Take the Kids: Tee It Up

Today’s top miniature-golf courses offer more than just challenging obstacles.

By Brooke Porter Katz

Erupting volcanoes, glow-in-the-dark scenery, DJs—today’s top miniature-golf courses offer more than just challenging obstacles. Here, a few top places to putt on your next family vacation.

Go Fish

Williamsburg, Virginia

For golf with a side of Price Is Right–style fun, visit Catfish Cove Mini-Golf. After completing all 18 holes, players can toss their ball in a Plinko-style board for a chance to win a free game. You may want another shot at tackling the challenging eighth hole, where you have to hit the ball into the water at just the right angle for it to make its way into the pipes and back onto the green. 1799 Richmond Rd.; 757-220-9220; adults, $9 per 18-hole round; children, $7 per round

The 19th Hole: Just because you’re playing miniature golf doesn’t mean you won’t get sore. The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg offers a sports massage and a soothing water-therapy treatment. 307 S. England St.; 757-220-7720; massages, from $110

Larger Than Life

Lincolnshire, Illinois

There aren’t many places where you can see oversize replicas of Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, a rocket ship and the Windy City’s own Willis Tower all in one spot. But then, there aren’t many miniature-golf courses quite like the family-owned Par-King Skill Golf, just north of Chicago and about 80 miles from Sheridan, Illinois. Among the 36 holes, 21 automated mechanisms—including five elevators, one of which takes your ball to an old-school roller coaster made from 750 pieces of wood—interact with the shots. 21711 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 847-634-0333; admission, $8 per 18-hole round (cash only)

The 19th Hole: On your way back to Sheridan, you could swing by the top of the real Willis Tower in downtown Chicago. The Skydeck—accessed from the 99th floor, 1,353 feet up—has glass-bottom viewing ledges on the 103rd floor for the extra-brave. 233 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago; 312-875-9696; adults, $23; children 3–11, $15; children 2 and under, free

Desert Oasis

Mesa, Arizona

What began as a single Tucson entertainment center in 1953 has grown to eight Golfland locations in California and Arizona, including this outpost 17 miles east of Phoenix. Your visit begins with a walk through a turreted castle (home to 200 video games and laser tag) en route to three 18-hole miniature-golf courses. Each has a difficult “anthill” hole, but the one on the Princess Path may be the toughest; you have to putt up a 3.5-foot incline to land the ball in the opening at the top. Nearby there’s a volcano that erupts every 90 minutes, sending fog and fire up in the air. 155 W. Hampton Ave.; 480-834-8319; adults, $10 per 18-hole round; children 4–11 and seniors, $9 per round; each additional round with same-day purchase, $2

The 19th Hole: Catch an exhibit of about 20 large-scale works by ceramic artist Jun Kaneko at the Desert Botanical Garden, on view through May 13. 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix; 480-941-1225; adults, $25; children 3–17, $13; children 2 and under, free


Branson, Missouri

The aptly named Fun Spot has it all: go-carts, laser tag and a trio of miniature-golf courses. Older kids may especially love the White River Black Light one, which is decorated with glow-in-the-dark paint that pops out when viewed through 3-D glasses (available for purchase). Also inside is an Ozarks-themed course with two 18-hole options. Watch out for a “rainstorm” every 30 minutes during which there’s thunder and lightning. Outdoors, a farmyard course offers two 18-hole options. Both are decorated with life-size cows, pigs, horses and more. Each hole has two types of play; if you’re looking for a challenge, aim for the red hole instead of the white. 1945 W. 76 Country Blvd.; 888-514-1088; adults, $9 per 18-hole round; children 5–12, $7.50 per round; children 4 and under, free

The 19th Hole: At Grand Country Music Hall, nightly shows range from country to comedy to rock and roll. 1945 W. 76 Country Blvd.; 888-514-1088; tickets, $33; children 4–17, $15; children 3 and under, free

Florida Favorite

Orlando, Florida

Between rides at Orlando’s Walt Disney World® Resort, play a round at two 18-hole courses that are an ode to the 1940 musical film Fantasia. At the whimsical Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, you can swing your way through five movie scenes chock-full of hippos wearing tutus, twirling ostriches and even water-filled broomsticks on No. 16 that tip over and soak whomever is below. Seasoned pros and older kids, meanwhile, will appreciate the design of the Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course, which takes cues from traditional courses—think par-3 and par-5 holes with sand traps, water hazards and bunkers. See if you can beat Tiger Woods, who shot a par 76. Epcot Resort area; 407-939-5277; adults, $14 per 18-hole round; children 3–9, $12 per round

The 19th Hole: At Lake Eola Park, in downtown Orlando, you can rent swan boats and explore the lake. 512 E. Washington St.; 407-246-4484; boat rentals, $15 per half hour

