America's Best Kid-Friendly Hotels
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From indoor water parks to mountain resorts, these spots offer plenty of options for families
These 18 hotels offer great kid-friendly dining options and activities, perfect for traveling families.
Family vacations are a true hallmark of growing up. There’s nothing like piling your kids into the car (or airplane), going somewhere new, and exploring the area together. On these trips, parents and kids can make memories together that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Click here to see the America's Best Kid-Friendly Hotels (Slideshow)
Sometimes, however, traveling as a family can be a trying experience, but fortunately for youngsters and adults alike, these 18 hotel picks make it easier for families to experience a new place together. Each of these properties has dining options that will appeal to children — some feature familiar characters like Eloise while others provide a plethora of options that are sure to please a diverse set of taste buds.
At these spots, kids also can enjoy amenities such as playrooms, iPads pre-loaded with apps and books, and even toys they receive on arrival. Some of the hotels are located near the nation’s top amusement parks, like Hersheypark and Walt Disney World. A few are home to water parks that feature waterfalls and obstacle courses that children are sure to love. And a handful even include spa treatments that are ideal for both younger and older clients — with names like the "Pretty Princess Pedicure." Despite their many differing options, each featured property has plenty that will please parents and children alike.
Clikc trough our slideshow to get an idea of what the top kid-friendly hotels in the country have to offer families.
Teresa Tobat is the Washington, D.C. Travel city editor for The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @ttobat88. View her website at teresaktobat.com.
America’s 20 Most Kid-Friendly Places For A Family Vacation (Plus Top Attractions They’ll Love)
Invite your kids to see polar bears up close, step into American history or catch their very first fish: family vacations are a great way for children to explore the world and experience new things. If you’re planning a getaway with the whole gang, America’s most kid-friendly attractions are the perfect place to start. Each great kid-friendly vacation in our list is filled with amazing children's attractions and things to do, but family vacations also go beyond waterparks, museums and zoos. These getaways are designed for kid-friendly exploring. You never know what you—and your kids—might discover!
From secret handshakes to favorite desserts, every family is different, and every family vacation should be, too. Because there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all trip, we found some of the best kid-friendly attractions and places to vacation in the U.S. There are many great places to go with kids in America’s cities, mountains, islands and small towns. Since the best family vacations are as unique as your kids are, some of these spots might even take you by surprise. Whether you’re looking for educational fun, wild roller coaster rides or just some laid-back beach time, all you need to do is pack your bags, hit the road and get ready to share the memories of a lifetime.
This spectacular three-level indoor-outdoor water park, which opened in December 2018, is spread across 111,000 square feet and located inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. With unique rides and experiences like the Rapid Remix (a huge waterslide in which up to five people board a mega raft to rocket down an enclosed vortex loop) and the Crowd Surfer (a high-velocity surfing and boogie boarding experience), there&rsquos something for every member of the family. Big kids will especially love the fast-flowing, 36-inch deep Up Tempo Rapids River, complete with waterfalls and powerful spray features. The indoor portion of the water park operates year-round.
America’s 10 Best Castle Hotels
Although the United States doesn&rsquot have a king or queen, our country is home to dozens of castle hotels &mdash some of which date back 200-plus years &mdash fit for royalty. The best part? Each property offers its own distinct and regal-inspired touches, whether in the form of striking architecture, fairytale-worthy decor, or postcard-worthy gardens. From a chic Long Island chateau to a charming Kentucky hideaway, we&rsquove compiled a list of the best castle hotels across America.
Editor&rsquos note: Certain amenities at theses properties are closed due to COVID-19. Always follow all local and state guidelines for travel at your destination.
Located just 25 miles outside of The Big Apple, Castle Hotel & Spa feels miles away from the hustle-and-bustle of New York City. The magnificent structure overlooks the Hudson River and was constructed in two phases between 1887 and 1910. Today, it retains its original fairytale-worthy stone walls and wood paneling. Inside, you&rsquoll find 31 spacious and elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites &mdash the latter of which have wood-burning fireplaces and marble bathtubs. Property highlights include an outdoor pool (seasonal) manicured gardens, a one-mile landscaped trail (ideal for romantic strolls or hikes), a tranquil spa, and an on-site eatery serving Haute French cuisine.
Best for Luxury: Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
When you combine the luxurious amenities of a Four Seasons with the childlike wonder of Walt Disney World, the results are magic, and this family-friendly luxury hotel in every sense of the word. Set on 26.5 acres, the 375 rooms and 68 suites are decorated in shades of blue and cream, featuring balconies, Bose Bluetooth speakers, and terry cloth bathrobes.
