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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.
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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, is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the country and 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 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. Additional Core Zone activities here include a batting cage, a rock climbing wall, archery and pistol ranges, and a non-alcoholic drink and snack bar.
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 top beach hotel in Destin is that 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.
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. Teens can get active with snorkeling, surfing, water skiing, sailing, and jet skiing, while parents will enjoy the on-site casino and full-service spa.
Club Med has made entertaining teenagers a priority at many of its resorts around the world, and one of the best is the Club Med Cancun. 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 Teen Spa they can book beauty treatments and unwind with their friends. Lots of Club Med properties have Juniors’ Club Med programs that offer unique activities, like flying trapeze and wakeboarding.
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 11 can take advantage of the Big Cedar Kids’ Adventure Club, while visitors of all ages will enjoy the bonfires, board games, lazy river and swimming pools.
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 Restaurant that serves pizza, burgers and wings. There are lots of room and suite options available to choose from, and many of them have ocean views.
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 the resort include an ocean kayak tour, surfing along Redondo Beach, stand-up paddleboarding and horseback trail rides while Friday Family Fun Night features s’mores by the fire. Suites, guestrooms, bungalows, casitas, and villas are available for booking.
Costa Rica is a fun place to take teens because of all the outdoor adventure opportunities. This Four Seasons resort offers a secluded location and plenty of chances to go zip lining, horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, and snorkeling. There are specially trained staff members here to ensure teens have an awesome time and are set up to make new friends in their own clubhouse while their parents get some time to themselves. Other activities teens enjoy at the hotel include guided nature hikes, dance lessons, golf and tennis clinics, yoga, beach football, and scavenger hunts. The Tuanis Teen Center onsite is equipped with a flat-screen TV, DVD, pool table, free internet, and video games to play indoors too. There are also four swimming pools and a spa here.
With its ocean-view balconies and Southern hospitality, the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort is a favorite destination among families. It’s on St. Simons Island and offers a lot of opportunities for watersports, eco-adventures, dining, art galleries, and boutique shopping. Some of the many family vacation activities here that will appeal to teens are going “shrimping” aboard the Lady Jane, ghost tours, sailing charters, biking, kayaking, painting classes, and coastal biplane tours. There are multiple pools and hot tubs at the resorts to take a dip and cool off. Meanwhile, tennis lessons are available at the resort too.
Take your family (teens and all!) to the Riviera Maya and consider this awesome resort that’s about a half-hour drive from Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It’s close to the beach and has an onsite water park, pools, and an activity center. For teens, there’s the Black & White Junior’s Club that’s specifically for 13- to 19-year-olds. This is separate from the baby club for one- to three-year-olds and the El Ranchito Mini Club for four- to 12-year-olds. The teen club offers pool tables, a twice-weekly disco, and a video game lounge. Other perks of staying here for your trip are the spa, live music, water sports, and multiple gourmet restaurants.
One of the most popular resorts for teens is the Grand Velas Riviera Maya because of its modern and fun teen lounge. Here you’ll find everything from arcade games to karaoke, foosball, and snack bars nearby. The teen club is for guests ages 13 to 18. Overall, this is an all-inclusive luxury resort with a spa, plunge pools, and private terraces. Other fun things to do for families here are swimming with dolphins, snorkeling tours, kayak tours, and bike rides.
Probably the hardest part about staying at the Wyndham Reef Resort Grand Cayman is trying to decide which daily activities to participate in. There are lots of all-inclusive perks here and also outdoor adventures for snorkeling, jet skiing, kitesurfing, and much more. Other fun local attractions include seeing the bioluminescent lagoons, crystal caves, and live dinner performances by the Barefoot Man. Grab your weekly guest activity schedule at the front desk when you check in to keep your teens entertained during your trip.
Caribbean trips to the Royalton White Sands are a blast for teens because of the beachfront location, watersports, and many pools. Teens can take scuba diving lessons and go snorkeling here. Meanwhile, there’s a special lounge just for 13- to 17-year-olds with ping pong, billiards, video games, and Wi-Fi. It’s called the Hangout Teens Club and a favorite alternative spot to lounging in the sun. Teens can stay busy with the local excursions and fitness classes too. Dance lessons, tennis courts, beach volleyball, deep-sea fishing, and homemade gelato are other popular options to check out at this resort. This is all while younger kids can enjoy their own Clubhouse Kids Club, and everyone can stay cool in the lazy river.
Families that like a bit of privacy and space to move around will enjoy the villas in the hills at Windjammer Landing. This is an all-inclusive resort that is on the mountainside and has stunning views. You’ll feel like you’re on an island retreat and in a charming village at the same time here. There’s a teen club here that offers fun events like bonfires and karaoke parties. Teens can keep themselves entertained and loving vacation with dance lessons, coconut bowling, and pizza parties too. There’s a spa here, in-water hammocks for the ultimate relaxation experience, and multiple sparkling swimming pools to take a dip.
A unique place to take your teen on vacation is the Mohonk Mountain House, which is in the Hudson Valley and surrounded by forests and wildlife for an outdoorsy escape. The resort offers activities that are specifically designed for teens ages 13 to 17 so that teenagers can get outside to explore and learn new things. There’s a kids’ club for younger travelers here too. The resort boasts 85 miles of trails and lots of outdoor activities, including paddleboarding on the lake, tomahawk throwing, horseback riding, golf, and tennis. There’s also an indoor heated pool, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing here for winter.
Here’s a good example of a unique resort that’s nowhere near a beach but that offers a ton of fun for teens. The Triangle C Dude Ranch gives teens a real taste of the wild west and embrace the outdoors. They will learn about horsemanship and the mountain lifestyle with guided programs for every skill level. The ranch is in the Wind River Valley and about an hour from Jackson Hole. It offers an all-inclusive-family experience with special programs for youth ages 11 to 17. The programs are separate for boys and girls. Your family will stay in an authentic cabin or ranch house and enjoy delicious homecooked meals as well while staying here.
Teens have many options to get in on the fun when you book a room at the Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica. From beach parties to ping pong, bonfires, movie screenings, and beach soccer, there’s no way your teens will get bored here. This resort is home to the Core Zone Teens Club that is typically open from 6pm to 10pm daily. It’s for teens ages 13-17 and offers opportunities to make new friends and visit the snack bar with non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.