Unwind on Washington's San Juan Island where there are as many wilderness activities as there are water sports. Book a cabin (or a few if you're with multiple families) at Snug Harbor Resort, where beautiful modern interiors meet the quiet shore. Fully equipped kitchens, an on-site coffee shop, and complimentary paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and bikes mean both leisure and adventure time are close at hand.
With the Flatiron Mountains at your doorstep, stay at Boulder's Chautauqua cabins for year-round hiking. (Bring appropriate footwear in winter.) The property is just two miles from downtown restaurants and shops, but with full kitchens and a restaurant and general store on the grounds your vacation can be mostly car-free.
It's hard to beat vacationing in a national park. Grab a trail map and book a suite in California's High Sierra at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp. Crowned the 2016 Sunset Travel Awards' Best Resort for Families, in addition to outdoor adventure access, the resort features five pools, seven restaurants, and an Evening Kids Camp so parents can take a break.
80 miles northwest Los Angeles, visit small town Ojai for a budget-friendly escape. Stay at the Ojai Rancho Inn, a roadside-motel-turned-boutique-lodging where kids will love the pool and parents will love the pool-house-turned-bar. Fresh produce abounds in this orchard town; dine at Farmer and The Cook and don't miss the Farmers Market every Sunday.
More: Where to find the prettiest sunsets in SoCal (forget the coast; Ojai does dusk best)
Wake up to sunrises over the Cascade mountains and the sound of crashing waves at the Boatyard Inn on Whidbey Island. Located in the tiny downtown of Langley, spacious accommodations include kitchens and are just blocks away from shops, coffeehouses, and dining options. It's an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts and you can explore the shoreside on foot or by kayak—or whale-watching boat! Don't miss the trails at The Whidbey Institute, or the spa at The Inn at Langley, just down the road.
Relax and warm up—any time of year—in Palm Springs. Explore the noteworthy neighborhood architecture, pick up a daily date shake, and trek out to Joshua Tree National Park for a nature experience that'll remind you of Dr. Seuss. Stay at the dog-friendly (and kid-friendly) Ace Hotel and Swim Club, where you can lounge by the pool and not feel bad about eating most meals at their Kings Highway restaurant. (It's that good.) There are bike rentals (try the tandem), though you may not want to leave the property.
In the enchanting wilderness (and on the hiking trails) of Washington's North Cascade mountains, a visit to Mazama will leave you craving small mountain-town life. Book a tent at Methow Tents (great for multiple families), or the neighboring Rolling Huts (especially in winter months). Stop by the Mazama Store to stock up on groceries and then to rent mountain bikes or check out trail maps.
For a beach vacation with the right mix of culture and recreation, visit California's Ventura County. Stay at the beachfront Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort (with pool, tennis courts, and a breakfast buffet), visit the San Buenaventura Mission, stroll the Ventura botanical gardens, and don't miss a day trip to the Channel Islands National Park (pictured) through the lovely Ventura Harbor.
Transformed and reopened in August 2016 by the folks behind the Ace Hotel Portland, The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse in the Deschutes National Forest offers the amenities of an urban hotel (food menus by Portland chef Joshua McFadden, a beer garden, a lobby cocktail bar, a grocery store) on 15 acres of wilderness—with rental boats, kayaks, canoes, and SUPs all right there. Stay in a camp cabin, or splurge on a spacious lodge room. Pets welcome.
Need to get the kids off-line and in nature? Book a cabin at Trinity Mountain Meadow Resort, a majestic off-the-grid escape that's only open 6 weeks each summer. Recharge on hiking trails bordering alpine lakes, or take a book to the poolside. Three meals a day are included in your stay. Childcare is available.