Photo courtesy of Camelback Resort
There’s no need to hop a plane to Disney when these fun family vacations are only a short drive away from Westchester County.
Driving Distance: 53 minutes from White Plains
For a hip and historical adventure into Americana, try a retro staycation where you’re literally grounded in a TWA airport from 1962. The TWA Hotel, opened in 2019 and designed by legendary Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen, is located at the JFK International Airport, next door to JetBlue. The hotel was restored after the terminal had shut down in 2001 when TWA went out of business. Now, families are flocking to this midcentury-modern hotel and architectural landmark, even without a flight layover.
Once you check in at the terminal-turned-lobby, card into a modern room with wall-to-wall windows that overlook the airport’s runway. Watch flights take off and land through the night while automated blinds and windows made of the second-thickest glass in the world make sure you still sleep deeply.
Roam the hotel’s 200,000-square-foot campus, filled with swanky red carpets, vintage cars, nostalgic displays, and feel like you’re transported back into a time of Space Age glamour. The second floor showcases iconic fashion worn by pilots and stewardesses through the decades, inspiring you to break out your own mod outfits. Music from the late ’50s and early ’60s, like The Beatles and Frank Sinatra, follow you through the halls, putting a swagger in your step.
For kids, pick up a scavenger-hunt game in the lobby for a fun way to explore the classic hotel. Kids will also find themselves busy playing in a life-size Twister room, and of course, plane-spotting at every step.
On the eighth floor of the hotel, there’s a 90-degree rooftop infinity pool (open through the winter). The pool overlooks the runway and is the hotel’s largest attraction. Guests can visit during special morning hours but then book a slot for an hour and half during their stays. The roof deck also has a pool bar, which serves aviation-inspired cocktails and light menu items, like nachos, fries, and salads.
On the eighth floor of the hotel, there’s a 90-degree rooftop infinity pool (open through the winter). The pool overlooks the runway and is the hotel’s largest attraction.
For family members of drinking age, hang out in the 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” airplane-turned-cocktail lounge and enjoy predinner cocktails and plane snacks. Outside the plane, skate on a Roll-A-Rama on a Runway Rink on weekends.
For dinner, make reservations for the outstanding Paris Café on the second floor, with a menu crafted by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The crispy salmon sushi is a menu favorite as is the shrimp-and-mushroom risotto paired with unique cocktails, like a Lemongrass Negroni and a Spiced Cantaloupe Daiquiri. Warning: There is no kids’ menu, but dishes like the rigatoni with meatballs and pizza are sure to satisfy.
For a more casual dining experience, head to the Food Hall on the first floor, which serves up NYC favorites, like panini, bagels, Coney Island hot dogs, and Mister Softee ice cream.
Rates from $199.
Woodloch Pines Resort
Hawley, PA; woodloch.com
Driving Distance: 1 hr, 55 minutes from White Plains
If a family camp experience with proper lodging and a hint of dirty dancing is more your scene, plan a visit to the Woodloch Pines Resort. Sprawled across 170 acres in the Poconos, this peaceful escape nestled by a lake and woods offers activities for everyone from toddlers to grandparents.
When you first check into the main lodge, head on back toward a breathtaking lake scene with an outdoor playground, mini-golf, and beach volleyball. A water slide into the lake will keep the kiddos busy before enjoying boat rides together.
As you explore the property, discover game rooms, an indoor play area, a basketball court, an arts-and-crafts room, shuﬄeboard, bocce ball, and hiking trails. The list of excitement grows with bumper cars, bumper boats, junior go-karts, and ice skating. Then, cool off and splash it out in the indoor or outdoor pools, which include a fun splash pad for littles and a larger water slide.
Older kids and family members may enjoy archery, viper go-karts, paintball, a climbing wall, a virtual-reality room, and a shooting range. In colder months, go snowshoeing, tubing, and ice skating on the lake.
Every morning, a printed activity sheet offers a fun schedule of games, contests, and shows for everyone. Sign up for contests like family Olympics, Wheel of Fortune, or cornhole where families can win gold and silver medals. Creating bonding, family experiences together without waiting in long lines is what this popular, all-inclusive resort is all about. Almost every night there’s entertainment in the theater room, where you can enjoy comedic juggling acts, ventriloquists, and musical reviews put on by the staff.
While the kids play, Mom and Dad can be transported to a magical Zen escape at the top-rated sister spa, only two miles away.
When it comes to food, your family will get assigned a table in the main dining room, overlooking the lake. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day by a friendly wait staff.
While the kids play, mom or dad can be transported to a magical Zen escape at the top-rated sister spa, only two miles away, called The Lodge at Woodloch. The spa offers hot tubs overlooking a picturesque property, a large pool, saunas, and even a snow room to cool down. For the golf lovers in the family, visit their other sister property, called The Country Club at Woodloch Springs, where vacation rentals are offered.
