The Best U.S. Hotels for Family Vacations this Winter

Do you prefer your winter powder in the form of sand or snow? Either way, we’ve got you covered with this list of our favorite family getaways for winter breaks. Whether you want to bundle up or take it all off, we’ve got ways to keep you kids romping in the waves or skiing down the slopes at these luxury hotels and resorts.

9100 Marsac Ave, Park City, UT 84060, USA
Fans of the Montage brand’s Laguna Beach and Beverly Hills flagships will love this mountain version, a ski-in, ski-out hotel wedged into the head of Empire Canyon. The sprawling, Craftsman-style manor debuted in 2010, solidifying Deer Valley’s standing as one of North America’s most luxurious ski resorts. Service shines, starting with the “Mountain Host,” who greets guests in the majestic lobby rotunda. Up the grand staircase, the full-service Vista Lounge acts as a communal living room, with vaulted ceilings, exposed wood beams, floor-to-ceiling windows, and leather furnishings gathered around limestone fireplaces. To further entertain guests, there’s also a museum-quality collection of Western art, including Carl Runguis panoramas, John James Audubon prints, and Frederic Remington portraits.

The hotel’s X-shaped footprint means nearly every room has small deck with mountain or valley views. Averaging around 600 square feet, large guestrooms are airy and inviting with lofted ceilings and soothing natural hues. Remote-controlled gas fireplaces are the centerpiece of each room, though the bath suite with heated limestone floors, marble vanity, rain shower, and soaking tub could occupy your entire evening.
Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa
A Hawaiian fantasyland on Oahu’s more remote leeward coast, about 40 minutes from Waikiki, Aulani is so seductive—for all ages—that many guests are loath to leave the property at all. And who can blame them? The beach is an idyllic cove (albeit a man-made one) stocked with kayaks, boogie boards, and everything else little beach bums could want. Then there are the three pools, including one for adults only and one filled with tropical fish for snorkelers-in-training, two impressive waterslides, and the biggest crowd-pleaser of them all, a 900-foot-long lazy river where guests, big and small, splash around on inner tubes as they meander around a faux-rock grotto. Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, and the rest—all in their vacation outfits—make occasional cameos at the breakfast buffet or by (sometimes, in) the pool. But while Aulani is most assuredly every kid’s dream, it is not every parent’s nightmare. The resort decor is more traditionally Hawaiian than obnoxiously Magic Kingdom; the lobby is built to recall an old canoe house, on a grand scale, and is covered in murals, painted by local artists, depicting island life. Hawaiian storytellers gather around a fire pit at night, and rooms have warm woods, with a single subtle reference to the Mouse King—a wooden carving of Mickey with a surfboard and ukulele that doubles as a desk lamp. Perhaps best of all, the Aulani has an outstanding, supervised kids’ club that’s free to guests ages 3 to 12. Babysitters are available for kids as young as six weeks old.
2901 Osceola Parkway
A Disney-fied take on an African safari experience, the Animal Kingdom Lodge feels like a trip around the world. The thatched-roof main building follows the theme in the grand lobby, where a mud fireplace meets soaring wood columns. Guest rooms are outfitted with carved-wood furniture and private balconies; some have bunk beds perfect for families, but the savannah-view rooms are worth the splurge for the chance to see zebras and giraffes up close as you sip your morning coffee. You have your choice of watering holes: the 10,000-square-foot Uzima pool has a waterslide, wading area, and two hot tubs, while the Samawati Springs pool, though half the size, has an even bigger waterslide and adjoining playground. Dining options are appropriately over-the-top. At Boma, the market-style buffet features carving stations and flavors from 50 African nations; Jiko pairs a Mediterranean-inspired menu and sub-Saharan flavors with South African wines. Cultural representatives from countries including Botswana, Namibia, and Kenya lead free tours of the resort, pointing out details of the continent’s art, cuisine, and natural history in its design. But nothing is as far-flung as it seems—the Lodge and villas are connected to the rest of Walt Disney World and the Orlando Airport by complimentary bus transportation.
