Fishing! No...Sailing! No...Biking!

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Family Vacations, Summer 1997

Fishing! No...Sailing! No...Biking!

At a multisport resort, deciding how to play is the hardest thing you'll do all day

t may be the best of all worlds: a camplike array of things to do, plus the presence of Mom and measured doses. Even the chummiest of families find it difficult to hang together for an entire vacation, but at a multisport resort, you don't have to. If the notion of learning some new skill with your progeny, like rock climbing or boardsailing, seems a prescription for embarrassment, there's usually plenty of opportunity to slip off and drown a worm on your own or take a solo swim, saving the bonding for a nature hike or mealtime.

However much togetherness you opt for, you can be grateful that the kids are enjoying great-outdoors alternatives to video games and MTV. And that both generations inevitably discover that common ground is actually quite a large place, particularly when it has lakes and hiking trails, rocks and rivers, and a place to come back to that feels, for a while at least, a lot like home.
--Bob Howells

Ludlow's Island Resort
Lake Vermilion, Minnesota
Numbered are the days when simple fun like fishing off the dock, picking blueberries, and roasting marshmallows will be cool enough for increasingly sophisticated ten-year-olds. But at Ludlow's Island, image goes by the wayside the minute the kids are out of the car--they're too busy hiking, waterskiing, kayaking, boating, and exploring the rocky shorelines of northern Minnesota's Lake Vermilion.

Situated on three separate land parcels on skinny Wa-Kem-Up Narrows, Ludlow's Island is the premier resort for families who want the crisp, cool weather and birch and pine wilderness adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but also want more luxuries than will fit in a canoe. The lodge's 18 pine- and cedar-lined cabins are equipped with full kit-chens, one to five bedrooms, two to five full baths, a fireplace, and a barbecue grill.

You can explore the 40-mile-long lake with a Lund fishing boat (one included with each cabin rental) and troll for walleye, bass, northern, and muskie (independent fishing guides can be hired for $85-$200 per day). Or, hike the 1.5-mile shoreline trail, take a sauna, then cool off with a swim. You also can rent a waterski boat ($40 per hour; $120 per day), a pontoon boat ($50 per hour; $140 per day), or use the paddleboats, sailboats, kayaks, and canoes free of charge. There are also outdoor tennis and indoor racquetball courts.

On the occasional blustery day, relax in the cabin while the kids learn how to make Native American dreamcatchers and other crafts with Ludlow's Island staff. Most kids will want to spend at least one night on the camping island, a small satellite island within yelling distance. Ludlow's provides the gear--you provide the ghost stories.

Although there are no restaurants at the lodge, you can order take-out before 5 p.m. from a restaurant five miles away that will boat-deliver to the lodge. And the on-site Gourmet Pantry supplies groceries and sundries and also provides free woks, ice cream-makers, and board games.

Weekly prices range from $1,350 to $1,850 per couple; daily prices from $260 to $370 per couple. Charges for children staying in the same cabin are $150 per week for age 16 and over; $75 for ages 3 to 15; and $30 for age two and under. The lodge is open from May 9 to October 5. Call 800-537-5308 or 218-666-5407.
--Stephanie Gregory

The Balsams
Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
The longevity of the Balsams stems from its ability to change with the times. Instead of relying on its majestic location at the base of Dixville Notch or its 131-year history to attract families, the property has transformed itself into a civilized summer resort, utilizing all 15,000 acres to present a panorama of sporting activities. In 1995, the resort inaugurated its mountain bike center, which rents bikes (adults, $10 per hour; kids 6 to 16, $5) and leads groups on 48 kilometers of singletrack, doubletrack, and dirt-road rides. A good family trip is the doubletrack Roller Coaster Trail, which sweeps down the side of the golf course through a forest of fir and spruce.

Another 20 miles of trail are designated for hiking. Children 5 to 13 can make friends on guided walks around neighboring Lake Gloriette (a 1.4-mile loop), while teenagers and adults should opt for the 1.5-mile Sanguinary Ridge Climb. The trail clings to the north wall of Dixville Notch, a mountainous pass of castellated granite, carved by glaciers and ice beds into fantastic formations.

