10 Top Nature Retreats for Families in the USA

Jocelyn Murray June 27, 2011 No Comments

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Mountains, rivers and lakes have beckoned with their rustic appeal for ages. Sparkling bodies of water, towering trees, and breathtaking vistas renew the human spirit through the splendor of nature. The following getaways (listed alphabetically) are idyllic retreats where families can reconnect and discover the natural world together.

Alderbrook Resort and SpaUnion, Washington

Alderbrook Resort and Spa

Alderbrook Resort and Spa

Stately evergreen and fir trees overlook the gentle waters of the glacier-carved Hood Canal, framed by the majestic Olympic Mountains. It is here that Alderbrook Resort and Spa is found in Washington State, a mere two hours from Seattle, yet worlds away. Its prime location lures families to get reacquainted with the beauty of nature.

Alderbrook Resort and Spa – Washington

Alderbrook Resort and Spa – Washington

Outdoor aficionados will delight in the recreational opportunities here. The Hood Canal beckons with water sports, boating, kayaking and swimming. Its unspoiled waters are home to a variety of marine life including salmon, crab, mussels and oysters, which make for great shell fishing. The marina is only steps away and offers moorage facilities for private vessels. The glass-enclosed heated pool and Jacuzzi boast lovely views of the Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains. A fitness center, steam room, sauna and day spa await. There is golf at the nearby Alderbrook Golf Club, nature trails for hiking in Olympic National Park, beaches for strolling, antique shops and galleries for browsing, and ecological tours for discovering.

Alderbrook Exterior from Lake

Alderbrook Exterior from Lake

The luxury accommodations are discreetly elegant and offer comforting amenities that include premium linens and down comforters, soaking tubs, cozy daybeds, splendid views, complimentary high-speed internet access, two-line speaker phones, 27” television with premium cable, movies on-demand and DVD players, fresh coffee service and tea honor bar selections. The cottages are perfect for family getaways, with fully-furnished kitchens and a separate living room with fireplace. The resort will even arrange for groceries to be conveniently delivered right to the front door before or during the stay.

Alderbrook Kayaks on Dock

Alderbrook Kayaks on Dock

The Restaurant and Bar at Alderbrook features fresh local seafood and regionally-inspired cuisine with an extensive wine list. During the summer months, the outdoor Patio Café has nightly live music to accompany its savory bar and menu selections.

With all Alderbrook Resort and Spa has to offer, this haven on the shores of the Hood Canal is sure to be a family favorite for generations.

Brasstown Valley Resort & SpaYoung Harris, Georgia

Brasstown Valley Golf Course

Brasstown Valley Golf Course

Tucked in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest lies Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, a picturesque mountain retreat in the North Georgia Mountains. The surrounding hemlock and mixed oak-pine forests make this resort a secluded refuge for the whole family. Go horseback riding on a guided mountain trail, hike through the tranquil forests or meandering trout streams, play a round of golf on the 18-hole championship golf course, or relax at the 7,500-square-foot Equani Spa. There is also tennis, outdoor and indoor heated swimming pool with Jacuzzi, fitness center, rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, water sports on Lake Chatuge, and more.

Brasstown Valley Resort Horses

Brasstown Valley Resort Horses

Children ages 5 – 12 will love the Mountaineer’s Club with its camp-like programming. The full-day and half-day programs combine entertainment and education with guided wildlife hikes, swimming, puppet making, arts and crafts, games, and more. The resort also offers pony rides at the stables.

Brasstown Valley Resort Rustic Decor

Brasstown Valley Resort Rustic Decor

The lobby’s massive stone fireplace and oak-vaulted ceilings set an inviting tone to the guest room accommodations. All lodge, cottage and suite rooms feature stunning vistas and include wireless internet access, unlimited local phone calls, fitness center usage with steam/sauna, access and equipment usage for on-site bass fishing pond, unlimited hours of lighted tennis with complementary equipment usage, daily newspaper and in-room coffee. The cozy cottages are nestled in the woods, and are ideal for families or those seeking additional privacy and seclusion.

