Getaways in Hawaii, Colorado, and South Carolina
The Big Island, Hawaii
Ron Kelly, managing editor, Parents Baby Group
I'll admit it. I'd once thought of Hawaii as an overrated vacation spot. But then I did something crazy: I actually went there and fell in love with the place. My island adventure found me at the massive Hilton Waikoloa Village (hiltonwaikoloavillage.com). It's so big that you can find everything your family could possibly want right on the property. The awesome water slide at one of its pools alone had me hooked for an entire afternoon. Judging by how many parents were racing their kids back up to the top, I wasn't the only overgrown child who was loving it. If tennis is your game (and it is mine), you'll love both the top-notch courts and the junior classes, which are headed up by Tim DiDonato—a new dad who's a natural with kids. The Camp Menehune children's program is also popular with little ones.
As hard as it is to drag your family away from all the resort has to offer, you've really got to explore the island. It's one of the rare places where you can go snow skiing and then swimming in tropical warm waters within the same hour.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Diane Dragan, executive producer, Parents.com
Club Med is known for its all-inclusive tropical getaways, but I was really excited to find out that it had opened a new ski resort in Colorado (clubmed.com). The snow-covered mountains are spectacular, and there are ski runs available for every skill level (which is essential for families and beginners). You can spend the day snowboarding or skiing with the kids, or take them to the MiniClub, where trained instructors will teach them the basics.
If your children aren't into winter activities, they can do loads of other fun stuff here, like playing arcade games, making crafts, or taking part in the club's weekly variety show. Make sure to sign up for the babysitting service for at least one night so you and your spouse can get some alone time in town. We had dinner at the Timberline Restaurant (timberlinerestaurant.com) and followed it up with a romantic horse-drawn-carriage ride.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Kate Lawler, executive editor
When I was little, my family went to the Sea Pines Resort (seapines.com) for our first-ever spring-vacation trip, and we loved it. I returned there recently and discovered that it's still as wonderful as I remembered. The resort isn't your typical palm-filled property; it covers the whole southern tip of the island and includes miles of beaches, a forest preserve, a charming town and harbor, and three famous golf courses. Renting a condo is the way to go for families, and Sea Pines has an enormous selection, from inexpensive to swanky.
The beaches are really great for small kids because they're wide and flat with warm, calm water--perfect for splashing around, building sand castles, and hunting for shells and sand dollars. If you want to play golf or take a tennis lesson, you can drop your little ones off at the kids' camp, where they can spend an afternoon playing pool games or mini golf.
At night, make sure you bring your family into Harbour Town to climb to the top of the famous red-and-white striped lighthouse and take in the views. Stick around to hear some great music under the Liberty Oak tree. My parents have a picture of me and my three brothers listening to a children's musician named Gregg Russell--and I was amazed to find on my recent trip back that this wildly popular guitarist is still leading kiddie sing-alongs every evening.