By Brian Kevin
October 07, 2014
Credit: Courtesy of Bar Harbor Inn

I’m a dad. I’m also an uncle, a husband, a brother, and son, and I’ve learned the hard way that planning a trip with family members of diverse ages and interests is a minefield of potential stress and disappointment. It all hangs upon finding the right place to stay. A great family hotel doesn’t lure you in with the “fun for the whole family” shtick that really means “fun for those members of the family who haven’t reached puberty.” You need a place that’s classic, a place that isn’t wasting effort on features a kid-minding adult won’t be able to appreciate (looking at you, useless two-person Jacuzzi), and a place with a wide spectrum of potential activities that don’t drift into lazy clichés (pass on the mini-golf). Luckily, hotels and resorts in Maine have been catering to road-tripping families for a couple hundred years. These five have a lock on multi-generational fun (and enough style that you’d stay there even without the kids).

Union Bluff Hotel

This nostalgic, four-story beachside hotel was built in the late nineteenth century, complete with turrets. You can’t beat the location. Walk out the front door onto Short Sands, a beach-blanket paradise with a throwback boardwalk and the sprawling Fun-O-Rama arcade, where parents will remember the games from their own childhoods. Swimming and skee-ball, anyone?

Sebasco Harbor Resort

A sprawling resort on a quiet peninsula, Sebasco Harbor at peak season is a bustling community all its own. Among the clusters of cabins, the large main lodge, and an annex of handsome suites is a room for any-sized family. Along with the usual mix—boating, fishing, tennis, golf—the resort offers yoga classes, cooking demos, summer-camp–style educational activities, and more.

Bar Harbor Inn

The marquee attraction on Mount Desert Island, of course, is the supremely family-friendly Acadia National Park. When you’re not hiking or joining a ranger-led program, the Bar Harbor Inn has its own pier where the immense, four-masted schooner Margaret Todd docks daily for cruises in the bay. Lobster bakes are fun and filling, and the free island shuttle stops right out front.

Migis Lodge

A rustic (but not too rustic) family camp on Maine’s Sebago Lake, Migis dates back to 1916 (its early owner was the founder of the Camp Fire Girls). The lake is the center of the action—sailing, paddling, fishing, powerboating, waterskiing, and other aquatic pursuits keep families busy. On land, there’s always horseshoes or shuffleboard outside the spacious, modern lodge.

Spruce Point Inn

Boothbay Harbor, at the end of a bucolic peninsula on Maine’s midcoast, is a mecca for family vacationers. The ice cream stands and souvenir shops downtown stop just shy of tacky. Spruce Point, a hillside resort with a gorgeous view of the water, is a bit more refined, and the activity schedule is vast, with everything from paddleboarding and sea kayaking to yoga classes and a campfire s’mores station.