When I travel with my family, sometimes we only really need a hotel for the room, especially if we’ve got lots of activities planned. But other times, we are looking for a family-friendly hotel with lots of things specifically for the kids. Here are five of the best themed hotels for families – stay at one of these hotels and you won’t even have to leave the hotel property to keep the kids entertained.Gaylord Hotels
Gaylord (who recently sold to Marriott) operates hotels in Grapeville, Texas (Dallas), Nashville, TN, Kissimmee, FL (Orlando), and National Harbor, MD (near Washington DC). The hotels’ decor all take on the local flavor of their community, but all of the hotels offer family-fun amenities under a unique and beautiful atrium. During select times of the year, popular characters from DreamWorks movies including Shrek and Kung Fu Panda greet kids and host events. All of the resorts also offer spas, restaurants, game rooms, and pools.
There are currently eleven Great Wolf Lodge resorts throughout the US and Canada, with a new one on the way in Massachusetts. Each offers a huge indoor water park, as well as an interactive game called MagicQuest. Some locations also have indoor mini golf, bowling, an arcade, and a kids’ spa. The resort also offers their own range of fun characters who appear throughout the resort, as well as a nightly bedtime story by the lobby clock.
The new Legoland Hotel opened earlier this year in Carlsbad, CA, right at the main entrance of Legoland California. Room types include pirate, adventure or kingdom rooms, and guests can choose between themed or premium themed rooms (premium rooms include extra Lego decor and Lego models). Amenities include several restaurants, fitness center, a Lego event room, WiFi, and a family pool.
This Adirondack-themed lodge is located across the street from the Six Flags in Lake George, NY. Although the park is only open seasonally, the lodge is open year round. It offers an indoor water park, several restaurants, costumed characters, an arcade, a spa, and a lobby dance party.
Although many of Disney’s resort hotels are themed, the newest resort has the most kid-friendly theme of all. Disney’s Art of Animation is a value class hotel that offers family suites and standard hotel rooms. The hotel has four sections – Cars, Finding Nemo, the Lion King, and the Little Mermaid, and all of the decor, down to the lamps in the room, are fully consistent with the theme. My kids especially loved the Finding Nemo resort pool, where you can even hear songs underwater thanks to a special sound system.
Disclosure: My stay at two of these hotels was complimentary for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.
Article and photos by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine.