You’re dreaming of a vacation, but you’re torn. On the one hand, you want — no, you need — an oasis of calm. On the other hand, you don’t want to miss out on family time or maybe can’t afford the time and expense to jet off alone. Can the two things live together, chilling out and creating memories with your kids? Yes… yes, they can.
Not only do plenty of options exist, but you’re in luck: I’m a mom of twins who traveled extensively as editor of Parents magazine; now I write about spas for a living. Whether you book these getaways now (love that peace of mind of having the trip on the calendar) or put them on your holiday gift list, I’ve got you. Here are 11 destinations that have it all.
1. Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino | Las Vegas, Nevada
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino is a gargantuan resort on the southern end of the Vegas Strip. Its 11-acre pool complex makes it one of the most kid-friendly places in town, with a lazy river, a wave pool, and Mandalay Bay Beach with its 2,700 tons of real sand.
Parents can do all the Vegas things, and Mom can disappear down into the grand 30,000-square-foot Spa Mandalay, which features an extensive hydrotherapy circuit and plenty of tranquil lounging areas. Kalologie Medspa across the hall offers IV therapy, B12 injections, and other aesthetic treatments should you want to recover that way, too.
2. Sunriver Resort | Sunriver, Oregon
Sunriver Resort is a luxury mountain getaway just 19 minutes from Bend, close to the Cascade Mountain Range and its top-rated ski trails. In summer, take a family float down the Deschutes River right from the resort’s marina, or hike/bike on over 40 miles of paved trails winding through towering pines. After dark, visit the Oregon Observatory, the largest of its kind in the country, for awe-inspiring views of the starry night sky courtesy of the area’s elevation, clean air, and dark skies free of light pollution.
Massages and other High Desert-inspired treatments are at the resort’s Sage Springs Club and Spa. The 45-minute Soothing Slumber starts with a relaxing bath soak with a CBD bath bomb, followed by an infrared sauna session to boost melatonin.
3. Mohonk Mountain House | New Paltz, New York
Mohonk Mountain House is a Victorian castle resort nestled in 40,000 acres of Hudson Valley landscape. Horseback ride through the forest preserve, clamber over rock scrambles, and hike over 85 miles of scenic trails. Swim, boat, and fish in a pristine glacial lake.
Parents can retreat to an indoor heated pool with underwater music, take mindfulness sessions, or visit The Hudson Valley Spa while their kids play in the complimentary Kids’ Club. I highly recommend: The Lakewide Immersion Spa Therapy, a cold plunge into icy Lake Mohonk to replicate the benefits of cold therapy, followed by hot cider or tea, guided yoga, and a warm ginger inhalation therapy.
4. Hotel Xcaret México | Riviera Maya, Mexico
Hotel Xcaret México has been described as an all-natural Disney World. Unbelievably, a stay at this one-of-a-kind all-inclusive comes with free access (and short shuttle rides) to eight standalone eco parks nearby. The choices overwhelm:
- A cultural theme park (shows, gardens, a zoo)
- Water park (rock jump from the Stone of Courage, dive from a zip-line, or ride the highest of all Tulum, Riviera Maya, and Cancun waterslides)
- Two adventure parks (zip lines, swimming with stalactites, amphibious vehicles, white-water rafting, ropes courses, and a monster truck driving experience)
It’s just as satisfying to stay at the resort, with its infinity pools, coves, and snorkel-worthy lazy rivers built into the rocks and inlets of the Caribbean Sea, not to mention many dining options, ranging from wandering food trucks to everyone-pleasing buffets to five-star gourmet dining. Their spectacular Muluk Spa offers Mayan-inspired treatments held in natural rock caves set on the edge of a turquoise cenote river that winds its way through the tropical greenery.
5. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa | Oahu, Hawaii
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is about Hawaii first, Disney second. A truly relaxing luxury resort that reflects and celebrates the history of the islands, Aulani offers meals with characters, a lovely beach (the resort is located on the leeward side of the island, in a calm cove), and plenty of enchanting yet authentic activities like a luau with Mickey and Minnie as part of the show.
Parents can take advantage of one of the most well-designed kids’ clubs I’ve ever seen — it’s called Aunty’s Beach House, with themes that change daily and state-of-the-art games and storytelling. Check your kids in and book one of many culturally immersive spa treatments like the gentle and rhythmic Signature Lomilomi. This traditional Hawaiian massage, passed down through generations by healing kūpuna (elders), incorporates lomilomi sticks and warm river stones to release tension, pain, and fatigue.
6. Woodloch Resort | Poconos, New York
Woodloch Resort has so much to do that you’ll legitimately need to slip away to the world-class destination spa down the road (it’s part of the property). The Lodge at Woodloch Resort has some new treatment offerings, including the Happy As I Am facial and the Aqua Garden hydrotherapy circuit (complete with a snow room).
