25/04/2024

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These Are the Best Family Vacation Ideas for Your Next Trip

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These Are the Best Family Vacation Ideas for Your Next Trip

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For the four in five parents who plan to take a trip with the kids in 2024, behold our heavily researched, expert-vetted list of the best family vacation destinations to visit now, many of which are winners of Good Housekeeping’s 2024 Family Travel Awards. Many of these kid-friendly locations used downtime at the beginning of the pandemic to rethink, renovate or both. Some upgraded their pools, others refreshed guest rooms and many revamped their activities and amenities or rolled out convenient tech features. A few were even built from scratch in an eco-conscious way.

It’s not lost on us that travel, like everything else, is getting more expensive, so we focused many of our picks on properties that provide great value. When we feature splurgy spots, rest assured they’re worth every penny.

Whether you’re looking to chill out at an all-inclusive resort, get active in the great outdoors, check out new attractions at a theme park, hit the beach or cozy up at ski resort, there’s a destination or experience here to match every vacation vibe and party size. After all, bringing the grandparents comes with so many benefits, not the least of which is babysitting so you can score some much-needed time for an interruption-free dinner, spa treatment or romantic walk on the beach.

Use this guide to help narrow down your options, and then check out the Good Housekeeping Institute‘s tried-and-tested list of essential travel gear and accessories to get ready for your trip. You can also consult our guides on how to choose a family-vacation hotel as well as how to keep all ages entertained. Since the early bird gets the best deal, shore up your spring break and summer vacation plans now.

Mexico and the Caribbean

Spend your days rolling in the waves, relaxing by the pool or enjoying quiet time (thanks to some superior kids’ clubs) at these island resorts.

a slide with a shell that says

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Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya, Mexico

With massive waterparks, daily slimings and Nickelodeon characters galore, the kids have it made at the all-inclusive Nickelodeon Hotels & Resort Riviera Maya, a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award Winner. But grown-ups aren’t left out of the fun. Tequila tastings, spa treatments and romantic dinners can be on your agenda thanks to the supervised club for kids ages 4 to 12. And while you probably wouldn’t be booking a SpongeBob-themed room if you didn’t have the kids in tow, the decor is as mod and classy as it can be. All the accommodations are suites that sleep up to five and have two bathrooms. Suites have direct access to a pool from the balcony. (Yes, even on the top floor!)

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RELATED: Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana Is the Best Place to Travel With a Baby and a Sibling

nickelodeon hotels resorts riviera maya, mexico

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya, Mexico

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

Winner of a 2024 Family Travel Award, Atlantis is a top choice for families of all ages looking for a mix of relaxation and adventure. Its adrenaline-pumping waterpark features high-speed slides, including a one-of-a-kind tube slide down a Mayan pyramid. Animal encounters, like getting up close to a dolphin, are thrilling in a different way. But on the other side of the massive resort, the beaches are super chill. The gentle water is just perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Supervised clubs for kids, tweens and teens truly wow, so adults can enjoy the casino and a meal at one of the resort’s fine-dining restaurants.

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view of atlantis hotel in the bahamas, good housekeeping's pick for best family vacation destinations

Atlantis

Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda, Dominican Republic

Movies under the stars, trapeze lessons, windsurfing — with cool activities like these, kids will never want to leave this newish resort in the lush, away-from-it-all part of the island. Supervised clubs for babies through teens keep the good times rolling while you’re at the adults-only Zen pool or doing treetop yoga. (Yes, that’s a thing.) Solar panels, recycling, plastic-free water bottles and other sustainable initiatives are part of the eco-minded resort culture.

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the sunset at club med michès playa esmeralda, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Club Med

Beaches Negril Resort & Spa, Negril, Jamaica

While this all-inclusive resort and 2024 Family Travel Award-winner caters to all ages, toddlers and preschoolers will be star-struck. Sesame Street characters entertain them with story times, dance parties and even puppet-making! That’s on top of the mini water slides, splash areas and a playground that makes little ones squeal with glee and wears them out, so they’ll hit the sack early.

Private childcare and supervised kids’ clubs (for babies through teens, including those with special needs) are an option when you want a spa treatment, a quiet dinner or just to read a book on the resort’s idyllic 7-Mile Beach. All the rooms and suites got a glow-up in 2020, plus there are new villas with butler service (sign us up!)

