The Best Family-Friendly Resorts for Inquisitive Little Travelers

family-friendly resorts
Source: @fsmaui

Many parents view a vacation—whether that’s spring break, a quick weekend getaway in the city, or a trip to a dude ranch—as an opportunity to educate their kids (while also having fun, of course). From that perspective, it’s easy to see why edu-travel has become such a huge tourism trend, with hotels and resorts around the world launching kid-oriented programs that focus on teaching LOs about the environment, sustainability, and local culture. Think learning to identify birds in South Carolina Lowcountry or turtle-tracking at a family-friendly resort in Hawaii.

Here are 11 of the best family-friendly resort hotels that are leading the charge and helping to raise inquisitive little travelers.


Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, South Carolina)

Surrounded by 20,000 acres of maritime forests, tidal creeks, and salt marshes, Montage Palmetto Bluff places an emphasis on family togetherness and invites guests from every age group to participate in conservation initiatives. One of the most popular things for parents and kiddos to do together is the dawn chorus walk. Sure to inspire the next generation of ornithologists, this early morning stroll led by the resort’s resident naturalist puts little eyes and ears in proximity to 300 different species of migrant and perennial birds. 


The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua (Maui, Hawaii)

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua tops the list of most luxurious family-friendly resorts in Hawaii. A partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society only ups its cred, with parents keen to impart some eco-education between building sandcastles and splashing in the pool. Through the Ambassadors of the Environment program, little ones get to learn about the behaviors, nesting patterns, and significance of Hawaiian wildlife courtesy of hands-on activities like naturalist-guided searches for green sea turtles.


Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, California)

Families have been flocking to the Hotel del Coronado since 1888, yet this iconic oceanfront resort continues to come up with clever ways to excite and educate kiddos. The newly-launched Ocean Explorers program immerses LOs in the world below the waves through activities like shark-themed games and actually touching sea creatures in the interactive tide pool. Parents and budding oceanographers will also be pleased to learn that a portion of the tuition goes toward supporting the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s conservation efforts.  


Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz, New York)

Proof that expanding horizons doesn’t have to happen too far from home, Mohonk Mountain House is a storied family retreat that’s surrounded by 40,000 acres of forest in the Hudson Valley (for reference, that’s about a two-hour drive from New York City). The kids club has an award-winning junior naturalist program. Fossil hunts, nature walks to the lily pond, animal tracking, and plant identification are just some of the many fun and informative methods of fostering a deeper connection between youngsters and the Earth. 


Rosewood Mayakoba (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

Rosewood Mayakoba ranks among the best resorts for a kid-free getaway. But once you visit sans children, there’s a solid chance you’ll want to return with your LOs. The good news is this luxurious slice of Riveria Maya paradise supplies a slew of interesting environmental and cultural pursuits. Lagoon boat tours accompanied by a biologist, Spanish lessons, and traditional Mayan storytelling engage younger guests in active learning. Think of it as the perfect complement to carefree frolicking in the pool and movie nights on the beach. 


Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea (Maui, Hawaii)

Lauded for going above and beyond for all generations, the 383-key Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has a robust lineup of kids edu-vacation offerings. On any given trip that might look like touching starfish and sea cucumbers at the Maui Ocean Center or learning about the history of the island during hands-on voluntourism at the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. There’s also a special outrigger experience that brings parents into the mix and teaches the whole family about Polynesian wayfinders.


Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

While getting tech-obsessed tikes and teens off their iPads and engaged in the world around them might seem like an uphill battle, Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection promises to make it a whole lot easier—and, dare we say, even enjoyable. Set on 140 acres between the heart of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, this eco-conscious luxury escape allows guests of all ages to meet the local farmers, get up close and personal with plants, and talk to chefs about the benefits of farm-to-table cooking. 


Six Senses Ibiza (Ibiza, Spain)

The most popular of the Balearic Islands may have a reputation for partying hard, but Six Senses Ibiza puts relaxation and learning over raucousness. (To that end, the hotel also has an industry-leading sleep wellness program that’s ideal for overtired parents.) LOs can partake in wellness-oriented activities like yoga and learning how to craft sustainable spa products in addition to becoming “climate warriors” by doing quizzes, games, crafts, and experiments at the Earth Lab. Seeing composting and upcycling in action are great ways to bring eco-efforts to life. 


Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (Fiji)

A long-time leader in edu-travel (way before it was trendy), the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort continues to stay true to its eco roots. Sure, traveling to Fiji with kids presents some challenges, but we promise it will be worth it to watch your favorite little people become better stewards of the planet through Bula Club activities such as marine biologist-guided glass-bottom boat excursions and rock pool exploration. Meanwhile, the junior chef’s program teaches guests ages 6 to 12 about planting, harvesting, and composting organic crops. 


C Lazy U Ranch (Granby, Colorado)

Outdoor recreation, campfire cookouts, and western-tinged fun are certainly the hallmarks of a family-friendly dude ranch vacation in the United States. At C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, skill-building under the supervision of trained counselors also comes with the territory. Little cowpokes will have a blast learning to ride horses and fly fish. It’s all about increasing competence and confidence in the great outdoors while enjoying blues skies, fresh air, and quality time with your crew.


Oil Nut Bay (Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands)

Many private island resorts opt for extravagance above education, but Oil Nut Bay in Virgin Gorda takes an entirely different approach. Only accessible by boat or helicopter and spread across 400 ocean-fringed acres, this family-friendly property recently unveiled an interactive nature center to educate guests of all ages about local wildlife and the importance of ocean conservation. The junior ranger program awards kiddos who complete skill-based activities such as palm tree identification and knot tying with badges (and bragging rights).

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