When you've got children, vacation planning takes a different strategy than when it was just you and your spouse looking for some relaxation and pampering ("relaxation" and "pampering" aren't words that any parent uses when referring to a family vacation). This year, we decided to take our first REAL family vacation (even though 15-month-old Cambridge got "left behind" with grammy) since sacrificing my body on the altar of motherhood all those many moons ago.
When you're toting along kids (and in our case, our Au Pair), you need bedrooms and space... lots of space (and pull-out couches are a bonus when husband gets kicked out for snoring!). A kitchen is helpful too, and then there's the budget. How can a family take a reasonably-priced vacation without sacrificing the family's financial future? The answer is a Sunday - Thursday stay and making your own meals.
Many resorts and hotels will offer certain nights (the slower nights) at highly discounted rate. We were able to rent a 3-bedroom cottage in the woods at Larsmont Cottages on the North Shore for the price we used to pay for a suite with a hot tub during peak season (suite = one large room with a king-sized bed, a hot tub, and a lakeside view). No, we weren't lakeside this year, but there was a peek-a-boo view of the water from the living room windows, and it was just steps from the lake. Furthermore, our cottage had an attached garage, and I'm pretty sure the lakeside placed did not...
Yes, there are many options to choose from if you're in the market to reserve a North Shore 2- or 3-bedroom place, but the staff at Larsmont was truly amazing. From the ever-helpful and responsive front desk agent Ashley who answered each and every one of my annoying emails prior to arrival, to the extremely personable host/waiter/bartender/weekend kayak instructor/and sometimes cook, named Garrett ("man candy" as my husband called him - to his face), at the on-site restaurant Ledge Rock Grille, to the housekeeping guy (who my Au Pair called "man candy" under her breath) who made sure extra towels and toilet paper were delivered to our cottage... everyone went above and beyond with a smile on their faces.... almost Disney World-esque, I'd say, in their affable attitudes.
Having a kitchen in our rental allowed us to pack lunches for the daily hikes and to prepare several dinners at a fraction of the cost of dining out. Date night at Ledge Rock Grille was a treat even though the "warm maple potato salad" isn't really potato salad (it's more like warm, multi-colored potatoes bathed in sweet maple and sprinkled with salty bacon) and must be tasted...mmmm...
Campfires by the lakeside encourage meeting new people and camaraderie... except with the mother and daughter from NYC whose personalities were more frigid than the 37-degree waters of Lake Superior (I mean, if even I can't get someone to talk, there must be something wrong... "it's not you, it's me"... oh wait, it IS you!). Despite their awkward aloofness, we did meet a very nice semi-retired couple from Edina, MN who didn't want the conversation to end even after the sun went down, and we were the last people outside.
Before we had children, we visited the North Shore for a vacation once a year because it's my husband's favorite place ever, and I'm thankful to Larsmont for making our first real family vacation a success. Now, however, I am excited to make it a family tradition... one that my children will remember forever... the "fun place", as Leighton fondly refers to it as he repeatedly asks to return to complete his life's mission to rid the shoreline of all of its rocks by throwing each and every one of them into the largest freshwater lake in the world.
This lifestyle blog is my outlet to share and advise about the things I love. I always have an opinion!