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Family resorts woo the preschool set

If your kids are too young to be going back to school, maybe you should consider a vacation instead — and September is perhaps the very best time of year to grab a getaway at a top family resort.
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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 preschoolers, September is perhaps the very best time of year to grab a getaway at a top family resort.

The back-to-school season has always delivered bang for your buck. When school kids clear out and prices come down, it’s easier to land not only a room but a super deal. What’s new is how big-name resorts are promoting September as a time for preschoolers—not only with lower prices, but with special events and activities created just for wee ones. Here’s a sampling of destinations rolling out the red carpet for the under-5 crowd in September:

Where: Four Caribbean locations Why: Because this chain of kid-friendly all-inclusive resorts (see ) is heaven for the preschool set, thanks to its partnership with Sesame Street, a super daycamp, and terrific waterplay areas. From September 1 to November 4, the delivers a line-up of special events, including live stage shows with Elmo, Gordon, and Abby Cadabby. Prices during this period are up to 50 percent less than in peak periods, plus families can get one free night when they stay five or six nights, or two free nights when they stay seven nights.

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 Nick-themed arts and crafts and scavenger hunts to character parties with Pablo from The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, and other beloved stars. Rates for a two-bedroom kids’ suite start at $104, less than half of what you’d pay during the summer high season. Plus, when you visit in September, your third night is free.

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 “September Toddler/Family Special Program,” which runs from September 1 to 14, lets families save 25 percent off late summer rates when they book a three- or four-night stay. A great list of complimentary perks makes this resort a stand-out. For starters: Free children’s program for the 3-and-up crowd, help-yourself bike rentals, fitness and yoga classes, and a parent-and-toddler activity program.

Where: Paradise Island, Bahamas Why: Because this extraordinary mega resort is offering a super , with four-day getaways starting at just $229. There’s also nothing not to like about a dining plan where kids under 6 eat free, or the supercool Aqua Tots fishfeeding program for kids 3 to 5.

Where: Jeffersonville, VermontWhy: Because this award-winning family ski resort (see ) offers fantastic active vacations year-round. From September 1 to October 13, 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 the fourth for free. is an authoritative online guide to family trip-planning. The site features reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, destination insider guides, vacation deals, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about resort specials and exclusive, money-saving offers.