5. Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Longboat Key, FL
Tennis is the name of the game at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. For 20 years, it has been introducing 3- to 6-year-olds to the sport through half-hour complimentary group sessions using smaller and lighter racquets. "Our professional instructors make sure the ball hits the kids' racquets," says president Katie Klauber Moulton. "Connecting with the ball is the fun part, not so much getting it over the net." Families can play free on any of the resort's 21 courts.
Even though tennis professionals practice on the courts and the resort has hosted national tournaments, the property still has a casual style. Says Moulton: "Kids don't have to cover up their swimsuits when they go inside, and guests often leave their racquets outside their front doors."
This suite-only property, situated on 18 acres of uncrowded beachfront off the coast of Sarasota, offers 208 one- to two- bedroom accommodations with kitchens plus 26 specialty suites, including beachhouses; suites start at 780 sq. ft. and all are nonsmoking
Year-round complimentary kids' camp all day and some evenings; private babysitting with screened sitters; 800 feet of private beach; heated outdoor pool staffed by lifeguards; on-site gourmet market
Spa with treatments such as salt glow rub; organized morning power walks; restaurant with award-winning wine list
- Doesn't require preregistration for its camp, which is broken into groups for kids ages 3 to 6 and 7 to 12; it permits parents to drop off and pick up their children anytime during operating hours and has one counselor for every four campers
- Boasts a beachfront playground with a slide, walking bridge, and several climbing features
- Promotes family togetherness with sailing clinics, an Olympic challenge, and DeSoto's Gold Hunt for treasure on the beach