[Photo:Westin Cape Coral at Marina Village]
 

When you are planning a family weekend getaway there are several factors to consider. The cost (everybody enjoys finding a good deal), season and activities: what does everyone like to do? Some families love spending their weekend getaway by the pool, while others will prefer to go on tours and explore the area. Accommodations are very important. Do you want to be able to prepare some of your meals or will you eat out while you are on vacation? Here are some of the best weekend escapes in the U.S.

Westin Cape Coral at Marina Village

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Southern Florida has a brand-new Westin Kids Club. Vacationers have a choice of 263 guest rooms and suites, many with views of the Gulf of Mexico. The lagoon-style outdoor pool is sure to be a favorite with kids, along with the marina where families will have access to an array of watersports. The resort has a newly renovated fitness studio with cardio and strength training equipment. Heavenly Spa, a 4,000 square foot facility, is also in the works.

Guest rooms are furnished with Westin Heavenly Beds, plush robes and White Tea Aloe bath amenities. Marker 92 Waterfront Bar & Bistro serves American cuisine in a resort casual setting. The hotel is 18 miles from Southwest Florida International Airport between Tampa and Naples. Nearby you will find Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, the Ding Darling Nature Preserve and many golf courses. Nightly winter rates start at $349 (239-541-5000, website).

Red Mountain Spa near St. George, Utah

 

Spa goers and outdoor enthusiasts alike will appreciate the beautiful setting of the Red Mountain Spa near St. George, Utah. Surrounded by mountains and canyons, this spa resort can be a starting point for exploring the nearby Zion National Park, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. Outdoor adventure activities in the area include hiking, jogging, climbing, biking and swimming.

The hotel has an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool. Once you are done exploring the natural surroundings, lounge by the pool and visit the spa. Try one of the Sagestone Spa signature treatments, enjoy a relaxing massage, or get a facial on your spa vacation. The resort offers health education, weight loss and detoxification programs. The resort has just recently renovated its 82 guest rooms in contemporary style. Family vacationers or travelers who like more room can book one of the 12 luxury Villa suites. The hotel offers healthy dining options and cooking demonstrations (435-673-4905, website).

The Arrabelle at Vail Square

The Arrabelle at Vail Square, Colorado is a luxury ski getaway offering access to Vail Mountain and a luxury spa. The hotel has 62 guest rooms and suites with alpine furnishings and a fireplace. If you are looking for more space, take a look at the Private Residences. If you want to be right on the mountain, stay at The Game Creek Chalet which is located at 10,500 feet. In addition to spectacular skiing, other winter activities include snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, ski and snowboard schools, race clinics, dog sledding, sleigh rides, ice skating and more. Rooms at the hotel start at $265 per night.

Le Meridien San Francisco

Le Meridien San Francisco is a luxury hotel in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District. The hotel offers 360 guest rooms and suites many with scenic city views. Ask for a room on the top floors of the hotel for best views. The hotel has a stylish restaurant featuring elegant decor and scenic views. The restaurant serves market fresh cuisine accompanied by fine wines from local Californian vineyards. To help you plan your trip, the hotel offers Les Clefs d'Or Concierges who have access to top dining and entertainment venues in the city. VacationIdea.com Tip: If you want to take your family to a special show on your weekend trip, get in touch with the concierge before you get there. Room rates at the hotel start at $299 per night.

Stowe Mountain Lodge

Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont is a luxury getaway with 312 guest accommodations and cabin rentals. Each guest room has floor-to-ceiling windows with scenic mountain views so that when you get back from the slopes you can relax and look out to Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Ask for a room with a relaxation tub in the marble bathroom (some rooms only have a stand-up shower). Amenities include environmentally friendly bath products, eco-friendly microfiber bed linens and paintings from Vermont Fine Art Gallery.

Most guestrooms have a stone-framed fireplace, private balcony and a kitchenette with stovetop, microwave and dishwasher so that you can prepare some of your own meals if you so choose. The 21,000 square-foot spa at the lodge has a full-service fitness center, outdoor swimming pool with indoor access, water therapy, a relaxation lounge and 18 private treatment rooms. Kids over 6 years of can choose from treatments from the Kid Spa Menu and enjoy a customized spa session that allows them to relax. There is excellent skiing in the winter, as well as cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice fishing. Room rates start at $179 per night (888-478-6938, website).

Gaylord Opryland

Located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee, Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a unique getaway offering fun for kids, spa and fitness, and a choice of restaurants. Children will enjoy boat rides on the indoor river aboard a Delta flatboat, 9 acres of indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls and other attractions. No matter what the weather is like outside, you can have plenty of fun indoors at this unique hotel. Gaylord Opryland has teamed up with DreamWorks to bring Puss in Boots, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Alex the Lion to life within its compound. The property offers an array of events throughout the year, such as the "Puss in Boots & Friends 'Purrrrrrfect Pajama Party" and the "Fun Night with Shrek & Friends." Check the calendar before you book your trip to see what events are coming up.