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RELATED: 20 Best Caribbean Resorts for Families to Visit

a sparsely attended white sand beach at beaches negril, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Beaches Negril

Fairmont Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

When it comes to baby and kid gear, this luxury resort has you covered. Need a bottle warmer? They got it. How about a step stool for a toddler to reach the sink? Yours for the asking. With these worries aside, you can concentrate on the beauty of the surroundings (the resort is surrounded by a lush mangrove forest) and incredible bucket-list activities, like kids’ carnivals and night kayaking. All the rooms have received a glow-up and there’s a sleek new beach club to boot.

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an aerial view of the beach at fairmont mayakoba, a good housekeeping pick for best family resort

Fairmont Mayakoba

Rock House Resort, Turks & Caicos

Your family may never leave the water at this Mediterranean-inspired oasis, which opened in May 2022. In addition to a full kitchen and roomy living room, many of the villa-style accommodations feature a spacious private pool. (Yes way!) And if your crew ever tires of it, fun awaits at the resort’s oceanfront infinity pool and stretch of white sand beach, which is exclusively for resort guests. Just note that while a cliffside setting makes the resort incredibly picturesque, it’s impossible to navigate with a stroller — so bring the tweens, teens and even grandparents if they don’t have trouble climbing stairs.

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the infinity pool at the rock house resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Rock House Resort

Embassy Suites by Hilton Aruba Resort

A brand that’s popular with families because it offers separate sleeping spaces for kids and adults, Embassy Suites recently opened a location in Aruba. (Pinch us now.) The 330-suite hotel boasts a kids’ pool and playground and is just steps away from the iconic Eagle Beach. A breakfast buffet (with made-to-order items) is included in the price, which is already a value. Rooms also feature a kitchenette, so you can stash drinks and snacks and save your budget for the island’s many incredible water activities.

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embassy suites by hilton aruba resort

Embassy Suites by Hilton Aruba Resort

New England Cozy

Lakes, lighthouses and hiking trails make New England a great place to visit in almost any season.

a slide that says new england cozy with a whale tail

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Quisisana Resort, Lovell, ME

Kids will get a digital detox at this all-inclusive lakefront resort, but they’ll be too busy playing to miss their devices. Without TV or a Wi-Fi signal in the comfortable, air-conditioned rooms and cabins, they’ll be fully immersed in the slew of included activities — from paddle boating to tennis to sandcastle-building. They might even learn to kayak or catch their first fish.

At night, music fills the resort. Broadway-style shows, held in a new outdoor theater, entertain all generations. There’s something about the fresh air and a choice of lollipops that keeps most kids from getting too wiggly, and the caliber of the performances is at least on par with good community theater.

The three included daily meals — with menu items like lobster rolls and Maine blueberry pie — will leave your crew’s bellies happy and full. And if you do need Wi-Fi occasionally, you can pop in the main lobby for a signal. Shh: The kids will be fine without it.

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two friends frolic in a lake at the quisisana resort, a good housekeeping pick for family vacation destinations

Quisisana Resort/Matt Cosby

Hidden Pond, Kennebunkport, ME

Open from May to October, this nature-focused retreat provides a refuge from city life. Yoga sessions in the garden, a shed filled with arts and crafts supplies for kids, guided nature walks and outdoor art classes are easy-going yet exciting at the same time. Cottages with fireplaces foster togetherness, and complimentary breakfast arrives at your door every morning so there’s no need to rush out for coffee.

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campfire at hidden pond in maine, good housekeeping's pick for best family vacation destinations

Hidden Pond

Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Jeffersonville, VT

Nestled in the Green Mountains, this resort is just as fun in the summer months as it is during prime ski season. Besides eight heated pools (some with waterslides!), the action-packed lineup of family activities has plenty to do whether you’re traveling with a toddler, teen or both. Sing-a-longs, magic shows and scavenger hunts keep little ones entertained while older kids will welcome the chance to take a guided hike, design and launch a water rocket or play glow-in-the-dark volleyball. A GH 2024 Family Travel Awards winner, condos at this property accommodate up to five bedrooms, making it possible for extended family and friends to stay together.

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a family goes biking through green hills at smuggler's notch, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Smuggler’s Notch/Craig Orsini

Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club, Brewster, MA

Beach, pool, eat, repeat — that’s how your crew will spend laid-back days at this Cape Cod gem. The private beach has gentle surf and at low tide, kids can spy little sea creatures in the tide pools. When the tide changes, head to the heated outdoor or indoor pools. Outdoor movies are the perfect wind-down to bedtime. And if you can pry the kids out of the water, activities like scavenger hunts, curated by the resort’s new director of fun (for real!) await. Just make sure to stay in the “mansion” section of the resort because that’s the part with private beach access.

