penguins at Isla Magdalena. The only downside to visiting this region is the high cost of getting there. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Chilean Patagonia

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Why go: Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of exploring ancient ruins of Machu Picchu (as well as those found closer to town). Hosting affordable hotels and restaurants, Cusco suits families hoping to take their kids on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation without overspending. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Cusco

Panama City
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Why go: This metropolis boasts both urban and rustic settings suited for travelers of all ages. Kids interested in history will love the Panama Canal, and aspiring musicians will take delight in merengue dances. You'll also want to take your kids to Casco Viejo for a rare glimpse of Panama City's long colonial history.

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Why go: Getting here is no easy feat, but once you arrive, you and the kiddos can be whisked away on trusty steeds and gallop through Southern Patagonia. Younger travelers appreciate Patagonia's gaucho (cowboy) culture and you'll love the aromatic Argentinean wine and gorgeous scenery. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Argentine Patagonia

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Why go: Rio's dramatic views, gorgeous beaches, and glittering skyline appeal to a wide range of visitors. Yes, you may feel a tad cramped as you stretch out along Copacabana Beach, but when you and your crew need a retreat, it's easy to escape to the Jardim Botânico's serene gardens or Grumari's sands. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

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