Q: My fiance and I are getting married in July and we'd love to take a spa vacation for our honeymoon. Any advice on locations that offer spa amenities, sightseeing and good prices? We prefer stateside but will consider Mexico and the Caribbean.
A: Nearly every state, Caribbean island and below-the-border tourist spot boasts a spa these days.
If you're on a budget, consider staying at a hotel near a resort spa, which tend to be pricier than accommodations-only places. For example, the Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf (800-272-6935, www.cranwell.com; summer rates from $275 per night per room) in Western Massachusetts allows non-guests to use its spa facilities. The Berkshires area has loads of smaller properties and is a thriving arts community.
If you prefer an on-site spa, consider an all-inclusive resort, such as Jamaica's Sans Souci (800-448-7702, www.sanssoucijamaica.com; from $232 per person double), where stays of more than four nights include a complimentary spa package.
You also can pick an urban retreat and divide your time between day spas and city attractions. One idea: San Diego, where you can indulge at a new spa each day in between museum visits, surfing, hiking, exploring the zoo and cocktails at the Hotel Del Coronado (which, surprise, also has a spa). For a list of spa vacations, resorts and day facilities: Spa Finder, 212-924-6800, www.spafinder.com.
Q: I want to take my 10-year-old granddaughter to an interesting, non-commercial place that I can reach in a one-day train trip (from the Washington, D.C., area) and preferably not need a car.
A: Unfortunately, Amtrak Vacations went belly up last fall and no replacement has been instituted. So you'll have to do a little planning -- but not too much. For Northeast travel, the train pulls up to a variety of spots that would delight any child. Bonnie Krezel, an Amtrak sales agent and mother, recommends Boston; Mystic, Conn.; and Lancaster, Pa.
Starting from the top: Boston is about a 7 1/2 -hour ride from Washington, D.C. and offers such kid-friendly attractions as the Boston Children's Museum and Boston Harbor cruises, where you can go whale watching or speed down to Cape Cod. Info: Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, (888) SEE-BOSTON, www.bostonusa.com.
Mystic, about six hours by rail, has similar water-oriented attractions, including its aquarium and Mystic Seaport. The Mystic Coast & Country Travel Industry Association (800-MY-COAST, www.mycoast.com) offers Family Fun Trail coupons for six nearby attractions.
If you prefer pastures to ocean, Lancaster County has Amish buggy rides; Central Market, the country's oldest continuously operating farmers market; and the Lancaster Barmstormers, the local baseball team. The 2 1/2 -hour trip requires a transfer in Philly. Info: Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) PA-DUTCH, www.padutchcountry.com.
An alternative is Vermont: On Amtrak's Vermonter, you can ride to the end (St. Albans) and stop anywhere for 24 hours for no extra fee (when booking, ask for the North America Rail Pass). Amherst, Mass. (don't miss the exceptional Eric Carle Museum of Picture Art), and Brattleboro, Montpelier and Essex Junction, Vt., are all good stops.
Prices vary, but two children ages 2 to 15 ride for half-price with an adult. Info: (800) USA-RAIL, www.amtrak.com. For more ideas on New England: Visit New England, www.visitnewengland.com.