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AAA’s Top Hotels and Restaurants for Families

top hotels

A lot of Americans are going on family vacations in 2018. According to AAA, the go-to expert on family travel, a whopping 88 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year. After tracking family travel plans and preferences with a series of comprehensive surveys, AAA found that road trips remain the most popular option, making up around 65 percent of all family trips.

While family getaways are usually intergenerational, it seems that millennials are taking a bit of a lead. Forty-four percent of millennials are planning family getaways this year, compared to 39 percent of Gen Xers and 32 percent of baby boomers.

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“No matter their age,” says Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing, “families are going on not just one, but multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experience new places.”

To help young families prep for their next vacation, AAA’s Inspectors have identified some of their favorite family-friendly hotels and restaurants for 2018. Here are some of the highlights.


Ludlow’s Island Resort, Minnesota (AAA Three Diamond Rated)

This resort is really a series of charming cottages and cabins, dotted across the minuscule paradise of Ludlow’s Island. Located right in the middle of scenic Lake Vermilion, Ludlow’s Island Resort is an outdoor paradise, filled with activities the kids will love. Go fishing on the lake, have a family cookout at your cabin or get behind the wheel of one of Ludlow Island’s amphibian cars. There are also daily children’s activities for the kids who can’t get enough of island life. Book with AAA.

Castle in the Sand Hotel, Maryland (AAA Two Diamond Rated)

This family-run resort looks almost like a towering sand castle – an appropriate theme for Ocean City. Castle in the Sand Hotel is right on the water, making the commute from your hotel room to the beach about a minute long. You can enjoy the swimming pool and tiki bar in the courtyard. Younger guests of the Castle in the Sand Hotel can enjoy the series of summertime activities exclusively for kids. Book with AAA.

top hotels
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. (Photo:

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Arizona (AAA Five Diamond Rated)

It’s no surprise that adults love the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. With five AAA Diamonds to its name, this luxury resort is a first-class experience. But while the adults are golfing or lounging at the spa, the kids are off on their own adventure. The Trailblazers Family Adventure Center is filled with interactive games and activities for kids. Trailblazers kids can go on nature walks, pan for real gold, catch fish in the lagoon and go swimming in the six different pools – including Sonoran Splash, a pool with two 200-foot waterslides. After dark, they become techno waterslides, with disco lights, fog and pumping music. There’s no better time to take the plunge. Book with AAA.

Rocking Horse Ranch, New York (AAA Three Diamond Rated)

I have personally dreamed of going to Rocking Horse Ranch ever since I was a small horse girl. This upstate New York treasure features over 100 horses. That’s right. Rocking Horse Ranch is an equine paradise, with year-round trail rides, carriage rides, ponies and horseback riding demonstrations. Sick of horsing around? Don’t worry! There’s also mountain tubing, bungee jumping, rock climbing and water sports. Afterward, you and your little cowpokes can head to the Silverado Saloon, where there’s live nightly entertainment. There’s also indoor activities for all ages. The kids will love the arcade, while the parents might appreciate the spa a little bit more.

Weekapaug Inn, Rhode Island (AAA Four Diamond Rated)

Located on the banks of Quonochontaug Pond in Westerly, the Weekapaug Inn has been around since 1899. Take advantage of the staff naturalist, who is in charge of daily nature activities like star gazing, bird-watching and hiking trips. Go on a boat or kayak tour around the pond, which is so calm that you’ll see some guests doing yoga on paddleboards. Enjoy nightly s’mores around the fire before collapsing in one of the luxurious rooms. It’s the perfect place to unplug and unwind.


Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor, Indiana (AAA Two Diamond Rated)

Step back in time at Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor in Columbus. This city landmark has been serving sweet treats for nearly 120 years. With marble countertops, antique soda fountains and mahogany fixtures, it still looks just like it did back then. The whole family will love the colorful sodas and ice creams, but you can also enjoy a full meal.

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, Texas (AAA Two Diamond Rated)

This small restaurant chain, with several locations around the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is a great place to bring the whole family. The servers treat guests like family, serving up heaping plates of homestyle comfort food. Kids of all ages will love dancing the hokeypokey with the waitstaff and singing along with the music.

The Boat House Restaurant, Pennsylvania (AAA Two Diamond Rated)

This Hawley restaurant is located right on the edge of Lake Wallenpaupack. In fact, guests can (and often do) arrive by boat, mooring at the dock in the back of the restaurant. The Boat House Restaurant is appropriately nautical-themed, but its surf n’ turf menu will please even the pickiest of eaters. With live entertainment and a retinue of different events, there’s always something new to try.

Where does your family love to eat or stay? Let us know in the comments below!

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