Back at the resort, you’ll find a white sandy lakeside beach with swimming and water slides, a splash zone, and all the water sports. (In the winter, snow-tubing, ice skating, and snowshoe rentals). We’re talking bumper cars, bumper boats, go-carts, archery, and archery tag. We’re talking batting cages with an electronic pitcher throwing at 25-85 miles per hour, an arcade game room, and a shooting range (22-caliber rifles, paintball target shooting, or trap shooting). And we’re talking Woodloch Forest — a three-level indoor playground with four slides, a tree house, and a separate single-level toddler play area.
7. Crystal Springs Resort | Hamburg, New Jersey
Crystal Springs Resort is a playground for all ages just 45 minutes outside New York City. Think goat yoga and metal stamping. Imagine hot springs, foot golf, “meet the beekeeper,” and “feed the Koi.” Choose between two hotels, each with a spa and both close to Mountain Creek, a ski resort in winter, an adventure and waterpark in summer. A first-class culinary and wine program tops off the appeal.
I suggest staying at Mineral Hotel, the more laid back of the two, with its state-of-the-art sports club, a nine-hole family-friendly golf course, plus indoor and outdoor pools. Relax and rejuvenate at Reflections Spa with a Crushed Cabernet Scrub, a wine-inspired, grapeseed-infused treatment that ends with an application of Vinotherapy oil.
8. Arizona Biltmore | Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona Biltmore has Old-Hollywood history (its Catalina Pool was a Marilyn Monroe favorite), name-dropping architecture (think Frank Lloyd Wright inspo), and elegant, art deco vibes. The fun centers around Paradise Pool and its three water slides, lawn games, float-up bar, and air-conditioned (!) cabanas. On Fridays, Paradise is the spot for “Dive-In Movies & Twist Night,” where everyone settles in to watch a family-friendly flick and then ride the water slides, which stay open late.
Go for ‘gram, but I swear you’ll leave talking about the spa. The newly renovated Tierra Luna Spa — with its 12 treatment rooms named for the 12 zodiac signs, specially built salt room for halotherapy, and sol (sun) garden with mountain views — is truly memorable. Touch an enormous white quartz (delivered and unpacked specifically during a full moon) to set your intention before you enjoy a healing ritual or treatment using desert botanicals.
9. Lake Arrowhead Resort | Lake Arrowhead, California
It may be less than two hours from L.A., but Lake Arrowhead Resort feels like a different world. Nestled among the trees at an elevation of 5,174 feet, with stunning views of the San Bernardino National Forest, families can take private boat rides, dock fish, throw axes, and hike for miles.
Did you bring the grandparents? Maybe book a trip on the Arrowhead Queen, a historic paddlewheel boat, swim in the outdoor heated pool, or simply play lawn games like giant Connect Four. Family movie night happens every night, during which you can slip away for a massage at Spa of the Pines, which can be enhanced by cupping therapy, CBD oil, or LED light therapy.
10. Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa | Manalapan, Florida
Think of Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa as relaxed luxury inside (a 24-hour arcade!) and Florida sun, pool, and ocean outside. Consider a family visit to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the resort’s charity partner and the only sea turtle hospital between Orlando and the Florida Keys. They patrol 9.5 miles of beach in Palm Beach County, rehabilitate nearly 100 sea turtles, and care for thousands of hatchlings each year.
When you’re ready for mom-time, a glass of champagne, signature cupcakes, and sexy and chill Ibiza beats set the mood in the joyful 42,000-square-foot spa. Every treatment room and “scrub and polish bar” concoction is a customized, total sensorial experience designed to meet one of three states of mind:
- PAUSE, focused on relaxing, features aromas of lavender and mint, a blue “color therapy,” and the music theme “chill out.”
- If you choose PLAY (energy and playfulness), you’ll smell citrus and eucalyptus, see a red color theme, and hear music described as “European lounge / upbeat.”
- The third theme, PERFECT, focuses on result-driven, high-tech beauty treatments — with ginger and vanilla scents, a gold visual palette, and music they call “a scintillating mix that will make you feel beautiful.”
11. Club Med Quebec Charlevoix | Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, QC, Canada
Club Med Quebec Charlevoix, the company’s first Canadian location, brings an all-inclusive, ski-in, ski-out experience to the charming region of Charlevoix, located about an hour and a half from Québec City. It’s the perfect mountain village for an all-inclusive stay in the snow (water slides in summer).
It comes with, of course, the chain’s renowned Mini Club Med, which welcomes children from 0 to 17 years old for circus workshops (peep the cotton candy machine!) and daily exploratory hikes and mountain bike tours by age groups. At the Club Med Spa by Sothys, Mom can enjoy the Nordic spa with outdoor baths and beauty treatments from the Corrèze region of France.