Planning the perfect family vacation begins with finding the right place to stay. But locating the perfect resort or hotel for the entire group isn’t always easy. Fortunately, New England offers a range of options. Read on for our roundup of some of the best family resorts and hotels in the region. All are recent Yankee “Best of New England” Editors’ Picks or the subject of a Yankee feature.
For decades, families have descended on this northern Vermont resort to unplug from the rigors of everyday life. There’s no cell service, and while Wi-Fi exists here, owners Gene and Lilly Devlin make it only briefly available, in the mornings and evenings. That leaves wide-open stretches of the day for guests to swim, kayak, play tennis, and take advantage of the wilderness setting (two lakes and more than a thousand acres of woods). The resort is staffed with counselors for the kiddos, while adult programming (hikes, massages, canoe trips) is also on offer. Learn more about Quimby Country in the feature “Disconnect to Connect” in the May/June 2019 issueof Yankee.
Jay Peak Resort is about much more than winter these days, especially since the construction of a host of new lodging options in town — including the resort’s marquee hotel, the Hotel Jay, which has 170 rooms and suites, all with kitchenettes or full kitchens. Enjoy the 60,000-square-foot indoor water park, the aerial tram, the 18-hole golf course (daycare facilities come in handy here), and — if you just can’t wait for winter — the indoor ice rink. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
A lofty aerie among Vermont’s resorts, the Mountain Top boasts 350 scenic acres hugging the shore of the Chittenden Reservoir within the Green Mountain National Forest. Accommodations range from rooms and suites in the main lodge to spacious cabins to larger guesthouses, all furnished in traditional “great camp” style (massive fireplaces, wrought iron and rough-hewn timber, big leather armchairs). Canoe, kayak, swim, or take a guided pontoon boat ride on the reservoir, or take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. Other activities include tennis, trap shooting, a full equestrian program, and a kids’ adventure camp. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
This all-inclusive resort near the top of Lake Champlain offers water sports for bigger kids and adults, story time and age-appropriate play for toddlers, and everything needed to accommodate infants. And when you’re ready for a vacation from the kids? Book a staff sitter and mingle with other grownups on a relaxing champagne cruise. Named a 2019 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Kid-Friendly Lodging.”
A four-season resort focused on fun for the whole family, Smugglers’ Notch was recently named the#1 Family Friendly Resort in the East by the 2020 readers of SKI Magazine. Parents love the award-winning kids’ programs for ages 6 weeks to 17 years, and the 8 pools, 4 waterslides, year-round Zip Line Canopy Tours, and Treetop Obstacle Course help seal the deal.
Up to 10 guests can relax in this 4,000-square-foot four-bedroom retreat, located near pristine Purity Lake and King Pine Ski Area. There’s access to the amenities at neighboring Purity Spring Resort, including waterskiing, tennis, a pool, and a fitness center, plus the lodge has its own 20-foot vaulted-ceiling great room, playroom with wet bar, and nine-seat home theater with a 150-inch projection screen (where better to binge-watch your current TV addiction if the rain rolls in?). Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Luxury Family Lodging.”
Located on 25 acres overlooking the Moat Mountain Range and Saco River Valley, the resort offers a variety of accommodations and amenities, including a spa, an arcade, and two onsite restaurants. Don’t miss the Kahuna Laguna – a 40,000-square-foot indoor water park – and free “Kids Klub,” with activities such as capture-the-flag and craft time. Named a 2013 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Resort.”
Rolling surf and squawking gulls may muffle the joyful squeals of children running down the mile-plus strand of Wells Beach, but that doesn’t mean they’re not having fun. This compound of motor inns and cottages dominates the beach end of Mile Road, which means guests step out their doors to the beach instead of hiking down from the other side of the marsh. Cottages and some motel efficiency units have kitchens for preparing family meals. For large family gatherings, some units can sleep up to 10 in multiple bedrooms. But the point of staying here is to enjoy the kid-friendly beach, where gentle waves and gradual flats just below the resort make good, safe swimming for beginners. Named a 2019 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Kid-Friendly Lodging.”
