Port St. Lucie, Florida
Paradise for parents! This 307-room gem, sparkling after a recent $25-million renovation, is set on a beach with cozy cabanas (ideal for a snooze with your b?b?) along the picturesque St. Lucie River. Club Med's staff is famous for its friendliness, so you'll be invited to a golf or tennis lesson, yoga class, and even a swing on the flying trapeze. If you came strictly to loaf, they'll leave you to lounge by the two pools (one is for adults only) and the large Jacuzzi situated for glorious sunset-gazing. Relish yummy food (white chocolate bread served daily) in two restaurants, one with an adult section so you and your hubs can have an uninterrupted conversation. Remember those?
Baby Love: Caregivers engage infants and toddlers with games, songs, toys, and books, both indoors and out, at Baby Club Med. It's for 4- to 23-month-olds, and it's open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Wednesday. For date night, let Peewee conk out in the Pajama Club, open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night, then carry him back to your room. At the Baby Care Center, Mom and Dad are free to use the sterilizer or pick up teething biscuits or fruit 24/7. You can pack light: A crib, infant tub, changing table, stroller, and high chair are available in your room if you're traveling with a child 2 or younger.
Book It! Rates start at $1,064 per person, based on double occupancy, for a seven-night stay, which includes food, beverages (alcohol too), entertainment, and most sports. Children younger than 2 stay and eat for free, but Baby Club Med is $90 a day, and the Pajama Club is $28 per night.
Ko Olina, Oahu, Hawaii
Disney's new resort, which opened last fall, perfectly melds Aloha spirit with fairy tale enchantment. A mix of 359 hotel rooms and 460 villas sit on the Pacific; behind them are emerald-green mountains. The meticulously groomed grounds include a meandering 3-foot-deep river pool for lazing as well as several regular pools for swimming (one for adults only), a snorkeling lagoon with fish in every color, and Jacuzzis that offer views of the beautiful beach. Cabanas let you nurse discreetly or give Baby a break from the sun without returning to your room. Learn how to dance a hula or string a lei, and at night, snuggle by the beachside fire pit while native storytellers sing ancient tales.
Baby Love: You can call the Laniwai spa to book an appointment for an infant massage class; an instructor will teach you and your husband how to use it to aid your child's sleep and digestion ($150 for 25 minutes or $210 for 50 minutes). The staff at Aunty's Beach House entertains toilet-trained kids (3 years and older) for free, but parents with babies are welcome to stop by to play with the toys and meet Disney characters, who also perform daily in the "Shaka Shaka Pool Party." All rooms have a Pack 'n Play and mini-fridge; you can also check out a bottle warmer and high chair (if available), and rent a stroller and swing. The resort's shop is stocked with formula, diapers, wipes, and teethers.
Book It! Rates start at $399 per room per night.
Bonita Springs, Florida
Yep, Florida again. With sand and palm trees galore, it's little wonder the Sunshine State welcomes more visitors than any other. This 454-room retreat perches on Florida's gulf coast, a stretch of beach bountiful with seashells for your baby to sift through. Take your tot to spot her first dolphin, put her in a baby seat and bike pretty paths, and dip into three pools (one for kiddos).
Baby Love: Chefs puree veggies and fruits upon request. Preorder diapers and formula via BabiesTravelLite.com/hyatt. The concierge can find you a local in-room babysitter ($18 per hour).
Book It! Rates start at $159 per room per night, plus a $20-per-day resort fee. Book four nights and get a fifth free through 2012.
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Consider bringing grandparents or friends; this 51-acre treasure offers 48 one- to four-bedroom suites with kitchenettes; there are also six studios for wee families. A rolling green lawn calls out to toddlers, while mommies use it for morning yoga. Each afternoon, an antique fire truck takes guests for a ride. Dip into the heated pool, stroll pretty South Beach only a short path away, or step aboard the free shuttle to quaint Edgartown, where celebs and even presidents are spotted.
Baby Love: A staff photographer can snap Baby and company on the beach (what a souvenir!). There's a playground, and at meals, the Lure Grill plays movies for tots while parents decompress. For one-on-one babysitting, ask for Winnetu's list of local providers.
Book It! Rates start at $265 per night for a one-bedroom suite with an ocean view as well as full breakfast for two.
