Family vacation deals abound this summer, you just need to know where to look. (Psst ... we'll tell you).
By Christina Ohly Evans
Whether you're looking for a beach vacation or a country weekend getaway, these destinations offer the perfect mix of culture, nature, and great food-and all at relatively reasonable prices. There are great deals to be had virtually everywhere this summer (including some specifically for Cookie readers ), so ask about packages and specials, and don't be afraid to negotiate rates.By the Sea...
Prouts Neck, Maine
Just 20 minutes from the Portland airport, you'll find this beautiful peninsula with its scenic mile-and-a-half-long Cliff Walk hugging the rugged coastline. Stay at the grand Black Point Inn, where golf, tennis, biking, sailing, and Scarborough Beach State Park are all only steps away. Kids can stock up on penny candy at The Carry All (524 Black Point Road, 207-883-6372). Watch sunsets from the Inn's sprawling veranda, followed by lobster rolls and whoopie pies at the Lobster Shack at Two Lights in nearby Cape Elizabeth. The picnic tables, fried clams, and working lighthouse with foghorn make for down-east fun. Rainy-day option: Hit the Portland Children's Museum with its Water Works and Grasshopper Grocery interactive play areas.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Kids will love the pirate history of this quaint island, located just 40 minutes by ferry from Hatteras, North Carolina, at the southern tip of the Outer Banks. Sign up for pure kitsch-and spacious rooms-at Blackbeard's Lodge, where you'll be perfectly positioned for village visits, bicycle explorations to the Ocracoke lighthouse (360 Lighthouse Road), and spending days at the island's 16 miles of pristine beachers. Stroll along the Hammock Hills Nature Trail (4281 Irvin Garrish Highway) and see dunes, the salt marsh, and low maritime forests, before feasting on homemade crab cakes and amazing ice creams at the Cafe Atlantic (1129 Irvin Garrish Highway, 252-928-4861).
Los Angeles, California
Put any preconceived Disneyland ideas aside, and opt for a seaside L.A. break that is entertaining and easy to access (use your frequent-flyer miles here). With great hotel deals at both Shutters on the Beach (ask for the Ferris Wheel's Day Off package; Cookie readers get the fourth night half off) and the newly redone Oceana hotel (the Best of Santa Monica package includes surf lessons, a night of babysitting, and even more for Cookie readers ) just across Ocean Avenue, you can take advantage of the bustling Santa Monica Pier with its colorful Ferris wheel, as well as Virginia Avenue Park (2200 Virginia Avenue, 310-458-8688). Bigger kids will enjoy the climbing apparatus at Aidan's Place (1350 South Sepulveda Boulevard, Westwood, 818-988-5676) and everyone will devour the delicious breakfast treats-Niman Ranch maple-bacon biscuits, crostatas, and specialty croissants-from Huckleberry Bakery and Café (1014 Wilshire Boulevard, 310-451-2311). Other affordable foodie finds: Cafe Lula Cocina Mexicana (Mexican food), the Counter (burgers) (2901 Ocean Park Boulevard, 310-399-8383), and Rose Cafe & Market (breakfast & lunch) in Venice.
Want more deals? Check out the best of the deals for vacationing in the country...
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