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All kinds of family vacations

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Staff / May 23, 2004

Family vacations take all kinds of shapes: trips nearby or far away, to well-traveled destinations or more exotic locations, those for which you shell out a lot or a little. Here are samples of what awaits families this season:

For generations, Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, N.H., was a family destination. Times changed, however, and the historic hotel nearly had a date with the wrecking ball. Preservationists and businesspeople saved the resort, which reopened last June as Wentworth by the Sea, a Marriott Hotel & Spa. The Great Island Family Escape package, starting at $269 on weekdays June 1-July 10, and $359 July 11-Oct. 24, includes deluxe accommodations for a night, a breakfast buffet for two, and dinner for two. Youngsters under 12 stay free with accompanying adults and have their own children's menu.

(The fine print: Taxes and tips are not included, and the offer is based on the availability of space.)

Visit www.wentworth.com or call 866-240-6313.

Boston's Colonnade Hotel in Back Bay has a new Family Connection Package, which guarantees connecting rooms for traveling families. (Most hotels will not promise that until check-in). This summer, guests can reserve a connecting room for up to 60 percent off the normal rate; that's $349 for two rooms. Family Connection guests also receive as many as four complimentary tickets to their choice of a Boston Duck Tour or the Children's Museum, plus a walking map of this eminently walkable city.

Call 800-962-3030 or visit www.colonnadehotel.com.

With the addition of attractions such as Mission: Space, Mickey's PhilharMagic, and the Wishes fireworks spectacular, Disney World has seen a surge in attendance in recent months. Travelers who buy a five-night nondiscounted Dream Maker Package from United Vacations will get two additional nights free, saving up to $615 per adult. Vacations start at $784 per person from Boston and include round-trip air fare to Orlando, Fla., on United Airlines, seven-night accommodations at Disney's Pop Century Resort, the Ultimate Park Hopper Ticket, 24-hour traveler assistance, two souvenir Disney trading pins, and other amenities.

(The fine print: The offer is valid for bookings made May 5-June 28 for travel July 5-Nov. 18.)

Visit www.unitedvacations.com, call 888-328-6877, or see a travel agent.

This summer, youngsters who visit Washington can learn about the hopes and hardships of their great-grandparents during World War II. ''America Celebrates the Greatest Generation" is a 100-day capital salute from Memorial Day to Labor Day, highlighted by the newly opened National World War II Memorial but also including more than 140 World War II-themed exhibitions, performances, walking tours, restaurant experiences, and hotel packages that begin at $99 and include a DVD of ''Saving Private Ryan."

Call 800-422-8644, or visit www.americasgreatestgeneration.com. (If the family is visiting on a budget, most government agencies, the Capitol, and museums have reasonably priced cafeterias. Hours for the public may be restricted at some.)

Children visiting London should love a duck ride, and they may learn something, too. To mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the Imperial War Museum and London Duck Tours plan to offer a chance to travel in the amphibious craft that played a vital role in the Normandy landings. The DUKWS, or ''ducks" as they are affectionately known, were built during World War II to withstand driving onto beaches in 15-foot seas. One price -- about $42 for adults and $20 for children -- covers a two-hour duck tour on a route that passes many London landmarks and includes a splashdown into the River Thames. Passengers also get free entrance into the Cabinet War Rooms and HMS Belfast plus admittance to the D-Day exhibit at Imperial War Museum London.

Visit www.iwm.org.uk/dday/ducktours.htm, e-mail ducktour@iwm.org.uk, or call 011-44-20-7416-5439.

Doubletree Hotels is bringing the Berenstain Bears to more than 110 of its destinations across North America. The beloved bears of children's books and TV fame have featured roles in this year's kidsCAREpak, free to guests ages 3-12 staying with their families at participating Doubletree hotels Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Included in the backpack are a 32-page Berenstain Bears book, a magnetic photo frame, and an activity book with crayons. Prices at the various properties vary.

Visit www.doubletree.com, call 800-222-TREE, or see a travel agent.

Holiday Inn, on the other hand, is casting its lot with SpongeBob SquarePants, the Nickelodeon cartoon. Not only are participating hotels planning a SpongeBob theme May 26-Sept. 6, but if you book online using an American Express card, you get a free SpongeBob plush toy or personal digital assistant. Holiday Inn also has a ''Free Dinner" rate, in which adults get up to $24 a night ($12 a person) off dinner. Check rates without the meal to see which is the better deal. In any event, youngsters 12 and under eat free from the Kids Menu.

(The fine print: Children must be accompanied by a family member dining from the regular menu. The offer is for registered guests only, and there is a limit of four youngsters per dining family.)

Visit www.holiday-inn.com or call 800-HOLIDAY.

Embassy Suites Hotels, meanwhile, is giving young guests a Spider-man Web Pack, filled with a camera and film along with other Spidey treasures, May 27-Sept. 12. In addition, the entire family gets a cooked-to-order breakfast.

Visit www.embassysuites.com or call 800-EMBASSY. Mention or use code S-ESP.

Such thing as a free ride Youngsters cruise free on the M/S Mount Washington on Memorial Day weekend, May 29-31, from all of its New Hampshire ports. The offer is limited to two children per adult.

Visit www.cruisenh.com.

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