The Best Spring Break Trips for Families
The kids are getting restless and so are you. Maybe the idea of braving the wind and chill just one more day makes it difficult to climb out of your cozy blankets in the morning. Or maybe your 10-year-old is at the point where it seems like the relentless amount of homework is never going to come to an end.
With schools across the country ramping up for spring break, why not use this week to escape the end-of-school-year inertia and book a family vacation? After all, studies say that kids who travel tend to be more successful in class, so making sure your children rise to the top is a perfectly good reason to take a trip. Right?
From classic beach vacations to water park thrills, we’ve pulled together a list of destinations across the U.S. and Caribbean that are sure to entertain your kids, no matter how old they are. Of course, if you haven’t quite had your fill of snowflakes and hot chocolate, we’ve been sure to include a couple of chilly weather destinations as well.
So go ahead, take that much-needed vacation, get recharged, and finish the school year strong.
Disney might be the most obvious choice, but if you’ve yet to see what the hype is all about, you’re in for a real treat. Even if you have been to Orlando dozens of times, the parks are opening tons of new attractions for you to get excited about this year, including a daily street party with Mickey and Minnie, a meet-and-great with the Incredibles, and a new nighttime display (complete with lasers, lights, and music).
Head to Epcot between March 6 and June 3 for the 26th Annual International Flower & Garden Festival, which will feature Beauty and the Beast and Frozen topiaries, a Toy Story 4-themed play area, and an English Tea Garden.
Disneyland’s Food & Wine festival isn’t just for adults, either. The festival, which runs until April 23, offers family-friendly activities, including a Jr. chef cooking experience with Chef Goofy.
Every spring, the nation's capital bursts alive with color, attracting an average of 1.5 million tourists to see over 3,000 trees decorate the Tidal Basin with awe-inspiring beauty. This year the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival starts March 20 and ends April 14, and includes a number of fun events on the itinerary, such as bike tours, performances, and craft making. To plan your trip during peak bloom, follow the cherry blossom forecast for the latest updates.
Another perk to D.C.? The city is chalk-full of free museums and gardens, so you can bring the whole family without spending a pretty penny. From the National Museum of Natural History to the U.S. Botanic Garden, National Air and Space Museum, and National Zoo, kids and adults alike will find a never-ending supply of attractions.
Families visiting the city this spring will also be pleased to find the International Spy Museum open at a new location near the National Mall and the Wharf. With a whole range of activities, kids can learn about real-life spies and put their own skills to their test through interactive exhibitions and installations.
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Atlantis, an oceanside resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, is a destination in itself. Perhaps the biggest highlight is Dolphin Cay, one of the largest open-air marine mammal habitats in the world. You and the family can swim (or kayak or paddleboard) with bottlenose dolphins and play with sea lions, rescued from Hurricane Katrina.
Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park, needs at least a day’s worth of exploring. The massive playground features 20 swimming areas, 11 swimming pools, exhilarating water slides, tranquil and thrilling river rides, and a water-play fort.
The resort also boasts five miles of white-sand beaches, including Paradise Lagoon Beach, where you will find snorkeling, paddle boats, and water sports. Or, catch up on some much-needed R&R at Paradise Beach.
Although it’s chilly this side of the Midwest in March and April, the Waterpark Capital of the World rightfully lays claim to some of the world’s best indoor waterparks.
The largest in Wisconsin, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions has everything you could ever dream of: water coasters, water slides, raft rides, wave simulators, a lazy river, and, for the grownups, a swim-up bar and cabana. If you need to regain your land legs, the resort also has an indoor adventure park, complete with an arcade, mini golf course, laser tag, and rides.
With four indoor water parks, the Wilderness Resort is another fan favorite among families. Klondike Cavern serves up a whole range of attractions, including raft rides, body slides, a lazy river, and Slideboarding. Wild Waterdome Waterpark, on the other hand, proclaims the largest indoor wave pool in America and Wild West Waterpark has bumper boats and even more thrill rides.
When you’ve had your fill of swim and play, consider checking out an illusion show at the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater, or spending a day at Knuckleheads Trampoline and Indoor Amusement Park, where you’ll find cosmic bowling lanes and the Dells’ only trampoline park.
