Nothing beats taking a vacation with the people you love, but making it happen can be a ton of work. That’s why the Good Housekeeping Institute launched its first ever Family Travel Awards. Travel experts, product analysts and vacation enthusiasts joined forces to find the best products, services and destinations for every preference.
To help you plan where to go and what to bring, we considered all types of families and all kinds of trips, from snowy mountain retreats to warm-weather escapes and everything in between. Regardless of which adventure you choose, the one thing these nearly 100 winners have in common is that they’ve all been vetted by our team of experts.
Meet The Judges
How We Tested
Experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute thoroughly reviewed hundreds of submissions before selecting these winners. Overall, we considered attributes such as convenience, value, quality, safety, innovation and inclusion. We also reviewed firsthand feedback from travel experts and real families for each of these recommendations.
Travel Gear | Travel Experience
How We Tested Travel Gear
Our analysts performed evaluations both in our Labs and with consumer testers to get the full picture. For instance, our textiles pros put luggage through the wringer, using a drop tester that releases suitcases from a standard height to check whether they are prone to being damaged. Luggage fabric was placed in our abrasion-testing machine, which rubs swatches against a rough material 15,000 times to check for wear and tear, while hard-sided materials were subjected to manual scratch-resistance tests. Analysts also packed each piece of luggage with a standard load to see how much could actually fit inside. Then 18 consumer testers used the luggage in an obstacle course that included various surfaces to rate aspects like maneuverability, ease of use, comfort and wheel performance. Finally, they brought the gear on road trips and flights to see how it performed in the real world.
Perfect for packing for the whole family — or even solo travelers on a long trip — this large Monos suitcase is equipped with a durable polycarbonate shell, 360° spinner wheels and a telescopic handle that adjusts to four heights.
LAB RESULTS: Textile analysts rated it easy to pack with its roomy interior and built-in organization compartments. Consumer testers gave it high marks for its sleek appearance and smooth wheels, with one noting, “I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this bag was to travel with. I didn’t have to roll it behind me; I could roll it next to me.”
Briggs & Riley‘s splurge-worthy carry-on is ideal for international travelers and frequent flyers thanks to its compact size and top-notch construction. It has a unique system that lets you easily expand the top to pack, then compress it after it’s filled.
LAB RESULTS: Travel testers gave it perfect scores across the board, from packing and maneuverability to comfort and convenience. They also said it stored easily in an overhead bin and held way more than they expected. One even noted, “It fit clothing and accessories for two people for a seven-day summer vacation.” Plus, the nylon fabric aced the extensive abrasion tests in our Textiles Lab.
This versatile Herschel bag offers a balance between a flexible duffel and a sturdy case. It has a spacious main compartment as well as a clever side-access area to keep shoes separate. Choose from dozens of colors; carry it using its top handles or a detachable padded shoulder strap.
LAB RESULTS: Not only was the structured polyester fabric durable in our tests, with a perfect score for abrasion resistance, but it was also easy to pack, with a stiff bottom that kept its shape. On top of that, it fit a substantial load, with one tester noting, “It comfortably held enough for a long weekend.”
Vera Bradley’s duffel comes in a range of fun prints, uses 100% soft cotton fabric and is machine-washable for easy care. It has two long straps for shoulder-carrying and a detachable padded strap that lets it be worn as a crossbody. It also boasts easy-access pockets, both on the inside and on the outside.
LAB RESULTS: Users said the outer fabric felt comfy to carry, and our textiles pros were impressed with its abrasion resistance in Lab tests. Reviewers also raved about its versatility, highlighting the spacious compartment that “accommodates different-sized items” and noting that it folded for easy storage. They especially liked it for road trips, saying it was easy to toss in the trunk.
Get children excited for trips with this stylish spinner from Pottery Barn Kids. It comes in two sizes and tons of fun prints, and it can be monogrammed. There’s one main packing area with several easy-to-access zippered compartments, and the main zippers have fabric tabs so they’re easier for kids to use.
LAB RESULTS: Both parents and kid testers loved using this bag, saying kids felt empowered to pack and carry their own luggage. One noted, “My daughter loves using this bag so much, she asks to play with it when we’re not traveling.” Its polyester fabric was durable in Lab tests, and the zippers proved water resistant.
This does-it-all tote from Dagne Dover has an ingenious design to help keep you organized. It features a plethora of pockets, including four exterior compartments, a slip-in laptop sleeve, a neoprene bottle holder, small zippered pockets and more. The bag is made of 100% cotton canvas and has an opened top for convenient access.
LAB RESULTS: Testers loved using this bag during a wide range of travel experiences as everything from a road-trip carryall for kid activities to a beach bag with all the essentials. Regardless of their destination, users called it “a game changer” for keeping all its contents separated so they didn’t have to rummage through a stuffed bag.
When a typical diaper bag just won’t cut it during your travels, No Reception Club’s innovative backpack carries a large load while keeping your hands free. With lots of separate packing areas that are easy to access, it even has built-in shelves, detachable stroller clips and a security pocket for valuables that sits against your back.
LAB RESULTS: One parent of an infant raved, “It’s really great! It fits a ton and has smart pockets and a sleek design.” She also loved the insulated lunch bag that comes with the backpack. Our textiles pros were impressed, noting that it came with user-friendly instructions that made it easy to pack the shelves. Beyond that, its polyester fabric was abrasion-resistant in our tests.
An adaptable system that combines the packability of a storage bin with the portability of a bag, the Rux serves as a rugged carrier for adventures of all types. From holding camping supplies, to toting sports gear to bringing along picnic supplies and more, it can do many tasks has lots of straps so you can carry it with your hands, over your shoulder or on your back.
LAB RESULTS: Our pros liked how easy it was to set up; each corner quickly snapped open with minimal effort. Users appreciated the flexibility of the materials, which made it easier to fill than a rigid bin, as well as its depth, which allowed for a large packing capacity. Testers also liked it for everyday use, noting that it was convenient to store in the car trunk.
From school to vacation, this Crate & Kids bag is built with standout comfort and convenience features. There are two water bottle holders as well as reflective pulls on the zippers and padding on the shoulder straps and top handle. Plus, it comes in two other sizes (small and large) to fit kids of all ages.
LAB RESULTS: Its polyester fabric was abrasion-resistant in our Lab’s durability tests, and it held all our supplies in standardized packing tests. One user highlighted, “This small pack fit an impressive amount! I especially liked the wide-tooth zipper for easy opening and closing.” On top of that, testers liked the trendy colors and prints.
Perfect for young and active travelers, Namuk’s bag incorporates key design features for hiking, including mesh back panels for ventilation, chest and waist straps for support, abrasion- and water-resistant materials for durability and reflective details for safety. The front bungee can hold extra items or help compress the bag.
LAB RESULTS: Kid testers loved filling the roll-top bag and were able to open it, pack it and close it own their own. One parent noted that this helped “create a feeling of independence” for her child. Our textiles pros liked how lightweight the materials were so the bag itself didn’t add extra weight, along with the fact that the roll-top closure made the capacity flexible.
This compact set from Tommee Tippee makes heating up bottles and baby food a breeze. The insulated canister stores hot water when you’re out and about. At mealtime, the removable lid serves as a container: Just pour the water in and add the bottle when you’re ready to warm it up. Beyond travel, it’s also great for local outings.
LAB RESULTS: It’s a personal favorite of many GH product experts, who said it was a lifesaver for their own kids and made traveling with babies less stressful. Testers said it was easy to use in restaurants, on airplanes and even in amusement parks. “It saved us when traveling with our infant daughter and kept liquids hot for hours,” raved one.
Welly’s first-aid set includes all the basics for scrapes on the go. There are 130 bandages in varying sizes and designs along with cleansing wipes, ointments, pads, tape and more. The sturdy tin packs well in bags or cars so you can always have it with you. Plus, it has organizational compartments so you can easily find what you need.
LAB RESULTS: Our product experts and parent testers all loved how this kit was kid-friendly, noting that unlike most first-aid packs with plain bandages that are too large for tiny fingers, this one had smaller sizes and fun designs. They also noted how well the bandages stayed put and said they’d become household staples for their families.
Despite its ultra-compact size, Bugaboo’s stroller provides a super-comfortable seat for children thanks to its spacious interior, cushioning materials, leg rest and extendable canopy. And to make things easier for parents, there’s plenty of storage underneath, an easy-click harness and the option to add a car seat with adapters.
LAB RESULTS: Testers were wowed by how seamlessly the stroller opened and closed. They also loved its small footprint when folded, allowing it to fit in airline overhead compartments or easily be stored at home. Our engineers were impressed that while it was exceptionally easy to maneuver, it still felt solid on a variety of terrains.
Designed for kids weighing 40 to-120 pounds, Diono’s highly modifiable car seat includes 12 headrest positions and expandable sides to accommodate growing children over the years. And despite the fact that this is a full-size booster, it folds compactly, making it great for travel and other temporary driving needs, like carpooling.
LAB RESULTS: Parent testers unanimously said they enjoyed using it and highlighted how easy it was to both install in and take out of the car. One raved about the cup holder was spacious enough to fit wider water bottles and also noted, “It’s very convenient how the carry straps are stored inside so they don’t get lost.”
BabyQuip makes traveling with babies, toddlers and kids easier with its platform, which connects you to local providers that rent things you might need while away including cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, toys, bathing essentials and more. No need to haul everything by plane or car; the bulky gear can be delivered before your arrival.