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the boardwalk to the beach bar at the ocean's edge resort golf club, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Ocean’s Edge Resort & Golf Club

Sebasco Harbor Resort, Phippsburg, ME

Kids will never forget sleeping in a lighthouse next to the ocean. The resort’s 1945 lighthouse contains recently renovated guest rooms with amazing views, sea breezes and conveniences like a fridge and microwave. The lighthouse rooms are also near the resort’s iconic oceanfront saltwater pool, which recently got a makeover. A vintage bowling alley, weekly pirate cruise and old-school kids’ club add to the New England charm.

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the kids' club at the sebasco harbor resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Sebasco Harbor Resort

Bluebird Cady Hill Lodge, Stowe, VT

A fantastic value, this new ’70s-inspired cozy lodge is perfect for families who want to explore Vermont’s Green Mountains. The scenic trails of Cady Hill Forest are just steps away and downtown Stowe is about a 10-minute walk. Two- and three-bedroom cottages at Bluebird Cady Hill Lodge have plenty of space for families and a kitchen to boot. A game room, fire pits for s’mores roasting and a pool make hanging at the lodge a nice respite in between nature activities.

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bluebird cady hill lodge

Bluebird Cady Hill Lodge

California Dreamin’

Choose your Cali adventure: You can find bustling cityscapes, tranquil trails, stunning beaches and even a fairytale castle.

a slide that says california dreamin' with a picture of a palm tree

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Los Angeles, CA

Tweens and teens won’t roll their eyes if you suggest a vacay in L.A. — where, trust us, they’ll ask you to eat at In-N-Out-Burger (look cool and say you already had it on the list). Some more must-dos: Visit the Griffith Observatory for the out-of-this-world exhibits and a stellar view of the Hollywood sign, and if you’re an outdoorsy family you can hike down from the observatory to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and famous TCL Chinese Theaters.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where anyone 17 and under gets in free, is conveniently located near the classic La Brea Tar Pits and the cool LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Some outdoor shopping at The Grove L.A. and a beach day in Santa Monica with a spin on the iconic wheel at the Santa Monica Pier will get you more well-deserved parent cred. Or, you can take a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, where, for now, you can find the only Super Nintendo World open in the United States. Stay at The Garland in North Hollywood, a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Awards winner. It has a swanky trolley that transports guests to and from Universal, as well as other kid perks like dive-in movies and a retro-chic family suite with bunk beds.

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morning scenery of griffith observatory and downtown la los angeles is good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Kenny Hung Photography – Getty Images

San Diego, CA

Can’t decide between heading to the beach or exploring a big city? San Diego has the best of both worlds, with near-perfect weather to boot. Make your home base a beach resort like the Kona Kai San Diego Resort & Spa, San Diego Mission Bay Resort or, if you’re bringing a big group, Shore House at Del, a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award winner. Intersperse oceanside fun with short drives to the city’s famous zoo and museums in Balboa Park. Plan to spend at least a half day at Liberty Station, a cultural attraction that has many places to eat and shop. New stores and restaurants are open at Seaport Village, which has a classic carousel for kids to ride.

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RELATED: The Best Things to Do in San Diego With the Whole Family

an overhead shot of the loews coronado bay over the water in san diego, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Loews Coronado Bay

Monterey, CA

The number one reason to book a vacation in this coastal town: the aquarium. Yes, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is that good. It levels up the typical touch tank experience by letting little kids crawl through tunnels surrounded by tropical fish displays and use squirt toys to learn how animals stand up to big waves. There’s even a padded zone with eye-level exhibits for toddlers! And the whole family will be wowed by the aquarium’s newish exhibition, “Into the Deep: Exploring Our Undiscovered Ocean.” Some of the creatures in the 21 live exhibit areas are newly discovered and haven’t even been named yet. Mind blown! Stay at the hotel next door, InterContinental The Clement Monterey.

