The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working Moms

The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working MomsWhich family vacation resorts have you tried and enjoyed? Are there any you’ve tried that you wouldn’t? Which is your kids’ favorite? When you want to have a fun family vacation but don’t want to do a lot of planning, where do you go? Which do you think are the easiest family vacation resorts for working moms?

Before my husband and I became parents, I wouldn’t have considered an all-inclusive and/or resort-type of vacation. We valued flexibility and spontaneity: the opportunity to have our full pick of hotels and B&Bs, the ability to choose any restaurants we wanted and also to discover some by wandering around a new city, etc. Why would we want to limit ourselves by taking a cruise or staying in a resort, and why would we want to stay in one place?

Well, now that I’m a mom, I completely understand the allure of a “one-stop shop” family vacation resort. (It’s not the only sort of vacation we take as a family — for example, we’ve taken our son to Toronto and London — but it’s an option I like to take advantage of!) Family vacation resorts like Great Wolf Lodge make for easy, fun, relaxing trips that require little planning and offer something for all ages. My son is a big fan — he’s already asked us a few times about when we’ll return. (Note: So far, we’ve gone to the Canadian GWL location in Niagara Falls twice and have really enjoyed it, while Kat’s family had a so-so experience at a different location, so YMMV.)

Where do you go for the easiest family resort vacations? Have you tried Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resorts, The Tyler Place Family ResortHershey Park, Beaches, Legoland, a Disney cruise, … or, of course, Disneyland or Disney World? (They definitely merit a separate post – are there any aficionados amongst us?) Do you try to carve out some quality time with your spouse by taking advantage of resorts’ supervised children’s activities? (And did you see this recent essay in which a mom criticizes other parents for doing so?) How have your vacations changed since you’ve become a parent — or have you tried to keep your trips as close to your pre-kid vacation style as possible?

 The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working Moms - waterpark like Great Wolf or Kalahari

Which are the easiest family vacation resorts for working moms? Professional women discuss which family vacation resorts they've been to (such as Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge, Disney, and others) and discuss how they weighed the expense versus the ease of planning versus the lack of spontaneity -- as well as how their vacation strategies have changed since having kids.

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Comments

  1. anne-on says:

    Uhm selfishly, please nobody book at the Tyler Place resort…its already difficult to get our friends we’ve converted onto the openings list.
    But seriously – that place is AMAZING for families with kids. Accommodations are very average ski lodge type, but food is great, and the kids program is out of this world.

    • avocado says:

      This looks like exactly what our family has been wishing for! Lake for dad, outdoorsy stuff and artsy stuff for mom and kid, good food, and no cooking or cleaning. Is there any opportunity for parents and kids to have meals and activities together? I am all in favor of kids’ programs, but the website makes it look like you don’t ever get to have dinner or go canoeing as a family. Also, has anyone been with an older child or young teen?

      • anne-on says:

        You can do family breakfasts (which we tend to do – young kids up at the crack of dawn) or a picnic basket lunch. And there is daily ‘family time’ from 1:30-5:30, so plenty of togetherness if you want it. But trust me – the kids have A BLAST having dinner in their groups. 5-13 seems to be the sweet spot, there are teens there, but nowhere near as many.

  2. shortperson says:

    we go to disneyland all the time since we are locals but i woudlnt call it an easy or relaxing vacation destination. there is a ton of planning involved to get dining reservations and to research and plan out your trip if you are unfamiliar with the place and want to avoid lines. if you are type A you are not going to be sitting around. but we do have our eyes on aulani.

    if you want to plan a type A family vacation to disneyland, check out dlrprepschool with way more information than you would want to know.

  3. The author of that article can go suck an egg.

    • Sabba says:

      Agree! Why can’t people just accept to do what works for you and let other families be? I judge her for judging other families. Not sure why she wrote that article. As they say, if you can’t say something nice then . . .

      That said, I hope the author has a vacation experience like mine soon so that she can go “Oh . . . that is why they drop their kids off.” She really doesn’t seem to grasp that her vacation experience with her son might be much different than it is for other families. So I wish for her on her next vacation that her child can wake up at 3:30am in the hotel, energetic and ready to begin the day, then proceed to run around nonstop for 6 hours after waking (refusing to sit still at all for a moment, not even for ice cream), then the child can throw a massive tantrum at any attempt at a transition, etc. Let’s see her judgment then.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      bahahahaha! This inspired me to go read it and it was VERY obnoxious!
      I think utilizing a kids club is a “know your kid” type thing. My parents had me go a lot, and i LOVED it! My brother never went, because he would have hated it and it would’ve given him anxiety. To each their own.

