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Can Bed and Breakfasts Be Family Friendly?

Bed and breakfasts are quaint, sweet, and often romantic places to stay—but can they also be a good spot for traveling families? Yes, as long as you choose carefully and ask the right questions. Here's what you need to know to find a family friendly bed and breakfast.

When Anuja De Silva’s son was 15 months old, she took him along to the Linden Tree Inn in Rockport, Massachusetts. “I did let them know that we will have a baby, so they gave us a room at an adjoining unit that was an extension not in the house itself,” says De Silva, the Cosmopolitan TravelingMom for the popular travel site TravelingMom.com. She was pleasantly surprised when the bed and breakfast provided both a Pack n Play and a high chair, which she hadn’t requested. “It was great,” she says.

Yes, bed and breakfasts can be good for family travel—just choose well.

Romantic Spots are a Big No for Families

Imagine that you’ve blocked off a few days for a delicious getaway with your honey. You picked the quaintest bed and breakfast, and are looking forward to romantic evenings together and some fun. But you arrive, and instead of the adult environment you’d envisioned, babies are crying, parents are parenting, and kids are playing. None of these things are bad things—except this was supposed to be a romantic getaway.

As a traveler, it’s important to choose destinations appropriate for your family—and a romantic spot isn’t one of them.

Kim Blackham, a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner and director of Summit View Family Therapy, says that as the mom of four kids, she looks forward to the rare romantic getaways that she and her husband take. “On one occasion, we had paid for an especially romantic package, and all evening and again early the next morning, we heard children running up and down the halls. We know how difficult traveling with kids can be and so that morning at breakfast, we were kind to the family—even though we were disappointed with the situation,” says Blackham.

It’s key to do your research, avoiding bed and breakfasts that cater to couples. “If we were to take our children to a bed and breakfast, we would specifically find one that was not heavily marketed as a romantic getaway for fear of ending up in a similar situation,” says Blackham.

Families welcome?

The key when traveling with kids to bed and breakfasts is to find ones where kids are welcome. 

Rhonda Buess of Knowles Hill welcomes families to her historic inn in Sonora, California, where they can gather eggs for breakfast and play with pets outside. They even have rooms that can be combined to form suites for four. “Staying at our bed and breakfast has been an amazing experience for so many families,” says Buess. “Sitting around our formal dining room table is an experience in itself. Children sip their hot chocolate out of tea cups and use linen napkins and fine china.” 

Still, bed and breakfasts aren’t hotels. So, running through the halls (which is a questionable thing to let kids do anywhere) is a big no. Years ago as a child, while traveling with my mom and aunt, I was surprised to learn that a bed and breakfast was like a house—and noise levels must be kept down. 

Nadine Fox, owner of Buck Valley Ranch LLC, a guest ranch, says that her bed and breakfast is family friendly—but she also makes sure that guests are aware of the house rules. “I set limits and make sure the children know what they are. I also try not to book families with children when I have adults without children. If adults without children want to book when children are here I make sure they know that children will be here,” says Fox. “Whoever books first determines the makeup of the bookings.”

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