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Instagram-worthy views, outdoor fun, nostalgic vibes, and activities galore – there’s a reason (actually, several) why lake resorts are popular with families. Whether you want to get out onto the water on a family beach vacation or simply admire the scenery from an Adirondack chair on your balcony, there’s no shortage of kid-friendly lake hotels around the U.S. where the whole family can have a good time.
Some lake resorts offer year-round lake escapes, while others operate seasonally for summer vacations and fall leaf peeping. But all provide lots of ways to enjoy family togetherness, whether you want to take a swim, paddle a kayak, see what’s biting, or play lawn games by the water’s edge. Here are the best lake resorts for your next family vacation at popular family vacation spots around the country.
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1. Mill Falls at the Lake
Meredith, New Hampshire
An ideal lake resort for families who like choices, Mill Falls at the Lake on New Hampshire’s scenic Lake Winnipesaukee is actually four different lodging options in one, including a restored 19th-century linen mill and a 70-room Adirondack-style inn. There are also cottages on the lake for families who need more room.
The all-season lakefront resort offers family-friendly amenities and activities like weekend campfires with s’mores, pontoon boat charters, lawn games, and bicycle and watercraft rentals. The resort’s EKAL Activity Center is the place to go for yoga classes, guided tours, art classes, and other activities, and the different lodging sites have pools and/or fitness centers for guests. You can enjoy views of the water from several of the lake resort’s restaurants or from the Outdoor Spa Deck at the on-site Cascade Spa.
2. The Otesaga Resort Hotel
Cooperstown, New York
If a pilgrimage to the National Baseball Hall of Fame is on your family vacation bucket list, combine your visit with a stay at The Otesaga Resort Hotel for a lovely lakeside getaway. Situated on the shores of Otsego Lake, the elegant lakefront hotel offers 132 guest rooms and suites and earns well-deserved raves for its location and service. You can rent canoes, rowboats, kayaks, and paddle boards to ply the lake waters; cast a line to see what’s biting (with the help equipment provided by the resort); or enjoy water views while pedaling a bike or taking a jog along the lakeshore.
An outdoor heated pool beckons during the warmer months of the year, and the resort’s Leatherstocking Golf Course has offered a scenic waterfront spot for golf vacations since the resort first opened in 1909. On-site restaurants offer dining experiences ranging from lakeside burgers to a clubby steakhouse, and you can even order an in-room delivery of cookies and milk.
3. The Sagamore Resort
Bolton Landing, New York
It’s easy to see why guests have been checking in at The Sagamore Resort for 140 years. The historic property on Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Mountains respects its history while keeping up with the luxuries expected by modern travelers. That means everything from a wide array of appealing dining options to amenities like a soothing spa and a world-class 18-hole golf course.
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Family groups benefit from the range of lodging options, which include rooms in the original 1883 hotel, lodge rooms and suites, residential-style condos, and standalone houses. The lake resort’s Rec Center is pure kid heaven, a 10,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor play space housing everything from mini golf and an indoor basketball court to video games and table games, a playground, and a horseshoe pit.
During the warmer months of the year, you can book a water skiing lesson on the lake, fish from the resort’s dock, or splash into the zero-edge pool overlooking Lake George. The winter vacation season brings experiences like the annual Glacier Ice Bar weekends, where everything from the tables to the glasses are made of ice.
4. Woodloch Resort
A perennial family-favorite getaway often heralded as one of the best all-inclusive family resorts in the country, Woodloch Resort sits along Lake Teedyuskung in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Family-owned and operated for more than six decades, this lakefront resort offers 160 guest rooms, most of which feature lake views and can accommodate up to six people. Families who need even more room to spread out can book one of the multi-bedroom guest homes available onsite or at the resort’s sister property, Woodloch Springs.
Family-focused amenities abound at Woodloch any time of year. During the summer, you can cool off at the lakeside beach (complete with a waterslide) or make a splash at the indoor and outdoor pools. For those who’d rather get out on the water, options range from kayaks and paddleboards to bumper boats and waterskiing. When the weather cools way down, there’s ice skating and snow tubing, plus all kinds of any-season activities and events to keep the whole family well entertained. A stay at Woodloch Resort also includes a meal plan with two to three meals a day served in the main dining room.
5. Grand Hotel
Mackinac Island, Michigan
One of the most popular family resorts in the U.S., the graceful Grand Hotel has been wowing guests since 1887, earning the moniker of “America’s Summer Place.” Its 660-foot-long rocking-chair-lined front porch provides a comfortable perch for gazing at Michigan’s Lake Huron, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy this legendary lake resort’s waterfront setting during a stay. No two of the 388 guest rooms and suites are the same.
