Sure, summer begins officially on June 21. But for most of us, the long Memorial Day weekend is the real season kick-off. High airfares are making a summer road trip the more affordable option, and resorts are tempting families with wallet-friendly rates and activity-packed schedules. Here’s a sampling of top getaways for families this Memorial Day:
Cragun’s Resort & Hotel
Where: Brainerd, Minn.
Why: Because Memorial Day weekend at this family favorite on beautiful Gull Lake means horse-drawn trolley rides, bonfires with marshmallow roasting, fishing clinics, an animal show, evening entertainment, and much more. The resort also features a huge indoor pool, spa, and top-notch golf course. Three-night Memorial Day weekend packages start at just $119 a night and include a dinner buffet, free round of golf, welcome reception, fishing clinic, buffet breakfast, and lodging for four.
Where: Highgate Springs, Vermont
Why: Because Memorial Day weekend at America’s original all-inclusive resort (see our review) is one of the unbeatable values in the country, with prices up to 50 percent lower than in July and August. For more than 75 years, the Tyler Place has been creating summer vacation memories on Lake Champlain. All season long, the resort offers boat rides, zip lines, mini golf, fishing, climbing walls, campfires, and a stockpile of other fun-filled adventures. Holiday weekend prices start at $131 a night for adults and $96 a night for children. Rates include lodging, all meals, family sports and activities, extensive kids’ and adult programs, and complimentary bike rentals for everyone.
Resort at Squaw Creek
Where: Squaw Valley, Calif.
Why:Because you can start your summer surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery at this active-minded family resort. The weekend features a fun roster of activities, from outdoor movies and lawn games to tie-dying, canyon nature hikes, and bike tours to Lake Tahoe. Squaw Creek also features a giant waterslide, full-service spa, river rafting, and golf course. The Memorial Day weekend Bed and Breakfast package starts at $179 a night and includes breakfast for two adults and two children.
Point Sebago Resort
Where: Casco, Maine
Why: Because Memorial Day weekend is the start of this ski resort’s summer season, and to celebrate in style, there’ll be live music entertainment until after the sun goes down. Besides the musical concerts, families can also enjoy an assortment of activities such as climbing wall races, fishing demonstrations, fireworks shows, and more. Kids will love cruising down the mountain on the 1,980-foot alpine slide, or go soaring through the air on the Eurobungy. There’s also bowling, disk golf, game rooms, mini golf, and chairlift rides. Grown-ups who need a little relaxation can head to the spanking new Trillium spa. The Memorial Day Music Festival package costs $199 per person, including a three-night stay, daily breakfast, an Italian dinner buffet, and all-access activities wristband. Up to two kids 12 and under can stay and play for free.
YMCA of the Rockies
Where: Granby, Colo.
Why: Because the award-winning, 5,100-acre Snow Mountain Ranch is irresistible for adventure-seeking families. For starters, there’s a 300 foot zip line, high-ropes course, and climbing wall. Those looking to keep their feet on the ground can go hiking or mountain biking, enjoy a family movie, play tennis and mini golf, or tell stories by the campfire. The two-night Memorial Day Family Fun weekend package starts at $75 per adult and $55 per child 6 to 12 and include five meals, lodge room accommodations, most activities, and a 50 percent discount on the zip line and climbing wall.
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Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Where: Seven Springs, Pa.
Why: Because Memorial Day weekend is the start of this ski resort’s summer season, and to celebrate in style, there’ll be live musical entertainment until after the sun goes down. Besides the concerts, families can also enjoy an assortment of activities such as fishing demonstrations, mini golf, fireworks shows, and more. Kids will love cruising down the mountain on the 1,980-foot alpine slide, or go soaring through the air on the Eurobungy. There’s also bowling, disk golf, game rooms, and chairlift rides. When the grown-ups need a breather, they can head to the full-service Trillium Spa. The Memorial Day Celebration package costs $179 per person, and includes a two-night stay, daily breakfast, an Italian dinner buffet, and an all-access activities wristband. Up to two kids 12 and under can stay and play for free.
Westgate River Ranch
Where: Lake Wales, Fla.
Why: Because this rustic dude ranch brings the Old West to the Sunshine State. The resort features a real-life rodeo with bull riding, barrel racing, and a calf scramble for the kids. During the holiday, there are a slew of old-fashioned family activities planned such as potato-sack races, water balloon fights, egg tosses, watermelon-seed spitting, and crafts. On Sunday, kids have an opportunity to play cowboy at the Kid’s Rodeo. The three-night Memorial Day weekend package starts at $340 for a family of three (additional children $15) and includes lodging, two hayride tickets, a picnic lunch, and admission to the Americom Championship Rodeo.
Where: Midway, Utah
Why: Because this secluded resort makes a handy base for exploring the great outdoors. Families can go hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding, or take a dip in the Homestead Crater, a 55-foot limestone rock filled with 90-degree mineral water. The resort also features a championship golf course, video game room, and indoor spa. Three-night Memorial Day weekend packages start at $52 per person and include daily breakfast.
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