LAB RESULTS: Our team tested several providers across the country and found that all offered quality baby gear. One parent gushed, “It allowed me to recreate everything I have at home, including monitors and sound machines, so not only did my toddlers sleep peacefully but I did too!”
This Keke grab-and-go bag creates screen-free entertainment for kids on the move. It includes four different pouches with activities that help children strengthen essential skills. You can also opt for the subscription, which sends three new pouches (that can be easily swapped in the bag) and a loose activity every 12 weeks.
LAB RESULTS: Parent testers loved having an all-in-one activity pack that their young kids could carry on their own. Children also enjoyed using it, and one parent noted, “My 3 year old was so proud to tote around his own bag. From the car to the plane to the restaurant, it was like an added appendage the whole trip!”
A quick and wholesome option for airport meals, Farmer’s Fridge vending machines offer salads, sandwiches, bowls, yogurts and more. You can browse the menu and nutrition facts through the smart touch screen. and there’s a built-in recycling bin for empty containers. You can also check out the menu and order in advance through an app.
LAB RESULTS: We reviewed it at four different airports, and testers were unanimously blown away by the freshness, quality and taste of their meals. They also gave it high marks for ease of use, convenience and portion sizes. One user told us, “I was so impressed that it tasted not like ‘airport food’ but like delicious crisp, fresh salads.”
This plush yet supportive pillow from Honeydew is compact enough to take on a trip, yet substantial enough to use throughout your stay. It has a curved shape to promote proper alignment and comes with its own pillowcase and storage bag. The fill is a blend with memory foam pieces for cradling comfort that keeps its shape.
LAB RESULTS: Testers loved using it so much that they continued sleeping on it at home after traveling. One described it as being “in between a typical airline pillow and a traditional pillow in shape, providing the benefits of both,” while another said it improved her sleep quality during a weeklong road trip and vacation.
Sleeping in an RV doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice comfort, thanks to RV Mattress by Brooklyn Bedding. The mattress uses memory foam for pressure relief and comes in five heights, ranging from 6 inches (for a firm feel) through 14 inches (for a medium-soft feel). It also comes in a whopping 22 sizes to fit a variety of RV beds.
LAB RESULTS: Our textiles pros appreciated the stain-resistant outer cover for easier cleanups, and travel testers were amazed by the comfort. One said she liked it better than her regular bed at home and told us, “I barely get a good night’s sleep because of my back, but I was able to sleep through the night with no pain on this mattress.”
Luxe Bidet is known for its full-size mechanical bidets, but this soft plastic bottle is designed to help you stay hygienic when you’re on the go. Its nozzle has 10 spray holes, allowing it to cover a wide area during use. Simply fill it with water, screw on the cap, extend the nozzle, and you’re all set to get a refreshing cleanse.
LAB RESULTS: Testers noted how discreet it was to carry around, especially with its collapsible tube and nylon pouch. They also said it was convenient for road trips, camping trips and other bathroom experiences, and they found it comfortable to use, especially when filled with warm water.
These LG earbuds are packed with features that make them a great choice for frequent flyers, like a Plug & Wireless+ mode that lets you connect the base to the headphone jack on an airplane screen when Bluetooth isn’t available. Other functions include UV cleaning for the earbuds’ eargel tips. Find My Earbuds to track them down and an intuitive app with customization options.
LAB RESULTS: Testers liked how easy it was to set up the earbuds and pair them with a smartphone, as well as how comfortable they felt even after hours of use. Our Media & Tech pros found their audio quality solid across a range of listening modes and media, and active noise cancellation was effective at reducing background sounds on busy streets.
Columbia’s three-in-one outerwear has a weather-resistant shell and an insulated inner layer with a thermo-reflective liner to trap heat. The layers can be zipped together for extreme conditions or worn separately in milder weather, saving you from having to pack multiple jackets. It also has lots of pockets for convenient storage.
LAB RESULTS: Our textiles experts were thoroughly impressed with its quality construction; in fact, it’s one of our top-tested winter coats overall, not just for travel. Testers liked the stylish matte appearance. and one noted, “The tapered shape with banded waist is flattering.” They also gave it high marks for fit and comfort.
Compression socks can help alleviate swelling when you’re sitting for long periods. This cotton pair from Vim & Vigr uses a smart design for enhanced comfort, including a contoured shape and a flexible toe area. It comes in an array of colors, designs and compression levels, with the lowest level being this 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg option, suitable for most travelers.
LAB RESULTS: It performed better than other compression socks in our tests, standing up to both abrasion and laundering evaluations. It also wicked moisture well when we tested it with Lab equipment, and testers agreed that their feet didn’t sweat at all. Testers also liked that they were stylish. and one noted, “I wore them for more than five hours, and they felt great the entire time.”
These breathable sneakers from Allbirds are made with a knit upper for a flexible fit and a bouncy sole for good cushioning. They’re sustainably sourced using Tencel lyocell fabric, shoelaces made from recycled water bottles and foams made with sugarcane and and castor bean oil. Plus, the lining is merino wool, which is soft and temperature-regulating.
LAB RESULTS: Both our textiles experts and consumer testers said they would swear by these shoes for vacations, noting that they were basic enough to match any outfit yet comfortable enough to wear all day. One tester even said they felt supported walking 12 miles in these. The shoes washed well in our laundering tests with no damage after repeated cycles.
The powerful, stylish Nissan Armada SUV features an impressive 8,500-lb towing capacity thanks to its 5.6-liter V-8 engine delivering 400-hp. It’s ideal if you’re towing an RV or a trailer. But even with its hefty frame, it drives smoothly and has a spacious and lush interior for the driver and up to seven additional passengers (though for families inclined toward adventure, we prefer the available captain’s chairs for the second row).
LAB RESULTS: In our test drive, we were impressed by the plethora of available amenities and features, including a large 12.3-inch infotainment screen that offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard and available rear-seat entertainment screens to keep kids amused on long hauls.
There’s a reason Car and Driver named the Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV of the year! The sleek styling of the all-electric SUV is sure to turn heads as you ride smoothly on highways and town roads. Comfy, practical and well-appointed, it provides a 350-kW DC fast-charging capacity with an impressive driving range of up to an estimated 303 miles.
LAB RESULTS: We found in our tests that the 12-inch touchscreen provided responsive feedback for infotainment needs. Highway Driver Assist 2, Hyundai’s semi-autonomous driving mode, nimbly drives on the highway and changes lanes with minimal driver intervention.
Minivans scream “family-friendly,” and with good reason. They’re spacious and practical, and if you opt for the Chrysler Pacifica, you get one that is also arguably graceful and good-looking! Inside, there’s lots of room for all your stuff, with cubbies, cupholders and bins galore. And you can opt for the available built-in vacuum if you know you’ll be taking lots of food-filled trips.
LAB RESULTS: Test drives proved that family transportation can be comfortable and even enjoyable with the spacious and highly flexible cabin (the back rows can be stowed under the floor!). It offers a smooth and pleasant cruising experience with all-wheel drive (AWD) and enough power to pass without seeming sluggish. Plus, we love that it’s available as a fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
The Genesis GV80 midsize SUV turns heads with its luxe looks, and its well-appointed interior is equally impressive. The cabin feels upscale and modern, and because of its impressive warranty, you can rest assured even though it’s still a relatively new entrant. With its seating for up to seven (kids only for the optional back row), all passengers will have a serene and comfy ride.
LAB RESULTS: Our pros appreciate that no matter what the trim, all models feel luxurious thanks to an expansive 14.5-inch touchscreen and an abundance of standard driver-assistance features. In test drives, we found that it delivered a quiet, agile ride.
How We Tested Travel Experiences
More than 75 testers (often with their families) reviewed destinations, hotels, resorts, cruises, campgrounds, attractions and travel services in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico. They saw cribs and other kid gear firsthand and weighed in on family activities, pool areas, kids’ menus, supervised kids’ clubs, room layouts, the check-in process and other features that had the potential to make traveling with children more of a vacation and less of a trip.
They noted the vibe of each place and whether it felt safe enough to allow older kids some independence. They also took notes in relation to sustainability and inclusion, flagging some spots as being particularly welcoming to guests with dietary restrictions, children with special needs and LBGTQ+ families. For travel services such as attraction passes and booking sites, they noted how easy they were to use and whether they allowed for filtering by certain attributes that are important to families.
Last, we surveyed our proprietary panel and reviewed responses from more than 3,000 people who had taken trips in the past two years. They weighed in on their favorite vacation experiences, airlines, hotel chains, rental car providers, rewards programs, booking services and more, often commenting on why they were loyal to a particular brand.
To help you choose the best fit, we’ve included a $ scale in each write-up for a resort or hotel. While many factors, especially seasonality and special events, can affect pricing, we wanted to provide an estimate of the cost for the least expensive category of room for each of our winners. The dollar signs after each description correspond to a typical price range when you book a few months in advance.
