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9 Last-Minute Summer Family Getaways in the U.S.

By Tanvi Chheda

Jul 29, 2021

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Arty Laguna Beach in Southern California is perfect for fun-filled beach days.

Photo by lulejt / Shutterstock

Arty Laguna Beach in Southern California is perfect for fun-filled beach days.

Fall is around the corner, but there’s still time to take the kids somewhere special.

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Summer is in full swing and it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. Make the most of these long days and balmy nights by taking the kids to one of these nine special family-friendly places in the United States.

Laguna Beach, CA

With scenic beaches and a longstanding arts heritage, this sunny SoCal beach town makes for a fun family getaway. Hike the El Moro Canyon Loop trail at Crystal Cove State Park; explore tidepools at Treasure Island Beach; or wander about Laguna’s compact downtown, chock full of cafés, boutiques, and art galleries.

Where to stay: The oceanfront 258-room Montage Laguna Beach, which got a refresh in 2019, is a family favorite with connecting room, suite, and villa configurations. Nearby, the ecominded Ranch at Laguna Beach is tucked into the canyons but still close to the beach. Book one of the Ranch’s two-story, two-bedroom cottages.  

Stay at the Montage: from $1,421/night, expedia.com; stay at the Ranch at Laguna Beach: from $525/night, expedia.com

Finger Lakes, NY

Formed by glaciers millions of years ago, New York’s Finger Lakes are simply gorgeous during the summer months. Choose from dozens of waterfall hikes, spend the day on the water (sailing, kayaking, or paddleboarding) and finish with afternoon winetasting (grape juice for the kids). For a dose of history and culture, pay a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass or Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls.

Where to stay: Book the Premium Lake Double Queen at the 124-room Lake House on Canandaigua, which opened last year. Or consider Seneca Sol’s glamping tents tucked into 25 acres of forest. 

Stay at the Lake House on Canandaigua: from $357/night, expedia.com; stay at the Seneca Sol: from $537/night, senecasol.com

Santa Fe, NM

Historic and artsy, this high desert town is more family-friendly than most would think. Hit the revitalized Railyard district, the site of Santa Fe’s lively farmers’ market and breweries; stop by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum with some colored pencils and notebook to inspire your young artist; and drink cinnamon and chili-laced chocolate at Kakawa Chocolate House. Don’t miss an excursion to the slot canyon at Tented Rocks, too.

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Where to stay: Walkable to the city’s downtown plaza, adobe-style La Posada de Santa Fe has a central location, but it still boasts exceedingly spacious rooms, a pool, and several restaurants. For more of a secluded resort, check into Auberge’s 100-room Bishop’s Lodge, set on 317 acres. 

Stay at La Posada de Santa Fe: from $324/night, expedia.com; stay at Bishop’s Lodge: from $1,039/night, aubergeresorts.com

Edutainment options abound in Denver.

Colorado

With its outdoorsy and casual vibe, it’s hard to go wrong with a family visit to any part of Colorado. Start in Denver and road-trip from there: Both Colorado Springs and Vail are under a two-hour drive. See dinosaur bones at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science; run and jump on the outdoor play structure at the awesome Children’s Museum; and spot marmots in Rocky Mountain National Park before moving further into the surrounding mountains.

Where to stay: With floor-to-ceiling windows, marble baths, and pine paneling, Kimpton Born has a modern aesthetic, but also takes cues from Denver’s natural surroundings. The legendary 784-room Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs needs no introduction. Or for more space, consider one of Turnkey Rentals’ 470 vacation homes throughout the state.

Stay at the Kimpton Born: from $358/night, expedia.com; stay at the Broadmoor: from $428/night, expedia.com

Oregon Coast

Everyone knows about Portland, but what about the seaside towns along the Oregon Coast? Sleepy coastal towns such as Seaside, Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Gleneden Beach, Coos Bay, and Bandon dot Oregon’s 363-mile coastline with dramatic, jagged rocks in the distance. Comb beaches for sea glass, hike several rugged cliffside state parks, and watch for whales and seals. If time allows, tack on a few days in Bend and at Crater Lake National Park.

Where to stay: Options include the 205-room Salishan Coastal Lodge, which boasts an on-site zipline, tennis courts, and a golf course, and the newish Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay, a glamping-style resort with Airsteams and minimalist cabins.

Stay at the Salishan Coastal Lodge: from $381/night, expedia.com; stay at Bay Point Landing: from $149/night, expedia.com

White Mountains, NH

Explore hiking trails, enjoy tubing down lazy rivers, and drive the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway in northern New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Don’t miss the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in Kinsman Notch, a one-mile boardwalk through a striking gorge with caves to explore along the way. Kids will love panning for gemstones too.   

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Where to stay: At the base of Mount Washington, the recently opened 68-room Glen House is big news for the area. With its own indoor water park and sprawling rooms, the Red Jacket Mountain View resort, in North Conway, is also a family favorite.    

Stay at the Glen House: from $267/night, expedia.com; stay at the Red Jacket Mountain View: from $371/night, expedia.com

Big trees are better than small screens.

Humboldt County, CA

Marvel at towering redwoods in one of California’s northernmost counties. Families will enjoy driving through a tree along the 31-mile Avenue of the Giants, hiking in Prairie Creek State Park, and spotting Roosevelt elk. At Sequoia Park Zoo, in the coastal town of Eureka, walk 100 feet above the forest floor along its newly opened Sky Walk. Don’t miss the red pandas either!

Where to stay: Within walking distance of Eureka’s old town, the charming Carter House Inns is a perfect base for exploring the area. Or consider a rental through Trinidad Retreats. 

Stay at Carter House Inns: from $235/night, expedia.com

Asheville, NC & Blue Ridge Mountains

In western North Carolina, Asheville wins for its laid-back vibe, charming downtown, and arts and music scene. And with the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in its backyard, Asheville is a choice base for exploring the surrounding nature. Or take a day trip to the small town of Black Mountain, with its vibrant Main Street lined with breweries, cafés, and bookstores. 

Where to stay: A former bank turned boutique hotel, the 128-room Kimpton Hotel Arras is a newer arrival to Asheville’s hotel scene. For some more space and a fully equipped kitchen, Asheville Cottages’ 16 vacation rentals are a great option. 

Stay at the Kimpton Hotel Arras: from $284/night, expedia.com

Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN

With fantastic museums, bookstores, gardens (don’t miss the Walker Art Center), parks, and lakes, the Twin Cities come alive during the summer. Ride around town on bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals, or make a day of exploring 53-foot Minnehaha Falls. (Take provisions from one of the city’s farmers’ markets along for a picnic.)

Where to stay: In the heart of downtown Minneapolis, the 251-room Loews is right next to the light rail. The hotel also offers everything from a discovery kit for kids to baby proofing services. Or for family-friendly rentals, search Minnestay, a premier vacation rental company.

Stay at the Loews: from $162/night, expedia.com

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