As most parents can attest, traveling with teenagers can definitely be a challenge. The types of vacations that used to entertain them probably don’t anymore, yet they’re not old enough to tag along on adult-only adventures. Maybe your teens are in that awkward phase when they’re embarrassed to be seen with the family, or maybe they’d just rather spend time with their friends these days.
Fortunately, there are some great compromises that you can make with your teenagers so that everyone can enjoy a little quality time together on a destination getaway. Teen-friendly options often include DJ booths, dance floors, and pool parties, as well as adventure options, like zip-lining and surf lessons.
So as you begin to plan your summer or fall vacation, keep in mind that these are some of the best resorts for teens.
Beaches Turks & Caicos – Caribbean (prices & photos)
The Beaches resort chain prides itself on being teen-friendly, and three of the best are in Turks & Caicos, Negril, Jamaica, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The Turks & Caicos location, for example, has 230 miles of sandy beaches and is known for its top-notch diving opportunities. Teens that stay here with their families enjoy the perks of an all-inclusive experience with sports, chill-out spaces, and even volunteer opportunities to keep busy with every day. Teens can meet new friends at Club Liquid and try as many watersports and land sports as they can squeeze in during their stay. There’s a junior golf club with supervised instruction, arcade games, tennis clinics, karaoke, and drive-in movies for teens to check out as well.
Dreams Resort – Dominican Republic (prices & photos)
Dreams Resorts are pretty popular options for families traveling with teenagers, and several of them in Mexico and the Caribbean have a Core Zone Teens Club with planned events for kids between the ages of 13 and 17. If your teen isn’t all that into the sun and sand, there are Xbox, PlayStation, billiards, foosball, and Wii games to play indoors. Teens can also meet other teens traveling with their families at dances, bonfires, and other social events each night between 8:30 p.m. and midnight. Additional Core Zone activities here include a batting cage, rock climbing wall, archery and pistol ranges, and a non-alcoholic drink and snack bar.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa – Destin, Florida (prices & photos)
Although a golf and spa resort may sound like the last place your teen would want to be, some resorts geared towards adults have developed some great teen programs as well. One such resort is the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, which is located along the Florida Panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City. The big draw to this area is the beach, and teens can try kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in the water, as well as volleyball on the sand. Barefoot’s Beachside Bar & Grill is popular with teens, especially the build-your-own-burger menu. Other teen-focused activities to do while staying here include tennis, biking along the resort’s path, boat rentals at Baytowne Marina, and the nearby Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park’s VIP Trainer experience.
Aruba Marriott Resort – Aruba (prices & photos)
Many teens like to have their own space while traveling, and a great place for that is the Aruba Marriott Resort. The capital city of Oranjestad has been a favorite place for teens to safely explore, sightsee and shop. Located on Palm Beach, this resort is very large, with an enormous pool area and quite a few restaurants. The teen spot to be at here is called The Den, which features a lounge and game room. This is also a great place for teens to get active with snorkeling, surfing, water skiing, sailing, and jet skiing.
Club Med Cancun Yucatan – Mexico (prices & photos)
Club Med has made entertaining teenagers a priority at many of its resorts around the word, and one of the best is the Club Med Cancun Yucatan. This all-inclusive resort is suitable for kids of all ages, and there are plenty of historical and cultural opportunities in this rich archaeological zone. Club Med Passworld is a program for kids between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. There’s a restaurant at the Cancun location called the Car Wash that is designated for and specifically used by teens. Lots of Club Med properties have Juniors’ Club Med programs that offer unique activities, like flying trapeze and wakeboarding.
Big Cedar Lodge – Missouri (prices & photos)
However, it’s important to remember that not all of the best and teen-friendly resorts are in the Caribbean and along the coast! Branson, Missouri is a popular vacation destination for many families in the Midwestern United States, and one of the best resorts in the area for teens is Big Cedar Lodge. This lodge is located about 10 miles south of Branson in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. This is a great place for teens to try horseback riding, fishing, and kayaking, as well as hiking around the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park nearby. Private log cabins, deluxe cabins, and private cottages are available for guests. Families with kids also between the ages of four and 12 can take advantage of the Big Cedar Kids’ Club.
Captain’s Quarters Resort – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (prices & photos)
Another popular summertime destination for families is Myrtle Beach. The Captain’s Quarters Resort is a great accommodation choice if you have teens because there a whole level dedicated to teen entertainment. On Level 6, you’ll find a bowling alley with 20 lanes, billiards, and arcade games. There are also several swimming pools here, so you can let them have their space to hang out at one while you go relax at another! Loco Gecko Beach Shack is an onsite restaurant geared towards teens that serves lots of foods they’ll love. There are lots of room and suite options available to choose from, and many of them have ocean views.
Terranea, L.A.’s Oceanfront Resort (prices & photos)
Families looking to escape the busy scene of Los Angeles for a little while love the Terranea Resort, which is located on a 102-acre private peninsula and surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the channel to Catalina Island. With a Mediterranean vibe, this resort has provided the backdrop for many films and TV shows, and it’s also teen-friendly! Some of the activities offered through Terranea’s Teen Scene include an ocean kayak tour, surfing along Redondo Beach, stand-up paddleboarding, and horseback trail rides. Suites, guestrooms, bungalows, casitas, and villas are available for booking.