Sea Island, Georgia
Distance from Charlotte: 330 Miles
Don't be fooled by the sleepy coastal town of Sea Island, Georgia. Tucked among spacious cottages and manses by the sea is the Cloister at Sea Island (from $349 per night, seaisland.com), a haven for families since its opening in 1928. Though its accolades for its renowned golf course, spa, and overall amenities are impressive, what piques moms and dads’ interest most is how well the Cloister caters to families large and small. Each of the 175 rooms in the main building is spacious enough for a family of four (yet private enough for Mom and Dad to get some alone time) while one of the six Sea Island Cottages available for rent allow two to three families to stay together and enjoy the beach and property’s three pools (a reunion, perhaps?). When the ’rents want to tee off, hit the tennis courts, or simply unwind sans the kids, the Cloister Beach Club will entertain the wee ones with sea kayaking adventures, movie nights, pajama parties, and cooking classes. But don’t miss Bingo nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a Sea Island tradition where as many as 500 guests and island residents of all ages play to win cold hard cash. — B. M.
Kids and parents alike will love the Cloister’s nature program, which gets families off the beach blanket and immersed in nature. Nature guides take you on explorations through salt marsh, ocean, and dune habitats to get one-on-one time with Mother Nature, and nighttime turtle walks offer a moonlit look at the creatures’ nests.
Cozy on up to the counter and order yourself a banana split at the Ice Cream Shop. At the old-fashioned soda shop you can sip a root beer float or dive into the resort’s signature Gold Brick Sundae, then head next door to the candy store, where the kids can load up on all their favorite sweets.
Sport shooting is a time-honored tradition at the Cloister — it dates back to 1929 — so it’d be a shame to miss it. Kids as young as thirteen can learn how to skeet and trap shoot at the Sea Island Shooting School. Sign up for private or group lessons with NCSA-certified instructors, who once competed competitively. Tots ages five to twelve can take their hand at air rifle shooting, too.