If you're like me, you tolerate winter with plenty of muffled grumbles, counting down the days until summer arrives, bringing heat and humidity with it, while the kids look forward to endless hours in the pool and on a beach. If you feel like getting out of dodge for some warm, summer-like weather this winter, visit one of these great destinations, sure to drench your winter white skin in sun. Each destination has plenty of beaches, swimming pools and activities that will entertain your entire family, free from hibernation.

Written by Wendy Irvine, Steve Jermanonk, Lissa Poirot, Candyce Stapen
Between the country's 20 inhabited islands, there is something for every family to explore. In the duty-free hubs of Freeport and Nassau, as well as neighboring Paradise Island, the beach life includes the high life -- giant casinos, glitzy restaurants, floor shows and international duty-free shops. Another side of the Bahamas includes the Out Islands, where you can relax in quiet settings, unscathed by the hand of modernity. The one commonality that binds all of these diverse islands together is the surrounding ocean. Azure waters, whose temperatures range from 75 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, are fringed by pearly white or pink beaches. Pick an island, any island, and you can't help but find an excellent beach and warm waters. Then there are the Exumas, even less developed than Harbour Island. With crystal-clear water, uninhabited islands to picnic and soft, rolling hills, this is the place to venture to if you want to say goodbye to the rest of the world. The Tropic of Cancer runs directly through George Town, the capital and principal settlement of the Exumas. Whether it's the action on Grand Bahama, New Providence and Paradise Islands or the quiet solitude of the Out Islands, if your idea of a vacation includes somnolent breezes, crystalline waters and soft sands, any Bahamian island will do.

Read our review of the Atlantis Resort.

Cancun's shores bloom with high-rise hotels, creating a bustle that teens and 20-somethings find especially exciting. Except for March and April, when Cancun fills with partying undergraduates on spring break, the area has much to offer families, from all-inclusive to luxury hotels to a variety of restaurants. Snorkeling, diving and shopping are also available, as well as easy access to the Yucatan's attractions. The city is found in Riviera Maya, which offers much that makes Mexico's Caribbean so special. You and your family can swim and snorkel in cenotes, sinkholes formed by underground rivers; splash at eco-adventure parks; explore magnificent Maya ruins and sun on white-sand beaches. The Riviera Maya, less densely developed than Cancun's Hotel Zone, 30 minutes to the north, also offers a range of resorts, from moderately priced lodging to luxury properties, plus a range of all-inclusive family-friendly resorts. Most of Cancun's guest rooms crowd together in the densely developed 15-mile hotel zone, whereas the Riviera Maya's guest rooms are spread over 86 miles, allowing for more greenery. Officially, the Riviera Maya stretches along Mexico's Caribbean coast for 86 miles, from just south of Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen. However, some maps include Puerto Morelos as part of the Riviera Maya.

Read our review of the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort.

Costa Rica continually amazes us. In the rainforests, parakeets twitter, howler monkeys scamper from branch to branch, sloths hide in the crooks of trees and scarlet macaws take flight. You can float along mangrove-lined canals, view active and dormant volcanoes, lounge on beaches and, in season, watch turtles nest. An ecologically aware country, Costa Rica protects more than 25 percent of its land as parks, refuges or reserves. Costa Rica is also eminently family-friendly. It's safe (the "ticos" like Americans), nearby (about a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami) and affordable, with hotel rooms and restaurants costing less than those in many U.S. cities and Caribbean islands. The only "problem" for visitors is the temptation to try to do it all in one vacation. Our advice? Don't. Avoid spending too much time on the road. Instead, pick a few regions to visit, and select one hotel in each area to use as a base for day trips.

Read our review of the Si Como No.

The Dominican Republic boasts both the tallest point in the Caribbean -- Pico Duarte, which rises more than 10,100 feet -- and the lowest point -- Lake Enriquillo, which falls 131 feet below sea level. Add rainforest, cacti-studded desert, 16 National Parks and nearly 1,000 miles of coastline lacing the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and you have one of the finest outdoor playgrounds under the sun. When you have a spare moment, layer on the lotion and go play. Punta Cana, on the eastern tip of the island, is one of the most popular destinations in the entire Caribbean. In the winter months, several hundered flights a week arrive at the Punta Cana International Airport to whisk the European and American crowd over to the upscale Punta Cana Resort & Club or the growing legion of all-inclusives that line the stretch of sand in neighboring Bavaro.

Read our review of the Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa.

As a Floridian, I can personally attest to the array of family fun lining the beaches of the Sunshine State. In northern Florida, which can remain chilly through early April, Amelia Island and the Panhandle both offer a quieter way of life where families peddle their way through cozy neighborhoods and splash on calm beaches. Head South on the East Coast and you've got the vibrant cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami; on the West Coast, Sanibel and Capitva Islands and Tampa. Further south and you're in the Florida Keys, worlds away from the rest of the state and Florida's own Caribbean islands. And, of course, smack dab in the center is the home of the mouse: Orlando and Walt Disney World.