Zion National Park, Utah
While the Grand Canyon is a go-to destination for families on Spring Break, you are likely to find smaller crowds at nearby Zion National Park (although if you are planning a week-long vacation, you should certainly try to hit up both sights). The park — with its soaring sandstone cliffs and hanging gardens — offers plenty of kid-friendly hikes that are short and easy-to-navigate, including Pa’rus Trail, Weeping Rock Trail, and Canyon Overlook Trail.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
The best island in the continental U.S. just so happens to be a haven for outdoorsy children. Start your trip by renting a few bikes and exploring the island through one (or more) of Hilton Head’s many bike trails. Continue the adventure with a zipline ride through South Carolina’s lowcountry, followed by a pirate-themed cruise aboard a pirate ship. While you’re there, be sure to carve out time to explore the Coastal Discovery Museum, a 68-acre property full of trails that take you through beautiful live oak trees, gardens, and historic buildings. If you’re particularly fond of animals, you can also go horseback riding at the Sea Pines Resort, and spot deer, birds, and alligators at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
With twelve miles of beaches, you will also want to leave some space for soaking up the sun. Whether you catch some rays at Coligny Beach Park or Folly Field Beach Park, you’ll find pristine sands and stunning sunsets.
If your family prefers snow to sand, Keystone Resort is one of the best kid-friendly ski destinations in the country. With over 3,000 acres of terrain across three peaks in the Rocky Mountains, skiers of all skill levels can find a trail to meet their fancy — but if your child is a first-time skier, you can sign her up for one, two, or three-day lessons at the resort’s Ski & Ride School.
When you’re ready to take off the skis, you can twirl your way two ice skating venues, and through April 2, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride though Soda Creek Valley. Kidtopia, Keystone’s kids’ program (i.e. playground), not only offers activities like family snowshoeing, face painting, and fireworks, it also prides itself on having the largest snow fort in the world. After exploring the fort, finish your trek to the top of Dercum Mountain, where the whole family can enjoy eight lanes of snow tubing.
Florida Keys, Florida
While they may not be the first place you think of when you’re planning a family vacation, the Florida Keys, with their abundance of kid-friendly activities, give us just one more reason to visit the Keys in 2019.
If your kids can’t get enough of wildlife, the Florida Keys are sure to impress. Go to the Eco-Discovery Center for an introduction to the local marine ecosystem, followed by a trip to the Key West Aquarium, where kids can touch and hold starfish, sea cucumbers, and conches. Later, head to the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory to see 50 to 60 butterfly species, over 20 exotic bird species, flamingos, and turtles. For a truly exceptional experience, you can swim with dolphins at any number of places, like Dolphins Plus and Theater of the Sea.
But there are more to the Keys than marine animals. At Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, you can dive into Civil War history at the 153-year-old fort, and at the Key West Shipwreck Museum, kids can touch treasures salvaged from a sunken ship. If you’re craving adventure, consider taking a glassbottom boat or kayak through John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, snorkeling at Sombrero Reef, and parasailing in Key Largo.
San Diego, California
America’s Finest City is a wonderland of even more kid-friendly parks, beaches, museums, and hikes. After a trip to the “world famous” San Diego Zoo, be sure to see some of Balboa Park’s other 84 attractions, like the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Fleet Science Center. And if you have a car, you and the kids may want to take a day trip to nearby LEGOLAND California, which has over 60 rides, shows, activities, and, starting March 16, a water park.
The city’s stunning beaches are not to be missed, either. Grab some bikes and ride the Bayshore Bikeway, making a pit stop at the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge on your way to Imperial Beach. As one of the top family beaches in the U.S. Coronado Beach — with its paddle boarding, boogie boarding, and tidepools — should also be on your radar. La Jolla Shores, likewise is a prime place to ride bikes and see sunbathing seals and sea lions. While you’re oceanside, book a whale watching cruise to see if you can catch the aquatic mammals during peak migration season.
A Family Cruise
For busy moms and dads who are too busy to plan the logistics of a family vacation, cruises are your golden solution. There’s no need to worry about where you're going to eat or how you’re going to get from one attraction to the next: everything is all taken care of for you. Aboard most cruise ships are kid and teen programs that offer plenty of activities and excursions to keep your children busy. Carnival Cruise, for example, has a summer camp that entertains children between the ages of two and 11 with arts and crafts, games, movies, and more. Likewise, tweens and teens can make friends with kids their own age at exclusive “teens only” lounges.