Other sporting options include trout fishing in Lake Gloriette, a full 18-hole golf course, clay and all-weather tennis courts, beach volleyball, badminton, and basketball. At dusk, drink cocktails on the manicured back lawn, then indulge in a six-course gourmet dinner. For children, there are counselor-led all-day programs; activities change weekly depending on kids' ages and interests. Resort rates range from $298-$400 per night, per couple, including lodging, all meals, and sports amenities. To calculate the daily rate for children, multiply their ages by $7. Call 800-255-0600.
--Stephen Jermanok

Hawk's Cay Resort
Duck Key, Florida
It would be tempting for a family to camp out at Hawk's Cay beach, a white-hot skirt of sand with a fringe of coconut palms and a perfect circle of lagoon where kids can splash in Florida's tropical calm. But Hawk's Cay Resort, the only lodging on private, 60-acre Duck Key, has much to lure both parents and kids from the beach.

You can cruise around the Keys's backcountry in a rubber pontoon boat while a naturalist points out great white herons, cormorants, and mangroves whose roots are nurseries for baby shrimp and snapper (adults, $25; kids under 12, $15). You can also snorkel or scuba dive offshore coral reefs (snorkeling, $30 per person; scuba diving, $35 for one person, $10 each additional person, minimum age 12); join a catamaran sail ($25 per person); fish the flats, reef, or blue water (half-day charters, $275-$550); or play at the eight-court tennis "garden" ($3-$5 per person, per hour). Or you might haul your clubs to the nearby 70-par golf course.

Take the kids to see Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the Dolphin Interaction Program (minimum age ten; $70 per person), offered three times daily for groups of up to four. You'll touch, feed, and give hand signals to the dolphins with the help of the resort's trainers; it's best to book the program 30 days in advance.

Most relaxing for the whole family: a bicycle outing (rentals, $3 per hour) across Duck Key (about seven miles of paved roads). Kids 5 to 13 can join the Island Pirate's Club ($20 per child, per day, with lunch) for tiki boat races, fishing trips, backcountry outings, and "No Parents Allowed" parties. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the club meets for pizza and games ($15 per child). Meanwhile, mom and dad can choose from inventive Italian at Hawk's Cay's Porto Cayo eatery or fresh sea fare at WatersEdge.

The resort is low-key elegant, with 160 spacious rooms and 16 suites (doubles, $150-$400 early May through mid-December; kids under 18 stay free in parents' room). Call Hawk's Cay Resort at 800-432-2242 for reservations.
--Stacy Ritz

Enchantment Resort
Sedona, Arizona
For those who think of Sedona as a repository for T-shirt shops, garish paintings of desert sunsets, and New Age crystal-gazers who've changed their names to Moonstar or Runs-With-The-Wolves, there's a pleasant surprise in store: surreal Boynton Canyon, the red-rock fantasyland that conceals luxurious but unpretentious Enchantment Resort. Five miles from town, the complex of 56 tasteful suites and casitas makes a good family base for exploring the region's rock formations, ancient Indian ruins and petroglyphs, and starkly lovely high-desert vistas. Enchantment carefully blends into the landscape; in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, it works to promote conservation and education, and provides regular guest programs on topics ranging from forest-fire prevention (complete with a visit from Smokey) to leave-no-trace camping.

Outdoor activities are best undertaken before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. (At 4,500 feet, Sedona's average summer temperatures, while in the 90s, are surprisingly comfortable, but the high-desert sun is strong.) Leaving from the resort, an easy two-mile hiking trail through the canyon reveals stunning rock formations and plenty of critters--mule deer, javelina, jackrabbits, and eagles. The concierge can point you to other nearby trails through the rock formations and canyons that range from easy to strenuous.

