With both of us working full time while trying to keep up with the ruminations and daily activity level of our 3-year old, we tend to look for the laziest vacations possible -– which by our definition means the beach. After 3 years of traveling with our daughter, we have it down to a science.
Now, not every family looks for the same thing in a beach vacation –- our family definitely has champagne tastes on a beer budget. We also try to avoid crowds (or, in my husband’s case, any human contact whatsoever). So we tend to travel off-season, when we can get low rates at hotels we otherwise couldn’t afford. Admittedly, this is much easier to do since we don’t yet need to work around school schedules — though I like to think my daughter will get into Harvard even if she misses a week of second grade … and our vacation savings can go right into the college fund!
So we take our summer vacation in September and our spring break in February or May -– and we’ve been able to stay at some great places:
Kiawah Island, South Carolina: our favorite thus far. Kiawah Island is right outside Charleston, which is one of the most charming cities I’ve visited. And the island has a lot to offer families -– you can rent bikes and ride right on the beach, follow dolphins in a boat down the Kiawah River, and see baby alligators and other wildlife at the Nature Center. My husband enjoyed golfing the Ocean Course and I spent some much needed time at the spa. We went in mid-September –- it was still hot and we got a great off-season rate at The Sanctuary. And from Chicago, it was only a 1.5 hour flight –- bonus!
Amelia Island, Florida: a good alternative to your standard Florida beach –- this is outside of Jacksonville. We went in April and got off-season rates at the Ritz-Carlton, which had a great kids program, bonfires on the beach -– complete with s’mores and pirate stories — and a ‘Pirate Tuck In’ that my daughter loved.
San Juan, Puerto Rico: This was our way to test traveling internationally with our child, without leaving the states. We stayed about 45 minutes outside San Juan at El Conquistador, which is a huge hotel/villa complex on a cliff. It had stunning views, but you had to take a boat to a private island to enjoy the beach -– which would be great for older kids, but a pain with our then 1-year old. We stuck to the pool.
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Marie is a full-time working mom to Karis, her pony- and princess-loving 3-year-old.