Rates, which are part of an all-inclusive package that includes room, meals, activities, amenities, and entertainment, start at $140.
Great Wolf Lodge
Scotrun, PA; greatwolf.com
Driving Distance: 1 hr, 48 minutes from White Plains
If a wolf-themed resort where your kids go on magic quests with fancy wands through the halls sounds exciting (how could it not?), then head to the Great Wolf Lodge. Located in the Poconos, this mack daddy of family resorts has mostly indoor activities at a spacious lodge.
Wiley’s Waterpark is 118,000 square feet and has slides, a wave pool, splash areas, ropes obstacle course, and an area where you can dump buckets of water on people for some wet revenge fun.
Once checked in, grab your wolf ears and head downstairs to pick out your special wands for a magic quest. With a Paw Pass, you can pick up a basic wand, but beware: Most kids want the fancier tops and pricier sticks. Then the magical adventure begins, as you play an interactive game with fixtures and treasures that light up through the halls. Your goal is to save a mythical world that’s being destroyed by an evil dragon.
Kids will line up with excitement by the door to the water park before it opens at 10 a.m. during the week and 9 a.m. on weekends. Wiley’s Waterpark is 118,000 square feet and has slides, a wave pool, splash areas, ropes obstacle course, and an area where you can dump buckets of water on people for some wet revenge fun. For the adults, a bar called Grizzly Rob’s or the cabanas by the wave pool may be nice escapes as well.
Three different Paw Passes, which save your family money if purchased ahead of time when you book your room, will give you access to other activities and treats at the resort, like a mirror maze, glow mini-golf, bowling, an extensive arcade, ice cream scoops, and candy. The lodge also has a mining exhibit and other virtual reality rides.
The day is also filled with kid-friendly activities, like nighttime dance parties, yoga, a magic quest ceremony, and story time before bed. Rooms at this resort are a large attraction for kids because of the wolf-themed dens filled with bunk beds and animal characters.
The Loose Moose Family Kitchen offers big buffet meals that should satisfy every eater in the family. Make sure to purchase meal passes online beforehand for discounts.
While this resort doesn’t have as much entertainment for the adults in your family, your kids will be so excited at every corner, the trip will be worth every lupine-centric minute.
Rates start at $199.
Tannersville, PA; camelbackresort.com
Driving Distance: 1 hr, 49 minutes from White Plains
Located on a ski mountain in Tannersville, PA, in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, Camelback Resort is a fairy tale for kids and a fun escape for adults, all in one.
When you first enter the spacious main hotel lobby, with high ceilings and a display of the legendary explorer Kartrite Van Der Berris’ journey, a nearby game room might grab your children’s attention. The area is packed with laser tag, a ropes course, rock climbing, and gem sifting.
Downstairs, there’s a second game room, with about 150 games where kids can rack up ticket points on a card and cash them in for prizes. During colder months, slip past the sounds and lights and head to Aquatopia, an exciting 125,000-square-foot indoor water park.
The park caters to all ages, with fast and furious solo tube rides and a thrilling fun family water ride called Venus Fly Trap. Also enjoy a wave pool, a lazy river called The Lost River, and a surfer’s ride called Bombora Flowrider. For your little swimmers, there are zero-depth entry pools with small-sized slides.
While kids splash and play, parents can lounge in chairs or rent a cabana and order adult drinks and food. There’s also an adults-only swim-up bar, if you can steal away for a solo break.
During the summer, find another water-park paradise outside, called Camelbeach Mountain Outdoor Waterpark, to which you can take a shuttle from the lodge. This water park is filled with rides, tubes, food trucks, and lots of excitement. When you’re dry, save some energy for the mountain roller coaster, Pennsylvania’s only mountain coaster, which is 4,500 feet of steel tracks and drops 340 feet.
When hunger hits, there are lots of fast-food options, like burgers or pizza and frozen yogurt by the indoor water park or game room. In the morning, visit their brasserie-style coffee shop or a family-friendly breakfast buffet, called Hemispheres, in the main lobby.
For lunch or dinner, the Trails End Pub & Grille offers a pub-style menu; Berrelli’s Italian Chophouse boasts a downstairs speakeasy, where you can play pool, darts, and shuﬄeboard.
During colder months, the venue is a winter resort where you can ski, snowboard, or go tubing. Skiers can even ski up to the Summit House restaurant, where they serve classic Philly cheesesteaks, oysters on the half, and Bavarian-style hot pretzels, along with a variety of German beers.
Rooms are comfortable and quiet. The resort offers a la carte pricing, so pay for activities and amenities as you go.
During colder months, slip past the sounds and lights and head to Aquatopia. During the summer, find another water-park paradise outside, called Camelbeach Mountain Outdoor Waterpark.
Rates start at $349.