The Top Resorts for Families with Preschoolers

Children gathering around for storytime at Great Wolf Lodge Family Resort Great Wolf Resorts
Vacationing with a preschooler can be a delight you remember forever. Their infectious giggles remind you of the joys of simple things--muddy sandcastles, big dinosaur bones, fireflies that glow at night. The slowed-down pace of park strolls, storybooks, and napping is relaxing, helping you tune into your destination. But let’s be honest—most of the time, it’s take the young’uns or stay home. 
 
A successful vacation with a preschooler requires planning. To accommodate bottles and snacks, consider booking a condominium or hotel room that comes with a refrigerator and a microwave. The properties suggested here provide family-friendly comforts and offer plenty of ways to play with your preschooler and most offer an engaging children’s program as well. 
 
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Children wakeboarding at The Tyler Place The Tyler Place Family Resort
The Tyler Place, an all-inclusive resort located on Lake Champlain about 11 miles from the Burlington Airport, has maintained the same philosophy since 1933: Give parents and kids lots of activities to do together and apart. Programs operate mornings and evenings, allowing families to be together in the afternoons. 
 
For preschoolers: The resort is a rarity. It welcomes newborns, divides preschoolers into five age groups, and maintains excellent child to caregiver ratios. Each infant from 11 to 18 months has their own caregiver (available 12 of summer’s 15 weeks). The personal attention soothes anxious parents and tots plus keeps your wee one on a feeding and napping schedule. Toddlers 18 to 30 months tumble, “work” in the children’s garden, and splash in a kiddie pool, supervised by one caregiver for every two to three kids. Ages 2.5 years to 3 years fish, do gymnastics, and jump on a trampoline, watched by one counselor for every three to four children. Led by one counselor for every four to five children, 4- and 5-year-olds, bike, create crafts, make s’mores at campfires, and enjoy pirate parties and movie nights.  
 
For the family: Swim at the indoor and outdoor pools; kayak, canoe, and fish at the lake; and during the Vermont Family Afternoon, ride ponies and churn butter. First graders through 10th graders also take part in specialized programs.
 
Lodging: Cottage and suites, most with kitchens or kitchenettes
 
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The Monhonk Mountain House on a nice day Monhonk Mountain House
“Go jump in the lake” has been a favorite summer rallying cry at Mohonk Mountain House since its founding in 1869. The property, situated in the Shawangunk Mountains 90 miles north of Manhattan, sprawls on 1,200 wooded acres. The castle-like main building, blooming with towers and turrets, impresses little ones.
 
For preschoolers: The Kids’ Club separates Tykes, ages 2 to 3 years, from Explorers, ages 4 to 6. Each group spends much time outdoors. Tykes search for butterflies in the gardens, take mini hikes to the koi pond, and ride ponies (led by staff). Explorers go on scavenger hunts, run relay races, search for frogs, and play parachute games. 
 
For the family:  Boat and fish, hike on trails, scramble over rocks, go mountain biking, try disc golf, play tennis, and splash at the indoor pool. An Adventurers program targets kids aged 7 to 12.   
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms and housekeeping cottages
 
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A child bungee jumping at Smugglers' Notch Smugglers' Notch Resort
A top-ranked family ski resort, Smugglers’ Notch, 30 miles from Burlington’s airport, takes advantage of its Green Mountains location to offer slopes of fun in summer. 
 
For preschoolers: Smugglers’ Treasures child center, with 5,400 square feet indoors and 4,000 square feet outdoors, cares for babies six weeks to 3 years old. Even Fireflies, for ages 6 weeks to 16 months, enjoy Vermont’s breezes while being pushed on swings or crawling in the screened area. Along with singing and painting indoors, Little Dippers, 17 months to 2.5 years, search outside for bugs and float boats in a water table. Little Rascals, 2.5 to 3 years, go on picnics, look for pollywogs, and get wet at the resort’s splash pad. Ages 3 and 4 years can also join summer camp. As Discovery Dynamos, they tackle obstacle courses, go on nature hikes, make costumes, and join the Thursday parade.
 
For the family: Zip down waterslides, swim in pools and in the reservoir, craft puppets, and go mountain biking. Evenings bring family karaoke, bingo, outdoor movies, and bonfire sing-alongs. The resort also offers camps and activities for ages 5 to 17. 
 
