- I’m a parent and journalist who has tried out family resorts from coast to coast and up and down the U.S. Here are my favorites, which stand out as especially amazing resorts for kids.
- These family resorts don’t just offer rooms that fit families comfortably, they also offer some pretty amazing kid-oriented activities and amenities (like water slides, s’mores campfires, and kid spa treatments).
As a parent to two daughters, I learned a long time ago that it takes more than a swimming pool and chicken fingers on the menu to make a hotel family-friendly. That’s why whenever I’ve vacationed with my kids over the years, I’ve put extra effort into finding just the right hotel. In my experience, the best family resorts in the U.S. go above and beyond with kid-friendly amenities that completely elevate the experience.
I’m talking about creative kids’ programs, over-the-top lazy rivers and water parks, unique horseback riding opportunities, family-focused restaurants, elaborate mini golf courses, free tennis courts, multiple pools, and easy access to theme parks and other attractions for the entire family.
Best Family Resorts in the U.S.
If you’re looking for fun new family vacation ideas, why not start by choosing a family resort that’s a destination in its own right? After years and years of family vacations from coast to coast and up and down the U.S., here’s my list of the best family resorts in the United States for your next great family trip.
1. YMCA of the Rockies
Estes Park, Colorado
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 the scenic surroundings, there are plenty of activities for families and kids to do as well. From archery and disc golf to challenge courses and creating artwork at the craft and design center, there’s something for pretty much everyone.
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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, ax throwing (and of course basketball, volleyball, tennis, and swimming) are always available. YMCA of the Rockies also hosts chapel programs, orchestra concerts, and museum exhibits. 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, Colorado, called YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch, also offers cabins, lodge rooms, yurts, and camp sites in an equally spectacular location. From cheap family vacations to no-expenses-spared getaways, there’s something for every budget and group size between these two resort-like YMCA locations.
2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
There are so many great Disney hotels in Orlando, which is already one of the best family vacation spots in the U.S. no matter where you choose to stay. But snagging a reservation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is extra special because of its commitment to highlighting the wonders of the African savannah in its design, artwork, and hosted wildlife.
In my family, we’ve always been drawn to the Savanna view rooms that offer glimpses of giraffes, gazelles, bongos, and other animals grazing on the plains. There’s also the fantastic Uzima Springs Pool themed to look like a watering hole on the savanna (if African water holes had a 67-foot long water slide). 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.”
Other kid-friendly activities and amenities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge include the Hakuna Matata playground, nightly campfires with stories and s’mores, and, of course, access to the four world-class Walt Disney World theme parks. All of the best Orlando water parks are nearby as well.
3. Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa
Lake Placid, New York
I used to think luxury and family travel adventures don’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 married a high-end atmosphere and kid-approved perks since the 1930s. The best guest rooms for families are found in the lake cottage, across the street from the main building and right on the shore of Mirror Lake. The lake cottage has large two-room suites with one main room equipped with a king-size bed, sofa, and fireplace, as well as a second smaller bedroom with twin bunks.
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With sailing, boating, and swimming in summer, and winter sports ranging from ice skating to ski jumping (it is an Olympic town after all!), there is something for everyone in and around the resort. The luxury resort’s multiple restaurants give you a range of dining options too, from the AAA Four Diamond The View Restaurant to the more casual Cottage Restaurant, where you can even eat outside in a ski gondola. 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.
4. Topnotch Resort
Located less than 10 minutes from Stowe Mountain, family-friendly Topnotch Resort has something for every family member to enjoy year-round. In addition to typical hotel guest rooms, the property’s resort homes each have two to three bedrooms, a full kitchen, fireplace, washer and dryer, privacy, and a “home away from home” feel found at all of the best family resorts in the U.S.
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This mountain-view resort includes multiple restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpool Jacuzzis, tennis courts, a full spa, and an Equestrian Center for horseback riding and carriage or sleigh rides. 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.
Topnotch Resort is pet-friendly too, welcoming dogs on the first floor where they receive dog treats, an in-room dog bed, water and food bowls, and special canine-friendly turndown service and spa treatments (including an in-room Rover Reiki and Massage session). There are plenty of activities in nearby Stowe as well. Hiking, fishing, canoeing, swimming, bird watching, paddle boarding, golfing, shopping, a vibrant art and culture scene, vintage and boutique shopping, and brew touring are all fun things to do in the area.
5. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
During a University of Tennessee commencement speech, Dolly Parton urged graduates to “Dream more. Learn more. Care more. Be more.” And Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa encourages families to dream around the property, from “stargazing berms” built into the landscape to comfortable rocking chairs on the front porch.
