Best spring break resorts, family edition
If you've got school-age children, right now you're likely bracing for a week of no school, no scheduled activities, and the kind of cold, wet weather that keeps kids indoors and bouncing off the walls. You'll get through it, of course, but odds are the experience will leave you dreaming about a better -- and warmer -- way to spend the next school holiday. (That's right -- Spring Break is just about 90 days away.) To help with the planning, we pulled together this list of some of our favorite family- and kid-friendly resorts.
Hotel: Hyatt Regency Maui Resort And Spa Price: $349/night Location: Maui, Hawaii The Hyatt Regency has it all. With a rope bridge, waterfalls, 150-foot waterslide, and separate children's area, the massive pool complex rivals the Grand Wailea's impressive water park. The large standard rooms can easily accommodate a family of four. There's no kid's club per se, but supervised activities run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (for $70 per child). Plus, kids will love the flamingos, parrots, and penquins on the grounds. This kid-friendly paradise is nipping at the Grand Wailea's heels -- and rates are lower.
Hotel: Magic Castle Hotel Price: $202/night Location: Hollywood/West Hollywood, Los Angeles This quirky 40-room hotel is next to Hollywood's Magic Castle, the members-only headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts. Staying here lets you into magic shows open only to members and their guests (although only the weekend brunch show allows children). But even if you never make it to a show, your kids will love the 24-hour heated pool. The spacious one-bedroom suites with full kitchens can fit a family, and the free breakfast, free afternoon popsicles, free minibar snacks, and free DVDs to watch are no sleight of hand.
Hotel: Beaches Negril Resort & Spa Price: $1009/night Location: Negril, Jamaica Partnered with Sesame Street, the Beaches brand of resorts offers Muppet-led activities for kids. Beaches Negril comes with a great water park, a pristine, calm beachfront, an extensive, supervised kids' club, and enough entertainment to keep kids totally occupied. The buffet's Kids' Corner comes with quartered grilled cheese, pizza, waffles, and french fries at all three meals. Even the a la carte restaurants have kids' menus -- a rarity among Jamaica all-inclusives.
Hotel: Acqualina Resort & Spa Price: $641/night Location: Northern Beaches, Miami Since more than two-thirds of the Acqualina is dedicated to family residences -- not hotel rooms -- the hotel comes with a relaxed, kid-focused air. All standard rooms come with elegant sofas that pull out to queen beds. The hotel's kids' program, AcquaMarine -- open Wednesday through Sunday for children ages 4 to 12 -- focuses on all things oceanic, from the Coast Guard to science projects about waves. The kids' room features a complete computer gaming center.
Hotel: Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa Price: $246/night Location: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic In addition to one of the most expansive pools in the D.R., Dreams offers extensive child- and teen-oriented amenities. The Explorers' club offers a full schedule of activities for young children, such as nature tours and "Looking for Shells and Snails" from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. The kids club has large indoor and outdoor play areas and also offers childcare. For teens, the resort staff hosts organized sporting events, and there's even a "teen disco" at night. There's also an active lifeguard on duty on the beach.
Need more inspiration for planning your family vacation? The "Best Of" lists and slideshows on this page may help.