Are your kids too young to be toting around notebooks and No. 2 pencils? Then consider shopping for a vacation instead. For families with preschoolers, fall is the best time of year to grab a getaway at a top family resort.

The back-to-school season has always delivered bang for your buck. When school kids clear out and prices come down, it's easier to land not only a room but a super deal. Many resorts now promote autumn as a time for preschoolers -- not only with lower prices, but with special events and activities created just for wee ones.

Check out these seven destinations that are ideal for the under-5 crowd this autumn.

36 Orlando Hotels

Where: Orlando, FL

Why: Because families with little ones can still enjoy Orlando's theme parks when all the big kids have to go back to school. The citywide Second Summer promotion means three dozen hotels slash their peak rates by more than 50%. One example: $109 for a double room at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, compared to high-season rates that otherwise start at $229. The offers vary by property and must be booked through the website.

Winnetu Oceanside Resort

Where: Martha's Vineyard, MA

Why: Because this exceptionally kid-friendly resort is at its most divine when crowds are gone but the ocean water is still warm. By mid-September, families can save more than 50% compared to Winnetu's peak summer prices. A great list of complimentary perks makes this resort a stand-out. For starters: Help-yourself bike rentals, fitness and yoga classes, and a parent-and-toddler activity program through mid-September. During September, the resort is also offering a third night free if you book a suite or cottage.

Beaches Resorts

Where: Four Caribbean locations

Why: Because this chain of kid-friendly all-inclusive resorts is heaven for the preschool set, thanks to its partnership with Sesame Street, its super day camp, and terrific water play areas. Through the end of October, the Wonderfall season delivers a lineup of special events, including live stage shows with Elmo, Big Bird, Gordon, and Abby Cadabby. Also through the end of October, military families get 15% off their bills (instead of 10%) and single parents can take advantage of the Single Parent Fun offer, where the single supplement fee (up to $190 per night) is waived, and there are special activities such as sandcastle building, bingo bonanza, and tie-dying shirts. Best reason for any family to book: You can save up to 65% on stays of at least three nights.

Smugglers' Notch

Where: Jeffersonville, VT

Why: Because this ski resort offers active vacations year-round. From Sept. 5 to Oct. 10, the AutumnFest Vacation package allows families with small children to get in a mix of family time and adults-only time, thanks to its children's program (infants through age 5), a nice roster of adults-only hikes and walks, and many family activities. Pay for three nights and get the fourth for free.


Where: Paradise Island, the Bahamas

Why: Because this sprawling mega-resort in the Bahamas offers three pools and water playgrounds created with little ones in mind, plus the Kids Adventure Club has a special preschooler area. Free activities abound at the Atlantis: The Aqua Tots programs lets little ones feed exotic fish in a shallow lagoon and the Atlantis Pals program offers kids a complimentary stuffed animal that they create and stuff themselves. Take advantage of great sales.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort

Where: Orlando, FL

Why: Because the popular Nickelodeon Suites Resort knows how to lay out the orange-and-lime green carpet for preschoolers, from Nick-themed arts-and-crafts and scavenger hunts to character parties with Pablo from The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, and other beloved stars. In September and October, there's a special offer just for the Nick Jr. set: the Dora and Diego Adventure package starts at $119 on weeknights for a two-bedroom suite, with free meals for preschoolers, free admission to the hotel's Diego-and-Dora 4-D experience film and a kids' backpack and telescope to take home.

Club Med

Where: Florida, Mexico & the Caribbean

Why: Because this family-friendly chain of all-inclusive resorts caters especially well to families with young children. Take advantage of the exceptional 7-Day Weekend offer, where you get seven nights for the price of three; the all-inclusive packages start at $870 per adult with a 50% discount for kids 2 to 15 years. Book by Oct. 31; the deal is valid for travel dates through April 2012. is an award-winning family travel site, featuring reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, and more. Want an easy way to find out about vacation deals? Sign up for our family travel e-newsletter. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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