Brasstown Valley Resort Ducks

Brasstown Valley Resort Ducks

Dining at the resort offers a variety of seasonal local dishes with friendly service in an inviting setting. Known for its picturesque mountain views, the resort’s Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is famous for its Friday Evening Seafood Buffets and Sunday brunches. Brassies Grill (found at the 19th hole) prepares a more casual fare of sandwiches, salads, generously-sized burgers, and more. While there, play darts, shoot pool, or watch the game on the big-screen TV.

Surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa is a lovely mountain retreat the whole family will enjoy.

Dunton Hot SpringsDolores, Colorado

Dunton Hot Springs Bath House Rear

Dunton Hot Springs Bath House Rear

Set in a romantic ghost town deep in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs Resort entices families with its rustic charm and stunning alpine views. It is a luxurious throw back to a simpler time where the grandeur of nature played a more prominent role in daily life.

Dunton Hot Springs Bathhouse Outside

Dunton Hot Springs Bathhouse Outside

Hand-hewn log cabins (some dating back to the 1800s) nestle in the lush valley, encircling the Saloon and Dance Hall. Each of the attractively furnished and decorated cabins exhibits a distinct character and boasts spectacular views of the mountains and surrounding meadows. Several of the cabins sleep four and six people, and are perfect for families. The largest cabin – Potter House – sleeps up to 10. There is high speed wireless internet access in every cabin and video conferencing in the dance hall as well.

Dunton Hot Springs Horse Riding

Dunton Hot Springs Horse Riding

There are wonderful recreational opportunities at Dunton Hot Springs. In the warmer months, go hiking or biking through the wilderness trails, horseback riding in the Rockies, fly fishing in the private waters of the Dolores River, river rafting and more. Winter activities offer groomed cross-country ski trails or snowshoeing through the surrounding meadows, dog-sledding, ice skating, hiking, winter horseback riding, and more. There is even a spa waiting to soothe the effects of day’s adventures.

Dunton Hot Springs Major Ross

Dunton Hot Springs Major Ross Cabin

The signature hot springs with their rich minerals provide countless benefits to mind and body. Ranging in temperature from 85°F to 106°F, there are six that can be enjoyed year-round on the property: inside the restored 19th century Bathhouse, under the stars at the source, in the pool outside the Bathhouse, in the pool behind the Dunton Store cabin, inside Well House cabin, and out on the river (Christoph’s spring).

Served at the Saloon – with its decorative embossed tin ceilings and long antique wood table – mealtimes are a warm and lively event for gathering throughout the day and recounting adventures. The deliciously prepared cuisine is made from local organic foods, many of which are grown on the resort’s own farm and vineyard. All meals and beverages (alcohol & non-alcohol, with exception of the Reserve List) are included in the rates.

Dunton Hot Springs Saloon Exterior

Dunton Hot Springs Saloon Exterior

With its exquisite details and overall charm, Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado is certain to be a memorable experience for families to treasure…

Hyatt Regency Lake TahoeIncline Village, Nevada

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Pool

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Pool

The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe has beguiled visitors with its serene waters for decades. The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Casino and Spa is a glorious mountain escape that optimizes this breathtaking location with its outstanding features for the whole family.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Bask on the shores of the private lakeside beach. Take a dip in the year-round heated pool or hot tubs. Go fishing, kayaking, or water skiing on the lake. Hike or bike along miles of scenic trails, play local golf or tennis, roast smores by the cozy fire pit, relax at the Stillwater Spa, workout at the fitness center, or try your luck at the casino. There is skiing in winter at the nearby ski resorts, along with many local points of interest for families to explore.

Children ages 5-12 can join Camp Hyatt where the exciting year-round program helps them discover the culture and environment through supervised activities that teach kids about wildlife, history and geography in a safe and cheerful setting.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe View from Lake

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe View from Lake

The newly renovated guestrooms and private lakeside cottages feature 37″ flat-screen televisions with video on-demand and cable/satellite TV channels, dual line phones, high-speed wireless internet access, in-room safes, morning newspaper, coffee makers, iHome stereo with iPod® docking stations, and views of the high Sierras, pool, or gardens. The spacious cottages come with a porch/balcony, kitchenette, and separate living and dining areas. Cribs are available on request.

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Guest Room

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Guest Room

The several restaurant options offer a delicious fare of gourmet and casual dining. Step back into the Wild West for a hearty selection of burgers, ribs, pizza and more at Cutthroat’s Saloon. Savor casual American cuisine at the cozy Sierra Café with its gorgeous forest and mountainside views. Indulge in the award-winning Lone Eagle Grille with mouth-watering seasonal menus, boasting fresh local ingredients. Or order room service for in-room private dining.

With its fantastic accommodations, recreation and amenities, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Casino and Spa is an unforgettable getaway in the Sierra Mountain Range that the whole family will enjoy…

Paradise LodgeMedford, Oregon

Paradise Lodge Patio View

Paradise Lodge Patio View

Nestled in the dense Oregon Forests among the fragrant evergreens of Douglas-fir, western hemlock and spruce, Paradise Lodge sits on the edge of the Lower Rogue River – an inviting hideaway for families to escape to the tranquility of nature. Originally homesteaded in 1903, Paradise Lodge is one of a few genuine remaining wilderness lodges in the United States.

Paradise Lodge Lower Rogue River Waterfall

Paradise Lodge Lower Rogue River Waterfall

Located on the Wild and Scenic section of the Lower Rogue River and accessible by river, hiking or air, Paradise Lodge is a perfect location for a quiet retreat or an exciting adventure. Go hiking along the famous Rogue River Trail or up to Deek’s Peak. Take a refreshing dip in the Paradise Creek swimming hole. Enjoy rafting or jet boating. Fish for salmon and steelhead (bring your own gear). Drive golf balls, play horseshoes, volleyball or visit the Rogue Museum. Roam the tranquil grounds with tended gardens, or simply contemplate the pristine wilderness on the deck overlooking the beautiful Rogue River.

Paradise Lodge Guest Room

Paradise Lodge Guest Room

The accommodations at Paradise Lodge boast spectacular views of the Rogue River, and range from river view rooms to larger multi-room cabins for families. There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms which help families reconnect more fully with nature and each other. Scheduled meals are included in the rates, and feature delicious buffet-style family cuisine with fruits and vegetables from their own gardens and orchards. A variety of beer and wine from Oregon’s award winning wineries and breweries is available as well. Packed lunches can be taken along excursions.

Ensconced in the verdant forests that house this secret hideaway, Paradise Lodge is a wonderful venue for families to enjoy a trip of a lifetime.

The Resort at Paws Up – Greenough, Montana

The Resort at Paws Up Blackfoot River

The Resort at Paws Up Blackfoot River

There is a reason why the great state of Montana is nicknamed “The Last Best Place.” This land of mountain ranges and endless skies has a rugged beauty of its own. Located about 30 minutes Northeast of Missoula Montana, The Resort at Paws Up captures its natural charm exquisitely. This premier luxury ranch resort offers the best in service, accommodations and recreation for the whole family.

The Resort at Paws Up Blackfoot River

Kids playing on the Blackfoot River

A vast array of wilderness adventures entice outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. With 37,000 acres of resort, 100 miles of trails, 10 miles of the Blackfoot River and 1.5-million acres of the nearby Bob Marshall Wilderness, there is something for everyone. Go horseback riding, fly-fishing, ATV touring, hiking, swimming, boating, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, and so much more. Workout at the fitness center, unwind at the spa, or play a game of horseshoes, volleyball, basketball, and more. Winter activities include dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, tubing, private indoor equestrian lessons and ice skating.

The Resort at Paws Up Horse Riding

The Resort at Paws Up Horse Riding

There are many age-appropriate activities to enthrall kids of all ages. The Paws Up “Kids Corps of Discovery” offers daily full and half-day programs for children ages 5 to 12 and includes exciting organized, themed activities, crafts, and excursions they will love. From pony rides and wrangler activities, to visiting a petting zoo and ghost town, to nature hikes, scavenger hunts and so much more, the experiences and appreciation children gain will last a lifetime.