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Picturesque Mackinac Island, where the Grand Hotel is located, is accessible only by boat or plane, and there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. At the lake hotel, you can rent bikes to explore the island or book a horse-and-carriage tour to travel around in old-fashioned style. The water serves as a backdrop for lots of activities at the resort, from a round of golf at The Jewel course to lawn games and dips in the Esther Williams Swimming Pool, which features a zero-depth beach entry, splash area, waterslide, and poolside cabanas. There are also lots of options for getting out on the water on the island, from kayak tours to sightseeing cruises.
6. Madden’s on Gull Lake
Open late April through late October every year, family-owned and operated Madden’s on Gull Lake has been a much-loved lakeside vacation spot for traveling families for more than 90 years. Accommodations range from historic hotel units and cottages to multi-bedroom cabins and houses, and because the resort sits on a 1,000-acre peninsula and has more than two miles of lakeshore, water views are plentiful.
The kids will gravitate to amenities like the lake resort’s four swimming pools, the Gull Lake inflatable waterpark, and the Adventure Cove kids’ club. Grownups will appreciate the tennis courts, on-site lakeside spa, multiple dining options, and four golf courses, including The Classic at Madden’s, consistently ranked among Golf Digest’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses in America. And the whole family can spend time on the resort’s three sandy beaches or rent bikes or watercraft for enjoying the Great Outdoors.
7. Chateau on the Lake Resort
Bringing a touch of the French countryside to the Ozarks, the AAA Four Diamond Chateau on the Lake has been dubbed the “Castle on the Hill” for its sweeping views of Table Rock Lake and easy access to the Midwest family vacation hotspot of Branson, Missouri. Amenities at this pet-friendly lake resort include a full-service marina where guests can rent watercraft or book a tour with a fishing guide, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a 24-hour fitness center, tennis courts, and a movie theater.
You can enjoy a facial or massage in one of Spa Chateau’s 10 treatment rooms, then decompress in the relaxation area overlooking the lake. Multiple on-site dining options include the kid-friendly Sweet Shoppe serving hand-dipped ice cream, pastries, gourmet candies, and other desserts.
8. Big Cedar Lodge
The focus is on enjoying the Great Outdoors at Big Cedar Lodge, which was created by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris. The Ozark Mountains resort sits on 4,600 acres overlooking Table Rock Lake and offers a luxury-meets-rustic escape. Accommodations include lodge rooms, cabins, cottages, and even glamping tents at Camp Long Creek.
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This Midwest lakefront resort boasts two marinas, multiple restaurants, a spa, and golf courses. The whole family can rent boats or WaveRunners, book a fishing guide, take a water skiing or wakeboarding lesson, or explore the lake by paddle board, kayak, canoe, or pedal boat. Sit under the sun at Big Cedar Beach, ride the go-karts and bumper cars at the Fun Mountain entertainment zone, and take in the views from the Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Preserve. There’s no way the kids can say they’re bored with all there is to do here—in fact, you might have trouble getting them to leave!
9. The Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Situated on 200 acres on the north shore of Coeur d’Alene Lake in Idaho, Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort makes it easy to explore its waterfront setting. Head to the Boardwalk Marina to rent sport boats, pontoon boats, or paddle boards, or book a guided paddle board tour or new wake surfing charter that includes a certified surf instructor and all the necessary equipment.
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A round of golf starts with a ride in a mahogany boat to the resort’s par 71 course, with gorgeous lake views from most holes and its legendary Floating Green on hole 14. Both the spa and the many on-site dining options take inspiration from the Pacific Northwest region, and a seasonal lakefront infinity-edge swimming pool and private beach offer a picturesque setting for cooling off.
The 338-room lakefront hotel is close to parks and hiking trails, and the kids will enjoy riding the nearby Coeur d’Alene Carousel and marveling at the four-foot-tall, 2,200-gallon koi fish tank in the lake resort’s lobby.
10. Flathead Lake Lodge
Both a dude ranch and a lake resort in one, Flathead Lake Lodge has been welcoming guests since 1945. Families flock to this Montana dude ranch for its scenic setting on the largest natural freshwater lake in the West and its range of all-inclusive activities that creates a much-appreciated summer camp vibe. Open May to October, the family-owned and operated lakefront resort encompasses almost 2,000 acres where you can enjoy the land and water in all kinds of fun ways.
On Flathead Lake, families can partake in a guided fishing excursion, take sailing or wakeboarding lessons, enjoy a lake cruise, or paddle a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard through the water. On land, activities include everything from horseback trail rides and mountain biking to archery and guided hikes, and the heated lakeside pool makes for a perfect place to cool off after a hard day’s work of vacationing.
