"My Favorite Vacation"

Last summer, we invited readers to tell us about their best family vacation. We received hundreds of fresh and exciting recommendations -- from budget weekend getaways to splurge beach escapes. So here are the winners. We hope these trips inspire you to grab the kids and start packing!

Maui, Hawaii

Hit the Beach

"If you're looking for a fantastic place to bring a toddler, Maui is it," says Sandy Fox, who went on a vacation there with her husband, Randy, and their 16-month-old daughter, Emma. "It's a tropical paradise waiting to be explored." To cut costs, the Mount Prospect, Illinois, family rented a condo and cooked most of their own meals.

Why It's a Winner

Maui has more miles of swimmable beaches than any other Hawaiian island. "We visited a different beach every day -- including one with dramatic black sand," Sandy says. "And we drove to the town of Hana, near a scenic preserve where we held Emma's hands as she waded in the Seven Sacred Pools -- waterfall pools that cascade into the sea."

The couple even managed to do some snorkeling. "We took turns playing on the beach with Emma," Sandy explains. "Black Sand Beach was our favorite because of all the sea turtles in the water, but we saw brilliant tropical fish off every beach." And by renting fins and masks for the week rather than by the day, they saved money. To share the sea-life fun with Emma, the Foxes visited the Maui Ocean Center in Ma'alaea (800-248-5828), where their daughter was mesmerized by sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish.

The Foxes also loved the Old Lahaina Luau -- a traditional buffet and evening of dance, chant, and song. "It was definitely worth the expense to get a sense of Hawaiian history and the feeling that you're somewhere special," Sandy says. "And this luau is very family-friendly; they even have high chairs." (808-661-5705, www.oldlahainaluau.com).

Where to Stay

"We stayed at the oceanfront Kahana Reef in a one-bedroom condo," Sandy says. "One of my favorite memories is sitting on our balcony at sunset, sipping a mai tai and listening to the waves." Condos start at $115 per night (800-822-4409, www.kahanareef.com). The beachfront Ka'anapali Beach Hotel offers a program for children under 13, and kids under 5 eat free. Rooms start at $190 (800-262-8450, www.kbhmaui.com).

For more information, call 800-525-6284 or visit www.visitmaui.com.

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