August trip with toddler
July 6, 2018 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Help needed to choose best destination for August vacation with a toddler.

My wife and I are planning a few days away in mid August when our son’s day care is closed. We just have to get our three year old out of the house before we all go crazy. We’re also motivated by the hot and muggy weather here in St Louis, so we are considering a few destinations in the mountains where the weather will be cooler.

We are not interested in city destinations because we want a more relaxed resort kind of place than we could get at a city hotel. Regardless of where we go, we would want a nice resort - not interested in roughing it.

Our son is extremely active and high energy, so we imagine doing things like playgrounds, short hikes, early evening concerts, miniature golf, wildlife viewing, and any other kid friendly activities. We can’t do anything too active however because my wife will be 7 months pregnant. Visiting a national park looks appealing for the wildlife, but we are not interested in staying in a rustic lodge.

I’d love any feedback on these options, or other ideas. They all seem kind of similar as far as the weather and types of activities we might find:

Vail, CO
Beaver Creek, CO
Jackson, WY
Big Sky, MT

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by kdern to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
All those places (especially Colorado) have pretty high chances of of being on fire or at the least being quite smoky, especially this year, which is turning into a pretty intense fire year. Have you considered somewhere on the Great Lakes, such as Traverse City? The lakes keep things pretty moderate, and Traverse has tons of exactly what your are looking for, including this giant splash pad right on the bay, a vibrant downtown, and of course Sleeping Bear Dunes not too far away.

Yes, I grew up there. It is a nice place!
posted by rockindata at 8:41 PM on July 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Being at a higher altitude than you're used to while 7 months pregnant and with a toddler sounds exhausting. You might want to take that into consideration when picking a location.
posted by ilovewinter at 8:54 PM on July 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yes, big sky will be Smokey in August. There's not need to leave Bozeman. Visit the museum if the Rockies with the children's area in Bozeman. See the bridge at drinking horse trail and feed the fish at the hatchery. Just drive the highway towards the Spanish falls to see bison and maybe walk a mile on the trail to see wild flowers. If no one has a smoke allergy, you can do this all from Bozeman. Very little is happening in big sky in the summer. Oh and visit the dinosaur park. Ok fine, I want to come with you.
posted by Kalmya at 9:28 PM on July 6, 2018

The Indiana Dunes are 5 hours away from you. It's right outside of Gary Indiana (so close to Chicago) and a quick search tells me there are nice hotels. I think it'll be cool on the lake without being rustic due to lodging. I've only been through a area once but it was somewhere I would have spent more time if we weren't racing to Chicago for a flight.
posted by toomanycurls at 10:32 PM on July 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine took her grandson to the Wisconsin Dells and he loved it. Tons of kid-friendly activities there. Here's a list of toddler friendly resorts.

There's also a Legoland in the Chicago suburbs, near Woodfield Mall. You could stop there on the way or on the way home.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:16 AM on July 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not a resort but I would look at a house/cottage rental in South Haven, MI. Right on Lake Michigan, easy access to beaches, you can walk into town to getan ice cream or the amazing farmers markets,

I went with my family last year which included nieces and nephew from ages 2-9 and the loved it (and being able to do stuff outside without repressive heat).
posted by raccoon409 at 7:46 AM on July 7, 2018

I can't speak to WY or MT, but in terms of your Colorado picks - you'll be much happier in Vail than in Beaver Creek (which is pretty dead in the summer and not particularly small-child-friendly).

I have two small kiddos and when the older, very active one was two years old, we were pretty realistic about how much of our vacation was going to revolve around playgrounds. Vail was a big winner for us--the playgrounds are custom-designed and custom-built, and some of them are super-interesting works of art (in addition to being a good place to burn off energy). There was also good coffee, good walking along the creek (and toddler wading in the freezing creek, your toddler may vary), and good restaurants we didn't go to but could have if we had gotten our crap together to find a sitter. We're both big bikers so part of the draw was the very excellent bike paths around there, but there's also some nice hiking. Ponying up for the gondola to the tippy-top of the mountain ended up to be worth it for our toddler, since two years later he's still talking about how amazing gondolas are and frequently requesting to ride them. (We also did our hiking on the flat-to-downhill trails that ring around the top of the gondola, which I'd recommend especially if your wife is a million months pregnant.)

Altitude sickness is pretty person-dependent; have you guys ever traveled up to 8,000 ft? If you have and didn't have trouble before, I'd probably just plan on your wife staying extra hydrated and taking it easier than usual.

Not sure where you're coming from, but one other idea to consider if it's not a painful flight would be Monterrey, California. That was another hugely successful trip with our two-year-old (aquarium was a hit, and there were a lot of good toddler-friendly things to do in general). But if the altitude doesn't put you off, I think you'd probably have a pretty good time in Vail.
posted by iminurmefi at 12:36 PM on July 7, 2018

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