Five of the Best Family Resorts in the Northeast

Samoset Resort

From Mount Tremper to Maine, these five eco-friendly, car-free getaways in the Northeast promise fun for kids and parents while respecting that most important parent, Mother Earth.

Samoset Resort
Rockport, ME |

Why Find Family Time Here: If you’ve never experienced summer camp in Maine, this is your chance. At least the breathtaking views of Penobscot Bay alone will feel like a vacation at this classic New England resort. It is steeped in long established traditions that are sure to delight the entire family. There is swimming, tennis, nature walks, arts and crafts, science projects, cooking and other activities to keep kids entertained and happy.

If the brisk ocean water is a mite frosty for your constitution, the new infinity pool is heated, and the indoor pool is perfect for rainy day fun. In the afternoon, enjoy lunch and gorgeous vistas from your table at the casual Breakwater Café. The seafood couldn’t be any fresher, with steamed Maine mussels, New England clam chowder and a lobster club sandwich highlighting the menu. For our money, the Samoset is the perfect blend of adult-only and family time. Don’t miss the opportunity to dine at the old-world, elegant yet understated Marcel’s, where the menu is a throwback to an earlier era, with choices like Steak Diane and Chateaubriand, presented tableside, of course. Kids are warmly welcomed at each of Samoset’s four dining options.

Kiddie Deets: Kids 18 and under stay free in their parents room. Check the hotel website for special deals like the family vacation package, offering a free fourth night of accommodations to guests. Nightly rates start at $159 per room.

How to get there: Now that Megabus goes to South Station, connecting on to the far reaches of New England is a lot easier. From Boston’s South Station transfer to Concord Trailways to Rockland’s Maine State Ferry Terminal stop.  It is a scenic, four-hour ride up the coast. Concord Trailways provides you with free kid-approved snacks and water on board, so you should be able to satiate the kids. The Samoset will be happy to pick you up at the bus stop, just give them a few days advance notice (220 Warrenton Street, 207.594.2511)

Emerson Resort and Spa
Mount Tremper, NY |

Why Find Family Time Here: Hello, tranquility. From Buddhas to mountain biking, this is the perfect place to relax en famille. There are no organized activities here, but with the majestic Catskills as your playground, you and the kids will never be bored. Surrounded by tall pines is the family-friendly, Adirondack-style Lodge. The Lodge has a variety of room configurations that balance the importance of both family togetherness and privacy.

When the sound of the rushing river (or the 32-inch flat screen TV) has lulled junior to sleep, your moonlit private porch is a lovely place to enjoy a glass of wine. With your choice of two restaurants on-premises as well as the Spa Café and Country Store, you won’t go hungry. The Catamount Restaurant has a bargain priced kid’s menu and good, simple fare. Splurge on a sitter that the hotel will provide with advance notice ($15 per hour) and spend a few adult-only hours in the spa. Treat the lucky tween in your life to a mini-mani-pedi at the salon, and you may be showered with gratitude.

The Emerson is home to the world’s largest kaleidoscope, and as hotel guests, you can all step inside, lie down, and enjoy the Woodstock-like vibe of the show free of charge. It is a sure-fire hit with kids, and it may take you back to the laser rock days of your youth, in a weirdly wholesome way.

Kiddie Deets: Stay Sunday-Thursday in the family-friendly lodge for $159/night.

How to get there: Adirondack Trailways from Port Authority to Kingston, is a two-hour ride. Not all Kingston bound buses continue on to Mount Tremper, so check when you purchase your ticket. The driver will drop you off at the Emerson upon request. (5340 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY, 877.688.2828)

Doral Arrowwood
Rye Brook, NY |

Why Find Family Time Here: Clocking in under an hour door-to-door, getting to Arrowwood for New Yorkers is a breeze. Holiday weekends are particularly colorful here, with non-stop activities for the whole family. Keen to partake in a hula-hoop contest, cookie decorating, or a group tennis lesson, capped off by a poolside dive-in movie in the evening? You have come to the right place. All of these activities and many more are included in the hotel’s low rate. Don’t forget karaoke, golf clinics and Casino Night. Just don’t come here looking for peace and quiet, because none is to be found. But if you are looking for a great indoor-outdoor pool full of tiny splashers, friendly folk and lots of activities, this will be your manna. Your kids will be having so much fun with scores of like-minded mini fun-seekers, you may not be able to drag them off the bouncy castle and into bed.

Kiddie Deets: Kids 16 and under are free in a room with their parents. Rates start at $179 for the first night, add a night for just $99. With prices this low, you can splurge on the Saturday Night Dinner Dance, fun for the whole family.

