When traveling with children, options are a good thing. But simplicity is even better. A summer vacation that feels like a true getaway, where one can keep the family close in tranquil surroundings without a lot of driving, is the ideal for many parents. Here is a selection of New England inns and resorts that cater to families:
What kid wouldn't want to stay overnight in a tree house? Or for budding spelunkers, a night in a cave might be just the ticket. Pet-friendly Adventure Suites offers themed lodgings, many of them geared to families. In the Tree House, kids can sleep in a tree house bedroom or "camp out" in personal tents. The Cave is a primitive paradise with stalactites, waterfall shower, dinosaur bones, tunnel, and a cavern that will accommodate up to six small children. Both are equipped with TV/VCRs and PlayStation 2. Showtime features its own movie theater with a 10-foot projection screen, surround-sound system, theater-style seating, and commercial popcorn machine. Parents will enjoy the two-person hot tubs in all the family suites. Breakfast is served in a 1950s-style diner, where guests can make their own waffles and top them with maple syrup or strawberries and whipped cream.
3440 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, N.H., 888-626-6929 or 603-356-9744, adventuresuites.com. Family suites $229-$429 for two, including breakfast. Add $15 per child, $25 per adult, and $10 per dog per night.
Attitash Grand Summit Hotel
Bigger doesn't always translate into better, but at the 143-room Attitash Grand Summit in Bartlett, N.H., size is a plus, especially during busy summer weekends when rooms in Mount Washington Valley can be scarce. Rooms range from a standard that sleeps four (some can be adjoined with other rooms) to a loft suite that sleeps six, with pullout sofas and Murphy beds. The rooms are fairly generic, but the saving grace for the vacationing family tired of having to eat out at every meal is the tidy kitchenette with a full sink, range, microwave, dishwasher, and dining table. (Standard rooms have coffee makers only.) Attitash's popular Alpine Slide recreation area, which opens for the summer June 14, has water slides, lift-serviced mountain biking, a EuroBungy trampoline, horseback riding, and a climbing wall. (The hotel offers a "slide-and-ride" package that includes one-day passes.) If those rough-and-tumble activities don't tire out the kids, head to the hotel's heated outdoor pool, a blissful way to cap off a cool June evening.
Route 302, Bartlett, N.H., 800-223-7669, attitash.com. Rates $118-$264. Alpine Slide recreation area open daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. A one-day pass is $35; $15 for children under 48 inches tall.
Blueberry Hill Inn
Which of these things just doesn't belong: copper pots, Adirondack chairs, diapers, gourmet dinners, a sauna.
At Blueberry Hill, the answer, happily, is "none."
New England inns are typically the reserve of couples at ease. Blueberry Hill, however, delivers all the trappings of country luxury, while welcoming kids. How much? Children under 4 stay for free.
Kids or no, the inn and its amiable staff provide an excellent base camp for easy mountain adventure. Set in the Moosalamoo section of Green Mountain National Forest, a network of trails around the inn makes for great hiking in summer and cross-country skiing when the snow flies.
August, though, is best for gathering handfuls of the ripe signature treat, blueberries thick on the bushes surrounding the place. With the promise of juicy fruit, maybe the kids will even behave.
1307 Goshen Ripton Road, Goshen, Vt., 802-247-6735, blueberryhillinn.com. Doubles vary from $280-$360 per night, dinner and breakfast included.
Warfield House Inn at Valley View Farm
If your kids are young enough to be awed and enchanted by farm animals, then the Warfield House Inn in Charlemont makes the perfect bucolic getaway. The children can start the day by helping gather eggs for breakfast (the farm's Rhode Island Reds are prolific layers), and follow up the morning meal with a farm tour led by the innkeeper and almost certainly accompanied by Chou Chou, the half border collie. With the Hereford cattle in the far pasture for the summer, the central farm is dominated by a few llamas, pigs, sheep, some gawky emus, and a pair of handsome golden Haflinger horses. The rolling green hilltop pastures seem to stretch for miles, but watch the edge of the woods at dusk for wild turkeys and deer. Seven rooms in the Main House and five more in Whippoorwill Cottage are mostly set up with one queen bed each, but rollaway cots are available.
200 Warfield Road, Charlemont, 413-339-6600 or 888-339-8439, warfieldhouseinn.com. $99 including breakfast, rollaway bed extra $35.
PATRICIA HARRIS and DAVID LYON
Purity Spring Resort
Some guests have spent a week at the resort every summer for as long as they can remember. It's where they learned to swim, had their summer romances, first vacationed with their own kids, and now watch the grandkids splash at the beach. In the summer, the self-contained resort (all meals included) focuses on Purity Lake's tranquil waters and surrounding woods. Scheduled activities abound - hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, archery, water-skiing, softball. But it's also a perfect spot to take a lazy paddle on the lake, lie on the beach, walk a woodsy trail, or spy on the nesting loons. Dining is retro family fare with an emphasis on gooey desserts such as peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake. Thursday night steak and lobster cookouts are also a big hit. Lodging choices include standard rooms, two-bedroom cottages, and condo units that can sleep up to 10.
1251 Eaton Road (Route 153), East Madison, N.H., 800-373-3754 or 603-367-8896; purityspring.com. Cottages and rooms $116-146 plus $69 per additional adult, $44 extra ages 4-12 (all meals). Condos $287-$331 for up to 4 people (no meals).
PATRICIA HARRIS and DAVID LYON
The inn feels a bit like summer camp for families, minus the bunk beds and scary campfire stories. For parents, the inn allows some precious time off: Day-long programs for kids 3 and up and dinner-time supervision and entertainment for the wee ones are included in the base price. The Stone family has run the inn, named for the privately owned lighthouse that still flashes from atop the main lodge, for 70 years. Rooms in the lodge are the least expensive, although the cottages, with as many as six bedrooms, are more private. The furnishings are comfortable and clean but not luxurious. If you want to stay put, you could avoid hopping in the car during your entire stay: The inn has its own restaurant, private beach, tennis courts, and swimming pool.
1 Lighthouse Inn Road, West Dennis, 508-398-2244, lighthouseinn.com. Rates $132-$855 per day.