Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Imagine you and the kids in Hawaii. Hiking to a waterfall. Snorkeling through a lagoon. Lounging beachside. Dining at a luau. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on Oahu, makes this kind of family vacation, well, possible. And that's just one of the country's best family stays.

No. 3 Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, SC

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From the oak-lined-avenue entrance to the fictional family portraits, everything about this beachfront resort feels like an authentic antebellum mansion. It also has a comprehensive kids’ program, with everything from glassmaking and tie-dyeing to guided nature hikes, fly-fishing lessons, and archery. You can rent beach cruisers from the Bike Pavilion or head farther afield to soak up Charleston’s history.

Parents Love: Cocktails at the Ryder Cup Bar after a round on the seaside Ocean Course, the site of the 2012 PGA Championships.

Kids Love: Friday night ice cream socials at Beaches & Cream, the Sanctuary’s own sweet shop.

America’s Best Family Hotels

No. 3 Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, SC

From the oak-lined-avenue entrance to the fictional family portraits, everything about this beachfront resort feels like an authentic antebellum mansion. It also has a comprehensive kids’ program, with everything from glassmaking and tie-dyeing to guided nature hikes, fly-fishing lessons, and archery. You can rent beach cruisers from the Bike Pavilion or head farther afield to soak up Charleston’s history.

Parents Love: Cocktails at the Ryder Cup Bar after a round on the seaside Ocean Course, the site of the 2012 PGA Championships.

Kids Love: Friday night ice cream socials at Beaches & Cream, the Sanctuary’s own sweet shop.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort

America’s Best Family Hotels

At last, a Hawaiian vacation that incorporates the kids. Meet Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa on Oahu, where bassinets and baby-proofed balconies are standard. There's a complimentary kids’ club and volcano-themed pool area with a lazy river. And that luau? You’ll be joined by Mickey and friends.

T+L readers found Aulani’s combination of Hawaiian cultural touches, kid-friendly activities, and a spectacular beach setting to be pretty magical, ranking it America’s No. 1 hotel for families in our annual World’s Best Awards survey. Overall, the top 25 hotels range from coast to coast, mountaintops to valleys, each offering plush, spacious accommodations and fun for both kids and grown-ups.

A day at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, TX, might begin with horseback rides and end with s’mores by the campfire—or Moonshine Margaritas at Shellers Barrelhouse Bar. In West Virginia, the Greenbrier hosts an indoor arena for games of laser tag on its historic 10,000-acre property. And just down the road from Epcot, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas features a strip of old-fashioned arcade games and a Fantasia-inspired miniature golf course.

Many kid-friendly resorts take pride in pampering families, from creative activities at kids’ clubs to available baby products to spa treatments cateringto all ages. The staff at Virginia’s Tides Inn, for instance, offers marine-inspired full-body scrubs as well as bedtime servings of homemade cookies and milk.

This year’s crop of top-ranking family hotels is further proof that luxury and multi-acre water parks can seamlessly coexist. Book a room or suite at one of these 25 properties, and you just might make it a new family tradition.

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