Guests have access to the same coveted perks as those at other Walt Disney World resorts, such as character breakfasts, Disney FastPass+ up to 60 days prior to arrival, and extra magic hours (aka early entry into the park). There’s a five-acre playground, including a lazy river, waterslides, 7,590-square-foot family pool, climbing wall, and Kids for All Seasons club with beach volleyball, basketball, video games, and giant screen for movie nights. Many rooms have views of the firework displays at the Disney parks, as does the Capa rooftop restaurant.
America&rsquos Best Hotels for Families 2015
It&rsquos a universal truth of parenting: You can&rsquot really, truly relax until you know your children (and everyone else under your care) are safe, happy, and occupied. These 25 hotels and resorts totally get it, and that&rsquos how they earned top scores with travelers in our 2015 World&rsquos Best Awards.
These hotels make it their business to cater to guests of all ages, from tiny first-time flyers to seasoned travelers. Take the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, which will arrange childproofed rooms, but also has a concierge who specializes in family travel, to help parents choose kid-friendly dining options and plan unforgettable adventures around island.
Also in Hawaii: the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa, which not only has 5,200-square-foot supervised kids club (called Aunty&rsquos Beach House) with a costume closet and &ldquomagical portals,&rdquo but also a teen spa that offers an acai-bowl bar and treatments designed for older kids. Across the country, at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George in New York, activities range from the typical lakeside fun to games held in a massive rec center.
Of course, the best hotels for families also understand that it&rsquos not all about the little ones&mdashwhich is why so many of the properties that made our list offer indulgent spa treatments, gourmet restaurants (like the boozy, for adults-only Trader Sam&rsquos Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar at Disney's Polynesian Resort) and views that will captivate even the most jaded traveler.
At the Inn at Palmetto Bluff, in South Carolina, guests can drop the kids off at camp knowing that they&rsquoll have a blast hunting for treasure, building pirate boats, and crabbing. Then the grownups can book a Couples Elopement package at the spa, paddle a canoe under centuries-old oak trees draped in Spanish moss, or kick back with a mint julep on the porch of their private cottage. The only tough decision you should have to make on your family vacation is whether to come back year after year, or try all of these 25 amazing properties.
Easy cocktail recipes from top bartenders
Daiquiri Frappe | Lost Lake, Chicago
"This drink took us a bit to perfect, as most blender drinks tend to be too watered down," says Lost Lake co-owner Paul McGee. "Using dry sugar and a bit of lime zest reduces the water content and adds brightness to this refreshing cocktail."
2 oz rum
.5 oz fresh lime juice
1.5 tbsp sugar
1 pinch lime zest
1.5 cups of ice
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender and mix on medium for 15 seconds. Top with more lime zest.
Tip your bartender: Donate to Lost Lake's employee relief fund and you'll be enrolled in the bar's quarantine-friendly newsletter, which is packed with at-home recipes, tips and tricks.
Sazerac | Big Bar, Los Angeles
"This is one of the first cocktails I learned to make," says Big Bar digital director Eugene Lee. "Just like you can with an Old Fashioned, I believe you can make most spirits you have at home into a Sazerac. Now is the time to play!"
2 oz cognac
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube
Instructions: Muddle together sugar and bitters before adding cognac and ice and giving it a stir. Rinse or spray your drinking glass with absinthe before straining the drink. Express and toss in a lemon peel if you have it.
Tip your bartender: Donate what you can to this bar team's digital relief fund.
Jelly-Jam Sour | The Sylvester, Miami
"This is a simple sour that you can make with any jelly or jam," says the Sylvester bar director Ben Potts. "This particular variant is made with apricot jam that pairs well with bourbon."
1.5 oz bourbon
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
1 bar spoon apricot jam
Optional: egg white
Instructions: Shake together all ingredients, strain and garnish with a lemon peel.
Tip your bartender: Consider donating to the Sylvester's relief fund&mdashor, if you live in Miami, get your gift card on.
Guns & Rosé | Death & Co., New York
"This drink was written by former Death & Co. bartender Scott Teague, who always had a knack for writing simple builds that punched above their weight," says Death & Co. national beverage director Tyson Buhler. "Describing a drink with OGD 114 as delicate and nuanced isn&rsquot something I&rsquod normally do, but this cocktail really hits the mark."
1.5 oz Old Grand Dad 114 bourbon
1 oz Lillet Rosé
1 tsp simple syrup
2 dash Peychaud&rsquos bitters
Instructions: Stir together ingredients over ice and strain. As an added bonus, you can rub the inside of the glass with a grapefruit twist.