Highgate Springs, Vermont
This all-inclusive hideaway, owned by the same family for 79 years, aims to keep kids happy while giving parents a break. Open Memorial Day weekend to just past Labor Day, it offers simple pleasures such as birding, hiking, biking (with a baby seat), and cocktail hour with other moms and dads. The 70-odd accommodations, situated among 165 acres of woods and meadows encircling a lake, include carriage houses, cottages, cabins, and a 12-room inn. You'll find no TVs here, although there is free WiFi for uploading cute vacation photos.
Baby Love: The infant and toddler programs engage even newborns and encourage parents to join in art projects, such as making prints of Baby's hands and feet. Activities include tummy time, when tots learn about textures on blankets made of fur, felt, ribbons, and more. During the summer, a helper is assigned to every family who has an infant or toddler. Hire her for as much or as little one-on-one child care as you need; pay her directly ($7.25 to $10 per hour). You could get used to this! Borrow a crib, high chair, and stroller for free.
Book It! Rates start at $105 per adult and $63 per child, per night, which includes three meals, sports and activities, entertainment, the children's program, and bike use.
San Diego, California
Families reign at this nonsmoking hotel (408 rooms and 32 suites) on a private peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Take your pick among three heated pools (one for kids, one for adults), or go on a nature tour as part of the hotel's partnership with Silver Strand State Beach. Trying to lose the baby weight? Sign up for a walk to a local farmers' market with the executive chef, who will share healthful eating tips.
Baby Love: Your tot gets a lullaby CD and toiletries to keep. Fisher-Price teams up to lend toys and a potty. Meet other parents and babies at the on-site playgroups for babes ages 6 to 18 months and 19 to 36 months. Ask ahead to have your room stocked with a crib and a fridge.
Book It! Rates start at $149 per room per night.
Leaving from multiple ports
For many zonked-out parents, sailing away is the ultimate escape. All you have to do is walk onto the ship -- the crew will take care of the rest! Try amazing restaurants (some ships have up to 25 eateries), catch Broadway-caliber entertainment, or amuse yourself in the casino or on the pool deck. There are even zip lines and surf simulators. (Dare Dad to give one a try!) Hop off at the ports for sightseeing, or stay onboard and chill out. We recommend a Caribbean itinerary for the most relaxed, family-friendly pace.
Baby Love: The Royal Babies and Tots program for ages 6 to 36 months ($8 per hour) is on six ships: the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, and Splendour of the Seas. Expect colorful playrooms outfitted with Fisher-Price toys and Crayola Beginnings art tools, as well as ace caregivers available most days and into the evenings (check your ship's newsletter for times). You can also hire a sitter to come to your room (rates vary). DreamWorks runs animated parades on the ship promenade and hosts character breakfasts (hello, Shrek!). The Imaginocean Puppet Show features cool glow-in-the-dark puppets.
Book It! Rates start at $319 per person for the first two guests taking a four-day Caribbean cruise out of Miami in the end of August (when big kids are back in school); a third person (such as Baby) in the room will be about half price. Meals are included. Rates vary greatly depending on the itinerary, cabin, and sail date.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Your vacation starts when you park on the dock at Mackinaw City or St. Ignace and ferry across Lake Huron. On the island, you'll find cobblestone streets, gazebos, and old-fashioned fudge shops, but no wheels except bikes and carriages (drawn by horses or pushed by parents) -- cars are forbidden. Bed down at the 125-year-old Grand Hotel, open May through October, where each of the 385 rooms is uniquely decorated. On its giant porch (more than two footballs fields long) are white wicker rockers, ideal for soothing your little one or sipping a Dark 'n' Stormy.
Baby Love: Order a free crib for your room and Baby gets a stuffed Scottish Terrier to keep, in honor of the hotel owner's pup, a first-place winner at the 2010 Westminster Dog Show. Staff members moonlight as babysitters ($15 per hour).
Book It! Rates start at $254 per person, per night, double occupancy, including breakfast and dinner, movies with snacks, and gratuities. Kids stay and eat for free.
Originally published in the April 2012 issue of American Baby magazine.
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and availabilities are subject to change. Please contact each hotel and attraction for up-to-date rates and information before taking your trip.