It’s been a hard year for everyone. This summer, how about we let the kids pretend like everything is OK in the world? These getaway spots offer perks for the grownups, like mountain bike trails, surf breaks, and rooftop bars, as well as the drive-in movie theaters, hot-springs-fed pools, and skate parks that will keep the kids happy.
Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is paradise for young explorers. They can wander among slot canyons, gape at sandstone arches and natural bridges, and dig for dinosaur fossils. If your kids can handle a six-mile round-trip hike, it’s worth the trek to Lower Calf Creek Falls, which drops 130 feet into a pool below. Take a drive on Hole in the Rock Road to explore hoodoos in Devils Garden or hike the family-friendly Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch slot canyons. The reward: burgers and shakes at Nemo’s in the town of Escalante afterward. Yonder Escalante (RV sites from $69; cabins from $249) opened this year on the grounds of an old drive-in movie theater and has custom-designed A-frame cabins, vintage Airstreams, and RV sites. You can watch an outdoor movie from the seat of a restored classic car.
This high-altitude town is famous for its ice climbing in the winter, but Ouray is gorgeous in the summer, too. A new via ferrata—a European-style cable climbing route—opened here in 2020, crossing the Uncompahgre Gorge via a 35-foot-long cable wire bridge. San Juan Mountain Guides leads guided climbs (from $139) on the new routes, which are geared for all ages and abilities. The geothermally heated pools at Ouray Hot Springs make for a nice post-climbing activity. Hotel Imogene (from $105) opened in 2020 in a historic building that was once a saloon and brothel and now has six rooms, a rooftop bar, and a wood-burning sauna.
Admittedly, your kids are going to like this destination more than you, but there’s still a lot for adults to enjoy—from paddleboarding to hiking trails—at Woodward PA, the premier action sports training facility in the U.S. Whether you’re coming for the Memorial Day Family Camp Weekend (from $200) or you’re signing your teen up for a skate or BMX camp, this place is all about fun. The 48-acre campus has skate parks, BMX race tracks, go-karts, a pool, and more. Families can stay at the Woodward Lodge (from $280) or pitch a tent at the nearby Woodward Cave (from $30), a campground adjacent to one of the largest underground caverns in Pennsylvania (private cave tours available by reservation).
If you’re looking for a laid-back beach destination on the East Coast, head to this small town 45 miles south of Portland. Take a stroll on the one-mile Long Sands Beach or hike up 692-foot Mount Agamenticus—the kids will enjoy it all, too. Afterward, take in the view of Nubble Light lighthouse from Sohier Park and watch saltwater taffy get made at the Goldenrod, which has been making candy for over 100 years. Stay at the oceanfront York Beach Surf Club (from $249), which is opening this summer in a restored motel property with a new heated pool, bungalows, and rooms that are decorated to celebrate the area’s long-standing surf culture.
This Northern California coastal town is home to some of the world’s tallest trees, the towering redwoods of Humboldt County. The coolest new way to see those trees? From 100 feet above the forest floor on the Redwood Sky Walk, a suspended, self-guided walkway opening in early June among 60 acres of old-growth and second-growth redwoods in the city’s beloved Sequoia Park Zoo. Book a suite at the Humboldt Bay Social Club (from $166), and enjoy its lawn games, hot tubs, and beach access. Your kids are going to love roasting marshmallows at the fire pits and taking a bath after the beach in the outdoor clawfoot tubs that are part of the property’s historic bathhouse.
Sister Bay, Wisconsin
Door County, the peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan from eastern Wisconsin, has 300 miles of shoreline, dozens of surrounding islands, and a culture that celebrates its Scandinavian heritage. Don’t miss Newport State Park, a designated Dark Sky Park with hike-in campsites, 30 miles of trails, and excellent stargazing. The kids will dig the ferry ride to Washington Island and a movie at the Skyway Drive-in Theater, which opens for the summer season in May. This four-bedroom, mid-century A-frame cabin (from $399), newly listed for this summer via Airbnb, will house the whole family.
By midsummer, the town of Jackson and its neighboring Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park will be busy. But Memorial Day into early June is still early for the summer crowds. The Cloudveil (from $549)—named after the Cloudveil Dome in the Teton Range—is a new hotel in the town square that’s opening on May 26. The kids will enjoy the outdoor pool, but you’ll love the rooftop terrace and in-house bar and restaurant. Hotel staff can help curate itineraries for the whole family, ranging from fly-fishing or rafting on the Snake River to guided mountain biking and hiking. Or head to Snow King for hiking and biking trails for you; alpine slide and ziplines for them.
Lead Photo: Courtesy Redwood Sky Walk