Read our review of the Marco Island Marriott Resort Golf Club & Spa.

Brimming with posh resorts and hotels, incredible dining and exciting family activities, it almost seems impossible that Hawaii could hold any more beauty and pleasure. Ah, but we didn't mention the beaches. Like beauty queens who rack up titles, Hawaii's white-, red- and black-sand beaches are consistently listed as "best beach" of just-name-a-year in the anointed circles that determine such things. Maui is the second-largest of the eight Hawaiian islands and is basically a chain of small towns and hip beach havens. Sprawling luxury resorts thrive in Maui, thanks to the millions of visitors who flock to paradise each year, but Maui also has condos and value accommodations for those willing to do the research.

Read our review of the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay.

Families underestimate the size of Jamaica. Driving from one end to the other can take close to six hours. Yet, within its confines are some of the finest stretches of coastline in the Caribbean, offering the lush Blue Mountains that rise from its core. In Montego Bay and Negril, ladies with baskets of tropical fruit perched on their heads stroll the beaches, slicing and dicing sugary pineapples or butter-soft papayas faster than a chef at a Japanese steak house. Next to arrive will be the "knotty dread" lady, who will caress your temples and cornrow your hair a la Bo Derek in "10." The beach is always packed with sellers and their pampered clientele. A recent slate of high-end, all-inclusive resorts have opened just outside of Ocho Rios and have, once again, made the town a top family destination. Hang at the beach to swim and sail, or head outside the resort to climb Dunn's River Falls. Guides escort families up through the cascading water as they climb the 600-foot-high waterfall. Other nearby excursions include taking a tube down a clear stream in the mountains above the city, horseback riding along a quiet stretch of the coast and taking a drive to the birthplace of reggae legend Bob Marley.

Read our review of the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites.

More than one vacation is required to explore all that Puerto Rico offers. With its seven square blocks of cobbled streets, Old San Juan, established nearly 500 years ago, delights families with centuries-old forts, as well as art galleries, cafes and boutiques. The forts, the oldest European constructions in the National Park Service, along with the ancient city walls and the governor's mansion, have been designated a World Heritage site. Beyond San Juan, there's much to see and do. On the "mainland," hike the rainforest, explore caves, and snorkel through schools of rainbow-colored fish. On Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico's offshore islands, enjoy a laid-back, uncrowded Caribbean idyll.

Read our review of the Hotel El Convento.

Southern California is a region brimming with adventure and wonder galore. The upside to the region is that there are attractions, incredible restaurants, museums and memorable hotels sprinkled liberally throughout the many neighborhoods and communities that make the San Diego region, San Diego. And all this is umbrellaed under the most sublime weather (with the exception of May Gray and June Gloom). The downside is that choosing how to spend your time in San Diego is no small feat (Coronado Beach or Legoland? A Padres game or Sea World? La Costa or Paradise Point?) You see the dilemma.

Further north is Anaheim, California, home of the Disneyland Resort, which includes the Disneyland Park, the Disneyland Hotel, California Adventure, Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian Hotel and the Paradise Pier Hotel. The parks are so vast and the rides, restaurants, shows, parades and shopping so numerous, your family will never want for something to do.

Read our review of the Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Long with beautiful beaches, first-rate snorkeling, Caribbean culture and easy accessibility from the states, the U. S. Virgin Islands come with a reassuring sense of familiarity; after all, English is the primary language, the U.S. dollar is the currency and U.S. citizens do not need passports. St. Thomas, home to the busy port and USVI capital Charlotte Amalie, bustles with cruise passengers and other vacationers drawn as much to the island's beaches as to its abundant shops. St. Croix, the largest of the USVI in land mass, remains less developed than St. Thomas. On St. Croix, you can drive through 15 acres of dense vegetation dubbed a "rain forest" by islanders and spot the stone ruins of more than 100 once-thriving sugar plantations in the countryside. St. John is our favorite of the "virgins." Two-thirds of the 28-square-mile island -- 9,500 acres of land plus surrounding reefs -- are protected as the Virgin Islands National Park, part of the U.S. National Park Service. The park is not only St. John's main attraction, but it's also the jewel of the USVI for its snorkeling, beaches and natural scenery. Trails wind up and over hills, through tall, tropical trees and some end at the island's white sand beaches. At Trunk Bay, a popular snorkeling site, you can follow an underwater trail through the reef.