How to get there: Metro-North’s New Haven Line to Port Chester. The hotel is running a free shuttle service from the station on holiday weekends, call and check for times. (Doral Arrowwood Resort, 975 Anderson Hill Road, Rye Brook, NY, 914.939.5500)

Vanderbilt Grace
Newport, RI |

Why Find Family Time Here: Vanderbilt Grace is as close as you can get to true old world elegance, without bringing your passport. Though clearly not a “feet on the table, strollers in the lobby” type of place, the hotel has an intimate, house party atmosphere that will suit some well-behaved mini-me’s. A visit to Vanderbilt Grace feels like you have your very own eccentric billionaire Uncle who has invited you to stay.

The hotel’s interior is adorned with owner Peter de Savary’s (the world-renowned yachtsman and philanthropist) unique private museum collection of original American Illustration Art, which may appeal to young comic book and graphic novel fans. Monty, de Savary’s adorable, prize-winning Chihuahua, has full reign of the hotel, which should amuse young and old alike. 33 luxurious suites, a top-notch spa, and the Atlantic Ocean round out the picture. Vanderbilt Grace is located in a calm spot right in the center of pedestrian-friendly, quaint yet chic Historic Newport, the perfect location to explore the town’s great shopping and dining opportunities.

Kiddie Deets: Up to two children age 10 and under stay in-room with their parents for an additional $50 per night, per child. Book the Newport Family Getaway package and kids will receive a Teddy Bear, a book of stickers, a coloring book, slippers and robes, and at night, a bedtime snack cart rolls up to the kids room for them to choose from cookies, popcorn, fruit and cereal. If you book one junior or superior connecting suite, you’ll receive the connecting suite half price for the kids. Continental breakfast and lunch at the Conservatory is included in the package—but kids under 3 eat for free. Let the hotel know if you’re traveling with babies, and a crib and baby bed linens will be waiting for your arrival. Babysitter services are available on-site. Activities for kids include Easton’s Beach, Tuesday and Thursdays inflatable water slide, Vanderbilt Grace Scavenger Hunt, Atlantic Beach Club’s afternoon live music, The Breakers mansion kid tour and tennis lessons at International Tennis Hall of Fame. Clearly, exclusivity of this sort doesn’t come cheaply. The package starts at $625/night in the fall.

How to get there: If you have a yacht, sail to Newport, a fitting way to arrive at Vanderbilt Grace. Otherwise, take the Bonanza bus to Providence from Port Authority or an Amtrak train from Penn Station. Once in Providence, you can hop bus number 60 run by RIPTA from Kennedy Plaza towards Newport. Get off after about 1h10m ride at the last stop at Newport Gateway Center at 23 America’s Cup Avenue. If the Providence-Newport Water Taxi is running, by sea is a more enjoyable way to go. If you want to arrive in style, Vanderbilt Grace can also arrange for limo service from Providence to Newport for between $100-150, depending on the date and time. For more details on Newport, visit (41 Mary Street, 401.846.6200)

Great Wolf Lodge
Pocono Mountains, PA |

Why Find Family Time Here: A visit to Great Wolf Lodge is for the kids, or the kid in you. This is not the place to come and sit on the sidelines with a good novel. The centerpiece of this hotel is a massive indoor Water Park, offering thrills for every age group. Get with the program, which is wet, noisy and fun. Daredevils measuring in at over 48 inches in height will want to give the new Double Barrel Drop waterslide,with its six-story descent, a try. Younger children and less adventurous parents can splash in the wave pool or meander down the lazy river ride in an inner tube.

The Lodge has a variety of kid-friendly, fast food-type dining options, but parents will find palatable choices, including a well-stocked salad bar. The 401 rooms are created with families in mind, with 12 different whimsical configurations that sleep four to eight guests. If your kids do accept drying-off, the hotel offers an arcade, a Kid Spa, a Saturday night DJ Dance Party, and nightly bedtime stories in the lobby. Great Wolf Lodge strives to be environmentally friendly, and is Green Seal Certified. Kids can learn practical ways to conserve energy through an Energy Exploration display.

Kiddie Deets: Rates start at $240 nightly, based on a family of four. Room rates include full access to the Water Park. If the kids do exit the water, be prepared to pay for tempting extras, like an ice cream-themed manicure and MagiQuest, a live action, role-playing game, that will be a hit with Harry Potter fans.

How to get there: Martz Trailways from Port Authority to Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania gets you there in two hours. The bus station is approximately six miles from Great Wolf Lodge. Mountain Taxi is a reliable service and will get you to the Lodge in under 10 minutes for around $12; 570.839.2222. (100 Scotrun Ave., Scotrun, PA.866.958.9653)