WHERE Inn at Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, S.C.; 866/706-6565; www.palmettobluffresort.com; cottages from $450). WHY Outside your cushy cottage, 20,000 acres of South Carolina low country are yours to explore. Sign up the whole crew for a dolphin-spotting tour by marsh boat or a shrimping excursion—and send the teens off to the resort's Page Island to do some inner tubing while you head to the spa for a Spanish-moss bath.
WHERE Grace Bay Club (Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos; 800/946-5757; www.gracebayclub.com; suites from $425, including breakfast). WHY This formerly adults-only Mediterranean-style resort opens to the junior set at the end of the summer, with a family-centric extension of 38 suites, a beachside pool, and kid's activities—from sea kayaking to cave safaris.
WHERE Evergreen Lodge (Groveland, Calif.; 800/935-6343; doubles from $79). WHY Located on the less-traveled, western side of Yosemite National Park, the 1921 lodge recently underwent a massive upgrade. Fifty cedar cabins have been added, plus a general store with a soda fountain. Evergreen's guide service—the only one in the park—offers ranger-led hikes and customized itineraries. Don't miss: getting a bird's-eye view of the Hetch Hetchy Valley—which John Muir called "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples."
WHAT The Pacific coast with Disney Cruise Lines (888/325-2500; seven-day sailings depart every Saturday, May 28August 19; from $4,542 for a family of four). WHY Disney's limited-time West Coast itinerary on the 2,600-passenger Disney Magic begins in Los Angeles and includes stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas, with optional pre- and post-sailing trips to Disneyland, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Come fall, Mickey and crew return to Port Canaveral, Florida, and their Caribbean route.
WHAT Australia's Kimberley region with Orion Expedition Cruises (61-2/9033-8700; www.orioncruises.com.au; four 11-day cruises, June 8August 31; from $5,390 per person, $2,695 for each additional cabin guest, $1,348 for kids 15 and under). WHY During its inaugural season, the Aussie cruise company's 106-passenger Orion tours the western side of Oz, sailing from Darwin to Broome. Spot humpback whales and explore rain forests along the way.
TOUR WHAT Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (Mosca; 719/378-6300; www.nps.gov/grsa). WHY The country's newest national park (designated last fall) looks like another planet—and has expanded to four times the size it was as a mere national monument. It now encompasses 30 square miles of wind-rippled sand dunes, more than 42,000 acres of forest, and six 13,000-foot peaks. The best part?Sand boarding on the dunes (rentals available).
WHAT Iceland with Butterfield & Robinson (800/678-1147; www.butterfieldandrobinson.com; July 1016 or August 1016; $5,795 per adult, call for kids' rates). WHY B&R is the first luxury outfitter to lead families to the Land of Fire and Ice. Scale volcanic craters, traverse the 5,400-foot- long Langjokull glacier, and soak in the Blue Lagoon. Your quarters?A glacier-side resort and a seaside inn overlooking a volcano.
WHAT British Columbia with Generations Touring (888/415-9100; www.generationstouringcompany.com; July 1725, August 614, or September 1725; $2,299 per adult, $1,399 per child). WHY You'll get to see British Columbia in all its glory, from the emerald city of Vancouver (picnic at Seymour Dam, anyone?) to the City of Totems, named after the 80 poles honoring the ancestors of the Cowichan people.
WHAT Oregon with Abercrombie & Kent (800/554-7016; June 26July 2, July 1016, July 2430, or August 713; $2,705 per adult, $2,515 per child under 12). WHY A&K's first Northwest foray is for action-starved families. Trek with ice picks across the Elliot Glacier, mountain bike in the shadows of the Cascade mountains, and, when you're on your last legs, raft the Class IIIV rapids of the Umpqua River.
WHAT "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries," at New York's American Museum of Natural History (212/769-5100; www.amnh.org), and "Dinosaur Dynasty," at Chicago's Field Museum (312/922-9410; www.fieldmuseum.org). WHY The current hot spot for dinosaur discoveries, China's Jehol forest, is re-created at the AMNH as it looked more than 130 million years ago. Catch the tiny Bambiraptor feinbergi, thought to be one of the missing links in the evolutionary chain. Meanwhile, the Field Museum is showing off 28 more of China's dinos. Grab a shovel and help uncover the remains of a full-scale (mock) T. Rex.
WHAT Philadelphia's Once Upon a Nation program (215/629-5801; www.onceuponanation.org). WHY As you take in the city's historic center, George Washington just might saunter by. During the summerlong festival, storytellers in modern and historic garb are posted throughout key sites. There's also a colonial street-scene reenactment at Fourth and Walnut Streets, and at the Independence National History Center, a crew of archaeologists are unearthing the relics of an integrated community of Quakers and African-Americans.