Bring the brood to the Balsams, an old-fashioned but unstuffy New England resort
Of the many resorts I've taken my wife and two daughters to to over the years, the Balsams, in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, is by far their favorite. The white Victorian facade of Dixville House, the main hotel, makes the place seem at first glance like an austere New England inn. But as families who have stayed here know, the Balsams is anything but. One of its two golf courses, a short nine-holer, is perfect for children, as are evening comedy shows performed on weekends. Under a classic American plan covering three squares daily and all forms of sport and entertainment, kids can ride horses, swim, golf and play tennis until they drop, without their parents worrying about the final tab.
THE BALSAMS GRAND RESORT HOTEL, 1000 Cold Spring Road, Dixville Notch, New Hampshire; 800-255-0600, thebalsams.com. From $199 per person, per night (American plan).
Golf Kids love hitting and chasing balls on the Coashaukee course, with its gentle nine holes ranging from 110 to 313 yards. Children ages twelve and up can graduate to the Balsams' pride and joy: the 1912 Donald Rossdesigned Panorama eighteen.
Other Fun StuffF The biggest hit with my gang was hiking up to Table Rock, a granite outcropping offering views of Dixville Notch. My daughters enjoyed splashing in the large, heated pool near Lake Gloriette and, after an active day, watching skits in the resort's theater. There's also Camp Wind Whistle, offering supervised activities for kids ages five to ten.
Lodging Book one of the Balsams' family suites, which have connecting bedrooms. There are no TVs in the rooms, encouraging parents and children to interact.
Dining Children circle the ample breakfast and luncheon buffets like mountain hawks. Don't be put off by the dress code at dinner—jackets required for teenage boys—as families are made to feel welcome. Nightly five-course feasts include "junior gourmet" selections. The dessert table is irresistible to all ages.