You’re ready to up your family travel game and bring a whole new meaning to the word vacation. Luckily, hotels and resorts everywhere are up to the challenge. We’ve found nine getaways that offer up some pretty awesome kid amenities, including a climbing wall, state-of-the-art kids’ club, and a spa for the under-10 set. You might as well request a room without a television, ’cause you aren’t going to need it! Scroll down to see our picks.
Climb Walls at the Limelight Hotel - Snowmass, CO
Hotel perks have reached new heights at the Limelight Hotel, located in the new Snowmass Base Village Plaza, which opened in December 2018. The plaza is home to an open-air community space where families ice skate (in the winter only), enjoy fire pits, pop-up activities, and casual dining, but even cooler, kids of all ages can also try their skills on the rock climbing wall that adorns the front of the hotel all year long. Six stories up, it's a great way to hang around when not on the slopes or hiking.
Bonus: There's also a kid's room for younger guests inside the Limelight: you'll find toys, books and maybe a new friend or two.
Enjoy the Ultimate Kids' Club at Playa Paraíso Iberostar - Playa Paraíso, Mexico
Iberostar has completely re-invented what it means to go to a kids' club. Star Camp is inspired by the Scout movement and incorporates the theory of multiple intelligences. The new program combines fun with cores values and includes a range of activities (over 140, based on age!) that utilize and cater to the different ways kids learn: linguistic, musical, interpersonal, mathematical, naturalistic and more. There are 12 different categories including team sports, group challenges, science and cooking activities, board games, arts, crafts, physical leisure and even tech!
The resort officially opened the brand-new facility in February 2019. It is cheerfully designed, with many sustainable features, including the outdoor playground made of recycled plastic. There’s an indoor climbing/play structure, puzzles, crafts, Imagination Playground blocks for little kids and a mini trampoline park, climbing wall, lounge chairs and video games for the older crew. Find out more by checking out our insider's guide here.
Experience Dolphin Play at Hawks Cay - Florida Keys, FL
Think the Florida Keys are a grown-ups only destination? Think again! This resort, smack dab in the middle of the Keys long stretch of islands, comes with a too-cute toddler pool and a pirate’s ship. But, what little ones will really go gaga for is the resort's Dolphin Connection program. You’ll hang out dockside with Bottlenose dolphins, watch them show off their leaping and flapping skills. Brave kiddos can even get in the water and give the dolphins high fives and hugs.
Bonus: New in 2018, head for the pirate ship pool in the Coral Cay activity center and join Captain Hawk, Priscilla the Pirate Queen, and Clarence the First Mate as they sing, dance and put on a show while Koral the Mermaid swims with children and reads stories to them about the ocean.
Have an Outdoor Adventure at Mohonk Mountain House – New Paltz, NY
Nature-loving bambinos will love the Mohonk Junior Naturalist club option that features instructor-led outdoorsy activities like hikes, fossil hunts, and eco-art. The hotel’s Junior Naturalist Experience exposes extra-adventurous kids to skills in the outdoors with activities like examining weather instruments, creating a rain gauge, and observing different types of flora and fauna.
Splurge at a Spa Just for Kids at Barceló Maya - Playa Bávaro Mexico
As if spending your vacation on a private beach isn’t pampering enough ... This huge family-friendly resort (it’s made up of five all-inclusive hotels) comes with a spa just for kids. The first of its kind in Mexico, Barceló Maya’s adorable U Kids Spa specializes in sophisticated up-dos; fun hair wraps and braids, manicures and pedicures with elaborate nail designs, mini-massages, and face-freshening treatments for the littles. Because, you know, being a kid is just so stressful.
Bonus: Be sure to check out the recently redesigned 18-hole miniature golf course!
Get a Prize at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North – Scottsdale, AZ
The special attention starts as soon as kiddo enters the doors of this Sonoran Desert sweet spot. Little ones receive a passport that encourages them to leave the room and explore the resort. If they hit up all of the spots on their passport, they get a secret prize. Plus, there's a kid's club that shifts into gear once Spring Break hits and the camp counselors take kids on nature walks and through obstacle courses, out for treasure hunts and science experiments. Families also have access to video games, LEGO, ping pong, a display of desert critters, and even a carnival just for kids.
