Hey there! South America might not have been on your family travel radar, but let me tell you, it’s an awesome place to explore with your kids! There are so many exciting things to see and do, like otherworldly landscapes, sandy dunes, dinosaur sites, high-flying cable cars, national parks, and beautiful beaches. If you’re up for an adventure, this is the perfect destination for you and your family.
Let’s start with Bolivia, a hidden gem that’s not often on the typical family travel map. But trust me, it’s definitely worth considering. Bolivia is right in the heart of South America, surrounded by Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, and Argentina. While it might be a bit more challenging to navigate than some other places, the unique and rare experiences you’ll have here will make it all worthwhile.
One of the most incredible places in Bolivia is the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, covering a mind-blowing 4,000 square miles. It’s like stepping into a magical white wonderland with shimmering salt crystals and natural pools that will amaze both kids and parents. And if your little ones are dinosaur enthusiasts, they’re in for a treat! Bolivia is all about dinosaur tourism, with museums, theme parks, and real dinosaur footprints to discover in cities and remote areas.
Two of the coolest dinosaur sites are Torotoro National Park and Parque Cretácico. In Torotoro, you can take a guided tour from a small town with the same name, trekking through desert and canyon landscapes to find authentic dinosaur footprints. There are over 2,500 unique prints dating back 120 million years, and kids can see them exactly as they were found in the wild. How cool is that?
Then, just three miles outside the lovely city of Sucre, you’ll find Parque Cretácico, a modern Jurassic park built around a concrete mine where more than 5,000 dinosaur prints from 15 different species were discovered accidentally in the 1990s. It’s like stepping back in time! The park has life-size, animated dinosaurs, museums, and even a fake dig site where kids can play archaeologist.
But that’s not all! Bolivia has more to offer, like the historic city of Sucre with its charming old buildings and churches, and La Paz, which boasts the highest and longest cable car network in the world. The city also has intriguing attractions like Valle de la Luna, a field of cool eroded rock formations, and the Witches Market, where they openly sell curious items like shrunken skulls and dried animal fetuses (a bit spooky, but fascinating!).
Chile is an impressive country in South America with a well-developed infrastructure that makes it feel like anything but a developing nation. It’s a fantastic destination for family travel, but due to its vast size and diverse regions, careful planning is essential to make the most of your trip with kids.
In the far north, near the Bolivian border, you’ll find the iconic Atacama Desert. This place is extraordinary, situated between the Andes Mountains and the cold Pacific Ocean, making it one of the driest spots on Earth. The landscapes here are truly out of this world and have been compared to the horizons of Mars or the moon. You can enjoy geysers, try sandboarding down massive sand dunes, spot pink flamingos in salt flats, and even take nighttime astronomy tours under some of the best dark skies you’ll ever see. The town of San Pedro de Atacama is the perfect base for arranging all these amazing experiences.
Moving to the Bío Bío region in the center of the country, you can make the city of Los Angeles your home base and explore nearby wild landscapes. There’s the breathtaking Laja Falls, which consists of four waterfalls forming a horseshoe shape, the Nevados de Chillán resort for volcano and glacier skiing, and the hidden gem of Playa Ramuntcho, a secret beach. Families will love the International Guesthouse El Rincon, offering cabins, suites, and eco-domes in a beautiful forest setting just north of Los Angeles.
Chile also shares the famous Patagonia region with Argentina, and one of the most scenic and family-friendly areas in the remote south is Chile’s Los Lagos region. Accessible from Puerto Montt, this area offers stunning fjords and glacial lakes. We highly recommend visiting Pumalin Park, Chile’s largest national park, covering almost one million acres. The Amarillo area within the park has excellent camping facilities and plenty of kid-friendly hiking trails, where you can see glaciers, temperate rainforests, and various wildlife.
Uruguay may be small, but it’s packed with charm! Nestled between Argentina and the southern part of Brazil, this little gem is located along the Atlantic coast, offering both progressive politics and beautiful beaches. Along with Chile, Uruguay is considered one of the safest places for family travel in South America. The coastline stretches for 410 miles, and there are plenty of peaceful surf towns to explore, like La Pedrera and Barra de Valizas, located north of Montevideo.
Punta del Este is a trendy spot known for its bikini-clad beachgoers and lively cocktail bars, but it’s also a fantastic destination for families. Kids will love Playa de los Dedos, where they can crawl into a giant hand sticking out of the sand – a quirky and fun experience. If you’re looking for a quieter spot, head just north of Punta to José Ignacio, which offers lovely stretches of shoreline and a more laid-back atmosphere. And if you’re up for a little adventure, venture all the way north to Punta del Diablo, near the border with Brazil. This picturesque fishing village is lined with colorful houses overlooking the water and has surfing schools that can teach both kids and beginners how to ride the waves.
South America offers an array of incredible family travel destinations. From the otherworldly landscapes of Bolivia to the well-developed infrastructure of Chile and the charming beaches of Uruguay, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re exploring ancient dinosaur sites, admiring stunning natural wonders, or enjoying safe and family-friendly coastal towns, a trip to South America promises unforgettable adventures for the whole family.