Both retro-cool and budget-friendly, this 21st-century makeover of a motor lodge is colorful and upbeat, with a mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings in 30 guest rooms spread throughout four buildings. The centerpiece of the resort is the main lodge, which has a big lounge on the upper level and a restaurant below that opens out onto the pool. Keeping little ones entertained is a cinch, with complimentary use of beach cruisers and kids’ bikes, lawn games, shuffle puck and Ping-Pong tables, and Saturday-night movies. Plus, the shops and attractions of Dock Square are just a 15-minute stroll away. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
This 550-acre oceanfront resort on the Phippsburg Peninsula has long been a favorite of families, who come for the blend of contemporary amenities with old-timey flavor, eye-candy scenery, twice-weekly children’s programs, and weekly special events ranging from bingo to lobster bakes. The icing on the cake is the array of recreational facilities — oceanfront saltwater pool, tennis courts, nine-hole championship golf course, three-hole regulation course — plus boat tours, sailing trips, kayaking and mountain biking excursions, candlepin bowling, and a spa. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
After the tykes have had their fill of the tennis courts, the private quarter-mile beach, biking, water sports, and the on-site farm, they can jump into hands-on and educational activities galore. All summer long, the tony resort offers a slew of programs that run from pirate cruises and seal-watching to clam digging and scavenger hunts, all led by CPR-and-first-aid-certified instructors who seem to be having nearly as much fun as the kids. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
Imagine: You’re soaking in the rays as your kids paddle around this resort’s main pool overlooking the ocean when a 1950s-style Good Humor truck pulls up, doling out free ice cream for all. It’s this kind of amenity that makes the Wequassett so memorable for young guests. Other highlights for wee ones and their families include a free shuttle to a secluded Cape Cod National Seashore beach, a nautical-themed playground, and movie nights, but the pièce de résistance is the Children’s Center, offering programming for toddlers and kids such as scavenger hunts and a day shadowing the property’s pastry chef (perfect for budding foodies). Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
Located a hop, skip, and jump from the Museum of Science, this property has thought of everything to dazzle pint-size guests. And while welcome toys plucked from a treasure chest and animal-print mini robes are sweet, it’s the amenities that families can enjoy together that really put this hotel over the top: a fleet of bikes and tandem kayaks plus two new paddleboards for exploring the Charles River and the city; a kids’ menu at the on-site eatery Bambara, helmed by Barbara Lynch empire ex-pat David Bazirgan; fidget spinners and a balloon animal–making magician to entertain little ones during complimentary wine hours for adults. Cheers to that. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
Few properties in the city are better located for multigenerational satisfaction, as the Langham is located a few minutes walk from Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the New England Aquarium, and the Freedom Trail. Rather spend the day chilling at the hotel instead? Grab the kids and head to the Chocolate Bar brunch, an epic buffet of elaborate and creative sweets. Afterward, let everyone make the most of their food coma with a nap in your adjoining family suites. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
It’s easy to see that the comfortable modern suites here were designed with families in mind. The outstanding indoor water park is open only to lodge guests; the water slides are the big draw, but there’s also mini golf, a carousel, and a candlepin bowling alley. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
The property’s 18 custom structures are one-of-a-kind architectural gems that range from the Helicopter Cottage, which boasts a bar and entertainment center inside a fully restored 1968 helicopter, to the Treehouse Cottage, a two-story structure situated 32 feet off the ground, atop a tree. Set in the heart of the Litchfield Hills, Winvian is within easy distance to many of the region’s kid-friendly highlights, including Lake Compounce, the berry-picking fields at Bethlehem’s March Farm, and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy in Litchfield. If you simply want to stick close to home base, though, stroll through the wildflowers to a pond where great blue herons take flight or opt for a longer hike in the surrounding White Memorial Foundation, a 4,000-acre wildlife sanctuary.
In a class all its own, Ocean House, which was named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Choice for “Best Luxury Escape,” boasts architectural splendor, Atlantic views, and a level of service that should be experienced by everyone who appreciates superlatives. Drinks on the veranda are the perfect entrée to this Gilded Age hotel, meticulously rebuilt to preserve as many original 1868 features as possible. But this hotel plays well with kids, too. Coupled with its nearby sister property, the Weekapaug Inn, it offers pools, private beaches, and special programming like scavenger hunts, fishing and nature trips, and arts and crafts lessons. The summer “Sand Castles” program provides morning and evening baby-sitting services for kids between 5 and 10 years old.
Yes, Rhode Island is the Ocean State, but a family property directly on a private beach is still a rarity here. So forget that the rooms at the Pleasant View Inn aren’t fancy or huge. Stepping out the door and into the surf is the real luxury here. Just hearing the roll of waves throughout your stay is priceless, and a heated outdoor pool and an arcade will keep kids happy as clams (a three-meals-a-day restaurant and full bar are added stay-put conveniences). Book a balcony room, so you can unwind in the sea air after the littles’ bedtime. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
When you’re bringing a posse of little ones to the beach, you want a spacious room that’s steps from the sand … and an indoor pool as your rainy-day backup plan. This clean, comfy hotel across the street from Newport’s largest public beach delivers. Choose a one- or two-bedroom suite and you’ll have a full kitchen (so you can save on dining out) plus a whirlpool tub to soothe you after a day of wrangling munchkins. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Family Lodging.”
What New England family resorts and hotels would you add to the list?
This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.