Grandpa wants to play golf, the cousins want to swim and you want to go for a scenic 40-mile bike ride — so how do you decide where to go for this year’s family reunion trip? These resorts catering to active families offer something for everyone.
Indian Wells, California
The ultimate family-friendly playground in the Greater Palm Springs area, the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation that includes redesigned penthouse suites and signature restaurant, Agave Sunset. But what really keeps active families entertained is the resort’s new onsite waterpark, which boasts dueling 30-foot waterslides (the tallest in Coachella Valley), seven pools, a 450-foot lazy river and a kids’ splash pad.
Nearby, golfers can tee up at the Indian Wells Golf Resort; kids will enjoy the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens; and Joshua Tree National Park, about 40 minutes away, offers hikes for all levels of nature enthusiasts. March draws tennis fans to the area for the annual BNP Paribas Open, the sixth largest tennis tournament in the world. The resort makes it easy to take in all the action with shuttle service to the venue.
From $389, $600 during the BNP Paribas Open.
Hope Valley, California
Situated in a remote, aspen-ringed valley surrounded by towering peaks, 12 miles away from civilization in the least populous county in California yet a mere 30 minutes from South Lake Tahoe, Wylder Hope Valley offers adventurous families the chance to explore the High Sierra surrounds while bedding down in luxuriously appointed lodgings. Choose from the meticulously renovated 100-year-old cabins with full kitchens and gas fireplaces; fully furnished yurts that feature soaking tubs and propane fireplaces; or a vintage Spartan trailer with a river-front deck — or, pitch a tent (or park your RV) in the resort’s campground.
Power up for an activity-filled day with homemade provisions from the General Store. On-property, active families can go sledding or partake in the resort’s cross-country skiing and moonlit snowshoeing tours in winter, with gear rental available at the General Store. Starting in spring, the kids’ fishing pond is stocked with trout. And in warmer months, guests can hike Popo’s Trail and cool off with a swim in the West Fork Carson River. Also on offer: lawn games, live music and history talks with a local historian. Nearby, there’s downhill skiing at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, plus plenty of mountain biking and hiking trails to secluded alpine lakes. Post-adventuring, sup on Sorensen’s Cafe’s legendary beef burgundy stew (on the menu for 40 years) and berry cobbler before enjoying a nightcap by the outdoor fire pit, a bit of stargazing and a session in the wood-fired sauna.
Santa Ynez Valley, California
Horses are almost as ubiquitous as vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley, and exploring 10,500-acre Alisal Ranch by horseback on a scenic trail ride is an experience not to be missed. This luxury dude ranch goes all-in on the theme, with authentic Western-themed digs, barbecue cookouts, a twice-weekly rodeo extravaganza during the summer, morning breakfast rides and wrangler-skills workshops, plus a Lil’ Riders program that introduces kids to ranching, wrangling and riding in a controlled environment.
There are plenty of other activities for active families at Alisal, too: Play a round of golf on one of two private, 18-hole courses; go fishing or boating on Alisal Lake; play tennis or pickleball; or join a guided cycling tour. Recuperate with an indulgent massage at the onsite spa.
From $725, including accommodations (double occupancy), daily breakfast, dinner, beverages and some activities.
Phoenix’s most elegant historic hotel is also one of its most family-centric destinations, offering everything from parachuting to family fitness classes to a giant 65-foot waterslide called The Twist. Families can also stargaze, play a lawn game tournament, take a treasure dive, run a potato sack race or meet the Biltmore Bernards, the hotel’s famous St. Bernard dogs.
There are tons of places around Phoenix to keep the whole family busy, such as the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, where kids can touch absolutely everything, and the Musical Instrument Museum, where they can make noise on some of the museum’s over 8,000 instruments from over 200 different countries. If you’ve had enough of the indoors, let loose in the Sonoran Desert — get all the equipment you need for hiking, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding and more at the REI Co-op Adventure Center.
For sports-loving families, March is a particularly great time to visit as it’s Cactus League Spring Training time. The spring training season offers an affordable way to watch 15 major league teams, including the San Francisco Giants, play live in sunny Arizona.
Please note that due to the ongoing MLB lockout spring training may not be taking place this year. The season would normally run from Feb. 26–March 29. Check their website for updates.
Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii
Lauded as Hawaii’s most “Hawaiian” hotel, this oceanfront property was one of the first resorts built on the iconic three-mile stretch of Kaanapali Beach and boasts a prime location next to the legendary Pu’u Keka’a, also known as Black Rock, the iconic spot for gin-clear waters and the home to world-class snorkeling. Kaanapali Beach Hotel has also been awarded top family and top value hotel by Hawaii magazine for many years in a row, and recently completed a yearlong renovation.
Family fun activities range from golf and hiking to surfing and snorkeling, all within walking distance of the property. At Hale Ho’okipa, the property’s cultural activity center, guests of all ages can enjoy enriching and authentic Hawaiian activities, including learning about the importance of hula in Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian language and its rich history (ʻŌlelo), the development and history of Hawaiian music and songs (mele), lei-making and its significance in Hawaiian culture, traditional weaving using Hawaiian fibers (maʻawe) and much more. And, don’t forget the luau, the perfect opportunity to see Grandpa on stage doing a hula.