It takes more than a swimming pool and chicken fingers on the menu to make a hotel family-friendly. The best family resorts in the U.S. go above and beyond with creative kids’ programs, lazy rivers, horseback riding opportunities, kid-friendly restaurants, mini golf courses, tennis courts, multiple pools and easy access to theme parks and other attractions for the entire family.
If you’re looking for family vacation ideas, why not consider a family resort that’s a destination in its own right? Here are the best family resorts in the United States for your next great family trip.
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YMCA of the Rockies
Estes Park, Colorado
Spread out over 5,100 acres of rolling meadows, aspens and spruce forests, a family vacation at YMCA of the Rockies guarantees Rocky Mountain views in every direction. From archery and disc golf to challenge courses and creating artwork at the craft and design center, there’s something for pretty much everyone. Families can rent lodge rooms (some sleep up to six guests) or two- to -five-bedroom private cabins, many with fireplaces.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida
There are so many great Disney World 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 a reservation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is extra special because it’ll whisk your entire family away to the continent of Africa, no passport required.
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Savanna-view rooms 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). All of the best Orlando water parks are nearby as well.
Mirror Lake Inn and Spa
Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa 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, two-bath suites with one main room equipped with a king-size bed, sofa and fireplace, as well as a second smaller bedroom with twin bunks.
The luxury resort’s multiple restaurants give you a range of dining options, 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 too, including an Adirondack woods-inspired pool, yoga, nature hikes and snowshoe treks, not to mention all the offerings of the Lake Placid Olympic region.
Note: Per state health guidelines, unvaccinated guests must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth indoors.
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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 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.
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This mountain-view resort includes a restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpool Jacuzzis, adult and junior tennis academies, a full spa and an equestrian center for horseback riding and carriage or sleigh rides.
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
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.
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DreamMore guests enjoy complimentary transportation to Dollywood Theme Park and other theme park perks.
Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando
The vibe at Loews Royal Pacific Resort 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 theme park and countless other attractions.
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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.
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, four 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 cottages to family-friendly guest rooms. There are also 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.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, known for the world’s longest front porch and its sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac, has served as a summer family retreat since 1887. The hotel has more than 300 guest rooms, including multi-room suites that give space for families to spread out.
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.
Tanque Verde Ranch
Tuscon’s Tanque Verde Ranch is a dude ranch offering all-inclusive and à la carte options with plenty of activities and amenities geared toward kids and families. The highlight is horseback riding for all skill levels, but children will also enjoy mountain biking, fishing, guided hikes and more.
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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.
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, you can’t get any closer to Disneyland itself than Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.
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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). Kids also love the hotel’s multiple pools with waterslides.
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