19 Best Family Resorts and Hotels in the U.S.

The best family resorts in the U.S. aren't just hotels, they're kid-friendly family vacation destinations in their own right.
Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan (Photo: Grands Hotel)
Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan (Photo: Grands Hotel)

I always say it takes more than a swimming pool and chicken fingers to make a hotel family-friendly. That’s why when I plan family vacations with my kids, I put in the extra legwork to find family resorts that go above and beyond with offerings like water slides and amazing pools, easy theme park access, and other kid-friendly offerings like activities like horseback riding, great kids programs, and restaurants that make families feel welcome.

Best Family Resorts in the U.S.

A great family resort is a vacation all by itself, so when you’re brainstorming family vacation ideas, it can be super helpful to start with a great place to stay. Here are my picks for the best family resorts in the U.S. They shine with some outstanding kid- and adult-friendly, offerings from epic water slides to cozy beach s’mores and singalongs.

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1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

As part of the Kidani Village expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, diners are treated to a new restaurant – Sanaa
Dining options offer African inspired dishes at multiple restaurants, including Boma–Flavors of Africa, Jiko–The Cooking Place, and Sanaa, featuring “the art of African cooking with Indian flavors” (Photo: Disney)

It can be hard to choose a favorite Disney hotel in Orlando. There are just so many great ones, including Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. But if I had to choose just one, I’d pick Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The chance to book a Savanna View room and sit on your balcony and watch giraffes, ostriches, and gazelles wander by is just such an exceptional experience for both kids and adults.

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And then there are the other great offerings at this family resort, like the Uzima Springs Pool, which was designed to look like a savanna watering hole (if African water holes had a 67-foot long water slide). Other kid-friendly activities and amenities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge include a playground (it overlooks the flamingo area) and evening campfires with both stories and s’mores. Even though you could definitely spend a whole vacation hanging out at the resort, you’ve also got easy access to all four Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando as well. 

2. Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa

Lake Placid, New York

Adirondack-themed indoor pool at the Mirror Lake Inn (Photo: Dave Parfitt)
Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn has comfortably large family accommodations plus an indoor pool (Photo: Dave Parfitt)

I used to think luxury and family travel adventures didn’t go together, but now I know better. One of my personal favorite examples of this is Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, which has blended a laid-back-but-luxurious atmosphere and kid-approved perks since the 1930s.

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The resort has a bunch of great guest room options for families, but in my opinion the best is the lakeside family suite in the Lake Cottage. It’s right on the shore of Mirror Lake (across the street from the main building), and has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It also has a living room, a private balcony, and a fireplace.

In summer, families can soak up the great outdoors with sailing, boating, and swimming. In winter, nearby options range from ice skating to ski jumping (it is an Olympic town after all!). There are plenty of activities at this family resort, including an Adirondack woods-inspired pool, yoga, nature hikes, and snowshoe treks, not to mention all the offerings of the Lake Placid Olympic region.

3. Topnotch Resort

Stowe, Vermont

Children playing at family-friendly Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont (Photo: Topnotch Resort)
The resort homes at family-friendly Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont, are perfectly sized for bigger family groups (Photo: Topnotch Resort)

Just a hop, skip, and a jump (or, if you’re measuring by time, less than 10 minutes) from Stowe Mountain, the family-friendly Topnotch Resort is a year-round crowd pleaser for the whole family set in the middle of 120 acres of forest. This family resort has indoor and outdoor pools, along with an indoor hot tub with a cascading warm waterfall wall. There are tennis courts and a junior tennis academy; an Equestrian Center that offers horseback riding plus carriage or sleigh rides; a spa with kid-friendly treatments; and plenty of games including bocce, ping pong, and board games.

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Seasonally, there are also organized activities for kids and teens. Families can enjoy the outdoor fire pits with s’mores kits as well as afternoon tea and hot cocoa, and a wide expansive lawn overlooking Mount Mansfield for running around or playing badminton or volleyball. In addition to standard hotel guest rooms, the resort also has “resort homes,” which are two- and three-bedroom units with full kitchens, fireplaces, washers and dryers, and plenty of privacy.

In the nearby postcard-perfect town of Stowe, there’s lots to do year-round, including hiking, fishing, canoeing, swimming, bird watching, paddle boarding, golfing, shopping, gallery hopping, vintage and boutique shopping, and brew touring. When the temperatures drop in winter, Stowe is also home to the Trapp Family Lodge, one of the best cross-country skiing resorts in the whole U.S. (and especially good for families).

4. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort (Photo: Dollywood Parks and Resorts)
With its family activities center, rooms with bunk beds for kids, and indoor and outdoor pools, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort is one of the top family resorts in the U.S. (Photo: Dollywood Parks and Resorts)

Tennessee family resort Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa has family at its very foundation, saying it was built on the traditions of “storytelling, family and togetherness.” And true to its name, the resort encourages families to “dream more” at spots like stargazing berms built into the landscape and comfy rocking chairs on the front porch. 

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One of the best family resorts in the U.S., DreamMore has a pretty and family-friendly indoor and outdoor pool complex, a family activities center with offerings and events that change regularly, a full-service spa, and a farmhouse-style restaurant. Family rooms include a king-size bed for the parents and twin bunk beds for the kids, or a two-room suite with bunk beds in a separate sleeping room. 

With its primo location right next to the Dollywood Theme Park, DreamMore guests also get complimentary transportation and other theme park perks to the park. Once you’ve had the full DreamMore experience, you can return for a second stay at the newer Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Resort.

5. The Hotel Hershey

Hershey, Pennsylvania 

The Hotel Hershey has a special check-in process for kids and chocolate upon arrival (Photo: Hotel Hershey)

What makes The Hotel Hershey one of the best family resorts in the U.S.? The 1930s-era AAA Four Diamond hotel in “Chocolate Town USA” is one of the official resorts of Hersheypark, which means it offers all kinds of perks like special pricing on tickets, shuttle service to the theme park, and extra park hours for guests.

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True to its family-and-chocolate roots, there’s a sweet and special check-in process just for kids that gives kids the chance to sign the guest book and play a candy-based guessing game (kids check in is only offered seasonally and on select weekends; call ahead before you book to see if it’s offered on your dates). And, of course, everyone in the family gets chocolate. 

There’s a year-round indoor pool and a seasonal outdoor pool with two waterslides. Around the property, families will find everything bocce ball courts to an 18-hole all-grass putting course. There’s also basketball courts, hiking trails, and plenty of family fun options like s’mores and chocolate bingo. There’s also a kids clubhouse where kids can hang out and play (note that this isn’t a kids club; parents are still on the hook for watching their kids).

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Even the spa embraces its sweet side with spa treatments like a cocoa facial or massage. (The spa has services for teens as well.) Hotel guests can also visit the 23-acre Hershey Gardens, learn the history of the chocolate bar at The Hershey Story museum, and get preferred pricing for a visit to ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park. And for the cherry on top of this chocolate-themed family resort, head to Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor and dig into a spectacular custom ice cream creation.

6. Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Orlando, Florida

Universal Loews Royal Pacific Resort
With its proximity to Universal Orlando’s theme parks and its over-the-top lagoon pool, Loews Royal Pacific Resort is one of the best family resorts in the U.S. (Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

I love the vibe at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, which hearkens back to a time when turboprop planes brought world travelers to distant South Seas isles. But this modern resort is pure 21st century nestled next to Universal’s two Florida theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and countless other theme park attractions.

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Like many of the other best family resorts in the U.S., Loews Royal Pacific has a showstopper of a pool: Its gorgeous zero entry pool looks like a natural lagoon. The resort has a cluster of onsite restaurants and lounges, plus a luau. But if you’re here, your biggest focus is probably going to be the Universal Orlando theme parks, which are just a quick walk or leisurely water taxi ride away. Since you’re staying at the resort, your family gets precious theme park perks like early entry into the parks, free shuttles, and merch delivery to your hotel room if you buy things in the parks.

7. Big Cedar Lodge

Ridgedale, Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri (Photo: Big Cedar Lodge)
Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, has a beach, five swimming pools, go karts, and more (Photo: Big Cedar Lodge)

Nestled into 4,600 acres on the shores of Table Rock Lake, Big Cedar Lodge brings the outdoors to its guests. There are endless reasons to play outside: paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks are all available for guest use, and there’s a sandy beach, five different swimming pools, a lazy river, mini golf, and bonfires to keep the entire family entertained as well. For a fee, families can race go-karts, climb on the resort’s ropes course, bowl the underwater-themed lanes, and play laser tag. 

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The resort has a nice mix of rooms that comfortably fit families, from private luxury cabins to family-friendly guest rooms. Big Cedar Lodge is about a 10-minute drive to the popular Missouri vacation destination of Branson, so it’s easy to pair a stay at the resort with live entertainment and a visit to the Silver Dollar City theme park.

For a more rustic experience, the resort has Camp Long Creek at Big Cedar Lodge, where accommodations include shepherds huts, camp cabins, and luxurious glamping tents. Camp Long Creek is just a few minutes from the main lodge and sits right on the shores of Table Rock Lake.

