America's Best Family Hotels 2012
No. 1 St. Regis, Deer Valley, Park City, UT
Want to feel like mountain royalty? A former Buckingham Palace steward runs the butler service at this plush 181-room hotel overlooking Deer Hollow run. Another standout: Olympic freestyler Shannon Bahrke, the new ski ambassador and your personal guide to the slopes.
No. 2 Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Orlando, FL
Magic Kingdom doppelgänger of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn, complete with a gushing (if man-made) geyser.
No. 3 Wild Dunes Resort, Isle of Palms, SC
Pack a picnic and canoe the waters around the hotel’s barrier island, where a Confederate submarine sank a Union ship during the Civil War.
No. 4 Inn at Palmetto Bluff, an Auberge Resort, Bluffton, SC
Track alligators and ride horseback at this Lowcountry retreat on the banks of the mirror-like May River.
No. 5 Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, NY
Sprawling wood-walled retreat with themed days at the kids club (Wet and Wacky Wednesdays; Space Camp Saturdays).
No. 6 Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, MO
City slickers have multiple reasons to trek to these newly renovated cabins on Table Rock Lake, from fishing tournaments to paddleboarding lessons. big-cedar.com.
No. 7 Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando, FL
Mickey and Minnie take a backseat to more than 30 species (wildebeests! giraffes!) roaming this 46-acre savanna.
No. 8 Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, Anaheim, CA
Strikingly similar to Yosemite’s Ahwahnee—except for the character breakfasts, Pinocchio workshops, and an only-in-Anaheim proximity to Disneyland.
No. 9 Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Orlando, FL
A New England yacht-club setup on Crescent Lake, with boats on loan for bluegill and largemouth bass fishing and a three-acre sand-bottomed pool.
No. 10 Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Orlando, FL
Here, nostalgia reigns supreme: a 1920s carousel from Coney Island graces the lobby, and guests of all ages partake in Prohibition-era carnival games such as skeeball and milk can toss.
No. 11 Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, WY
Abutting the Grand Tetons, with something for every season: skiing and dogsledding in winter, biologist-led wildlife safaris (in Mercedes-Benz SUVs, no less!) come summer.
No. 12 Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Orlando, FL
Bamboo and rattan-furnished rooms, fire-knife dances, and a 40-foot waterslide through a volcano emote a South Pacific flavor.
No. 13 Sebastian Vail, CO
Even for Vail, this 107-room boutique hotel is beyond posh—care for a slopeside foot massage?
No. 14 Homestead Resort & Spa, Hot Springs, VA
The at-your-service Allegheny Mountain hideaway since 1766 is in the midst of a $25 million makeover (look for the 400-foot lazy river in the new two-acre water park).
No. 15 Kahala Hotel & Resort, Oahu, HI
The onetime favorite of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton is now undeniably kid-friendly (don’t miss visiting the six Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the on-site lagoon).
No. 15 The Pines Lodge, Beaver Creek, CO
Want parent-of-the-year award? Bring your kids to their elite ski school for glow stick night runs and warm chocolate chip cookies served lift-side. pineslodge.rockresort.com.
No. 17 Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, HI
Animals steal the show at this recently revamped hotel, from the lobby parrots to the nene geese and black swans that flit around the grounds.
No. 18 Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, TX
This pecan tree–shrouded compound outside Austin is the perfect tonic after a day of hiking, GPS trekking, or rafting the Colorado River.
No. 19 Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Avon, CO
Thursday nights don’t get better than this: complimentary lift tickets, guided runs, and an après-ski fireworks show.
No. 20 Mohonk Mountain House, Hudson Valley, NY
Put away your wallet. At this lakeside castle—run by the same family since 1869—everything from canoeing to lobster barbecues is included in your rate.