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Best Resorts For Your Own 'Dirty Dancing' Vacation

Yahoo Travel isn’t just for grown-ups. When 13-year-old travel writer Abby McElroy discovered the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing” for the first time, it changed her life. And it got her thinking about her own travels. Here’s her report.

Best Resorts For Your Own 'Dirty Dancing' Vacation (GIF: Vestron Pictures)

When I was little, I loved princess movies more than anything — the magic of a True Love’s Kiss just melted my 6-year-old heart.  But when I watched “Dirty Dancing” for the first time this summer, I realized that you don’t need a tiara to find true love.  You don’t even need to be anything but a strong, cool girl.  Even though Baby (played by Jennifer Grey) doesn’t start out looking like a glamorous princess, she finds love (with Johnny, played by the late Patrick Swayze) and saves the day in the end.  

Related: Pretend You’re A Princess: Stay in the Most Beautiful Palace and Castle Hotels in the World

The movie also made me remember some fun experiences I’ve had across the United States in family resort hotel that are very much like Kellerman’s, the fictional 1960s Catskills resort where Baby vacationed with her family. Watching “Dirty Dancing on my laptop, I found myself nodding every so often, saying, “Wait, that reminds me exactly of the Broadmoor Hotel, or Skytop Lodge, or…”

But my favorite déjà vu moment from the movie was when the guests danced on the gazebo. I flashed back to the Omni Mount Washington Hotel, a huge old-fashioned retreat in the mountains of New Hampshire. I’d ditched my mom to explore and discovered a beautiful wraparound porch and gazebo (I couldn’t resist singing and whirling around a bit before going inside again). Now I can’t help but think I made my own “Dirty Dancing moment!

To create your own memory à la Johnny and Baby, check out these family resort hotels that will flash you back in time to that simple, innocent era when kids swam in creeks, performed at talent shows, and sneaked out of their cabins at Kellerman’s Resort.


The perfect place to indulge your inner Baby (Photo: The Broadmoor/Facebook)

The Broadmoor Hotel (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Riding around a picturesque lake on an electric boat, waving at my dachshunds on the shore? Heaven, just like pretty much everything else at this high-end, high-style resort hotel in the Rocky Mountains. Year after year, families return to the Broadmoor Hotel — think Kellerman’s, 2014.  Pet friendly and chock-full of family activities (they even have a bowling alley!), this hotel features everything from three swimming pools to a small shopping plaza. Are you a wannabe artist? Take an art lesson or tour where you can draw, sketch, or paint the beautiful scenery. I can barely draw a straight line, but I’m sure I have that scribble of the Rockies somewhere. The Broadmoor is the perfect place to explore and try something new — just like Baby and I did.

maddens resort

(Photo: Madden’s Resort/Twitter)

Madden’s on Gull Lake (Brainerd, Minnesota)

To hear my travel-writing mom tell it, Madden’s is the closest you can come to Kellerman’s — it’s Americana to the max.  She can’t stop jabbering about the huge Madden’s Fourth of July celebration last year, when she ate 19 cookies and about 6 cobs of corn (right, Mom).  Now I’m dying to go, in part because it sounds like there’s so much for teens to do.  Not only does the resort have every sport you could imagine, but it also boasts trap shooting, trampolines, five swimming pools — even lawn bowling! If you want to stay in a cabin like Baby’s family did, Madden’s offers duplex cabins with a stunning view of Gull Lake.   

breakers hotel

(Photo: The Breakers Hotel)

The Breakers Hotel (Palm Beach, Florida)

Speaking of places I’m dying to go, the Breakers is at the top of my list.  Who doesn’t love Florida? And even though Johnny and Baby never walked along the beach holding hands, it somehow seems like they should have, maybe. But the Breakers isn’t just about the location. If you want private dance lessons like the ones Johnny gave Baby, the Breakers is the place to be. Or, if you’re more into the group thing, the hotel also offers three different dance classes.

omni hotel

(Photo: Omni Mount Washington Hotel)

Omni Mount Washington Hotel (Bretton Woods, New Hampshire)

From the second we drove up to the Omni Mount Washington Hotel this summer, I told my mom, “It’s so much like Kellerman’s!” I hummed a few songs from the movie when I flew through the air on the hotel’s zipline; when I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine that one of the swinging bridges was the log that Baby learned to cha-cha on. Maybe you can try a few steps yourself! Another must-do: enjoy a meal on the gorgeous wraparound porch, just like Baby and her family. Or just curl up on a chair there and read a good book.

Related: 5 Southern California Resorts that Work for Kids—and Parents, Too

skytop lodge

(Photo: Skytop Lodge/Facebook)

Skytop Lodge (Skytop, Pennsylvania)

Sure, it’s in the Poconos, not the Catskills, but the magician at Skytop Lodge rocks trick after trick — I had a blast cheering from the audience.  Much to my disappointment, he didn’t cut anyone in half like the guy at Kellerman’s, but I guess that was the magic of Hollywood. 

Related: Who Needs a Passport? Exotic-Looking Destinations in the U.S.

Heading to Skytop?  Don’t forget your dancing shoes: Every Saturday night, the resort hosts a dance and Grand March that will make you think you’ve landed yourself right back in the movie. Summer activities include everything from archery to yoga.  For your own movie-worthy moment, try out your very own lift scene in Skytop’s crystal lake. 

mohonk mountain lodge

(Photo: Mohonk Mountain House)

The Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz, New York)

Later this year, my mom and I have a trip planned to Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian castle retreat in the Catskills.  But Mohonk’s location isn’t the only thing with a “Dirty Dancing vibe. Just like Kellerman’s Resort in the movie, the Mountain House has been owned by one family for several generations. Because I’m all about the true “Dirty Dancing feel, I’m hoping to visit during the hotel’s ballroom dancing weekend in December, where I can learn to do the merengue (just like Baby!) in workshops taught by seasoned pros.

mountain lake lodge

(Photo: Mountain Lake Lodge/Facebook)

Mountain Lake Lodge (Pembroke, Virginia)

And on my ultimate bucket list: Re-creating the perfect “Dirty Dancing" vacation with a stay at the Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia. Believe it or not, this is where most of the movie was filmed, so you can dance to “Loverboy” in the same space as Baby and Johnny (a dream come true for this teen!).  For the full experience, book a stay during one of the Lodge’s “Dirty Dancing weekends; packages include lodging, dining, dance lessons, karaoke, “Dirty Dancing trivia, and a movie tour.

mountain lake lodge

Learn to dance like Baby and Johnny (Photo: Mountain Lake Lodge)

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