Whether you want to escape to the beach or hit the mountains, summer is the perfect time to travel across the country with family and friends. Here are some summer resort destinations to consider if you're planning an upcoming vacation.
The Ozarks, Mo.
Big Cedar Lodge is a hidden gem of a wilderness resort in Missouri's Ozark Mountains that's owned by Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. In June, the resort introduced a lifestyle outpost called "Top of the Rock." The breathtaking clifftop setting overlooking the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake includes a natural history museum, a nature trail with a four-story cave and waterfall, and a "floating" golf course designed by three golf legends. Family-friendly activities include dive-in movies, a kids' adventure club, a history museum and hiking trails.
Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre hideaway in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains. This playful resort extends a carefree experience by offering summer camp-inspired activities, including beekeeping and nightly s'mores, and new programs, including a Hen House and chicken programming, garden harvest parties, sunset and adventure hikes, an equestrian program and Honey Harvest Weekends.
The landmark Hotel Jerome invites families to experience the great outdoors, dine at renowned restaurants, unwind at a world-class spa or shop and gallery-hop to your heart's content. Enjoy a hot-air balloon ride over Aspen's canyons, mountains, rivers and wildflower-strewn meadows.
Park City, Utah
Waldorf Astoria Park City is the first ski resort from Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts. The resort places families in the lap of luxury with high-end amenities, including unrivaled bike tours and guided climbing tours. The resort also celebrates summer with special pool cabana packages and affordable luxury off-season rates.
Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square is a former chocolate factory-turned-private residence club that offers nightly stays through its short-term vacation rental program. Its new three-bedroom family suite is an urban escape complete with toys, games and interactive kid-friendly furnishings with modern styling, including a custom San Francisco-inspired 3-D wall installation, Murphy beds in the third bedroom, and kid-sized lounge chairs.
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club is set on 27 acres of pristine waterfront and features 120 guest rooms and suites, four acclaimed restaurants, pools, beaches, boating, tennis and championship golf. The property's Children's Center offers educational and whimsical programming for youngsters from tots to teens. The center is equipped with an array of high tech amenities, including a 135-inch HD screen, Wii, Playstation and XBox 360. The nautical-themed playground features a "tot lot" for toddlers and a children's area for those over 5 years old. Pirate ships and treasure chests are customized with slides, ramps and ropes adjacent to an aquatic playground with fountains and sprays. An outdoor amphitheater allows children to take center stage. Special programs change daily and include Chef for a Day, Glow in the Dark Movie Night, Tween Gaming Night, Beach Bonfire Night, Pajama-jam!, Show Your Talent, Treasure Hunt and Green Thumb. The Wequassett also has an all-American vintage ice cream truck that hands out complimentary treats around the resort.
The oak-shaded Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Southern California is a memory-making mecca for families with unique programming for kids that taps into the area's history and inspired options for adults. Seize the summer and kick off the beginning of Ojai's popular lavender season with the summertime family fun package, which includes everything needed for a family getaway. Breakfast, a family scavenger hunt and a relaxing s'mores roast are great together time activities. While the adults enjoy "me-time," kids can delight in the themed activities at Camp Oak.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Hacienda Beach Club and Residences in Cabo San Lucas has unveiled new summertime family fun activities and packages. Sprawling, luxurious oceanfront residences of up to 4 bedrooms are perfect for accommodating the entire gang in a home-away-from-home setting. Summer offerings include the Snorkel and Sea Adventure, the Camel Safari, mountain bike riding, the children's spa menu at Hacienda Spa, and kids' yoga classes designed for guests ages 3 and up.
Santa Catalina Island, Calif.
The Santa Catalina Island Company has begun a five year, $40 million revitalization that will unveil the island's first resort spa and the transformation of Descanso Beach Club in 2014. The spa and updated beach club will complement the redesign of the island's landmark properties, updated dining options and new retail concepts. Family-friendly offerings include Eco Hummer tours (in Hummers converted to run on biodiesel), dolphin watching, rock climbing, snorkeling, food trucks and zip lining.