Mountain bikes are available at the resort ($10 per hour, including helmet and map); there are no dedicated trails, but bikers are welcome along hiking trails as well as the area's many lightly traveled paved and unpaved roads leading to Sin-agua Indian ruins.

The ruins, of course, are what imbue the region with its sense of timelessness and mystery: Montezuma's Castle, a well-preserved cliff dwelling; Tuzigoot, a collection of hilltop houses; and Walnut Canyon Ruins, where ancient dwellings cover the walls and floor of the canyon. Jeep tours to these and other historical sites, all within a two-hour drive or less, can be arranged through the concierge or by calling Pink Jeep Ancient Expeditions (800-999-2137 or 520-282-2137). The resort also arranges horseback trips for all skill levels ($25 per hour, $98 for a full day with lunch), including themed rides to Indian ceremonial grounds ($42 per person) and a cowboy barbecue under the stars ($50 per person).

Enchantment's Camp Coyote has programs for kids 4 to 12 that include nature walks, treasure hunts, Indian sandpainting, and on-site sports: swimming, tennis, and golf. Rates are $44 for a full day, $29 for morning only, $36 for the afternoon, $34 for evenings 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Families stay in spacious, well-appointed one-bedroom suites ($365-$425) or two-bedroom casitas ($535-$625) that include a kitchen, a deck with barbecue grill, and a living room; kids under 12 stay free with their parents. The resort also has two restaurants and a health and fitness center. For reservations and information call 800-826-4180 or 520-282-2900.
--Nancy Zimmerman

Keystone Resort
Keystone, Colorado
If it's crucial that your Western vacation spot have a frontier sensibility, skip Keystone. But if you like the idea of being surrounded by the high wilderness peaks of the Continental Divide and the cold, clear waters of the Snake River while you vacation under a virtual bubble of comfort, it would be hard to do better than this Summit County Colorado ski resort just an hour and a half from Denver. Families can take advantage of all the services that a top ski destination offers--child care, intra-resort transportation systems, well-run activities desks, and a broad choice of accommodations and dining spots--while they go biking, hiking, fishing, and sailing.

Keystone Village surrounds a five-acre man-made lake full of paddleboats, kayaks, canoes, windsurfers, and novice fly-fishermen practicing their casts. In-line skates and bikes can be rented at the lakeside Sports Shaq. Big-boat sailors, anglers, and more advanced windsurfers head for Lake Dillon, a large reservoir a few miles from Keystone. Bike trips on paved bike paths to Dillon (about a half-hour ride) and Frisco (about 45 minutes away) are perfect for families. More ambitious riders can make the challenging and hilly hour-long trip to the restored mining town of Breckenridge, Keystone's neighboring ski resort. There are guided llama pack trips along Keystone's summit, whitewater rafting trips, trail rides on horseback, swimming in one of 11 resort pools--even skiing at nearby Arapahoe Basin, where the season can last into early July.

Keystone's Children's Center provides day care for children two months and older, and Kamp Keystone entertains kids three years and up with nature hikes, gold panning, cookouts, fishing, swimming, gondola rides, and more. A Keystone daily activities pass, which allows guests to sample a variety of resort activities, including a gondola ride, an hour of tennis, and rentals of in-line skates, mountain bikes, canoes, and kayaks, starts at about $27.

Lodging choices include the Keystone Lodge, the resort's handsome centerpiece (doubles, $200), and 900 equally architecturally-correct hotels, condominium units, and private houses clustered around the lake and in the surrounding forest. Units designed especially for families with young children, just steps away from the lake and the pedestrian village, can be found in the Lakeside Condominiums. For a more secluded setting, The Pines, about a mile from the lake, is a good choice. All outlying lodging is served by a free shuttle bus system.

Children 18 and under stay free with their parents in either the Keystone Lodge or a condo. In June, July, and August, six nights in a two-bedroom, two-bath condo located a mile or less from Keystone Village start at $682 for a family of four. A deluxe two-bedroom unit by the lake starts at $1,053. Call 800-468-5004.
--Meg Lukens Noonan

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