North America is perhaps one of the world’s best hunting ground for quirky accommodation. We’ve picked out places from all over the continent to tempt curious families.
Journey to the Land of the Hurons
This American Indian cultural centre offers family discounts on its marvellous adventures within the Jacques Cartier National Park in Quebec. You can go star-gazing, learn about medicinal plants, make dream-catchers, canoe, dog-sled, snow-shoe and more. You can stay in a tepee or a Montagnais tent, or lay your head on a fragrant bed of balsam fir! Highly recommended…
Fantasyland Hotel, Edmonton
Not everybody’s cup of tea, but sure to delight the kids, the Fantasyland Hotel is located within a mall, so you never have to leave! Fantasy takes the concept of themed rooms very seriously and can offer you anything from Roman, to Polynesian, to Hollywood. If the kids get bored of bouncing on their Igloo beds you can take them to the aquarium in the mall, or the ice-skating rink or the amusement park. They might just want to move there permanently.
Home to all manner of unconventional, luxury accommodation, this 113-acre estate a 2hr drive from New York City, in Connecticut, offers a variety of cottages each with a very different theme. The hangar-like ‘Helicopter’ contains a restored Sikorsky Sea King kitted out with a widescreen TV, bar and wood-burning stove, while the Greco-Egyptian style ‘Secret Society’ has a glass canopy for stargazing. It’s not cheap, but under-5s go free and older children get discounts on the many ‘Family-Friendly Dates’. Free activities and amenities include snow-shoes, leisure and mountain-bikes, canoeing; extras include yoga, horse-riding, and campfire roasts.
Another famous American landmark, this mid-19th-century (but still operational) redbrick lighthouse on the Hudson River in New York State, with wonderful views down to the Catskills, is a rather special 2-room B&B. Located on a remote shoal and accessible only via a 1km trail, it’s a great place for communing with nature. Not only do you get to stare out at the glorious view from the middle of the river, but there’s a couple of friendly, resident ghosts sharing it with you. Note that it gets booked up months, even years, ahead.
Dog Park Bark Inn
This whimsical B&B ‘inside the World’s Biggest Beagle’, built as an homage to America’s old-time roadside architecture, will invoke lots of jokes about your kids being in the doghouse. Located in Cottonwood, Idaho, it has just one room, sleeping four (kids get fold-out futon mattresses in the loft).
Old Faithful Inn
A famous landmark in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, this lovely old wooden building is right beside the geyser of the same name, so you can eat your enormous American breakfast with the spray in your face. Most rooms have two double/queen-size beds.
Beckham Cave Lodge
Set in a 280-acre estate in Arkansas, this self-catering lodge has been cleverly built within the impressive Orzak Caves. It has five bedrooms and a recreation room so makes a great venue for a quirky holiday with friends or family. On-site activities include spelunking, rock-climbing, hiking and nature trails, mountain-biking and horse-riding.
As if driving Route 66 wasn’t exciting enough, you also get the chance to park your Chevy by a wigwam. Built in 1949 as part of a chain of wigwam motels, this is the best preserved and has recently been renovated and redesigned for modern travellers. This is pure, mid-century Americana – there are classic cars in the parking lot, retro neon signs ushering you about and all manner of vintage kitsch. The wigwams these days come equipped with power showers and flat screen tv’s. The rooms are comfortable, you get to pretend you are either an Easy Rider or a cowboy/indian – what could be better. Your kids are bound to recognise it from the film Cars 2 as well.