Family vacations are fun, but traveling with the entire family can be stressful, too, especially when you factor in flights, rental cars, bathroom breaks, snacks, and just generally keeping the kids busy the whole time. That’s why whenever I book lodging, I lean towards the convenience of family resorts and hotels. Many of them make a point of saying that kids stay free, but often the family hotels that don’t advertise kids-stay-free deals will still have good-sized rooms, cabins, or suites that don’t cost extra just because you’re bringing kids.
It’s not just about the free accommodations for me, though—it’s also about the hotel as a destination. Family hotels where kids stay free can be counted on to provide a host of additional perks like kids clubs, day camps, and activity centers, not to mention nanny services that give parents time to relax and unwind without the children. Pack-and-plays, cribs, and kid-friendly food options are front and center too. These hotels also cater to the interests of older kids, teens, and adults with things like golf courses, spa and wellness days, and tennis or pickleball lessons along with pools, water slides, and playgrounds.
Family Hotels Where Kids Stay Free
You can take some of the stress out of your family vacations by finding the right resort. Here are my picks for family hotels around the U.S. (and one in Canada) with loads of family-friendly perks and where kids stay free.
1. The Woodlands Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton
The Woodlands, Texas
Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Houston, The Woodlands Resort is a top-notch family hotel where kids stay free (and if you’re vacationing with a toddler, pack-and-plays are free too). One of the most popular family resorts in Texas, the massive 350-acre property has 402 guest rooms and suites, along with several pools, a water park, a 1,005-foot lazy river, and a spray ground. Private cabanas are available for rent and are a great space for celebrations.
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You also get access to two championship golf courses, multiple hiking trails, tennis courts, and bike and kayak rentals. Daily fitness classes and activities for both kids and adults are available, along with an arcade and game room. Gather lakeside for family movie nights to unwind after a day of fun in the sun. You can also upgrade your family vacation with the resort’s Kids Rule Package, which includes a $50 daily dining credit, a kids book bag with loads of surprises, and a s’mores kit.
2. Cambria Hotel Madison East
The centrally located and recently renovated Cambria Hotel Madison East is only about seven miles from Dane County Regional Airport and less than three miles from East Towne Mall, a popular shopping center in Madison. The hotel has a huge indoor pool to keep kids busy along with a lounging area for relaxing and playing board games. Additional amenities include free shuttle service to the airport and a 24-hour market for late night snacks.
Not only do kids stay free here, but the hotel also offers free Wi-Fi and parking. And as a parent, I love the convenience of the on-site laundry facilities. The contemporary guest rooms are spacious and comfortable, and there are also suites offering separate living rooms with sleeper sofas.
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Regardless of when you visit, Madison has a lot going for it as a family vacation destination. Surrounded by five lakes, this thriving city has more parks per capita than most major cities in the United States—and it’s easy to get out and explore. I love the Henry Vilas Zoo because it offers a swimmable beach, along with the fun of exploring exhibits and wildlife. While there are rotating exhibits, one of its most popular is the Tropical Rainforest Aviary, which is always a hit with my kids.
Get on the water and book a kayak tour on Lake Mendota, one of the largest lakes in the city. You’ll explore flora and fauna as you meander through calm waters. You can also easily spend an entire day at Vitense Golfland, an indoor entertainment complex with three mini golf courses, a climbing gym, and many food options.
3. The Central Station Memphis, Curio Collection by Hilton
At the family-friendly Central Station Memphis, kids and teens up to 17 years old stay free of charge. Kids love the unique concept of this hotel, too. The property is housed within a renovated train station dating back to the early 1900s, and a functioning trolley takes you downtown for only a buck. The 123-room hotel has several beautifully designed suites for families to sleep comfortably, and the spacious living spaces allow for gathering and connecting. Mini fridges are great for holding snacks and leftovers.
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Popular Memphis attractions such as Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum are just minutes away. Historic Beale Street in downtown Memphis is brimming with attractions for families. Shops and eateries line the sidewalks. Beale Sweets Sugar Shack, a popular stop, offers a sugar fix with an assortment of sweets.
4. Comfort Inn Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
One of my favorite destinations growing up was Rehoboth Beach, with its laidback coastal atmosphere and iconic boardwalk full of eclectic souvenirs (not to mention funnel cakes and saltwater taffy). Though it can be a pricey destination during peak season, Comfort Inn Rehoboth Beach keeps Rehoboth Beach affordable by letting younger kids stay free. It’s conveniently located right off the main highway and within minutes to the boardwalk. Guest rooms are outfitted in neutral tones with comfortable pillows and spacious bathrooms. Suites offer additional seating areas with a pullout bed.
