How to Take Your Kids Camping Without Having to Brave the Elements
Indoor camping is just like regular camping, except temperature-controlled and with room service. These six hotels do it right.
If your kids are bugging you for a tent and ghost stories, but the idea of sleeping out in the elements gives you the shivers, check out these six options for luxe indoor camping. Your children will love the tents, teepees, s’mores, and headlamps...and you’ll love that room service can set it up and take it away.
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Overlooking Lake Michigan and the famed Chicago skyline, this luxe skyscraper hotel is the perfect retreat for little campers. Tents can be set up in any suite and include a cozy feather bed, blanket, and pillow. Kids can pick something from the hotel’s toy chest (available at check-in) to keep during their stay. Plus, the hotel’s selection of child-focused in-room amenities would make any camping trip more pleasurable: the options include kid-sized robes, t-shirts, hats, sandals, cookies, milk, and coloring books. During the day, campers can head to the kids’ clubroom, which has board games, foosball, video games, costumes, a toy kitchen, and books, or grab a kickboard or a pool toy and go for a swim in the 50-foot indoor pool (the set for Maculay Culkin's splash in Home Alone 2). Before snuggling up for the night in the A-frame, order some treats from room service: kid-friendly dessert options change daily and often include chocolate fondue; fruit kabob; s’mores; Rice Krispies Treats, or gummy bears. If that doesn’t hit your child’s sweet tooth, then perhaps the hotel’s resident ice cream man, who visits rooms and makes made-to-order sundaes, will.
Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, California
San Diego is renowned as a kid-friendly destination (San Diego Zoo, Legoland, and SeaWorld are all nearby attractions), so it’s not surprising that this picturesque property, located in the heart of the San Pasqual Mountains, offers a “S’mores and Snores” package. Kids are treated to freshly made s’mores directly from the hotel’s pastry chef, a plethora of kid drinks (including apple cider and hot cocoa), and the star of the show: a pop-up tent for kids to play in or sleep in for the night. The best part? The housekeeping staff clears it out of the room the next morning and kids can re-order their "room service" each night if they'd like. During the day, the area’s warm climate and geographic diversity translates into plenty of fresh-air activities: nearby beaches are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, lush inland valley and mountain peaks are made for hiking and biking, and the tranquil dessert is the ideal spot for rock collecting. There’s plenty for little rangers to do, both indoor and out.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, Utah
Nestled in the heart of Park City, this five-star, five-diamond lodge is known for its award-winning spa and chart-topping ski-in/ski-out access to the best slopes. But that may not impress your children. What will is the private in-room teepee, in which kids can look up at the “stars” with a Starry Light Lantern and cuddle with their own plush toy moose—all part of the camping package. Then, when they wake up in the morning, they can explore the great outdoors with the lodge’s complimentary nature guide and outdoor activities packet.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, Colorado
This plush mountainside resort is an international playground for travelers who like action: there’s skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and white-water rafting, horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, and fly-fishing in the summer. Though kids will certainly enjoy those activities, they’re more likely to remember the hotel’s custom tents, which are outfitted with feather beds and cozy sleeping bags. Available to guests who stay in a suite, the indoor camping package also includes a snuggly Park Hyatt teddy bear to take home, plus, of course, s’mores and hot chocolate delivered right to your room. The only thing you’ll need to supply are the ghost stories. More adventurous campers can roast their own marshmallows at the outdoor fire pits under the massive, star-filled Colorado sky. Camp songs optional.
1 Hotel South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
Hip, sunny South Beach isn’t usually associated with camping, but now there’s a good reason why it should be. The 426-room 1 Hotel South Beach not only takes up a whole block on sexy Collins Avenue, but it also offers great views of the ocean, Biscayne Bay, and Miami’s skyline. Perfect if your child is looking out the window from his little hideaway: the in-house, organic cotton, custom-made tepee tent complete with old-school wooden poles and suede ropes. The best part? Kids get to set it up themselves (don’t worry: staff is always on hand to help). It’s all part of the hotel’s Seedlings program for children, which offers hands-on education classes in conjunction with the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science. The purpose of the program is to bring kids back to nature. So after a night of in-room camping, your little explorer can take part in a slew of activities offered at the property: planting seeds, hunting for seashells, making bird feeders, going for nature walks, and learning how to cook (yes, gluten-free meals are included).
Ritz Carlton-Lake Tahoe, Truckee, California
If you have a child with high-end taste, then the VIK (Very Important Kid) campout program at this posh Tahoe property is sure to please. Upon arrival, kids are offered their very own sign-in book and scavenger hunt activity sheet (which will keep them plenty occupied during their stay). Campers are then treated to an indoor tent complete with luxe amenities, like Ritz-Carlton linens and feather beds, as well as a special camp light, a Ritz-Carlton Teddy bear, an activity book and crayons, and a s’mores kit to be used outside at the fire pit. This 170-room, four-star, five-diamond resort is one of the newest hotels in the region and offers a plethora of outdoor experiences for children, including skiing in the winter and biking and hiking in the summer.