The Best Family-Friendly Resorts

Clambakes on the beach, pontoon boat rides, and nature walks—ah! Find a slice of paradise that fits your family’s price point. 

A children's program and a few swimming pools are no longer enough to make a resort a top pick for families. Ideal locations, great programming, and convenient accommodations are a must when you’re travelling with little ones. The resorts have it all.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort, Martha's Vineyard

On 51 grassy acres overlooking South Beach, Winnetu aims to bring the simplicity and old-fashioned appeal of Martha's Vineyard to families. Vintage fire truck rides, clambakes, and remote control boat races are among the favorite activities for families to do together. A free morning drop-off program during the summer for 3- to 12-year-olds is also popular; kids will swim, go on treasure hunts and play games while you just chill out with a book or try a fitness class. Starting in late June, the resort also offers a three-day adventure camp for teens. In mid-May and September, special parent-toddler programs and discounts lure families with little ones. Studio rooms as well as one-to four-bedroom suites with kitchenettes are available.  winnetu.com

Kingsmill Resort & Spa, Williamsburg, Virginia

Set along the James River, Kingsmill has plenty of open green space for kids to play. Take the free shuttle to nearby Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, and then come back for a dip in the pool (the outdoor complex with a lazy river and slide is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, and there’s an indoor pool for year-around use) or head to the playground. You can also rent bikes to explore the property or go fishing. Want some time to head to the spa or the golf course? Book 5- to 12-year-olds in a half-day session at the kids’ camp. Rooms with two double beds are available, but it doesn’t cost that much more to upgrade to a newly renovated one-bedroom condo, which includes a living room with a sleeper sofa and a kitchen so you make some meals on your own. Kingsmill.com

Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa, San Diego

It’s perfect for a city-beach combo. Nestled on a private 15-acre peninsula bordered by the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, the resort is a short free shuttle ride away from Silver Strand State Beach or a ferry ride to downtown’s major-league baseball stadium or New Children’s Museum. The drop-off club for 5- to 12-year-olds, available during summer and other busy times of the year, is run in conjunction with the Living Coast Discovery Center. Kids will go on nature hunts, build their own mini sailboats, play games like Kelp Tag, and learn about the beach ecosystem. The resort also offers two heated family pools and one exclusively for adults. A pool concierge treats families to fruit or smoothies. Childproofing kits, nightlights, and a welcome gift for little ones are extra-special family touches. Loewshotels.com

The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida

If you’re looking for a luxury getaway, few resorts are as opulent—yet family-friendly—as The Breakers. It’s set on 140 acres of oceanfront property, and has a half-mile of private beach plus heated and lifeguarded swimming pools. The resort offers activities for the whole family to do together, like fitness classes, golf clinics, and a sports court. Plus, there’s a massive family entertainment center with toys, games, and a playground. Kids ages 3 to 12 can take part in a daytime or evening camp with nature walks, scavenger hunts, and swimming while you participate in one of the many free fitness classes (from pilates to soul stretch). Eight of the resort’s nine restaurants supply children’s menus and chefs happily cater to kids with food allergies. thebreakers.com

South Seas Island Resort, Captiva, Florida  

It’s your mini shell collector’s dream! The beaches of Captiva and nearby Sanibel Island are chock full of shells in many shapes and colors. The resort’s on-site Sanibel Sea School offers shelling and other nature-themed programs for kids and families. Lawn games, poolside bingo, and kite flying are among the many rotating family activities; the resort is also home to dock for Captiva Dolphin Watching cruises. The accommodations include villas, condos, and traditional hotel rooms—it’s a fantastic place to bring the grandparents or share space with another couple. southseas.com

The Tyler Place Family Resort, Highgate Springs, Vermont

Picture summer camp with children and grown-ups each doing their own thing most of the time and you've grasped the concept for the all-inclusive Tyler Place Family Resort set on 165 acres on Lake Champlain. Operated by the Tyler family since its inception in 1933, the resort automatically enrolls kids in camp with activities targeted to their ages from infants to teens. Toddlers, for instance, may look for radishes in the garden while preschoolers explore the meadow for feathers and pine cones. While their kids are in camp, parents can take painting classes, learn archery, practice yoga, and much more. Parents and children meet up after lunch for organized activities, such as nature walks and pontoon boat rides, or on-their-own family fun, such as mini golf and basketball. At night, parents dine alone or as part of a group in the adults-only restaurant. tylerplace.com           

Hilton Hawaiian Village, Oahu

It’s a water wonderland: Set on 22 acres on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, the resort offers plenty of space to sprawl on the palm tree-dotted shore. Plus families can choose from six spectacular pools (including one with a water slide and another designed for young children) and a five-acre salt-water lagoon. Hula lessons, lei-making, and ukulele lessons are also part of the activities offered. Be sure to stay over on a Friday night—when there are always fireworks. hiltonhawaiianvillage.com

Originally published in the May 2006 issue of Child magazine. Updated in July 2016

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