Image: Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, Hawaii
Marco Garcia  /  AP
The sun sets poolside at the Grand Wailea Resort, in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii. Even your most blase child, the one who never gets impressed with anything, will produce an "awesome" upon registering at the Grand Wailea.
updated 7/20/2007 3:39:37 PM ET 2007-07-20T19:39:37

A family vacation should be a time to bring parents and children together, an opportunity for rare "quality time" that's often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It should be an escape from cell phones and soccer practice, from overtime and dance lessons.

But let's face it, parents — the thought of waiting in long lines at amusement parks or spending hours at a petting zoo doesn't exactly thrill you. And your kids wouldn't jump for joy at the thought of a leisurely 18 holes of golf or a day of pampering at the spa.

The solution is simple: take a vacation to a family resort. All across the country, resorts cater to both children and adults, with supervised activities that the kids will love and many recreational opportunities for adults. Resorts are also great options for multi-generational trips or family reunions, offering activities to suit everyone from Grandma to little Timmy. Specials and packages are often available for families and groups, especially at non-peak travel times.

Here are our picks for the top 10 U.S. family resorts:

Smugglers' Notch, Vermont: Smugglers' Notch Resort
In the summer months, Smugglers' Notch Resort takes advantage of its Green Mountain location to focus on the outdoors. Summer day camps give children ages 3 through 17 the chance to mountain bike, hike, canoe, fish and rock climb. In specialty programs, older children can up their adrenaline by skateboarding and kayaking. Nature lovers can explore nearby beaver ponds and wetlands, while artsy kids can paint, create jewelry and make clay sculptures. Even children ages six weeks to three years can get in on the fun at Treasures, a state-licensed childcare facility.

But kids aren't the only ones having fun. With wildflower walks, golf outings and local wine tastings, parents will never grow restless. The entire family can cool off at water play pools equipped with sprays and slides. In winter, Smugglers' offers instructional programs for kids in skiing and snowboarding, plus such homegrown fun as sledding and bonfires with hot cocoa.

Scottsdale, Arizona: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale's Sonoran desert setting blooms with flowers, palm trees and an impressive waterscape of swimming pools, fountains and waterfalls. Kids can spend the entire day whirling down the three-story water slide and playing along the sand beach at the shallow end of one pool. Camp Hyatt's activities reflect the local heritage. Kids ages 3 through 12 learn the art of cowboy roping, go on lizard scavenger hunts, learn Native American dances and sing along at campfires. The concierge can also arrange desert Jeep tours, horseback riding excursions and hot air balloon rides.

Kiawah Island, S.C.: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Located 30 minutes outside of Charleston, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of the top-rated golf resorts in the country, offering five different courses — including one designed by Jack Nicklaus. Your littlest golfers can start learning the game as early as age 4 in the resort's Tiny Tots program, while a wide array of clinics and camps are available for older kids and adults.

Beyond the links, kids can kayak, canoe, hike, bike, play tennis or simply hit the beach. Kamp Kiawah offers organized activities throughout the day for kids 3 - 11, including treasure hunts, tie-dyeing and puppet-making — leaving parents plenty of time to play 18 holes or hit the spa. Meanwhile, youth and teens age 12 - 17 get their own scene with pool parties, evening socials and capture the flag tournaments.

Maui, Hawaii: Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa
Even your most blase child, the one who never gets impressed with anything, will produce an "awesome" upon registering at the Grand Wailea. Waterfalls, world-class art and a profusion of orchids and plumeria create the ambience of an island fantasy.

And the children's center is even better. The 20,000-square-foot Camp Grande, for ages 5 through 12, features a movie theater, craft room, Nintendo game room and soda fountain. Despite all these amenities, it's the pool that makes the biggest splash. Most kids — and teens — want to spend all day tumbling down the water slides, swimming with the simulated river current, jumping on the rope swing and cavorting like dolphins in this water playground. While your kids are happily occupied, indulge in the luxurious Spa Grande with body wraps, massages, facials and specialty baths.

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New Paltz, N.Y.: Mohonk Mountain House
A National Historic Landmark, Mohonk Mountain House has a castle-like look and a woodland setting of thousands of acres in the Shawangunk Mountains, 90 miles north of New York City. Families can hike along miles of carriage roads, play tennis, swim in the lake and watch movies on the lawn. Families won't want to miss the seven-week arts festival with performances by mimes, string quartets and storytellers.

