The best family resorts in the US

From kids' camps to child-friendly amenities, these resorts aim to make family memories last.
Trip Adviser
/ Source: TODAY
By Lyn Mettler

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The kids are out of school, which means it's time to make some memories! Sometimes all it takes to bring the whole family together is a trip somewhere new. But where should you take the kids that Mom and Dad will also enjoy?

We've got you covered.

Below are 20 of the best family-friendly resorts in the U.S. — from mountain escapes to beachside retreats. Plus, we've rounded up tips on the best family-friendly activities at each destination.

1. Baker’s Cay Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Key Largo, Florida

TripAdvisor

Why visit: Key Largo is known as the “‘Dive Capital of the World” with abundant coral reefs, colorful fish and shipwrecks, so families can enjoy lots of snorkeling. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is also close by with snorkeling and a chance to take a glass-bottom boat tour if you’d prefer to stay dry.

What to do: At Baker's Cay Resort, Curio Collect by Hilton, kids can stay active while enjoying the beautiful waters surrounding the Keys by kayaking, paddleboarding or Jet-Skiing. There’s also the Cay-11 Kids Club to entertain little ones.

Best for ages: 4-12

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2. Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

San Diego, California

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Why visit: Situated right on Mission Bay in San Diego, Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa is conveniently located in San Diego between downtown and the upscale area of La Jolla, as well as close to Mission Beach. You can’t beat San Diego’s average 70-degree temperatures and plentiful sunshine to get out and explore all the area has to offer.

What to do: Hang out at the deluxe pool with kids area, enjoy watersports on Mission Bay or even rent bikes to explore the area’s miles of paved bike paths. A trip to Belmont Park waterfront amusement park on Mission Beach will delight all ages and a visit to nearby SeaWorld San Diego, which you can see from the resort, is also a top stop. Enjoy dinner at the on-site Acqua California Bistro while sitting outdoors by the water.

Best for ages: 4-16

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3. The Grove Resort

Orlando, Florida

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Why visit: The Grove Resort Orlando is a great off-site spot for visiting both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando, granting you spacious accommodations with washer/dryers, full kitchens and separate bedrooms. The property also has multiple restaurants and a free shuttle to Disney.

What to do: Kids can splash around at multiple pools, as well as at a full on-site waterpark with waterslides, a lazy river and the FlowRider surf simulator. When the sun goes down, enjoy gaming, activities and prizes at Flip Flops Family Fun Center.

Best for ages: 4-12

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4. Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

Hollywood, Florida

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Why visit: Hollywood is an upscale community outside of Ft. Lauderdale with beautiful beaches and its iconic “Broadwalk” boardwalk that runs alongside the beach and is dotted with dining, playgrounds and great people-watching.

What to do: There’s lots for both kids and parents to do at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort from expansive pools with waterfalls to the FlowRider surf simulator. Mom can even escape for a treatment to the St. Somewhere Spa while the kids hang out at the Parakeet’s Kids Club. Be sure to dine at the fun restaurants like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and Floridays Airstream Cafe.

Best for ages: 8-16

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5. Kalahari Resorts & Conventions

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

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Why visit: Kalahari is a great escape during the cooler months when it’s too cold to swim outside. Kids will wear themselves out with all the activities, and there are even great options for adults like an on-site spa (for both adults and kids!), restaurants and shopping.

What to do: Any time of Year Kalahari Resorts & Conventions is a great spot for families with some of the largest indoor waterparks in the country. Swim, slide and splash in its plentiful pools, waterslides and lazy rivers. When you’re ready to get dry, enjoy a movie at the cinema, head to the game room, play a round of laser tag or see if you can team up to use your wits to get out of the Escape Room.

Best for ages: 6-16

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6. Topnotch Resort

Stowe, Vermont

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Why visit: This lovely resort is set on 120 acres of woodland in Vermont’s Green Mountains and offers abundant outdoor activities. You can even bring your pet along with up to two dogs allowed in select rooms.

What to do: Whether you visit in the colder months or warmer months, there’s lots to do at Topnotch Resort set at the base of Mount Mansfield. Play or get a lesson in tennis at the Topnotch Tennis Center, swim in the indoor and outdoor pools, ride a mountain bike or explore area fishing. During the winter, enjoy skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports.

