vacation for a sociable 5 year old and her anti-social parents
October 30, 2022 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Thinking about travelling in 2023 with our daughter who will be 5. We've really only gone to visit family or friends, or vacationed with family, and i know that it won't feel like much of a vacation unless we have someone else there to help out with her. I have been looking at previous questions and i love the idea of a kids club. It does seem like a lot of the places with all day kids clubs are beachy. My husband doesn't like the beach at all, and i don't like the heat at all.

I did find Tyler Place Family Resort from a previous question but the downside is the 12 hr drive from where we are (Ohio). I also found a place in Northern Michigan which definitely seems like the right vibe but the kids club is only 2 hours a day. ALSO with both of those places i'm kind of hesitant about the kind of enforced socialization at mealtimes etc. the KID needs other people but her PARENTS don't really want other people particularly. People-watching yes for sure, people-interacting meh.

What do her parents like? Pre-parenthood we went to Isle Royale, the Big Island in Hawaii, Iceland, and we enjoyed long weekends in cities like Pittsburgh and Chicago. We like nature (as long as it's not too hot or sandy!!) museums, interesting but not particularly fancy restaurants, board games, and snorkeling was probably my favorite thing i've ever done on a vacation.

Things that are out: cruise, driving more than 6 hours. We can fly, preferably nonstop from Detroit.

I think what I am looking for is something like a national park/state park with good nature stuff to do, with a kids club/daycamp situation that is more like 5 hours a day than 2 hours a day. (this is a kid that sometimes i don't go pick her up from daycare right when i get home because i know she's playing on the playground and doesn't want to come home yet) An onsite, kid friendly restaurant would also be great.

Places I have thought about: Wisconsin Dells, Canadian Maritimes, Costa Rica, Poconos, Northern Michigan, Glacier NP, Niagara Falls.

Other possibilities: Leaving the kiddo with grandparents and going off on our own; going to a city and arranging for a daycamp for her, separately, while we do our city exploring thing.

What I would love is either specific resorts that you think would work, or other ideas that I might not have considered, or general opinions about which parts of this plan are least realistic, etc.

I think the Vermont place was $6000 for the week, everything included except getting there. If we can't do this for that much, we would probably just do a short parent-only vacation and then a short with-kid vacation separately.

Thank you!
posted by katieanne to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know of a specific family resort there, but just wanted to mention that there's a short direct flight from Detroit to Ithaca, and the Finger Lakes area is beautiful.
posted by pinochiette at 11:37 AM on October 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I believe all Montage resorts have their "Paintbox" kids club, which seems to (from observations as a regular non-child-having guest) operate all day long. They all have several good on-site restaurants. Some are beachy, some are not. There is one in the Park City, Utah area and I'm sure there are direct flights from Detroit to SLC. The budget might be tight, but perhaps doable especially in the off season. There's also one that I haven't been to in Montana, but the travel logistics for that would probably be harder.
posted by primethyme at 11:40 AM on October 30, 2022

Best answer: Our kids were older, but they went to a day camp in Maine for a few weeks pre-covid - Camp Beech Cliff in Bar Harbor. If she's the right age and fits their description it might be a good option.

You're pretty much in Acadia National Park and the city of Bar Harbor, which match your criteria except maybe for the direct flight - there isn't one right now but there may be in the summer. You can either fly to Bangor and drive about an hour or fly to Bar Harbor there. We dropped them off in the morning and picked them up in the afternoon.

We stayed in our camper at a KOA, but the entire area is full of nice hotels, Airbnb, etc. You can even rent a cabin or Airstream at KOA if that's more your vibe.
posted by true at 11:47 AM on October 30, 2022

Best answer: I've considered finding an outstanding summer camp and finding lodging near by, enrolling them during the day, and then spending the rest of the day with my kid.

There are really excellent day camps for only a few hundred dollars. You could choose any thing she is interested in. Farm camps, Art camp, nature camps, sailing/swimming, etc.

It would save a lot of money. You could instead spend it on renting a car and exploring and having adult meals during the day.

For instance -- you could enroll her in Circus Smircus - the VT circus camp. Fly into Burlington and either stay at a little inn in a teeny town or an AirBnb.
posted by beccaj at 11:57 AM on October 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Have you looked at some of the Club Med offerings? For example, Charlevoix, Quebec.
posted by needled at 2:02 PM on October 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Chautauqua Institution (NY) was great when I went as a kid.

There's also Lakeside Chautauqua (OH).
posted by oceano at 3:15 PM on October 30, 2022

Perhaps the wrong season, but many ski resorts have camps for kids. (And there's often more to ski resorts than skiing).
posted by oceano at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you do a city vacation you could take advantage of day camps attached to zoos, museums, and the like. I've thought of doing something similar with my own kids.
posted by aetg at 7:23 PM on October 30, 2022

Ski resorts also have the advantage that your kid comes back having had a full body workout and often passes out hard at the end of the day. At least I think that's why my folks splurged on it (plus I learned to ski without them having to teach me).
posted by deludingmyself at 7:31 AM on October 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The YMCA in Estes Park (adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park) has family lodging and daycamp programs for ages 5+.
posted by drlith at 12:38 PM on October 31, 2022

Response by poster: Thank you all for your input. After thinking about it more and pricing out some of the options, I think the most likely options are 1) separate parent & kid vacation or 2) go to a city and enroll her in a day camp. And perhaps in a few years do a big trip like Costa Rica or Acadia, when she can appreciate it more and hopefully will be an easier traveller.
posted by katieanne at 3:12 PM on November 13, 2022

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