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Golf Club & Spa, 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92011, USA
From the moment you step inside Carlsbad’s Park Hyatt Aviara, you feel like you’re on a retreat. A quiet soundtrack and the hotel’s signature jasmine scent permeate the airy lobby. And between the hotel and the ocean sits a garden that may lure you out before you even check in. Palm Court is a fantasia of palms, along with orange blossoms, jasmine, hibiscus, and parrot lilies. In keeping with the serene theme, the 329 guest rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, with views of the local foothills, the LPGA-frequented golf course, one of the two pools, or the nearby Batiquitos Lagoon. The hotel offers plenty of ways to fill your days, with an upscale spa (try the Carlsbad Sea Stone Massage) as well as tennis, volleyball, badminton, and bocce courts. For a peak California experience, sign up for a private surf lesson—which wraps with a gourmet meal on the beach—or sign up for yoga under the palm trees. Pro tip: The hotel is so pet friendly—with “care stations” scattered throughout, plus extra plush dog beds—you’ll feel guilty if you leave Fido home with a sitter.
1435 Simonton Street
Just a few blocks from the bustle of Old Town and Duval Street, this Caribbean-style resort is a serene retreat with a swath of white-sand beach, a pool concierge, and a private pier for fishing or gazing out over clear turquoise waters. All of the contemporary rooms and suites are generously sized and have private balconies with views of the pool, courtyard, or ocean, but the real draw remains right outside your door. Guests can snorkel off the shore, face off on the giant chess board, or simply sway between two palms in one of the beachside hammocks. They also have privileges at sister resort Casa Marina, just up the beach, including at the oceanfront Spa al Mare. Have kids in tow? The hotel offers a full roster of activities, plus babysitting services for parents who want to hit the town.
16641 La Cantera Pkwy, San Antonio, TX 78256, USA
Following a multi-million-dollar overhaul in 2015, this ranch-style Hill Country resort—which is part of the Destination Hotels collection and less than 20 minutes from the airport—has emerged as a spot where both families and the adults-only crowd feel at home. For the former, there are plenty of places for fun on the 550-acre property, including five pools (one is just for kids, with two water slides and a toddler splash area), an arcade (for ages 13 and up), tennis courts, and miles of scenic trails. The hotel even has a partnership with high-end baby gear label Babiege, which grants guests discounts on crib, stroller, and accessory rentals they might need to enjoy a day out. Meanwhile, grown-ups will appreciate amenities like two championship golf courses, Texas-inspired treatments at the Loma de Vida Spa & Wellness (set on one of the highest points in San Antonio, with views to match), an adults-only pool, and private poolside cabanas (available for a fee), which come stocked with fridges, HDTVs, local snacks, and a personal attendant.

The 496 guestrooms also cater to a variety of needs. The main rooms and suites feature great views, NEST products, rain showerheads and plush furnishings, while the villas set on the golf course offer plenty of space for families, plus a separate reception, complimentary golf carts, oversized tubs, and their own pool bar, cafe, and market. For those seeking some privacy, there’s SEVEN, a 21-and-over floor with a dedicated concierge, lounge, upgraded bath products, private check-in, and more. As you might expect, the selection of eight restaurants and bars is equally varied, ranging from a grab-and-go market, poolside grill, and casual cantina, to the fine-dining Signature, with menus by James Beard Award-winning chef and San Antonio native Andrew Weismann.
198 State Road 592 Santa Fe, New Mexico
Combining the service of the Four Seasons, which took over the property in 2012, with a Santa Fe vibe—albeit a contemporary take on Southwestern style—this hotel manages to feel luxurious without sacrificing authenticity. Its location, about 10 miles outside Santa Fe, also gives guests a true taste of the high desert—plus views of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Rio Grande River valley—while still granting easy access to downtown (via a complimentary shuttle, if you so desire). The Four Seasons invested over $1.1 million in landscaping improvements, the Monte Vista Terrace, and other additional offerings like the Adventure Center and Chef’s Table. Originally a privately owned ranch, the property dates back to the early 1900s. Previous owners include Guestward Ho! authors Barbara and Bill Hooton (then, the estate was known as Rancho del Monte) and, between 1968 and 1992, Betty Egan, who gave the property its current name (a reflection of Santa Fe’s tagline: The Land of Enchantment). John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart are just two of its legendary guests.
