BOOTHBAY HARBOR, MAINE
This enchanting fishing village is known for its quiet coves, relaxing boat excursions, and freshly caught lobster. Take your children on the Boothbay Whale Watch cruise (888-942-5363, www.whaleme.com) for the thrill of spotting humpbacks in the wild. Then visit Railway Village (207-633-4727, (www.railwayvillage.org) and ride its narrow-gauge steam train. For a great stay, try the Linekin Bay Resort (866-847-2103, www.linekinbayresort.com). "It's the best resort I've been to," says Deborah Skolnik, senior editor. "You stay in cabins by a beautiful harbor and get three huge, really good meals a day." Guests also have free access to the largest resort sailing fleet on the East Coast.
BLOCK ISLAND, RHODE ISLAND
This hideaway just off the coast of Rhode Island has miles of unspoiled beaches and offers a break from the hectic pace of everyday life. "It's a great place for families," says Mary Hickey, special projects editor. "I highly recommend renting bicycles with a tagalong or baby seat, and touring the island that way." Be sure to check out the historic lighthouses, old Victorian hotels, Sachem Pond Wildlife Refuge, and the Mohegan Bluffs, which overlook the ocean. At the end of a bike ride or a day at the beach, stop by the Ice Cream Place (401-466-2145) to cool off.
Set on Cape Cod's bay side, Brewster is a haven for families. During low tide, kids have a blast exploring the Brewster flats, where the bay recedes more than a mile, trapping little sea creatures in tidal pools. For freshwater fun, families head to Nickerson State Park and swim in its sandy-bottomed kettle ponds. Afterward, kids often clamor to stop at the Brewster Store (www.brewsterstore.com) for its impressive array of penny candy. Not surprisingly, the town also features great seafood. "We love going to Kate's (508-896-9517) for their fried clams and ice cream," says Linda Fears, deputy editor.
BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
For children, the highlight of a visit to Bucks County is undoubtedly Sesame Place (215-752-7070, www.sesameplace.com). The theme park has great kiddie and water-park rides, as well as friendly, larger-than-life Muppets. For a different kind of fun, visit Washington Crossing Historic Park (215-493-4076) to see where George Washington's army crossed the Delaware. Or take your kids tubing or rafting along a shallow, gentle stretch of the river just north of New Hope (215-297-5000, www.rivercountry.net). "There's even a hot-dog stand on a little island where you can eat, hang your feet in the water, and watch people float by," says Diane Debrovner, senior editor.