Next door are the British Virgin Islands (this visit requires a passport), a collection of 60 islands and uninhabited cays that stretch for a radius of 80 nautical kilometers. Part of the islands' charm arises from their relative lack of mass tourism. Without mega-size hotels, the British Virgin Islands offer a slice of Caribbean life as it used to be, when sailboats ruled and the next adventure was wherever the wind blew. The total population of the British Virgin Islands hovers around 29,000 people. Tortola, the largest of the islands, is home to Road Town, the capital. Fewer than 4,000 people inhabit Virgin Gorda, and only 200 islanders reside on Jost Van Dyke, a favorite of yachties. Some family vacationers also take a boat trip to Anegada, as much for the day on the water as for the white, sandy beaches and snorkeling. Peter, Necker and Guana islands each host an exclusive, not particularly family-friendly resort. Families wishing to stay on land instead of chartering a boat should consider properties on Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

Read our review of the Bitter End Yacht Club.

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10 Best Places to Escape the Snow
Atlantis Resort Reviews
trentorley - Mar 31st, 2014

This was my fourth visit to Atlantis and the resport service has gone down considerably over the last two years. Basic things such as clean towels and face cloths not being refreshed were an every day occurence. The prompt response team did not ... read more
dtjensen7 - Jan 6th, 2014

Atlantis Review: Incredibly poor customer service: everyone on staff has become an expert at passing the buck. If you have a problem, you will be passed from indifferent person to even more apathetic person for the first 30 minutes until finally ... read more
Atlantis Resort reviews
Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort Reviews
jvdostal - Apr 29th, 2014

We went to the Moon Palace for my sons senior springbreak trip with 5 families and had a blast, there are things for every age and there are 3 different pool experiences to choose from teen area pool, family kids pool and adult pool. The rooms are ... read more
tbattin - Sep 4th, 2013

Palace Resorts is a shady operation and its behavior has reached a new low recently which may indicate that it's in financial distress. My tip to travelers is DO NOT INVEST IN A PALACE RESORTS MEMBERSHIP (Palace Resorts includes: Moon Palace, ... read more
Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort reviews
Si Como No Reviews
Be the first to write a Si Como No review!
Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa Reviews
isabelle - Oct 14th, 2011

Although we are not beachy people, coming from an island ourselves, we were intrigued by the deals we were getting at various ALL INCLUSIVE resorts during the shoulder season - KIDS STAY and EAT FREE is always an eye catcher, and that various ... read more
Griswalds - Aug 10th, 2010

After the referal and the research we headed to Dominican Republic. Other than Jetblue's scam at airport checkin to get $30 extra per person for seats we already paid for the flight was thankfully uneventful. The hotel's van was at the airport ... read more
Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa reviews
Marco Island Marriott Resort Golf Club & Spa Reviews
Vickilynn2001 - Jun 5th, 2014

We stayed here for Spring Break and loved it! The hotel was beautiful. The beach was wonderful with white sand and turquoise waters. Very friendly staff.... read more
Vickilynn2001 - Apr 3rd, 2014

This gem of a hotel is located on a pristine sugary white beach with turquoise water. The food is fabulous the staff are very professional and fun. The activities for kids is both reasonable and fun! Can't wait to go back!... read more
Marco Island Marriott Resort Golf Club & Spa reviews
Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay Reviews
Be the first to write a Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay review!
IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites Reviews
shawannaturner - Apr 3rd, 2013

Me and my boyfriend first time on vacation/airplane/outside the country was for my 28th birthday. We flew into the airport in Jamaica were the bus was waiting to take us to the the Iberostar Resort. The bus driver was very nice and told us what to ... read more
burndoc - Oct 2nd, 2009

Destination Rose Hall Jamaica. This was our 3rd trip to the Iberostar Rose hall and our first stay at the new section Iberostar Suites. Every year my brother and I take our families to Jamaica for a week of sun and fun in July. We chose Jamaica ... read more
IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites reviews
Hotel El Convento Reviews
Be the first to write a Hotel El Convento review!
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa Reviews
lorikeet8 - Aug 15th, 2014

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is pretty expensive but you are paying for the service, quality, and location. It is literally steps from Disneyland's California Adventure. The hotel has it's own entrance and it makes it so easy especially with ... read more
jkreps - May 18th, 2014

We decided to splurge and go to Disneyland for a birthday, and the title is what my child had to say as we walked in. I also had a baby at the time so with little kids in mind, this location cannot be beat. I never stressed about leaving anything ... read more
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa reviews
The Bitter End Yacht Club Reviews
Caitlin's Mom - May 11th, 2010

If you're looking for a laid back vacation with lots of sailing and water sports and very little decision making, Bitter End Yacht club might be the place for you. We took our then 9 and 13 year old kids for a spring break vacation and really had a ... read more
The Bitter End Yacht Club reviews


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