Join the Circus at Club Med Punta Cana – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Club Med has been doing the family all-inclusive experience for years, and they've perfected the equation. Why Punta Cana? Possibly the most unique offering at that Club Med is CREACTIVE, an acrobatic playground for adults and children alike that is the result of a partnership with Cirque du Soleil. Cirque-trained performers safely challenge, support, and entertain guests as they test the limits of their comfort zones through acrobatic trapeze, suspended bungee, and trampoline. More comfortable with your feet on the ground? CREACTIVE also engages participants in the circus arts, including face painting, choreography, and music.
Your kiddos too little to participate? No worries. The resort offers Baby Club Med, where babes ages four months to 24 months are cuddled, fed, and put down for naps (their kind of vacay!). For tots two to four years old there’s Petit Club Med with caretaker-led outdoor play including golf and tennis. Mini Club Med is designed for kids ages four to 10, with sports and activities (a fave is kiddie Zumba).
Have Tea with Eloise at the Plaza Hotel - New York City, New York
In the Eloise Suite, named for The Plaza's famous resident in Kay Thompson's Eloise books, your capricious kiddo will love the outrageous and fun decor by Betsey Johnson, full of an Eloise-approved palette of pink and black, and stocked with Eloise books, dolls, and Eloise's name in big neon lights. Outside of the suite, you can continue to the fun at an Eloise-themed tea, spa service, or children's activity. Just be sure to check the Eloise calendar so you don't miss any opportunity!
Hang with the Birds at Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino in Palm Beach, Aruba
When you visit the Hilton Aruba in Palm Beach, Aruba, you'll have access to a long list of kid-friendly amenities, including a kids club (at extra cost) filled with incredible activities like cupcake decorating, lawn games, feeding Koi fish, seashell painting and more. Additional details can be found here. But, what really caught our eye was the unique family perks like the daily bird interaction, where guests can have an encounter with the resort’s 11 macaw’s, and the snorkeling instruction that’s perfect even for beginners. There’s a waterproof library for pool lounging opportunities, a family movie night on the South Pool deck, s’mores and campfire night and even stargazing! If you’re still looking for more, check out their endless list of wellness activities including ping pong, bocce ball and paddle boarding for the older set (16 & up).
Camp When It's Still Cold Out at Radisson Blue Mall of America - Bloomington, MN
Families looking for the perfect spring vacation spot (even if the weather says it's still winter) should head to the Radisson Blu Mall of America. The hotel's Fort Blu Kids Campingpackage includes all the amenities of the best camping trips such as a kids tent, log-shaped pillows, s’more ice cream treat and of course a projector to transform the guest room ceiling into a starry night sky! Or, enjoy the Play and Stay package that offers Nickelodeon Universe All Day Ride Wristbands.
Disney Aulani Resort & Spa - Honolulu, HI
There are, quite possibly, a thousand great reasons why visiting Disney Aulani with kids should be on your bucket list. For starters, there is a man-made reef, filled with fish, on the premises, that was built solely for your snorkeling pleasure. Kids under 11 must be accompanied by an adult but feel free to swim for however long you want to snorkel to and fro. We also love the Painted Sky Studio where your little keiki (Hawaiian for kids) can get made over into a luau boy and girl. If they want to channel a more Disney-like character, they have Ariel from the Little Mermaid, Moana and more traditional Minnie Mouse Buns they can choose as well.
Of course, no visit to a Disney resort would be complete without QT with the big guy himself, so be sure to make reservations for the Disney Character Breakfast. Before sitting at your table, you’ll be able to grab a photo-op with Mickey himself who personally greets each and every guest before the head to their table and take their first bite. Get more info about the Disney Aulani Resort & Spa by checking out our Insider's Guide here.
Copy by Andie Huber
—Ayren Jackson-Cannady with Gabby Cullen