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Bring the kids along to America's best family hotels

Image:  Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & Villas
Think carnival games and enough street theater to rival Atlantic City, but located at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & Villas in Orlando, Fla.The Walt Disney Corporation
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Don’t be fooled by its name: Colorado’s Bachelor Gulch is well suited for families, with wide-open spaces and tons of activities. And if you stay at the Ritz-Carlton here, you’ll find enough amenities (and nannies) to ensure that parents get a vacation, too.

Family-friendly activities, attentive service and beautiful landscapes are hallmarks of America’s best hotels for families, as voted by readers in Travel+Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards survey. And the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, ranked No. 6, is a prime example of a property that offers something for every family member: air hockey and video games in the teen lounge; a 21,000-square-foot spa with claw-foot copper tubs; and access to Vail Valley’s numerous golf courses.

Connecting kids to the outdoors is a priority for many parents, so it’s no surprise that best hotels for families include plenty of properties in natural settings. “Experiencing or reconnecting with nature is growing in popularity because of the benefits to children as well as adults,” says Diane Wood, president of the National Environmental Education Foundation. “In fact, more physicians are prescribing outdoor activities and time in nature for kids to help tackle obesity and other conditions.”

According to the 2011 TripAdvisor family travel survey, 37 percent of families plan to visit a national park this year. They’d do well to stay at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa (No. 7) in Jackson Hole, Wyo. One mile from Grand Teton National Park and 60 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, this timber resort teems with outdoor activities, from ice-skating to horseback riding. Back at the hotel, spacious suites have pull-out sofa beds and kitchens, while customized massage packages are available for mother-daughter duos.

But even if the call of the wild is getting louder, Walt Disney World remains an indisputable kid-pleaser. This year, six resorts at the Happiest Place on Earth made the list of America’s Best Hotels for Families — and they offer a variety of accommodation styles. Disney’s Craftsman-style Wilderness Lodge (No. 8) within the Magic Kingdom has a rustic feel, while those sporting Topsiders will feel right at home at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort (No. 16) — a waterfront property that channels New England right in Epcot.

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