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One of the best family resorts in the U.S., DreamMore features an indoor and outdoor pool complex, a full-service spa, a family activities center, and a farmhouse-style restaurant. Family-style guest 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.
Located right next to the Dollywood Theme Park, DreamMore guests enjoy complimentary transportation and other theme park perks. And once you’ve stayed at DreamMore, you can return for a new experience at the brand-new Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Resort not too far away.
6. The 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. There’s even a special check-in process just for kids, and everyone in the family gets some chocolate upon arrival.
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You can take a dip in the indoor pool any time of year or make a splash down the two waterslides at the seasonal outdoor pool complex. There are lots of ways to indulge in a little family competition here, from bocce ball and basketball courts to an 18-hole all-grass putting course. Hiking trails cover the property, and activities include family s’mores roasts and chocolate bingo.
Even this family hotel’s spa embraces its sweet side with treatments like a cocoa facial or massage. Hotel guests can also visit the 23-acre Hershey Gardens, learn the history of the beloved chocolate bar at The Hershey Story museum, and get preferred pricing for a visit to ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park. There’s also Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor and its spectacular custom ice cream creations.
7. Universal’s Loews Royal Pacific Resort
I love the vibe at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, which hearkens back to a time when turboprop planes brought world travelers to distant Polynesian isles. But this 21st century adventure leads to rooms with views of 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. (Don’t miss our comprehensive Harry Potter theme park guide if you go.)
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Like all of the best family resorts in the U.S., there are multiple onsite restaurants at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and a stunning zero entry pool that looks like a natural lagoon. Of course, the main family resort activities here are the adjacent Universal Orlando theme parks, which are just a quick walk or leisurely water taxi ride away.
8. Big Cedar Lodge
Situated on 4,600 acres on the shores of Table Rock Lake, Big Cedar Lodge‘s goal is to bring the outdoors to everyone. Mini golf, paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks are all available for use during your family vacation, and there’s a sandy beach, five different swimming pools, a lazy river, and bonfires to keep the entire family entertained as well. For an additional charge, families can race go-karts, climb on the resort’s ropes course, bowl the underwater-themed lanes, and play laser tag.
The resort offers a range of accommodations from private luxury cabins to family-friendly guest rooms, and there are both kid-friendly and upscale fine dining options. Big Cedar Lodge’s proximity to Branson, another popular vacation destination, makes it 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, check out Camp Long Creek at Big Cedar Lodge, where accommodations include shepherds huts, camp cabins, and glamping tents. Camp Long Creek is just a few minutes from the Lodge and sits right on the shores of Table Rock Lake.
9. Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Known for the world’s longest front porch and its sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel has served as a Midwest vacation destination and summer family getaway spot since 1887. The hotel has more than 300 guest rooms, including multi-room suites that give space for families to spread out. Special packages, including full and partial meal plans, can help you to find the best rate for your family, no matter your group size or length of stay.
Family activities include biking, lawn games, swimming, and horseback rides and carriage tours from the hotel stables. The Esther Williams swimming pool and surrounding area has received an extensive renovation, including a brand-new family-friendly area complete with a zero-depth beach entry, water jet play area, and water slide.
10. Tanque Verde Ranch
Tuscon’s Tanque Verde Ranch is an all-inclusive Arizona dude ranch with plenty of activities and amenities geared toward kids and families. The highlight is horseback riding (for children over 12), but kids of all ages will also enjoy mountain biking, fishing, archery, guided hikes, a nature center, and more.
The all-inclusive rates include three hearty meals a day as well as breakfast rides and Cowboy cookouts with live entertainment twice a week. The supervised daily kids’ program separates children into age-appropriate groups, giving parents a chance to check out the family resort’s full-service spa. Other family-friendly activities in the area include Saguaro National Park and the old west town of Old Tucson, a favorite movie and TV location for Hollywood Westerns.
11. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
Disneyland is perhaps the quintessential California family vacation idea. And if you’re splurging on a Disney vacation and want to stay at one of the top hotels near Disneyland, you can’t get any closer to the park itself than Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. Inspired by the Craftsman-style “Parkitecture” of the best national park lodges, this elegant resort features plenty of Disney touches, including its own dedicated theme park entrance (and early park admission) that make it one of the best family resorts in the U.S.
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In addition to its proximity to Disneyland’s two theme parks (Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park), kids will love the hotel’s character breakfasts, multiple pools with waterslides, and summer “Splash Bash.” As a parent, I’ve always appreciated the fine dining and full-service spa as well.