7575 E Princess Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85255, USA
Opened in 1987, the relatively youthful Fairmont Scottsdale Princess may not have the history of some of its neighboring resorts, but the North Scottsdale spot—with its fountained plazas, Mexican colonial–style architecture, and 65 scenic acres—has everything needed for a vacation in the sun. It’s big and it’s busy, and there is always something for everybody to do—just one of the reasons it’s popular for family events such as reunions, school holidays, and weddings. Drive a ball down a fairway on the two 18-hole championship golf courses (one of which hosts an annual PGA tournament), relax by one of the six pools (the newest, Sunset Beach pool, is surrounded by 9,000 square feet of white sand), or give yourself over to the innovative therapies and unique fitness offerings at the Well & Being Spa.

All the 750 rooms and suites are fresh and comfortable, with terraces, wet bars, and oversize bathrooms. Some, especially the casitas, are located about a five- to 10-minute walk from the main building, but golf carts are always just a call away. The wealth of top-rated foodie options—which include the Mexican-accented La Hacienda and the pan-Latin Toro, both by chef Richard Sandoval, and Bourbon Steak from chef Michael Mina—help make this one of the best destination-dining resorts in town.
601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito
Spend the night nestled under the Golden Gate Bridge in the most dignified of accommodations: the former living quarters of high-ranking officers in the U.S. Army. Cavallo Point is the result of the luxurious reimagining of a cluster of military lodges located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just over the bridge in Marin County. Today, the 142-room hotel serves as a retreat for in-the-know travelers and locals looking for an easy, elevated escape from everyday city life. Original brick fireplaces and beamed ceilings mingle with modern finishes and furnishings, such as butter-soft leather sofas and whitewashed Adirondack chairs. The expansive grounds are meant to be explored on foot or bicycle. The Wellness Weekend package includes all meals, prepared with an emphasis on health at Murray Circle restaurant, morning yoga classes, guided hikes, a spa treatment, nightly wine receptions, and plenty of free moments to soak in the serene meditation pool—the very best kind of boot camp.
Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275, USA
On arrival at Terranea, it’s natural to release a big, tension-melting sigh. The resort occupies 100-plus acres along the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, providing expansive views of the Pacific and a sense of spaciousness that’s rare in the city. The Mediterranean-style resort hotel spent $40 million in 2017 to upgrade the property, which includes 582 guest rooms and suites, eight bungalows, four swimming pools (take the kids to the 140-foot waterslide at the Resort Pool), and one acclaimed golf course. At its upscale wellness-minded spa, ingredients grown on the grounds go into the treatments, which are designed and timed to improve the body’s circadian rhythm.

Pure pampering aside, regulars return in part for the unparalleled access to dozens of postcard-pretty hiking trails, including a naturalist-led walk (there’s also a falconry program). One of the resort’s nine restaurants can meet virtually any craving that hits, but the mar’sel‘s scallops with basil risotto should be non-negotiable. Pro tip: Book a visit in December or January to watch the sun rise and set from the same vantage point—and maybe even spot some humpback whales.
610 S W End St, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
The Gant feels like your mountain home away from home. Tucked away on five acres at the base of Aspen Mountain, the Gant’s condos offer the comforts of staying in a home but with the service perks of a hotel. Guests can choose from one-, two-, three-, or four-bedroom condos, making this a great option for families and friends on ski getaways. Condos feature full kitchens so you don’t have to worry about booking reservations in town each night, and the staff can arrange for grocery and liquor delivery right to your door. Condos also have wood-burning fireplaces, large living rooms for lounging, and patios or balconies to soak in the fresh mountain air. A housekeeper comes to tidy up each day while you’re off hiking or skiing, and families have the option to book child care. The Gant is just steps from the Silver Queen Gondola and offers ski storage and overnight tuning. After a day outdoors, guests can relax weary muscles in one of the Gant’s three hot tubs.
30801 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA
This five-star beachfront hotel toes the line between being a hub of activity and a luxurious, only-in-Southern-California hideaway. For restoration, head to the sprawling spa for a customized wellness-oriented treatment or a meditation class. Mind cleared, make your way to the on-site outfitter Compass Sports—where staff will coordinate local mountain biking, paddleboarding, hiking, and surfing expeditions—or to the palm tree–lined, mosaic-tiled pool. Big ocean views and a light, airy design define the 250 rooms; for guests seeking extra solitude and space, there are bungalow suites, which are essentially private beach houses. At the hotel’s three eateries, it’s all seasonal all the time, from the fresh morning juices to evening cocktails. That ethos peaks at the fine-dining restaurant Studio, where executive chef Craig Strong creates elegantly plated French-meets-California dishes using locally sourced fish and meat, along with vegetables picked from the hotel’s 1,000-square-foot garden. Pro tip: In a setting this transporting, you almost want to break into song. Good news—the hotel will rent out mini guitars to guests for the duration of their stay.
