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Three More Classic Family Resorts
Canada's Wild West
Middle Beach Lodge
Two cedar-sided main buildings hide among the evergreens on a rocky peninsula as far west as you can go on Vancouver Island. Families can book one of 22 cabins; all have kitchenettes, fun loft beds with ladders to climb, and wood- or gas-burning stoves to take away the morning chill.
WHERE THE GREEN FERNS GROW In adjoining Pacific Rim National Park, trails wind through silent old-growth forests on ground that's spongy underfoot, thick with fir needles and roots. The park's Long Beach stretches for six glorious miles, scoured by wind and waves and littered with bleached driftwood.
DIG THE DUGOUT Members of a local First Nations tribe take visitors on excursions in canoes carved from cedar logs. One highlight: Meares Island, with its Wild Grocery Walk in the rain forest. Or try whale-watching by Zodiac with an outfitter called Remote Passages; you'll spot gray whales in their summer feeding grounds—and maybe killer whales, porpoises, puffins, and bald eagles.
HANG TEN BLUE TOES Take lessons at Pa-cific Surf School. The waves at Cox Bay are non-threatening (only two to five feet high), though water temperatures hover around the fifties (wet suits recommended).
FOLLOW THE FIR TREES To get to Middle Beach, fly to Tofino via Seattle, or take the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. From there it's a thrilling three-hour drive.
Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia; 250/725-2900; www.middlebeach.com; one-bedroom cabins from $200, including breakfast.
Vermont Straight Up
Basin Harbor Club
The aptly named Beach family has run this lakeside resort for 118 years. Its stone and shingled cottages (there are 77 of them, spread over 700 acres) have carved-wood screen doors that swing shut with the thwack that says summer.
PRUNY FINGERS Kids spend their days in the Olympic-sized pool, or down at the lake kayaking, sailing, waterskiing, and cannonballing off the water trampoline. Rite of passage: learning to swim well enough to get out to the floating dock.
DRESS FOR EXCESS In July and August, "gentlemen over the age of 12" must wear a coat and tie in the main dining room after 6 p.m.(parents, take note: the restaurant has a Wine Spectator-recognized wine list). More informal families head instead to the resort's Red Mill (in an old sawmill) for a burger, or they join the weekly picnic, shore dinner, or grill by the dock. (Kids, take note: the buffet lunch in the Ranger Room ends with a sundae bar.)
ANY RESEMBLANCE TO BARNEY IS PURELY ACCIDENTAL Champ, the sea monstersaid to inhabit Lake Champlain, makes weekly appearances. Other throwbacks: hayrides, golf, and Adirondack chairs painted red and green.
Vergennes, Vermont; 800/622-4000 or 802/475-2311; www.basinharbor.com; one-bedroom cottages from $425 a day for four, including all meals and a children's program for ages 3-15.
The Height of the Adirondacks
This place would thrill Thoreau: log buildings; log railings; and log cabins, fitted with twig towel hooks and door handles.
ONLY THE KIDS ARE WIRED Forget about HBO; there's no TV. Though the main lodge has electricity, the 23 tin-roofed cabins are lit by propane lamps, and propane heaters supply hot water. A woodstove keeps you warm.
THEN TRY MAKING A LANYARD After taking a trail ride, canoeing on Indian Lake, and hitting some bull's-eyes at the archery range, head to the woodshop, where you can assemble a birdhouse or decorate a frame with birch bark—and twigs.
PASS THE STUFFING Everyone eats together at long tables on a porch overlooking the lake. And at noon on Sundays there's always a turkey dinner.
Indian Lake, New York; 518/648-5494; www.timberlock.com; two-bedroom cabins from $416 for four, including meals.
Georgia Beach, Baby!
A lavish seaside retreat designed in Spanish Mediterranean-style by Florida's Addison Mizner, the Cloister is the Miss Congeniality of resorts.
IT'S ALL IN THE NUMBERS Two pools, three 18-hole golf courses, five restaurants, 18 tennis courts, and 279 rooms (though 69 in the main building are currently being renovated).
MOMMY OR MUMMY Kids happily occupied?Repair to the resort's Sea Island Spa to be slathered in oil and warm mud—the "Georgia mud pie wrap."
IT'S AN ACQUIRED TASTE Sample boiled peanuts at the weekly plantation supper, served on an island in the marsh. Also on the menu: boiled shrimp, corn on the cob, fried chicken, and Gullah music.
ANOTHER WAY TO BAKE Kids who have logged enough beach time can join Cookie Cutters, a baking workshop. Tasting encouraged.
TEEN SPIRIT There are junior golf and tennis clinics, chip-and-putt and shuffleboard tournaments, beauty makeovers, and power shopping trips to St. Simons Island.
IF THEY WANTED YOU TO WATCH, WOULDN'T THEY DO IT IN DAYLIGHT? In May and August, a guide escorts guests down the beach in the moonlight to glimpse 300-pound loggerhead turtles laying their eggs.
Sea Island, Georgia; 800/732-4752 or 912/638-3611; www.seaisland.com; doubles from $300. Ask about packages that include the children's program for ages 3-11.