Don’t be the family that mistakenly books a honeymoon or singles resort for your next warm-weather vacation. Not only would this inspire eyebrow raises among fellow resort guests and staff, but it would likely leave your family in an awkward environment void of kid-friendly diversions, quickly turning an eagerly awaited vacation into something stressful.
We’ve identified some of the best family-friendly resorts in warm-weather destinations across the country. These 10 resorts aren’t over-the-top, kitschy kid-themed—because, hey, us adults want a vacation, too—but each features kid-approved amenities and attractions, as well as COVID-19 precautions and mandates to put parents and guardians at ease. May they inspire a well-deserved (and quite possibly, a long-overdue) family vacation this winter or spring.
Angler and Ale is located on the Docks of Hawks Cay Marina. Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay resort
HAWKS CAY RESORT
Duck Key, The Florida Keys
Hawks Cay Resort is the most family-friendly resort in the Florida Keys. Halfway between Key Largo and Key West, the 60-acre resort offers multi-bedroom villas that are perfect for families seeking extra space and features a colorful focal point for kids: Coral Cay, the resort’s activity area for younger guests. Highlights include a giant pirate ship pool, putting greens, a soccer field, basketball and volleyball courts, plus weekly pirate and mermaid shows. The resort also has daily kids programming, an onsite dolphin experience, a playground, and a marina where water activities can be booked. Families with toddlers and wee swimmers in tow also appreciate that the beach has calm waters.
Aerial view of King and Prince Beach resort. Photo Courtesy of King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort.
KING AND PRINCE BEACH & GOLF RESORT
St. Simons Island, Georgia
For families headed to St. Simons Island, a laid-back respite within Georgia’s Golden Isles, a stay at the oceanfront King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort is a no-brainer. Resort accommodation options meet the needs of families of any size, ranging from two-bedroom suites to five-bedroom beaches houses. Some even have full kitchens, BBQ grills, and laundry facilities. A plethora of kid-friendly amenities await the youngest travelers, such as five swimming pools (including two kiddie pools); daily kid activities (including face painting, scavenger hunts, pool games); and a large sandy play area to build a sandcastle next to the pool. The resort’s new beachside café features a children’s menu that includes frozen fruit pops, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and S’mores kits, as well as a large sitting area that includes a castle playground for kids.
Front of the Phoenician resort. Photo courtesy of The Phoenician Resort
It’s hard for families to get bored at this luxurious resort at the base of Camelback Mountain. The Phoenician recently underwent a three-year, multimillion-dollar face-lift that included the expansion of its Kids Zone. A new treehouse and 197-foot waterslide were added to the existing splash pad that features spray guns and falling buckets of water. Children’s programming at the resort includes activities such as donut decorating, creating your own stuffed animal, and poolside games.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay in St. Lucie, Florida. Photo courtesy of Club Med
CLUB MED SANDPIPER BAY
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Three words: flying trapeze school. If you or your kiddos have ever dreamt of joining the circus, Club Med Sandpiper Bay can unleash your inner aerial artist because it offers trapeze lessons as an onsite activity. Swinging to great heights aside, the all-inclusive nature of this 50-acre resort makes it a stress-free decision for most families: pay one price and get your accommodations, meals, drinks, snacks, and most activities included. It boasts three outdoor pools and a stellar kids club for ages 4-17, which is especially nice for parents who want a day “off” to enjoy the resort’s adults-only amenities. Kids can spend the day experiencing unlimited activities that might include archery, paddle boarding, pickleball, DJ-ing, or trapeze lessons. The resort produces a fun-filled agenda of day and night entertainment to keep families engaged together, too, including movies and life-sized board games.
Hotel Del Coronado. Photo courtesy of Hotel Del Coronado
HOTEL DEL CORONADO
San Diego, California
Hotel Del Coronado – or “The Del,” as it’s more commonly called—is a stately fixture on San Diego’s Coronado Island. The Victorian-era resort has hosted foreign royalty, U.S. presidents, A-list Hollywood movie stars, and countless families. You’ll have access to a sprawling beach that regularly makes “best beaches” lists. Surf camps, building sandcastles, biking, and bonfires with S’mores are just a few of the resort activities that await beachside, while the on-site kids club, DelVenture, offers one-of-a-kind experiences ranging from virtual rock wall climbs to slime labs and theater camps. Families fascinated by the military can watch helicopters and jets fly overhead on occasion and Navy ships in the distance, as Coronado Island is home to the U.S. Navy. For a fun splurge, the resort’s beachfront cottages and villa rentals are especially popular with families because they’re located between The Del’s main pool and the ocean.