Lodging: Condominiums with kitchen facilities
 
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A family relaxing by the beach at Club Med Sandpiper Club Med Resort at Sandpiper
Stretching along east coast Florida’s St. Lucie River, Club Med Sandpiper, about two hours north of Miami, focuses on sports, offering tennis, golf, and beach volleyball academies, plus fitness and triathlon training. 
 
For preschoolers: At the Baby Club, tots 4 months to 23 months crawl and stretch at the Baby Gym, make music with toys, and listen to stories. At the Petit Club, 2- and 3-year-olds create art projects, go on walks, dress up, watch puppet shows, and play water games. At the Mini Club, geared to ages 4 to 10 years, youngsters cool off at the Splash Park, boogie to Zumba tunes, go on treasure hunts, learn to fly on a trapeze, and participate in the weekly talent show.
 
For the family: Play bocce ball and ping pong, swim in the pool, and learn juggling, trapeze flying, and other circus skills. The Mini Club operates for ages 4 to 10 years and Club Med Passworld offers activities for ages 11 to 17.
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms as well as 2-bedroom, deluxe family rooms
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Kids snorkeling in the water near Aulani Resort Aulani—A Disney Resort and Spa
Aulani presents Hawaii, Disney-style. Located on Oahu’s leeward side 20 miles from Honolulu, the timeshare comes with larger than average rooms and Disney entertainment.  
 
For preschoolers: Nursery-age kids find magic in shaking hands with Goofy, posing with Minnie, and hugging Stitch, characters present at mealtimes. Although most activities at Aunty’s Beach House, the children’s center for ages 3 to 12, are free, for an extra fee your tyke can dance with Chip and Dale or feed the property’s fish. At the 5,200-square-foot kids' center, guests watch Disney movies, learn the hula, and dress up in costumes. The spa offers a lesson in how to massage babies to 2-year-olds—bring yours along. Through a service you can rent strollers, car seats, and other gear.  
   
For the family: Have fun at the water playground, listen to Hawaiian stories around the fire pit, watch Disney movies on the lawn, attend the Shake-A-Shaka pool party with Disney characters, and enjoy hula and Hawaiian music at the Starlit Hui performance. 
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms plus deluxe studios with kitchenettes, and 1- to 3-bedroom villas with kitchens
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Parents waiting to catch their toddlers at the bottom of the waterslides Great Wolf Resorts
The formula for Great Wolf Lodge: start with an indoor mega-waterpark with tight security, marry it to family-friendly rooms, and mix in child-oriented activities. The more-than-a-dozen U.S. properties rate as kids’ water wonderlands, averaging 68,000 square feet of ways to get wet. 
 
For preschoolers: While the waterparks differ in size and some attractions, all feature slides, bucket dumps, sprays, multiple pools, and the zero-entry Cub Paw Pool, targeted to toddlers. You and your little ones can float in an inner tube along Crooked Creek, a lazy river; climb a fort treehouse to shoot spray guns; and splash through several pools. 
 
For the family: Towel off to go bowling at half-length lanes and to play mini golf. Before bedtime, gather for goodnight stories in the lobby. Older children can twist down slides, tackle a ropes course, hit the arcade, and take in Howly Wood XD Theater, a 4-D ride.

Lodging: Along with standard rooms, Great Wolf Lodges offer themed rooms with separate children’s areas. KidKamp has a tent-like space for them, Wolf Den creates a rock patterned nook, and the KidCabin offers a log-cabin area. 
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A family on the ski lift at Deer Valley Ski Resort Deer Valley Resort
Located in the Wasatch Mountains, Deer Valley, a Park City ski resort, gains fame for its service and food. The property, located 36 miles east of Salt Lake City, keeps its state-licensed children’s center open in summer.  
 
