Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Kim Taylor

Not all destinations within easy drive of New York City are clearly kid-friendly, but if you’re willing to be creative, the result can be a surprisingly colorful getaway. Here are two examples of nontraditional weekend trips for families.


Atlantic City’s Tropicana casino offers a lot for families: an Imax movie theater, indoor pool, movies on demand, live entertainment, a Spy Shop and other kids stores in its vibrant, multi-tiered shopping quarter — and a wealth of restaurants, both high end and inexpensive. Steer clear of the casino area, and stay in the Havana Tower for added character. At night, views of the ocean and the city are dazzling, and a game of soccer on the beach – in any weather – is always an option. Stroll down the boardwalk to the Trump Plaza for a meal in a jungle-themed restaurant that caters to kids with fake rainstorms and animals that “come alive” on the walls. The pool is always a hit with children, and restaurants such as Carmine’s, Cuba Libre, The Palm, Red Square and P.F. Changs grace the Havana-style “town square” in the Tropicana – where it’s always dusk, around the clock. Visit for more information.


Although the Vatra Spa is advertised as a weight loss spa, the truth is it’s also an ideal lodge for families who ski or hike. Located a mile from Hunter Mountain, it’s convenient for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking in the summer. The Vatra is a friendly, family-owned inn with loft rooms that sleep up to six people, cable TV, internet access and an indoor pool. It has a rustic charm reminiscent of a relative’s house – a place safe and warm, if not exactly opulent. It wouldn’t be unusual to see a deer outside of your window here. The breakfast is generous and hardy enough to fuel a day on the slopes or the mountains, and staff members are as sweet natured as small town crossing guards. The Vatra is conveniently located within driving distance of fine restaurants as well. Call toll free for more information 800-232-2772 or visit

Whether you head north to the mountains or south to the ocean, you’re sure to reach these destinations within a few hours, and just as certain to love them.

Originally published April 2007
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