For hotels and resorts that aren’t all-inclusive, the breakdown is as follows:
$ = Less than $150 per night
$$ = $150 to $299 per night
$$$ = $300 to $499 per night
$$$$ = $500 or more per night
At all-inclusive resorts, food and most activities are bundled into the price. You typically book on a per-person basis, based on a room occupancy that includes at least two adults. The price for a child is usually significantly less than that for an adult. The breakdown is as follows:
$ = Less than $150 per adult per night
$$ = $150 to $249 per adult per night
$$$ = $250 to $399 per adult per night
$$$$ = $400 or more per adult per night
MEXICO & THE CARIBBEAN
Situated on a large stretch of soft white sand and turquoise water in Grace Bay, Beaches Turks & Caicos is just a 10-minute ride from the airport. It’s great for letting kids explore because food and activities are included in the price. Ditto for the supervised kids’ clubs, which are broken down into several ranges for more age-appropriate experiences. Toddlers in particular relish the Sesame Street family programming, especially the dance party with Elmo. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester was impressed with the resort’s range of accommodations to fit both small and large family groups. There were lots of restaurant choices too, she noted. “Our favorites for families were Soy, Jerk Shack and Kimono,” said our tester, who visited with her spouse and their 7-year-old. Our pros also appreciated that all staff have completed at least 40 hours of autism-sensitivity training.
With nonstop flights there from seven major cities, the Cayman Islands are easy to get to and the airport is just seven miles away from the iconic Seven Mile Beach. Beyond its turquoise water, soft white sand and gentle waves, the island offers striking wildlife adventures. Kids can interact with starfish, stingrays and sea turtles through a wide range of offerings. Of the many fantastic places to stay along Seven Mile Beach, the new Kimpton Seafire Resort, with bunk-bed family suites, stands out for those traveling with kids.
TESTER NOTES: Being able to explore the island safely rather than just stay at the resort was a major selling point for our tester, but she noted, “My favorite part of the trip was a boat tour to experience a beautiful coastline and aquatic life.” The area essentially shuts down on Sundays, so she suggested using that as your travel day.
Hotel Xcaret México on the Rivera Maya serves as the home base for included excursions to all the brand’s adventure parks and tours. Your crew could be shuttled to explore an underground cave or zoom above the treetops on a zip line. There are kid-size lounge chairs next to adult ones along with a huge octopus slide at one of the lifeguarded pools, and you can even borrow a stroller specifically designed to be used on the beach. There’s also a drop-off kids’ club for children 4 and up. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: “This resort is great for all types of families,” said our tester. “There were lots of young kids, though the adventure parks are probably best suited to elementary schoolers and up.” She also noted the inclusivity, saying, “I was happy to see other LGBTQ couples and families enjoying the beautiful beaches and pools, so I felt more comfortable traveling as a queer person.”
The Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa provides child-care services for babies as young as 3 months so you can unwind during an oceanfront spa treatment, take a kite-surfing lesson or just relax. Starting at just a few inches deep, the resort’s Splash Pool is perfect for a baby’s first dip. Tots will enjoy feeding the on-property rescue animals, including ducks, goats and sheep. The lazy river and slides at the resort’s waterpark are big hits too. Kids up to age 12 can join fun supervised clubs. $$$
TESTER NOTES: “If your family wants a relaxing all-inclusive vacation without worry about keeping your kids entertained, this is a great resort,” said our tester. She said there were a lot of daytime activities for all ages, and that the resort was particularly great for parents who might worry about vacationing with kids 10 and under.
The older-kid crowd isn’t an afterthought for Atlantis; it has water slides, private gaming cabanas and a nightclub with a DJ spinning records until 1 a.m. Younger sibs will have plenty of fun, too, in a massive kids’ club with a dollhouse and a Lego-building zone. Families come together for marine encounters that range from paddleboarding with dolphins to sea lion meet-and-greets. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: “We’ve vacationed at Atlantis several times, and as my kids have gotten older, there’s been more for them to do,” said one tester, who has a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old. Another tester noted, “This resort is huge and has so much to do. It’s better for people who don’t want to leave the resort as well as larger groups because there are so many things to keep a wide range of people happy.”
Located on world-renowned Palm Beach, Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino has plenty of activities along with a two-story waterslide and a swim-up spot for drinks. All its rooms, including a two-bedroom family suite with bunk beds, are newly remodeled, with plush bedding and a serene color scheme. The resort’s new Ultimate Family Experience package includes premium pool or beach seating daily along with sand buckets and rafts, a day at the supervised camp for 3- to 12-year-olds and — in a stroke of genius — a spa credit to use when the kids at at camp. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Because the resort isn’t all-inclusive, it’s a fantastic pick for families who want to explore the island or even just check out the restaurants across the street, said our tester. Plus, she noted that attentive staff help make it a great experience for all members of the family.
The new Hilton Cancun, an All Inclusive Resort, situated on a secluded stretch of the Mayan coastline, helps immerse kids in the culture of the destination. Little travelers can make Mayan art, paint ceramics and learn traditional dances. There’s authentic Mexican food for adults and kids as well as an all-you-can-eat ice cream and churro shop on the property. If your kids are 10 or older, you can book a “swim-up poolside room” with access to the pool just a few steps outside your door. A kid-friendly waterpark area has slides, fountains and dumping water buckets. $$$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester, who visited with their wife, appreciated that the Hilton brand has a long history of LBGTQ+ inclusivity. “We felt very welcomed there,” they said. The best time to visit is November through March, avoiding the season when a lot of seaweed washes up on the beach, they advised.
A particularly good choice for families on the West Coast, Los Cabos is chock-full of animal experiences like whale-watching from December through April, taking part in sea turtle releases, riding camels or donkeys in the desert and snorkeling in coral-rich Chileno Bay. Recently Los Cabos became the first destination in the world to receive the Queer Destinations Committed Entity accreditation. While this stunning escape on Mexico’s West Coast offers lodging for all budgets, the high-end Montage Los Cabos on one of the area’s few swimmable beaches is worth every penny.
TESTER NOTES: Los Cabos is equally rewarding for a romantic getaway or a family-fun-filled vacation. Many of the hotel properties offer kid-specific activities and kids’ clubs, including dolphin swims, fishing, whale-watching and more. Montage’s kids’ club for ages 5 to 12, Paintbox, was highlighted for its arts and crafts.
On a white sand beach in the center of vibrant San Juan, the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel appeals to families looking for a beach vacation in a destination rich in history and culture. The century-old property maintains its magnificent Spanish Revival architecture while adding perks for families, including large suites with 24-hour butler service. Three high-end restaurants, helmed by renowned chef Juan Jose Cuevas, have kid-friendly menus. And beach butler service ensures that you won’t have to carry a bunch of gear to the water. Boogie boards, snorkels and beach toys are provided. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: In addition to being kid-friendly, the hotel is also pet-friendly, our tester said. There are plenty of paths for walking dogs, and they’re welcome in outdoor seating at several of the resort’s restaurants.
Affectionately known as “the Pink Palace,” the Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club operates a private beach cove for its guests. A jitney will whisk you about 20 minutes to Sinky Bay on South Beach. There, older kids have access to paddleboards and snorkeling equipment while younger ones can use the beach toys and the playground. Back at the resort, newly renovated guest rooms have ample storage space. A complimentary kids’ club operates in July and August, and children 5 and under eat free off the kids’ menu, which includes healthier twists on favorites. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: The infinity pool, for families to enjoy together, “was beautiful and had a walkable path with lounge chairs in the shallow-water section that would be perfect for young kids,” said our tester.
Tucked into Oahu’s North Shore about an hour from Honolulu, the newly renovated Turtle Bay Resort levels up typical beach experiences. Stand-up paddleboarding lessons come with a doggy sidekick for moral support. A 15-minute walk on resort property leads to a bay where sea turtles frolic and the Hunger Games: Catching Fire was filmed. Guided horseback rides (and pony rides for kids ages 6 and under) take place on a wildlife-dotted coastal trail. The exceptional room options include bungalows with solar roofs and multi-bedroom villas, with a full kitchen and ocean-view living room. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: The wide beaches, perfect for castle-building, shell-spotting, and tide-pooling, are the stars of this resort. Some have protected coves with gentle waves and others will appeal to surfers-in-training. The kids’ pool with two waterslides is located near one of the main restaurants. Speaking of food, make restaurant reservations a few weeks in advance because the kid-friendly times fill up fast.
Wailea Beach Resort creates a picturesque Hawaiian scene: Swaying palm trees, pineapple-garnished drinks, tropical flowers, and an ocean view for miles. Bliss starts at check-in where your crew is greeted with fruity drinks and leis. You can use the property’s app to sign up for an array of complimentary cultural activities, ranging from hula lessons to lei-making. The resort also offers incredible snorkeling for all levels of swimmers. Over at the family pool, the state’s longest waterslide enthralls mini daredevils. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Our staffer who visited said the complimentary outrigger canoe experience (best for families with tweens and teens) is worth the early waking time, and noted she saw sea turtles. The resort is also one of a handful in the state that offers discounts for giving back to the local community. Its “Malama Hawaii” package takes 20% off a five-night stay if your family helps to craft a quilt appliqué that’s donated to senior citizens. You’ll need to book the package in advance of arrival.
An oceanfront retreat spanning three miles on Maui’s western coast, Hyatt Regency Maui and Spa is full of animal encounters. They start in the atrium, home to a group of African black-footed penguins. The resort created a special habitat for the endangered species. Flamingos, swans and parrots are also on the property, and kids can see them up close. At night, rooftop stargazing experiences equipped with a professional telescope are well worth letting little ones stay up a smidge past bedtime, and a NASA-trained astronomer answers kids’ questions. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: “Everything in the rooms, pool area and restaurants is beautiful, clean and new,” said our staffer who visited. She noted that the activity lagoon is a fabulous hangout for toddlers and preschoolers, while older kids will have a blast on the bigger slides and rope bridge. Our pros also appreciated its sustainability efforts; the gold LEED-certified resort places reusable water bottles in every room and has installed water-filling stations on every floor.