12. Kingsmill Resort
Situated on 2,900 acres of land along the banks of the James River, Kingsmill Resort offers families boundless outdoor activities coupled with all the comforts of home. Drift away at the Lazy River Pool, tee it up on three championship golf courses, or enjoy hiking, biking, and watersports at the marina.
This AAA Four Diamond resort has multiple restaurants, as well as guest rooms and one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos with full kitchens perfect for all kinds of families and multigenerational family vacations. Kingsmill Resort is a great home base to take in Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
13. Hawks Cay Resort
Duck Key, Florida
At 60 acres, Hawks Cay Resort is the largest resort in the Florida Keys, located midway between Miami and Key West. Many guest rooms include balconies or lanais with ocean views. 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.
Both larger families or multigenerational groups will appreciate the two- to three-bedroom townhome style villas complete with full kitchen. Hawks Cay Resort has plenty of activities for the entire family, especially water sports. With its own marina, deep-sea fishing charters, a dolphin facility, saltwater lagoon, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, SCUBA, and swimming opportunities, there’s never a shortage of things to do. An environmental education program provide in depth experiential learning about the animals and ecology of the Florida Keys.
14. Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
Disney’s family-friendly level of service, storytelling, and character interaction 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 (it meets in the lobby; check the daily schedule for times) and learn some of the stories of the property.
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Water lovers will find an uncrowded private beach with generally calm waters, as well as a fantastic water park with a lazy river, two water slides, and splash grounds. Dining options at the resort’s multiple restaurants include character buffets, casual poolside venues, ocean-side fine dining, and the Ka Wa’A luau dinner show. There’s also, importantly, a shave ice stand between the pools that serves Mickey-shaped shave ice creations.
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 in fact 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.
15. The Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Opened in 1947, The Buccaneer is the oldest family-run resort in the Caribbean and a well-loved spot for Caribbean vacations. Kids have plenty of room to run and play on the resort’s 340 acres, which include three beaches, a pool complex, and plenty of activities such as soccer, corn hole, and ping pong.
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. All guest rooms at The Buccaneer include daily breakfast, snorkeling equipment, beach chairs, kayaks, and plenty of outdoor activities. As a U.S. territory, American families don’t have to worry about passport requirements to enter the U.S. Virgin Islands.
16. Jekyll Island Club Resort
Jekyll Island, Georgia
You can frame your stay in any style you prefer at this elegant Golden Isles retreat on the Georgia coastline. Book a guest room, suite, or cottage at the historic Jekyll Island Club for a Gilded Age-style getaway in the Jekyll Island Historic District, or stay beachfront at the Jekyll Ocean Club, a newer AAA Four Diamond all-suite addition to the Jekyll Island Club Resort.
No matter where you stay, your family will have access to multiple dining options, two pools, a croquet lawn, bike and walking trails (with bike rentals available), a fitness center, and fire pits. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available at the Ocean Club, and a complimentary shuttle runs between the two distinct family resorts within the larger resort.
Take a self-guided, tram, or carriage tour to learn more about the historic district and the influential American families who once vacationed there. And there’s lots to explore on Jekyll Island beyond the resort, too, like a seasonal water park, the haunting Driftwood Beach, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you can see rehabilitation efforts in action.
17. Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Located midway between Anchorage and Denali, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge offers family-friendly accommodations with panoramic views of the Alaska Range. The lodge is part of the Pursuit Collection, which curates experiences, hotels, and restaurants throughout Alaska and other destinations with dramatic landscapes, making it easy to plan an entire family trip to the Last Frontier.
Start the day with a brew from the Mount Hunter Coffee Co., then head out on a family adventure before swapping stories over dinner in the Foraker Dining Room featuring wild Alaska seafood and sweeping views of Denali. 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.
18. Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, New York
Just about 90 minutes from New York City by car, Mohonk Mountain House feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle no matter the time of year. In winter, cozy fireplaces and an indoor pool keep you warm indoors 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, book 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.
19. Limelight Hotel, Snowmass
Families looking for comfort, class, and fun will find it all year round at Limelight Snowmass. A ski mountain resort that’s equally fun in summer, Limelight Snowmass starts every day with a delicious and robust breakfast spread included. In summer, biking and hiking draw families to experience the mountains, particularly the nearby Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. In winter, perks include daily ski storage, ski-in/ski-out access to the mountain, and ice skating in Snowmass Village.
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Other amenities include the Limelight “First Tracks” program in winter (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). You’ll come back to comfortable rooms with seating areas, a refrigerator and wet bar, and other amenities. 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 setting as well as the on-site activities.