The very best family vacations are the ones where there's something fun for every family member to do, and kid-friendly resorts offer just that. If you can locate a destination that's within an easy driving distance, even better!
Fortunately, the Garden State offers plenty of spots where you can rest, recharge, and enjoy a little recreation without the hassle of long-distance travel. Whether you want a beachy getaway down the Shore, or indoor/outdoor water park adventures in northern NJ, we've rounded up a dozen close-to-home holiday havens that all but guarantee a great time for the whole crew.
Asbury Hotel – Asbury Park
This swanky hotel in Asbury Park includes family-style rooms with bunk beds that the kids will adore. Providing a stay that's equally relaxing for Mom and Dad, the hip hotel features a rooftop lounge space with games, bean bag chairs, and a movie screen (weather-permitting). A lobby lounge serves coffee and snacks, and an adjacent bar presents live entertainment. Chill out by the pool, or walk two blocks and check out the legendary Asbury Park beach and boardwalk scene. Restaurant options abound, with something to fit every budget and palate. A beachfront playground at Seventh Avenue is also sure to keep kids happy and entertained. Pinball wizards won't want to miss the Silverball Museum Arcade.
Once known as the "Summer White House," Congress Hall in Cape May is America's oldest seaside resort.
Congress Hall – Cape May
The iconic yellow Cape May resort is one where you'll feel right at home. Enjoy family nights in The Blue Pig Tavern with Blue, the eponymous pig, who may stop by your table for a one-of-a-kind swine selfie. Don't miss horseshoe crab night tours during May and June. Bring your binoculars for whale-watching season, when the humpbacks put on a show for onlookers. Bicycle through the town and learn more about the area's rich history. Or, climb the 199 steps to the top of the Cape May lighthouse. Then treat yourself to something sweet at Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard shop.
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The Biosphere Tropical Pool complex is a year-round paradise.
Crystal Springs – Hamburg
Nestled among the picturesque Kittatinny Mountain range in northern New Jersey, the Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs offers luxury accommodations as well as oodles of family entertainment, including Saturday daytime shows, weekly evening entertainers, pony rides, a putting course, and glow golf, as well as summer movies on the lawn. Ensuring families have a fantastic stay regardless of weather, the facility features an indoor Biosphere Tropical Pool complex, complete with a 140-foot water slide (48 inches is the height requirement), which serves as a year-round paradise. Enjoy sandwiches, salads, and gelato at the Biosphere Cafe.
Grand Hotel – Cape May
Directly across from the ocean on Beach Avenue, the Grand Hotel is a great choice for families. The picturesque hotel features an Olympic-sized outdoor pool, a heated indoor pool (always a nice 86 degrees) and jacuzzi, a kids arcade and game room, on-site dining at Hemingway's, and daily kids camp in the summer months. Kids activities are run by EcoVentures and range from arts and crafts to ocean science and safety, plus skimboarding and body surfing lessons.
Icona – Avalon
Overlooking the beautiful beaches of Avalon, this resort offers suites, studios, and rooms that accommodate up to a dozen guests, making it perfect for family getaways. Rooms are equipped with the comforts of home, including compact refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers. This luxury destination runs family specials throughout the year. Naturalists can take a Dolphin and Nature Cruise aboard the Miss Avalon, which offers fishing excursions as well. From homemade sticky buns and 15 different types of pancakes to seafood restaurants and ice cream shops, bring your appetite to this culinary mecca by the sea. Icona also has locations in Diamond Beach and Cape May.
Montreal Beach Resort – Cape May
This family-owned oceanfront resort is perfect for a relaxing family getaway. You can cool off in the large outdoor pool or head down to the sand, where you can enjoy concierge service at the Montreal Beach Club. No need to worry about carting chairs, towels, beach blankets, and coolers—chairs, chaises, umbrellas, food and drink service, and private cabanas are all available.
Mountain Creek – Vernon
In addition to its awesome water park, this four-season resort boasts tons of family fun, including mini-golf, TreEscape Aerial Adventure Course, Alpine Mountain Coaster, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and lots more. The resort is close to the Sterling Hill Mining Museum and Space Farms Zoo & Museum. Onsite lodging is available at The Appalachian, which offers studio, one- and two-bedroom units, along with an outdoor heated pool and mountain views.
Ocean Place Resort – Long Branch
This beachfront resort in Long Branch has plenty to keep kids busy, including an indoor pool open year-round and a game room stocked with TVs, board games, billiards, and a life-size chessboard. Located on the mezzanine level, the outdoor pool has a view of the ocean so you can smell the sea air while you lounge. Stroll to nearby Pier Village for shopping, dining, and a small arcade. Designed with families in mind, the resort's suites are spacious and feature separate bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchenettes.
Port Royal – Wildwood Crest
One of Morey's Piers hotel properties, the Port Royal is a great spot to stay if you want to get your fill of boardwalk fun. Take advantage of the "Play and Stay" pass for unlimited use of Morey's three amusement piers and two water parks. Hotel amenitities include a heated pool and kiddie pool, a new game room, poolside patio snack bar, and supervised kids' activities during the week.
StarLux Boutique Hotel – Wildwood
Give kids a glimpse into the architecture of the past when you stay at this retro-inspired hotel at Morey's Pier. While the beach and boardwalk are steps away, there's plenty to check out and enjoy at this classic Americana resort, which features an all-glass lobby, festive pool promenade, and 27 holes of beach-themed mini-golf spread over two levels. Thrill-seekers of all ages love the amusement rides that line the pier, and Wilhelm's Biergarten lets you celebrate Oktoberfest regardless of the month. For a unique dining experience, make a reservation for the "Ferris Wheel Breakfast," offered Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays from July 21 through August 20, 2019.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the resorts/hotels