The lobby has been completely redesigned and now features a plush VIP check-in area. The 20,000 square foot spa and fitness center has 12 treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools. You can go shopping at the resort shops which sell an array of items. The resort has 2,881 guest rooms and suites. Rates start at $239 per night.

Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando

At Portofino Bay Hotel in Florida you can get a taste of the Italian Riviera and enjoy fun rides at Universal Studios. The design for the resort was inspired by an Italian fishing village, complete with cobblestone streets, restaurants and sun-washed stucco facades. Relax by the pool, get an outdoor massage in a private cabana and dine at some of Orlando's best Italian restaurants. In addition to visiting Universal Theme Parks, kids can have fun sliding down the hotel's water slide. The hotel offers 750 guest rooms with Italian furnishings and opulent bathrooms. Bay View Rooms offer scenic views of old-world fishing boats and the harbor.

For families, Kids Suites feature a separate room for the kids with two child sized beds, a small table and chair set, separate closet, television, VCR and play area. From romantic dining at the upscale Delfino Riviera to the family-friendly Trattoria del Porto and Mama Della's Ristorante, the hotel offers its guests a choice of restaurants. Delfino Riviera serves Ligurian cuisine on Versace plates and features strolling musicians (407-503-1000, website).

Walt Disney World Swan

At Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in Florida, families can choose from an array of activities, accommodations and family-friendly dining options. There are five heated pools, whirlpools, fountains and waterfalls. The Kiddie pool provides hours of fun to younger guests. There are also two sand volleyball courts, a beachside playground, spraying seal fountain, a giant checkers game and more. When deciding which room to book, consider your family's needs. If you have kids, having a bedroom with a door and a separate living room can be a big perk for parents. The resort offers 169 suites with different layouts. Executive Suites, Grand Suites, Hospitality Suites and the Governor's Suite all offer separate living areas. Whether you are planning a weekend vacation to Florida or a longer getaway, these suites give you plenty of flexibility.

Spend a few hours relaxing and getting pampered at Mandara Spa, play golf and go shopping. Since kids seem to be hungry all the time, the hotel offers the SPG Kids Pass, an all-inclusive dining program for kids. For $25 per day, kids ages 12 or younger receive all-inclusive access to a variety of dining options, including children's menus, buffets (where available) and beverages at Cabana Bar & Beach Club, Todd English's bluezoo, The Fountain, Picabu buffet, and Fresh Mediterranean Market. You have to be a Starwood Preferred Guest member to receive this offer, so be sure to join (membership is free). Room rates at the hotel start at $160 per night.

WaterColor Inn in Florida

WaterColor Inn is a family getaway in Northwest Florida, offering activities for families and couples. The resort is located the Grayton Beach State Park and Seaside, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Visit the WaterColor Inn spa, play golf, relax on the beach and sample gourmet cuisine at the inn's restaurants. The inn was voted "Best Hotel in Florida" by the readers of Travel + Leisure. It's popular with families who want to spend a long weekend enjoying the beach and the sun.

The resort's flagship restaurant, Fish Out of Water, serves fresh seafood paired with delicious wines. Watch the water and the sand dunes while enjoying your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Room rates start at $275 per night. If you have the flexibility to travel midweek, the hotel is offering a packages that includes three nights including breakfast, lunch and beach chairs starting from only $885. Guests receive daily beach chair and umbrella set-up, lunch for two , nightly turndown service and a beach amenity.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, located in the center of the Great Lakes waterway, is an all-inclusive summer vacation destination, open from May through October. No cars are allowed on the island and there is plenty to do, from swimming in the pool to golf, walking and biking in the beautiful Mackinac Island State Park. Originally built in 1887, the property has 385 individually decorated guest rooms. Some of the rooms and suites are named after famous people. Six suites were designed in consultation with former first ladies. The Jacqueline Kennedy suite, for example, has gold-painted walls and features the gold presidential eagle.

Swim in the Esther Williams pool, detox in the sauna and have snacks by the pool. Activities the whole family can enjoy include tennis, horseback riding, carriage tours and children's programs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Across the street lies the scenic Jewel golf course. The course is comprised of the Grand nine and the Woods nine, set in the interior of the island. The Grand nine was built in 1901 and redesigned in 1987. The Woods nine was added in 1994, designed by Jerry Matthews. Greens fees for 9 holes cost $42 for guests; $55 for non-guests. 18 holes cost $80 for guests; $100 for non-guests. Gas-powered carts and pull carts are included. Rentals are also available.

