The Multi-Agenda Family of Three

Scale the Great Wall at Johor Bahru’s Legoland.Photo: Then Chih Wey/Xinhua Press/Corbis
Photo: Courtesy of the travelers

Shana Dworken, 31, high-school teacher; Arye Dworken, 35, advertising creative; and Steven Dworken, 23 months

Budget: Moderate

Duration: 10 Days

“My wife teaches global history, so she tries to get me to do things that involve culture and museums. I’m an unrepentant beach person. I just want to lie down and do nothing. Steven is up for whatever, but he’d love a kid-themed place—like a Sesame Street.”

Go here: Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Why now: The government created the Iskandar development region in 2007 in hopes of turning the southerly area into a major metropolis; since then, J.B. (as the locals call it) has lured in both hotel and theme-park developers, earning a reputation as the Orlando of Southeast Asia (albeit with more cultural allure). It’s also within spitting distance of Danga Bay and just over an hour’s drive to the white-sand beaches of Desaru.

What to do: Explore 75 acres of Lego-themed thrills at Asia’s first Legoland (from $34.50 for adults, free for children under 3; Medini, Nusajaya; 60-7-597-8888), making sure to check out Miniland, dotted with Lilliputian versions of Asian landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. Feel like an adult again at Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman (free; No. 22, Lorong 1, Jalan Tebrau), a Hindu temple mosaicked with 300,000 pieces of shimmering glass, or the Starhill Golf & Country Club water park (from $1.63; 6.5KM Jalan Kampung Maju Jaya, Kempas Lama, Skudai; 60-7-556-6325), which has a pool with three cascading waterfalls and a hot tub in a cave.

Where to stay: The Pulai Springs Resort (from $75; beckons with a golf course, spa, a rock-slide-equipped children’s pool, and lap and wading pools for grown-ups.

What to eat: No trip to Malaysia would be complete without a bowl of mee rebus, a noodle dish served with a spicy potato-based brown gravy; the version at Haji Wahid’s Mee Rebus in Plaza Angsana (LI-33A Jalan Skudai) is just $1.15 a pop. For dinner, try Eight Lido (8 Jalan Skudai; 60-7-222-7807): The year-old tapas joint doesn’t disappoint—and neither does its view of the Strait of Johor.

Buy this: A hand-woven rattan fruit basket, made by people with physical or mental disabilities, is just $7.50 at the JARO Malaysia Handicraft Centre (TLO-2125 Jalan Sungei Chat; 60-7-224-5632).

Also consider: Richmond, Virginia, whose Children’s Museum has three facilities for the under-8 set, two of which opened recently. The town’s eighteenth-century plantations and the American Civil War Center provide cultural relief, while the skylit indoor pool at the Jefferson Hotel (from $235; will sate aquanuts.

The Multi-Agenda Family of Three