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Part of the Grande Lakes resort complex, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando has enough amenities to keep a family happily occupied without ever having to leave the property. Accommodations feature private balconies with garden or lake views and separate tubs and showers, while club-level suites offer snacks and refreshments throughout the day and exclusive activities such as photography lessons with the hotel’s photo concierge, but the rooms aren’t why you came. Cool off at the clover-shaped pool—the lazy river next-door at the JW Marriott is also available—or with a zero-gravity massage, performed while you sway in a hammock in the spa’s rooftop garden. The Greg Norman–designed golf course has a caddie concierge program; kids play free with an adult. Between the two large hotels on the Grande Lakes property, there are a dozen dining options—try Highball & Harvest, where the farm-to-table cuisine is made with local ingredients and served alongside beer from its own nano-brewery. The $35 daily resort fee covers theme-park shuttles, kids’ club activities, daily bike rentals, driving range privileges, and WiFi and phone calls.
52068 W Fork Rd #38, Dolores, CO 81323, USA
Among the most lauded hotel openings in recent years, Dunton Hot Springs is a glitterati mainstay, with its batch of former mining community cabins that look straight out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue. You don’t have to book a pricey stay at this Relais & Chateaux property to be part of the experience, however—the spa is open to the public. Make an appointment for the indulgent, only-in-Colorado Dolores hot-stone massage, which uses heated stones culled from the Dolores River to work out your kinks. Then, take a soak in the on-site sulfuric hot springs, which were once a restorative playground for the Ute Indians.
61 Hawks Cay Blvd, Duck Key, FL 33050, USA
You don’t have to go far to find fun at Hawks Cay, nor do you have to go far to relax by the water there. The resort, which takes up much of tiny Duck Key, is known for its lagoon, five pools (including one reserved for adults and another featuring a pirate ship slide), and a Dolphin Connection program that offers complimentary viewings and hands-on experiences. Water sports are plentiful as well, with kayaks, paddleboards, and boats to rent, and guests can book fishing trips, scuba and SNUBA diving, and kiteboarding instruction. There’s also a Cliff Drysdale tennis program, a spa and fitness center, and a kids club. The resort closed for one year after Hurricane Irma, reopening in September 2018 after a $50 million renovation to the main hotel, a project that included the redesign of all 177 rooms and suites, as well as the creation of a new upscale steakhouse, a seafood-focused café, and a marketplace with to-go options—these supplement the three poolside grills and cocktail bars. Privately owned two-and three-bedroom homes are also available to rent through the resort.
1000 Mountain Rest Rd., New Paltz, New York
A historic New York state resort, Mohonk Mountain House first opened in 1869 in the Hudson Valley, about 90 miles from New York City. This Victorian castle has welcomed five U.S. presidents (including Bill Clinton) in addition to countless artists, authors, and actors. Surrounded by thousands of acres of nature, the resort is perched on a cliff overlooking Mohonk Lake. Guests travel specifically for the dramatic, vibrant fall foliage and expertly manicured gardens. Rates are all-inclusive and comprehensive—all meals and activities are included for a single nightly rate. Yoga classes, boating, tennis, horseback riding, and rock climbing are all popular activities. During the winter, ice skating and cross-country skiing lure guests into the great outdoors. Rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and a huge spa with heated indoor and outdoor pool create a peaceful retreat.
3550 Wailea Alanui Dr, Wailea, HI 96753, USA
Opened in 2013, Andaz’s first and only Hawaiian property has four cascading infinity pools (plus many more private plunge pools) and an enviable location on Mokapu Beach, meaning guests are never more than a few steps from water. The 290 rooms and suites are decked out in stylish, contemporary furnishings—some even come with Viking grills on private lanais—and 10 luxurious villas feature up to four bedrooms, with the largest maxing out at a sprawling 4,000 square feet. The resort’s full calendar of activities offers everything from coconut leaf weaving to kayaking, outrigger canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding—plus GoPro shooting and editing lessons to best capture it all. At Morimoto Maui, one of four restaurants on the property, renowned chef Masaharu Morimoto combines Japanese and Western influences in inspired dishes like yellowtail “pastrami,” served with a gin-spiked crème fraîche.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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