This Comfort Inn offers free continental breakfast, complimentary parking, and an outdoor pool. Although there’s no restaurant, there are plenty of options just steps away. While visiting with my own kids, we enjoyed heading to Jungle Jims, Delaware’s premiere water park with water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers (and there’s a kiddie pool for toddlers). Midway Speedway Park is another fun-filled family attraction in the area with go-karts and mini-golf courses. The park offers cabana rentals which we always find to be a perfect place to regroup with snacks and stories of our adventures.
Head to Browse-A-Bout Books, a local institution since 1975, to pick up some binge-worthy vacation reads for kids and adults. Since I love independent bookstores, this one is a must-stop for us every time we visit. It has an amazing little coffee shop tucked inside. After a full day, head to Frank and Louie’s Italian Specialties for some delicious baked goods.
5. Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky
A nationwide chain of indoor water park resorts, Great Wolf Lodge has more than 20 locations across the United States (and one in Canada) where kids two years old and younger stay free. My favorite is the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, which opened in 2001 and has been wowing families and kids ever since. In addition to multiple playgrounds, water slides, lazy rivers, and soaking tubs, the resort also has an outdoor pool and several shops for some retail therapy.
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Rooms and suites feature rustic log beds, mini fridges, free Wi-Fi, and microwaves. Special suites themed as cave-like sleeping dens are extra fun for the kiddos. Premium suites have separate living rooms, whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, and balconies. The best part about staying here, of course, is the endless fun of the indoor waterpark, but nighttime entertainment such as game night and bedtime stories (included in the stay) are popular with families too. There are seven food options, including a pizza-and-pasta eatery and a market, where you can grab and go.
6. The Waves Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection
Wildwood, New Jersey
New Jersey is home to some of the most beautiful beaches along the entire East Coast, and a stay at The Waves Hotel in Wildwood puts you just a three-minute walk from the oceanfront. Kids stay free at this budget hotel with recently refurbished modern rooms featuring flatscreen TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee machines. In addition to its tremendous bang-for-the-buck location, the hotel also has a seasonal outdoor pool, complimentary parking, and offers a free continental breakfast.
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The beaches in Wildwood are among the largest in the Garden State, making it a popular East Coast vacation destination for families. Whether your idea of family fun time is lounging along the beach or walking along the boardwalk, you won’t be disappointed. Kid-friendly Morey’s Piers is popular for its water parks, rides, and iconic boardwalk food. Gather the family and rent a surrey bike for a leisurely spin along the boardwalk.
For a step back in time, hit up the Doo Wop Experience Museum to experience the nostalgic 1950s era. Don’t miss Gateway 26, an arcade featuring casino games along with classics such as Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man and Galaga. You also won’t want to miss the diverse restaurant options in Wildwood, including Goodnight Irene’s brew pub serving up some of New Jersey’s best pizza and one of the largest selections of beers in the county. Head over to Alumni Grill for some healthy wrap selections as well as burgers.
7. Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
At the super family-friendly Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, kids stay free and have access to an assortment of amenities. The hotel’s 291 guest rooms include more than 90 spacious suites in addition to recently renovated private residences, which offer apartment-style living with a full kitchen, living area, and washer and dryer. The resort offers cribs, high chairs, toiletries, activity kits, and kid-sized robes during your stay as well. A seasonal playroom is available for the little ones when the weather isn’t cooperating. You can take advantage of the heated outdoor pool with plenty of outdoor loungers and seating. The five-star property has a state-of-the-art fitness center and luxurious spa with a hot tub and relaxation lounge as well.
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Dining is made convenient with 24-hour in-room dining available, two restaurants, and a cafe for a grab-and-go breakfast. The Signature Balcony Breakfast experience, which is delivered to your room, is an excellent choice if you want to indulge with the kids. The impressive tower of goodies includes fruit, yogurt, several egg options, sandwiches, and fluffy pancakes. Another perk is that kids under five years old eat for free at the hotel’s restaurants. And if a romantic dinner for two is part of the plan, the hotel offers childcare services.
Situated at the base of two breathtaking mountains, Whistler Village and its many shops, restaurants, and equipment rentals is just minutes away. Get tickets for the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola ride on Whistler Blackcomb, which showcases breathtaking 360-degree views. The ride to the top of the mountain exceeds a 1,400-feet climb, and from there you can explore hiking and biking trails during the warmer months. In the spring and summer, rent a canoe or kayak from Whistler Eco Tours, where you’ll paddle on the pristine Alta Lake and take in mountain and wildlife views.
