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 and water parks, 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.
- 1 Best Family Resorts in the U.S.
- 2 1. YMCA of the Rockies
- 3 2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- 4 3. Mirror Lake Inn
- 5 4. Topnotch Resort
- 6 5. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa
- 7 6. Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando
- 8 7. Big Cedar Lodge
- 9 8. Grand Hotel
- 10 9. Tanque Verde Ranch
- 11 10. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
- 12 11. Kingsmill Resort
- 13 12. Hawks Cay Resort
- 14 13. Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
- 15 14. The Buccaneer
- 16 15. Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
- 17 More from FamilyVacationist:
Best Family Resorts in the U.S.
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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1. 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.
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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. Families can rent lodge rooms (some sleep up to six guests) or two- to five-bedroom private cabins, many with fireplaces.
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 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). 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, oh yeah, 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
Lake Placid, New York
Think luxury and family travel don’t go together? Think again. 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 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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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 from “stargazing berms” built into the landscape or 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.
6. 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 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.
7. 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.
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The resort offers a range of accommodations from private luxury cabins 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.
8. Grand Hotel
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 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.
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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.
9. 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, 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.
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.
10. 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 multiple pools with waterslides and character breakfasts, while parents will appreciate the fine dining and full-service spa.
11. 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.
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This AAA Four Diamond resort has multiple restaurants, as well as 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.
12. 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.
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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, and swimming opportunities, there’s never a shortage of things to do.
An environmental education programs provide in depth experiential learning about the animals and ecology of the Florida Keys.
13. 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 Hawaiian family resort, Aulani immerses families in the cultures and traditions of the Hawaiian Islands.
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Water lovers will find an uncrowded private beach as well as a fantastic water park with a lazy river, 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.
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 one of the best family resorts in the U.S.
14. The Buccaneer
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Opened in 1947, The Buccaneer is the oldest family-run resort in the Caribbean an 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 full pool complex, and plenty of activities such as soccer, corn hole, and ping pong.
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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.
15. 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 wild regions, making it easy to plan an entire family trip to the Last Frontier.
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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.
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