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 swim. When our collective social distancing ends, here are some places we long to revisit.
1. Whiteface Lodge – Lake Placid, NY
It doesn’t get cozier (or more luxurious) than Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid (in the Adirondacks), home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. This four-season, Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond Hotel welcomes families with generously spacious suites with fully equipped kitchens and washers and dryers; indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs; several restaurants; a game room; bowling alley; movie theater; and complimentary shuttle (limo) service to downtown Lake Placid. A seasonal rotation of activities—from a kids’ club and water sports rentals in the summer to ice skating and campfires with S’mores in the winter—will have you wanting to come back to the resort (or just never leave).
2. The Sagamore – Bolton Landing, NY
Walk out the back patio of The Sagamore and glance past the manicured lawn to the waters of Lake George. You’ll quickly understand why this is another premiere address in the Adirondacks. On the opposite shores of this long rambling lake, which often resembles a river, is an uninterrupted carpet of trees that rise to the top of 2,000-foot mountains. The waves of rolling summits form a silhouette against the sky that, due to the lake’s narrow width, hems you in snugly between the peaks.
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.
3. The Omni Homestead Resort – Hot Springs, VA
The healing Hot Springs water has been soothing visitors since the time of the Revolutionary War. Many of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, have taken a soak in this Allegheny Mountain outpost on the Virginia-West Virginia border. A century after Jefferson, in 1902, The Omni Homestead Resort was built to house the many visitors making the pilgrimage. And what a house she is! This grande dame, built of red Kentucky brick and limestone, is the finest Virginian country manor open to the public.
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 set can soak their toes in chocolate milk and fingers in strawberries and cream, learn how to apply makeup, 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.
4. The Omni Grove Park Inn – Asheville, NC
The ultimate mountain resort for families, the Omni Grove Park Inn is tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (which means you’re guaranteed incredible views, especially in the fall). Hike the property’s scenic trails before soaking in the spa and activity pools, followed by a massage or facial. This resort also offers onsite dining, and is especially festive at the holidays when it hosts The National Gingerbread House Competition. It’s just 10 minutes outside of downtown Asheville, where family-friendly breweries, shopping and eclectic music acts await.
5. The Broadmoor – Colorado Springs, CO
If you and the family really want that Rocky Mountain High, it’s hard to top The Broadmoor, set at the base of Cheyenne Mountain on the outskirts of Colorado Springs in the Rockies. Opened in 1918, this classic manor has kept up with the times, opening one- to eight-bedroom cottages that are perfect for an extended family reunion.
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.
6. Jenny Lake Lodge – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Rustic elegance is the only way to describe the 37 cabins that surround a meadow of wildflowers at Jenny Lake Lodge. Arguably the finest property in any of America’s national parks, walk out that cabin door and you’ll be peering up at the serrated ridge of the mighty Tetons. Take a hike through the tall pines and you’ll no doubt spot elk, bison and antelope. There are glacial-fed lakes for boating, fishing and swimming, and befitting Jenny Lake’s history as a former dude ranch, you can go horseback riding as much as you want.
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.
7. The Ahwahnee – Yosemite National Park, CA
Built of heavy timber and stone in 1927, The Ahwahnee has one of the most coveted addresses of any hotel in America: Yosemite National Park. Surprisingly, the historic lodge is at its finest in winter when you can return from a day of downhill skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area or skating at Curry Village to relax by the massive fireplace in the hotel’s Great Lounge and feel as cozy as John Muir.
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.
8. Trapp Family Lodge – Stowe, VT
The hills are alive with the sound of happy families hiking, biking and skiing in Stowe, Vermont. Maria von Trapp, the woman who inspired The Sound of Music, is no longer with us, and the original building burned down in 1980, but the Trapp Family Lodge endures. Set on a crest overlooking the Green Mountains, the Austrian-style lodge has the same ole’ stunning view. Members of the Trapp family are still found dining on wiener schnitzel and apple strudel with guests and leading sing-alongs in the living room.
But it’s the outdoors that beckon families. The 2,600-acre resort is hidden in a fertile valley, ringed by mountains, providing splendid walks through dense woods past working sugarhouses, such as the 6-mile round-trip stroll to Slayton Pasture Cabin. Maria’s grandson, Sam, carved stellar mountain biking trails out of the woods and offers lessons.
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 take a horse-drawn sleigh to the sugarhouse for a traditional Sugar-on-Snow party.
9. The Resort at Squaw Creek – Olympic Valley, CA
There’s something for everyone at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Lake Tahoe, California. Located at the base of Squaw Valley and home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, this resort boasts endless activities for the whole family to enjoy, including skiing, ice-skating, sledding, tennis, golf, fly fishing and much more. Parents can treat themselves to a day at the spa while kids hang out at the arcade or partake in Mountain Buddies—a supervised program for kids ages 4 to 12 that offers a plethora of activities for them to enjoy, including biking, hiking, arts and crafts and more. At the end of the day, retire to your luxurious accommodations and enjoy a much-needed and deserved night of sleep.