Near the legendary black rock on Ka‘anapali Beach, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa offers family suites that are awesome for larger groups. The ground-level ‘Ohana Suites contain two double beds plus a Murphy bed and pull-out couch to comfortably sleep up to five. Unlike some other hotels in this area, the beach in front of the resort has plenty of space to spread out and build sandcastles. A lagoon pool with a waterfall feature plus a “keiki” pool for the littles add to the resort’s water fun. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Besides for lauding the amazing location, our tester really enjoyed the food. “The Ube pancakes [made with purple yams and coconut milk] are amazing,” said a GH staffer. If your family needs a break from the sun, the new ocean-themed game room near the lobby is a fun place to chill out.
Located on one of the best shorelines in the country, the Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach is the crown jewel of the brand. In addition to three pools, a massive water playground with slides and a large lazy river overlook the Gulf of Mexico. The resort makes date night possible with its supervised “Kids Night Out” program with pizza and games. When it’s bedtime, you’ll all be comfy. There are plenty of room layouts for all family sizes, including one option with a queen bed and two sets of bunk beds. $$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester’s two kids were seriously impressed with the beach and waterpark and asked to go there again soon. A registered dietitian, our tester especially enjoyed The View restaurant and room service offerings. “Our room also had a full-size fridge, microwave and coffee maker, which was very much appreciated,” she noted.
A recently renovated resort on a private beach in the Florida Keys, Isla Bella Beach Resort boasts five oceanfront pools, including one that begins at just a few inches deep. The activities calendar is packed, from treasure hunts to guided runs, seashell decorating to water balloon volleyball. There’s even a free three-hour marine science camp for first graders to sixth graders that’s taught by scientists and environmentalists. Two-bedroom beachfront guest rooms sleep up to six, or if you want a kitchen, you can opt for a suite with a main bedroom and queen sofa bed. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: The meals were one of the highlights of the trip for our tester. “Dinner at Mahina was one of the best I’ve ever had,” she raved. “I have never had sushi so delicious and fresh. Everything was incredible, down to the bread and butter.” Service throughout the resort was exceptional too. Said our tester: “We asked for a toothbrush, and it was in our room within 10 minutes.”
Rescued dolphins, otters, sea turtles and other marine life are nursed back to health at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Some of the animals can’t be released into the wild, so visitors can watch them from floor-to-ceiling viewing windows in their new home. Families can hand-feed stingrays, peek inside the surgical suite where animals are cared for and play games in the Mangrove Key Kids’ Zone. A manatee exhibit with touch screens and other interactive features recently opened, and plans for manatee rehab pools are in the works. Tickets start at $36 for adults and $27 for ages 3 to 12.
TESTER NOTES: Watch the family movie Dolphin Tale before you visit, our tester suggested. It chronicles the rescue of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail and lived at the aquarium until passing away last year. The film will help prepare kids for the injured animals that they might see at the aquarium and can spark a conversation about the challenges that sea creatures face in the wild.
After undergoing an extensive renovation, PGA National Resort reopened earlier this year with expanded family activities, including a new pool and splash zone. The Match, a new golf course designed to be a fast round for players of all abilities, is a great way to get tweens and teens involved in the game. A supervised camp for 4- to 12-year-olds gives you the freedom to enjoy a spa treatment or play a round of golf at one of the six PGA-level courses. You can choose from a variety of accommodations, including two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottages. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: An avid golfer, our tester thought the Champions course was a “wonderful experience.” She noted that there were frequent water refill and ice stations and lots of TLC. “The staff was very friendly and came around to provide us with lavender-scented cooling towels to keep us comfortable during the round,” she said. Another highlight of her trip was the fried chicken at Honeybelle, an onsite restaurant helmed by a James Beard-nominated chef.
The most visited destination in the U.S., Orlando rightfully calls itself “the theme park capital of the world.” In no other place can your family experience the world of Harry Potter one day, be immersed in Star Wars the next and then ooh and aah in a penguin habitat the following afternoon. The sheer volume of hotels (480+ at last count) and direct flights keeps prices lower than many other major cities. The city is also a member of IGLTA, a large network of LBGTQ+ tourism destinations and businesses.
TESTER NOTES: Venture outside the touristy spots for a quieter but satisfying day, according to our tester. “For $15, you can rent a Swan Boat for a half hour and take the kids on a ride around Lake Eola,” she noted. Lake Lorna Doone Park, a local favorite, has an inclusive playground for kids of all abilities plus a splash pad. On rainy days, look into what’s playing at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It hosts Broadway touring musicals, ballets and other shows.
Fifty years after it opened, Walt Disney World Resort is still delighting kids of all ages. The anniversary celebration, going on until March 31, 2023, brought some incredible new features including a stunning fireworks-based show at Disney’s Epcot and Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade, a parade in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Outside of the 50th fanfare, the new Guardians of the Galaxy–Cosmic Rewind at Disney’s Epcot, an indoor coaster with spinning carts, has been the hot ticket along with the immersive Star Wars attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Tickets start at $109 for ages 10 and up, $104 for ages 3 to 9
TESTER NOTES: One tester with young children suggests taking advantage of the baby centers at each park. “They were the calmest areas for nursing and diaper changes,” she said. “They have small potties for little kids who may be intimidated by the restrooms.” Another tester noted that hopping between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot has become so fast and fun, thanks to the new gondola system, Disney Skyliner.
After a day of rides, crowds and park food, Grande Lakes Orlando (home to two hotels: the JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton) offers a stunning property to unwind. About 15 minutes away from Universal Orlando and 20 minutes to Disney’s Magic Kingdom—shuttle service is provided—this property has a low-key vibe and some of the best restaurants in the area. Michelin-recommended Primo features Italian cuisine (kids love the pizza!) while Whisper Creek: The Kitchen offers farm-to-table dining. Build a resort day into the vacation, so you have time for the spa plus an eco-tour, pickleball, and splashing around in the new waterpark. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester and her seventh-grader stayed in the JW Marriott’s new Executive Family Suites, which offer a king bed plus bunk beds. Toys, games and even a book nook are in the suite. A connecting room or two can be added for multi-gen groups. “The beds were incredibly comfortable,” our tester said.
Not only is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex a fantastic side trip from Orlando, there’s also much to do at this sprawling attraction. Operating a robotic arm, navigating simulators inside a Space Shuttle and seeing actual rockets up close will make your kids over the moon! Kids who are at least 44 inches tall can take the Space Shuttle Launch Experience and find out what it’s like for astronauts in the minutes leading up to blast off. An indoor solar-system-themed playground (with an asteroid ring slide) helps burn off energy. Families with older kids will enjoy the lunch with an astronaut program. Tickets start at $75 for adults, $65 for ages 3 to 11.
TESTER NOTES: If possible, arrange your visit for one of the days that rocket launch is planned. If the stars align, your family could be sitting on the bleachers in the Launch Viewing Area with all eyes glued to the sky.
CALIFORNIA & PACIFIC NORTHWEST
The legendary Victorian facade and red roof make it seem like the Hotel del Coronado was plucked from a storybook. (BTW, The Wizard of Oz was written at the hotel.) Its beachy chic rooms, however, are full of modern amenities, and a new kids’ club leans into science. The Ocean Explorers program takes 5- to 12-year-olds to the beach to discover tidepools, shells and other important parts of the ecosystem. Then it builds on the findings in a “living classroom” filled with aquariums, microscopes and artifacts kids can touch. Nighttime brings family movies set up on the big screen by the pool and s’mores bonfires at the beach. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: The hotel’s grab-and-go spot, Eno’s Market, offers a nice selection for breakfast plus outdoor seating that’s conducive to families with young kids, our tester noted. You can also easily walk to many other eateries and shops in town.
Retro surf-themed and on an iconic beach, the newly renovated Dream Inn Santa Cruz offers great value for those on a budget. All guest rooms have ocean views, fun orange and blue decor, and conveniences like a Keurig and mini fridge. A balloon artist, taco carts and a surprise beach ball that drops with prizes make hanging out at the heated pool even more fun. Happy hour includes an ice cream bar for the kids and make-your-own Bloody Mary and mimosa bar for the adults. Families of six or more can sign up for an Iron Chef-style competition at the restaurant and vie for the coveted title. $$
TESTER NOTES: In the best way possible, “it’s a throwback to simpler family vacations,” said our tester. Although this area is known for surfing, the waves in front of the resort are typically gentle enough for young kids. Consider requesting a higher floor for better views of the surfers and sea lions who hang out pretty close to the shore.
The OG Disney theme park is just as magical as its sister attraction in Orlando. Think of Disneyland‘s 30-plus rides as a “greatest hits” of sorts. While dispersed across multiple theme parks in Orlando, the much-acclaimed Star Wars rides, uber-popular Toy Story: Midway Mania, tongue-in-cheek Jungle Cruise, and tot-friendly Nemo ride aren’t far from each other at Disneyland. Roaming characters; street performers; parades; and fun, themed food add to the kids’ (and, let’s be honest, grown-ups’) excitement. Tickets start at $104 for ages 10 and up, $98 for ages 3 to 9.
