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10 Affordable, Kid-Friendly Hotels That Look Way More Expensive Than They Are

With all this chatter surrounding revenge travel, that intense need to get out and explore to make up for lost time, parents are searching for meaningful and impressive escapes, full of opulent amenities, family-friendly programming, and a certain magnetism to usurp all other past vacations. The desire to travel has transformed from a want to a full-blown need.

And it’s not just the hunger for relaxation at a beach destination, although that hankering certainly exists; it’s also the demand for connection that families crave. Parents want to instill a love of adventure in their kids, broaden their perspectives to diverse ways of living, and create a space for family bonding. Travel is being prioritized because when we have an open mind and carve out time for each other, our children learn a great lesson. Fun does indeed inspire hope.


Some may assume that traveling deeper, with a stay at an on-trend hotel full of personalized service, is synonymous with a great expense, but it’s not so. Whether you’re traveling abroad, or interested in a destination closer to home, the following properties won’t empty your wallet—which, of course, is a big concern for most families.

Often, the trick is knowing when to travel to capitalize on special deals and promotions. From newly renovated Hawaiian escapes to kid-centric enclaves just for LEGO builders to stunning stays that inspire a love of exploration, here are affordable Instagram-worthy hotels in locations near and far, all of which look more cost-prohibitive than they actually are.


Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee


If you have a Dolly Parton fan in your family, or a theme-park aficionado, perhaps a stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa is in order. A Standard Double Queen Room starts at $125 per night. If your kids are persnickety, and refuse to share a bed, reserve instead the King with Bunk, at $140 per night. If you plan ahead there are plenty of other discounts and special offers, including free season passes for Pre-K children. Beyond Dollywood, your family could also visit Dollywood’s Splash Country water park.

Best part: Dolly Parton, who has long cared about literacy for young children, recently announced that Dollywood will pay all tuition costs, including books, for its employees pursuing a college education. You can feel good about the money you spend here.

Getaway Barber Creek in Grand Junction, Michigan

If you’ve reached your limit with your kids and the amount of time they devote to their screens, perhaps it’s time for a digital detox in a tiny-yet-trendy cabin in the woods. Enter: Getaway. Nestled among the trees, not too far from South Haven or the shores of Lake Michigan, Getaway has two-bed cabins stocked with everything you need and nothing that you don’t. If you’re traveling with a teen, they’ll love the cell phone lock box (note the sarcasm) that will permit them to gaze out the window, delve into an adventure novel, or go for a hike outside.


Now is the time to sing songs around the campfire, blow the dust off the board games, and make up your own knock-knock jokes. Your kids (or you!) might have trouble at first, without access to video games and social media, but soon they’ll acclimate to being present with their family. Bring the dog, plenty of snacks and beverages, and fixings for S’mores (extra points given for the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup-marshmallow-graham cracker variety).


Minimalist accommodations with one or two beds start at $119 per night and then go up from there—weekends and summer rates are higher. Bonus: For each booking, Getaway makes a donation to One Tree Planted, helping the environment by creating biodiversity around the world.

Minimalist accommodations with one or two beds start at $119 per night and then go up from there—weekends and summer rates are higher. Bonus: For each booking, Getaway makes a donation to One Tree Planted, helping the environment by creating biodiversity around the world.

Royal St. Kitts Hotel in Saint Kitts and Nevis

Kittitian life awaits your family with a stay at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel, a multi-hued property with studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom suite accommodations. No matter which category you select, a premium amenities package comes with each booking. You’ll have everything you need while on vacation, including a magnificent lobby gym, laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, a fully stocked kitchen, a balcony or a patio, access to two swimming pools, and dining experiences at two distinctive restaurants—Splash Pool Bar & Grill and The Livingroom.


Depending on when you secure a reservation, larger families can reserve a two-bedroom suite for the low price of $199 per night. If you stay for seven nights, you’ll only pay for five if you use the promo code listed on the St. Kitts tourism website.


The Royal St. Kitts Hotel is the picture-perfect place to rest your head after an adventure-filled day of jet skiing, sailing, snorkeling, or hiking—intrepid travelers will love climbing Mount Liamuiga, a 3,792-foot dormant stratovolcano. Soak up the culture and history of the island through visits to Brimstone Hill Fortress National ParkRomney Manor, Basseterre’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Co-Cathedral, and Timothy Hill Overlook.


Top island restaurants, not to be missed, include SerendipitySpice Mill Restaurant, Marshall’s, and Arthur’s, all of which have stellar views and plenty of fresh seafood options. You’ll notice right away that the small businesses here are welcoming and grateful for your patronage and support.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui, Hawaii

Celebrated as Hawaii’s most Hawaiian hotel, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, located along the shores of—you’ve guessed it—Ka’napali Beach, immerses guests into cultural experiences through hula and ukulele classes, lei making, Hawaiian language lessons, and garden walks. Giving your kids the gift of a more profound understanding of the island’s culture, history, and people will be something that they will cherish well into adulthood.


Each of the recently renovated guestrooms includes shadow boxes with handcrafted pieces such as traditional fishing lures or Hawaiian artworks. The on-property beachfront restaurant, Huihui, is one of the best on the island of Maui. With executive chef Tom Muromoto at the helm, guests can enjoy Hawaiian cuisine with a modern twist.


Discounted rates are offered for AAA members, seniors, Hawaiian locals, and active military personnel. Kids aged 17 and under stay for free. Depending on room category and view, rates begin at $265.