Best for ages: 3-16

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7. Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach Gulf Front

Pensacola, Florida

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Why visit: This resort sits right on the Gulf of Mexico and offers lots of activities nearby like the Naval Aviation Museum, the Seville Historic District and the Pensacola Lighthouse. Plus, up to four kids ages 12 and younger eat free at all Holiday Inn on-site restaurants, and there’s even a nanny service if Mom and Dad are looking for a date-night dinner.

What to do: Kick back and float in the lazy river with waterfalls, hang out at the poolside fire pits or soak in one of two hot tubs. Throughout spring and summer, head to the pool for “dive inn” movies and a chance to meet pirates and mermaids.

Best for ages: 0-12

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8. Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Wailea, Hawaii

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Why visit: Located on the south shore of Maui, the resort offers a secluded getaway to enjoy the lush tropical setting of Hawaii with everything you need at your fingertips and plenty of activities to keep kids busy. Additionally, kids 5 and younger eat free at select on-site restaurants for breakfast and dinner.

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What to do: Kids won’t grow bored of the water at the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Hawaii. The property has nine separate pools with features like a “baby beach,” caves, waterfalls and the world’s first water elevator. At Camp Grande, kids ages 5 to 12 can get active in a game room, theater, craft room, as well as enjoy hiking, nature walks and a chance to make leis and even take ukulele lessons.

Best for ages: 5-12

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9. Hotel Del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

Coronado, California

TripAdvisor

Why visit: The Hotel Del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton is an iconic and historic San Diego property with its famous pointed red roofs, which you can see for miles. Coronado Island is consistently named one of the world’s best beaches, and you’re also just a short drive from everything San Diego has to offer.

What to do: Explore the beauty of Coronado Island at this classic resort. Rent bikes from PeDels to ride along San Diego Bay, try your hand at surfing the big waves on the resort’s beach, and kids ages 5 to 12 can head to the DelVentures activities center to enjoy crafts. They even offer nightly movies on the beach.

Best for ages: 5-16

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10. Suncadia Resort

Cle Elum, Washington

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Why visit: Nature-lovers will want to check out this resort set on 6,000 acres in the mountains. Choose from a variety of accommodation options, including the lodge, the inn or vacation home rentals. They even offer baby gear rentals during your visit for the littlest members of your family.

What to do: If you want your kids to be active on vacation, they’ll have plenty of options at Suncadia Resort in Washington State. Families can hike, bike, attend outdoor concerts, attend nature programs or even go for a horseback ride. Kids ages 4 to 12 can join the Junior Rangers outdoor program. Adults may enjoy the 36 holes of golf or a treatment at Glade Spring Spa.

Best for ages: 0-16

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11. Westin Beaver Creek

Avon, Colorado

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Why visit: Beaver Creek is a fun destination for families in the winter or summer with a quaint atmosphere designed to look like an alpine village. For convenience, rooms at the resort come with a washer/dryer and kitchenette for ease of preparing food in the room, or head to one of the resort’s restaurants, including Maya, serving Mexican fare, and The Lift, serving burgers, sandwiches and more.

What to do: During colder months, the resort has a ski lift right out it's back door, and during warmer months, guests can enjoy on-mountain activities like hiking, mountain biking and kids’ activities that include bungee trampolines, gem panning and mini golf. Guests can also rent bikes or try fly-fishing or kayaking on the Eagle River. The Beaver Creek Summer Rodeo also takes place nearby all season long.

Best for ages: 3-16

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12. Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa

San Antonio, Texas

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Why visit: Only 20 minutes from downtown San Antonio, guests can enjoy the best of the city like its famous River Walk and the Alamo, as well as the country landscape. The Camp Hyatt program for ages 4 to 10 also oversees kids during activities like games, scavenger hunts and nature hikes.

What to do: Mom and Dad will definitely enjoy a getaway to Texas Hill Country, known for its rolling hills, charming towns and plentiful wineries, but the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa also has plenty of amenities that will appeal to kids as well, like its 5-acre water park with FlowRider surf simulator, free bike rentals, badminton and “family express” golf course.

Best for ages: 4-10

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13. Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

North Lake Tahoe, California

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Why visit: Experience the beauty of Lake Tahoe’s north shore in California at Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe, with ski-in/ski-out access for winter snow sports and a Lake Club for beach access during the summer months. Guest rooms have fireplaces, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows for beautiful views.

What to do: Outdoors lovers will be in paradise at Lake Tahoe, which offers skiing and snowboarding throughout winter, and adventurous activities like hiking, mountain biking and white-water rafting during warmer seasons. The Ritz-Kids program is available to entertain children with crafts, games and other engaging activities.