Honua Kai Resort and Spa offers activities to suit every member of the family. The resort's extensive aquatic playground includes the Wailele "Waterfall" Pool, with a twisty slide and a sandy beach where children can play in shallow water; the Maile "Calm/Quiet" Pool, perfect for cooling off or swimming laps; and the Nanea "Leisure" Pool for a serene pool experience. Steps away, Kaanapali Beach beckons. The concierges at Honua Kai can arrange for island activities, such as treetop zip-line tours, biking down a volcano and scuba diving. They also can arrange for a boat to take the whole family knee boarding, wake boarding, extreme tubing, or dolphin and turtle sighting, or set up a helicopter ride over the many areas of the island that are viewable only by air.
Sanderling Resort is the only full-service resort in the Outer Banks, which makes it a great alternative to renting a beach house. Duck is known as a rustic and remote destination—quieter and more family-oriented than other parts of the Outer Banks, offering a safe landscape for walks and bike rides without the worry of traffic. Family offerings include lighthouse tours, wild horse tours, painting and outdoor activities such as kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding, skim boarding and boogie boarding. Jet Ski and bicycle rentals are also available.
Punta Mita, Mexico
If you're heading to Mexico, check out Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, a beautiful beachfront property just 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. Set on 400 acres, this resort boasts beaches famous for their surf, as well as lush jungles and endless family-friendly adventures. In addition to the usual beach activities, families can enjoy exclusive amenities, including arts and crafts, a lazy river, a cultural concierge and a Kids for All Seasons program.
The Sebastian-Vail is Vail Valley's newest boutique resort, voted No. 13 on the list of Best Hotels for Families in the United States in Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2012. This chic-meets-mountain-comfort property offers a Battle Mountain Kids Camp, where guests ages 7-12 enjoy field trips, games, crafts, cooking and more. The resort also features a Tyke's Room, for kids from toddlers to 4 years old, which includes a chalkboard wall, an elevated state with curtains, karaoke, a closet of costumes, bookcases full of storybooks, coloring books and games.
Todos Santos, Mexico
Quickly becoming a go-to destination for a tranquil escape, Todos Santos is another Mexican town great for family vacations. A charming beach town and fishing village about 45 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos offers the kind of unaffected hospitality that's become rare in the modern world. Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa in the heart of Todos Santos offers an incredible view of the historic town. Hotel California, another iconic boutique hotel, offers families a classic yet relaxing experience. Todos Santos will soon be home to Tres Santos, a new community that will embrace the town and be the ultimate space for those seeking a holistic lifestyle and wellness getaway.
Lake Tahoe, Calif.
While Tahoe is known as a premier ski resort, summer can be just as exciting for family vacations, with a variety of outdoor activities, shopping and dining. With its charming cobblestone walkways and relaxed European vibe, Welk Resorts' Northstar Lodge offers an inviting mix of specialty boutiques, restaurants, cafés and craft shops all circling an open-air ice rink, complete with cabanas, outdoor bars, cozy fire pits and summer activities that include live music and a bungee trampoline.
The oceanfront Ka'anapali Beach Hotel offers guests an array of complementary amenities and cultural activities, such as hula lessons, lei making, pineapple cutting, hularobics and a cultural garden walk. Other summer highlights include an Aloha Passport program, which takes children around the hotel to learn about Hawaiian culture and rewards them with special treats; a daily arts and crafts fair; nightly torch lightings; and the Sunset Hula Show and Hawaiian Entertainment.
Just in time for summer, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa unveiled a new Splash and Stay family escape that includes VIP kids access to their own Splash Landing water park, planned "we-time" for the adults and savings of 30 percent. This is a great escape for families who love to play together but also cherish their own experiences. Fresh off a $50 million resort-wide renovation, Omni La Costa offers a casually comfortable getaway with new rooms and suites, a sports lounge, a water park with two 100-foot waterslides and a sandy beach pool, a sophisticated adults-only pool, a spa, tennis, golf, family fitness classes and four restaurants.