8. Grand Hotel

Mackinac Island, Michigan

The family-friendly swimming pool at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (Photo: Grand Hotel)
The family-friendly zero-depth-entry swimming pool at Grand Hotel has a water slide and water jet play area (Photo: Grand Hotel)

Known for the world’s longest front porch and its sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Island’s famed Grand Hotel has served as a Midwest vacation destination and beloved summer family getaway spot for generation after generation since 1887. The seasonal hotel (open from early May through October) has more than 300 guest rooms, including multi-room suites that give space for families to spread out. 

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The resort offers special packages that bundle full and partial meal plans; and in July and August, it has a “Camp Grand” package that lets kids 12 and under stay and dine at 50 percent off; various resort credits, outdoor movie nights, and free museum admission are also included in the deal. 

Family activities at the Grand Hotel include biking, lawn games, swimming, and horseback rides and carriage tours from the hotel stables. The classic Esther Williams swimming pool and surrounding area has gotten a recent facelift that includes a new family-friendly area with a zero-depth beach entry, water jet play area, and water slide. 

9. Tanque Verde Ranch

Tucson, Arizona

Children riding horeseback through desert
With its rustic-luxe vibe and abundance of activities, Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson is one of the best all-inclusive family hotels in the U.S. (Photo: Tanque Verde Ranch)

If there’s a word that describes the scenery about Tuscon’s Tanque Verde Ranch, it’s just “Wow.” This all-inclusive family resort is an Arizona dude ranch surrounded by 60,000 acres of beautiful Arizona desert. There are a ton of included activities, but the main reason people come here is for horseback riding. The daily kids program is a mix of age-based horseback riding skills and other fun activities.

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The resort also offers a full kids-camp program for an added fee (as well as plenty of chances for adults to saddle up and ride out). Beyond horseback riding, there’s mountain biking, fishing, archery, guided hikes, and nature center activities. The all-inclusive rates include three hot-and-hearty meals a day as well as breakfast rides and Cowboy cookouts with live entertainment twice a week. Other family-friendly activities in the area include Saguaro National Park and the old west town of Old Tucson, a favorite location for Hollywood Westerns.

10. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa

Anaheim, California

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel has an entire pool complex (with poolside dining) and its own entrance to Disney’s California Adventure Park (Photo: Disneyland Resort)

Disneyland is where all the Disney park magic started, and remains a classic California family vacation. If you’re splurging on a Disney vacation and want to stay at the resort’s highest-end hotel (that’s also the closest to the parks), you want Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. Inspired by the Craftsman-style “Parkitecture” of the national park lodges, this elegant resort features plenty of Disney touches, including its own dedicated theme park entrance to Disney’s California Adventure Park (you enter through a pretty low-key path near Grizzly River Run), plus early park admission to both parks (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park). 

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Hotel rooms have plenty to delight kids (have them go on a Chip and Dale treasure hunt around the room), room service options include Mickey-shaped waffles, and the the hotel hosts character breakfasts at Storytellers Cafe. And the pool complex is packed with pools, a waterslide, big hot tubs, and hundreds (maybe thousands? I didn’t count but was impressed that there was always somewhere to sit) of chaise lounges, all with food and drink service.

There’s no better place to take an afternoon break from the parks than the Grand Californian’s pool area. Bonus: As a parent, I’ve always appreciated the hotel’s fine dining and full-service spa as well.

11. Kingsmill Resort

Williamsburg, Virginia

Family-friendly Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia (Photo: Kingsmill Resort)
The family-friendly resort Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg has something for everyone: Kids love the lazy river and adults love the water sports and the golf course (Photo: Kingsmill Resort)

Williamsburg’s Kingsmill Resort knocks it out of the park with its river-side lazy river River Pool, which, heads up, might be where your kids want to spend all their time. The property also has an indoor pool and a mellower outdoor pool as well. The resort sits on 2,900 acres on the banks of the James River, but is still less than a 15-minute drive from Colonial Williamsburg. It’s home to three 18-hole golf courses and a golf academy with junior golfer classes.

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The resort also has hiking and biking trails plus a place to rent watercraft like jet skis, pontoon boats, and kayaks to go out on the river. This AAA Four Diamond resort has guest rooms and one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos with full kitchens perfect for multigenerational family vacations. Kingsmill Resort is a great home base to take in Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

12. YMCA of the Rockies

Estes Park, Colorado

WindRiver Lodge at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado (Photo: YMCA of the Rockies)
A stay at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park gives your family Rocky Mountain views and so many activities (Photo: YMCA of the Rockies)

I absolutely love the 1,000 acres of rolling meadows, aspens, and spruce forests at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. A family vacation here guarantees Rocky Mountain views in every direction. In addition to all that gorgeous nature, there are plenty of activities for families and kids to do as well, including archery, disc golf, challenge courses, and a craft and design center.