Rock Out

Las Vegas, Nevada

At Las Vegas’s KISS by Monster Mini Golf, you can school your kids in golf—and the music and story of the American band. The 18-hole course relocated last year to a 13,000-square-foot space where the painted walls depict moments from KISS history and screens play concert footage. An in-house DJ will even take song requests. After finishing up at the last hole—a giant replica of Gene Simmons’s head—make your way to a gallery with the largest public collection of KISS memorabilia. 3700 W. Flamingo Rd.; 702-558-6256; admission, $12 per 18-hole round

The 19th Hole: Take a seat on the High Roller, which—at 550 feet tall—is the world’s tallest observation wheel. The 30-minute ride affords a 360-degree vista of the Strip and beyond. 3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 800-634-6441; adults, $25; children, $10

Out of this World

French Lick, Indiana

With miniature golf, laser tag, a bungee trampoline, arcade and 32-foot rock-climbing wall, Shotz Miniature Golf and Lazer Tag has much more than its name suggests. The nine-hole indoor Cosmic course is a huge draw (particularly for kids) thanks to its jungle theme and glowing black-light interior. For some alfresco fun, there’s also an 18-hole outdoor course. 8529 W. State Rd. 56; 812-936-2386; adults, $6.50 per 9-hole round, $8.50 per 18-hole round; children 3–10, $5.50 per 9-hole round, $6.50 per 18-hole round

The 19th Hole: The French Lick Scenic Railway takes passengers on an 18-mile round-trip journey to Gradman Station and back, passing through Hoosier National Park along the way. Rides sell out, so book tickets ahead online. 8594 W. State Rd. 56; 800-748-7246; tickets, $20; children 2–11, $10

RCI® affiliated resorts in and near the featured destinations include:
Wyndham Patriots’ Place 1141

Spend afternoons wandering the lush, rolling grounds. 725 Bypass Rd., Williamsburg, VA

Wyndham Kingsgate 2481

French-country-style units sleep up to 10. 619 Georgetown Crescent, Williamsburg, VA

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort 4863

Pack your fishing gear for this great riverside property. 2558 N. 3653 Rd., Sheridan, IL

Scottsdale Camelback Resort 1150

The tennis courts and massage therapy are an ideal pairing. 6302 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, AZ

Sheraton Desert Oasis 5247

A romantic retreat, so consider bringing your special someone along. 17700 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, AZ

Grandview at Las Vegas 6923

Want to catch some sun? Look no further than the pool and rock waterfall. 9940 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV

Tahiti Village C610

Stretches across 27 beautiful acres and is designed to resemble an island escape. 7200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV

Club De Soleil C616

Just far enough from the Strip to provide a respite but close enough to catch all the action. 5625 W. Tropicana Ave., Las Vegas, NV

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Holiday Hills 1004

Athletic types can play tennis or golf or go for a swim. 2380 E. Hwy. 76, Branson, MO

Branson’s Nantucket C340

This family-friendly resort is a good base for helicopter tours, go-cart rentals and more. 2837 State Hwy. 265, Branson, MO

Palace View by Spinnaker 4067

One-, two- and three-bedroom units can be adjoined for large groups. 700 Blue Meadows Rd., Branson, MO

Still Waters Vacation Club D927

An on-site marina offers boat, kayak and inner-tube rentals. 21 Stillwaters Trail, Branson, MO

Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Seaworld 3517

The movie theater makes staying in as fun as a night on the town. 6924 Grand Vacations Way, Orlando, FL

Orlando’s Sunshine Resort II 5592

You can hit the spa while the children swim in the kids-only pool. 5473 Del Verde Way, Orlando, FL

Sheraton Vistana Resort—Fountains Villas V450

Thanks to its seven hot tubs and swimming pools, 13 tennis courts and six rec centers, you may (almost) forget to explore Orlando. 8800 Vistana Centre Dr., Orlando, FL

French Lick Springs Villas 1788

Hayrides and pony rides are bound to keep the kids entertained. Hwy. 56, French Lick, IN

RCI® Tip

Still can’t decide where to take the kids this spring? Visit RCI.com and use the Vacation Type filters to help you search. Whether you are looking for the beach, a family getaway, a spa escape or another experience, RCI.com can help find a vacation that is right for you.*

For member reviews and additional resort listings, visit RCI.com or call 800-338-7777 (Weeks) or 877-968-7476 (Points). Club Members, please call your specific Club or RCI telephone number.

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Other vacation options in some of the featured destinations include:
Wedmore Place at Wessex Hundred

A chic inn on the grounds of a winery. 5810 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg, VA; 866-933-6673; williamsburgwinery.com; doubles from $155 a night

FOUND:RE Phoenix

A boutique property downtown outfitted with works by local artists. 1100 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ; 602-875-8000; foundrehotels.com; doubles from $349 a night

Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace

The first hotel from acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa has a 50,000-square-foot Qua spa. 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV; 800-727-4923; caesars.com; doubles from $286 a night

Caribe Cove Resort

Near a lake, so you can relax between theme-park visits. 9000 Treasure Trove Lane, Kissimmee, FL; 855-318-1635; wyndhamvacationrentals.com; doubles from $129 a night

  • *These vacations are limited and subject to availability.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Spring 2018