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 13 of the best.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Rate per night: From $136 per adult (based on a 7-night stay), 50 percent off for kids ages 4 to 15 (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 a tennis academy, circus school, and a flying trapeze. The 50+ acre property also has a newly renovated championship golf course opening at the resort for summer 2021 as well as a freshly renovated spa. Just keep in mind you’re on the St. Lucie River here (with a roped-off swimmable section where you can take Hobie Cats for a spin, too) and not on the beach, which is some 8 miles away.
Tanque Verde Ranch
Rate per night: Starting at $510 per adult with one child.
Tucson’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 $121 per adult, add $88 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 lakeside new England fun since 1933. The list of family all-inclusive activities is long and includes everything from disc golf, paddle boats, and fishing, to a trampoline park, pony rides, and bikes for everybody. There’s 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 $4,123 per week per adult, $3,213 for ages 6-17, $1,918 for ages 3-5, $210 for under 3.
Located on Montana’s Flathead Lake not far from Glacier National Park, the Lodge is as much a 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 $323 per adult (kids under 18-years-old stay free, with reduced prices on meal packages for kids ages 6 to 17 and free meals for kids under 6).
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.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Rate per night: Starts at $655 per adult; $491 for kids under 12.
It’s hard to imagine a more iconic way to experience Alaska as a family than from your base within Denali National Park at this all-inclusive lodge. Included activities range from walks across alpine ridges and tundra valleys with naturalist guides to paddling a canoe on your own with your crew across Wonder Lake. Do note that daycare in not offered here, so together time is guaranteed.
Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge
Rate per night: Starts at $3000 per person for two nights (kids 12 and under pay 2/3 of full price).
With just five cabins and a max of 10 to 12 guests (and as many staff to guide and serve them), the family-owned Kachemak Bay Wilderness Lodge offers an intimate Alaska experience within the wilds Kachemak Bay State Park, in the southern Kenai Peninsula. It doesn’t come cheap, but a typical day here is unforgettable and might see you hiking on a glacier, sea kayaking to a sea bird rookery or hooking a salmon from the beach before settling in for a five-course spread of Alaskan seafood and organic vegetables grown onsite.
Lodge on Little St. Simons Island
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
Rate per night: $475 for two adults, kids under 12 pay $100 per night, $200 per night for kids for over 12.
Georgia’s short stretch of Atlantic coastline is often overlooked, despite being staggeringly beautiful and wild. Make the most of it with a stay at this rustic-luxe all-inclusive lodge on Little St. Simons Island, accessed by boat only. Here, you can bike along sandy paths lined with oak trees to reach seven miles of private beach. Rates include all meals and naturalist-led activities like birding along the Atlantic Migratory Flyway and fishing within the pristine estuaries surrounding the lodge.
Coffee Creek Ranch
Trinity Center, California
Rate per night: From $279 per adult, per night, $239 for kids ages 6 to 12, $219 for kids ages 3 to 5, free under 3.
Set along a stream that’s great for family fun a la trout fishing, panning for gold and tubing, this 367-acre family-owned ranch in Northern California brims with old-fashioned diversions. Guests stay in secluded knotty pine cabins equipped with wood-burning stoves and the included activities range from pony rides for your toddlers to archery, hiking, and horsemanship clinics, in addition to some of the state’s most gorgeous trail riding that’s just out the door.
Red Reflet Ranch
Ten Sleep, Wyoming
Rates per night: From $2,650 for three nights per adult, kids rates range from 50 to 80 percent of adult rate, free for kids under three.
All riding levels are welcome at this working dude ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming that makes for an authentic and all-inclusive family vacation in the true American West. Guests can ride with wranglers during cattle drives and see the branding process as well as experience more touristy activities like ATV rides, fly fishing, and skeet shooting. Accommodations are in fully stocked ranch houses and chalets that can accommodate couples up to an extended family of 14.
Vista Verde Guest Ranch
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Rate per night: From $500 per night per adult ($100 less for kids ages six to 13).
With as much to love in winter as in summer, this working ranch near the epic skiing at Steamboat Springs (and incredible horseback riding terrain in the warmer months) makes for a heavenly Colorado vacation with the family. For the most comfortable stay, upgrade to one of the log cabins with fireplaces and mountain views. The included kids program is broken into three different age groups and among the many activities offered are riding lessons, trail rides, cross country skiing, archery, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and more.
Salmon Falls Resort
Rate per night: From $350 per night for adults
Right at the entrance to Alaska’s Inside Passage, within the Tongass National Forest, this waterfront resort in Ketchikan comes at a more affordable price tag for families than many other Alaska all-inclusive properties. Accommodations, three meals a day, fishing gear, airport transfers and fish processing are all wrapped into the rates at Salmon Falls Resort, and you can add on adventures like float plane fishing trips and shrimping excursions to make the most of nature’s bounty all around.
Drowsy Water Ranch
Rates per night: From $2,500 per week for adults, $2,200 for teens ages 13 to 17, $1,900 per week for ages 6 to 12, $1,300 per week for ages 2 to 5, $700 per week for under 2 ($450 per week discount for non-riders)
Generations of families that return year after year love the unpretentious hospitality and authentic feel of things at this working, family-run ranch in Granby, Colorado where the owner’s grandkids might lead your own kids around to get to know the lay of the land. If you’ve come to ride—or learn to ride as a family—Drowsy Water Ranch is the place, with dedicated programs for different age groups and ability levels that are steeped in true western horsemanship. When you stay for the week, a whitewater rafting trip is included in the all-inclusive rates, which also wraps in all your riding and meals and a comfortable stay in one of the lodge rooms or private cabins scattered through the valley.