In the winter, families can ice skate on the frozen lake and glide along 22 miles of cross-country trails. During the December holiday festival, activities include roasting chestnuts and decorating gingerbread houses. From June through Labor Day, the Kids' Club offers nature hikes, pony rides, frog hunts and swimming for ages 2 through 12. In off-peak months, a modified program operates on weekends and holidays. Older kids can check out the Teen Scene, offering mountain biking, day hikes, tennis clinics and more.

Hot Springs, Virginia: The Homestead
While adults have always rejuvenated themselves at the Homestead Resort's noted spa, children can now participate too. The KidSpa makes this resort in the Allegheny Mountains especially appealing to preteens and teens. This hard-to-please group can now indulge in facials designed just for them, enjoy Swedish massages, sign up for personalized make-up lessons and luxuriate in treatments that soak their toes in rich chocolate milk and their fingers in strawberries and cream.

Summer activities outside the spa include hiking, fly fishing, biking, paintball, tennis and more. In the winter, families can ski, snowboard, ice skate, snowshoe, go tubing or cuddle together on a horsedrawn sleigh ride. The Homestead Kids Club keeps children ages 3 through 12 busy all year with a variety of things to do — kids can design jewelry, decorate T-shirts, examine dinosaur fossils, and listen to folk tales and favorite yarns enacted by a storyteller, just to name a few.

Snow Mountain Ranch, Colo.: YMCA of the Rockies
Snow Mountain Ranch offers a travel rarity: a resort vacation at budget prices. Situated on 5,100 acres and operated by the YMCA of the Rockies, the nondenominational programs are open to any guest. In the summer, children's programs operate Monday through Friday for ages 5 through 16. The younger kids spend their days hiking, going on hay rides, swimming and doing arts and crafts; the older kids add horseback riding, mountain biking, orienteering and archery. Although no organized children's programs operate in winter, families can cross-country ski and snowshoe on 125 miles of groomed trails as well as swim in the indoor pool.

Serviceable cabins range from two to five bedrooms and book quickly. Lodge rooms are also available. Campgrounds are open Memorial Day Weekend through September. Since member requests are processed first, it boosts your chances if you purchase a family membership, which is open to anyone.

Coronado, Calif.: Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel Del Coronado dates back to 1888, an era when the wealthy clientele came to the shore for lengthy getaways. The 688-room, grande dame property is located on a scenic peninsula just across the bay from San Diego and still courts beach lovers of all ages.

Tent City Kids Camp, the children's program, offers a full schedule of activities during summer and holidays and a modified schedule other times. Ages 4 through 12 play pirates, make photo albums, learn about reptiles, fly kites and go on scavenger hunts. Teens can take surfing lessons, bike along a 15-mile trail and hang out at the Coast Club, which is set aside exclusively for the 12 - 17 set. Families can take a sunset sail tour, make s'mores and build sand castles on the beach.

Longboat Key, Fla.: The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort
Tennis-loving families get plenty of play at the Colony. Ranked as a top U.S. tennis resort, this Gulf Coast hotel offers court time to kids as young as 3, plus special clinics for ages 7 through 16. Off the courts, the beach and the complimentary year-round kids' programs for ages 3 through 12 are the main attractions.

Besides playing tennis, parents and kids can fish for pompano from the pier, bike throughout the property and make ice cream concoctions at the Sundae Social. Suites have kitchenettes, living/dining areas with Murphy beds, and one or two bedrooms. Two and three-bedroom beach cottages are also available.

Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico: Hyatt Regency Tamaya
Become immersed in Native American culture at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, located just outside of Albuquerque. The property combines resort amenities and native Tamayame traditions. With the Srai-Wi program, designed for parents and kids to do together, families can try cooking Southwestern style, make a traditional pueblo drum by hand, and ride horseback through the Sandia Mountains. While children ages 3 through 12 enjoy Camp Tamara's daily activities, parents can play golf or try a Native American-inspired spa treatment (we recommend the blue cornmeal scrub!).

The Independent Traveler is an interactive traveler's exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel. You can access our wealth of travel resources and great bargains here at www.independenttraveler.com, or at www.bargainbox.com.

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