Ah, vacations sure do change when you’re traveling with teens. Entertainment and activities need to be entirely geared toward their age, and can’t seem too immature or require them to spend too much time with their parents. Here, we highlight the best U.S. resorts for teens in 2020, offering everything from Instagram-worthy scenery to teen-only hangouts.
1. The Kinney SLO – San Luis Obispo, CA
Opened in 2018, this boutique hotel was practically made for teenagers. Teens will love the hotel’s funky, colorful decor and social hours hosted at The Quad, an outdoor courtyard with fire pits, bean bag chairs, and life-sized Lite Brite and Scrabble. They’ll also enjoy Skeeball and shuffleboard at Leroy’s, an onsite restaurant serving up teen favorites such as burgers and chili cheese fries. The Kinney SLO is located in San Luis Obispo, close to Cal Poly University, the beach, and hiking opportunities galore.
2. The Breakers Palm Beach – Palm Beach, FL
This Palm Beach resort works hard to please teens with a number of special events designed specifically for them. During peak seasons at The Breakers Palm Beach (spring break, summer and holidays), teens will often find an array of events, such as a Teen Murder Mystery Theater, Teen Catamaran Party Boat, and New Year’s Eve Teen Casino. Other teen offerings include games at the onsite arcade, bicycle tours of Palm Beach, pool parties, and movie nights.
3. Big Cedar Lodge – Ridgedale, MO
There’s certainly no shortage of camp-like environments for teens to enjoy in the Midwest, but Big Cedar Lodge is one of our favorites. Teens can escape to nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, where private Jeep and Segway tours are offered, as well as guided horseback riding trail rides. The Lodge itself boasts its own stables and offers trail rides, too, if you don’t want to leave the property. It also offers wagon tours and horseshoeing. Teens can enjoy the marina, where boat rentals are available for guests, in addition to kayak rentals.
4. Hotel del Coronado – Coronado, CA
There’s no shortage of fun things for teens to do while vacationing at Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, California, just outside of San Diego. They can pay a visit to the Spa and Salon at The Del, where they can receive the “Teen Treats” package, which features 25-minute services, including Swedish massages, express facials, back facials and salt scrubs. Teens obsessed with sweets can indulge in the “Teen Spa Sundae,” which features ice cream float baths and 25-minute frosting massages. Bike rentals, surfing lessons and paddleboard lessons are also available.
5. Smugglers’ Notch – Smugglers’ Notch, VT
Skiing isn’t the only way to play outdoors in the Green Mountain State. In the summer (June to September), Smugglers Notch Resort, a four-season destination, offers “Notch Squad,” a full-day experience for age 11 to 15, with active games, high and low rope courses, and unique sports like mountain boarding. Daredevil teens (age 15 to 17) get the freedom to explore it all—climbing wall, high ropes course and kayaking—with the “Mountain Explorers” program creating action-packed itineraries from a diverse menu of options.|
Of course, winter brings an array of snow-filled fun, as well as a similar array of lively activities, with traditional snow-sports camps, as well as a la carte lessons. Two Teen Centers give the crew a place to escape the ‘rents, and condo-style accommodations (up to five-bedroom townhouses arranged in five resort “Villages”) mean teens can have the space they need while affording the rest of the family some well-deserved peace and quiet.
6. Skytop Lodge – Barrett Township, PA
The Adventure Center at the Poconos‘ Skytop Lodge is enough to entertain energetic, adventure-seeking teens for the entire stay. A challenging treetop zipline course is the highlight of the fun, but the facility also features a 33-foot rock climbing wall, three different paintball course fields (including one that’s designed to look like the Old West), laser tag and a geocaching course. The center also provides kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards for use on Skytop Lake; bike rentals for mountain biking; and will set up four-hour whitewater rafting excursions at the Lehigh River Gorge.
7. Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort – Orlando, FL
Even though Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort is a blast from the past—there’s an old station wagon parked outside and the onsite food court serves classics you might remember from your childhood—it provides plenty of modern-day thrills (and Instagrammable scenery) your teens will enjoy. Think swimming pools, a lazy river, man-made beach, pool games, dive-in movies, and fire pits for S’mores—and that’s just the outdoor activities. Inside, you’ll find bowling, several dining options, and spacious suites with separate rooms that provide the privacy teens (and parents) crave. Harry Potter-loving teens will be pleased to know that guests of this resort get into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the general public does.
8. Aulani – A Disney Resort – Oahu, HI
At Aulani – A Disney Resort in Oahu, teens will find plenty of things to do with (or without) their family. Offerings include snorkeling in the Rainbow Reef, sunrise yoga on the beach, pampering at Laniwai Spa, or relaxing in the infinity pool that overlooks Ko Olina beach. The KA WA’A Luau, in addition to pre-show activities such as flower arranging and temporary Kaku tattoos, is sure to be a hit, too.
9. Kimpton Shorebreak Resort – Huntington Beach, CA
A boutique property in Huntington Beach, California, Kimpton Shorebreak Resort is located across the street from the beach, where teens can go boogie boarding or surfing in Surf City USA. The hotel can even arrange surf lessons! Other perks for families with teens include The Gym, with an outdoor bouldering wall for climbing, and a location close to Disneyland.
Want to plan an all-inclusive vacation with your teens? Check out the 10 Best All-Inclusive Resorts for Teens 2020.