When the humidity rises and summer camp comes to a close, it’s time to gather the kids and savor the last days of summer at a classic summer resort, where cool breezes, beautiful beaches, and old-fashioned pampering calm everyone’s nerves.
Inn by the Sea
By Evangeline Politis
Luxury comes naturally at Maine’s premier beach resort. The exquisite Inn by the Sea, overlooking the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean from its perch on Crescent Beach, is just minutes from the state’s largest city, Portland. But this is a true escape from urbanity as the Inn is committed not only to hospitality, but also to environmental preservation. Guests are surrounded by an indigenous garden, making the landscape both lush in the summer and sustainable year-round. No detail is overlooked here—from providing lodgers with bamboo towels and organic wool comforters to heating the Inn with Biofuel (the only hotel in Maine to do so).
With an outstanding fine dining restaurant, cottages complete with a full kitchen, and a gorgeous beach, the resort is the perfect Northeast destination for a summer vacation away from the hustle and bustle on the North Shore. The Inn is both kid- and dog-friendly, offering children sports and educational programming, and canines a gourmet pet menu and even spa services—so you can bring the whole family. The Inn also underwent a multimillion dollar makeover in 2008, completely redesigning their 57 guest rooms and adding a full-service, LEED-certified spa. Named one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 100 in the U.S. & Canada and Forbes Top Ten U.S. Green Hotels, a stay at this hotel will ensure you and your family a memorable summer vacation.
How to Get There
The Inn by the Sea is conveniently located about a half hour away from Portland International Jetport, with non-stop service from O’Hare provided by United Airlines. If you’re planning to make some trips into the city for shopping and dining, we suggest you rent a car to make getting around painless. Plus, there is no fee to park at the Inn.
The Inn by the Sea offers a variety of rooms to accommodate parties of different sizes. The one-bedroom suites, located in the main building include: garden suites, great for guests traveling with pets as they have direct access to the grounds; two-level spa suites, with living areas downstairs and lofted bedrooms with a king or two double beds. Both include extraordinary oversized bathrooms with separate showers and tubs. For couples traveling, a fireplace room is perfect with a king size bed and a romantic gas burning fireplace. For the family, two-bedroom accommodations are available in cottages with full kitchens and uber comfy living areas. The most deluxe cottages sit right on the ocean, supplying you and your family with a phenomenal view.
What to Do
Relax…you’re on vacation! SPA at Inn by the Sea offers treatments to care for your body and soul. From a Sea Breeze Facial to a Sea Algae Detoxifying Body Wrap, any of its services will leave you feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. If you can’t make a decision, try our favorite, the Casco Bay Stone Massage—it’ll make you melt.
Portland’s Star. Recognizable to many as it has been pictured on the front of phonebooks and in calendars for decades, Portland Head Light is Maine’s oldest lighthouse. Originally built at the directive of George Washington, it was first lit in 1791. It’s also surrounded by Fort Williams, which became a tremendous military asset during World War II. There’s tons here for you and the kids to discover and learn about.
House of Grandeur. The Victoria Mansion in downtown Portland is the finest example of residential design from the pre-Civil War era in America. With more than 90 percent of the original contents still in the house, the interiors are remarkably intact and absolutely breathtaking.
Where to Eat
Dining with a View. From a delectable Sunday brunch to an unforgettable four-course dinner, the Inn’s fine dining restaurant, Sea Glass, will fulfill your every craving. Executive Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich makes the most out of the fresh farm produce and the seafood available just outside his door, concocting a fantastic, ever-changing menu. Plus the restaurant overlooks the Atlantic, so you’ll get your fill of food and scenery.
Food of the Gods. A James Beard semifinalist this year, Emilitsa boasts rustic Greek fare, and it’s the real thing. Tucked away in the arts district of Portland, this contemporarily decorated restaurant offers expertly prepared meats and fish and a delicious assortment of Greek comfort foods.
Fresh out of the Sea. Looking for something a bit more affordable and true to the area? Try Gilbert’s Chowder House on the pier for some no-frills (but truly fresh) dining. Offering every kind of chowder you can imagine and seafood-filled sandwiches, this spot is ideal for lunch while shopping in the Old Port or for a quick dinner with the kids.
