Lake swims, lawn games, campfire cookouts and quality time with family—that’s what a classic summer vacation resort is all about. Seeking that all-American experience for your summer vacation with the kids? Choose one of these classic U.S. resorts that encourage families to explore and enjoy the country’s diverse heritage.
1. Mountain Sky Guest Ranch – Emigrant, MT
Located in Montana’s Paradise Valley, the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant has been inviting guests to its scenic locale in Big Sky Country since 1929. Close to Yellowstone National Park and surrounded by rugged mountains with towering trees, this resort is all about disconnecting from the everyday grind to plug into the American West. With no televisions and limited Wi-Fi, you’ll be set to experience Western hospitality at its finest with buffet-style breakfasts and lunches, gourmet dinners, and campfire cookouts. During the day, saddle up for a horseback ride, guided hike, fly fishing, clay shooting, or an offsite float trip down the Yellowstone River. Kids will love the dedicated kids’ and teens’ programs with scavenger hunts, pool games, and even gourmet teen dinners. Accommodations include Western-style lodge rooms and historic cabins, and rates include all meals and on-ranch activities.
2. Grand Hotel – Mackinac Island, MI
Michigan’s Grand Hotel has been called “America’s True Grand Hotel”, and its 660-foot long porch is said to be the largest in the world. Family-owned and operated for three generations, the only way to get to the Victorian-era hotel on automobile-free Mackinac Island after arriving by ferry is on foot or by catching a horse-drawn carriage. With no cars, life moves at a slower pace, and you can see the sights of the island by foot, bike or carriage. To cool off, jump in the 220-foot serpentine pool, where snow cones and pool toys are complimentary. There are also lawn games like croquet and bocce ball, and dedicated children’s activities. Families will be particularly interested in the ‘Family Added Value Days’ on select days during July and August that offer complimentary children’s programs, golf, outdoor movies, and discounted ferry tickets. Each room at the hotel is uniquely decorated and includes Wi-Fi. Families will like the deluxe guestrooms, suites, and four-bedroom cottage. Most resort rates include a full breakfast and dinner for an all-inclusive experience.
3. Big Cedar Lodge – Ridgedale, MO
Big Cedar Lodge is in a prime wooded spot in the Ozark Mountains, with plenty of action-packed options for modern families. Built in the 1920s, the resort architecture is a mix of Adirondack and Tudor-style with stucco and native stone, and decor pays homage to the Osage Indians. Resort amenities include an outdoor heated swimming pool, kiddie pool, lazy river, paddle boats, playground, and fishing pond, as well as complimentary canoes and kayaks, and evening bonfires. There is also an adventure club for kids with games, archery, and fun learning experiences about local history and Native American culture. There are several dining options onsite, and the Osage Restaurant with a central fireplace surrounded by stone, a birch ceiling, and panoramic views is a must. Rooms range from standard to deluxe with options for family log cabins and cottages with fully-equipped kitchens. Nearby is Fun Mountain, a 50,000-square-foot complex with laser tag, bumper cars, and an underwater-themed bowling alley, and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, where you can see waterfalls and explore ancient burial sites and caves.
4. Skamania Lodge – Stevenson, WA
While Skamania Lodge is just over 20 years old, the Columbia River Gorge it overlooks is 17 million years in the making. The resort is set on 175 acres overlooking this national scenic area and built in the style of the grand lodges from the 1900s, with massive timbers, high-pitched roofs, native stone fireplaces, and rustic decor. With over 45 seasonal recreational activities, families will be able to harness their adventurous spirit on the nature trails and sports course, or by axe throwing and ziplining. Amenities include outdoor fire pits, Wi-Fi, an indoor swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, onsite dining, and bike rentals, as well as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate every morning. For accommodations, there are spacious guestrooms and suites, and family-sized tree houses with private decks and fire pits!
5. Basin Harbor – Vergennes, VT
Basin Harbor is one of the only full-service resorts along the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. Located in Vergennes, the 700-acre resort opened in 1886 and is managed by the fourth and fifth generation. While the resort has a heated swimming pool, the lakeside swimming beach with its water trampoline is the main waterside attraction. Other water activities include dive-in movie nights, pool parties, kayaking, standup paddle boards, sailboats, motorboats, fishing, and shipwreck tours. There are also tennis courts, biking, and hiking trails, a golf course, lawn games, and scavenger hunts. The summer Kids Camp has different activities for three age groups, as well as events for teens such as low ropes courses and dance parties. Bonus: If you package two or three meals a day in your rate, Kids Camp activities are included! For accommodations, there are lodge rooms and suites, as well as multi-room cottages with kitchenettes, and a house. Rooms are television-free, but have Wi-Fi.