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guests wearing face coverings and enjoying the kelp forest exhibit at the monterey bay aquarium monterey is a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Monterey Bay Aquarium/Tyson V. Rininger

Disneyland Resort and California Adventure, Anaheim, CA

If you’re looking for a Disney trip with young kids, Disneyland may have the edge over an Orlando vacay. Here are some reasons why: You can get on more rides without as much walking in California, so that means fewer tired and cranky kids. Summer weather is also usually better in Anaheim than in hot-and-humid Florida. And rides like Radiator Springs Racers, which looks like it’s right out of the movie Cars, are Cali-exclusive. The new Villas at Disneyland Hotel offer options that sleep up to 12 guests plus the decor is whimsical.

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the ferris wheel at disneyland california adventure disneyland is a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin – Gallery Stock

Redwoods National and State Parks, Crescent City, CA

The fairytale-like setting and beginner trails at Redwoods National and State Parks make this a great spot for hiking and getting some fresh air. For instance, you can hop on the stroller-friendly Prairie Creek/Foothills Trail Loop where kids will be in awe of giant Redwoods and a babbling creek. Junior Ranger programs for children ages 7 to 12 take place from mid-May to mid-September. If you don’t want to camp, stay at the nearby Hotel Arcata. On Saturday mornings, Arcata hosts the oldest farmers’ market in California.

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hiking through the redwoods

Jordan Siemens – Getty Images

Mountain Adventures

Outdoorsy families can participate in a variety of sporty activities in the mountains — and then head back to these resorts for some cozy quality time.

a slide that says mountain adventures with an icon of a mountain

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Keystone Resort, Keystone, CO

Snow-tubing in summer? Believe it! Families can take a trip up the River Run Gondola to access the same tubing hill that operates during the winter. Keystone gathers snow from around the mountain to maintain the tubing hill so that guests can cool off from the summer heat and get their winter fix. Lakeside fun including biking and paddleboarding is also on the summer agenda at this resort. In the winter, the resort wows families with its epic mountaintop snow forts, where kids can climb, slide and live out their Frozen fantasies!

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boaters enjoy a lake in front of a mountain and resort backdrop at keystone resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Keystone Resort/Jack Affleck

Sunriver Resort, Sunriver, OR

Biking as a family is a big deal at Sunriver Resort, a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award winner. The property boasts a “bike bar” with more than 300 options for rent plus helmets too, of course. Thirty-plus miles of paved, picturesque trails are separated from the roadway, so it’s safer for all. Kids may also be up for trying other outdoor adventures like fishing, kayaking and horseback riding. Although the destination boasts about 300 sunny days a year, your rainy day plan could be hanging at the resort’s Aquatic Center, which offers an indoor pool and waterslide.

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a family goes biking in a golden sunset at the sunriver resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Sunriver Resort/Tyler Roemer

YMCA of the Rockies, multiple locations

Your vacation budget stretches farther at a YMCA of the Rockies, which has two prime Colorado locations. If you’re hoping to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, consider staying at Estes Park spot, which surrounds the park on three sides. It features private cabins, plus an array of free activities like sledding, roller skating, tennis, yoga, archery and axe throwing. If you’d prefer to be closer to Winter Park Ski Resort, opt for the Snow Mountain Ranch location in Grandby.

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ymca of the rockies front entrance, good housekeeping's pick for family vacation destinations

YMCA

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, WV

Tucked away in rural West Virginia near the Allegheny Mountains, the Greenbrier has been welcoming guests looking for R&R since 1778. These days, the grand resort offers something for everyone in your group: world-famous golf courses, a full-service spa, a bowling alley, tennis, horseback riding, falconry and much more. A supervised Adventure Zone program keeps 3- to 12-year-olds busy with pond fishing, laser tag and a trip to the on-site greenhouse, so the adults can enjoy a spa treatment like the Mint Julip Body Bliss or a round of golf.

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the greenbrier resort white sulphur springs west virginia usa the resort is a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Walter Bibikow – Getty Images

Under Canvas, multiple locations

Once you camp at this resort — now with 11 locations from Maine to Montana — you’ll be spoiled for life. The upscale canvas tents, with housekeeping upon request, have private bathrooms. There’s even an option to get a “Kids’ Tent” next to yours so you have some more privacy. Programming includes bingo, movie nights, scavenger hunts and guided hikes. You can’t go wrong with any location, but the solar-powered spot about 15 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah sounds amazing.