Where to Shop
The Old Port. The shopping district in downtown Portland can be hit or miss, but we’ve definitely picked out a few standouts. Start out at Maine’s Pantry (mainespantry.com) for some scrumptious souvenirs like blueberry jam or maple syrup. Head up to Commercial Street to visit Company C (companyc.com), a colorful home store established in the Northeast. Go deeper into town to check out the chic boutique, Helene m. (helenem.com), which carries some of our favorite lines: Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, and Trina Turk.
24-Hour Shopathon. Travel to the home of L.L.Bean: Freeport, Maine. Less than 45 minutes away from the Inn, this quaint town not only boasts 24-hour L.L.Bean stores (originally meant to meet the needs of early-rising fishermen and hunters), but also an array of outlets like Banana Republic, J.Crew, North Face, and Polo Ralph Lauren. L.L. Bean also offers outdoor adventure clinics in fishing, biking, paddle sports, and hunting.
Little munchkins can pick up a game of croquet, bocce, or badminton on the grounds or roast marshmallows at the firepit every night. They can also partake in the “Bug’s Life” program, where kids learn about eco systems from a bug’s viewpoint.
GRAND GENEVA RESORT & SPA
By Ashleigh Martinez
Set on 1,300 acres of lush countryside, the AAA Four Diamond Grand Geneva Resort & Spa was originally opened as the Playboy Club by Chicago’s own Hugh Hefner in 1968. The club closed in 1983 and Grand Geneva Resort & Spa opened its doors a decade later with the last of the club’s original Playboy logos found in the main guest area, echoing the resort’s colorful history. Today, Grand Geneva is a family getaway, especially wonderful for families with dogs. Pet owners will be happy to know that the resort’s recently launched Pet Club program offers an assortment of services and amenities for your dog as well as accommodations with immediate outdoor access—making traveling with your four-legged loved ones a walk in the park.
How to Get There
Located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is an easy 90-minute drive from the North Shore. Grand Geneva also offers great options for any out-of-state friends or family members who want to join you for a summer holiday. In addition to shuttle services from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport, visitors can fly into the FAA-approved Grand Geneva Resort Airport, which offers complimentary tie-downs and shuttle services to all resort facilities during your visit.
The Grand Geneva offers a variety of room options, including deluxe guest rooms, furnished and decorated with pieces inspired by “lake country-style” estates: king suites with wet bars; junior suites with gas fireplaces; premiere suites with a fully secluded living room and oversized, jetted tub; and executive suites with a king bed in a private bedroom, a living room with fireplace, and a dining area.
What to Do
Tee Time (Times Two). Avid golfers and those new to the game will be delighted to hear that Grand Geneva boasts not one but two courses—The Brute and The Highlands—with a combined 36 holes of championship golf. Ranked one of the “Top 5 Northern U.S. Golf Resorts” by Condé Nast Traveler last year, Grand Geneva is dedicated to keeping its courses immaculately maintained and updated so that you can enjoy an afternoon taking a lesson, participating in a clinic, or perfecting your swing with friends.
Trail Mix. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the lush area around the resort by taking advantage of the activities Grand Geneva has to offer—kayak along the White River, rent a bike to cruise around the property, or enjoy “a day in the country” at Dan Patch Stables. Operating on the resort’s property for many years, the stables offer horseback riding, pony rides, a free petting zoo, year-round guided trail tours, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Spa Day. The WELL Spa + Salon at Grand Geneva is the perfect relaxing retreat, offering a great selection of services devoted to putting your mind and body at ease. In addition to traditional massages and salon treatments, they also offer packages for couples, including romantic side-by-side massages under the summer sun.
Where to Eat
Grand Geneva Resort features three great dining options, including Geneva ChopHouse,an urban steakhouse with strong connections to Chicago; Ristoranté Brissago, an Italian restaurant that imports ingredients, wine and desserts directly from Italy; and Grand Café for casual dining.
Where to Shop
White River Gifts & Sundries, located at the Lodge at Grand Geneva, carries candles, gifts, and unique food items—perfect souvenirs for those friends and family members who were unable to join you.
