Kona Village Resort Kailua-Kona; 800/367-5290 (800/432-5450 within Hawaii) or 808/325-5555, fax 808/325-5124; www.konavillage.com; doubles from $480; kids 3—5 $35, 6—12 $140, 13 and over $190 (all meals included). THE SETUP Atop the ruins of a Polynesian fishing village, 125 thatched-roof cottages (some with Jacuzzis behind their traditional façades, but no TV's or phones) on an 82-acre property with fields of petroglyphs etched into lava. LET THE PROS TAKE CHARGE Staff members are so accustomed to reunions, they'll assign your group its own cluster of huts and scheduling coordinator, as well as throw private tropical-punch parties for you. But on luau night, you'll want to join everyone else to feast on pork roasted over hot rocks.
GOOD DEAL: Waimea Plantation Cottages Waimea, Kauai; 800/922-4632 (800/321-2558 within Hawaii) or 808/338-1625, fax 808/338-2338; www.aston-hotels.com; doubles from $175; kids free. THE SETUP A coconut grove with 48 former plantation workers' cottages (with up to five bedrooms); also, a bayside six-bedroom house plus a one-bedroom structure that has great in-law or teens-only potential. INDULGE IN THE CLASSICS Hawaiian delights—plucking papayas from the back yard, hiking a canyon where a tribal king greeted Captain Cook—are accessible here.
Bethel Inn & Country Club Bethel; 800/654-0125 or 207/824-2175, fax 207/824-2233; www.bethelinn.com; doubles from $158; kids under 4 free, 5—15 $20 (breakfast and dinner included). THE SETUP A 62-room Colonial Revival inn overlooking a town green, and 40 two-bedroom town-house units adjoining a golf course. DOCTOR'S ORDERS Follow the advice of the therapist who built the inn as a patients' retreat in 1913, and de-stress through physical exertion. Golf on a Geoffrey Cornish—designed course (the pros teach stances and grips even to toddlers). Head into the woods for a moose safari. Hammer at a tourmaline quarry—and keep any gems you hack out. At dinner, work your forearms by cracking lobster claws.
Chatham Bars Inn Chatham; 800/527-4884 or 508/945-0096, fax 508/945-6785; www.chathambarsinn.com; doubles from $140; kids free. THE SETUP A gambrel-roofed horseshoe cupped toward the sea, with 40 rooms in the original 1914 structure and 165 more units distributed among 31 cottages of up to 12 bedrooms apiece. TEAM UP Although the kids' program is rich in tide-pool tours and sunken-treasure hunts, you'll be able to keep the generations together during the frequent whole-family competitions: see who can run fastest lugging water balloons, identify the most vintage tunes played on the pool's gurgling underwater speakers, or build the most structurally sound sandcastles.
Wade Cottages Siasconset, Nantucket; 508/257-6308; www.wadecottages.com; open May to October; family of four from $685 (three-night minimum; continental breakfast included). THE SETUP A seven-house beachfront compound (with a total capacity of about 70) owned by the Wade family since they started vacationing here in the 1920's. Warning: Returning guests book up its array of rooms, suites, apartments, and cottages early, reserve at least six months in advance. NOT FOR TYPE A'S Don't bring your most go-getting relatives. This North Bluff patch is best for picnicking and bird-watching on the dunes; On rainy days, peruse the China-trade porcelain and whaling artifacts in downtown Nantucket's museums.
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island; 800/334-7263 or 906/847-3331, fax 906/847-3259; www.grandhotel.com; open May to November; family of four from $500 (breakfast and five-course dinner included). THE SETUP One of the last surviving 19th-century wooden-resort extravaganzas, with 381 rooms; the porch alone measures over an eighth of a mile. SURVEY AMERICAN HISTORY Rooms are named for significant figures and decorated accordingly, with Georgia peach tones in the Rosalynn Carter Suite, for instance. After you've explored the hotel's lengthy halls, unwind along Mackinac Island's car-free streets and lilac-lined tennis courts or in the resort's 11 rather formal restaurants and bars (there are rambunctious kids' tables at dinner).
Lost Lake Lodge Lake Shore; 800/450-2681 or 218/963-2681, fax 218/963-0509; www.lostlake.com; open mid-May—mid-October; cabins for four from $360 (breakfast and dinner included). THE SETUP A sweetly old-fashioned lake camp with 12 cabins of up to three bedrooms each, a 14-acre swimming lake, and 80 acres of woods. HIKE ON TIPTOE Try to add to the list of 44 avian species that have been spotted here—your kids may outdo you, thanks to the naturalist-led children's program. Snack on nutmeg muffins baked with flour ground on-site—the previous owner, an inventor known as Screwball Carter, renovated an 1844 gristmill here.
Horse Prairie Ranch Dillon; 888/726-2454 or 406/681-3155, fax 406/681-3222 in summer and 801/796-6858 in winter; www.ranchlife.com; open June—September; from $950 per person for four nights (four-night minimum), $900 for each additional adult; 10 percent discount for kids 10—12 (all meals included). Minimum age: 10. THE SETUP An 1870's homestead turned Black Angus cattle ranch, with five log cabins (for a total ranch capacity of 24 people) that have cushy amenities like washer-dryers and VCR's. PITCH IN Help brand, wean, and drive the cattle across grazing lands. Afterward, if you're not too sentimental, dine on Angus steaks. Also ride horses in Lewis and Clark's footsteps: the exhausted explorers bargained for fresh mounts from Shoshone warriors in this valley.
Rockywold-Deephaven Camps Holderness; 603/968-3313, fax 603/968-3438; www.rdcsquam.com; open June to September; family of four from $350; cottages from $3,500 (one-week minimum); 5-20 percent discounts in June, August, and September for stays of more than four nights (all meals, cafeteria-style, included). THE SETUP A 104-year-old complex of 60 pine-walled cottages holding up to 14 people apiece, plus two 15-room lodges; many families have been returning for decades, and seniority counts in wrangling reservations. BUILD UP YOUR OWN SENIORITY Reserve for uncrowded June or September. And while the kids paddle around peaceful Squam Lake (where On Golden Pond was filmed), the adults can rock on porches and note the lack of noise—you won't even hear refrigerators humming, because the cabins' iceboxes are cooled by ice harvested from the lake each January.
Bishop's Lodge Santa Fe; 800/732-2240 or 505/983-6377, fax 505/989-8739; www.bishopslodge.com; doubles from $169; kids over 3 $15. THE SETUP More than 100 rooms and suites in 15 adobe-style lodges, some dating back to the 1910's, fresh from a $20 million expansion and renovation (with a spa opening this fall). JOIN THE CLUB The children's program, which offers activities like trout-fishing and hikes into a petrified forest, has been around for 60 years—alums now bring their grandchildren. An 1870 adobe chapel on the site will interest your family's history buffs; a bishop indeed lived on this foothill of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.