TESTER NOTES: “My tween loved the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which are only at Disneyland,” said our tester. “It’s not a kiddie ride or wild coaster—it has just the right amount of thrill for her.” Three Disney hotels, including the spectacular Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, are just a short walk to the park.
About 20 minutes from both downtown San Diego and La Jolla, local fave Rancho Bernardo Inn offers something for everyone on a multigenerational trip. Kids and grandparents alike will have fun exploring the sprawling grounds–there are more than 20 artful fountains to spy and plenty of benches to rest tired legs. The front lawn doubles as a game headquarters; supersized versions of chess, Jenga and other classics are even more fun to play in a group. You could chill out in the family pool or adult pool, depending on your mood. $$$
TESTER NOTES: The quality of food is excellent and guests with various dietary needs have a nice selection of options, our tester noted. Some of the produce is even grown in an onsite Chef’s Garden. Our tester was also impressed with the adorable children’s amenities—a tent, a child-size sleeping bag, stuffed animals and a s’mores kit are set up in every room with young guests.
For a nature-focused vacation in the comfort of a resort, Carmel Valley Ranch in Northern California is the dream. Everything feels elevated: Instead of just roasting marshmallows, you can do it with a naturalist. Lavender flower crowns are the ultimate arts and crafts activity. The “Junior Ranch Hand” program will wow 6- to 12-year-olds with lasso lessons, burro riding and more. All accommodations are suites—and everyone has a fireplace and private deck. The Carmel Suite with two bedrooms and two bathrooms is especially well-suited for families. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: The Bee’s Life experience in the property’s organic garden is worth the extra fee, said our tester. “We learned about bees, suited up and went into a beehive, got to touch the hive firsthand and finished with a honey tasting,” she said. Our tester also appreciated the many thoughtful touches throughout the resort, from lemonade in the lobby to lavender soap in guest bathrooms.
Nestled within Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Cavallo Point Lodge warmly welcomes children—right down to the thoughtful children’s menu— but makes you feel like you’re on a luxury grown-up trip. While you could keep things flexible, there are structured activities like watercolor classes and family guided hikes should you want them. San Francisco is a walk or bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, and the property offers free shuttles to nearby downtown Sausalito and Rodeo Beach. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester, who traveled with three adults and a child, called her Historic Two-Bedroom Suite “one of the family-friendliest rooms I’ve ever stayed in! The beds were like sleeping on clouds, and my son loved taking a big bubble bath in the tub!” She also noted that the room included games like Clue and Scrabble and had Google Voice-enabled tablets for bedtime stories. “Plus, the hairdryer in the bathroom was a Dyson!”
Sunriver Resort shines bright year-round, though the light display, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and gingerbread building during the holidays are especially magnificent. Families who like to bike will find more than 40 miles of trails to explore. For families, two-story Lodge Village Suites, which sleep up to six, give your crew plenty of space plus a kitchenette. Located in the Cascade Range of central Oregon, the resort also rents an array of on-property homes and condos that would be awesome for a family reunion. $$$
TESTER NOTES: Featuring steak and seafood as well as an extensive kids’ menu, “the resort’s Lodge Kitchen restaurant was wonderful,” said our tester, who brought her two young children. “The service was great too.” Our tester’s family also loved The Cove, an indoor pool complex with a lazy river, splash pad and tunnel waterslide. “The pool was lifeguarded and there were child-size life vests and pool toys to borrow,” she noted.
How cool would it be to experience a mountain, an ocean, and a rain forest all in one day? Your family can hit the bucket list jackpot at Olympic National Park, about a three-hour drive from Seattle. Start out by hiking above the clouds at Hurricane Ridge, a 3 1/2-mile trek that’s best for school-age kids and up. Then drive through the Hoh Rain Forest on your way to Ruby Beach. The stunning beach, known for its driftwood, received significant improvements to its accessibility, parking and facilities last summer. You could stay at the nearby Kalaloch Lodge; it doesn’t have Wi-Fi access so you can really be off the grid on your trip. Weeklong entry fees start at $30 per vehicle.
TESTER NOTES: “The Hurricane Ridge hike gives kids a whiff of adventure. From the top, we could see Mount Olympus in Canada—it was snowcapped even in August,” said Jeremy Puglisi, coauthor of the forthcoming Where Should We Camp Next? National Parks and dad of three.
Whether you road-trip to Greenville, SC, or take one of 100 nonstop daily flights into the smallish airport, you’ll realize that this midsize city has invested a lot in families. The 22-mile Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail connects various parts of town, making it easier to walk or bike around the area. A free downtown trolley is a fun way to get around too. For a city of this size, the cultural options are impressive and convenient. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, the 10th largest children’s museum in the country, is just a few blocks from the Upcountry History Museum and Greenville County Museum of Art, making it easy for families to split up based on the kids’ ages and interests. The new Springhill Suites Downtown, with swinging egg chairs in the lobby, is a fantastic home base.
TESTER NOTES: “The city’s Roper Mountain Science Center was one of the best family attractions I’ve ever visited,” said our tester. “It has the exhibits you’d expect at a science center plus an aquarium, dinosaur trail, planetarium, farm and butterfly garden.”
The JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District has become the heart of a new all-ages venue for music, great food and more. Built on the site of a former power plant, the repurposed hotel is spread across three buildings, with a shared pool area. Of the three, the original power plant building with an industrial vibe is best suited for families. Contemporary furnishings are juxtaposed against exposed brick walls. Loft rooms, which sleep up to three, are particularly cool if you’re traveling with a teen. There’s a king bed in the loft area and a large pull0ut downstairs so you both have private space. $$$
TESTER NOTES: The hotel’s lobby sets the tone for an awesome visit, according to our tester. “There are dinosaur bones, huge geodes, original equipment from the power plant, very large rocks and crystals and a bear skeleton,” said our tester. “Outside, the splash zone for kids has an area where they can dig for fossils.”
About five miles north of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Dollywood is a kid-pleasing add-on to a nature vacay. Its landscaping fits right in with the beauty of the area and many rides have nature or woodsy themes. The Treetop Tower (shown) is a preschool fave, while thrill-seekers gravitate to the park’s eight coasters. (Coming in 2023: Big Bear Mountain will be the park’s longest coaster.) Sprinkled throughout the park, historic attractions — like a schoolhouse from the 1890s — break up the riding and are sneakily educational. Tickets start at $79 for kids 4 to 9, $89 for ages 10 and up.
TESTER NOTES: “My young kids enjoyed the Country Fair section, with carnival-type rides and games the most,” said our tester. Park food is a notch or two above what you’d expect. “The famous Dollywood Cinnamon Bread lives up to the hype: Make sure you eat it fresh when it’s warm,” our tester said. “We got some in late morning and there was no line.”
Boutique hotels and kids don’t usually go together, but the Colton House Hotel in the South Congress area of Austin rolls out the red carpet for families. It addresses the biggest pain point for parents — space to hang after the kids are sleeping — by offering a variety of Texas-size accommodations, including two- and three-bedroom suites. They have a full kitchen, and you can request a “children’s eating kit” that includes kids’ utensils, highchair and bottles. A washer and dryer comes in handy to clean swimsuits after a dip in the outdoor pool. An on-site food truck makes for an easygoing meal that your crew can enjoy under the lights and oak trees on the patio. $$$
TESTER NOTES: The outdoor freshwater pool ranges from 4 inches to 5 feet and is heated or cooled depending on the temp. “There is an outdoor shower and bathroom with changing table,” our tester noted. Toys and games are also available to borrow in the outdoor space.
The exhibits at Children’s Museum Houston appeal to a variety of grade levels so siblings can experience it together. In the Heart & Soul: Growing Up in Korea exhibit, for instance, preschoolers can explore the pretend restaurant food while fourth and fifth graders can create a stop-motion movie in the animation section. Babies and toddlers do have their own area while the Texas Children’s Power Science Lab is for kids 8 and up. They use real lab equipment (think test tubes and microscopes) to conduct experiments. Tickets start at $15 for ages 1 and up.
TESTER NOTES: “The outdoor water play area and city where kids could open up a bank account were highlights for our family,” said our tester. “Plan to arrive early because there are so many cool exhibits here for kids to see.”
Kids have snow much fun at Keystone Resort—and it’s pretty sweet for parents too. Organized snowball launches, ice skating sleigh rides—and even two house-size snow forts to explore—give little ones the ultimate wintery experience. Children as young as 3 can also take a lesson at their world-class ski school while you hit the slopes or take a lesson yourself. Located on a lake a few miles from skiing, the Keystone Lodge & Spa is a convenient (and reasonably priced) place for families to stay. If you book two nights or more, kids under 12 ski free. $$$
TESTER NOTES: Even off-season is delightful: “In September, my husband and I were able to hike, bike and kayak with our teen all in the same day, plus enjoy a little concert by the lake,” said our tester. Plus, the resort’s family parking and little red wagons to haul kid gear are so appreciated.
Surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park, YMCA of the Rockies—Estes Park Center makes a mountain vacay more accessible for families. The free family programs are one of the best reasons to stay here. Some are guided, like nature walks and a rock climbing wall, but your family can do others, such as painting at the craft center, at your leisure. You could go from morning to night for a couple of days and not have any repeats. Lodging is value-priced—starting at $89 per night—and larger cabins are available. $
TESTER NOTES: While the resort welcomes kids of all ages, the sweet spot is kindergarten and up. “There was so much for my 6-year-old to do,” said our tester. “Story time at the resort’s library was one of her favorite activities.”