11. Basin Harbor
Family-run for more than 130 years, the pet-friendly Basin Harbor Lake resort occupies a prime spot on Vermont’s Lake Champlain. You can vacation in rustic chic style in one of the resort’s 74 cottages (all of which are unique, offer a range of bedrooms and settings, and date from the 1920s and ’30s) or opt for a lodge guest room instead.
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When it comes to amenities and activities, the list is long at this lakeside resort. Basin Harbor offers all kinds of rentals for exploring the lake and the rest of the surroundings, including bikes, boats, canoes, and kayaks for rent. The whole family can compete in a game of pickleball, tennis, croquet, or badminton, then cool off in the lake (where there’s a diving board and water trampoline) or heated outdoor pool.
An on-site art studio offers lessons, and children’s programming takes place seven days a week during the summer months. Travelers love the classic family vacation vibe that can be found at the resort, which is open from mid-May to mid-October.
12. Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
Celoron, New York
Opened in 2018, Chautauqua Harbor Hotel blends modern amenities with throwback style for a luxe retreat on the shores of New York’s Chautauqua Lake. The hotel was built on the former nine-acre site of the Celoron Amusement Park and its outdoor Carousel Bar pays homage to that past life. The year-round lakefront hotel offers 135 well-sized guest rooms and suites, many with patios or balconies offering views of the lake and all featuring high-end bedding, plush robes, and in-room refrigerators.
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The wide range of amenities here includes indoor and outdoor pools, a modern fitness center, a putting green, and fire pits. The resort is well-located for exploring all the area has to offer, from hiking trails to nearby wineries. And in 2024, it will sit on the path of 100 percent totality for the Great American Solar Eclipse on April 8, so it’s offering a special Solar Eclipse Package for the occasion.
13. The Abbey Resort
This Lake Geneva resort with a distinctive A-frame exterior recently completed a multiyear renovation that brought enhancements to its guest rooms and public spaces, a major upgrade to its Avani Spa, and refreshed culinary offerings. Set on 90 acres, The Abbey Resort is Lake Geneva’s only full-service resort and boasts a long history as a Midwest vacation spot.
Kids can make a splash at the seasonal family outdoor pool or the indoor pool with a children’s wading area. Complimentary bike rentals, bonfires, an on-site disc golf course, and a cinema showing kid-friendly movies will keep the whole family entertained, and seasonal offerings like boat rentals and a skating rink add to the fun throughout the year. The Geneva Lake Shore Path, a 26-mile public pathway along the lakeshore that travels past public parks, lush gardens, and historic homes, can also be easily accessed from the lake resort.
14. Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center
Family fun is the name of the game at Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center, which sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and is an easy drive from cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. No matter the time of year, the whole family can enjoy the surf simulator, lazy river, and waterslides at the 54,000-square-foot indoor Breaker Bay Waterpark; the games and interactive activities at the Pier Fun Zone Arcade; and two nine-hole indoor mini golf courses offering glow-in-the-dark gameplay.
During the summer, activities at this lake resort include daily kids’ crafts, lawn games, bonfires, and s’mores. Families can rent bikes, head to the heated outdoor pool, or pick up a complimentary sandcastle kit for creating masterpieces on the resort’s beach. Multiple on-site restaurants make it easy to refuel in between all the fun without ever having to leave the resort.
15. Grand View Lodge
With lodging options that include boutique hotel rooms, cabins, and cottages to comfortably fit families of all sizes, you can choose your way to stay at Grand View Lodge on Minnesota’s Gull Lake. The 750-acre lake resort offers a range of family-friendly activities and amenities throughout the year, from ice skating, snowshoeing, and ice fishing during the winter to watercraft rentals, fishing, lawn games, and a kids’ club during the summer.
No matter the time of year, guests of all ages can enjoy an indoor pool with a waterslide, golf simulator, game room, modern fitness center, and the newly renovated Glacial Waters Spa. Two championship golf courses and a variety of on-site dining options ranging from casual to higher end also help to keep the whole family happy.
16. Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa
Lake Arrowhead, California
Book a lakeside room to maximize a stay at Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. Just a few hours from Los Angeles but seeming world’s away, this lake hotel makes it easy to enjoy the water with amenities and activities like guided kayak tours, resort dock fishing, an outdoor pool with lake views, and a private beach area with exclusive access to Lake Arrowhead.
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A state-of-the-art fitness facility, spa that utilizes organic products in its treatments, and on-site dining options add to the appeal of the woodsy getaway in California’s San Bernardino Mountains. Families can take advantage of the resort’s game room, complimentary board games, and family-friendly movie nights, as well as nearby attractions like SkyPark, Heaps Peak Arboretum, and Lake Arrowhead Village.
The best lake resorts and hotels in the U.S. for families originally appeared onFamilyVacationist.com.
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