10 Tips for Finding Family-friendly Hotels

For a kid, the hotel room is a playground.
For a kid, the hotel room is a playground.

When you're a kid, every hotel stay seems like an adventure. Everything from the key card to the mini-fridge is new and exciting -- fertile ground for a curious mind and a wild imagination. In today's competitive lodging market, hotels are working hard to book these kids and their families by offering a wide variety of discounts and services targeted specifically at children.

This kid-centered, "family-friendly" philosophy was born during the 1950s, the golden age of the American road trip. In those days, it was hard to tell a seedy hotel from a nice one without first inspecting a room, and there was often an extra charge for each child who stayed there. After a particularly miserable cross-country excursion, a young Kemmons Wilson envisioned a chain of predictably clean and safe hotels where kids could stay free and enjoy a swimming pool at every location. Wilson's idea became Holiday Inn, an establishment that changed the way hotels did business and Americans took vacations.

Today, special kids' rates and swimming pools are common features of "family-friendly" lodging. So, some hotels are beginning to provide more elaborate amenities, like babysitting and even field trips, to make themselves more appealing to families. Such hotels have the potential to keep your kids happy and occupied so you can spend less time battling boredom and more time enjoying your vacation together. The following tips will provide some guidance about where to look for and what to expect from "family-friendly" hotels.