A winter wonderland, YMCA of the Rockies—Snow Mountain Ranch entertains families with an incredible dog-sledding experience plus Nordic skiing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing and ice skating. It’s a quick drive to Winter Park Ski Resort, which offers more mountain fun. The snow sticks around a long time—in summer, Snow Mountain Ranch still maintains a tubing hill. In warmer months, you can take the kid’s fishing or zip lining on the property. A seasonally operated yurt village is another reason to visit from June to October. $
TESTER NOTES: Our tester’s family of five stayed in a rustic three-bedroom cabin, which they noted had glorious views and a family-friendly layout. “Without question, this is a fantastic place for kids of all ages,” she said.
Located at the base of the mountain, the Beaver Creek Lodge provides the perfect resting spot for an alpine adventure with your family. Its 72 suites have fireplaces, kitchenettes and doors that separate your main from the kids’ space. They even come in three-bedroom options. A heated outdoor pool and hot tub makes après ski extra-wonderful. $$$
TESTER NOTES: With spacious rooms and can’t-be-beat location, our tester family noted how much easier the proximity to the slopes made the ski trip. They particularly enjoyed the nearby kid-friendly Five Senses Trail that has signs about how the senses relate to the wilderness!
A charming historic mining town about 90 minutes from the Denver Airport, Breckenridge is both a winter playground and an epic summer adventure. In the warmer months, your crew can meander through meadows of wildflowers, mine for gold or take a summer dog-sledding tour. The snowy season brings a flurry of activities like scenic snowcat tours (with s’mores), sledding and, of course, some of the country’s best skiing. No matter when you decide to visit, there are a variety of lodging options for every budget.
TESTER NOTES: “The Country Boy Mine historic gold mine tour is awesome for adults and kids alike,” said our tester. He was also blown away by the variety of fun shops and restaurants in town and how dog-friendly the whole area is. “Perfect, bug-free weather in the summer is great too,” he said.
With plenty of historic charm and family-friendly experiences, Wigwam Arizona near Phoenix provides the ultimate winter-weather escape. A popular hangout spot, the Tower Pool for families has dueling waterslides and extra-long hours—from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.— accommodating early risers and night owls alike. Young kids will revel in the magic of a “Superhero Training Camp” while sporty families play tennis or golf. Inclusivity is a priority; the resort frequently hosts LBGTQ+ weddings and families. $$$
TESTER NOTES: The dining experiences impressed our tester who is a registered dietitian. “I had one of the best meals of my life at Litchfield’s,” said our tester, who visited with her mom and 1-year-old. “The kids’ menu was impressive too—I loved my daughter’s mashed potatoes.”
Zion National Park provides beautiful backdrops for hiking with easy entry points for beginner-friendly trails. The park’s interactive nature center, reopening in May, has exhibits that highlight various habitats, so kids will know what to watch and listen for in the park. Ranger-led children’s programs covering topics like dinosaurs and animal adaptations will also resume in spring. Week-long admission starts at $35 per vehicle.
TESTER NOTES: We appreciate that amazing views at Zion National Park don’t require challenging hikes—a big plus for families with young kids. For instance, the short and paved Riverside Walk Trail takes you along a riverbank to the mouth of a canyon. “And although the Watchman Campground is more popular, the South Campground is quieter and more convenient to the Zion Shuttle,” said our tester.
Sledding at White Sands National Park is a thing, and kids are 100% on board. Home to the world’s largest gypsum dunefield (a.k.a. wavelike sand dunes), the park in the southern part of the state has ripples of sand as far as the eye can see. While ideal for fall, summertime visits are equally stunning; just opt for morning time when the sand is cooler. Weeklong admission starts at $25 per vehicle.
TESTER NOTES: We love that families can bring their own wax-bottomed sleds (or buy them at the visitor center) and slide down the dunes over and over again or even make sand angels. Pro tip: “The dunes in the back of the park are less crowded than the ones near the visitor center,” said our tester.
This luxury retreat features accommodations that blend in seamlessly with nature, with everything feeling beautiful yet easygoing. Start your day with a morning yoga session in the garden. While there are some scheduled classes (including crafts for kids and watercoloring for adults), a “Kids Art Shed” stocked with art supplies is open all day. You could explore the property’s trails on your own or opt to head out with a guide. Babysitting services through a certified agency are available, so you can pamper yourself at the resort’s superbly appointed Tree Spa. The treatment rooms wow with rustic warm wood, twinkle lights and forest views. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: While Hidden Pond is a glorious spot for couples or a girlfriends’ getaway, it’s likewise perfection for family needs. Instead of dealing with breakfast, you automatically get a Thermos of coffee and bag of pastries delivered to your room. Of all the accommodations offered, our tester thought the two-bedroom cottages were best suited to families. “The second bedroom had two twins beds plus a bunk bed,” our tester reported. She also appreciated the outdoor shower for rinsing off after a fun beach day.
Affectionately known as Smuggs by many of its repeat guests, Smugglers’ Notch Resort hits the mark for active families who are looking to try something new. Your crew can hike and picnic with llamas in the nearby trails, compete against other families in “The Big Smuggle” race and play laser tag in a bouncy house. From December to early April, there’s an all-day ski and snowboarding camp for kids as young as 3. They’ll learn the sports from the pros, while you score some time on the powder too. Bonfire warm-ups, reindeer visits and a weekly winter carnival tap into the magic of the season. $$$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester, who visited with her spouse and 11-year-old twins, thought the variety and style of lodging would work well for bringing extended family. “Our room configuration was amazing,” she said. “The kids’ room with four single beds was located on the opposite side of the suite as the main. We loved that kids and adults had their own private spaces.” Three- to five-bedroom condos are also available.
History comes to life for kids at Colonial Williamsburg, an experience that immerses visitors in the 18th century. Along several blocks with horse-drawn carriages passing by, families can visit shops of many trades. Blacksmiths, leatherworkers, farmers and more, all dressed in the attire of the time, will demonstrate their work. Without realizing it, kids will learn how shoes were shaped and how iron is used to make tools. They can also participate in planting on the farm. A guided tour of the Governor’s Palace (home to Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson) is particularly cool for young Hamilton fans. Tickets start at $47 for adults and $26 for kids ages 6 to 12.
TESTER NOTES: After exploring the garden outside the Governor’s Palace, walk down a few flights of steps and you’ll find a hidden gem. “The quiet, shaded area with a pond and benches is just perfect for a 15-minute breather,” said our tester, who frequently visits with her husband and daughter. “Kids can spy frogs and fish in the water. It’s also a great spot for pictures.”
The Mohonk Mountain House looks like it was transported from the pages of a storybook, and, indeed, vacationing here will be the dream. The Victorian castle resort is surrounded by beauty—a private glacial lake on one side, the Catskill Mountains on the other. All meals (plus afternoon tea and cookies) and almost every activity are included in the price. The choices are elevated: For instance, a Junior Naturalist Program takes 5- to 13-year-olds on fossil hunts and guided nature walks—and then they incorporate their discoveries into art projects. Horseback riding, canoeing and fishing are among the included activities that families can do together. Nighttime brings another round of fun events, ranging from family-friendly trivia night to s’mores roasts. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: “The staff was incredibly accommodating, knowledgeable and kind,” said our tester. “Even with kids running a bit amok, I never felt like I had to be apologetic for it.” She also raved about the food. “We did a few lunches by the lake, which was just such a beautiful backdrop,” she said. “Plus, my husband is gluten-free and we’re both dairy-free, and they were always able to accommodate us.”
Dinosaur fans will lose their minds at the American Museum of Natural History, a legendary attraction in Manhattan. On the fourth floor, about 100 spectacular dinosaur specimens—from a triceratops to a stegosaurus —wow guests of all ages. Your family can also walk over a glass floor of a recreated dig and touch a dinosaur bone. The blue whale suspended from the ceiling in the Hall of Ocean Life is also a must-see. Tickets start at $28 for teens and adults, $16 for ages 3 to 12; New Jersey, New York and Connecticut residents can pay what they wish.
TESTER NOTES: Our tester noted that the descriptions of each exhibit are so thoughtful, you have an easy (and accurate!) reference to answer all your kids’ questions. Pro tip: Check out the very popular dinosaur exhibits first as crowds form as the day progresses. With the museum still operating on timed tickets, book the earliest slot you can!
Oceanfront getaways are typically pricey, especially in a place as nice as Bethany Beach. But rates at the newly renovated Hotel Bethany Beach are value-priced and include breakfast, afternoon refreshments, cookies and two rounds of mini golf. Recently renovated, the property’s 100 rooms have a modern yet beachy feel and incorporate practical features, like a mini fridge, microwave and Keurig coffee maker. Family Suites with two queen beds and two twins sleep up to six. If you want to bring your pooch on vacation too (after all, they’re part of the family), pets under 30 pounds are allowed. $$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester praised the hotel as a good value. “It’s an affordable pick in a place where many of the hotels are expensive,” she noted. “Plus, the beach itself is pristine and beautiful.”
