Whether you’re planning your spring break getaway or getting a jumpstart on summer vacation plans, if you’re a parent you’re looking for something fun for the whole family. While activities will no doubt center around keeping the kids busy, it’s also nice to find a hotel that offers amenities adults and children alike will love.
From in-room perks to impressive waterslides, the hotels on our list all boast service and features likely to put a smile on those little faces. And for this round-up, we steered clear of obviously kid-friendly destinations, such as Great Wolf Lodge, Universal Resorts, or Disney properties.
Instead, the hotels on this list are situated in tourist locations that may not be your first thought for a family vacation but boast plenty to do around town. They may also be more affordable (in some cases) than a resort vacation or an all-inclusive stay at an indoor water park.
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Forest Heights, MD
Reopened after a massive $64 million renovation, the Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor, owned by Ryman Hospitality and part of the Marriot Bonvoy chain, features year-round activities for kids of all ages. This spring (until May 8), the kids can enjoy a scavenger hunt, cookie decorating, and an interactive live show titled “Paint Me a Fairytale.”
Kids will love the Replay at Pose Rooftop lounge with milkshakes and ‘80s arcade games. Parents will love the ambiance and view of the Potomac River. And make sure to get there early because after 9 PM the venue turns into a 21+ bar.
Garnering a 4.4 out of 5 review on Expedia, this hotel has everything families vacationing in the Lancaster region of Pennsylvania could want. The hotel has two indoor pools, an outdoor pool, a spa, and a coffee shop / café, checking off all the boxes for what I look for on the road.
There’s also a miniature golf course on premises and an arcade within the hotel. It’s a three-minute walk to the Lancaster Farmer’s Market, and just a short drive from local and family-friendly chain restaurants, delivering all the convenience you could want for a relaxing vacation in Amish Country and the home of Dutch Wonderland amusement park.
Daytona Beach, FL
Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort is a 75-year-old Daytona Beach landmark that is newly renovated with modern rooms. With two outdoor swimming pools plus a huge heated indoor pool and hot tub in a garden atrium, the multi-building beachside hotel has plenty to do for the whole family.
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The oceanfront Kids’ Suite in the South Tower features two bunk beds and a desk for reading or crafts, plus a king bed and queen-size sofa bed, giving you plenty of room for everyone. Or you can request a Garden Atri
um room in the North Tower to stay just steps from the indoor pool. The hotel also has cottages on premises for guests who prefer more privacy and a pet-friendly location.
The morning donuts and coffee are a must-have, but heartier appetites (or health-conscious guests) might enjoy a full breakfast at the Mango Sun Café. The hotel plans fun activities for kids year-round — that is, if you can pull them away from the beach or pools for more than a few minutes.
If it seems to you like the Marriott-Bonvoy and Gaylord Hotels have cornered the market on fun, kid-friendly amenities, you wouldn’t be far off. There’s just no denying that The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, a Music City staple in Tennessee, delivers fun for all. The Atrium Pool even includes a separate kiddie pool. The SoundWaves experience, billed as “an unexpected aquatic attraction,” combines a lazy river with energetic water rides and immersive music the whole family is sure to love.
Like other Marriott-Bonvoy locations, the Opryland Resort offers Once Upon a Spring events for kids, including a scavenger hunt, animal encounters, and the Paint Me a Fairy Tale interactive show. Aspiring bakers will want to take part in the Sunshine and Sprinkles Cooking Decorating. There is also an on-site arcade, river boat rides, carriage rides, and so many other activities, you may not even want to leave the resort.
If you’re looking for a family getaway that takes you off the beaten path, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert will be a relaxing, enjoyable, and educational excursion. The Ritz Kids Ranger program allows the grown-ups on your trip to e
njoy amenities like the golf course or spa while young travelers ages 5 to 12 participate in one (or both) of two three-hour adventure programs. The Full Day Expedition spans from 9 AM through 4 PM, with a lunch break in between. Children will explore the surrounding desert, learn about the local ecosystem, and still have time to spend with family in the evening.
Other kid-friendly treats include an in-room tent, a Kid’s Ranger shirt, and a family geocaching experience. The hotel boasts three pools, including one with a 235-foot water slide, and plenty of dining options to suit picky kids and sophisticated palates alike.
When you’re traveling with kids, you want to choose a hotel where they will feel safe, comfortable, and welcome. Amenities like a pool, kids activities, and a game room can keep kids from getting bored when you need a break from exploring the outside world. These hotels go above and beyond to make kids feel special and can create the perfect setting to help your family create a lifetime of memories.
How to Choose the Best Kid-Friendly Hotel
When I’m searching for kid-friendly hotels for my family, an indoor pool always tops the list of wants. Outdoor pools are fine as well, especially if you’re vacationing in a warm climate. But if the weather forces a change of plans for your scheduled activities, an indoor pool can save the day. I give the venue bonus points if it has an adjacent Starbucks, snack shop or a bar so I can enjoy a beverage while the kids swim.
I also look for locations where kids stay free, which is typical at all but the priciest resorts and hotels. Finally, free breakfast is a must to save time and money. You want the kids to start the day’s adventures with a full belly to curtail whining, additional stops, or the need to buy expensive tourist attraction snacks.
Speaking of snacks, I love when a hotel has a 24/7 snack bar or convenience store, but even better is a convenience store or gas station in the same parking lot. I don’t mind walking a few hundred extra feet to save a few bucks on milk or bedtime snacks.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.