6. Woodloch Pines – Hawley, PA
One family has operated the all-inclusive Woodloch Pines in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania since 1958. A year-round retreat, the all-inclusive resort offers 30 daily scheduled activities, such as bakery wars and archery tag, and in the evening, live music, comedians and variety shows. With so much to do onsite—an indoor splash park, bumper cars, mini-golf, snow tubing, and more—it’s easy to make family time a priority. Kids 10 and under will most likely beg to go to the kids’ club for sports activities, the giant indoor gym with slides, and bumper boats. For lodging, all rooms include Wi-Fi, and range from hotel-style rooms, multi-room suites and the fully equipped guest homes with shuttle service to the resort.
7. The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort – St. Simons Island, GA
A former 1930s dance hall turned resort, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons Island in Georgia is full of southern charm, and its seaside location makes idyllic family days on the beach a breeze. Guests can plan for a beach day or take a dip in one of the resort’s three oceanfront pools (two are for children), and grab a bite to eat at the pool café or onsite restaurant and bar. Nearby adventures include trolley tours, bike trails, kayak tours, nature programs, mini-golf, and a seasonal water park. The resort offers guestrooms and suites, many with ocean views, as well as beach villas and resort residences with living and dining areas and fully-equipped kitchens.
8. Mohonk Mountain House – New Paltz, NY
The Mohonk Mountain House opened in 1869. Surrounded by forest and next to a lake, this Victorian-era castle offers remarkable scenic vistas. While the location is remote, the resort has a long list of year-round activities and programs, much of which are complimentary: archery, tomahawk throwing, guided hikes and nature tours, paddle boating, row boating and more. You can also rent bikes and go on a horseback or carriage ride. The summer kid camps provide age-appropriate activities, like storytelling, scavenger hunts, fossil hunts, and game nights. Plus, there are additional evening programs with twilight hikes, ice cream sundae socials, and lakeside campfires with S’mores. Plan to stay during one of their summer Saturday ‘Barnival’ events with live music, magicians, face painting, bouncy castles, and tastings from local wineries, distilleries, and breweries. For lodging, there are lodge rooms, multi-room family suites, and cottages with full kitchens.
9. Migis Lodge – South Casco, ME
Over 100 years ago, Migis Lodge opened as a men-only fishing camp. Today, this 135-acre resort in South Casco, Maine, is all about family fun along the shores of Sebago Lake. The American Craftsman resort features 35 cabins with stone fireplaces and front porches, and deluxe lodge rooms offer gas fireplaces and private balconies. Meals are included in rates and among the resort’s highlights—the Friday night lobster bake, Sunday morning cookout with blueberry pancakes and handmade donuts, and daily lunch with lobster rolls and an ice cream sundae stand are sure to please. With 3,500 feet of waterfront acreage and nature’s beauty all around, you can easily get out on the lake with the resort’s complimentary canoes, paddleboats, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Special activities for kids, like talent shows and treasure hunts for younger kids and ziplining and a climbing wall for teens, are included in the rates. The whole family can come together for Wednesday night bingo, Thursday night campfire S’mores and Friday karaoke.
10. Tanque Verde Ranch – Tucson, AZ
The spirit of the Old West is genuine at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Located in the Rincon Mountains next to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest, this ranch is said to be one of the oldest in America. The resort features modern amenities and day and nighttime activities for adults and children, such as guided morning and evening strolls, horseback rides, art classes, yoga, nature presentations, and movie nights. Children can brush up on their cowboy skills with horse rides and activities like lasso tricks. During the Cowboy Cookout, guests enjoy a family-style meal with grilled ribs and steaks, cornbread, dessert and live entertainment such as music or cowboy tricks. A highlight is the morning horseback ride to the Old Homestead for a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, ranch-style eggs, bacon, and chocolate milk. For lodging, there are two options: the Salas and the Casitas. Both are Adobe-style with Southwest décor. The latter has a little more room with a sitting and dining area. All-inclusive rates cover three meals, transportation to and from the airport, and standard activities and cookouts.