An all-inclusive vacation spot for more than 60 years, Woodloch Resort is ideal for families who want to take advantage of its vast array of activities. More than 30 are scheduled daily ranging from archery tag to the dessert challenge Bakery Wars. Your family can also try activities like go-karts, a climbing wall and mini golf on your own. Water fun abounds here too; there are indoor and outdoor pools, each with a splash pad, plus lakeside sports, like paddleboating. $$$
TESTER NOTES: The lodging options, which can accommodate families of various sizes, are nice, and the selection of food is good, reported our tester who visited with her spouse and 6-year-old. “The big draw is having all of those activities available at your leisure, so you just have to roll up and get on a paddleboat or hop on line for a round of go-karts or enter some kind of family competition.”
A region in Southwestern Pennsylvania about an hour east of Pittsburgh, the Laurel Highlands is a fantastic destination for families thanks to its activities that appeal to kids and adults. The region’s biggest draw is Fallingwater, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house that’s surrounded by streams and trails. Less than 10 minutes away, white water rafting in Ohiopyle is gentle enough that kids ages 5 and up can participate. While the area offers a lot of vacation rentals and campgrounds, it’s also home to two major resorts, the ultra-luxe (yet family-friendly) Nemacolin and recently renovated Seven Springs Mountain Resort (which has skiing and tubing on property).
TESTER NOTES: Our tester appreciated that Fallingwater tours are suitable for varied ages—there’s even a “Family Field Trip” option that’s for kids under age 6.
A fantastic downtown location and array of baby- and kid-friendly amenities make the Waldorf Astoria Chicago a superb pick for families visiting the Windy City. Prior to check-in, a concierge will reach out about your family’s needs, which is when you can request baby gear like a diaper pail and a white noise machine. You’ll even receive a tiny spa robe and slippers if you have little ones in the room. For older kids, the staff will set up a play tent and give kids a gift bag with a teddy bear and picture book. The hotel’s courtyard area is ideal for rideshare pickup, especially if you have to fiddle with a car seat or booster. But you’ll be able to walk to many shops and restaurants on the Magnificent Mile, including American Girl Place. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: The Gold Coast Terrace Suite, spacious for a city hotel, gives a family plenty of space. “A door closes off the master bedroom from the living area, where kids could sleep on the pull-out couch,” said our tester. A powder room—with a toilet and sink—speeds up getting out the door in the morning, especially when you have a teenager in tow.
With sharks, whales, penguins, dolphins and more — 30,000-plus creatures in all — Shedd Aquarium houses favorite marine animals. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the Abbott Oceanarium mean that while you’re watching the dolphins jump in the aquatic presentation, Lake Michigan is your backdrop. Best of all, kids will come away with ideas about how they can help protect sea creatures for future generations. Tickets start at $26 for ages 3 to 11, $34 for ages 12 and up.
TESTER NOTES: Our tester appreciated that signage is stellar, there’s plenty to touch and there are several stations to wash hands. She also highlighted conveniences like nursing rooms. She noted that many exhibits have expanded viewing areas so you don’t have to hoist your kid up to see the fishes. “With toddlers and preschoolers, you probably won’t get through the entire mammoth building in one visit.” Polar Play Zone, which includes a 20-foot-long submarine with lots of knobs, switches and cranks that kids can operate, was one of her family’s fave spots.
On 4,600 acres in the Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar Lodge features rooms in the main building, family cabins (including a two-bedroom option that sleeps six) and cottages, depending on the size and needs of your crew. By day, you can take the kids on a guided hike to see a hidden cave, rent a paddleboat at the lake or sign up for archery tag. When it’s time to come inside, the Fun Mountain building entertains “the kid in all of us” with underwater-themed bowling, bumper cars and a pirate ship playground. It even houses a Nature Discovery Center with a tree house and caves for reading. In historic buildings sprinkled around the resort, the dining options range from a bistro with lake views to a vintage Airstream canteen that serves treats like sammies and ice cream. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester preferred a camp cabin situated on the lake, which gave her family their own outdoor space plus a screened-in porch and full kitchen. “If you don’t need a kitchen, the Family Glamping Unit, which sleeps four and gives kids their own two-person tent, is an excellent pick,” she said.
Experience the magic of a Michigan summer at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore situated along 35 miles of the state’s Eastern coastline. While it’s fun for older kids to climb up and race down the massive dunes, the most family-fave adventure in the park is on the Platte River where you can kayak or inner tube surrounded by stunning views. One of the Platte River Campgrounds 179 sites (some with electric hookups and/or wheelchair accessibility) provides the perfect perch for your trip. “Spots at the Platte River Campground fill up fast so book them as soon as you’re eligible, which is 180 days in advance of arrival,” says Puglisi. Park entrance costs $25 per vehicle.
TESTER NOTES: Testers called out the relaxing nature the beautiful and tranquil settings provide. Before you settle in, take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, about a seven-mile loop with some of the best dune and lake overlooks, for a fabulous introduction to the park.
The line’s latest and largest cruise ship, the Carnival Celebration whisks families from Miami on five- to seven-day voyages to the Caribbean with possible stops at Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and more. But its days at sea are a whirlwind of fun too: It even has a roller coaster onboard. The Celebration also includes a new space-themed program for kids ages 2 to 11; they can go on “missions” to earn a badge. $$
TESTER NOTES: “When it comes to entertainment, the ship’s best-kept secret is the Color My World show,” said our tester, who is a theater critic. “Its background video screen and colorfully costumed dancers help create an immersive story about a painter—there’s even live painting on stage.”
An exceptional pick for multigenerational families, the sophisticated and new Enchanted Princess is currently sailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to the Caribbean. In spring, it will switch to seven-day Mediterranean voyages from Rome, Barcelona and Athens. While there are supervised kids’ clubs for tots through teens, the focus is finding adventures that your whole crew can do together, like family movies under the stars, disco deck parties and an escape room. $$$
TESTER NOTES: Be sure to pack some dressy clothes for everyone. “There are formal nights, where all guests, including teens, are encouraged to dress up,” said our tester. “Photographers throughout the ship, some with beautiful backdrops, are at the ready to capture memories.”
Launched in July, the Disney Wish levels up the line’s already family-minded agenda. Its kids club is suited for ages 3 to 12 and has a twisty tunnel slide to get to the club’s central hub. A Frozen-themed Dinner Adventure with table crafts and sing-a-longs engages fans of Anna and Elsa, while a Toy Story – themed splash area has pop-up jets, mini slides and a six-inch wading pool. The ship currently sails three- and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral (about an hour from Orlando, FL) to the Bahamas. $$$
TESTER NOTES: “I like that families rotate through the ship’s three restaurants, and keep the same waiters every night so they get to know preference and dietary restrictions,” our tester said.
Royal Caribbean promises its cruisers a Perfect Day at CocoCay when it docks on its private island in the Bahamas, and our reviewers say it lives up to the hype. Your family can choose whether they want chills or thrills—or even experience both between crystal clear and tranquil beaches, spacious pools with party vibes or the island’s water park with twisty slides. Entrance is included in the cruise fare, but the thrill waterpark is an extra fee.
TESTER NOTES: One judge who visited this summer appreciated the ease of getting around with kids: “There was so much to do right when we walked off the ship — no extra transportation required.” Families also appreciated everything that was included without added cost, from the food to a handful of splash areas and water slides.
With more than 2 million properties worldwide, Vrbo helps families zero in on a vacation rental that they’ll love. Family-friendly filters on the app and website make the search a snap. You can click on filters for kid necessities (think: high chairs and cribs) as well as family desires (wouldn’t a pool be great?). A “Good for Families” filter shows you homes that previous families rated highly and would recommend to other travelers while another important filter for families highlights properties with flexible cancellation policies. The Virtual Tour function on the site provides a 360-degree view of the home so, among other things, kids can decide on their bedrooms in advance.
TESTER NOTES: “The Trip Boards feature on the site takes some of the hassle out of planning vacations with extended family,” said our tester. “I started a board for our trip to San Diego, and invited the rest of the family to add their favorites. It was so much easier than texting back and forth.”
The average RV owner only uses their vehicle two weeks out of the year, and RVshare has swooped in with a genius and sustainable solution. It’s a platform that allows owners to rent their vehicles directly to other families. The site vets the vehicles (currently, only RVs that are 15 years old or less are eligible) and provides you with a 24-hour hotline should anything go wrong. It also offers the popular option of having an RV delivered to the campsite where you want to stay, so your crew can enjoy the excitement and convenience of an RV stay without ever having to get behind the wheel. Rentals start at $50 per night.
TESTER NOTES: Our tester had an RV delivered to a Florida campground that’s in the heart of family-friendly attractions. “I never considered renting an RV because I was intimidated about driving it,” said our tester, a single mom. “The process of having it all set up for a stay exceeded my expectations. My son loved it!”
An app-based attraction pass, Go City bundles admission to experiences in 30+ cities worldwide so you can save up to 55%. Great for a staycation or longer visit to an area, the Explorer Pass allows families to select the number of attractions they want to visit within a 60-day period from first usage. The All-Inclusive Pass, on the other hand, offers unlimited attractions for a set number of days, up to a week. Either way, it’s convenient to have all your tickets in one place and receive detailed logistics, like which attractions require visitors to book a time slot and where you should enter attractions.
TESTER NOTES: “I appreciated that my family’s All-Inclusive Chicago Pass featured both well-known attractions and off-the-beaten path experiences,” said our tester. “For instance, after visiting the Shedd Aquarium, we bowled and ate pizza at 10Pin.”
