July 27, 2005 -- The heat wave sweeping the nation has sent most people looking for the closest place to cool off. The beach is the ideal place to do that, and the "travel mom" has selected places that are family friendly and affordable.
The Westin St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Nowadays, teens' influence over family purchases is stronger than ever. With that in mind, The Westin St. John has created all kinds of programs just for teens.Teen parasailing, teen power boat rides and teen kayaking are just a few of the programs available to teenage vacationers. If you visit the resort in late summer, or after Aug. 21, kids can stay in their own room for 50 percent off.
Carlsbad has over five miles of family-friendly beaches that offer the perfect place to cool off. Surfing lessons are abundant, as are the loads of free activities -- from jazz concerts in the parks on Friday nights to hiking on the Carlsbad trail system. In addition to the ocean, visitors can play at Legoland or stay at one of my favorite places for the family -- La Costa.
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Hilton Head is the quintessential beach vacation, complete with bike riding on the sand, free fireworks at Shelter Cove Harbor, lighthouse tours, golf and tennis. Accommodations range from luxurious resorts to quaint bed and breakfasts. There are 12 miles of public beach, complemented by shopping and family-friendly restaurants.
Grand Haven, Mich.
Not all beaches have to be at the ocean. Grand Haven is located on Lake Michigan and has plenty of fun to offer the family. There is a two-and-a-half mile boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants. You can also ride your bike on over 100 miles of bike paths. You can take a fishing charter on the lake, or simply sit back on the sand and relax. There are more than 650 different types of room accommodations available.
Turtle Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
For many reasons, this resort is one of my personal favorite places to vacation. I truly believe it is one of the most special properties on Oahu, complete with a quiet cove for snorkeling or swimming and a more intense ocean inlet with waves so long that Hans Heddemann has set up a surf school at the resort. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, it is an hour drive from Waikiki, yet worlds away. It also offers horseback riding on the sand, a great spa, and terrific dining.