Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top Spring Break Ideas for Family Vacations

Maybe you want to ride roller coasters all day, cruise to distant ports or get to know your favorite baseball players at Spring Training games in Florida or Arizona.  Whatever your passion or need for escape, Spring break has moved beyond bikinis and beer kegs to include adventure, a dose of culture and myriad vacation ideas for students, families, couples and kids.

Here are some of the places TakingtheKids and Family Travel Forum recommend for an unforgettable spring break, whether you’re traveling with kids of any age, friends, partners or other couples.

Spring Break Adventures

Kids and kids-at-heart love a good adventure and spring is the perfect time to enjoy one, or plan an escorted summer expedition for the whole family.  We’ve had some of our most memorable trips sharing adventures.
Austin Lehman Adventures
Flight Center Airfare Deals
Children's Museum
Orlando for Spring Break
Thomson Family Adventures
Morgans Rock Nicaragua
Hot Caribbean Deals
Kids Ski Free at AspenSnowmass
Broadmoor Resort Colorado
Adventure Smith Tours
Save with Discount Cruises
Visit Fort Worth
Great Wolf Lodges
Royal Caribbean Cruises Advertisement
Omni Hotels

You can choose between expert outfitters and luxurious but rustic resorts where your concierge can arrange for a local naturalist to accompany your walks.

There are several small ship companies that sail to exotic ports that big ships can’t maneuver. By land or by sea, adventures await. 

Spring Break at Atlantic Beaches

All ages love the sea and sand of a beach vacation, even if the water along the eastern seaboard isn’t always warm enough to swim.  That’s why we like the action in South Beach Miami and Greater Fort Lauderdale, beach cities packed with cultural venues, shopping and fine restaurants to keep everyone busy if the ocean seems too chilly.

Spring is also the season to help toddlers hunt for shells on the Gulf of Mexico beaches in Florida and Alabama.  Up north off the coast of Georgia, you can bundle everyone in sweaters and build sandcastles.

With teens, don wetsuits and practice Stand Up Paddleboarding or kayaking.

Beach Breaks: Pacific Coast & Hawaii

Strolling, skating and biking are our favorite spring pursuits along the boardwalks of Southern California, where all ages can enjoy the sea views and sunsets.

In Huntington Beach, fit grandparents can learn boogie boarding, a California art form.  Alternate beach time with attractions like SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, and Legoland in San Diego.

Kids, couples, grandparents will find the islands of Hawaii have beaches, recreation and historical attractions to suit every age; Hawaii is also a great destination for single parents.

Families say they have a new reason to visit Oahu now that Mickey and Minnie have landed at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa with its first-rate and complimentary kids’ club and emphasis on Hawaiian culture. 

City Breaks & College Tours

Knowing that the college kids are on spring break makes this the perfect time of year for campus visits, a rite of passage for every family. Take advantage of visiting the Ivy League schools and major state universities by combining your school tour with a city break in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle or Southern California.  Travel over a long weekend when hotel rates drop at full service business hotels and pick up a Citypass for every family member, saving up to 50% on attractions and bypass the lines.

Amtrak offers significant discounts for kids to let you explore a nearby city over a weekend when you will score a hotel deal.  Alternate the serious stuff with a laughter break at the Mall of America’s indoor amusement park, a meal at a themed restaurant like Rainforest Cafe, or a games arcade.

New museum exhibits are geared to all ages; we especially love the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the largest in the country, and the food exhibit at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. We mean it:  Let each child plan a day of the itinerary. You will be amazed where they lead you!

In Washington, DC, the National Cherry Blossom Festival  starts March 20 and lasts until April 27 and even includes a special Blossom Kite Festival. 

Spring Season Cruises for All Ages

Cruises are always a good bet for families whether the kids are preschoolers (supervised play time) or teens (all they can eat, a safe place to roam, youth spa treatments ).  

Go for three days or a week. Mega ships like Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure offer something for every age group.

The big news for cruising this Spring is more ships, bigger ships and more homeports to save families from purchasing air fare just to board their cruise.

Springtime History & Heritage Journeys

February is African-American Heritage Month celebrating the struggles and contributions of all who built the country we know today.  The Mt. Vernon Historic site outside Washington DC – a great city to visit during the President’s Day school break -- has special programs with interpreters introducing visitors of all ages to plantation life.

