Families living in the Boston area have a nice array of kid-friendly getaways within a day's drive, stretching from Maine to western Pennsylvania. These popular suggestions can all be reached in six hours or less, based on the estimated drive time from Mapquest.com.
Drive time: 59 mins.
The wildly popular Great Wolf Lodge chain of indoor water park resorts opened its first New England property in the Boston area in June 2014. At 68,000 square feet, the indoor water park is the largest in Massachusetts.
Drive time: 1 hr., 7 mins.
The most westerly region of Cape Cod—Bourne, Sandwich, Mashpee, Falmouth, and Woods Hole—make up the Upper Cape. Life is a bit sleepier here than on the Outer Cape. The beaches are a bit calmer and prices a bit lower, too, which combine to make this an ideal getaway with kids.
Drive time: 1 hr., 29 mins.
The Algonquin Indians named it Ogunquit, or “beautiful place by the sea.” A jewel along the southern Maine coast, the pretty village of Ogunquit delights families with a stunning coastal walk, wonderful beach, saltwater taffy, lobstering cruises, and lots of unpretentious family fun.
Drive time: 1 hr., 39 mins.
Easily accessible from Boston, the adorable seaside resort town of Kennebunkport is chock full of dyed-in-the-wool, old-timey Maine charm. Bringing the family? Hit the beach, sample salt-water taffy and lobster, and walk or bike to Walker's Point to ogle the family compound of President H.W. Bush. Put these and other kid-friendly activities at the top of your to-do list.
Drive time: 1 hr., 56 mins.
Route 112 in New Hampshire—a.k.a. "the ‘Kanc"—is a 35-mile scenic byway that's one of the country's premier fall foliage viewing routes. It takes you through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest and travels through two of the state's famous notches (known as gaps or passes in other parts of the country), climbing to just under 3,000 feet at its highest point.
Drive time: 2 hrs., 40 mins.
The upscale Winnetu resort on Martha's Vineyard is wonderfully family-friendly, offering spacious accommodations, family-friendly dining, babysitting, and children's activity programs for kids ages 3 to 12 as well as for teens.
Drive time: 2 hrs., 18 min.
For families looking for a relaxing Vermont getaway with a host of family activities, the Woodstock Inn & Resort is an excellent upscale choice. This four-season resort where family time means games and hikes, farm visits, and afternoon cookies and cider.
Drive time: 2 hrs., 42 min.
Set on the rocky midcoast of Maine about an hour's drive from Portland, Sebasco Harbor Resort has been offering authentic Maine getaways since 1930. Today this three-season resort manages to exude that stuck-in-yesteryear feel while offering an array of simple pleasures, from lobster bakes and canoeing to golf and spa treatments.
Drive time: 3 hrs., 16 mins.
Vermont is justifiably famous for its spectacular foliage season. Southern Vermont often gets overlooked as a foliage hub, but we heartily recommend a drive along Route 7, which cuts a gorgeous path north-south through charming towns such as Manchester and the rolling farmland of the Green Mountains.
Drive time: 3 hrs., 25 mins.
Rocking Horse Ranch is a popular, extremely kid-centric dude ranch in the hinterland of the Hudson Valley. Besides the usual ranch activities such as horseback riding (kids must be at least 7 years old) and hay rides, there's an enormous wagonload of other fun things to do, such as rock climbing, archery, swimming, tennis, and more.
Drive time: 3 hrs., 26 min.
The 251-room Mohonk Mountain House overlooks sprawling grounds containing a pristine lake, 85 miles of hiking trails, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, stables, and a grand lawn where families can watch movies in the open air. Kids ages 4 to 12 can participate in the award-winning children’s program that includes guided nature walks, animal tracking, and fossil hunts.
Drive time: 3 hrs., 43 mins.
For families looking for a lake getaway that's luxurious yet completely family-friendly, The Sagamore is a wonderful choice on spectacular Lake George in the foothills of New York's Adirondack Mountains.
Drive time: 3 hrs., 59 mins.
One of America's Best All-Inclusive Resorts, the 165-acre Tyler Place Family Resort pioneered all-inclusive pricing during the Great Depression and has been helping families create awesome summer family vacation memories ever since. With nine age-staggered groups from babies through teens, the children's program is simply unbeatable.
Drive time: 4 hrs., 10 mins.
For a fall foliage tour of rugged Maine, head to the Moosehead Lake Region for a spectacular drive underneath gorgeous tree canopies and along unpaved logging roads with peek-a-boo views of the water. Consider stopping at The Forks, a white-water-rafting hub, and at the Attean Overlook for an incredible view of the Moose River Valley that stretches all the way to the Canadian border.
Drive time: 4 hrs., 27 mins.
The oh-so-grand Skytop Lodge in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains has been welcoming families since 1928. There's a huge choice of activities, including zip-lining, kayaking, archery, tennis, boating, biking, rock climbing, and hiking, plus an excellent supervised children’s program, and golfers get a bonus that’s virtually unheard of: unlimited greens fees.
Drive time: 4 hrs., 32 mins.
Not quite a vacation rental, but not quite a hotel, Harborview Nantucket is comprised of 11 impeccably designed luxury cottages that frame a green lawn beside a boat-filled harbor cove in Nantucket. The property is a wonderful oasis in this bustling little town, and it would make a super home base for multi-generational gatherings or reunions.
Drive time: 4 hrs., 38 mins.
One of America's best national park vacations with kids, Acadia is set on the rugged coast of Maine. The park is home to myriad plants and animals, as well as the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the coastal scenery.
Drive time: 4 hrs., 52 mins.
For families looking for a mountain getaway that's luxurious yet completely family-friendly, the all-suite Whiteface Lodge is a fabulous choice in the gorgeous Adirondacks of Upstate New York.
Drive time: 6 hrs., 0 mins.
Talk about sweet. Hershey is a town where lampposts are shaped like Hershey's Kisses and the pervasive candy theme is, well, just chocolate icing on the cake. The big draw is Hersheypark, whose impressive array of roller coasters make it one of the best theme parks on the East Coast.