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Your First Family Vacay

vacationing with baby

We love to round up vacation spots that promise to pamper both you and your baby. Pack your bags and enjoy some fun in the sun at one of these family-friendly escapes that range from resorts in Florida to a Caribbean cruise to a laid-back California hang. Click on the links below for even more choices.

 
Duck Key, Florida
Hawks Cay Resort- Duck Key, Florida Photo by Laura Manske

Peaceful, pretty Hawks Cay in Duck Key (on the sparkling necklace of islands between Miami and Key West) delivers luxury with a laid-back vibe. It's a small island, so you view both stunning sunrises and sunsets from its grounds. Stay in one of 177 guest rooms or 225 villas, the latter with kitchens and living rooms and ideal for accommodating doting grandparents. Go shell-collecting on a powder-soft beach, splash in five pools (including a Saltwater Lagoon with tiny tropical fish), and gaze at a tranquil marina where pelicans hang, like salty old pals, on lazily bobbing boats. At Calm Waters Spa, try the couples massage or prenatal massage.

Bonus for Baby Dolphin Connection, an on-site research facility, offers a unique parent-baby dockside program in which your little one sits on your lap as you interact with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, feeding them fish or gelatin cubes. A photographer captures the interspecies smiles! ($60 per person so $120 for you and your child.) While Camp Hawk counselors care for kids ages 5 to 12, you are welcome to entertain your younger one with their tumble mats, toys, and books. Its playground has bucket swings, and its Pirate Ship Pool sports small slides, raining "palm trees," and an 8-inch-deep water area you enter on a gradual slope. Bikes with baby seats and helmets available. Complimentary use of high chair, monitor, and play yard. Diapers, wipes, baby shampoo and lotion, and swim wings for sale; swim diapers free near the main pool. Private babysitting, by resort staff, starts at $18 per hour for one child, another $2 per hour each additional child.

Book it! Rates start at $160 per room, per night; HawksCay.com

We wrangled a discount! Get a fifth night free when you book by April 30, 2013, for an arrival between April 7, 2013, and August 29, 2013. Use promo code 5free13 at the website, below.

 
Dominican Republic
Club Med Punta Cana-  Dominican Republic

This all-inclusive French-accented paradise -- Club Med's largest and most popular resort worldwide -- has been buffed with a recent renovation of its 553 rooms and 32 suites, plus a new Spa L'Occitane. Cuddled in a magnifique coconut grove, it boasts four pools and a half-mile-long beach. Friendly GOs (Genteel Organizers) are the life of this tropical party, rallying guests to join group activities. If snoozing on a chaise longue is more tempting than a Zumba class, that's encouraged too.

Bonus for Baby The Baby Welcome Program offers free use of baby bathtub, baby food, bottle warmer, high chair, and stroller, plus access to a 24-hour Baby Feeding Room stocked with mineral water, fruit, and more. At the Baby Club (for ages 4- to 23-months-old, $85 per day or $300 per week, closed Saturdays), caregivers play games and take tiny tots to a reserved beach zone and covered outdoor area.

Book it! Rates start at $999 per person, double occupancy, for a seven-night stay, which includes unlimited food, beverages (including alcohol), entertainment, and most sports; the spa is extra. Children younger than 4 stay and eat free; ClubMed.US/Punta-Cana.

 
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Got older kids too? Moose Mountain Falls Waterpark -- a 50,000-square-foot year-round wet zone of indoor-outdoor slides and pools -- woos families to this 225-suite lodge. No one minds if your tot screeches gleefully; the place abounds with kids! And grown-ups will feel playful too -- take turns with your honey on the waterslides! A Tiny Timbers area has baby-appropriate bucket swings, low slides, spouts, and a "mushroom" waterfall. Bonus: The elegant, 335-room Grand Geneva Resort is next door (GrandGeneva.com); guests at both share a fitness center, spa, and restaurants.

Bonus for Baby A play yard, baby gate, high chair, and outlet covers are all free to borrow. A shop carries swim diapers, regular diapers, and life jackets. At the Kids Are Grand center, stocked with books and toys, infants (no minimum age) are cooed by child-care staff for a few hours every day ($10 per hour). There's also private in-room babysitting ($20 per hour).

Book it! Timber Ridge rates start at $149 per room, per night, plus a $15-a-day resort fee (includes Waterpark passes); TimberRidgeResort.com.

We wrangled a discount! Get 20 percent off a stay in Timber Ridge Lodge or Grand Geneva Resort when you stay April 1 through May 24, 2013. Use promo code BABY; call 800-558-3417 or visit GrandGeneva.com.

 
Clearwater, Florida
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa Clearwater, Florida Photo by Laura Manske

On a west-coast peninsula with water on both sides, this 250-suite Hyatt (all units with kitchen, living room, and balcony) looks like a big, pink, tiered cake, serving up delicious togetherness. Stroll its beautiful broad beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Poolside, up on the eighth floor, private cabanas with their own bathroom, TV, and WiFi ($75 - $200 per day) are ideal for families spending all day outdoors; nearby is a fenced-in, 1-foot-deep kiddie pool. The SHOR restaurant specializes in scrumptious seafood, and a chef pur?es fruits and veggies for youngsters. Clearwater itself offers the picturesque Pier 60 Beach Walk, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (where they filmed Dolphin Tale), and rides on the Little Toot tugboat (LittleToot.US), which stirs up a wake that dolphins love to play in. Want a date night? The concierge can help you arrange in-room babysitting with a reliable outside agency.

Bonus for Baby Lug less on the plane with Hyatt's Babies Travel Lite service (BabiesTravelLite.com/Hyatt), which stocks more than 1,500 baby products (diapers, formula, sunscreen) that you pay for pre-trip and have delivered to your room upon check-in. Complimentary use of a crib or play yard.

Book it! Rates start at $179 per night, per room, plus $25-per-day resort fee; ClearwaterBeach.Hyatt.com

We wrangled a discount! Get 20 percent off on all rates and room types through December 31, 2013, based on availability. Use promo code AMBABY; call 800-233-1234 or visit the website, below.

 
Scottsdale, Arizona
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa- Scottsdale, Arizona

Practically nonstop sunny skies will make you and Baby beam at this 732-room desert oasis, surrounded by palm trees, a championship golf course, and mountain vistas. Grab a chance to tone up at the fitness center, bliss-out at Agave Spa, and float with Baby in your lap along the 900-foot-long "lazy river." Every evening at dusk, aromatic pi?on wood stokes the crackling fire pit and guests gather round as a bagpiper serenades the sun down, an homage to the area's early Scottish settlers.

Bonus for Baby The Adventure Pool features a sandy beach entry and a Splash Pad that has pop-jet fountains. Complimentary use of booster seat, bottle warmer, Diaper Genie, crib, high chair, potty seat, child-proofing kit, strollers (umbrella and jogging), and mini-fridge. Although the Westin Kids Club is for ages 4 to 12, the concierge, who works regularly with local nanny agencies, can arrange for in-room babysitting; fees vary.

Book it! Rates start at $139 per room, per night, plus $25-per-day resort fee. No baby yet? Ask about the "Bundle of Joy" Babymoon Package; KierlandResort.com

We wrangled a discount! Get $10 off per night when you stay from April 1 to September 8, 2013 with the code AMERBABY; call 480-624-1202 or visit the website, below.

 
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Four Seasons Jackson Hole Wyoming

At this gorgeous 124-room lodge, swoon over the majestic Grand Tetons on a gondola ride; take a kid-friendly wildlife "safari" to spy eagles, bison, and moose; and picnic with your peewee in a pristine wildflower meadow. A fab fitness center beckons, but you'll also want to let stress melt away in the heated outdoor pool.

Bonus for Baby Complimentary use of regular stroller, jogging stroller, infant carrier, crib, bathtub, high chair, play yard, child-proofing kit, night-light, bottle warmer, children's toiletries, and mini-fridge. Rent a baby backpack ($20 per day) for hikes. The concierge can arrange in-room sitting with a private agency.

Book it! Rates start at $219 per night, per room, plus a resort fee of 7 percent; hotel closed in April; FourSeasons.com/JacksonHole.

 
Port Canaveral, Florida
Fantasy Ship, Disney Cruise Line

Disney's newest ship, the 1,250-cabin Fantasy, navigates the Caribbean on seven-night itineraries, while cherished characters (ample photo ops!) frolic with you. The staff is smiling and helpful, pictures on walls magically come alive (to your baby's delight!), and features such as 24-hour free room service let you operate on your own schedule. Take turns with your honey for time in the spa and fitness center, and book a date-night meal at Palo or Remy, splurge-worthy adults-only restaurants (extra charge).

Bonus for Baby Pre-trip, order diapers and wipes for your cabin. They'll lend a play yard. Bathrooms have tubs, rare for the cruise world. It's a Small World Nursery coddles your little character with infant swings and toys (age 3 months to 3 years; $6 per hour). On deck, shaded Nemo's Reef is a baby-safe water area with pop jets and bubblers.

Book it! Rates vary widely, depending on the sail date and cabin, but an inside cabin starts at $1,085 per adult, double occupancy, and $375 for baby for a week. Unlimited food, most nonalcoholic beverages, and onboard entertainment included; DisneyCruise.Disney.Go.com.

 
La Quinta Resort & Club- La Quinta, California

Near Palm Springs, at this enchanting hacienda-inspired desert oasis (picture whitewashed buildings and red-tiled roofs), parenting stress melts away. Under perennially blue skies, and surrounded by the alluring Santa Rosa Mountains and fragrant fruit trees, La Quinta Resort & Club (run by Waldorf-Astoria Resorts) sparkles with 41 pools, 53 hot tubs, lush flowers, and peaceful paths along its 562 casitas, 24 suites, and 210 spa villas. Each evening, sink into an outdoor chair to cuddle with your little lovebug while unwinding to uplifting live music. Indulge in delish dishes at five restaurants. The PAWS La Quinta experience even welcomes the family dog! ($100 per stay.)

Bonus for Baby Bikes, with baby carriers, are available for rent. There's a children's pool and playground, as well as a Kids Club for older siblings (ages 4 to 12). Use of a crib, high chair and play yard for your room is complimentary. Food in restaurants can be pur?ed; many rooms have kitchenettes. The concierge can help arrange babysitting with an outside agency (cost varies; usually starts at $15 per hour).

Book it! Rates start at $124 per room, per night, plus a $27-per-day resort fee, ask about special discount packages; LaQuintaResort.com

 

This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, patterns, and availabilities are subject to change.

Originally published in the April 2013 issue of American Baby magazine.