The Resort at Paws Up Glamping Tent

The Resort at Paws Up Glamping Tent

Accommodations at Paws Up are rich in comfort and convenience. Although the vacation homes are well-appointed and luxurious in every detail, the resort’s famed “glamping” takes luxury camping to a whole new level of opulence. These tented sanctuaries feature one or two-bedroom tents with bathrooms, electricity, heated floors, sumptuous amenities and stunning views amid the majesty of nature itself. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the resort rates, along with DVD rentals and wireless internet access and much more.

The Resort at Paws Up Luxury Accomodations

The Resort at Paws Up Luxury Accomodations

The Resort at Paws Up seizes the best of Montana’s pristine beauty, making it a top choice for families to reunite and make wonderful memories together.

River Dance LodgeKooskia, Idaho

Chad Case - River Dance Lodge

Chad Case - River Dance Lodge

Sitting on the banks of the Clearwater River at the edge of the wilderness in Kooskia, Idaho, River Dance Lodge awaits. This guest ranch features all-inclusive vacation packages (meals, activities and lodging) for families with adventures that highlight the best of each season.

Embark on exciting outdoor adventures including horseback riding, rafting, kayaking, biking, fly fishing, hiking and more. Retrace a portion of the historic Lewis & Clark Trail. Relax on the sandy beach or take a dip in the water while the children play. With the forested mountains, rivers and trails, there is much to explore at your own pace, or on a guided adventure.

Chad Case - River Dance Lodge Rafting

Chad Case - River Dance Lodge Rafting

The hand-crafted custom log cabins are 2 – 3 bedrooms with a hot tub and expansive front deck that showcases spectacular views of the river and surrounding mountains. Each handsomely decorated cabin features Douglas fir floors and a gas fireplace that radiates cozy warmth. Although all meals are included, each cabin has a small refrigerator, microwave, toaster and coffee pot and outdoor grill. There are no phones or televisions in cabins, although wireless internet access and a public computer is available in the restaurant. Daily maid service is provided as desired.

Chad Case - River Dance Lodge Swimming

Chad Case - River Dance Lodge Swimming

River Dance Lodge’s own Syringa Café delights guests with delicious Mediterranean and American cuisine. Four-course meals are served family style, and include classics such as Beef Bourguignon, Eggplant Parmesan and Creme Brulee, to Northwest specialties such as wild Alaska salmon, mushroom and hazelnut pasta, and freshly baked fruit pies. Boxed lunches are also available to take along on excursions.

The all-inclusive packages at River Dance Lodge can be custom tailored for families and friends. And the wonderful memories made will last a lifetime.

Stonewater Cove Resort and ClubShell Knob, Missouri

Stonewater Cove Resort Luxury Lodges

Stonewater Cove Resort Luxury Lodges

The luxurious Stonewater Cove Resort and Club is found in the Mark Twain National Forest along the shores of Table Rock Lake, and is a 500-acre haven in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri.

This luxury resort is all-inclusive of meals and many activities, and offers lots of exciting adventures for families. Go canoeing or kayaking on the emerald-blue waters of the lake. Mountain bike or hike through the hand-carved trails of the fragrant forest. Take a dip in the swimming pool or hot tub. Embark on a guided ranger tour, ATV ride, fishing excursion or helicopter tour. Practice clay shooting or archery. Indulge in a relaxing spa treatment, or simply revel in the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding wilderness.

Stonewater Cove Resort Elegant Suites

Stonewater Cove Resort Elegant Suites

The accommodations and dining at Stonewater Cove are superb. Intricate wood details and rich fabrics lend a rustic elegance to the luxury rooms and 1-3 bedroom suites. All feature private decks with stunning views of the wooded shoreline, rainfall showers and luxurious bubble tubs for soaking in the bathrooms, flat screen televisions with satellite cable, complimentary wireless internet, and coffees and teas. The dining selections offer a delicious array for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Lunches can be boxed to take along excursions as well.

Stonewater Cove Resort along Table Rock Lake

Stonewater Cove Resort along Table Rock Lake

The beauty of this secluded forest retreat, and the many recreational opportunities for exploring, make Stonewater Cove Resort and Club one of our top 10 picks for nature getaways the whole family will appreciate.