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an illuminated tent under the stars at the grand canyon under canvas is a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Under Canvas/Bailey Made

Epic Fun in Florida

The thrills of the theme parks, the serenity of the beach and everything in between.

a slide that says epic fun in florida with an icon of a fish

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Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL

The most magical place on Earth will mark the return of old favorites and some exciting new happenings in 2024. The beloved Disney Dining Plan returns on January 9, 2024, after being on hiatus since 2020. On the same date, guests will no longer have to make reservations to enter the theme parks and you can park-hop all day long (assuming you have a park-hopper ticket). On the attraction front, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — the water ride replacing Splash Mountain — is expected to open in 2024. A stay at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, winner of a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award, puts you right in the middle of the action.

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RELATED: 15 Best Hotels in Orlando, Vetted and Reviewed

a new crest honoring the 50th anniversary of walt disney world resort adorns cinderella castle at magic kingdom park in lake buena vista, fla walt disney world is a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Walt Disney World/David Roark

Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando, FL

Accio, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! It’s the best reason to make Universal all or part of your Orlando vacay. Your mini muggles will have their minds blown taking the Hogwarts Express, drinking butterbeer and using interactive wands to unlock magical experiences. The most recent addition, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, has a cool twist. Just avoid reading online spoilers about the coaster. Overall, it’s the most immersive experience of any theme park, right down to hearing Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom. Stay at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, where resort guests can enter The Wizarding World an hour before it opens to the public. Plus, there’s more to come: A new Epic Universe park is on the way for summer 2025.

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harry potter diagon alley at universal orlando in florida, a good housekeeping pick for the best family vacation destinations

Scott Legato – Getty Images

The Grove Resort & Water Park, Orlando, FL

If you’re doing some Disney, some Universal and maybe a day at SeaWorld, stay off-property at a resort that will give you more space for less money. Featuring only two- and three-bedroom suites, all with in-room laundry and a full kitchen, this place is a spacious home base for your family. Be sure to set aside a day for the kids to splash around its water park, complete with a lazy river, kids’ activity pool and surf simulator. Or rent swan paddle boats and fishing poles at the resort’s Lake Austin Pier.

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the lazy river and resort at the grove, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

The Grove/Sammy Todd Dyess Photography

Grande Lakes Orlando, FL

If you think serene and Orlando don’t belong in the same sentence, you haven’t been to this resort area that’s a complimentary 20-minute shuttle ride from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Grande Lakes Orlando, winner of a 2024 Family Travel Award, is home to two sister hotels: the JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. You can’t go wrong at either, but the JW Marriott offers new family suites with bunk beds. Restaurants at both hotels are outstanding: Knife & Spoon is a Michelin Star steak and seafood restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton that’s still family-friendly. When a Good Housekeeping tester dined there, she noticed many families with young children. Primo, an Italian restaurant at the JW Marriott, is also a stand-out. Plan to spend at least one of your vacation days just at the resort — eco-tours, kayaking and a refreshed pool complex (with waterslides and a lazy river) provide plenty to do.

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eco tour in grande lakes orlando, good housekeeping's pick for best family vacation destinations

Grande Lakes

Beachside Hotel & Suites, Cocoa Beach, FL

A 1965 motel got a colorful renovation, and the kids are going to love it! The retro rooms exude happiness, with pops of bright hues in the curtains and seating. Your crew will soak up the fun at the pool, lazy river and the beach — just 300 feet away. Drive about 20 minutes to the Kennedy Space Center where kids can get up close to the Space Shuttle Atlantis and blast off in the Shuttle Launch Experience.

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the colorful, motelstyle beachside hotel suites, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Beachside Hotel & Suites

Hawaii: Pineapples, Rainbows and Beaches

Who could want anything more? While Hawaii is certainly paradise, it’s important that tourists take some time to learn about Hawaii’s culture and values before visiting. You can check out Go Hawaii for more information on how you and your crew can travel consciously and respectfully.

a slide that says hawaii pineapples, rainbows and beaches with an icon of a pineapple

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Turtle Bay Resort, Kahuku, HI

Filmmakers (including the Hunger Games crew) have long flocked to this oasis on Oahu’s North Shore for picture-perfect landscapes with Banyan trees, sea turtles and both tranquil and big-surf beaches. Thanks to Turtle Bay Resort’s massive transformation, the rooms, restaurants and pools are every bit as stunning as their natural surroundings. New ocean bungalows have a naturalistic design with fabulous lanais that feature hanging egg chair swings. Professional surfer Jamie O’Brien leads up the resort’s surf program — and, yes, even kids can take lessons. Stand-up paddleboarding and horseback riding are just some of the other bucket-list activities you could do as a family during your stay.

