Just thinking about a family getaway high up in the mountains makes you relax. Surrounded by forest and the fragrant smell of pines and spruce, America’s finest mountain resorts are therapeutic retreats for active families. In winter, you can ski or snowshoe, and come summer, it’s time to hike, bike, canoe, fish and go horseback riding. Or, you can simply relax. There’s no better place to leave the stresses of everyday life behind than these mountain family resorts.
Written by Stephen Jermanok
The Sagamore - Bolton Landing, N.Y.
Set on a 70-acre island near Bolton Landing, this large wedding cake of a hotel has been keeping families happy for well over a century. The white clapboard resort overlooks the aptly named Dome Island and takes advantage of this beauty strip to offer swimming, boating, parasailing, banana boat rides, fishing, a fitness center with aerobics classes and yoga, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, summer camps for the kids, and an outdoor pool and hot tub.
Take a cruise on the Sagamore's private launch, the Morgan, to visit the more pristine inlets and islands in the northern half of the lake. Or better yet, go for a sail with the resort's sailing school. You can also rent kayaks to paddle around the island. Kids will like the outdoor movies in summer and the cafe downstairs. Even if you decide not to stay here, do yourself a favor and walk the exquisite grounds.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise - Canada
Today, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is still considered a gem in the Canadian Rockies. Yet, even if this lofty lodging was still a log cabin, you'd want to come here to experience the glorious vista of this emerald lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Grab a canoe from the hotel and cruise across this 1.5-mile-long glacial cirque. However, you might think twice about going for a dip. The water temperature never gets higher than 39 degrees Fahrenheit!
Families can also enjoy an indoor heated pool, sleigh rides and ice-skating, plus guided hikes during the summer months.
Four Seasons Resort Whistler - Canada
During the summer, Whistler is known for its abundance of outdoor adventure, from zip-lining on the longest run in North America to heli-hiking on untrammeled Coast Mountain alpine meadows and biking down the mountains. For something a bit more relaxed, canoe the River of Golden Dreams. Following the current that flows from the eastern end of Alta Lake, you're soon cruising through the pines, with Whistler Mountain standing tall in the backdrop.
The Omni Homestead Resort - Hot Springs, Va.
This resort is spread across 15,000 acres that feature three golf courses, tennis courts, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, biking, downhill and cross-country skiing, ice-skating, bowling and spring-fed indoor and outdoor pools. If you think the mega-resort solely caters to conferences, head straight to the KidSpa, where the 8-and-over sect can soak their toes in chocolate milk and fingers in strawberries and cream, learn how to apply make-up, and get a facial or even a Swedish massage. The year-round kids' club for ages 3 to 12 keeps the youngsters busy with outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and -- this being western Virginia -- some good old tales about the mountains.
The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs, Colo.
Most of the action centers on Cheyenne Lake with its infinity swimming pool, children's pool, waterslides and Whirlpools. There are also three 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, paddle boating on the lake, bike rentals, horseback riding through the wilderness, and off-property tours to fly-fish, whitewater raft or ride a cog train up Pike's Peak. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Bee Bunch offers children ages 3 to 12 full-day, half-day and evening sessions to join counselors on hikes and scavenger hunts, as well as an option to enjoy the Junior Ice Cream Manicure and Pedicure at the spa, geared toward children ages 11 and under.
Jenny Lake Lodge - Moose, Wyo.
Riding is included in the price of the cabin, along with bike rentals, breakfast and dinner. And these are no ordinary meals -- the kids will rave about the fresh mountain berries in the pancakes and mom and dad will go gaga over the five-course dinner that often includes buffalo carpaccio, wild trout and tender chunks of veal, along with a superb wine list. It's good to know you won't have to drive that evening. Just look up at the stars and pat yourself on the back for booking a stay at this legendary lodge.
Sundance Resort - Sundance, Utah
Summer and fall can be even more fun, with the lifts still running to bring hikers and mountain bikers to the peak. The Sundance Nature Trail snakes through the oak, maple and spruce to reach a waterfall. Then there's the arduous Great Western Trail, which climbs an unrelenting 4,000 feet to reward you with some of the most breathtaking vistas in the West. There's also ample opportunity to fly-fish for trout on the nearby Provo River and go on guided horseback rides from Sundance Stables. Back at the resort, there's a spa to rest your weary muscles, art classes offered at the Art Shack Studios, and gourmet fare found at the restaurant.
The Majestic Yosmite Hotel - Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Book far in advance for a room in the high peak summer season, then wander outside to see sheer walls of the silvery Half Dome plunge some 4,500 feet below. Or walk amidst the 200-foot sequoia trees in Yosemite's Mariposa Grove. The hotel features a large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, a gorgeous dining room open for all meals (and including kids' menus), and nightly talks by park rangers in the summer. Be sure to take a free, historic walking tour of the property, too.
Trapp Family Lodge - Stowe, Vt.
The resort is also wonderful in the winter and spring months. Three years after the debut of "The Sound of Music," Sam's dad opened one of the first (and still one of the best) commercial cross-country ski centers in North America. When the maples start to thaw in the spring, it's time to tap the maple syrup. Join in on the fun each Saturday, when you can cross-country ski, snowshoe or grab a horse-drawn sleigh to the sugarhouse for a traditional Sugar-on-Snow party.
Resort at Squaw Creek - Lake Tahoe, Calif.