Tip your bartender: Contribute to Death & Co.'s staff relief fund or shop their merch.
Aceituna Old Fashioned | Martina, Minneapolis
"What really sets this one apart is the overnight olive oil wash, which smoothes out some of the harsh edges and gives the final drink more weight," says beverage director Marco Zappia. "At its heart, it is an exploration and culmination of the agave plant and how vast its inherent qualities can range."
.25 oz simple syrup
1 oz mezcal
1 oz blanco tequila
.75 oz olive oil
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a glass bottle and quickly shake before stashing in the freezer overnight. The olive oil will freeze, and you can strain the cocktail through a coffee filter. Stir liquid over ice and strain once more into a glass to enjoy.
Tip your bartender: Live in Minneapolis? Snag a gift card to Martina.
The Southern Gentleman | Whisler's, Austin
"This cocktail has its roots in a traditional Black Manhattan with a boozy, bitter twist," says Whisler's event coordinator Sean Skvarka. "As the ice melts, it opens up the cocktail into a great sipping treat."
1.5 oz bourbon
.75 Amaro Averna
2 dashes orange bitters
Instructions: Stir together ingredients and strain over ice with a lemon swath.
Tip your bartender: When you buy Whisler's merch, 100 percent of the sales proceeds go to the bar's staff. They've also got a staff fundraiser to collect donations.
Classic Daiquiri | El Pequeño Bar, Montreal
"You don't need to be a bartender to make this cocktail. It's simple, classic and sexy," says Kevin Demers, owner of Montreal watering holes The Coldroom, El Pequeño Bar and Parliament Pub & Parlour. "This is one of my favorite drinks to drink when I just want to be taken back to Havana."
2 oz rum
.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 sugar cube
Muddle sugar in a cocktail shaker before adding lime juice and mixing the two together. Toss in rum and ice, shake and strain into a glass.
Tip your bartender: A portion of proceeds from merch sold will support the bars' staff shop The Coldroom, El Pequeño Bar and Parliament Pub & Parlour.
Negroni | The Violet Hour, Chicago
"You can make a Negroni without any special tools or glassware," says the Violet Hour beverage director Pat Ray. "This cocktail can send you down a rabbit hole of finding the perfect ratio, and the bottles are some of the most versatile to have for at-home cocktailing."
Instructions: Start with equal parts of each ingredient, then experiment to find your perfect Negroni ratio. Pour over ice, stir, strain and garnish with an expressed orange peel.
Tip your bartender: Follow the Violet Hour on Instagram for more cocktail inspiration, and consider donating to One Off Hospitality's employee relief fund.
House Greyhound | Baldwin Bar, Boston
"This cocktail is based off of the Last Word formula: 1:1:1:1," says Ran Duan, the owner of Boston watering holes the Baldwin Bar and Blossom Bar. "Think of it as the Mr. Potato of recipes. You can sub out any base spirit and it will still taste delicious."
1 oz gin (or vodka, rum, tequila, whatever!)
1 oz St. Germain
1 oz grapefruit combier (any citrus liquor will work)
1 oz lemon juice
Instructions: Combine ingredients, shake and strain over crushed ice. Add bitters if you're feeling fancy.
Tip your bartender: If you're lucky enough to live in Boston, Blossom Bar and the Baldwin Bar are offering takeout and delivery, including cocktail mixers.
Garibaldi | Dante, New York City
"The Garibaldi is a classic and simple mixed drink that we came to love after seeing the way it was served with juice squeezed fresh to order at a place in Sydney called North Bondi Italian Food," says Dante co-owner Linden Pride. "The key is squeezing the orange juice immediately before serving."
1.5 oz Campari
Fresh orange juice
Instructions: Toss two ice cubes in a glass, add Campari and a splash of orange juice and stir well. Add one more ice cube and fill remainder of glass with orange juice.
Tip your bartender: New Yorkers, a curated selection of Dante's bottled cocktails are now available to go.
Heart of Garnet | Kumiko, Chicago
"The initial template was a Negroni, which morphed into the notion of an Old Pal (dry vermouth, Campari, whiskey), which ended up becoming an aperitivo with hints of both," says Kumiko creative director Julia Momose. "The delicate bittersweet notes of [the ingredients] come together in a fun, bitter yet fruity, and herbaceous yet spiced aperitivo."
1 oz bitter red
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz dry gin
1/4 oz banana liqueur
Instructions: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with an expression of lemon.
