New England chock full of fun for families

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BOSTON -- Beaches and lakes, small towns and historical sites top the list of locales for family vacations this summer, according to a poll by the Travel Industry Association of America.

If those features don't shout New England, what does?

The region has them all -- and its geography makes it possible to see the elegant strands of Massachusetts' Cape Cod, the rugged White Mountains of New Hampshire and the bucolic dairy farms and white-steepled churches of Vermont all in one long weekend.

A walk in Boston

Boston is the quintessential walking city. Its Children's Museum, historical waterfront, aquarium, Freedom Trail, Fenway Park and green spaces (including the Public Garden with its famous Swan Boats) make it a fail-safe family destination.

The Millennium Bostonian Hotel, in the heart of Boston's Quincy Market, offers a walking package through Sept. 2 that includes deluxe accommodations, a pop-up map of the city and a disposable camera. The deal runs around $199 per room, per night.

The Bostonian Kids package -- also available through Sept. 2 -- showcases the city's most popular family attractions, with all-day passes to the New England Aquarium, Imax theater, the Museum of Science and the Children's Museum.

The package, priced at $239 per family, per night, includes breakfast for two adults and two children and cookies and milk. The hotel pays 10% commission.

The Berkshires

The Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, combines rural places, empty spaces and cultural attractions like the Jacob's Pillow Dance Center and the Norman Rockwell Museum.

The rolling lawns of Eastover Resort in Lennox beg to be played and tumbled on, and children do just that while their parents relax.

The buffalo herd at the thousand-acre resort is the focus of the popular "safari ride"; other family activities include nature hikes, indoor/outdoor pool games, archery and tennis lessons for parents and children.

Eastover recently raised its commission to 15%. Rates, which include all meals, begin around $100 per adult, per night. Children's rates are $75 for ages 8 to 12 and around $50 for ages 3 to 7. Children under 3 stay free. Four-night packages are available.

Cape Cod

From hills to beaches, the Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, Mass., sits on a bluff overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

The Victorian mansion -- spread over 400 acres with six swimming pools, a golf course and tennis courts -- offers kids programs featuring themes like Pirates Adventure, African Safari or It's a Bug's Life.

The front lawn of Ocean Edge Resort, above, is perfect for family activities, such as playing croquet. Parents can have evenings to themselves while their kids are entertained by Ocean Edge's baby-sitting service.

Ocean Edge pays 10% commission; rates are seasonal. The two-night Spirit package is priced at $899 for a junior suite, and the Linger package is $1,495 for four nights in a two-bedroom villa. Packages include bike rentals and free tickets to area attractions.

Vermont

The stately colonial Equinox in Manchester Village is a sprawling affair. The property includes one of the more unusual family options: a falconry program for ages 12 and older.

The property pays 10% on rooms ranging from $199 for a standard single to $899 for the Royal Coachman Suite. The two-night family package includes breakfast and box lunch daily, milk and cookies, ski passes and a junior off-road introductory lesson.

The nearby Vermont Institute of Natural Science offers family programs, as does the Dorset Theatre for kids. Meanwhile, Smugglers' Notch has been recognized as having exceptional, year-round family programs.

The picturesque alpine resort village offers packaged vacations; all add-on options booked prior to arrival are commissionable at 10%. Summer rates begin at $1,875 per week for a family of four in a one-bedroom condo.

New Hampshire

The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort in Bretton Woods was made famous by the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, where the International Monetary Fund was created.

Prices range from $210 to $495, double. Kids under 4 stay free; ages 5 to 12, $35. A family suite is about $370 per night.

The King of the Mountain Kids Kamp, which offers a range of creative adventures from cooking classes to hiking and golf, is highlighted through Labor Day.

Baby-sitting is available, as are evening programs for kids so parents can dine quietly.

Mount Washington pays 10% commission and offers 20% discounts on room rates for agents.

Agents should tell clients not to miss the ride up Mount Washington on the cog railroad.

Maine

Maine caters to clients seeking "alternative" vacations.

The Birches on the shores of Moosehead Lake is an 11,000-acre preserve that offers easy access to its guided Wilderness Expeditions program.

Fifteen furnished log cabins offer families an old-fashioned vacation -- and clients can bring their pets.

Activities include guided kayaking ecotours, white-water rafting, a ropes course, hiking and floatplane adventures. Peak season rates for four-bedroom cabins are $235; off peak, $185. Commission is 10%.

Kaleel Sakakeeny covers family travel for Travel Weekly.

Book it: Family-friendly resorts in New England

Birches
Phone: (800) 825-9453
Web:www.birches.com

Eastover Resort
Phone: (800) 822-2386
Web:www.eastover.com

Equinox
Phone: (800) 362-4700
Web:www.equinoxresort.com

Millennium Bostonian Hotel
Phone: (866) 866-8086
Web:www.millennium-hotels.com/boston

Mount Washington Hotel and Resort
Phone: (800) 258-0330
Web:www.mtwashington.com

Ocean Edge Resort
Phone: (800) 343-6074
Web:www.oceanedge.com

Smugglers' Notch
Phone: (800) 451/8752.
Web:www.smuggs.com

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