The island is accessible only by boat or plane. Ferries depart from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan. Assistance is provided for transferring luggage on and off the ferry. The Mackinac Island Airport has a 3,500-foot runway that accommodates private and charter aircraft. For more information about flying here, contact the concierge. Once you arrive, you can get around on foot, by bike or a horse-drawn carriage. VacationIdea.com Tip: The resort frequently offers family vacation packages in the summer. This is a popular summer getaway from Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit. All-inclusive rates start at $249 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. The rate includes a full breakfast and five-course dinner daily. Kids stay and eat free. Discounts are offered for kids under 17. The property is open open from May through October (906-847-3331, website).

 

More Family Weekend Trip Ideas

Beach Getaways for Families
In Florida, many full-service resorts like Doral and the Turnberry Isle Resort offer beautiful pools, water-based activities, golf and spas. You'll be able to combine a family weekend getaway with relaxing at the spa and a round or two of golf. Visit Florida with the family in the winter, spring and fall.

The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida offers great rooms, a private beach, an oceanfront spa, 36 holes of golf, and 10 tennis courts. There is a childrens program, children under 16 stay free in their parents room and, for families with kids under 3, they will take precautions to childproof your room before you arrive.

There is a 6,160 square foot family entertainment center with a children's movie room, a toddlers' playroom, and a computer room. There is also the Coconut Crew Interactive Camp that hosts kids from age 3-12 in two different groups; the Parrots (3-6) and the Coconuts (6-12). The Coconut Crew Interactive Camp is flexibly scheduled and priced per session. Room rates start at $285.

San Diego is a popular weekend getaway, offering the famous zoo and proximity to many fun kid-frindly activities. Stay at Hotel del Coronado which has a sandy beach, kid's programs and many family-friendly activities, ranging from Bocce Ball to Ping Pong. Hotel del Coronado is located right on the ocean, giving families the opportunity to enjoy the beach and the sun on vacation. Take a bike tour of historic Coronado, or rent a kayak and explore the shore. If you want to visit the spa or play golf, Hotel del Coronado offers diverse programs for kids. Choose from historic rooms and suites, or contemporary accommodations. Room rates start at $285 per night.

Lakeside Vacation Ideas
On the shores of Lake Sydney Lanier lies Lake Lanier Islands, a 1,100 acre resort just 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta. Stay at the 216 room Emerald Pointe Resort or try one of the 18 private lakeside cottages. The resort has a golf course, an equestrian center and a fleet of rental boats, however, the main attraction for families is the beach and waterpark. Lake Lanier Islands' Beach and Waterpark features rides, slides, and water attractions with names like the Intimidator, the Twister, SplashDown, and Triple Threat. The waterpark is open from May to September. Rates Start at $139 per night.

On the East Coast, head to the Sagamore on Lake George where weekend activities include fishing, swimming in the lake, sailing, golf and pampering at the spa.

City Getaways
If your family likes exploring a big city, head to New York City where hotels are offering some great deals on weekend stays. You can visit the Museum of Natural History, see a show at the Planetarium, and play in Central Park.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park is a luxury New York City getaway with great views and family-friendly service. Whether your family decides to enjoy an outdoor day in Central Park, or visit the American Museum of Natural History while on vacation, the hotel offers a great location for exploring the city. Kids will love the telescopes and bird watching books available in park view rooms.

Enjoy central location and historic ambiance at the Westin St. Francis when you travel to San Francisco with the family. This Union Square hotel features classic elegance with its ornate balconies and detailed woodwork. Visit Union Square Park, ride a cable car, or relax at the hotel while your children are entertained at the Westin Kids Club. The hotel is just minutes from Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. Ask for one of the rooms with views of the bay. Doubles start at $179 per night.

Weekend Resorts for Families
Club H for teens ages 13-17 at the Homestead Resort in Virginia provides a fun place to socialize and play games. Club H, located on the tenth floor, offers activities that appeal to teenagers, such as arcade games, billiards, snacks and music. There is a choice of indoor and outdoor activities lead by Club H counselors, including hiking, biking, caving, kayaking, mountain boarding, canoeing and paintball. Cookouts, hayrides and dinners at Club H give kids the opportunity to meet new people. Doubles at the Homestead start at $131 in the winter; from $211 in the summer.

Take the family to the Horseshoe Bay Marriott in Texas and let the kids enjoy tennis, an 18-hole putting course, and three different swimming pools. Rent a pontoon boat at the Horseshoe Bay Marina and spend the day on the lake. In the afternoon, you can water ski on the Marina's ski boat, an inboard 2002 Master Craft complete with a great sound system and wakeboard tower. The best part about the ski boat is that it comes with a driver, so that's one less thing to worry about. If you don't feel like actually going out on the water, you can always relax in a cabana on the lakeside beach.

La Quinta Resort in Palm Springs offers an array of activities for the whole family, including great pools, golf, spa and a year-round program for kids. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, take a jeep tour in the desert, or go horseback riding on your family vacation. Choose from casitas, suites and Spa Villas. Rates start at $300 per night plus tax and resort charge.