Moorings Village Resort
Equidistant from the buzzing streets of Miami and Key West, the Moorings Village is the place to bask in blissful solitude—with 18 cottages and an equal number of acres on this former coconut plantation, your brood has ample room to roam. Kayaks and hammocks dot the 1,100-foot white-sand beach, and local waters are an angler’s mecca. Cook up your catch in your private kitchen, a staple in each cottage.
Guest Tip: “We like to head across the road to the resort’s Morada Bay Beach Café , which faces west over the water,” says Ruth Ann McSpadden, who’s been taking her family to the Moorings Village for 17 years—and even modeled the back porch of their home in Long Island, New York, after it. “They serve drinks in mason jars with glow sticks, so the sunsets are downright magical.”
(Cottages from $375.)
Courtesy of The Tides Inn
Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
Built in 1947 on a former farm, the recently revamped Tides Inn is set on its own emerald-swathed peninsula between the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. Budding sea dogs of all ages are drawn to the on-site sailing school; other kid-friendly offerings include a Fred Findley–designed par-3 golf course, fresh- and saltwater pools, and classic games such as croquet and shuffleboard.
Guest Tip: Allen Roberts has been taking his D.C.-based crew to the Tides each Memorial Day for 14 years. He recommends taking a paddleboat from the marina to explore Carters Creek, where you might see ospreys, blue herons, and pelicans darting about the estuary.
(Doubles from $319.)
Courtesy of Skytop Lodge
This Dutch Colonial stone resort overlooking a 5,500-acre forested estate in the Poconos has long been a respite for city-dwelling Northeasterners. Despite the buttoned-up vibe (dress for dinner, kids!), the outdoor activities are endless—from mountain biking to paintball—and there’s a new adventure center with a climbing wall. The resort goes all out for holidays and theme weekends.
Guest Tip: The Rosenbergers of Philadelphia, now on their 20th year of visits, go for Mother’s Day, when the resort hires a photographer to take family portraits and serves a seven-course dinner followed by dancing to a 16-piece orchestra.
(Doubles from $582, including meals.)
Courtesy of Iroquois Hotel
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Time moves molasses-slow on this car-free isle, but most guests at the Hotel Iroquois wouldn’t have it any other way. The white-shingled Victorian inn hugs Lake Huron’s shoreline, a block away from the island’s quintessential-Americana offerings (think fudge shops and Schwinn rentals). The 46 rooms are a homey alternative to the area’s large-scale resorts.
Guest Tip: Mitzi Vander Kamp and her husband, Dalwyn, of Holland, Michigan, have returned to Hotel Iroquois with their kids and grandkids every summer for 12 years. “We book Rooms 102, 104, and 106—just off the side porch, which we use as our meeting place,” Mitzi says. “We play games on the wicker settees and listen to the clip-clop of horses.” Go on the Fourth of July for the annual stone-skipping tournament, a fund-raiser for the local library for some 40 years.
(Doubles from $320.)
Courtesy of the Broadmoor
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Three golf courses (with lessons for juniors), a top-notch spa (with treatments for kids and teens), a movie theater, a tennis club, an infinity pool with waterslides, and an endless roster of outdoor activities: the only question at the Broadmoor is whether you’ll have time to do it all. New in 2009: one- and eight-bedroom cottages with beamed ceilings, wood floors, stone fireplaces, and verandas—perfect for larger groups.
Guest Tip: When grandmother Florrie Katchen (who’s been going to the resort for some 60 years) plans her family’s annual trip, she reserves a pool cabana for their entire five-night stay. “Now that our children are grown and there are grandchildren involved, it’s our gathering spot all day long,” she says. “Plus, it’s right next to the kids’ wading pool, and we have our own server from the pool café.”
(Doubles from $420.)
Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley, Idaho
America’s first four-season destination resort—founded in 1936 by a railroad tycoon and an Austrian count—is a family magnet in summer: there are 35 miles of paved bike trails, chairlifts to the scenic peak of Mount Baldy, and a year-round skating rink that’s hosted Olympians Scott Hamilton and Sasha Cohen. Kids flock to the six-lane bowling alley and the heated pools, which open to the fresh mountain air.
Guest Tip: The Leishmans have made the trek from their home in Bountiful, Utah, for 57 consecutive years; they book rooms in the apartment-style condos a quick walk from the main lodge. “The condos are great for families because they have full kitchens and laundry facilities, and bike paths winding around them,” says Nate Leishman. “On summer evenings you can hear the Sun Valley Symphony right outside your door.”
(Doubles from $275.)
Courtesy of Fairmont Hotels
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Jasper, Alberta, Canada
Active types will love the Stanley Thompson 18-hole course and on-site horseback riding. But for those ready to relax, a seat in the classic wooden lodge overlooking snowcapped Mount Edith Cavell and sparkling Lac Beauvert is just the ticket.
Guest Tip: Chris and Bill Pickering of San Diego, who have returned annually since they honeymooned here in 1990, book the same lakefront junior suite, Room 510, every year. “It’s not as palatial—or expensive—as the cottages,” says mom Chris. “But it has a picture window and an amazing view. When the kids were young, it was especially handy because of its proximity to the lodge’s game room.”
(Doubles from $163.)
Courtesy of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club
La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club
La Jolla, California
A resort with all the bells and whistles (12 tennis courts, two restaurants, a nine-hole golf course, and a kids’ club) is a no-brainer for those with children in tow. But it’s the extras—like charcoal grills on the beach and a staff that delivers tables and chairs for seaside picnics—that keep families coming back to this adobe resort just north of San Diego.
Guest Tip: For immediate access to the water (and additional prep space for elaborate barbecues), Les Smith of Kansas City, Missouri—who returned for his 59th year in 2008—likes to book the kitchen-equipped beachfront suites. “We’re in and out of our rooms all day,” says Les of his multigenerational crew of 15. “Our doors stay open.”
(Doubles from $379.)
Lake Crescent Lodge
Olympic National Park, Washington
A fleet of rowboats provides the recreation at this hemlock-shrouded camp, where the absence of in-room TV’s and phones means more time outdoors. In 1937, FDR stopped by the main lodge (then a tavern with rooms for a men’s mountaineering club) and, over a breakfast of local trout, reviewed the proposal that created the surrounding national park.
Guest Tip: Though the resort has added rooms in outbuildings over the years, the Rasmussens of Vancouver, Washington (who have returned for 32 years), prefer the Shingle-style Roosevelt cottages. Built in 1938 and outfitted with fireplaces and rustic wood furniture, the cabins have plenty of historical charm—and romping room—for their extended family of 13.
(Doubles from $158, Roosevelt cottages $222.)
Inn at Watervale
The Inn at Watervale is something of a time capsule: a 19th-century main house and 17 cottages, set among sand dunes between Lake Michigan and the smaller, warmer Lower Herring Lake and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the afternoons, the kids catch up with their friends, paddling around the lake in one of the resort’s rowboats, combing the shore for the region’s fossilized Petoskey stones, or hiking the enormous Mount Baldy dune. Wednesday is barbecue night at the inn, with hayrides and locally made ice cream; Thursday brings bingo games in the “casino,” a hall once used for town meetings and dances.
Guest Tip:: “A Fourth of July reservation is hard to come by,” says 73-year-old Carolyn Middleton, who has been coming to Watervale for seven decades, but worth a try. On the holiday, Watervale’s guests gather on the lawn for a cookout, complete with deviled eggs and cherry pie. As the sun begins to set, the group makes its way to the beach with blankets and sparklers to watch the fireworks.
(Doubles from $170, including breakfast and dinner; cottages from $2,075 weekly, plus $32 per person per day for breakfast and dinner.)