Suncadia ResortCle Elum, Washington

Suncadia Resort Sign - Washington

Suncadia Resort Sign - Washington

Gracing the banks of the Cle Elum River corridor on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains, Suncadia Resort rests among the sweet ponderosa pine. This luxury all season Washington State mountain resort is a hidden playground for the whole family.

Families will find plenty to do on the forested mountain landscape with meadows and rushing rivers. There are miles of scenic hiking and biking trails on the property and adjacent Wenatchee National Forest, 36 holes of mountain golf, fishing, boating, kayaking, horseback riding, 3 swimming pools (indoor, outdoor, and children’s wading pool), whirlpool, freshwater lake, amphitheater for outdoor concerts and cinema, basketball and tennis courts, park, world-class spa, fitness center, nature programs, fine dining, cafes, shopping and more. Winter also brings ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tubing, sledding and more.

Suncadia Resort Washington

Suncadia Resort Washington

For children ages 4 – 12, CampCadia features lots of age-appropriate themed activities, crafts and field trips that will delight children under the caring supervision of the counselors. The full day, half day, and evening programs include meals and snacks. There is portable Frisbee/disc golf, Geo caching and GPS Scavenger Hunts, guided hiking and biking tours, photo scavenger hunts, storytelling and S’mores, Memories in the Making (arts and crafts series), park, dual waterslides, children’s wading pool and more.

Suncadia Resort Luxury Rooms

Suncadia Resort Luxury Rooms

The clean, streamlined décor of Suncadia’s rooms radiates the warmth of the Pacific Northwest. Most of the resort accommodations include custom furnishings, gas fireplaces, private balconies with rocking chairs and lovely views, deep soaking tubs, high-speed Internet access (wired and wireless), entertainment system with LCD television, telephone with voice mail, in-room coffee service, and more. The fully-furnished, custom-built vacation rental homes offer a more cloistered retreat, and are equipped with the basic toiletries and supplies for a first night’s stay.

Suncadia Resort in Washington is another exclusive getaway where families can build lasting memories in the beautiful outdoors together.

Tenaya Lodge at YosemiteFish Camp, California

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite - Pool Exterior at Dawn

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite - Pool Exterior at Dawn

Resting on 35 acres by the Sierra National Forest and the south side of Yosemite National Park, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a lovely mountain escape for families. This inviting retreat is surrounded by noble evergreens and perfectly situated to offer a myriad of recreational opportunities for every season.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite - Guided Hike

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite - Guided Hike

The full-service concierge is helpful in planning guided activities that make the most of this region’s natural treasures. There are hiking and mountain bike trails traversing the surrounding forest; horseback riding, fly fishing, river rafting, and guided Yosemite park tours. Winter brings snowshoe hikes, ice skating, sledding, kids snowmobiling, and horse-drawn sleigh rides. The indoor and outdoor heated pools and hot tubs are a year-round delight. There is also a fitness center, spa, and variety of dining options with fresh regional cuisine to satisfy discriminating palates.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite - Kids Adventure Club Archery

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite - Kids Adventure Club Archery

The Adventure Club for kids ages 4-12 offers exciting outdoor activities such as rock wall climbing and archery during the summer, and sledding and ice skating during the winter, under the guidance of trained counselors. Parents who want a night out alone can take their children ages 4-12 to the Kids Camp where they will be regaled with a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment and activities including arts and crafts, movies, video and board games, and more. Childcare services are also available for infants and children up to 12 years of age upon request.

The room accommodations at Tenaya Lodge are warm and inviting with an elegant décor in soothing earth tones. Included are the luxurious down bedding for a cozy night’s sleep, high-speed internet access, cable TV with a Nintendo Game System and On-Demand movies, coffee maker, refrigerator, in-room safe, complimentary newspaper, and more. Families will love the seclusion offered by the charming cottages tucked among the tall evergreens. With fireplaces, private balconies, refrigerators, microwaves, televisions and more, these retreats offer all the comforts of home while away.

With its proximity to Yosemite National Park and its year-round recreation, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a fabulous destination for families seeking a comfortable rendezvous with the great outdoors.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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