Best for ages: 7-16

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14. The Blake at Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

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Why visit: Centrally located in the Taos base area, the hotel provides ski-in/ski-out access and is perfect for families looking for a winter ski vacation. It has a special beginner terrain for newbies to help skiers and snowboarders progress in their skills.

What to do: At the Blake at Taos Ski Valley, kids can hang out at the Children’s Center, accessed by a free gondola and ideal for little ones learning to ski. It also has a day care area for babies and toddlers. During the summer months, families can enjoy outdoor adventures like rafting the Rio Grande and spotting wildlife like big horn sheep.

Best for ages: 3 and up

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15. Grand View Lodge

Nisswa, Minnesota

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Why visit: A quintessential summer getaway, Grand View Lodge offers families everything they’d want to do on a lake from cruising on a pontoon boat to Jet-Skiing to hanging out on a sandy beach. There are a variety of accommodations to choose from, ranging from a boutique hotel to cabins for families who want to spread out.

What to do: Spread over 750 acres, Grand View Lodge has so many things to do for kids of all ages. In addition to abundant water sports, there’s a game room, indoor pool with waterslide and winter activities like ice skating, hockey, tubing and sleigh rides.

Best for ages: 5-15

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16. The Buccaneer

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

TripAdvisor

Why visit: Families can enjoy a Caribbean vacation on the Buccaneer Resort’s 240 tropical acres with three white sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters and scuba diving among the island’s largest living reef of any Caribbean island.

What to do: The Buccaneer is designed for families with many on-site amenities like volleyball, soccer, beachside basketball and pingpong. St. Croix is also a great place for kayaking, snorkeling or paddleboarding. The resort has a popular kids’ camp with daily activities like beach and pool games, sandcastle building, treasure hunts and more.

Best for ages: 4-12

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17. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Why visit: Set on the widest stretch of white sand beach in Waikiki, the Hilton Hawaiian Village also has Waikiki’s only saltwater lagoon and is set on more than 20 acres. The property features five towers and has more than 20 food and drink venues on site.

What to do: Get wet and wild in one of five on-site swimming pools, including the Paradise Pool, a 5,000-square-foot family activity pool with the longest slide in Waikiki. Kids can also hang out at Camp Penguin to enjoy hula lessons, games, as well as arts and crafts and off-property excursions to the local zoo and aquarium. Not to miss is the The Waikiki Starlight Lulu with live music, hula lessons and luau cuisine.

Best for ages: 5-12

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18. Waterstone Resort & Marina Boca Raton, Curio Collection by Hilton

Boca Raton, Florida

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Why visit: The Waterstone Resort & Marina, Curio Collection by Hilton, which sits along Lake Boca, is also just one block from the beach and offers a free shuttle for families to head over to the Atlantic. Accommodations are upscale with balconies and in-room minifridges, and there are two on-site restaurants offering waterfront dining.

What to do: Take the kids to the nearby Gumbo Limbo Nature Center where they can learn more about sea turtles, stroll through the butterfly garden and enjoy a walk through mangrove trees. There are plentiful water activities from airboats through the Everglades and waverunner rentals to kayaking and paddleboarding.

Best for ages: 4-16

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19. Shorebreak Resort

Huntington Beach, California

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Why visit: Located right on the Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA, a great spot to either take a surfing lessons or watch the professionals. Shorebreak Resort is located close to the beach and in the downtown area. Kids will also love the resort’s gym with a 40-foot-wide outdoor rock climbing wall.

What to do: There are lots of fun outdoor activities in Huntington Beach from sunbathing to kayaking to steering your own duffy boat. Shorebreak Resort offers complimentary beach rentals, including bikes, picnic baskets, beach toys, chairs, umbrellas, surfboards, so families can maximize their stay.

Best for ages: 8-14

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20. Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California

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Why visit: Santa Barbara has a great mix of activities for both kids and adults alike from activities on its beautiful beaches to outstanding shopping, dining and wine tasting. Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara is located just across the road from the city's East Beach where kids can hang out on the Pacific, or they can swim in the property's heated pool. Families can also gather around firepits in the evening, and rooms come with refrigerators for ease of storing cold food and drinks.

What to do: Explore the beautiful Santa Barbara coast via kayaking, paddleboarding or boating, spend a day at the Santa Barbara Zoo, go whale-watching and wander the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Best for ages: 8-16

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