All In One: Resort Vacations for Families in the Time of COVID
A round-up of family-friendly destinations
Remember when planning a summer vacation involved just a few simple decisions? Beach or mountains? Camping or hotel? Air travel or road trip? Now families need to research COVID-19 protocols, outdoor activities, and dining and transportation options before they commit to a trip.
We’ve taken some of the guesswork out of it for you and compiled a round-up of vacation destinations for the whole family in this season of COVID. The following resorts welcome families, have safety guidelines in place, and nearby outdoor excursions:
Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock, NC
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Chetola Resort caters to families who love the outdoors. Activities include archery, fly fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, pickleball, and tennis. Parents have access to a shooting preserve with Italian shotguns. The fitness center is open to one family at a time while COVID-19 protocols are in place. Sign up kids ages 4-12 for Camp Chetola during the summer; they’ll hike, swim, and enjoy outdoor play. In the evenings, relax by the resort’s bonfire or book a private one for just your family.
Accommodations: One- to four-bedroom condos and lodge rooms with king, queen, and doubles are available. Order family-style meals from Timberlake’s Restaurant to eat on your own schedule. You’re free to bring the family dog along too; the first floor lodge rooms are pet-friendly.
Nearby activities: Walk the mile-high swinging bridge or book a private, behind-the-scenes animal encounter at Grandfather Mountain. Visit The Blowing Rock and Tweetsie Railroad. Cool off in Linville Caverns, a one-hour drive away, or hike the trails in Moses Cone Memorial Park, which backs up to Chetola.
COVID safety protocols: https://chetola.com/wp-content/uploads/Chetola-Responsibly_Promise_November19.pdf
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa, Pigeon Forge, TN
Stay at the DreamMoreResort and Spa and fill your days at Camp DW. The staff plans arts and crafts, pool parties, storytelling, and more. Each night, families can make complimentary s’mores around the fire pit. This vacation includes on-site and in-room dining, TimeSavers for guests with Dollywood tickets, and complimentary trolley service to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.
Accommodations: There are rooms with king-size beds, twin bunk beds, sleeper sofas, and separate sleeping quarters.
Nearby activities: Hit up the Comedy Barn Theater, Dollywood Theme Park, and Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, or go off-road with Smoky Mountains Pink® Jeep® Tours or hit the trail at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
COVID safety protocols: https://www.dollywood.com/PlaySafe#resort-ps
Holiday Inn Resort, Jekyll Island, GA
Settle in for the week at this Holiday Inn Resort. The beach is steps away from the hotel, and the pool overlooks the ocean. Ditch your car and bike or walk the trails along the island and explore the restaurants, cafés, and shopping. The Beach House and The Anchor provide meal options on property, and families can enjoy s’mores at one of the two firepits on cool evenings.
Accommodations: Families have a few options here: oceanfront suites, kid’s suites, and oversized oceanfront guestrooms. Some rooms have bunk beds, full refrigerators, cooktops, and other amenities.
Nearby activities: Spend days on the beach and evenings biking the 20 miles of paved trails through woods and historic areas. Learn about sea turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Rehabilitation Hospital in the Jekyll Island Historic District, or visit Mosaic, a museum that teaches you all about the island’s history.
COVID safety protocols: https://www.ihg.com/content/us/en/customer-care/clean-promise
Hot Springs Spa and Resort, Hot Springs, NC
Go camping on the banks of the French Broad River at the campground across from the resort. Schedule a soak in mineral water from the hot springs on the property; tubs sit along a creek, each with a private cabana.
Accommodations: Primitive, deluxe, and RV campsites have access to a bathhouse. Rustic cabins with bathrooms, electricity, and kitchens sleep two to eight people. For a more luxurious experience, rent a suite or vacation rental on the property.
Nearby activities: Hike Laurel River Trail, Dudley Falls and Paint Creek Corridor or Lover’s Leap Loop Trail and Appalachian Trail Loop. Horseback ride with Sandy Bottom Trail Rides. Raft or tube down the river with Hot Springs Rafting Company.
COVID safety protocols: https://www.nchotsprings.com/important-information-policies/
Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, VA
Float down the lazy river, swim in the indoor or outdoor pool, play tennis and pickleball on one of 15 courts, and enjoy golf on the two 18-hole courses. Walk or bike on miles of paved trails through the 300-acre Kingsmill community. Grab a drink at a poolside bar or have your meals at three on-site dining locations.
Accommodations: The resort has a mix of condos, cottages, guest rooms, and vacation homes; ask about the pet-friendly rooms.
Nearby activities: Take a deep dive into our nation’s history with visits to Yorktown Battlefield at Colonial National Historical Park, Colonial Williamsburg, and Historic Jamestowne. Golf, kayak, zipline or take a sightseeing tour of the Chesapeake Bay aboard a tall ship. Spend a day at Busch Gardens or ride bikes along the 52-mile Virginia Capital Trail that connects Jamestown and Richmond.
COVID safety precautions: https://www.kingsmill.com/welcome-back/
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, Ponte Vedra, FL
Play bocce ball and croquet, swim in four pools, skid down waterslides, play tennis, or get in a round of golf at one of two 18-hole courses. Swim in the ocean and relax on the beach. Rent beach bicycles, kayaks, and paddleboards for exploring. Kids have a playground in the sand and various on-site children’s activities.
Accommodations: Book a guest room or suite with a kitchenette and a view of the ocean or the golf course. Ten onsite restaurants offer options for casual, beachside, and formal dining.
Nearby activities: Explore St. Augustine’s historic sights, coffee shops, and restaurants–it’s the oldest city in the U.S. The Lightner Museum has an eclectic collection of glass, paintings, and sculptures in the former Alcazar Hotel. Parents can go for a tasting at St. Augustine’s Distilling Co. Golf fans can plan a trip around next year’s THE PLAYERS Championship at Sawgrass.
COVID safety protocols: https://www.pontevedra.com/covid-19
Please note: COVID-19 regulations may change the availability of activities and amenities at resorts. Ask for details when you call the resort.