      • bluefield says:

        I once saw an interaction where the parents were coming to pick up the kid at kid’s club, and the kid was whining because he wanted to stay longer. Some kids might relish being gone from mom & dad for a day to hang out with a bunch of other kids and do fun stuff. I judge this mom for selfishly not allowed her child to have that experience.

        I also judge her for this sentence: “Weekdays are a blur of unknotting, unforgiving baseball cleat shoestrings, finding lost library books due now, frozen (but organic) pizza for dinner and homework, and sometimes back to work for me.” Both for the improper comma and the gratuitous mention of organic frozen pizza.

        • Anonanonanon says:

          the specification that the pizza is organic is where I was like “nope, this is officially obnoxious”

    • Spirograph says:

      Ha! I had to go hate read after these comments. I guess, congrats to her for being the perfect single mom and enjoying every second with her perfect child who never whines because he has organic pizza and her undivided attention while on vacation. Somehow, I found her post script about how she’s so far above the internet and it’s scorn to be even worse than the actual article. Bless her heart.

  4. Sarabeth says:

    Please answer this question, everyone! I want to go on vacations that actually feel like vacation.

    I’ve had the Franklyn D. Resort in Jamaica recommended to me before, but haven’t been myself.

    • Sarabeth says:

      I will say, more productively, that we had a good experience last summer renting a beach house with two other families with young kids. The key was that we hired a babysitter to help with the kids. She didn’t do everything (there were 4 kids, ages 1-7, so we knew going in that we’d still be doing quite a bit of childcare), but it was enough help to take the edge off and buy us some time to actually relax. Highly recommend.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        I’m the opposite, I never enjoy my beach house experiences. Going somewhere where I still have to empty a dishwasher, wipe down counters, and clean the place before I check out does not feel like vacation to me.

    • anne-on says:

      I’ve heard amazing things about the bluefields villas in Jamaica if you’re looking for a higher end beach vacation. Otherwise, smugglers notch in VT for their kids ski programs had great reviews from friends of ours.
      And tyler place is worth every single penny.

  5. DISNEY CRUISE!!! When our kids were 3 and almost 2, we were trying to find a family resort (we had had bad cruise experiences in the past). Unfortunately most places didn’t have activities or kids club for kids until they were 5. We ended up booking a disney cruise and it was the best thing ever. So much so that we have our 6th one booked for this upcoming winter. It’s the perfect combination of family time with tons to do with the kids, as well as great opportunities to send the kids to the kids club/nursery for some adult time, and you don’t even feel guilty about it because the kids would love to spend all their time there if we let them. And because it’s Disney, the service is amazing and all the little details are perfect. It’s not cheap, but you are totally getting what you pay for, and Disney does not nickel and dime you the way most cruise lines do. We highly recommend to all our friends, and can’t wait for the 3 new ships to come online in the coming years.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      My parents took me on a disney cruise when I was 5 (back before it was actually a disney cruise, but it was a company called “the big red boat” i think? but disney worked with them) and it was THE BEST THING EVER in my child mind. Apparently my parents hated every minute of it (theyr’e just not cruise people) but I spent the majority of my time at “goofy’s play house” which was their kids club and had a BLAST. Still remember it! I only share this to encourage parents to not feel guilty about using kids clubs.
      We used to go to a beach hotel that offered a kids club as well somewhere on the gulf coast when I was a kid, and I remember that being a blast too.

    • I think the best part for us is that even we (the parents) feel like we got a VACATION and some rest time. That is so rare for family “vacations” and very unlike what our experiences have been when we rent beach houses or visit a city.

  6. Anonymous says:

    We went to Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado a few years ago and it was lovely. They had a wonderful kids program but also time for families to hang out. Definitely plan to go back once our youngest gets bigger. Bonus: no cell service :)

  7. Anonanonanon says:

    We did legoland in florida a year ago. We didn’t stay there, because my parents live a couple of hours away and we were visiting them, but in terms of the park itself I highly recommend it. We only did one day and I feel like we did almost everything there. MUCH less overwhelming than Disney. We didn’t have to consult expert bloggers and come up with a “game plan” and stuff. More freedom to wander around and let kiddo pick what he wanted to do. I highly recommend it as a low stress themepark option with limited planning required.

  8. I’ve been to Great Wolf Lodge in OH and found it “meh” at best. I also thought it was overpriced and everything looked worn down–especially the bedtime story puppet show, which featured so many old and malfunctioning animatrons that it was fascinatingly creepy.