If you feel inspired to update your golf apparel and equipment while out on the greens, stop by The Links Golf Shop at Grand Geneva for the latest merchandise by brands like Nike, Adidas, and Tehama.
Trader Jack’s, located at Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, offers a collection of family vacation “essentials” including souvenirs, logo apparel, and the ever important swimwear replacement for the remorseful guest who left their suit or trunks at home.
Hillcroft’s carries an impressive selection of resort wear, jewelry, and watches. You will also find Vera Bradley handbags and luggage pieces on the off-chance that your family’s souvenirs don’t quite fit in the suitcase you traveled with.
The “Kids Are Grand” program offered at Grand Geneva provides kids (ages 4–12) hours of fun programs, entertainment, and a slew of free kid-friendly activities, including mini-golf, craft time, and letterboxing (a type of scavenger hunt). In-room childcare is also available for children under 4 years old.
Moose Mountain Falls Waterpark, the only four-season park of its kind in the Midwest, offers teens and thrill-seekers alike the chance to take on 35-foot-high water slides. Rest assured, the water park has plenty of activities for little ones, as well as those interested in relaxing in the indoor/outdoor hot tub.
Hotel Del Coronado
By Kerrie Kennedy
At first glance, the iconic red-tile roofed Hotel del Coronado, perched on a sugary white beach with the stunningly blue San Diego Bay as a backdrop, looks slightly unreal, almost like a movie set. In some ways, it is. The 120-year-old Victorian resort boasts some serious Hollywood history: Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis, was famously filmed at The Del, as were countless other films and television shows, including The Stunt Man, Hart to Hart, Rich Man, Poor Man, and even an episode of I Love Lucy.
The Del has an interesting political history as well. Numerous presidents have visited the resort, including Richard Nixon, who hosted a state dinner in the hotel’s historic Crown Room, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who gave a speech at The Del, and Ronald Reagan, who proposed to Nancy shortly after they visited.
Not surprisingly, The Del inspires romance and is a popular honeymoon and wedding destination. The highlight of the day here occurs around 7 p.m., when the incredible West Coast sunset stretches across the sky in full splendor, and guests gather to drink California wine and enjoy its fleeting beauty. With low humidity and an average summer temperature of 75–85 degrees, Coronado—appropriately meaning “the crowned one”—is the perfect place to escape the dog days of a North Shore summer, and The Del will allow you to do it in style.
How To Get There
In the early days, guests traveled to The Del by train, and the hotel had a spur track on its property to accommodate private rail cars. Today, most travelers fly into San Diego International Airport, which is located 14 miles from the seaside community of Coronado. The Del offers minivan service from the airport (at $34, a good bet for large families), and taxis are available for about $25. Either way, it involves a nail-biting drive across the 2.3-mile Coronado Bridge, which stretches across the San Diego Bay.
From the classic Victorian building to the contemporary beachfront Ocean Towers, the convenient poolside California Cabana building to the brand-new cottages and villas at Beach Village, there are a myriad of accommodations available. Without a doubt, Beach Village is the most luxurious, offering guests a private pool, private beachfront patio bar with firepits, in-room dining option with private chef, complimentary continental breakfast, personalized grocery shopping, childcare, and specialized concierge service.
What To Do
U.S. History 101. A tour of the USS Midway, once the largest aircraft carrier in the world, now a floating museum, will fascinate kids and parents alike (and allow you to sneak in a history lesson). To get there, hop on the Coronado Ferry, an entertaining activity in itself.
Ahoy, Sailor. Without a doubt, the best way to experience Coronado is on a boat. Seaforth Boat Rentals offers a variety of sailboat and powerboat cruises (you can even spend the night on some of them), but the most popular is the two-hour sunset cruise (a large-size sailboat with captain and lower level living quarters runs about $300). On your sail, you’ll see everything from sea lions to Navy SEALs, U.S. Navy ships patrolled by trained dolphins, and yachts owned by the likes of Jerry Lewis, Larry Ellis, and John McCain. On-board music is part of the experience, and catering is available, although you’re welcome to bring your own food and drinks. If you forget a bottle opener, no worries: Our captain had one on the bottom of his flip-flop.