WESTIN ST. JOHN RESORT VILLAS
U.S. Virgin Islands
How about a Caribbean vacation that requires no passport? The U.S. Virgin Islands is a U.S. territory, which means no international travel hoops that might irritate the littlest travelers (not to mention the adults), and a stay at the Westin St. John Resort Villas put you at one of the most family-friendly resorts on the island. It’s home to a quarter-acre pool and a kids club, plus a full program of family-friendly activities. Accommodations can meet the needs of any size family, with options ranging from studios to one-, two- or three-bedroom villa rentals to luxury townhomes. Each offers a kitchen or kitchenette, a washer and dryer, and stellar Virgin Island views. Go ahead and make yourself at home, in paradise.
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island. Photo Courtesy of Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
SONESTA RESORT HILTON HEAD ISLAND
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
The Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island sits on one of the less-crowded beaches on Hilton Head Island, thanks to its location within a gated community. Guests with kiddos love that oceanfront perk, as well as the resort’s zero-entry (translation: no tricky stairs) pool and kids club. Another fun activity: spotting island wildlife on the beach and in Sonesta’s lush lagoon. Kids can check off a scavenger hunt card for prizes when they spot crabs, dolphins, turtles, alligators, bald eagles, and more. Bike rides are popular with families along the well-maintained bike trails of Hilton Head, as is Sonesta’s calendar of family-friendly activities, such as turtle and alligator talks, poolside bingo, and S’more stations.
Tiki pool on the beach resort. Photo courtesy of JW Marriot Marco Island Beach Resort
JW MARRIOTT MARCO ISLAND BEACH RESORT
Marco Island, Florida
It’s not every day that an arcade can compete with a gorgeous beach on the Gulf of Mexico. But 10K Alley, a state-of-the-art arcade and gastro-pub at the beachfront JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, does just that. When not challenging the family to games indoors, there’s plenty of outdoor action to keep you entertained at this resort set on three miles of private white-sand beach. Ten on-site restaurants, three swimming pools, daily children’s programming, and a kids club are just some of the amenities that will appeal to families. Not to mention, the resort is a wonderful home base for natural explorers who want to go shelling, dolphin watching, fishing, parasailing, or on an Everglades airboat adventure.
A view of Grand Wailea, Maui, at night. Photo Courtesy of Grand Wailea
Aloha, tropical vacation. If you’re going to fly the family to Hawaii, the beachfront Grand Wailea is one of the most kid-friendly resorts on the island of Maui. Its Canyon Activity Pool is a water-soaked kid nirvana: nine individual pools that include four jungle pools, rope swings, five slides, and six waterfalls. The resort offers weekly cultural tours and activities, such as ukulele lessons and Kukui nut bracelet weaving. For the intrepid explorers in the family, the resort’s outrigger canoe tours will allow you to get up close to Maui’s wildlife while avoiding the crowds.
The Grand Floridian Hotel. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World
GRAND FLORIDIAN WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT
This list wouldn’t be complete without a Walt Disney World Resort property. Staying at any of the on-site resorts comes with numerous perks, such as early theme park entry, complimentary transportation to the parks and on-site character encounters. While Disney’s Polynesian Resort will transport you to the island paradise of Moana and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge will transport you to a Lion King-inspired safari adventure (complete with roaming animals on the grounds), Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa makes this list because it’s not as Disney-themed as some of the other options. That can make this upscale resort an ideal choice for families with tweens and teenagers. It’s also the closest to Magic Kingdom by both the Monorail and boat—two modes of transportation that provide a mini-adventure within the bigger vacation. While the property is surrounded by theme parks and Orlando entertainment galore, you can catch two dazzling shows without leaving the resort grounds: the Electrical Water Pageant, a floating light parade in the adjacent Seven Seas Lagoon, and the nightly fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom.