The hottest travel deals for cool family vacations this winter

I haven’t quite been able to convince my kids that the gift of holiday travel is just as exciting as opening a pile of wrapped gifts under the tree, but I’m not giving up hope yet. As much as they love visiting the beach or our favorite theme parks, it’s not the same as tearing the paper off a carefully wrapped present to uncover the treasures inside.

I’m not sure if these winter travel deals geared toward families will be enough to change their minds, but they definitely have me convinced. With these offers, you can save hundreds of dollars on your next theme park visit, stay at mountain retreats for a fraction of the cost, or visit bucket-list beach destinations where kids stay free.

Here are six family travel deals I wouldn’t mind finding under the Christmas tree this year.

Walt Disney World — Orlando

TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration wraps up 18 months of festivities on March 31, 2023. That means you have only a few months left to experience “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” Disney World has a special offer for families who want to visit before the celebration ends, with savings of up to $400 on a four-night, four-day room-and-ticket package at select Disney World hotels for stays between Dec. 11, 2022, and March 30, 2023 (blackout dates apply).

You’ll see the highest per-night savings at Deluxe resorts like Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, but you can also save $40 per night at Moderate resorts like Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and $20 at Value resorts like Disney’s All-Star Music Resort.

See Walt Disney World offers.

Walt Disney World isn’t the only destination celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The B Resort & Spa, one of the Disney Springs hotels that are close to the magic of Disney, but often at a fraction of the price, opened its first location in 1972 and is offering a “50th Anniversary Celebration Package.” Guests can save up to 20% off stays of three or more nights through March 31, 2023. When you book this package, you’ll also receive a 50th anniversary chocolate cake for two and one of B’s signature stuffed frogs to take home.

See B Resort & Spa offers.

Universal Orlando — Orlando

TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Universal Orlando Resort’s limited-time offers can help you save money and stay longer.

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If you book a Universal Orlando vacation between now and Dec. 15, 2022, for travel dates through Feb. 16, 2023 (blackout dates apply), you can save up to 30% off a five-day, five-night vacation package that includes five-day park-to-park tickets that include admission to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay water park and accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal’s Aventura Hotel.

Related: Is Universal’s Express Pass worth it? TPG tested how much time it really saves you in line

If you are looking for a little more flexibility, you can opt for Universal’s “Buy two days, get two days free” park ticket promotion, valid for travel dates between now and March 2, 2023. For the price of two days, you can spend four days exploring Universal’s two theme parks. When you choose a park-to-park ticket, you can visit both parks in the same day — a must if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two sections of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — or you can save money by visiting just one park per day. You can add admission to Universal’s Volcano Bay water park for an additional fee. Pricing starts at $243 for adults and $233 for kids ages 3 to 9.

See all Universal Orlando deals here.

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana — Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

SCOTT MAYEROWITZ/THE POINTS GUY

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is the ultimate all-inclusive vacation for families who love Nickelodeon classics like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” You can meet all your favorite characters, enjoy indoor and outdoor fun at the water park and kids club and even get slimed.

The resort is currently offering a “Holiday Extravaganza” sale that can help you save up to 50% off your family vacation (as low as $215 per person per night). This offer must be booked by Jan. 31, 2023, for travel dates between now and Jan. 31, 2023.

See Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana’s offer.

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa — Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

STEVEN BRIDGES/DOLLYWOOD

While the Dollywood theme park is closed for the winter, you can take advantage of some of the best rates of the year (and fewer crowds) at the adjacent Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa. Winter is a beautiful time of year to visit the snowcapped Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort is a fitting “home away from home” during your visit.

You can spend your days hiking or exploring the attractions in Pigeon Forge and nearby Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before returning to the resort for a swim in the indoor pool, a visit to the family game room and crafts, storytelling and other family activities at Camp DW, the resort’s on-site club for parents and kids.

This offer must be booked by March 8, 2023, for travel dates between Jan. 2, 2023, and March 9, 2023.

See Dollywood DreamMore Resort & Spa’s offer here.

Big Cedar Lodge — Branson, Missouri

BIG CEDAR LODGE

When Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris got the idea to build a mountain retreat for outdoor enthusiasts in the Ozark Mountains, he designed a resort so large it has its own ZIP code. Though Big Cedar Lodge is adjacent to Branson, it is technically in a town all its own called Ridgedale, Missouri.

Set on 46,000 acres overlooking Table Rock Lake in the foothills of the Ozarks, Big Cedar Lodge encourages family adventure and togetherness with activities like fishing, guided nature walks and a “Fun Mountain” attraction with arcade games, bowling, go-karts, an indoor playground and more.

Related: From Branson, Missouri, to Newport Beach, California, here’s our guide to 13 of the best holiday light shows in the US

When you take advantage of Big Cedar Lodge’s “Winter Offer 2023,” you can stay in the Falls Lodge for as little as $159 per night or a private cottage for as little as $189 per night. You’ll also receive a $10 Fun Mountain Game Card and a $25 resort credit to use during your stay.

This offer is available on select nights for stays between Jan. 2, 2023, and March 9, 2023.

See Big Cedar Lodge’s offer here.

Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya — Tulum, Mexico

The Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya. HILTON

If you are looking for a spot to escape the cold, gray winter, look no further than the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya. The 349-room resort is located on a secluded bay that feels like your own private beach and the serenity of this relaxing, nature-inspired resort doesn’t end there.

Inside and out, the resort draws inspiration from the nature surrounding it, from earth-toned room furnishings and decor to local and global cuisines in the 11 on-site restaurants and a kids club with culturally inspired crafts, cooking classes and more.

When you book the limited-time “Tulum Winter Vibes Package,” you’ll receive round-trip airport transportation, free daily breakfast and a $150 resort credit per stay on stays of at least four nights. Kids 12 and under also stay and eat free.

This package must be booked by Dec. 20, 2022, for stays between now and March 24, 2023.

See Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya’s offer here.

Bottom line

It’s still “to be determined” whether I will be able to talk my kids into forgoing a few gifts for a chance to visit one of their favorite vacation destinations, but I’ve been pretty good this year myself, and I know what I am putting on my wish list – an escape from the wintry cold of the Midwest for a fun family getaway. Besides, I happen to know Santa personally and have quite a bit of influence over which gifts he puts under our tree.

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