Looking for a relaxing vacation before the baby arrives? There are plenty of places outside the tropics where you won’t have to worry about Zika, malaria, or dengue. The sea may not be as warm, but at least a temperate climate means you can be active without risking heatstroke (inadvisable during pregnancy)!
The following countries all have good access to healthcare and are in, or reasonably accessible from, North America.
1. Santa Barbara (California), USA
Just two hours north of Los Angeles, sunny Santa Barbara is a safe bet for a pre-baby break. The city is built in the original Spanish style, with white-stucco buildings and red-tile roofs. Dine and shop along mile-long State Street, and visit the Old Mission with its adjacent rose garden.
The beaches and seaside boardwalk lend themselves perfectly to gentle activities like walking, cycling, sunbathing, and paddle boarding. For ultimate relaxation, embark on a sunset sailing cruise and see if you can spot dolphins.
2. Santa Fe (New Mexico), USA
Santa Fe has a beautiful pueblo-style architecture with adobe walls and blue trims that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to colonial Mexico. It is also one of the oldest cities in the United States.
It could be the town’s intimate size, the altitude, the clear light, or the artistic community, but Santa Fe has a relaxed, laid-back vibe — making it ideal for a babymoon. Shop for Native American handicrafts (especially turquoise jewelry) along The Plaza, or browse quirky artists’ shops and galleries on Canyon Road.
3. Kauai (Hawaii), USA
Hawaii is a great Zika-free beach destination and Kauai is the lushest and oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, with some of the best scenery in the state.
You can fly over the inaccessible forests and waterfalls of its interior on a one-hour helicopter tour. Or enjoy a leisurely drive around the island to visit beaches, taro farms, coffee plantations, and the impressive Waimea Canyon.
4. Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), Canada
Visit in late spring, summer, or early fall, and drive the Cabot Trail, a 298-km (185 miles) loop road around the island of Cape Breton. There are plenty of points of interest, villages, and conveniences along the way, making it a fine road-trip for expecting mothers.
Forests, coastal vistas, and an inland sea make Cape Breton one of the most scenic parts of Canada. If you’re into grand landscapes and the great outdoors — pregnancy or not — then this is the place for you. There are dozens of trails to hike, or you can go kayaking, take a whale-watching tour, visit historic sites and museums, and listen to fiddle music in friendly small towns.
5. Victoria (British Columbia), Canada
Located on Vancouver Island, this small provincial capital is known for its gardens and mild sunny weather. You’re never far from the water in Victoria and a vacation here can easily combine time in the city with low-key excursions into the surrounding countryside.
Visiting the gorgeous Butchart Gardens and the Royal British Columbia Museum, and having afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel are all gentle activities suitable for mothers-to-be. Many other attractions are free. Watch the activity around the Inner Harbor, explore the floating village, and relax in peaceful Beacon Hill Park. And if you love brunch, don’t miss Jam Café.
6. Reykjavik, Iceland
Lovers of dramatic nature who don’t mind cooler weather should head for Iceland. From the capital Reykjavik, you can take various day tours to glaciers, black beaches, waterfalls, geysers, and volcanoes. Or for complete freedom, rent a car and drive the Ring Road around the island.
Reykjavik itself can keep you occupied for a few days with its various museums, street art, puffin and whale-watching tours, and cozy coffee shops. The striking Hallgrímskirkja Church is also worth a look. Unfortunately, you will have to skip the popular Blue Lagoon on this visit, as geothermal pools are not recommended for pregnant women.
While June through August are the brightest and warmest months, the northern lights are best caught in the darker winter months.
7. Lisbon, Portugal
Underrated Lisbon surprises many first-time visitors. Old trams rattle their way to viewpoints, elevators take you up the steep hillsides, and narrow lanes twist around the Alfama quarter, leading to intimate fado restaurants. Museums, churches, sun-drenched plazas, and even a castle compete for your attention.
Keep half-a-day for the Belém District, with its stunning monuments and warm egg tarts. Food in Portugal comes in generous portions, ideal for those who need to eat for two!
From Lisbon, go on day trips to the Disneyesque Pena Palace in Sintra, the seaside resort of Cascais, or even the pedestrian village of Óbidos.
8. Nice, France
At the heart of the French Riviera is Nice, a Mediterranean city that can keep you occupied for weeks. Browse and shop at the colorful Cours Saleya Market for flowers, fresh produce, or sweet treats like marzipan. Visit one of the many museums such as Musée Marc Chagall or Musée Masséna. Stroll along Promenade des Anglais, which meanders along the sea for 7 kilometers (4.3 miles).
Nice’s adjoining beach is pebbly, but a short train ride away you will find golden sands in seaside towns such as Cannes, Antibes, and Juan Les Pins. European beaches are Zika-free, which makes them perfect for pregnant visitors.
9. Málaga, Spain
Unlike the rest of the Costa del Sol, Málaga is a ‘real’ Spanish city, with a mostly pedestrian Old Town. Here you will find some of the best tapas in Andalucía, as well as numerous shopping streets and elegant plazas. Visiting the Alcazaba, Picasso Museum, Glass Museum and more, can occupy several days.
In the daytime, have a coffee or a drink along Muelle 2, the waterfront’s promenade, or relax in the leafy park across the road. To the east is La Malagueta, the first of a string of sandy beaches that extend along the boardwalk for several kilometers. Stop in El Palo for a fresh fish lunch next to the water.
10. Galway, Ireland
If you value culture and nature over sunny beaches, consider a trip to Galway, reputed to be the most Irish city in Ireland.
Visit the free Galway City Museum and Spanish Arch, before stopping at Ard Bia café next door for a sweet treat. If the weather cooperates, walk along the River Corrib and the various canals. The main pedestrian drag comes alive with street musicians at night. Sit down to a bowl of seafood chowder at one of the brightly painted pubs and restaurants.
Galway is a doorway to the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2500-km (1553 miles) route along the indented west coast of Ireland. Completing the entire trip might be a stretch for pregnant travelers, but shorter trips, for example to the Cliffs of Moher, are equally impressive.
All information was correct at time of publication but travelers should be sure to check the latest CDC Zika advisories before booking.