jules1Family vacations can be about a posh hotel experience, complete with puffy robes and cloud-like bedding. Other times, a family vacation is more about seeing sights and returning home with a story to tell. These off-beat hotels are guaranteed to do just that.

Fortunately, some accommodations—though few and far between—allow you to do both without stepping foot beyond the property.

When nothing but the off-kilter will do, head to these offbeat hotels. They’ll make for a great getaway, while transporting you someplace beyond your wildest dreams.



Winvian1While it’s far from cheap, the Winvian near Litchfield Hills, Conneticut, certainly is strange. Among its 18 themed cottages—each designed by a different architect—is a treehouse. Another has a maritime theme. Still another is a “helicopter.” Whichever one you book, know they’re all about getting the guest to explore nooks and crannies. After exploring, guests can tear themselves away to indulge at the spa or enjoy a spontaneous meal from a James Beard-lauded chef. Room rates begin at $750, and packages start at $1,450 a night.

Jules’ Undersea Lodge

Those who love the water—really, really love it—will appreciate the Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida. The shtick? It’s located 30 feet below the surface of the Emerald Lagoon and can be reached only via scuba dive. Lending authenticity, it has the feel of a research habitat (including lookouts). But don’t worry: creature comforts like a DVD player, fully stocked galley and air conditioning ensure a relaxing, if simple, stay. Stays cost $475 per person per night in addition to the cost of a habitat certification ($150).

Round Barn Lodge

Winvian_treehouseNot far from one of the country’s ultimate weirdo attractions—The House on the Rock—dome-roofed Round Barn Lodge in Spring Green, Wisconsin, is an unusual, approachable place to spend a night. Designed by an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s octagonal in shape with ragtag furniture and a roadside motel feel. Across the street, you’ll find an old-school drive-in serving blue moon ice cream; down the road, there’s a supper club with a wacky floor-to-ceiling waterfall, solid, steak-centric menu and old-school salad bar. Prices at the hotel match its simplicity: Rooms can start at as little as $62 a night.

The Lodge Hotel & Conference Center

Although it has fallen into a bit of disrepair over the years, something creepy-cool about The Lodge in Bettendorf remains. Modeled after a German castle, it’s wrapped in colorful, diamond-patterned stained glass windows—including in the pool area. So, very little outside light is allowed in. Portraiture on the walls is so spooky, you’ll swear the eyes moved. Meanwhile the dark wood Bear Lounge and Library Bar come off as smoking-jacket-required. Rooms start at $109 per night, but packages are really where it’s at. For example, its namesake offering ($145) includes overnight accommodations for two, dinner and breakfast for two, two drink coupons and a dozen warm cinnamon rolls to take with you upon checkout.