One of the aspects families enjoy most about cruising is the wide variety of activities and amenities onboard today’s cruise ships. Cruises offer a vast array of attractions and experiences all in one place, with something for every interest and age group. Lately, we've been hearing from parents who want to enjoy a comparable land-based vacation closer to home. For avid cruisers, it’s appealing to find a land-based resort offers its guests a similar action-packed “cruising on land” experience.
If you're seeking a land-based North American vacation that provides many of the same amenities as a cruise, check out these nine family-friendly resorts:
Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida. Club Med is one of the best known family-friendly all-inclusive brands in the world. Their renovated 307-room all-inclusive resort set along the river in Port Saint Lucie caters to families with kids of all ages. The property's water sports, circus school and tennis academy are very popular with its active guests. There's a private beach on the river and the Atlantic Ocean beach is a short 20-minute drive away. Club Med Sandpiper Bay offers excellent daily free kids and teens programs for children 4 to 17 years of age, as well as a well-staffed nursery for babies ages 4-23 months old and tots program for 2-4 year olds. Both of these programs for little ones are available at an extra charge.
Hawks Cay Resort, Florida. Set on 60 waterfront acres in the Florida Keys, this superb AAA Four-Diamond Award-winning resort pampers guests with spacious villas and hotel rooms along with four restaurants, eight lighted courts, and the award-winning 7,000 square foot Calm Waters Spa. Kids love Coral Cay, a large adventures and activities facility featuring a cool Pirate Ship Pool with slides, tunnels and even water shooting cannons. Hawks Cay Resort is known for its outstanding kids programs including Camp Hawk for ages 5-12 and an awesome game room for teens 13-17. Families also enjoy biking around the resort’s property, kayaking and fishing. Hawks Cay also features a massive saltwater lagoon and five swimming pools. The resort’s full-service marina offers diving, SNUBA, snorkeling excursions as well as a full array of watersports including kayaking, jetskiing and paddleboarding. Hawks Cay’s onsite Dolphin Connection Program is particularly popular with guests.
Lost Valley Ranch, Colorado. This outstanding guest ranch delivers extraordinary all-inclusive family vacations served up with its own special brand of Western hospitality. Located about two hours from Denver, Lost Valley Ranch caters to families and multigenerational groups with superb horseback riding instruction and twice daily rides for all experience levels, guided hikes, kids and teens programs, tennis, fishing, and much more. Free inclusive kids programs complete with activities and riding instruction are offered for ages 3-5, 6-12, and teens. Babysitting for tots ages 2 and under is available for an extra fee. Three delicious meals daily are included as part of the ranch’s per person charge.
Mohonk Mountain House, New York. This stunning cliff-top Victorian castle overlooking Lake Mohonk in New York's Hudson Valley is a perennial family favorite. Rates at this 259-room resort include three delicious meals daily, afternoon tea, and most activities including lake and indoor swimming, boating and fishing, hiking through thousands of acres of forests and the Shawangunk Mountains, ice skating, snow tubing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and daily kids and teens programs for ages 2-3, 4-6, 7-12, and teens 13-17 years of age. An Junior Naturalist program is also offered free for young guests.
Skytop Lodge, Pennsylvania. Located on 5,500 acres in the scenic Poconos Mountains, historic Skytop Lodge has been delighting families and multigenerational groups since 1928. Amenities include the resort’s Adventure Center, a large private lake, a championship golf course, and spa. Rates at this superb year-round vacation resort include three full meals daily and lots of activities that vary by season, including miniature golf, hiking, archery, swimming in the property’s indoor and outdoor pools, sledding, tobogganing and much more. Kids programs and special family-oriented all-inclusive packages are offered during the summer season.
Three Bars Ranch, British Columbia. Set amidst the spectacular Canadian Rockies between Banff and Glacier National Park, Three Bars Ranch is well known for its exceptional riding and adventure-oriented vacations. The ranch offers one of the most extensive all-inclusive programs of activities available, from horseback riding, hiking and river rafting to mountain biking, swimming and tennis. The Beckley family owns and operates this 35,000 acre ranch and they are intimately involved in the ranch’s day-to-day operations. Their extensive horse training and ranching expertise makes a tremendous difference in the quality of their horses and the overall guest experience. Excellent kids’ and family activities are one of the many reasons Three Bars Ranch was named one of the 10 Best Dude Ranches for Families by Family Vacation Critic.
Tyler Place Family Resort, Vermont. Families love this 165-acre all-inclusive located directly on Lake Champlain. In fact, the resort enjoys an incredible 90% repeat guest rate. With daily kids’ and teens programs for 9 separate age groups and 250 dedicated staff, the Tyler Place’s award-winning free childcare programs and guest service levels are superb. In addition to three delicious daily meals (dinners are adults only affairs), rates at this resort include a wealth of sports and family activities such as biking, tennis, boating, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, arts and crafts, a field house gym, ziplines and trampolines, mini golf, hiking and much more.
White Stallion Ranch, Arizona. Owned and operated by the True family since 1965, White Stallion Ranch caters to families vacationing together and offers a variety of included action-packed experiences. The ranch is located on 3,000 acres next to Saguaro National Park near Tucson, allowing guests to take extensive trail rides and guided hikes through starkly beautiful Sonoran vistas that have attracted Hollywood filmmakers for years. White Stallion Ranch offers excellent riding programs for all abilities and prides itself on finding the right horse for every guest. The ranch also features a heated pool and hot tub, fitness center, tennis and sports courts, and even a petting zoo for kids.
Woodloch Resort, Pennsylvania. Woodloch Resort has been named TripAdvisor’s #1 Family Resort in America. Staying at Woodloch Resort is similar to a cruise on land, with over 30 activities scheduled daily. Nestled on Lake Teedyuskung in the Pocono Mountains, this four-season property has been owned and operated by the Kiesendahl family for over 55 years. Set on over 1,200 acres, Woodloch caters to families of all ages with unique activities and programs such as G3 – Generation Grandparent and Woodloch’s full American Plan including accommodations, three daily meals, nightly entertainment, and a wide array of fun activities and family events like the Amazing Race, Carnival, athletic contests, Olympics, lake activities, hiking, biking, bumper cars, and much more.