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A weekly activity guide lets guests know what’s on tap both indoors and out, but staples like indoor and outdoor rock climbing, axe throwing, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and swimming are always available. Families can rent lodge rooms (some sleep up to six guests); two- to five-bedroom private cabins, many with fireplaces; and seasonal yurts, RV sites, and tent sites.

A second location in Winter Park called YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch, also offers cabins, lodge rooms, yurts, and campsites in an equally spectacular location.

13. Hawks Cay Resort

Duck Key, Florida

Aerial view of Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys (Photo: Hawks Cay Resort)
Hawks Cay Resort has water-centric activities like snorkeling, SCUBA, and swimming (Photo: Hawks Cay Resort)

If a Florida beach vacation is calling, my advice is to answer the call at Hawks Cay Resort. Sitting on 60 waterfront acres on Duck Key midway between Miami and Key West, this family resort in Florida is the Keys’ largest. It’s a relaxed wonderland for families with comfortable family-sized rooms and suites and a ton of water-based fun.

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With its own marina, deep-sea fishing charters, a dolphin facility, calm and beautiful saltwater lagoon, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, SCUBA, and swimming opportunities, there’s never a shortage of things to do. Plus, its environmental education program, which has events most days at noon, offers hands-on experiential learning about the animals and ecology of the Florida Keys.

Family suites are oversized (480 square feet) with one king bed and a bunk with a full-size bed on bottom and twin bed on top. And larger families or multigenerational groups can comfortably fit into the two- to three-bedroom townhome style villas, which include a full kitchen.

14. Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa

Oahu, Hawaii

Aulani Waikolohe Valley
In classic Disney style, every design detail at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, tells a story (Photo: Disney)

If you’re wondering if Disney in Hawai’i works, let me tell you, it does. Disney’s family-friendly level of service, respectful approach to Hawaiian storytelling, and classic and newer character experiences are on full display at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, on the island of Oahu. A uniquely Disney resort, Aulani sets itself apart from its theme park counterparts by reflecting the cultures and traditions of the Hawaiian Islands through its architecture, decor, and dining options. You can even join a tour and learn some of the stories of the property.

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The often-uncrowded private beach has chairs, paddleboard rentals, and generally calm waters. In “the Valley” (the wonderland of lush foliage and pools between the resort’s towers), there’s  a fantastic water park with a lazy river, two water slides, and a sort of splash pad-playground hybrid. Every day, you can find interesting and fun family activities. There are crafts, ukulele lessons, fireside storytelling, a menehune treasure hunt, pool activities, and more. 

And then there’s the resort’s famed Aulani kids club. Aunty’s Beach House is the complimentary kids club for children ages three to 12. It has a playground, gaming tables, arts and crafts activities, and all the little special touches that make Aulani not just one of the top family resorts in Hawaii but one of the best family resorts in the U.S. If you’re interested in Aunty’s Beach House, be sure to reserve well in advance since, unsurprisingly at a resort geared to families, it books up fast. Aunty’s also has some slots where you can pay for a themed experience for your kids (like crafts and songs with Moana). 

Every dining option at the resort is ultra-kid friendly (including the fine dining option, which offers a kid-friendly prix fixe). There’s a character breakfast in the mix (make advance reservations), casual poolside venues, ocean-side fine dining, and the great Ka Wa’A luau dinner show. There’s also, importantly, a shave ice stand between the pools that serves Mickey-shaped shave ice creations.

15. The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

View of The Buccaneer Beach House (Photo: The Buccaneer)
The Buccaneer Beach House offers kids plenty of room to roam and play (Photo: The Buccaneer)

American families don’t have to worry about passport requirements to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands since it’s a U.S. territory, which lands The Buccaneer a spot on this list. The oldest family-run resort in the Caribbean (it opened in 1947), it’s a well-loved Caribbean vacation spot for families that gives kids plenty of room to run and play. The resort’s 340 acres are home to three beaches, a pool complex, and activities including soccer, corn hole, and ping pong. 

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All guest rooms at The Buccaneer include daily breakfast, snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, kayaks, and plenty of outdoor activities. Big families or multigenerational groups looking to splurge can opt for The Beach House, a private six-bedroom unit with its own beach and private pool. Other family-friendly accommodations include the “family cottage suite,” which has bedrooms, a patio, and its own lawn.

16. Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

Talkeetna, Alaska

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (Photo: Pursuit Collection)
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge offers panoramic views, jet boat tours, zip lining, and flightseeing trips (Photo: Pursuit Collection)

Alaska’s Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge goes big on adventure. Located midway between Anchorage and Denali, the resort mixes family-friendly lodging and incredible panoramic views of the Alaska Range. The lodge is part of the Pursuit Collection, which curates multi-day trips to dramatic-landscape destinations, and has ready-to-go itineraries that include the lodge and other Alaska experiences.

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Popular resort activities here include jet boat tours, fishing, hiking, biking, zip lining, and even sightseeing flights. The small community of Talkeetna is easily accessible via highway or the Alaska Railroad, and has a mix of cultural heritage, artistic expression, and natural wonders to explore.

17. Mohonk Mountain House

New Paltz, New York

Mohonk Mountain House
Mohonk Mountain House is a year-round resort destination that’s just 90 minutes from NYC (Photo: Shutterstock)

Just 90 minutes from New York City by car, historic Mohonk Mountain House feels worlds away from the city life. In winter, cozy fireplaces and an indoor pool keep you warm inside while outside there’s ice skating, snow tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing to get you fired up. The warmer months bring lake activities such as boating, swimming, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, and golf.

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Founded in the late 19th century, Mohonk Mountain House is a National Historic Landmark with upgraded accommodations and amenities. Guests can book suites or rooms. (For a large family reunion, there’s the six-room Grove Lodge with 700 square-foot-rooms, each with a stone fireplace, sitting area, and luxury bathrooms.)

Mohonk is as all-inclusive as family resorts in the U.S. come, with three meals, afternoon tea and cookies, evening entertainment, nine holes of golf, and much more included in your stay.

18. Rush Creek Lodge

Groveland, California (Yosemite)

Hotels near Yosemite National Park: Rush Creek Lodge
Rush Creek Lodge is a half mile from the entrance to Yosemite (Photo: Kim Carroll/Rush Creek Lodge)

California’s Yosemite National Park is a must-see with kids, and a stay at Rush Creek Lodge, just a half mile from the Highway 120 west entrance (and about a beautiful 30-minute drive from the famed Yosemite Valley) offers an incredible base for the adventure. This is a seriously kid-friendly resort, with rooms where families can share space comfortably in both the main lodge and villa suites with separate rooms.

Around the grounds are zip lines, giant slides, outdoor giant Connect 4, and fire pits for s’mores. There’s a big game room and a lounge in the main lodge, kids’ menus at the tavern and restaurant, and organized activities on the property. There’s also a big heated pool and both family and adult hot tubs. Oh, and the spa? It has family hours when you can bring kids to enjoy the warm waterfall cove, sensory room, and cool mist room. 

The resort leads guided tours into the park, though you can also go on your own. For a great easy hike in the valley, try Lower Yosemite Falls, which has a paved path good for strollers if you take the part of the loop that’s on the left. And though it’s a bit of a hike, it’s an incredible experience to see the massive giant sequoias in one of the park’s three groves (Mariposa, Merced, and Tuolumne). Tuolumne is a short drive from Rush Creek.

19. Limelight Hotel, Snowmass

Snowmass, Colorado

Limelight Snowmass Patio (Photo: Limelight Hotels)
A ski mountain resort that’s equally fun in summer, Limelight Snowmass starts every day with a delicious and robust breakfast spread included (Photo: Limelight Hotels)

Families looking for comfort, class, and fun will find it all year round at Limelight Snowmass. Colorado’s Snowmass Village (and nearby Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake) draws families for biking and hiking in summer. And in winter it’s all about snow sports like skiing and snowboarding, plus ice skating in the village.  

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At this kid-friendly resort, which is right in Snowmass Village close to the gondola, families start the day with an included and robust breakfast spread. Other amenities include the Limelight “First Tracks” program in winter (offering the chance hit the slopes before they open to the general public) and “Inside Trails” in summer (take the gondola up the mountain and then bike down with a pro from Snowmass Bike Park).

With a fitness center, pool, hot tub, kids room, and climbing wall on-site, you might even have to remind your family that you came for the nature, not just on-property fun.

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Dave Parfitt
Dave Parfitt is a freelance travel writer interested in illuminating transformative family travel, multi-generational travel, inclusive and accessible travel, under-the-radar destinations, and immersive, authentic experiences. Dave's work has appeared in Lonely Planet, AAA, Fox News Travel, US News & World Report, FamilyVacationist, TravelAge West, USA Today, and Family Circle, to name a few. An academic with a PhD in neuroscience, Dave also works as an educational developer at a four-year college in Western New York when not in a theme park, national park, or on a cruise or road trip with his family.