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5 One-Stop Family Getaways

Turks and Caicos by seanjacksontc for en.wikipedia (CC Licensed)

It seems like the impossible dream: a vacation that will be a blast for the kids, let you relax a little, doesn't require much planning, and won't leave you with that sinking "this cost more than I thought it would" feeling on the last day. But look no further than an all-inclusive resort, where you pay a set amount that includes (at least) accommodations, meals, and many activities. Forget the mediocre buffets and watery drinks of your college spring break. All-inclusives have really stepped it up in the last decade, becoming many a family's first choice for a blissed-out vacay. There's minimal budgeting involved once you arrive, and the activities are designed to keep children happy from breakfast to dinner (and sometimes beyond). Even if you were a wing-it kind of vacationer pre-kids, putting the details on autopilot is well worth a try now. Many moms swear it's the way to go.

Beaches (Turks and Caicos; Jamaica)
The "luxury included" chain thinks of every-thing and includes it all: top-shelf liquor, scuba diving, sailing. There are a whopping 16 eateries at the Turks locale! For a fee, the staff will set up a private, four-course candlelit dinner on the beach. The kids' programs rock, from the Pirates Island waterpark for little guys to the super-fly school for DJ's, "Scratch Academy," for tweens.

Mackinac Island Grand Hotel (Mackinac, MI)
No cars allowed on charming Mackinac Island, so hop on a ferry to be whisked back in time. A highlight at the Grand Hotel, built in 1887, is the five-course dinner, special without being stuffy. It's set to live music, and kids can (and do) take it to the dance floor. Kids' programs hark back to simpler days with activities like boccie and collecting rocks on the beach.

Club Med (Sandpiper, near West Palm Beach, FL; 80 locations worldwide)
The French chain that invented the all-inclusive concept has an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of kids' programs for ages 4 months to 17 years, including the ever-popular Circus School, which lets kids fly high on the trapeze. It's a great choice if you've got kids with a big age gap. Take it from Brienne Tripp of Connecticut: "The food at Sandpiper was awesome, absolutely the high point. I mean, they have their own French pastry chef!" They keep things interest-ing by featuring international foods every night alongside the classics.

Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz, NY)
A Victorian castle at the base of a mountain range, family-run Mohonk has been around for 140 years. The spectacular grounds are the draw, making this a good choice year-round if your gang is big into outdoor pursuits. Wildlife is easy to spot, from eagles to muskrats to chipmunks. The indoor pool has piped-in underwater music, and kids feel extra special with their own four-course menus. "My kids never tire of the activities, which go on and on," raves Jen Snyder of Lindenhurst, NY.

Kona Village (Kohala Coast, HI)
This heavenly hideaway (the only all-inclusive in the state) looks how Hawaii should: no concrete, no garish faux-Hawaiian decorations, just tropical plants and Polynesian thatched-roof bungalows. The kids' program, called Na Keiki, which means "the children," is all about traditional crafts and arts, including learning a hula dance.