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RELATED: 15 Best Family Hotels in Hawaii, Reviewed by Experts

the pool and view at turtle bay resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Turtle Bay Resort

Wailea Beach Resort, Maui, HI

Located in a part of Maui that didn’t receive any damage from the recent wildfires, Wailea Beach Resort is a reasonably priced spot in a community of expensive resorts. It’s absolutely glorious: A new adults-only infinity edge pool wows or retreat to it or the on-site spa while kids ages 5 to 12 are having a blast in the supervised club. When it’s time for the family to come together, one of the best beaches on the island is steps away. The resort’s pools with waterslides and splash zones excite kids too, so the big decision of your trip will be where to swim first.

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view from wailea beach resort in maui, good housekeeping's pick for family vacation destinations

Wailea Beach Resort

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Lahaina, HI

Family fun has returned to this West Maui resort after a closure due to the summer wildfires. You’ll find the heart of the action at the pool complex. A sandy-bottom “keiki lagoon” with a waterslide and squirting animal sculptures has the hearts of the younger crowd, while daredevils gravitate to the giant lava tube slide. Kids can sign up for swim lessons from a mermaid (and wear a tail)! Rooftop stargazing, penguin feeding and lei-making are also popular with families. Plus the resort’s iconic Drums of the Pacific Lu’au returns on November 19.

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three kids at the pool wearing mermaid tails at the hyatt regency maui, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Hyatt Regency Maui

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala Coast, HI

By day, this resort’s crescent-shaped, white-sand beach has a treasure trove of shells, lava rocks and tide pools to explore. At night, this paradise on the Island of Hawaii (also called The Big Island) shines floodlights in the water, which attract plankton and, ultimately, the manta rays who feed on it. It’s so fun to spy them from lookout points! The resort’s impressive collection of art and artifacts from the Pacific and Asia is another stand-out feature — older kids might want to listen to the podcasts about some of the pieces.

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and aerial view of the beach at mauna kea beach hotel on the big island, hawaii, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Zach Stovall

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, HI

A chill, theme-park-free way for your kids to meet some of their favorite Disney characters, this resort on Oahu makes a Hawaii vacay even more magical. The resort’s award-winning kids’ club, Aunty’s Beach House, offers themed activities and surprise visits from Mickey and friends. You can also book character breakfasts and dinners with photo-ops. Be warned: With a lazy river, rushing rapids, saltwater snorkeling lagoon and rainbow water jets, your kids may never want to leave the pool area.

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minnie mouse joins in on a hula class at aulani, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Aulani

Sheraton Waikīkī, Honolulu, HI

Ideal for larger groups, the newly renovated two-bedroom Ohana Suites sleeps six comfortably. They have views of Diamond Head crater — just be sure to make a reservation to enter the state monument. The resort is in a perfect spot on the famous Waikīkī beach, and its pools (one with an interactive fountain for kids and a 70-foot water slide) overlook the ocean. Ukulele lessons take place daily in the lobby and a supervised kids’ program offers activities for children ages 2 ½ to 12.

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the infinity pool at sunset at the sheraton waikīkī, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Sheraton Waikīkī

Southern Charm

Put on your elastic-waist pants and get ready for indulgent eats plus boating, theme parks and live music.

a slide that says southern charm with an icon of a horseshoe

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New Orleans, LA

With lots of outdoor music and beignets as a breakfast staple, NOLA is surprisingly kid-friendly. A dreamy day in the Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award-winner starts with a trolley ride from your hotel to City Park. That’s where your fam can have the warm, airy powdered sugar-topped treats at Café du Monde. Tip: It’s far less crowded than its French Quarter location. From there it’s just a short walk across the greenspace to the newish Louisiana Children’s Museum, whose original location was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. Both the indoor and outdoor exhibits are creative and reflect the community — for instance, instead of the typical play space supermarket, there’s a Creole Kitchen.

After lunch, walk to another City Park landmark: the New Orleans Museum of Art. While older kids will want to explore the collection — a wonderful sampler of many kinds of art — little ones may be content meandering in the free outdoor sculpture garden. You can catch impromptu jazz performances on the street, or make a reservation for Preservation Hall, a music venue that allows kids. End the night with an all-ages, stroller-friendly Ghosts of New Orleans walking tour. You’ll visit famous haunted locations in the French Quarter, but it’s not scary. Stay at One11, one of the newest hotels in the French Quarter. Once a sugar mill, it has an appealing vibe, a convenient location and, most importantly, a pool.

