Let’s be honest: traveling with children isn’t always a vacation, at least not in the pre-kids sense of the word. There’s the added stress of keeping your young humans alive, dealing with unpredictable mood swings — equally true for teenagers as for toddlers — and, of course, the expense. (Your 5 year-old may be a quarter of your size, but he still costs 100 percent as much.) We’ve rounded up some of our favorite family hotels that take (some of) the stress out of traveling with kids. And, because everyone loves a good deal, they won’t break the bank.
AlSol Del Mar Cap Cana – Dominican Republic
Many of the AlSol resorts aren’t exactly family-friendly — they’re known for their tranquility and high-end amenities, after all — but AlSol Del Mar is an exception, which means you get that same great service and quality in an environment where you don’t have to worry if your toddler shrieks and splashes their way around the pool. Bonus: if you spring for the all-inclusive option at this beachfront hotel, you get access to Del Mar’s two onsite restaurants, plus all the restaurants at neighboring AlSol properties. From $126 per night (including up to two children under 11; excluding meals).
Comfort Suites Paradise Island – Bahamas
Want all of the energy and goings-on of Atlantis resort without the hefty price tag? Comfort Suites gives you full access to the amenities at the iconic family hotel, including the Aquaventure water park and speedway. With 34 acres of fun at your disposal, you may not even need to hit one of the island’s legendary beaches, but they’ll be there if you need them. From $238 per night for two double beds.
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
There is no possible way the kids are getting bored at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort. The property hosts 80 (yes, 80!) different activities every day, from nature walks to fire-filled Mayan shows to Survivor-style competitions. As if that wasn’t enough, the family hotel also houses Mexico’s first hotel aqua park with 29 waterslides, and has a daily kids club that runs until 10 p.m., in case, you know, you want to do something besides going down 29 waterslides. From $340 per night, all-inclusive.
Belcampo – Belize
Luxury eco-resort Belcampo may not be on the beach (it’s a 10 minute drive to the water), but its jungle setting is so cool that you may not even miss the ocean. Plenty of kid-approved activities are on deck, including chocolate-making classes (the resort doubles as Belize’s largest cacao plantation), zip-lining and exploring Mayan ruins. Kids will especially love the snorkeling with the chef excursion: they snorkel while the crew dives for conch, crab and lobster. The best part? Eating the catch of the day onboard. From $305 per night for a jungle suite with two queen beds.
Wild Dunes Resort – South Carolina
We really like Charleston, but we love the family hotel on Isle of Palms that’s just a 30-minute drive away. Wild Dunes Resort, set on a sprawling, white-sand beach, offers unique activities that will give kids the best-ever show-and-tell stories. Choose from family crabbing, dolphin-spotting sunset cruises and naturalist-guided boat tours for wildlife exploration. Or you could just hang out on the beach and build a killer sand castle. From $149 per night for a two-bedroom resort view condo.
Friendly Vallarta – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta may be a well-frequented spot (the beaches are definitely worth traveling to), but it still keeps its small-town vibe. One of the best home bases from which to explore the area is the Friendly Vallarta, where the staff is, well, friendly. Daily activities range from a foam party to yoga on the beach to surf simulators. The all-inclusive rate includes kayaks, boogie boards, pools, beach soccer courts, a game room for older kids and a newly renovated kids club for the younger set. From $230 per night, all-inclusive.
Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki – Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii isn’t known for its bargains, but this family hotel — just two blocks from famous Waikiki beach — is certainly a deal. (A room that sleeps four for well under $200 a night? We’ll take it!) The pool at Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki may not be anything to write home about, but who cares? You’ve got the crystal-clear Pacific right down the street, not to mention tropical waterfalls, luaus and world-class snorkeling galore. Deluxe room with lanai from $154 per night.
Hotel Verde Mar – Costa Rica
What tiny Hotel Verde Mar lacks in glamorous amenities, it more than makes up for in location. One of the only hotels located on Manuel Antonio beach (perhaps the most stunning beach in a country full of stunning beaches), this family hotel is a hidden gem for an adventurous crew. In addition to the beach, it’s located beside Manuel Antonio National Park, which is full of sloths, toucans and mischievous capuchin monkeys, which may or may not try to steal your sunglasses. From $95 per night.
Sanderling Resort – North Carolina
Oceanfront luxury meets down-home southern hospitality at charming Sanderling Resort in the Outer Banks. And, because its located where the Wright Brothers first took flight, a number of aviation-related activities like hang gliding, parasailing and bi-plane tours beckon the brave. Or stick to lower ground with dune buggy tours, surf lessons, kayaking and horseback riding. From $189 per night for a Sunset room with two queen beds.