The Neighborhood Hotel, Chicago


The heart of Chicago beats in the neighborhoods. So why not stay in apartment-like accommodations while visiting the Windy City? Located in Lincoln Park, right next to the famous hot dog joint, The Wiener’s CircleThe Neighborhood Hotel, built in 1893, is as charming and cute as it functional. You’ll walk up the vintage staircase to your private, family-friendly accommodations, large enough for your whole family. The contemporary rooms each have pops of color throughout the thoughtful design.


The Queen and Bunk Bed room category, starting at $221 per night, includes two bedrooms, one with bunk beds, and two bathrooms as well as a fully stocked kitchen and a nice-sized living area. Local art hangs on the wall and special amenities like coffee, spices, and sauces are available for your use or purchase. Need a yoga mat? It’s in the closet. What about a washer and dryer? Yep, it’s there too.

The Queen and Bunk Bed room category, starting at $221 per night, includes two bedrooms, one with bunk beds, and two bathrooms as well as a fully stocked kitchen and a nice-sized living area. Local art hangs on the wall and special amenities like coffee, spices, and sauces are available for your use or purchase. Need a yoga mat? It’s in the closet. What about a washer and dryer? Yep, it’s there too.

Garza Blanca Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico


Venture out onto the Yucatan Peninsula’s warm white sand with your kids and enjoy the views of not only the sun-licked Caribbean Sea, but also, the narrow island of Isla Mujeres. The newly opened Garza Blanca Resort and Spa is situated north and out-of-the-way of the illustrious spring break party vibe happening in downtown Cancun and the Hotel Zone. At this slightly removed location, you’ll find an ideal mixture of relaxation and amped-up outdoor fun, conducive to family bonding. Resort family-friendly happenings include a floating aqua-park, live music, yoga, volleyball, and non-motorized water sports.


This modern and luxurious beachside hotel has a wide range of deals and promotions for families, including discounts when you book your flight and hotel together. Save money when you reserve an all-inclusive package, offered at $263 per person, per night in the Junior Suite category. The Gourmet Culinary All-Inclusive Plan includes not only top-notch dining experiences at Blanca Blue, Bocados Steak House, and Hiroshi (Dao and the Rooftop Pool and Bar will open soon), but also, you can eat at Davino Restaurant and others located next door at the sister property, Villa del Palmar. And, from one mom to another, the 24-hour included room service is super helpful for families with multiple kids.


From baby amenities like bouncers, bathtubs, strollers, monitors, and bottle warmers to big kid amenities like traditional Mexican handmade toys, slippers and robes, and coloring books, Garza Blanca does everything in their power to make sure families are having a good time while on vacation in Mexico.

LEGOLAND New York Resort in Goshen, New York


Located in the Hudson Valley, 60 miles outside of New York City, sits one of the most exciting hotels for kids: LEGOLAND New York Resort. Complete with separate kid-centric, thematic sleeping areas—Pirate, Kingdom, LEGO NINJAGO, or LEGO Friends—the snapshots you take here will be priceless. Nightly entertainment and interactive exhibits make this hotel an experience to remember.


Families can indulge in the resort’s All New Sleepover Series, which includes breakfast and dinner at Bricks Family Restaurant, meet-and-greets with LEGO characters, games and LEGO build competitions, evening story time, dance parties, and more. From now throughout the year, on select dates, rates are $179 per person, per night for the Hotel + 2 Day Ticket Package, which includes a LEGO themed room, two-day park passes to LEGOLAND Theme Park, complimentary breakfast daily, a welcome gift for the kiddos, and special kid-approved activities.


In addition to newly rolled out entertainment and live shows, a new water playground is slated to open this summer at the theme park. Your kids will be busy riding rides, shopping for souvenirs, and sampling thematic foods. All parents must do is watch out for those stray plastic bricks that always seem to get underfoot.

Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina in Reykjavik, Iceland


Trips to Iceland are hot right now—yep, that sounds like an oxymoron. With direct flights from major cities across America—Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Orlando—it’s easy to get to Reykjavik, with your family in tow. And, with a stay at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina, you’ll be within walking distance to the major sites and attractions across the capital city: the Sun Voyager sculpture, located along the waterfront; Hallgrimskirkja church, where you can enjoy incredible city views at the top; Harpa Concert HallSaga Museum; and the newest addition to the city, FlyOver Iceland, an invigorating attraction that lets you experience Iceland as though you were flying above it.


If you book the Family Room at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina, offered at $305, two adults and two children may be accommodated. If you stay more than one night, however, rates drop by 30%. It’s a fair price to pay to teach your kids about one of the most sparsely populated countries on the planet where glaciers are everywhere, water is safe to drink from the tap, and geothermal energy reigns supreme.

Brown Acropol, Athens, Greece


This elegant hotel right smack dab in Athens city center has it all: accessible location, chic retro vibes, glam but cozy furnishings, on-site spa/hammam, and rooftop hot tubs (!) all included for nightly rates that start as low as $92. It’s easily walkable, even for kids, to all the sights—the Parthenon, ancient Acropolis, temple of Athena, and more. But possibly the best (and most mult-generationally-pleasing) perk is the daily included breakfast on the rooftop, complete with Greek delights like dolmades and spanakopita, plus classic croissants and other pastries for those pickier kid eaters.

Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont


Located within easy walking distance to Lake Champlain and Church Street Marketplace, Hotel Vermont is a rustic and woodsy escape perfect for families. The Queen and Double Bedroom, starting at $219 per night, will fit four of you and you’ll love the in-room locally made products like the oh-so-cozy bathrobes from The Vermont Flannel Company and mugs from Jeremy Ayers Pottery.  Parents will appreciate the on-property restaurant, Juniper, which serves up fresh and seasonal dishes, with locally derived ingredients. Kids will be grateful for the add-on touches, delivered to the room, like a Vermont Teddy Bear and bedtime stories.