An online ticketing platform, Tiqets curates amazing experiences across the globe. You can search the 4,000+ selection by your desired destination. Filters allow you to narrow the results by kid-friendliness, wheelchair accessibility and more. Some of the results may even be designated as “Fast Track” or “Skip the Line.” That means at places like Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and One World Observatory in New York City, your family gets to walk past the regular entrance and get right in (a lifesaver with kids, are we right?)
TESTER NOTES: Our testers, who used the service in Washington, DC, and New York City, reported that it was simple and convenient. They also liked that the app provided bulleted tips to make the most of your visit, and noted the hours and what is and isn’t included in admission.
Whether you’re planning a dream family vacation or a trip to visit relatives, Expedia helps members save time and, often, money. The app’s organization is intuitive and allows you to filter places to stay by amenities (like a pool) as well as features (such as electric car charging stations). More than 9,000+ “VIP Access” properties offer Expedia members perks that range from parking credits to late checkout. Package options typically save you money compared to booking separately. Expedia also provides fab vacation ideas, such as a curation of “beach hotels at member prices.”
TESTER NOTES: Expedia was the most popular booking site in our survey of more than 3,000 readers. “It’s fast and reliable,” said one respondent. Our tester saved more than $200 booking through Expedia compared to directly from the airline and hotel. “When a family emergency a week before the trip took place, Expedia’s customer-service team was outstanding in helping me change the dates,” she said.
Smarter than your average campground, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts require that all 75+ locations in the U.S. and Canada have a swimming pool, playground, summer movie nights, and even meet-and-greets with Yogi himself. Some specific activities like wagon rides and arts and crafts projects will vary by location, but they all participate in themed weekends such as Christmas in July. Locations are regularly inspected to ensure that hospitality and cleanliness standards are being met. $$
TESTER NOTES: Our tester’s family had a wonderful experience at Clay’s Resort Jellystone Park in North Lawrence, OH. “We played mini golf, swam in the pool, and tried all of the lake waterfront activities,” she said. “There was also a large jumping pad for kids, which I was told is a Jellystone park trademark.” Her cabin included a loft space that’s perfect for teens plus a patio table and firepit. “You can count on a certain degree of quality and family-friendliness with their name brand,” she added.
Loews Hotels operates with the mantra “From the moment you arrive, your family is part of ours.” That’s why the 26-property chain puts night-lights in family’s rooms, distributes baby bath amenity kits and has created thoughtful local activity guides as well as children’s menus. You can borrow a diaper genie, baby bathtub and 4Moms Breeze Playard. Family activities are available and suited to the destination. The Loews Miami Beach Hotel, for instance, has pizza-making classes and banana boat rides while the Loews Coronado Bay Beach Resort offers outdoor movie nights. In most locations, kids receive a special amenity—like a sandcastle kit or stuffed animal. $$$
TESTER NOTES: “I love how Loews has a core set of family perks you can count on, and bases extra programming and amenities on location,” said a tester who has stayed at several properties.
The Hampton by Hilton brand prides itself on going the extra mile to deliver an exceptional stay. Including Hampton Inn by Hilton and the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, the brand’s service is backed by the longstanding 100% Hampton Guarantee to make guests happy at its 2,700 locations in 31 countries. Free hot breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi are also offered. $$
TESTER NOTES: In a Good Housekeeping Institute survey, more than a third of respondents have stayed at Hampton by Hilton within the last two years. A whopping 88% noted that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the experience. “We’ve stayed at Hampton Inn by Hilton for a week or more when visiting relatives out of state for the last couple years,” one respondent said. “The staff did an incredible job of making us feel at home. I actually felt like I could go down to breakfast in my house slippers.” Others praised “awesome customer service.”
With the philosophy that “you should travel like you live,” Residence Inn by Marriott offers families hotel stays that feel like home. Found in 800+ locations, its suites are generally available in studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom options. The one- and two-bedroom options give you what can sometimes make or break a vacation—separate rooms. A fully equipped kitchen allows you to make meals, and breakfast is, well, on the house. Residence Inn and Under Armour teamed up to create local running routes that are available on the MapMyFitness app. $$$
TESTER NOTES: Eighty-seven percent of respondents to the Good Housekeeping Institute travel survey who visited noted that they were very satisfied or satisfied with their experience at Residence Inn by Marriott. “We stayed at a Residence Inn outside of Birmingham, AL, and I loved the layout of our room,” said one respondent. “It was very clean and continental breakfast was delicious and organized.”
The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts offers an incredible Kids for All Seasons program. While specifics vary by its 125+ locations, it’s typically focused on recreational and educational activities. At the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, FL, for instance, tweens can sign up for junior tennis while making crafts and shell-hunting may appeal to younger kids. $$$$
TESTER NOTES: In the Good Housekeeping Institute travel survey, it was the top-rated luxury brands for satisfaction. One respondent noted, “The Four Season Orlando Resort at Walt Disney World Resort, was beyond amazing. The staff went out of their way to make our stay special, the food was good, the pool was amazing and the spa was lovely.” Another praised the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea in Hawaii for “its wonderful rooms, staff, hotel amenities, pools, beach and restaurants.”
Delta operates more than 4,000 daily flights across 275 destinations. It recently announced that it’s testing new technology to make its aircraft more fuel-efficient, another step toward its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The brand also partners with airports in two of its busiest hubs—Atlanta and Minneapolis—to allow families with disabilities, such as autism, to practice the process of traveling through an airport before they have to do it for real. They also created sensory rooms with calming colors and activities in Atlanta and New York.
TESTER NOTES: Over a third of our survey respondents had flown on Delta within the last two years, with over 80% indicating satisfaction with their experience. “The staff on board are always a delight,” said one respondent. Our survey’s most popular airline loyalty program, SkyMiles, is also a Delta product. “I’ve been traveling with Delta for many years, and its frequent-flier program is the best,” raved one respondent. Another added, “Delta has the best program because it’s easy to use.”
The largest hotel loyalty program worldwide, with more than 7,000 participating hotels and resorts, Marriott Bonvoy gives families many opportunities to earn and redeem points. The 30+ brands in the program are wide-ranging, from a value option like Courtyard by Marriott to luxury hotelier The Ritz-Carlton. A group of high-end independent hotels, the Autograph Collection properties, such as Good Housekeeping Family Travel Award winners Beaver Creek Lodge, are also part of the Marriott Bonvoy program.
TESTER NOTES: The most popular hotel loyalty program in our survey, nearly 40% of respondents participated in Marriott Bonvoy. One mom of a teen appreciated “the good selection, rewards and upgrades for members.” Another respondent raved, “They have the best hotels, wonderful rooms, and have hired the right people.” Several mentioned mobile room keys, available only to Marriott Bonvoy members, as a reason why they utilize the program.
With more than 10,000+ locations worldwide, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is making it easier to choose a more sustainable vehicle on your next trip. Already, the global fleet of Enterprise Rent-A-Car averages more than 27 miles a gallon. The brand is partnering with automakers to expand its fleet of electric vehicles and gives customers the option to purchase carbon offsets. On the loyalty front, it has recently brought back a popular promotion to earn double points on qualifying rentals.
TESTER NOTES: The highest rated rental car brand in our recent travel survey, Enterprise Rent-A-Car achieved 82% satisfaction overall. “Very good customer service and wonderful cars,” commented one respondent. Another preferred the brand because “it’s convenient, has an easy loyalty program, and prices are always competitive.”
Frequent travelers are loyal to the Platinum Card from American Express—and for good reason. Its annual fee can be more than covered by the many statement credits, ranging from membership in Clear (a speedier way to get through airport security) to a stay at certain hotels. It even offers up to $20 per month to help you cover streaming services. But one of its perks is practically priceless, especially during busy travel times: It offers complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges in 650+ cities around the world.
TESTER NOTES: The Platinum Card from American Express is the most popular credit card for travel-related purchases, according to our recent travel survey. Respondents cited “its superior lounge access” and flexibility to use credits on any airline among the benefits.
With four different kinds of Capital One Venture Cards, the brand does an excellent job at tailoring its offerings to a family’s travel needs. The no-annual-fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards is a good introductory pick and you receive miles for every purchase. For a $95 annual fee, the Venture Rewards nearly doubles the points you receive on the same amount of purchases, plus it offers a much larger mileage bonus for signing up.
TESTER NOTES: Capital One Venture Cards are one of the most popular brands for travel-related purchases, according to our travel survey. “I’ve been with Capital One for 25 years and am extremely loyal to them,” said one respondent. “Their rewards are amazing and easy. Their customer service and protection of my account are incomparable.” Another added, “Capital One has great customer service, plus their travel credits are easy to use and accumulate.”
Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab Executive Director
Lexie Sachs (she/her) is the executive director of the Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she researches, tests and reports on fabric-based products ranging from sheets, mattresses and towels to bras, fitness apparel and other clothing. She also evaluates luggage, rain gear, disposable paper goods and baby products. Lexie has more than 15 years of experience in the textiles industry and a degree in fiber science from Cornell University. Prior to joining GH in 2013, she worked in merchandising and product development in the fashion and home industries.
Karen Cicero is a seasoned journalist who specializes in food, travel, home and new product coverage; she has visited almost every state — look out, Alaska, she’s coming for you next! A mom who goes overboard for all the holidays, she lives in the Christmas city itself: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.