Published: May 2010SMART TRAVELER
Classic Summer Lodges
North American Resorts
The lake is a major attraction at Fair Hills Resort in Minnesota.
By Margaret Loftus
Photo by Perry Hanson

Ten North American family resorts made for reconnecting.

Many families have reordered priorities in recent years. And when it comes to the annual rite of summer vacation, they're not necessarily spending less, but they are eschewing ostentatious luxuries and opting for simpler pleasures such as lakeside cabins, family-style dining, and impromptu games of flashlight tag. We found ten old-school resorts (at a range of price points) that fit the bill, where lazy days and quiet nights are spent reconnecting face-to-face, rather than through Facebook status reports. (Rates quoted here are for a family of four for seven nights in the summer. Check individual websites for specifics.)

Northwoods Gem

Alpine Resort Set in far northern Wisconsin on a pristine lake amid towering white pines, this down-home resort, with its collection of circa 1920s log cabins complete with knotty pine interiors, is a real throwback. These days, owners Kim and Tim Bowler and their ten-year-old daughter, Cameil, host angling lessons off the dock and stargazing around the campfire (look for the northern lights). It can be quiet in the North Woods. "The only sounds you hear in the morning are the loons," notes Kim. For some, that's exactly the type of alarm clock they want. Located in Presque Isle, Wisconsin; from $1,703, including two daily meals and activities; www.alpine-resort.com.

Out of Lake Wobegon

Fair Hills Resort With sandcastle contests, smorgasbord night, and family bingo, this classic northern Minnesota lodge is right out of Garrison Keillor's fictitious Lake Wobegon. Families can choose from a slew of activities—volleyball, tennis, sailing, swimming—laze by the lake, or rehearse for their star turn at the weekly "Hootenanny" talent show. The family-run resort prides itself on its myriad "lifers," guests who've been vacationing here since they were tots. This year, ten of them will celebrate their 50th visit, gratis. Located in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota; from $2,862, including meals and activities; www.fairhillsresort.com.

Northern California, Unplugged

Gray Eagle Lodge Once they find Gray Eagle Lodge off a two-lane road, most guests have little use for their cars. Days here are spent on foot, hiking to alpine lakes in the Sierras (cabins come equipped with day packs) or going for a dip in the swimming hole fed by a 15-foot waterfall. "There are no planned activities," explains Tracy Morris, who has taken her children here for years, "unless you count the evening marshmallow toastings around the fire pit or the games of flashlight tag planned by kids who have never met before but have become fast friends." Located in Lakes Basin, California; from $2,450, including two daily meals; www.grayeaglelodge.com.

Authentic Adirondacks

The Hedges This summer escape has traded hands just a few times since the 1880s. Along the way improvements have been made—including upgrading the plumbing—to accommodate guests, many of whom have been returning for decades. The current owners have restored the camp to its original Adirondack-style glory, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in Blue Mountain Lake, New York; from $1,960, including two daily meals and activities; www.thehedges.com.

Continue »
email a friend iconprinter friendly icon   |