Tour Around Town. Coronado is a charming town—it’s also one of the nation’s most affluent. Adorable cottages here cost, on average, a cool million. Learn more about the town’s architecture during a Coronado Heritage Walk or brush up on the area’s history during a 90-minute walking tour. An easy and fun way to see the highlights of San Diego (Balboa Park, Old Town, Little Italy, the Embarcadero, and Gaslamp Quarter) is on an Old Town Trolley Tour. Hop on right across the street from The Del.
Family Fun. From the San Diego Zoo to Sea World, Wild Animal Park to Legoland, there are a variety of world-class family attractions nearby. Be forewarned that most of them will take up your entire day and require a rental car to get there. Tickets and directions to the attractions are available at The Del’s concierge desk, and rental cars are also available onsite.
Life’s a Beach. Despite all the great sightseeing options nearby, The Del’s expansive white beach makes it hard to leave. Named Best Family Beach in America by the Travel Channel, Coronado’s small waves are perfect for beginning surfers (kids’ classes are available year-round), and its sprawling shoreline is great for jogging, walking, and biking. Be sure to rent one of the hotel’s bicycles built-for-four (more can squeeze in) for a fun family beachfront bike ride. Cap off the day with a bonfire on the beach at Family S’Mores Night.
Where To Eat
Spa Cuisine. The food at The Del is a revelation: Offering the freshest of fruits, vegetables, and fish, you could easily shed five pounds here without ever feeling an ounce of hunger. Amid stunning views of the Coronado Islands, Sheerwater serves up a breakfast buffet ($5 for kids under 12), plus lunch and dinner daily, with an amazing kids’ menu that includes a fresh fruit starter with every meal. 1500 Ocean, The Del’s signature restaurant, features Southland coastal cuisine and an outdoor bar with fireside cocktails and ocean views. ENO, offering the three most delectable indulgences—fine wine, rare cheeses, and gourmet chocolate—is where you might go astray. The oceanfront Babcock & Story Bar, named after The Del’s founders, offers live music and wine specials nightly, and the historical Crown Room, which once hosted a banquet for the Prince of Wales, is the site of a spectacular weekly Sunday brunch.
Offsite Options. Dining at The Del is convenient and delicious, but numerous dining options abound right across the street. Miguel’s, situated in a charming courtyard, offers authentic Mexican food and delicious margaritas, and Coronado Boathouse, perched right on the bay, offers delicious seafood and a view that cannot be beat.
Where to Shop
Del’s Basement. If you forget to pack something, no worries: The lower level of The Del is loaded with shopping. Send your husband over to Set Sail for shorts and Top-siders while you pick up some essentials at Kate’s (their Lilly Pulitzer sweaters and shawls come in especially handy on cool California evenings). H D Kids & Co. offers Lilly for kids, swimsuits and sportswear, and you’ll want to get at least a couple pairs of the cute, well-priced sandals at Weekends.
Head to the Hills. Shopping on the hillside town of La Jolla, considered the most affluent community in the entire country, will not disappoint, with its high-end art galleries, antique stores, and charming boutiques. For less enthusiastic shoppers, there’s Casa Beach, featuring harbor seals and occasional sea lions on the beach, and gray whales and bottlenose dolphins offshore.It Takes a Village. Seaport Village has some great little shops right on the water, the perfect activity after a tour of the USS Midway. Sideshow attractions along the walk (mimes, chalk drawing, sidewalk jewelry) will entertain the kids while you shop.
The Dell’s Kidtopia, for kids ages 4–12, offers three-hour camps featuring scavenger hunts, sandcastle contests, beach Olympics, luaus, bonfires, and lunch or dinner. For teens, there’s a year-round lounge, featuring billiards, karaoke, and foosball; pool parties, ping-pong tournaments, surf camp, and special teen packages at the spa. Kids of all ages will enjoy family bingo tournaments on the pool deck and Flick N’ Float movie night, where kids watch a film while floating in an inner tube in the pool.
