The heat is on: With summer just around the bend, some 88% of American travelers report they plan to take their families on vacation this year, according to AAA Travel. Here are seven picks for kid-friendly vacations with not just last-minute availability but also plenty of activities that keep the focus on fun.
1. Discover North Carolina gold.
Just 20 minutes north of Charlotte, N.C., Cabarrus County is family vacation gold. In fact, kids can pan for the precious metal at Reed Gold Mine in Midland—the state’s only underground gold mine open to the public. Dine on authentic Carolinas BBQ at the deservedly popular Smoke Pit. Take a self-guided walking tour of Concord’s Union Street and check out the art exhibits at Cabarrus Arts Council.
Stop at Cabarrus Creamery for homemade ice cream in signature flavors like Moon Pie, inspired by the classic Southern chocolate-covered graham cracker and marshmallow snack cake. Watch a first-run movie at one of the oldest single-screen theatres still in operation. And cap it off with a stay at Great Wolf Lodge resort—home to the largest indoor waterpark in the Carolinas.
2. Footloose and stress-free in the Adirondacks.
Lake Placid’s all-suite Whiteface Lodge has bucked the resort fee trend in favor of a resort-inclusive concept that lets families avoid surprise charges on their bill at check-out. Here’s just a small sampling of what’s included in the room rate: complimentary breakfast; family-friendly movies in a 56-seat surround sound movie theater; game room complete with two-lane bowling alley; nightly s’mores; and a catch-and-release pond with all fishing equipment included.
Complimentary kids’ club Kamp Kanu is open daily in summer. And while it’s not free, the Sunset Club lets couples enjoy an evening on their own while their kids have pizza and supervised fun for a sliding fee of $30 for the first child, $20 for the second, and $10 for any additional children.
3. “Fun Central” in Monterey.
Just two blocks from the ocean, Embassy Suites by Hilton Monterey Bay Seaside is the perfect place to stay and enjoy “family fun central” on the central California coast. Just a few things to enjoy are the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the kid-friendly National Steinbeck Center Museum, and the shops, dining and entertainment of Cannery Row.
A two-night Monterey Bay Aquarium Package includes two two-day admission tickets (additional tickets available for purchase) plus cooked-to-order breakfast; complimentary Evening Reception; local airport transfers; and pool and fitness center access. Also nearby: the hands-on MyMuseum and Dennis the Menace park, known for its whimsical play equipment.
4. Everything under the Florida sun.
Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is an oceanfront oasis for family vacationers, with newly renovated, condo-style accommodations that include a full kitchen, private balcony and in-suite washer and dryer. The Kids Club caters to children ages 4-12 with a daily “menu” of crafts, sports and adventures from sea shell expeditions and bodyboard lessons to sand art and candy creation. Lagoon Pool is a grotto-style, heated outdoor pool with two-story waterfall and waterslide, plus Friday and Saturday night Dive-In movies.
5. A family forest ride at Pebble Beach.
From its spectacular coastline setting to its world-class amenities, Pebble Beach Resorts delivers an unsurpassed guest experience. And that includes helping parents create lasting memories for their children. One such opportunity: a horseback guided trail tour for the whole family through the beautiful Del Monte Forest. Pebble Beach Equestrian Center offers riders of all experience levels, ages seven and up, a chance to explore the forest via more than 27 miles of marked equestrian trails. The 50-minute tour is priced at $95 per person.
6. A Martha’s Vineyard getaway for the ages.
Presiding over the heart of Edgartown, historic Harbor View Hotel has been a home away from home for generations of travelers. In recent years, that home has expanded to include five spacious Captain’s Cottages ideal for those seeking quality time with the kids on a classic New England beach getaway. Parents will find no shortage of ways to keep young ones busy, thanks to a robust daily schedule of activities like lawn games, morning yoga for all ages on the Great Lawn, sandcastle building, beach blanket bingo, water balloon games, scavenger hunts, and rubber duck races, to name a few.
7. A Beantown bonanza.
The Element Boston Seaport District is a great family-friendly option for Boston travelers, thanks to features like full in-room kitchens, complimentary RISE breakfast, a heated saline swimming pool, outdoor patio with self-serve grill, and complimentary Bikes to Borrow that launch family travelers on pedal-powered adventures around Beantown. Among the notable kid-friendly sites nearby: Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston Common, Freedom Trail, Boston Public Garden of Make Way for Ducklings fame, and New England Aquarium. And don’t forget $1 admission to the Boston Children’s Museum on Friday evenings.