Remember how exciting it was to go on school trips to the aquarium? Getting an up-close look at marine life – from tiger sharks to stingrays – was always an enchanting experience. Well it turns out aquariums are a fun sight at any age… and they certainly add a tropical, under-the-sea vibe to otherwise bland spaces. That’s why it’s no surprise that a good number of the hotels we have visited have installed fish tanks to add a cool oceanic feature for kids and adults to enjoy without having to suit up. Several of these hotels have gone above and beyond in bringing the awe factor to their aquariums. In typical grandeur Vegas fashion, three of its properties made our list, but you’ll want to visit all seven spots!
The giant, 3,215-room Mandalay Bay offers a wave pool and streaming lazy river pool for kids, as well as a quality spa, lively bar,s and premier cuisine for adults. But everyone can enjoy the 1.6-million-gallon Shark Reef Aquarium with about 2,000 sea creatures on display, including 15 different kinds of sharks. In one of the exhibits, visitors can experience an almost 360-degree view of the fish and sharks swimming about; another displays the bright jellyfish. If just looking isn’t good enough, there’s a popular Touch Pool, where guests can touch sharks, rays, and horseshoe crabs.
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With its gorgeous beaches, educational cultural attractions, and laid-back, friendly locals, Hawaii is one of the best family destinations anywhere. And these nine hotels can take your family vacation to a whole other level. Massive pool complexes, man-made snorkeling reefs, water slides, animal attractions, kids clubs, luaus — you can probably find whatever you and your kids can dream up.
The Grand Wailea Resort may be the most kid-friendly resort on Maui; its biggest selling point has to be the one-of-a-kind pool system with some pretty awesome features. Its biggest selling point has to be the one-of-a-kind pool system with a lazy-river pool, four waterslides, a rope swing, and a water elevator at the center of a faux volcano. The resort also has one of the best kids programs we’ve seen; the 20,000-square-foot facility has a video arcade, pingpong and foosball tables, a PlayStation room, a mini movie theater, and an activity room for kids 5-12 (seasonal activities available for teens). As if that’s not enough to keep your kid busy, the beach has great waves for body-surfing and stiller areas for snorkeling. Even the rooms are geared towards families: standard rooms are huge and connecting rooms are available. There are also great kid options on restaurant menus. Read More »
Traveling with the kids is hardly a picnic, and all too often parents don’t get to do a lot of vacationing on their vacations. If you’re hoping to tantrum-proof your family beach getaway this winter, we have some solutions for you: resorts so ridiculously awesome for kids that your little imps will likely be too busy (and too delighted) to cause you grief. No boredom, no tears — just lots and lots of good family fun.
Brimming with activities for kids and teens, Atlantis is a veritable Caribbean Disneyland. In addition to all the basics (babysitting, cribs, rollaway beds, kids club) the resort has 11 spectacular pools (including several kids’ pools), a 141-acre water park, a speedway for racing remote control cars, and a marine habitat with sharks, stingrays, and dolphins to swim alongside — and that’s just a sample of the attractions. In addition, for teens, Atlantis has an elaborate shopping center, a rock-climbing wall, a movie theater, and, on occasion, a pop-star concert (think Taylor Swift, Katy Perry). Read More »
If you want to plan a family vacation with wow factor, look no further: Picking a hotel with one of the following kid-friendly attractions will earn you major points with your kids. And with activities this fun, you just may end up acting like a kid yourself.
Water park at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa
Hundreds of resorts around the world feature a water slide or two in their pool complex, but a few exceptional properties take it to a whole new level. For example, the Aquaventure water park at the Atlantis features two slides with vertical drops over 50 feet, a mile-long lazy-river pool, a tube that gushes past sharks, and a plethora of other scenic slides. The Grand Wailea water park in Hawaii includes four waterslides, whitewater rapids, caves, a lazy-river pool, rope swings, and a “water elevator” inside a man-made volcano.
The Amee Farm, tucked into Vermont's Green Mountains, is a rustically elegant spot to say "I do."
With its warm, urban-chic vibe, Amee Farm isn’t a typical B&B. This 40-acre property nestled in the Green Mountains has just 15 rooms, its own organic garden, and interiors that look straight out of a design magazine. With a near-perfect combination of rustic, quaint, and stylish touches, rooms feature wide-planked hardwood floors, comfortable beds with white, and soft linens, and interesting antiques can be found throughout the hotel. Another perk here is the inviting wrap-around porch with Adirondack chairs for admiring the scenery. And if there’s one word that describes Vermont, it’s ‘scenic.’ Winding roads along rolling hills allow for wonderful vistas of tumbling streams, lovely villages and superb trails amid thick woods and state forests. All in all, the farm is truly one of the most luxurious and special hotels in Vermont.
Weddings at Amee Farm are elegant and unique, held in either the barn or throughout the property’s stunning grounds. The farm’s owners are extremely hands-on, working with couples to create a rustically-chic celebration, many of which last three days. The estate can host a tented event on the grounds or an indoor affair in one of six refurbished barns, renovated with modern conveniences while still maintaining the rustic ambiance. Weddings are fully customizable, with a dedicated on-site staff, including a wedding coordinator, ensuring that every detail runs seamlessly. Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Amee Farm here »
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The oceanfront gazebo at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is a charming spot to say "I do."