    Indoor water parks are only fun if your kids are over 10 and you feel comfortable letting them run off to play with siblings or friends. If you have a little one you are going to be tethered to them the entire time, and if the park is crowded or you feel weird just letting your kid roam free (this is me!) then you follow them from slide to slide and pool to pool always trying to keep them in sight. I’m jealous of parents who can release their children and then enjoy the Adults Only areas–I can’t get there yet.

  9. Is there anything like Tyler Place on the west coast? It looks amazing, but quite a hike from the Pacific Northwest.

  10. EB0220 says:

    Really interested in this thread! Tyler Place looks awesome.

  11. My family is a fan of Mohonk Mountain House (mohonk.com). We haven’t gone over the summer, when they have a kids club, but it looks like a nice option!

  12. We’re all about Disney World for this kind of vacation. My favorite thing to do is to stay on Disney property or at the Swan & Dolphin (Starwood hotels in the heart of Disney property; excellent redemption rate if you have SPG points). It’s just so, so kid-friendly. Meals are easy, transportation is easy, diaper changes are easy, strollers are easy… And there’s something fun going on everywhere for all ages. We take my 4 year old and meet up with my sister’s family (incl. her teenage son) and everyone has a great time.

  13. If anyone is a Michigan alumni, I recently found out about Camp Michigania, which looks like an amazing family camp.

  14. Lunch dilemma says:

    Piggybacking on the earlier lunch thread…how do you ensure “cold” items don’t get soggy or worse, are at room temperature during kids’ school times? my soon-to-be-KGer loves cheese sticks and yogurt pouches but only when they’re cold. can I freeze them and hope they thaw before she eats them for lunch?

    • EP-er says:

      Yes, you can freeze yogurt and it is thawed by lunch. If you pack the cheese stick right next to the yogurt (or a cold pack if you aren’t doing both on the same day) it should still be cold. Try it and see how it goes!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Tyler Place looks amazing and reminds me of the Family Camp week at a YMCA camp where I worked during college summers. I wonder how many similar places are out there… Off on a research mission, now!

    Re the comment above, my family did YMCA of the Rockies when I was a kid and I remember it as the best vacation ever. Second best was Macinac Island.

    We went to Hershey Park earlier this year, and it was great. We rented a cottage on a farm nearby, my kids loved the house and the animals, and we did a day trip to chocolate world and another to the amusement park. It was mid week and bad weather, so the crowds weren’t too bad, but I could tell the infrastructure was for about 10x as many people and I would have hated to be there for that. My kids are too young/short for all but the tamest roller coasters, but we had a good time taking them on the rides…I thought I’d be disappointed to not be able to ride any big thrill coasters, but actually it was kind of relaxing to spend a day at a park and never wait in a long line!

    • Amelia Bedelia says:

      can you tell me more about this farm? provide a link? sounds pretty awesome for a low-key and close getaway from DC.

      • Anonymous says:

        Happy to! If you search for “Historic Miller’s Cottage” near Hershey, PA on Air bnb, you’ll find it. It was fantastic: quiet, nice hosts, and very kid friendly. We got a tour of the mill, which was fascinating, and the kids ground some corn to feed to the chickens and thought the sheep were almost as exciting as the roller coasters. It’s only a couple hours’ drive from DC, and maybe 15-20 minutes to Hershey Park, but it really feels like an escape.

  16. Christine says:

    Any suggestions for a winter vacation within driving distance of DC? This is our first year following the public school calendar with our new kindergartener, and we have the week before Christmas off as well as the week after. We’re trying to fit in something fun, but I don’t want to worry about the weather interrupting flights. We just did Disney Cruise/Disney World in May (which was amazing, but a lot of work on my part.)

    Dog friendly would be a bonus!

    • Spirograph says:

      Are you into winter sports at all? Snowshoe Resort in WV is about a 5 hours drive and has a lot of fun family stuff and the mountains are about as good as it gets within an easy drive of DC. If you’re not that into skiing, Wisp or Massanutten (which also has an indoor water park) are closer and the same idea.

      I can’t speak to the dog-friendliness of any of those, but probably you could find somewhere to stay nearby with a dog!

  17. North Carolina? says:

    How about a family resort in the North Carolina mountains? Hubby wants to head to North Carolina next time, but all of our friends who go there rent or have homes and do their own cooking or go out to eat. It isn’t a vacation to me if I have to cook every meal, so I’d like someplace where food is included. I’d be interested in someplace where food is all taken care of.
    Thanks in advance!

  18. Pale lady says:

    Disney’s aulani resort in Hawaii is amazing. Those people at Disney really think things through (step stools in the bathroom in the room so kids can wash hands/ brush teeth!). There’s a lot less to do than a theme park, but that made it so relaxing.

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