Tip your bartender: If you live in Chicago, you can find all of the cocktail ingredients listed above in Kumiko's web store. If not, consider tossing a few bucks toward the bar's staff fundraiser.
Palmade | Palm House, San Francisco
"The Palmade is light, refreshing and easy to drink," says Palm House bar director Fatima Hite-Igras. "It's made with simple ingredients that most people have at home."
2 oz vodka
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
Instructions: Toss raspberries into a mason jar and smash with a spoon. Add lemon juice, simple syrup, vodka and a handful of ice. Cover jar and shake vigorously 10 times. Remove lid and start sipping.
Tip your bartender: San Fran residents can get batched cocktails delivered straight to their doors via Postmates. Everyone else can chip in on the hospitality group's relief fund.
Mini Gibson | Valerie, New York City
"The Mini Gibson is an ideal way to try out one of 2020&rsquos biggest cocktail trends at home: mini martinis," says Valerie beverage director Marshall Minaya. "It&rsquos the perfect size to sample this classic drink, which is deliciously savory in bite-sized form."
1.25 oz gin (Minaya recommends Dorothy Parker)
.25 oz dry vermouth
Instructions: Add ingredients to a mixing class, fill with ice, stir and strain. Garnish with a pickled pearl onion.
Tip your bartender: Follow Valerie on Instagram for beautiful cocktail photos, and add this bar to your itinerary next time you're in Manhattan.
Miss You Sour | Cloakroom Bar, Montreal
"It's the perfect cocktail to make at home during quarantine," says Andrew Whibley. "It's easy, balanced, delicious and can be made with stuff you should have in your fridge."
2 oz dry gin
.5 oz leftover white wine
.75 oz simple syrup
1 oz lemon juice
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain. Add a handful of herbs to the mix if you've got 'em.
Tip your bartender: Toss a few bucks to the staff through the bar's relief fund, or snag a gift card for your next visit.
Lighthouse Inn Potatoes — chunks of soft potatoes baked in a rich cream sauce and topped with golden bread crumbs — originated at an iconic hotel and restaurant located in New London, a popular seaside town in southeastern Connecticut. Executive Chef Leon “Wally” Walden, who worked there for nearly 50 years before his 1992 death, was known for many of his dishes, but Lighthouse Inn Potatoes was perhaps his most beloved offering.
One of America’s Test Kitchen’s test cooks grew up eating this dish at every holiday and was determined to make a version she — and everyone else — could make at home. To do so, she cooked starchy russet potatoes in light cream and butter and added a bit of baking soda to neutralize the potatoes’ tannins (and aid in creating a velvety, unbroken sauce). After topping the potato mixture with buttery cheesy bread crumbs, she baked the dish until the potatoes were bubbling and the bread crumbs were golden brown.
This homemade version is as good as the original — the potatoes are tender, the sauce is silky and rich, and the topping is salty, crunchy and satisfying. And based on the response from others who have made this recipe — now one of our most popular — we’re confident it would make Chef Walden proud.
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 6 tablespoons cut into 6 pieces
Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast
Enjoy the natural beauty of the Bluff Country and the historic art-focused town of Lanesboro during your retreat at this Queen Anne Victorian.
The Whaler's Inn
Mystic's premiere Boutique Hotel in the heart of Downtown.
Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast
Philadelphia's Premiere Historic Bed & Breakfast, Steps from Center City on the Banks of the Schuylkill River. Modern Luxury with Timeless Hospitality.
Rachael's Dowry Bed and Breakfast
History and luxury combine in downtown Baltimore with Rachael's Dowry Bed and Breakfast. It's an oasis in the city, close to everything yet far from the crowds.
Adobe Grand Villas
Experience the hospitality and attention to detail that make the Adobe Grand Villas a 5 star luxury inn
Legendary European-style boutique hotel and culinary destination in the heart of the National Historic District in the "prettiest county seat in America" (Atlantic Magazine).
Swanendele Inn at St. Mary's, Maryland
Swanendele Inn, nestled on the banks of St. Jerome’s Creek and the Chesapeake Bay, offers a romantic and elegant getaway in the beauty of rural southern Maryland, an area steeped in colonial and civil war history and prized for its breathtaking water views and abundant oysters and fish. Swanendele Inn is furnished with antiques and artwork that reflect the worldwide travels of the innkeepers each piece has a story to charm and delight guests.
Belle Air Mansion and Inn
Fully immerse yourself in the distinct charm and character of the antebellum South with a stay at the gorgeous and elegantly restored Belle Air Mansion in Nashville, TN. This historic Antebellum Mansion awaits your visit.