Located on a lush, seven-mile-long island, the 450-room Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne is just a 25-minute cab ride from Downtown Miami — but it feels worlds away from the party-hearty throngs of South Beach. While suits and ties abound at this business-friendly locale, the formal air of the hotel gives way to a relaxed, fun vibe when families and couples come to visit (which happens with frequency). The grounds are large, and the hotel is extremely quiet — and not just at the adults-only Tranquility Pool. For some, it may be perfectly peaceful; for others, it may feel a bit too much like a library on the (pristine) beach.
But the Ritz is one of Miami’s most luxurious properties, and it’s on-site weddings uphold the brands’ standards of service and all-around opulence. Of course, that means it’s also one of Miami’s most expensive venues. The resort can host up to 450 guests at various locations, including the Great Lawn, oceanfront gazebo (seen here), the beach, various ballrooms, and private rooms at the restaurant. Couples will be walked through the entire process by an on-site wedding planner, who can also set aside rooms for wedding guests at preferred rates. And because of the Ritz’s dedication to service, the bride and groom are guaranteed to have everything they need on the big day taken care of to perfection — even if that means securing an elephant to carry in the couple or flying in chefs from other Ritz properties. Don’t laugh — it’s been done before — and you never know when the bridezilla inside of you will rear its pretty little head. Check out more wedding inspired photos of the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami here » Read More »
Dream jungle gym.
Kid-friendly hotels are so important when traveling with young ones in tow — everything from giving a child milk and cookies at check-in to having video game consoles in guest rooms can make all the difference. But as the hotel experts, we’ve found that kids’ clubs are super important — not only are they *usually* under careful supervision, but they also provide the parents with much-needed alone time while on vacation. So before you book the next family getaway, browse this gallery of really cool kids’ clubs that’ll have your children thanking you for the awesome trip of a lifetime.
Float along a lazy river in Myrtle Beach -- a sure way to feel like you're on vacation!
Continually ranked as one of America’s best family beach destinations, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina offers visitors plenty to do. For families, there are activities such as mini-golf, an aquarium, and funky novelty shops and museums, while couples and young adults can indulge in the lively (if a bit cheesy) nightlife and plethora of inexpensive restaurants and bars. And of course, its 60 miles of sandy shoreline adds to the city’s appeal. We’ve come up with a guide to the must-do activities in Myrtle Beach, and where to stay when you’re there. Get inspired and soak up these last few weeks of summer in this beachy town.
The best way to discover Whistler is checking out the Village Stroll, lined with stores, bars and restaurants
World-class slopes, wonderful dining and a superb nightlife scene make Whistler one of the world’s best spots for a winter vacation– but who said ski resorts are only to be enjoyed during the colder months? Those same bunny hills and black diamonds turn into fun hiking trails and mountain bike circuits when the snow melts, and the dining and drinking is taken outdoors, bringing a lively atmosphere to long, sunny summer days. Check out our guide of what to do and where to stay in Whistler this summer — and beyond.
The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.
Houston has just about everything Texans could want right at their fingertips. The Lonestar State’s biggest city also has some of the biggest attractions including the famed Museum and Theater districts as well as NASA’s Johnson Space Center (as in, “Houston, we have a problem”). But one of Space City’s greatest assets is its mere proximity to some of the other most unique and cultured cities. So saddle up for a true taste of Texas goodness, from beaches and rock ‘n roll; from water parks to oil rigs. Let’s hit the road!
Road Trip #1: Houston to Corpus Christi, TX
Corpus Christi is the best beachside locale in Texas.
- Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 51 minutes
- Distance Covered: 222 miles
- Take This Trip If: You need a much-needed day at the beach.
The rooftop restaurant at the Omni Corpus Christi lets us enjoy miles of the Gulf.
The fishing dock at the Lighthouse Inn is perfect for enjoy the Gulf of Mexico.
Sitting pretty on the Gulf of Mexico’s crystal blue coast, Corpus Christi really does live up to its “sparkling city by the sea” nickname. With more than 131 miles of beaches, the city’s main shores of Corpus Christi and McGee beaches draw large summer crowds. The city’s sand helped earn Corpus Christi a “Best Restored Beach “award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association last year, one of only seven cities in the nation to receive the honor. For some of the best views of the beach, the waterfront Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay can’t be beat, especially when looking out from on-site fishing dock and private balconies with rocking chairs. And a slightly more affordable option is the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel Bayfront Tower. The hotel also has incredible views from the rooftop lounge, and is within walking distance of many other downtown attractions.
- Top Driving Tip: Weedhaven was once a tiny bustling village settled by wealthy businessman J.F. Weed, about halfway between the two cities. His store, cafe, and inn may have closed, but the Wild West remains of Weedhaven make it a popular roadside stop along the route.
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