El Tovar on edge of Grand Canyon FamilyTravel.com

This winter, get cozy with the kids in a great American lodge. Sit by the fire, share stories and enjoy a winter family vacation. Here are five to consider:  

Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Tabernash, CO.

Stay in a cabin or the lodge and get cozy near one of 45 flickering fireplaces. Enjoy local specialties in the lodge dining room where a three-story, three-hearth fireplace, comprised of hand-stacked stones, warms winter visitors. Grab the binoculars to catch a glimpse of wildlife roaming on this 6,000 acre expanse of Colorado beauty or set out on the Nordic trails for an up-close view of winter scenes. From now through May, stay two nights and get the third night free. Pet friendly. Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com

Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA

For junior boarders and skiers, this lodge in the Poconos offers crowd-free, gentle slopes on which to learn. Kids as young as three can enroll in ski school. Dog mushing, tobogganing, sledding, ice-skating and cross-country skiing add to the active pursuits available on this sprawling 5,000-acre estate.  Later, stretch out in the indoor pool or bubbling hot tub and get ready for game night. Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com

Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, OR.

Located in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest, this magnificent lodge was built at the height of the Great Depression by unemployed craftspeople hired by the Federal Works Progress Administration.  Located 60 miles east of Portland, the well-crafted lodge has long served as the centerpiece of this mountain playground. Take a guided, moonlit snowshoe tour, experience Snowcat skiing or simply relax in the historic lodge and enjoy the extraordinary views. Ask about weekday, ski-free deals. Contact: (800).547-1406; www.timberlinelodge.com/ 

El Tovar – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

Open since 1905 and registered as a national Historic Landmark, this charming, 78-room lodge is just steps from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Take in a nature talk, go for a mule ride or hike the famed trails that criss-cross down and through the park.  Marvel at the extraordinary beauty of snow falling onto the multi-colored rock walls and into the canyon below. Contact: 928-638-2631; www.GrandCanyonLodges.com

The Whiteface Lodge. Lake Placid, NY.

Located in the heart of the Adirondacks, this woodland lodge is spacious, with modern amenities.  At the same time, it serves up rustic, with stone chimneys, antler chandeliers and handcrafted Adirondack furnishings. Nightly family bonfires, a skating rink, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing and indoor swimming programs, provide plenty to keep an active family engaged. A complimentary kids club makes it easy for the adults to take advantage of the full service spa on site. Contact: 800-903-4045; www.thewhitefacelodge.com

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Family-friendly lodges provide an activity-rich haven for the adventuresome clan.

Here are five places you’ll want to visit time and again:

The Lodge at Chaa Creek. Near San Ignacio, Belize. Prince Harry chose this remarkable, riverside eco-lodge as headquarters during his recent visit to the jungles of this Central American country. Tucked within a 365-acre private rainforest paradise in the picturesque foothills of the Maya Mountains, Chaa Creek provides the ideal home base for your family’s exploration of the Cayo District, a region where cave tubing, archeological sites, horseback riding and zip lining will lure you from the comfort of your palm-thatched cottage or tree-top suite. While at the Lodge, don’t miss early morning bird watching tours, the hill-top spa, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the medicine trail where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies. Contact: (877) 709-8708; www.ChaaCreek.com.  

Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA. A top spot for family reunions, this Poconos Mountain resort has been welcoming guests to their 5,500 acre playground since the 1920s. In addition to golf, canoeing, kayaking, biking, naturalist led hikes, rafting and paintball, families can explore the newly opened Tree Top Adventure course. Expect high-energy fun that includes zip lines, suspended bridges, nets, swings and an aerial surf board. Ask about the Camp in the Clouds for kids. Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com

The Lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, CO. No need to leave Fido behind when you travel to this Rocky Mountain getaway 65 miles from Denver. Here, the lodge folks encourage kids to use their “outside voices” because that’s where they will want to spend their time. Whether the junior set is exploring on foot, horseback or mountain bike, there is plenty of country to cover on this 5,000 acre ranch where rustic charm meets luxurious comfort. Grown ups may opt for spa or fly rod time while kids get to know other youngsters in the Cowpoke Camp. The junior set will be engaged with active games, mountaineering and orienteering as well as learning about Native American culture. Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com 

The Whiteface Lodge.  Lake Placid, NY. Relax in luxury amidst the Adirondack wilderness. Here, the Lodge concierge can help you and your clan mix hiking, fly fishing, canoeing, and rock climbing into your family holiday. Splash in the pools, bowl, play platform tennis or enjoy the spa. During the summer months, kids ages three to 14 can tap into a full range of activities provided by the complimentary KAMP KANU. After sunset, a fine dining experience awaits the parents while the youth crew enjoys a pizza dinner as well as themed activities that range from Pirates at Play to Space Night. End the evening roasting marshmallows with your family around the campfire. Contact: (518) 523-0500; www.thewhitefacelodge.com/

The Lodge at Tiburon. Tiburon, CA. Visit this quaint Northern California sailing town for a taste of seaside history. Enjoy magnificent waterfront shopping, galleries, dining and bike paths where your family can cycle in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. A perfect jumping off place for side trips to San Francisco, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Sausalito, and Napa Valley, the California Craftsman-style Lodge offers 103-rooms, complimentary wi-fi, DVD rentals, and fitness center. Bike rentals are also free and your pets are welcome. Contact: 800-762-7770www.lodgeattiburon.com.

Visit an eco lodge where adventure is encouraged, eco-friendly practices are in place and community support is essential.

Here are six to consider:

Patagonia Wildlife Safari -

Visit southern Chile to experience a thrilling combo of wildlife and scenery in one of the most isolated regions of South America. Check out an expansive penguin colony near the town of Punta Arenas before exploring the jaw-dropping beauty of Torres del Paine National Park.

Wear yourself out exploring the park, then return to your EcoCamp. You’ll chill in large igloo-shaped tents built to minimize environmental impact while providing a comfortable setting. You’ll be cozy as you plan for your next adventure via candlelight, snug beneath feather comforters.

Contact: www.adventure-life.com/tours/patagonia-wildlife-safari-1355

Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge. Dominica, West Indies.

Explore the volcanic island on foot or on the back of a local donkey. Hike to secluded waterfalls, spend the day surfing or go turtle or whale watching. Later return to your tree house, cabin or cottage, tucked into the rainforest and surrounded by organic gardens. Learn how British owner Jem Winston, uses wind power to provide light and how his reliance on community resources enriches both locals and guests.

Contact:  www.rosalieforest.com

Playa Viva. Juluchuca, MX.

Stay in this family friendly, all inclusive, coastal lodge near Ixtapa, where the owners operate an onsite Turtle Sanctuary. Last year, guests helped save and release more than 100,000 baby turtles. The solar powered lodge was constructed with the help of local craftspeople, using indigenous materials. Your family is invited to join the chef for a visit to the nearby farmer’s market. Later, learn how to craft local specialties. Contact: www.PlayaViva.com.

Rosalie eco lodge family travelNature Inn at Bald Eagle. Howard, PA.

Through their every day practices, which include geothermal heating and cooling, solar hot water heat generation, rainwater harvesting, native habitat restoration and the use of rain gardens, guests can look forward to an eco-friendly retreat. The entire family will enjoy the beauty and wealth of activity and wildlife in the area. Look forward to hundreds of miles of trails, paths and trout streams in the Pennsylvania Wilds. You’ll also find a large elk refuge, local artisans and pristine natural beauty. Contact: (814)625-2879; http://natureinnatbaldeagle.com/; www.pawilds.com

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Stay in one of 31 individual chalets, amidst a pristine rainforest that is part of the Danum Valley Conservation Area. From eco-savvy quarters, families can plan for outings that include scouting 300 species of birds, 120 species of mammals and 200 species of plants per hectare. Animals roam freely so be prepared to spot orangutans, pygmy elephants and Bornean hornbills. View the pristine environment from a 1,000 foot long, multi-tiered canopy walk, suspended 85 feet above the ground. Contact: www.tourismmalaysiany.com/

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U Shakti 360¢ª Leti . Himalayas, India.

