Once upon a time, a vacation meant quiet dinners and strolls along the beach. Then the kids came along and meals grew cold as you tended to their needs, getting kicked under the table while trying to hold a conversation above the din of the not-so-quiet restaurant. The strolls along the beach continued, but now they require you to schlep strollers, tents, umbrellas, buckets, shovels, coolers, boogie boards... you get the point.

Silhouette of Family Holding Hands at Sunset

Finding romance isn't impossible while traveling with children though. If you're looking to spice up your next trip with kids in tow, here are some tips to help you have the best of both worlds:

Choose a Romantic Destination
Selecting a destination that's naturally romantic and historic will let you stroll hand-in-hand with doe-eyed pleasure while the kids watch their school books come to life. Love will not be lost in Paris; while you and your partner devour chocolates and walk along the Seine, the kids will happily tag along and marvel over the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. In the U.S., cobblestoned cities such as Boston and Williamsburg, Virginia, are rich in family-friendly activities and history, as well as romantic charm, with quaint restaurants and boutique shops aplenty. Many of the area's luxury hotels provide babysitters and fine dining right on the premises, too. Such is the case at Providence Hall Guesthouses' Regency Room, an AAA-4 Diamond rated restaurant.

Find Kids' Clubs
Many resorts feature clubs where children of all ages can spend mornings or afternoons (or even nights) in camp-like settings, making crafts, taking adventure walks, learning to swim, and playing games with other children their age. You'll typically find these programs at all-inclusive resorts or on cruise ships; many hotels in Disney World also offer them. While kids spend time there, couples can sneak off to enjoy a spa treatment, hit the links or take that quiet sunset walk along the beach.

For hotels without special programs to keep the kids occupied, some keep a list of trusted babysitters who will come to your hotel room and watch the children so you can get a little alone time. Even if not advertised, contact the concierge to find out if they can refer you to local sitters.

Seek Out Parent-Specific Programs
Plenty of family-friendly resorts offer romantic, unique activities and programs for parents, and there's no reason you shouldn't take advantage of them, especially if the hotel offers babysitting services or a kids' club. For instance, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa offers a Romance Tour of the Stars, in which parents can share champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries while they look through the lens of a 16-inch reflector telescope atop the hotel (where a luxurious swimming pool is located); the hotel also has several kids' programs, including night camps.

Travel in the Off-Season
During winter months, even if you're sick of shoveling snow and are desperate for a warm-weather getaway, traveling to a cold-weather destination like Montreal or Steamboat Springs will help you avoid the hordes of families heading to the beach. Bundle up and take the kids skiing, ice-skating or dog sledding during the day, and after they crash into bed each night, open a bottle of wine and snuggle up by your in-room fireplace, found at most ski lodges or nearby hotels. Many vacation home rentals feature private Jacuzzi tubs beneath a blanket of stars and the absolute quiet of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. What could be more romantic?

Book a Family Suite
For added privacy, book a suite or choose a hotel that offers family suites, an increasingly popular offering. Family suites typically include two separate spaces for parents and kids -- kids are often treated to a room with two twin beds or bunk beds, and in some cases, a bathroom of their own, while parents enjoy a room with a king bed.

Be Mysterious
Remember when you were dating and one of you would plan an unexpected getaway? Do it now, with the entire family. You can keep your destination a secret until you get to the airport, or spirit your partner away for a last-minute weekend getaway. But if you're seeking a surprise that requires a little less planning, try arranging a secret excursion, restaurant outing or even hotel stay while on vacation. For example, if you decided not to book a room in that historic castle because it was too expensive, covertly cancel your replacement reservations at the more affordable hotel, and book just one night in the castle.

A cheaper way to surprise your significant other -- with equally positive results -- is to purchase something your loved one might enjoy on your next trip together. Then hide the gift in your travel partner's suitcase so he or she discovers the item while unpacking. This might include a guidebook, candy, or novel by his or her favorite author. Having a bouquet of flowers and/or a bottle of Champagne waiting in the room upon check-in never hurts either.

Get Romantic Pre-Trip
Sometimes it's the planning of a big trip that gets us the most excited. Using that pre-trip time to do some things together in preparation can be very romantic. If you and the clan have decided Mexico will be the big summer vacation excursion, consider enrolling in a Spanish class together and learn a new language you'll be able to use on your vacation. After the trip, keep the memory alive with date-night outings to Mexican restaurants.

More From Family Vacation Critic:
16 Hotels with Free Kids' Clubs
10 Best All-Inclusive Caribbean Resorts for Families

Written by Lissa Harnish Poirot


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