8. Alderbrook Resort and Spa
There’s no extra charge for kids at Alderbrook Resort and Spa along Washington’s Hood Canal. A saltwater pool is available to kids from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, and other perks include a private beach and pier where you can rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and pontoons from the outdoor center. Painting, yoga, and hiking are other popular activities for families.
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While all the resort’s rooms are well-appointed and richly decorated, my family favors the two-bedroom cottage for its privacy and spaciousness. The unit has two nicely sized bedrooms, a comfortable sofa bed option, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio. Union City Market is a five-minute drive away with grocery essentials should you wish to make a homemade meal.
For off-site adventuring, head to Lake Cushman, a popular spot for swimming and water activities. Twanoh State Park is a short 10-minute drive from the resort and offers saltwater swimming for the little ones, along with more than two miles of hiking trails, tennis courts, volleyball fields, and plenty of picnic tables. Book a couples massage at the spa, where you can unwind before heading to dinner at The Restaurant at Alderbrook (little ones will get to order from the kid’s menu and receive a placemat of marine animals to color). There’s also a takeout option so you can settle into your room and relax after a long day.
9. Running Y Resort
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Southern Oregon’s expansive 3,600-acre Running Y Resort, situated near Upper Klamath Lake, sees more than 300 days of sunshine annually. Kids stay free at this family-friendly hotel, which offers both indoor and outdoor pools, an entertainment room, mini-golf, tennis courts, a children’s playground, and Arnold Palmer’s 16-hole golf course. Stay in comfortable guest accommodations at the lodge or in one of the resort’s private vacation rental homes, perfect for families and gatherings. The on-site laundry facilities offer much needed convenience.
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Parents can take a fitness class such as yoga, head to happy hour, or book Sandhill Spa’s signature Hydrating Scrub and Body Wrap to unwind and relax. You can also enjoy a horseback riding tour or the Bill Collier Ice Arena, situated near the resort entrance, which acts as a rolling skating arena during the summers and an ice skating rink in the wintertime.
For food, The Ruddy Duck serves up contemporary farm-to-table fare and offers a kid’s menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Downtown Klamath Falls, a 15-minute drive away, has many additional dining options, such as Mermaid Garden Cafe, an eatery whose theme matches its name. Kids will love Nana’s Tea Room, an Alice in Wonderland-type of dining experience. With more than 30 types of teas to choose from, plates of delightful finger sandwiches, and decadent desserts, this is a spot not to be missed.
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Nearby ROE Outfitters offers kayaking, fishing, and hunting excursions. For a half-day adventure, book the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail, where you’ll paddle through Malone Springs and see abundant wildlife such as eagles, osprey, and beavers. Crater Lake National Park is a 45-minute drive away from the Running Y and is a must-visit when in the area. Formed more than 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake is one of the clearest and deepest lakes in the United States. The park has many hiking trails as well as overlooks for some awe-inspiring family fun.
10. Yonder Escalante Resort
Situated between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, Yonder Escalante is a glamping resort that welcomes kids of all ages. Book one of its deluxe cabins for creature comforts like plush beds and pillows, a sofa that converts to a bed, an outdoor shower, a patio, and picnic tables for outdoor living. Kids stay free in the cabins, which can sleep a family of four for the standard room rate.
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An outdoor pool, plenty of board games, and books to borrow will keep the kiddos busy. Movie lovers can sit back and relax in vintage cars at the outdoor drive-in theater, where a concession stand sells favorites like soda, popcorn, and other movie theater treats. Speaking of food, the resort’s general store sells healthy pre-made meals you can heat over the campfire at your cabin, along with snacks and beverages. A food truck serves breakfast and dinner daily for quick grab-and-go options.
The town of Escalante and its many kid-friendly restaurants (think burgers, shakes, ice cream, and Mexican food) is just a three-minute drive away as well. Slightly further afield (about 30 minutes by car) is family-friendly Hell’s Backbone and Grill, a James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant that makes sustainable and elevated cuisine fun for kids by offering small plates for sharing, family-style entrees, and magical desserts.
Head to nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante for easy, moderate, and challenging hiking trails for the entire family to enjoy. One popular hike is Lower Calf Creek Falls, which is just a little over six miles but relatively flat and mostly sandy. Bryce Canyon National Park is a 45-minute drive from Yonder Escalante Resort and makes for a great day trip.