Are your kids too young to be stocking up on notebooks, pocket folders, and No. 2 pencils? Then maybe you should consider shopping for a vacation instead. For families with toddlers and preschoolers, September is one of the best times of the year to grab a getaway at a top family resort.
If you’re looking for bang for your buck, the back-to-school season has always made sense. When big kids clear out and prices come down, it’s easier to land not only a room but a super deal. So what’s new? The way that big-name resorts are promoting September as a time for preschoolers—not only by lowering prices, but by creating special events and activities just for wee ones. Here’s a sampling of destinations rolling out the red carpet for the under-five crowd in September:
Where: Orlando, Fla.Why: Because hotel prices plummet to their lowest during Disney’s “value season,” while a new program called delivers an entertainment line-up that’s even more munchkin-targeted than usual. In addition to Playhouse Disney concerts, you can take advantage of Little Ones Magic Hours on selected mornings to gain early entry into Fantasyland, home of the ever-popular Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride and other attractions for small fries.
Where: Orlando, Fla.Why: Because September is “Nick Jr. Month” at the hugely popular Nick Hotel (see ). The daily activity schedule includes all the preschooler faves, from arts and crafts and scavenger hunts to character parties with Dora the Explorer, the Backyardigans, and other beloved stars. Nightly room rates start at $149, about a third less than what you’d pay during the summer high season.
Where: Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Why: Because this exceptionally kid-friendly resort (see ) is at its most divine when crowds are gone but the ocean water is still warm. The “Pre-School Suite Spot” special, which runs from Sept. 3 to 23, lets families save a whopping 50 percent off summer rates. A great list of complimentary perks makes this resort a stand-out. For starters: Free bike rentals, guided “stroller mamas” walks to Edgartown, and a five-days-a-week parent-and-toddler activity program.
Where: Runaway Bay, Jamaica Why: Because this resort understands that what parents of toddlers and preschoolers need most when they travel is an extra pair of hands. Even better when those hands belong to your very own “vacation nanny” (see ), who is assigned to help care for your children during your stay. Spend seven nights here between Sept. 4 and Nov. 15, and you can also snag free airfare with the “Fall Family Fly Free” promotion.
Where: Jeffersonville, Vermont Why: Because this award-winning family ski resort (see ) offers fantastic active vacations year-round. From Sept. 3 to Oct. 8, the “Fall AutumnFest” package allows families with small children to get in a good mix of family time and adults-only time, thanks to an exceptional children’s program (infants through 5-year-olds), a nice roster of adults-only hikes and walks, and many family-together activities. Pay for three nights and get a fourth night for free.
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