Unplug and soak in the stunning views from your cabin in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. A strong commitment to the local community includes employment of local guides, chefs and porters as well a determination to use traditional building techniques. The company has introduced solar heating and lighting, water reuse programs and created a foundation to foster local renewable energy, education and cultural projects in the community. Hike to your heart’s content and learn about the culture of this spectacular mountainous region.

Contact: 1 (866 )401-3705; www.shaktihimalaya.com.

Visit America’s historic lodges and find rustic log exteriors, well-worn pine floors, or riverside ambience. Join your family in a walk back through time when you book lodging with a story of its own.

A sampling:

 Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, OR.

Located in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest, this magnificent lodge was built at the height of the Great Depression by unemployed craftspeople hired by the Federal Works Progress Administration. Completed on September 28, 1937, the lodge has long served as the centerpiece of a mountain playground where families ski, hike, dine, mountain bike, learn about the local flora and fauna and simply enjoy the high altitude natural beauty.

Contact: (800).547-1406; www.timberlinelodge.com/

Kalaloch Lodge, Forks, WA.

Visit the complex landscape that is protected within the Olympic National Park & Forest.  For bird watching, including the most significant habitat for bald eagles in the lower 48, beach combing, hiking and fishing, there are few destinations where families will find more beauty and opportunity to bond with nature. Consider the Kalaloch Lodge as a cozy home base. Serving up rustic yet charming accommodations, the Lodge offers tremendous views of the Pacific as well as the opportunity to spot puffins, sea otters, seals and a long list of other sea birds.  Tap into rich history by asking about the dozens of shipwrecks that have occurred in the area.

Contact: 888-896-3818; www.OlympicNationalParks.com.

Rapids Lodge and Restaurant, Grand Lake, CO.

Located on the banks of the scenic Tonahutu River, this charming lodge has been offering Rocky Mountain hospitality since 1915. Nearly a century ago the doors opened offering running water and electricity generated by a nearby water wheel.  Today, guests enjoy the outdoor wonderland that is Rocky Mountain National Park and then return to cozy lodge or cabin rooms and scenic dining overlooking the river.

Contact: 970-627-3707; www.rapidslodge.com.

Clay Hill Lodge. Lyons, OR.

Located  on Oregon’s Rogue River, this “off the grid” lodge offers families the chance to enjoy pristine wilderness, hiking, bird watching, rafting and fishing in the country that provided Zane Grey inspiration for many novels. Steeped in history, the lodge has served as base camp for scores of enthusiastic fishermen including Clark Gable, Herbert Hoover, Victor Moore and Ginger Rogers.

Contact: (503) 859-3772: www.ClayHillLodge.com

Garland Lodge and Resort. Lewiston, MI. 

Known as the largest log resort east of the Mississippi, this expansive playground is a family favorite for award winning golf, color tours, fishing, and hiking. A blend of old and new, sophistication and rustic charm, the AAA Four Diamond resort complex includes four championship golf courses. Ask about their family-friendly golf and spa packages. 

Contact: (800) 968 0042; www.GarlandUSA.com

Tarpon Lodge. Pinelands, FLA. 

Open since 1926, this charming waterfront lodge is located 30 minutes north of Fort Myers on Pine Island off Florida's Gulf Coast.  Enjoy the local art community, live music, bird watching and picturesque sunsets. Visit pre- Columbian mounds of the ancient Calusa people and paddle through the local waterways. The sport of tarpon fishing originated in Pine Island Sound in the late 1880s so you’ll want to grab a rod and try your luck with one of the local outfitters.

Contact: (239) 283-3999; www.tarponlodge.com.