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members of preservation hall jazz band, arcade fire and ram of haiti perform on the street in new orleans, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Erika Goldring – Getty Images

Lakeway Resort and Spa, Lakeway, TX

Just outside of Austin, on the shores of Lake Travis, sits this Texas Hill Country resort. Of the three big swimming pools, you’ll probably spend most of your time at the one with the big Adventure Waterslide. Kids even score free chocolate chip cookies and ice pops to enjoy poolside. If you want to get out on the lake, you can rent boats, jet skis or pontoons. End a great day with free s’mores around the campfire.

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an aerial view of the lakeway resort and spa, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Lakeway Resort and Spa

Greenville, SC

Halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte, Greenville combines the best of a big city and a small-town vacation. It boasts the 7th largest children’s museum in the country — mind-blowing for a town that has just 72,000 or so residents. The winner of a 2024 Family Travel Award, Greenville is also home to the Roper Mountain Science Center, a one-of-a-kind attraction. Besides science exhibits, its dino trail, planetarium and farm wow families. A free trolley makes it easy to get around the downtown area, and a 22-mile trail system is perfect for recreation.

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downtown greenville south carolina

DenisTangneyJr – Getty Images

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa, Pigeon Forge, TN

With Flying Elephants, a Piggy Parade and Lucky Duckies, Dollywood’s Country Fair section couldn’t be more adorable if it tried. The Gazillion Bubble Show: Aurora also makes little ones squeal with glee. After a day at the park, check into the on-site resort which keeps the fun going thanks to a fort-style playground, bedtime stories and a splash pad. Resort guests have priority access to some rides, free shuttles to the park and early admission on Saturdays.

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a girl sits on a bear statue in the black bear trail at dollywood, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Dollywood

The Crystal Coast, NC

Winner of a Good Housekeeping 2024 Family Travel Award, the 85 miles of picture-perfect shoreline on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is everything family vacation dreams are made of and then some. The area, also known as the Southern Outer Banks, wows families with 100 locally owned restaurants, towns steeped in pirate history and iconic scenery. Cape Lookout, the lighthouse pictured, is currently getting some TLC to keep it in mint condition. While there are many vacation rentals to book in the region, the waterfront Beaufort Hotel has comfortable and cute rooms, an outdoor pool and a fantastic restaurant.

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cape lookout on the crystal coast

The Crystal Coast/Chuck Hill

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Nashville, TN

It’s hard to find a vacation spot that grandparents genuinely enjoy as much as the grandkids, and this sprawling resort is one of the rare gems. Top of the kids’ list: the Soundwaves water attraction, which boasts a massive outdoor wave pool and indoor surf simulator. Grandparents will want to go for the Delta Riverboat Tours inside the resort’s atrium, and everyone will adore the fountain show as well as the animal encounters.

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soundwaves water park at gaylord opryland resort convention center, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Mid-Atlantic Must-Sees

Explore Victorian enclaves, learn about our nation’s history, sleep under a ball gown or visit a chocolate-themed hotel — or road trip between them all!

a slide that says mid atlantic must sees with an icon of a kayak

Hearst Owned

Congress Hall, Cape May, NJ

With its Victorian mansions, red-and-green trolleys and nostalgic candy stores, this beach town on the southernmost tip of the state is a throwback in the best way possible. Congress Hall, the oldest seaside resort in the country, provides a convenient and charming place to stay. It’s just a few blocks from downtown shops and the beach. The resort’s attendants will set up your family’s beach chairs, umbrellas and towels. Make sure your summertime stay includes a Monday when the resort hosts a weekly carnival with kiddie rides, games and food on its sprawling front lawn.

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an aerial view of the stately congress hall, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Congress Hall

The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA

Checking in at this resort near HersheyPark sets the sweet tone for the rest of your stay: Each family member receives a full-size Hershey bar. Hop on the free shuttle to HersheyPark, where a Jolly Rancher-themed coaster with music and a flavor tunnel opened this year. After a full day of riding — there’s plenty for toddlers to thrill-seekers — retreat to the hotel where several pools including one with a kiddie spray deck await. The next day, head to Hershey’s Chocolate World to learn how the candy bar is made and create your own chocolate bar or peanut butter cup. Mmmm.

