Family Winter Vacation

As the holidays nearing, family members around the country are planning their winter vacation. For most families in America, a popular destination is Orlando Florida. So if you’re visiting family over Thanksgiving or Christmas and visiting Florida, be sure to do some of these fun things so your vacation is filled with great memories. Family winter vacations can be tedious, especially if you have kids who aren’t thrilled to be there. In order to keep everyone happy, here are a few tips.

Considering taking your family on a winter vacation but don’t know where to start? Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of planning yet another family vacation? Take the stress out of planning this winter by using the following tips.

The phone rang. It was Auntie Marlena from Minnesota, asking for reservations for the holiday. “Of course!” I responded smoothly, convincing myself that, despite my brother’s skepticism, I could actually handle Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for 16 people.

Family Winter Vacation

Mom Knows Best: Winter Family Vacations to Embrace (and Escape) the Cold

We’re embracing the season by connecting with our family travel experts — moms — to share the top 23 winter family vacations you can plan this year.

Cold weather gets a bad wrap, but anyone who lives someplace where you can get a proper winter full of snow knows that folks down south are really missing out. Face the facts — you can’t ski down a sandy beach, you never have a reason to snuggle up to a fire, and sipping hot cocoa in Florida or southern California is just plain silly.

This year, we’re embracing the season by connecting with our family travel experts — moms — to share the top winter family vacations you can plan this year.

Lake Tahoe, California

For a family ski vacation, the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe in Truckee, California has no Tahoe rival. This luxury hotel is located on the slopes of Northstar California Resort with easy ski-in and ski-out access. The laid back Tahoe vibe makes the destination feel especially welcoming to travelers with kids. Service is attentive, but not pretentious. Rooms at the Ritz are more than spacious enough for an entire family to share. The hotel has several dining options on property, and children are welcome at even the signature restaurant, Manzanita.

Skiing and snowboarding with kids can sometimes be challenging, but the hotel helps make those logistics seem like no challenge at all. A ski concierge whisks skis and boards out of your hands the moment you step off the slopes. Forget long rental lines, the hotel has a full ski shop for rentals on site. Parents can even drop children off for ski school at the hotel’s back deck.

The can’t-miss highlight for families? In the winter, the hotel offers “Marshmology,” a daily afternoon s’mores tasting by the fire pits. The sugar rush is always a welcome treat after a long day on the slopes. For more adventures off the slopes, take the short hop aboard the Highlands Gondola to the Village at Northstar. The Village is home to numerous restaurants and many non-ski activities, from ice-skating to bungee trampolines and even a movie theater. — Leslie Harvey, Trips With Tykes

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The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

Rated 5 stars out of 5

 Top rated

Truckee

9.0 Excellent (798 reviews)

From $357 Two-person room / night *

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Williamsburg, Virginia

Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg is our family’s number one choice anytime we are looking for a vacation of any length. (My oldest has even asked us to go to Great Wolf Lodge for his birthday instead of having a birthday party!) The reason is simple; the entire resort from top to bottom is designed with kids and families in mind. As a mom, I love it because for a few days I never have to tell my kids to “behave” or “be quiet.” I can let them get all their energy out, have a blast, and never worry that we’re disturbing someone because everyone else’s kids are doing the same.

Plus, can I confess? The resort brings out the kid in me, too. Every day, we start the day out by going to the pool (if you go in the morning you beat the crowd) and then in the afternoon, we hit the arcade, play mini golf, go bowling, you name it. There are so many options. By nighttime, we’re always playing Magic Quest and I love being able to let loose and run around the resort with my kids. It’s so much fun and an amazing bonding experience.

One question I’m often asked is whether little kids will enjoy the resort too, and the answer is a resounding yes. There is a story hour, dance party, balloon animals, a stuffed animal game (like a toddler-friendly alternative to Magic Quest).