Ft. Worth, Texas is another historic destination that brings Cowboy lore to life with weekly cattle roundups, Stockyard tours and Western art museums.

Build a trip around American history in one of the original colonies, whether in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts or Maine.

Such places bring famous battles to life and encourage grandparents to connect with younger generations through stories only they can share.

Spring Sports, Spas & Outdoor Fun

If sports rule in your household, this is the time to take your team to spring training, a mainstay at small stadiums in Floridaand Arizona. You’ll find special packages close to every stadium—and plenty to do when the games are done.

Grandparents, on the other hand, may find it perfect weather to introduce the grandkids to their passion for golf, at its best in Arizona, Hawaii and Palm Springs resorts.

Spring Break is also a great time to visit some of our national parks, like the Grand Canyon.  Scottsdale, meanwhile is known for its spas as well as golf courses and spectacular spring weather.  We’re also fans of Tucson with its dude ranches, spectacular desert hikes, birding and laid-back cowboy  sensibility.

Spring Skiing & Snowsports

There’s nothing like a gentle spring sun, soft fluffy powder and afternoon hot tub crawls to make expert skiers and snowboarders relax with delight. It’s also the perfect weather to turn your littlest ones, who are so susceptible to the cold, into lifelong snow sports lovers.  Check out our roundup of this year's top Ski and Snow Family Vacations.

Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek along Colorado’s I-70 Corridor make it a great destination for posh resort-hopping if you want fresh slopes to conquer. Kids 12 and under ski free at Keystone Resort every day of the 2012/13 winter season without any blackout dates. (Families must stay two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous owned and operated accommodation.)

Aspen and its four different mountain resorts bring the X-Games glamor to a snowsports vacation for any fan. At the Aspen resorts, kids ski free between April 1st and 14th with a 3-day minimum purchase of a comparable adult ticket (as long as you book by March 11).

At Park City Mountain Resort, you might have the chance to meet up with a snowmama and get the skinny on one of the most fun ski towns anywhere.  Here’s your chance to ride an alpine coaster, go tubing, catch a ride on an Olympic bobsled or even learn a little history.

If everyone in your gang is a beginner, consider smaller mountains near where you live – Bolton Valley in Vermont right near Burlington  is one of our faves, as are Mt. Rose in Lake Tahoe, California and Wisp Mountain in Maryland.

Theme Parks in the Springtime

 Family spring breaks are all the rage at theme parks, where all ages can find thrill rides and shows to their liking. Couples with babies in tow can take advantage of the Rider Switch policies at major Disney and Universal theme parks, which allow one parent to wait with baby at the head of the line while the other one rides, then switch without waiting again.

So many families come to Orlando for Spring Break—2.6 million visitors in March and April – that you’ll see more kids here than any time of year except the summer. And it won’t be nearly as hot. TheMagicard offer discounts on everything from attractions to accommodations and restaurants. You will find new attractions at all of the parks.

Tropical Getaways in Spring & Summer

One thing we can say about a tropical getaway to the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America – the weather is more likely to be warm and sunny than in most American beach areas. With that in mind, you’ll have to start shopping for flights right away since cheap seats and frequent flyer rewards during the school holidays around Martin Luther King, Presidents Day, Spring Break and Easter book up quickly.

Cancun’s reputation as a hot spring break destination has been assured by MTV but there are many terrific Cancun resorts, and more along the Riviera Maya, that welcome families and couples without asking you to check your sanity at the gate.

Puerto Rico is the island getaway for those looking for Latin culture without needing a passport; this territory welcomes US visitors of all ages to its beautiful beaches, historic fortresses, rain forest canopy tours, bio-luminescent bay, and contemporary art galleries, with just a photo ID.

Did we forget your favorite spring break destination? Kids have an idea for a new place to go? Share it in the Comments section below so we can all head there next season!

To read more suggestions for spring break vacations, visit Family Travel Forum.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! My husband and I have been deciding where to go for vacation. We haven’t been to Costa Rica so we're considering renting a Jaco condo and spending our vacation there. We've heard so many wonderful things about it!