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an exterior view of the hotel hershey, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Hershey Entertainment & Resorts

Woodloch Resort, Hawley, PA

Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, this all-inclusive retreat and GH 2024 Family Travel Award winner packs your crew’s vacation with fun activities. There are more than 30 ways to play — from bumper cars to paddle boats, zombie bowling to archery. Best of all, an adventure playground featuring a low ropes course with climbing ladders and play structures was just added this year.

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RELATED: The Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts That Make Vacationing a Breeze

the boats and dock of woodloch resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Woodloch Resort

The Roxbury, Stratton Falls, NY

Fairytale vibes are strong at this quirky retreat in the Catskills. Multi-bedroom suites and cottages have fantastical themes like Crown of the Pendragons, the Faerie Forest and the ultimate kid-pleaser, Cinderella’s Gown. An 18-foot ball gown serves as a canopy for one of the beds. Plus, the bathroom is built inside an enormous pumpkin carriage. The whimsy continues outside to the heated pool area, with twisted poles and a crooked roof on the changing rooms.

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a cinderellathemed room at the roxbury, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destinations

The Roxbury/Nils Schlebusch

Washington, D.C. and Outskirts

The best things to do in the nation’s capital are free. See the newly refurbished Lincoln Memorial, National Museum of African American History and Culture or the largest library in the world — The Library of Congress. FYI for your wannabe astronauts: The National Air and Space Museum requires free timed-entry passes, so book in advance. If you plan, you can also book a free tour of the White House. Just a half-mile walk from the White House, the Washington Marriott at Metro Center is a convenient place to stay. Balance all the educational activities with a few days of play in the D.C. outskirts. The National Harbor area is a waterfront wonderland, with a carousel, giant Ferris wheel, summer concerts, holiday festivities, outdoor movie nights and boat tours. Stay at the newly renovated Gaylord National Harbor & Convention Center, which features an indoor pool, outdoor kids’ splash zone and year-round family programming.

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the lincoln memorial in washington, dc, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Marquis Perkins, Destination DC

Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, VA

After a day of learning about the founding fathers (and the meaning behind those lyrics from Hamilton), families can retreat to Kingsmill to cool off and unwind. Your crew can paddleboard on the James River or float in the pool’s lazy river. Most accommodations are multi-bedroom condos with a kitchen, making it easy to cook some of your own meals. Wear the kids out before bed by running around the sprawling green space.

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a family jetskis at kingsmill resort, a good housekeeping pick for best family vacation destination

Kingsmill Resort

Camelback Resort, Tannersville, PA

Adventure awaits families year-round at Camelback Resort in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. The winter months bring skiing, snowboarding and tubing. In fact, the tubing spot is just outside of the resort’s massive indoor waterpark that’s packed with thrilling slides as well as adorable attractions for little ones. In summer, Camelbeach, the state’s largest outdoor waterpark, opens so kids can literally slide into vacation. The resort’s recently refreshed guest rooms have mountain decor and comfy furnishings, plus they come in a variety of sizes so don’t be shy about inviting the whole gang.

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camelback resort

Camelback Resort

Pacific Northwest: A Breath of Fresh Air

Enjoy coastal landscapes, serene mountains and outdoorsy adventures in this picturesque region of the country.

pacific northwest design card

Good Housekeeping

Portland, OR

Everyone in your family will find something to love about Portland: Artsy teens will be impressed with the dozens of vintage clothing shops and vinyl record stores. Outdoorsy kids will adore the city’s famous bike culture. Little ones will be in their element at kid-focused attractions, like the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. And for you? There are breweries galore, and most welcome kids. If you’re bringing your fur baby on the trip, book a room at Staypineapple Hotel Rose Downtown. Winner of a 2024 Family Travel Award, the hotel chain rolls out the red carpet for people and pets.

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mount hood view with portland downtown skyline

David Gn Photography – Getty Images

Suncadia Resort, Cle Elm, WA

A sprawling, all-seasons resort about 80 miles east of Seattle is fantastic for outdoorsy families. Some 40+ miles of hiking and biking trails surround the forested mountain property. Summer brings river float trips and fly fishing, while the winter months usher in cross-country skiing, ice-skating and snow showing. Vacation rentals accommodate groups of all sizes, and guests rave about the food. Some ingredients are even harvested from the on-site garden. The cherry on top: The resort’s conversation and sustainability efforts are admirable. It’s committed to leaving 70% of the property undeveloped in perpetuity.

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suncadia resort

Suncadia Resort

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