By Jenna Schubert
For a truly unforgettable summer resort experience, Grand Hotel is an unsurpassed and enduring American favorite. Located on Mackinac Island in Michigan, the world’s largest summer hotel has been inspiring guests for more than a century. The island—on which horse-drawn carriages, biking, and walking are the only modes of transportation—complements the hotel’s unique historic quality. Because of its remarkable beauty, Grand Hotel was the filming location for the movies This Time for Keeps (1947) and Somewhere in Time (1980). This family-run hotel also boasts several very impressive statistics: Five United States Presidents have visited Grand Hotel; more than 130,000 guests stay there each season; approximately 2,500 geraniums grace the hotel’s front porch, which is the largest porch in the world; and more than 50,000 Grand Pecan Balls—the hotel’s trademark dessert —are served to guests each season. With a variety of distinctive shops, celebrated restaurants, and enjoyable sports and activities, Grand Hotel is a renowned family vacation hot spot, and the perfect destination for your summer trip.
How to Get There
For those who prefer to travel by air, flying into Pellston Regional Airport (which is 12 miles south of Mackinaw City) is the best option. From there, just take a taxi to either Mackinaw City or St. Ignace to access the ferry service to Mackinac Island. The island also has its own airport, which is accessible to private and charter aircraft. If you would rather brave the eight-hour drive from Chicago, all mainland ferry docks offer free outdoor parking. The hotel is within a short walking distance of the island’s ferry docks, and a host of taxis is always available.
Grand Hotel boasts an impressive 385 rooms, each with distinctive décor. For a memorable experience, stay in one of the hotel’s infamous First Lady Suites, decorated with antiques and chandeliers, containing a portrait of its namesake, as well as her signature on a brass plate above the door.
What to Do
Up and Running! For those who enjoy being on the go, Grand Hotel features a variety of outdoor sports and activities, including bocce ball, croquet, tennis, bicycling, swimming, and more. Golf enthusiasts will love The Jewel, the resort’s 18-hole course, while horse lovers will enjoy the saddle horse rides and carriage tours around the island.
The Sound of Music. Music lovers need not go a single day without live entertainment at Grand Hotel. Visit the Parlor for afternoon tea and music recitals, or head to The Gate House restaurant to listen to live bands. And don’t pass up the opportunity to dance to the music of The Grand Hotel Orchestra in the Terrace Room.
Rest & Relaxation. Unwind and enjoy the extensive services of Astor’s Spa and Salon at Grand Hotel. Indulge in manicures, pedicures, make-up applications, massages, and facials; the deluxe facial, in particular, is a real treat that deeply cleanses your skin with steam, hot towels, and specialized masques.
Where to Eat
Whether you’re seeking a romantic dinner with your significant other, or looking for a great restaurant for the whole family, Grand Hotel has dining options for everyone. The Jockey Club, located at the first hole of the hotel’s 18-hole golf course, serves lunch, dinner, and boxed lunches to take along on the course. Fort Mackinac Tea Room is also a delightful spot for lunch, and you can enjoy daily afternoon tea, finger sandwiches, pastries, and live music in the Parlor. For dinner, set aside at least one evening to dine in the Main Dining Room, which features a breathtaking view as you look out over the hotel’s exquisite white porch. After 6 p.m., signs will inform you, “Gentlemen are required to wear jackets and ladies will dress in their finest.”
Where to Shop
The resort boasts a milieu of shops and boutiques. Cagney’s features an assortment of men’s clothing and accessories, while The Jewel Pro Shop has a vast selection of golf equipment, clothing, and accessories. Ladies will enjoy The Colony Shop, the go-to store for women’s clothing, and Margaret’s Garden, which features floral arrangements, garden plants, and gifts. Also be sure to check out Grand Hotel & Co. for an impressive selection of fine jewelry, and Mackinac Market, which includes five shops filled with a variety of souvenirs, children’s toys, books, bath products, and much more. For shopping sustenance, pick up some fudge, practically a food group on Mackinac Island.
Grand Hotel hosts a variety of children’s activities throughout the summer. Children ages five years and older can participate in daily adventures such as duckpin bowling, rock collecting on the beach, arts and crafts, a tour of a butterfly conservatory, and even a Harry Potter-inspired Quidditch match. The hotel also offers a babysitting service for children under the age of 5.