Resorts are a great option when selecting a vacation destination. The combination of accommodation and entertainment conveniently located together makes trip planning easier, while reducing driving time after arrival – and we can everything use a little gas pump break these days. But not all resorts are created equal, and if you’re planning a trip with young children or grandchildren, choosing the right resort is even more important. Here are our readers’ six favorite family resorts to consider when planning your next family vacation.
1. Disney’s Beach Club Resort (tie)
Walt Disney World in Orlando was designed to be the classic definition of family fun. While it’s possible to stay close to Orlando and visit one of the many parks for the day, it’s much easier – albeit more expensive – to stay at one of their resort-themed resorts on square.
Disney’s Beach Club Resort is one of those magical options and happens to be one of our readers’ favorite family resorts. What sets the Disney Beach Club Resort apart from the rest? Proximity to the parks themselves for one. As an EPCOT area resort, you and your family can walk around the park and enjoy all the food and fun EPCOT has in store without the need for a car.
Choose between traditional rooms and suites, or opt for the extended amenities of a villa. All rooms have access to all of the resort’s pools and dining options, including Disney’s best ice cream restaurant: Beaches and Cream.
Kids and adults alike will love Stormalong Bay, with its replica wreck driving its design. Slide down a thrilling 230-foot-long waterslide, relax in the lazy river, or find a moment of relaxation in one of the “quiet” pools, offering relaxation without screaming. Whether you spend all day in the parks or never leave the resort, you and your family will have a truly magical time in this New England-style paradise.
1. Schlitterbahn Water Park & Resort (tie)
New Braunfels, TX
Tied for first place with a Disney resort is no easy task, and Schlitterbahn has accomplished just that in the eyes of our readers. Located in beautiful Texas Hill Country along the Comal River near its confluence with the Guadalupe River, the original Schlitterbahn Resort used the natural spring waters of the Comal for its earliest attractions.
Over the years, the resort has grown to include four distinct sections, as well as seven unique lodging experiences. From luxury suites just steps from the water to traditional hotel rooms within walking distance of the park, there’s bound to be an option to suit your family and budget.
With a “Stay and Play” package, your family will never need to leave the resort. Kids – and kids at heart – can spend hours in the water, sliding and sliding through thrills, dropping down thrilling tube slides or splashing around in one of the many activity areas especially for the little ones, without additional costs for the use of pipes! Adults can enjoy a drink and relax in one of the five heated pools with swim-up bars located around the resort. Private cabanas are available for rent which provide a break from the sun while enjoying time with your family.
While the water park is seasonal, the resort itself is open year-round, making it a great place to explore the rest of New Braunfels and the Texas Hill Country. Meal plans are available that allow you to eat all day for one low price, or you can bring your own food and picnic in the park. The resort is a wonderful place for children and adults at a fraction of the price of a Disney park.
3. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
San Antonio, TX
The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is another great central Texas resort. Relax in a private room or entertain a larger group in one of their 2,300 square foot Grand River Suites. Some rooms have balconies with fantastic views of the surrounding hills and on-site golf courses. Some rooms on the ground floor allow you direct access to the swimming pool.
Two 18-hole golf courses await you to entertain the golfer in your life. Choose between a more difficult tournament-style course or a more player-friendly course, depending on the challenge you want. Golf instruction is a great option available to guests, with choices between individual lessons and group clinics.
Finally, what kid doesn’t love a water park? The River Bluff Water Experience has all the options needed to keep younger guests occupied and is one of the most unique resort pools in Texas, according to one of our editors. The tube slides and slides provide plenty of thrills, while the lazy river and kiddie pool allow for more laid-back fun for the rest of the family. Don’t forget to also make time for the sandy beach pool: lined with cabanas for rent and a sandy beach, the kids can spend hours in the sand while you sip a cold cocktail delivered to your shaded oasis.
4. Grand Cedar Lodge
Located in the Ozark Mountains of southwestern Missouri – and just minutes south of Branson – Big Cedar Lodge welcomes guests to a rustic hideaway on scenic Table Rock Lake. Take advantage of the great outdoors by embarking on one of the many nature trails, enjoy a canoe or pedal boat ride on the lake, spend time at the beach or go fishing on the wharf. After a long day, it’s time to rest your body. Choose from private log cabins, quaint cottages, or a more traditional room at one of the on-site lodges.
Enjoy a round of golf on one of five championship courses designed by such famous names as Ben Crenshaw, Gary Player and Tiger Woods. Courses vary in price as well as difficulty, making a play at Big Cedar possible for players of most skill levels. For a short game, try the 9 hole, par 3 top of the rock. Or try your luck Payne Valley, a course that includes a bonus 19th hole at the end of your course. Each course is delicately and deliberately carved into the natural rock and water of the beautiful Ozark Mountains, creating a breathtaking experience.
5. Timber Ridge Lodge and Water Park
Lake Geneva, WI
You’ll find Timber Ridge in charming Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, just under an hour from Milwaukee and an hour and a half from Chicago. Choose from one- or two-bedroom suites, all with kitchens and whirlpool tubs. The kitchens give your family the freedom to prepare your own meals if you wish, or you can choose to dine on site at Smokey’s Bar-B-Que. If none of the options sound particularly appealing, take a shuttle to Timber Ridge’s sister property, Grand Geneva, for surf and turf or a delicious Saturday brunch.
Moose Mountain Falls is the resort’s indoor and outdoor water park and has something for everyone. Resort guests will each receive a pass during their stay, with the option to purchase additional passes to enjoy multiple days. Toddlers have their own section safe from the splashes of older siblings; older kids can use the 300-foot-long adventure slides; and the 500ft lazy river is a great way to relax – or hide away from the family for a short time if the adults in the group need it. Enjoy a round of miniature golf or hours of fun in the arcade to complete your trip.
6. Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa
Beaver Creek, Colorado
It’s clear that water parks are a big hit with families, as each of the previous entries on this list has made clear. However, some families prefer their water to be frozen and powdery, and that’s where Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa comes in. Located south of Interstate 70, just 20 minutes from Vail, Beaver Creek is easily accessible from the Denver area. Choose from a traditional room or splurge on a suite for the added bonus of a kitchen and fireplace. Some rooms include balconies for stunning views of the mountains and the nearby village.
During the winter months, hit the slopes with your family and ride over 2,000 acres of powder thrills. There are plenty of challenging runs for the more advanced skiers in the group, but there is also a place for the more novice skiers. If you’ve had enough of skiing, try your hand at snowmobiling on a backcountry excursion with the whole family. Beaver Creek isn’t just a winter destination; as the snow melts, it makes way for great hiking and golfing opportunities. Plus, the nearby rivers are great places to try your hand at white-water rafting, and the Vail Valley is ready to be explored.
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