For preschoolers: The Children’s Center accepts little ones as young as 2 months old and divides preschoolers into five groups, all of whom go outdoors, even the Sunflowers, 2 through 11 months old, who wriggle around on blankets. One caregiver attends to three Sunflower babies. Grasshoppers, 12 to 18 months; Little Ramblers, 19 to 23 months; and Ramblers, 2 to 3 years old, have a 1:4 ratio of caregiver to tots. The kids listen to stories, play lawn games, do finger painting and get pushed in strollers to feed the ducks at the pond. Ramblers also ride a funicular to the top of a hill so they can walk down. Older Trekkers, with a 1:5 supervision ratio, ride the bus to the city park for picnics and kickball and also splash at the municipal pool two afternoons a week. In summer the Children’s Center operates Monday to Friday, not weekends. The resort also offers active programs for 5- to 12-year-olds.
 
For the family: Go hiking, take a scenic chairlift ride, and enjoy the outdoor concerts.
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms, 1- to 3-bedroom condos, and 3- to 5-bedroom homes 
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A view of the Winnetu Oceanside Resort from the water Winnetu Oceanside Resort
New England summers are sweet at Winnetu, situated on 11 oceanside acres at popular South Beach, 3 miles outside Edgartown. The resort, along with recognition for its children’s programs, is noted for its food and laid-back élan.
 
For preschoolers: Little kids love a beach. At Winnetu’s children’s program, Red Lobsters, ages 3 to 4, collect shells, build sandcastles, and go for seaside strolls. The tots also finger paint, dress up as pirates, look for turtles in a pond, and tie-dye shirts. The program, like all of Winnetu’s complimentary children’s activites, operates from 9 a.m. to noon. At the free Pee Wee tennis clinics, tots 3 and older get a swing at the basics. Winnetu also hosts free morning programs for ages 7 to 12. The little and big kids can even hop a ride on the resort’s 1956 pumper fire truck.  On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings in summer, for a fee, kids ages 4 to 12 play Frisbee, kick soccer balls, and watch movies while parents enjoy evenings out. In spring and fall, you can get programs for free on some days. 
 
For the family: Play tennis, bike ride, book a clam bake, and make s’mores around the fire pit.
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms, plus 1- to 4-bedroom suites with kitchenettes, 1–2 bedroom cottages, and 3–5 bedroom homes with kitchens
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A father and son play golf at Wintergreen ski resort Wintergreen Resort
The 11,000-acre Wintergreen ski resort in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains—one hour from Charlottesville, two from Richmond, and three from Washington, D.C.—lures city folks with scenic ridgetop views and varied activities. 
 
For preschoolers: In summer, the Kids in Action program schedules plenty of outdoor play for ages 2.5 to 5 years. The youngsters go on nature hikes, try tennis, build sandcastles, and swim in the lake. At the Discovery Ridge Adventure Center, preschoolers climb a mini rock wall, swing through miniature golf, and jump on a trampoline; indoors, they play air hockey and foosball as well as try to ride a slowed-down mechanical bull. Kids In Action also offers activities for ages 6 to 12 years. Those 7 to 18 years old can sign up for golf and tennis camps.
 
For the family: Swim in two pools, canoe on the lake, take The Plunge (a slide that whizzes you downhill at up to 30 mph), and glide down a zipline. In the evenings, listen to storytellers around a campfire, play bingo, and watch movies.  
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms, 1- to 5-bedroom condos, and 3- to 6-bedroom homes
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A girl on the playground at The Breakers Palm Beach The Breakers Palm Beach
Oil magnate and developer Henry Flagler built the first Breakers in the late 19th century. The hotel drew Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, and other high-society callers. While upscale, the oceanfront property welcomes families and children.
 
For preschoolers: At Camp Breakers, the Shortboards club, ages 3 to 5, explores the beach, goes on nature walks in search of lizards and parrots, plays soccer on the resort’s green lawns, and creates chalk art. The Family Entertainment Center offers arcade games, an aquarium, and an arts-and-crafts space. Choose from half-day, full-day, and evening programs with dinner. Camp Breakers also has activities for Longboards aged 6 to 12, while those age 6 to 13 can take lessons at the Breakers’ junior golf and tennis camps.
 
For the family: Along with golf and tennis, parents and kids fashion tie-dye shirts, create sea shell crafts, enjoy bonfires on the beach, attend drive-in movies on the golf course, and cool off in the zero-entry pool, perfect for tots.
 
Lodging: Hotel rooms and suites
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