Three bad words – “I’m tired” – can’t be said when you stay at one of our readers’ 12 best family vacation spots in the U.S. Many resorts offer a comfortable room and a good night’s sleep. What sets this place apart is the entertainment and activities it offers to visitors. When it’s time to take off, you’ll hear, “Let’s go back!”
1. Woodloch Resort (Winner)
Located on beautiful Teedyuskung Lake in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, Woodloch Resort has been a family favorite for generations. The resort features more than 30 daily activities, all-inclusive dining, nightly entertainment, and accommodations that range from traditional hotel rooms to spacious villas for multiple families.
Activities are extensive and many are included with your stay. There are climbing walls, go-karts, giant boats, miniature golf, scavenger hunts, art classes, wine tasting, and paintball tours. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, plus paddle boarding, kayaking, and windsurfing. You can also take a guided pontoon boat tour.
In the winter, there are ice skating, hockey, and tubing. When you’re ready to relax, opt for one of our spa treatments.
2. Restaurant at Schlitterbahn
New Braunfels, Texas
A stay at The Resorts at Schlitterbahn gives guests access to the best water park in the US, Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, which means less time waiting in line and more time to spend. The water park has several pools, a lazy river, a swimming pool, slides, tubes, and many waterfalls for fun seekers.
There are seven different hotels and accommodations on site including condos, cabins, houses, and lodges. The center offers movie nights and other activities for families looking for a fun day out.
Be sure to check out New Braunfels, one of our readers’ favorite mid-sized cities to visit in the US. Located between San Antonio and Austin, in the southeast Texas Hill Country.
3. Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort
Huntington Beach, California
It’s all about the amazing scenery when you stay at Kimpton Shorebreak Resort. Steps from Huntington Beach and the Huntington Beach Pier, you can watch surfers catch the waves.
Amenities include beach chairs, umbrellas, coolers, boogie boards, toys for the kids, and even a locker for guests who bring their own board. There are also yoga mats and play equipment in every room! A yoga class is offered every Sunday morning.
When you are at the beach, take one of the nice bikes to go around the town, play chess with a big game of chess, and enjoy the night sports.
4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
There are more than a dozen beautiful places to choose from at Walt Disney World in Orlando, but it’s hard to top the list of antelopes, deer, kudus, zebras and other beautiful creatures to see from your balcony.
Every Disney resort is themed. At Animal Kingdom Lodge, the rooms, lobby, restaurant, and outdoor areas are inspired by the amazing landscape of Africa. Even though you’re mostly in the museum, enjoy a fun day relaxing by the pool listening to the drumming. In the evening, roast s’mores by the fire and watch a Disney movie under the stars.
If you’re planning a Disney vacation, check out these 11 hidden gems that our experts love.
5. Hawks Cay Resort
Duck Key, Florida
Located in the heart of the beautiful Florida Keys, Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key feels remote and includes the perfect amenities for the perfect family vacation. Ideas – and work – are timeless. There is snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, and sunset cruises. Despite its beach location, the resort hasn’t forgotten about the country side with pickleball, yoga, pool parties, dance lessons, crafts, and family game nights. You can even learn to sword fight with some of Duck Key’s fearsome gangsters!
From family rooms to cottages for extended family vacations, all accommodations feature Caribbean-inspired decor. There are also family rooms with cozy beds for the children to struggle with. You may not want to leave this place, but be sure to visit the nearby Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center.
6. YMCA of the Rockies
Estes Park, Colorado
Are you interested in which YMCA locations make this list? You are in luck! The YMCA of the Rockies is bordered on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park, making it a convenient, and affordable, place to explore the park’s natural beauty.
There are many summer activities such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, climbing, skating, and photography. Colorado and winter are synonymous and you love skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoeing.
Accommodation includes hotels, cabins, and beautiful yurts. Rocky Mountain National Park requires reservations if you plan to visit from late May to late October.
7. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Disney amenities combined with Hawaii’s unparalleled scenery make for, well, a magical family getaway in Aulani on Oahu. Aulani Events immerses guests in Hawaiian culture offering lei and hula making classes, campfire talks, and swimming lessons.
Guests will love snorkeling in the resort’s private lake and tubing in the Waikolohe Stream. Of course, your favorite Disney characters, dressed in their best Hawaiian attire, roam the grounds to the delight of young and old alike.
8. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort And Spa
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Nestled in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa is adjacent to the Dollywood theme park. If you are planning to visit the theme park, this is a great place that offers early entry, a free shuttle, and other perks. However, this area offers a wonderful opportunity for visitors who simply want to relax in the Smokies. Camp Dollywood will keep your kids as busy as you want and there are great recreation areas, indoor and outdoor pools, and six dining options. If you’re looking for a unique experience, book the Dolly bus for a night or two.
9. Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort And Spa
Beaver Creek, Colorado
The Park Hyatt at Beaver Creek Village puts families in the perfect location for hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, and fly fishing in the summer. In the winter, you have to climb the stairs, don’t try to carry your skis and boots.
It’s perfect for families who want to feel like they’re part of everything but need the flexibility of having a place close by to take care of children who may need to sleep. The rooms offer beautiful views of the mountains and guests love the warm cookies that pass each afternoon.
10. Big Cedar Lodge
Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozark Mountains exudes excitement as soon as you drive through the property. Located on the shores of Table Rock Lake south of Branson’s mecca, Big Cedar creates a multi-faceted wonderland with cabins, beach houses, and private log cabins. Kids love the multiple pools, lazy river, miniature golf, paddle boats, and canoes. There’s also a calendar of daily events that include trivia, painting, scavenger hunts, s’mores, and movies under the stars. Shuttles are available to get all guests from place to place, which is great when the kids get tired of walking or if a family member has trouble walking long distances.
Nearby, enjoy a golf cart ride through Lost Canyon Cave and the Nature Trail at Top of the Rock and brunch or dinner at Osage Restaurant. Don’t miss the sunset ceremony that includes bagpipes singing “Amazing Grace” and fireworks as the sun sets behind the mountains.
11. Kanapali Beach Hotel
Kaanapali Beach Hotel is a beautiful beach resort located on the island of Maui. The center immerses you in Hawaiian culture with daily activities that introduce visitors to the Hawaiian language, instruments, music, dance, weaving, and lei making.
Spend a day, or your entire vacation, relaxing on the beach and taking in the amazing ocean views. The resort also offers snorkel gear and paddle boards for rent.
If this is your first trip to Maui, you don’t want to miss out on the island’s activities.
12. C Lazy U Ranch
Don’t let the word “lazy” in the name fool you, there are endless activities at C Lazy U Ranch. This beautiful all-inclusive ranch is located in Granby, Colorado, near Rocky Mountain National Park. Locations, amenities, and restaurants combine to make it happen.
Families will eat breakfast and lunch together, but in the evening, counselors work to feed and entertain the children while the adults enjoy a delicious, well-prepared meal.
Daily activities include horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, rope climbing, archery, beekeeping, and yoga. In the evening, enjoy karaoke, a talent show, bar dancing, and family fun. Rejuvenate the next day in the beautiful rooms with the best mountain views.
Be sure to browse our readers’ picks for the 8 Best Adventures in the US, 14 Best Destinations in the US, 10 Favorite Inns and Bed and Breakfasts, and all the winners of the 2023 Top Travel Awards.