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When temperatures plummet and school lets out for various breaks, families everywhere can get a little stir-crazy. Break free of that cabin fever by hopping a flight and wowing your kids with an epic winter vacation at one these family friendly destinations.
1. San Antonio
Not as big as Houston or as “weird” as Austin, San Antonio is one Texas metropolis that is too often overlooked. While many know the city for its ne’er-forgotten Alamo and its scenic riverwalk, the area is home to a wide variety of attractions that the whole family will love. Whole vacations could be spent at SeaWorld San Antonio or Six Flags Fiesta Texas alone, but there’s also a ton to do near downtown — from the zoo and DoSeum (children’s museum) to the Majestic Theatre and Briscoe Western Art Museum. Foodie families will also love indulging in some Tex-Mex delicacies along the riverwalk or making the hour’s drive to either Austin or Lockhart, Texas, for some of the country’s best dry-rub barbecue.
Where to Stay
Just steps away from the iconic San Antonio Riverwalk, the Hyatt Regency San Antonio offers comfortable accommodations in a near-perfect location downtown. The Alamo can be seen from some of the upper floor windows, and the hotel itself sits just around the corner from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium and the Guinness World Records Museum. Rooms cost about $270 or 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night. This makes it within range for a Category 1–4 award from the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
If your trip isn’t until things warm up a little bit (which is mid-March in Texas), the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio is a family-friendly resort with a massive pool complex, water slides and lots of daily activities. It is a Category 4 Hyatt that costs 15,000 points per night.
2. San Diego
With paradise-like temperatures year-round, San Diego provides a great reprieve from the bone-chilling temperatures up north. It’s also packed with kid-friendly activities, making it a perfect getaway for active families. Besides being home to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the city also has a variety of fun and unique playgrounds, like LEGOLAND California, The New Children’s Museum and Balboa Park. But, of course, the best thing about San Diego is the beaches and there’s no shortage of spots to camp, surf, sunbathe or build sandcastles.
Where to Stay
The West Inn & Suites in Carlsbad offers luxury accommodations that are also child-friendly. Parents will love the Egyptian cotton bedding and complimentary shuttle service, while kids will dig the interactive library, daily cookie hour and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also sits less than 2 miles from LEGOLAND California and just a few blocks from the ocean. Rooms start at about $160 per night during the winter months, which may be a better deal than spending 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. Bonus: This hotel is also pet-friendly — in case you want to bring Fido along, too.
3. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
The water is a little on the colder side during the winter, but the beach is just the perk — the real draw here is the whale watching. December and January are prime months to spot acrobatic humpback whales flipping and splashing their way down to the Caribbean. If you miss them in early winter, though, don’t fret — you can spot them again in March and April on their journey back north. And whale watching isn’t the only edutainment to be had. Continue your marine education at the North Carolina Aquarium or take in some history by stepping back in time at one of Roanoke Island’s living history sites or visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial. You’ll find plenty of fun — and educational! — things to do here.
Where to Stay
Larger families might consider renting a house via HomeAway or Airbnb, but for smaller families, or those preferring the amenities of a hotel, the Hampton Inn & Suites Outer Banks/Corolla is a great option. In addition to being right on the beach, this spot also has both indoor and outdoor pool areas (if it’s warm enough), as well as one that’s shallow enough for kids. There’s also complimentary hot breakfast and free Wi-Fi. And with winter room rates around $98 or 28,000 Hilton Honors points per night, it’s also budget-friendly. (Award rates can skyrocket to 80,000 points per night in the summertime.)
4. Ko Olina, Hawaii
Just a short drive from Honolulu, the Ko Olina area is nestled between the Waianae mountains and Oahu’s gorgeous western coastline. Since it’s Hawaii, there are a ton of great water activities to choose from — snorkeling, sailing, fishing and sunset cruises — while back on land, opportunities abound to soak in both the island’s natural beauty and its luxurious amenities, including golf courses, hiking trails and spas.
Where to Stay
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is a kid-friendly paradise, complete with pool parties, high-tech scavenger hunts and movie nights — but parents will love it, too. While the children ages 3–12 hang out at (free!) supervised activity centers or those 6 weeks and up enjoy a (not free) in-room babysitter, adults can enjoy hydrotherapy, spas, golf or other amenities. With rates starting at $500 a night, Aulani is a bit of splurge, but deals on winter packages are available. Or, save some money by buying discounted Disney gift cards, or better yet save a ton by booking with rented Disney Vacation Club points.
5. Sun Valley, Idaho
Not everyone wants to escape snow in the winter. For families who love the thrill of the slopes and the warmth of hot cocoa, Sun Valley has both in spades. Ski lessons are available for kids as young as 3 years old, while short lift lines, well-maintained slopes and a variety of terrains make this a favorite spot for families. When you’re tired of skiing, you can partake in a myriad other winter wonderland activities like ice skating and sleigh rides. Sun Valley is also part of the Mountain Collective pass program, so it could be a good add-on to a year where you also want to visit resorts such as Aspen Snowmass, Taos and Mammoth that are also a part of the Collective.
The closest airport is Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN). It’s just 14 miles from the resort and there are nonstop flights operated from San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Los Angeles (LAX), Salt Lake City (SLC), Denver (DEN) and Chicago (ORD) operated by Alaska Airlines, Delta Connection and United Express.
Where to Stay
Sun Valley Resort offers a number of lodging options for a range of experiences — from traditional hotel rooms starting at around $350 per night to spacious lake-side cottages starting at about $2,500 per night. For more economical accommodations, check out the Best Western Plus Kentwood Lodge a short drive away. With rooms from about $200 per night or 32,000 Best Western Rewards points, it’s great for families on a budget.
Did your favorite winter family getaway make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Featured image by MRS / Getty Images.
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