One more pro tip is to bring snacks and meals you can make in the microwave, as every room has a microwave and mini-fridge. This makes taking a break to eat in the room a great cost-saving option, but also provides an excuse to take a breather if your kids get overstimulated. — Rachel, The Analytical Mommy

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Hotel Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

Rated 3 stars out of 5

Williamsburg

8.3 Very good (1940 reviews)

From $198 Two-person room / night *

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a worthwhile destination no matter the season. In winter, visitors can enjoy the snow-peaked mountains while enjoying unique shops and experiences. Start your family’s visit by checking into the Park Vista DoubleTree hotel. The mountain view sets the stage for a memorable family trip. Lunch at one of the onsite restaurants (my husband recommends the club sandwich at the Vista Grill) then head to the lobby where the Gatlinburg trolley picks up Park Vista guests, making transport to nearby activities is a breeze.

Make Ober Gatlinburg your first stop. Accessible by aerial tramway, this mountain is full of activities from ice skating to an alpine slide. Skiing, snowboarding, and tubing are also available. The activities at Ober Gatlinburg are so plentiful that kids of all ages are able to discover something new. For a special meal, make a reservation for The Peddler Steakhouse. With its extensive salad bar and hand-cut, top-quality steaks, this restaurant is loved by locals and visitors alike.

Finish the day with a swim in the hotel’s kid-friendly indoor swimming pool. Our kids wore a path into the built-in slide while I relaxed in the spacious poolside lounge chairs. A Gatlinburg family winter vacation will be one you’ll cherish for years to come. — Dianna Gardenhour, Savings In Seconds

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The Park Vista – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Gatlinburg

Rated 3 stars out of 5

Gatlinburg

8.3 Very good (1845 reviews)

From $89 Two-person room / night *

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North Conway, New Hampshire

No matter the season, the Red Jacket Mountain Resort is a family favorite to visit, but especially so when the winter snow comes around. The resort is close to many of the premier ski mountains in the area, but also chock full of other amenities for non-snow lovers. The Red Jacket Mountain View has daily activities for your children, like family movie night, ceramic painting, face painting, story hour with fresh baked cookies, horse-drawn carriage rides and so much more. Not to mention, kids, teenagers, and adults love the Red Jacket Mountain Resort’s indoor water park, Kahuna Laguna with its 40,000 square feet of splish-splashing fun!

The Red Jacket Mountain View Resort is in the heart of North Conway, so you’ll be surrounded by quaint restaurants, unique little gift shops, and splurge-worthy outlets so you can shop ‘til you drop. Staying here, you’ll be close to other popular family destinations like Santa’s Village, Story Land, Conway Scenic Railroad, Clark’s Trading Post, and the Ice Castles. December is a great time to stay at the Red Jacket for their “Journey To The North Pole.” Families can enjoy being snuggled up in their pajamas, sipping hot cocoa, and nibbling cookies, all while listening to the Night Before Christmas poem. — Beth, Real Life Mama Drama

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Red Jacket Mountain View Resort

Rated 3 stars out of 5

North Conway

8.1 Very good (1357 reviews)

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Hendersonville, North Carolina

During the school breaks, we like to take short little excursions into Western North Carolina which is just a couple hours drive from where we live in Charlotte. One of our favorite places to stay is the CedarWood Inn in Hendersonville because the town itself is central to a lot of fun activities, and the Inn is rather inexpensive with a homey, kitschy appeal.

Rooms come equipped with a fridge and microwave for storing and making snacks, and there are plenty of tasty restaurants in the area (Flat Rock Village Bakery and the Poe House, just to name a couple). The staff at the inn are very friendly and work hard to ensure you have a pleasant stay.

Hendersonville has two snow-tubing outfitters, places to ice skate, and is just a short 30-minute drive from Asheville. There are several places for skiing nearby and plenty of places to enjoy a winter hike. Chimney Rock (a 30-minute drive from the inn) is an awesome place to partake in a chilly tromp through the woods because the bare winter trees mean there are more places to snag a gorgeous view — a memorable cap on your school holiday break as a family. — Dara Brewton Schweitzer, Like Sara But With A ‘D

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