Forget June 21st. For most of us, the long Memorial Day weekend is the real kick-off to summer. Lower gas prices will make a summer road trip more affordable than last year, and family resorts are tempting families with wallet-friendly rates and activity-packed schedules. Here's a sampling of last-minute getaways for families this Memorial Day:
Resort at Squaw Creek
Where: Squaw Valley, CA (www.squawcreek.com)
Why: Because you can start your summer surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery at this active-minded family resort. The weekend features a fun roster of activities, from s'more roasts and barbecues to tie-dying, canyon nature hikes, and bike tours to Lake Tahoe. Squaw Creek also features a giant waterslide, full-service spa, river rafting, and golf course. The Memorial Day Family package starts at $179 a night and includes breakfast for two adults and a $25 resort credit. Kids 12 and under eat for free.
Resort at Port Arrowhead
Where: Lake Ozark, MO (www.theresortatportarrowhead.com)
Why: Because this resort has a great location on a hill overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks and offers a nice mix of family-fun events all weekend long. Expect mini golf tournaments, family-fun challenges, bingo, water balloon tosses, and nightly "dive-in" movies at the outdoor pool. There's also shuffleboard, a video arcade, and supervised children's activities. The three-night Memorial Day weekend package starts at $99 a night (a two-night stay works out to $119 a night) and includes most scheduled activities. Plus, kids always stay and eat free at Port Arrowhead.
Cragun's Resort & Hotel
Where: Brainerd, MN (www.craguns.com)
Why: Because the long holiday weekend at this family favorite on beautiful Gull Lake means horse-drawn trolley rides, bonfires with marshmallow roasting, fishing clinics, bingo, evening entertainment and much more. The resort also features a huge indoor pool, spa, and top-notch golf course. Three-night Memorial Day weekend packages start at $119 a night and include a dinner buffet, welcome reception, fishing clinic, buffet breakfast, and lodging for four.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Where: Seven Springs, PA (www.7springs.com)
Why: Because Memorial Day weekend is the start of this ski resort's summer season, and to celebrate in style, there'll be live music entertainment until after the sun goes down. Besides the musical concerts, families can also enjoy an assortment of activities such as climbing wall races, fishing demonstrations, fireworks shows, and more. Kids will love cruising down the mountain on the 1,980-foot alpine slide, or go soaring through the air on the Eurobungy. There's also bowling, disk golf, game rooms, mini golf, and chairlift rides. Grown-ups who need a little relaxation can head to the spanking new Trillium spa. The Memorial Day Music Festival package costs $199 per person, including a three-night stay, daily breakfast, an Italian dinner buffet, and all-access activities wristband. Up to two kids 12 and under can stay and play for free.
YMCA of the Rockies
Where: Granby, CO (www.ymcarockies.org)
Why: Because the award-winning, 5,100-acre Snow Mountain Ranch is irresistible for adventure-seeking families. For starters, there's a 300 foot zip line, high-ropes course, and climbing wall. Those looking to keep their feet on the ground can go hiking or mountain biking, enjoy a family movie, play tennis and mini golf, or tell stories by the campfire. Two-night Memorial Day weekend packages start at just $75 per adult and $55 per child 6 to 12 and include five meals, lodge room accommodations, and a 50% discount on the zip line and climbing wall.
Point Sebago Resort
Where: Casco, ME (www.pointsebago.com)
Why: Because this casual resort on one of Maine's most pristine lakes has all the necessities for an unforgettable start to summer (see our review). You can take a pirate cruise around Lake Sebago, relax on the beach, roast s'mores by a bonfire, and take a canoe or kayak out for a spin. There are kids' camps with daily activities that range from arts and crafts to kickball and capture the flag, as well as nightly entertainment for the whole family. The three-night Memorial Day weekend package starts at $499 for a family of four and includes eight buffet meals and family-fun activities.
Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Where: Austin, TX (www.bartoncreek.com)
Why: Because this upscale resort in Texas Hill Country boasts great kids' camps, excellent golf, nature trails, mini golf, and fun events like family movie night and arts-and-crafts night. The Memorial Day package costs $164 per person for each night and includes lodging, breakfast, and a poolside lunch cookout. Extend your stay and pay only $100 for a third night.
Westgate River Ranch
Where: Lake Wales, FL (www.wgriverranch.com)
Why: Because this rustic dude ranch brings the Old West to the Sunshine State. The resort features a real-life rodeo with bull riding, barrel racing, and a calf scramble for the kids. During the holiday, there's a slew of old-fashioned family activities planned such as potato-sack races, egg tosses, watermelon-seed spitting, and crafts. On Sunday, kids have an opportunity to play cowboy at the Kid's Rodeo. The three-night Memorial Day weekend package starts at $365 and includes lodging, two hayride tickets, a picnic lunch, and admission to the Americom Championship Rodeo.
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