If there’s one thing that family vacations are often not, it’s relaxing. If anything, traveling with kids can be more stressful than if you just stayed home and hit the local swimming pool. But one way parents can ease the stress of summer travel is by booking their vacation at an all-inclusive family resort. And no, that doesn’t mean flying your ‘rich’ kids to Mexico or the Caribbean.
It’s a common misconception that there aren’t all-inclusive resorts in the United States. There are, or at least hotels and resorts ⏤ many of which are targeted to families ⏤ that offer all-inclusive packages complete with meals, activities, and structured daily programs to keep kids of all ages entertained. Some are billed as family summer camps, some are beach resorts, and still others are luxurious dude ranches. They’re located in every region, horseback riding seems to be a common activity, and childcare is almost always built-in to the price. Which isn’t nearly as expensive, in most cases, as one might assume for the level of accommodations and amenities.
But which all-inclusive resorts in the United States are right for your next family vacation? Here are five of the best.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Rate per night: From $151 per adult (based on a 7-night stay), add $96 per child over 5 (kids under 4-years-old stay free).
Club Med is the world’s original all-inclusive resort ⏤ having first opened on the island of Majorca in 1950 ⏤ and Sandpiper Bay is the chain’s only US location. Targeted toward families, and athletic ones at that, the resort (which was renovated in 2011) focuses heavily on sports and advertises state-of-the-art equipment and top professional instructors ⏤ from golf, tennis, and volleyball, to yoga, sailing, and water skiing. Even better, there’s a kids club for ages 4- to 17-year-old complete with tennis academy, circus school, and a flying trapeze.
Tanque Verde Ranch
Rate per night: Starting at $534 per adult with one child.
Tuscon’s Tanque Verde dude ranch is all about the kids. In addition to horseback riding lessons, three squares a day, and cowboy cookouts, the daily program for children is broken up by age ⏤ Buckaroos (4-6), Wranglers (7-9), and Outlaws (10-12) ⏤ and includes tennis, hiking, arts & crafts, and more. They also offer day and summer overnight camps.
Tyler Place Family Resort
Highgate Springs, Vermont
Rate per night: From $172 per adult, add $128 per child over 18 months.
It’s not surprising that a resort with ‘family’ in the name would be kid-friendly; this renowned vacation spot on Vermont’s Lake Champlain has been attracting families in search of Green-Mountain fun since 1933. The list of family activities is long and includes everything from disc golf, paddle boats, and fishing, to a trampoline park, pony rides, and bikes for everybody. There is extensive infant and toddler care, play centers for all age groups, and guaranteed “parents night out” whenever you want one.
Flathead Lake Lodge
Rate per night: Starts at $3,998 per week.
Located on Montana’s Flathead Lake not far from Glacier National Park, the Lodge is as much luxury dude ranch as it is an uber-expensive family summer camp. Accommodations range from rustic cabins to historic lodges, meals are billed as family-style western cuisine, and the list of activities included in the price is as long as the rope with which you’ll learn to lasso a steer: fly fishing lessons, all-you-can-ride horseback riding, and even sailboat racing on two historic 50-foot sloops. Also, mice racing and barn dances!
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Rate per night: Starts at$329 per adult; add $65 per child age 10-17 (kids under 9-years-old stay free).
Built on Michigan’s Mackinac Island in 1887, the Grand Hotel is a resort that harkens back to the days of horse-and-buggies and playing croquet in top hats. In addition to lawn chess, swimming, and horseback riding (the resort has its own stable), afternoon and dinner children’s programs are included in the all-inclusive plan (which also features a 5-course meal nightly) and babysitting is also available.