Spring break is like a gift for families. It’s the gift of a break from a hectic school year and the chance to spend time together tuned into family. No rushing from soccer practice to ballet lessons to homework. But where should you go? Here, we round up our recommendations for the best spring destinations for families. From national parks to sandy beaches to snowy mountains and, of course, Florida theme parks.
Ahhhhh. Spring break. It’s the reward for surviving two-thirds of another year of school, sports teams, after-school lessons, band practice and everything else your family does each week. Spring break is one week away from those daily demands so you can tune into family fun.
But where are the best family spring break destinations? They’re everywhere, including right in your own backyard.
Here are our favorite family-friendly spring break getaways.
Florida Theme Parks
Orlando is the place to be for amusement park fans. There are the big draws of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld. But they are hardly the only options in Central Florida. There’s also LEGOLAND Florida, which is really great for younger kids; the silly wonder of the sassy alligators at Gatorland, and a collection of water parks that keep you cool in the Florida heat.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Check out this list of the 13 best theme parks in Central Florida.
More Florida Spring Break Ideas
There’s much more to Florida than theme parks! The state is home to many beautiful beaches. We’re partial to Clearwater Beach along the Gulf Coast where we stay at one of these Clearwater Beach resorts and the white sand beaches of Panama City Beach in the Panhandle, where family vacation rentals are the way to stay.
For a more natural experience, head to one of Florida’s gorgeous state parks and rent a kayak to explore the wonders of wild Florida, including the flora, fauna and alligators (they’re EVERYWHERE in Florida). Even if it’s just a day trip during a week in Orlando, showing the kids the natural side of Florida is a winning approach to making your spring break trip a little educational too.
For almost guaranteed warmth and sunshine, head to the Florida Keys. While I recommend one of the other keys for less crowded more family-friendly fun, there also are plenty of fun things to do in Key West, much of which is free.
Read More: Off the Beaten Path Spring Break Ideas
National Parks for a Family Spring Break
National parks became the vacation destination of choice for so many families during the pandemic. But socially distancing is just one reason to visit the natural wonders of the USA.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone, the country’s first national park. You can read our complete guide here. While the weather in springtime can be unpredictable, there are a couple of Yellowstone hotels open all year round and there are many hotels outside the park that work well for families.
Other national parks that should not be missed include the iconic Grand Canyon National Park; New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia, the country’s newest national park; the 11 national parks in New York City; and Yosemite National Park and the other California national parks that are a road trip away from Los Angeles.
If you aren’t close to a national park or the one closest to you is too popular right now, consider visiting a nearby state park instead. Some are nearly as majestic as a national park, filled with hiking trails, waterfalls, horseback riding and incredible sunsets.
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SheBuysTravel Tip: Engage kids in a national park through the Junior Ranger Badge program.
We love America’s cities! From the Big Apple adventures of New York City to the Midwestern charm of Chicago to the Texas temptations of Dallas and San Antonio to the sunny wonders of Los Angeles and San Diego, cities have everything a family needs. There’s great food, awesome museums, city parks and plenty of world-class entertainment, a surprising amount of which is free!
Even better, it’s easy to see the best of Chicago in three days or New York in one, two or three days. In LA, we like to spend time at the beach, especially one of the cleanest beaches in Los Angeles. In San Diego, we never miss a day trip to the San Diego Zoo (here’s how to see it all in one day) and a day at Balboa Park, where there are so many free things to do. We also like to spend as much time as we can eating, thanks to all of the family-friendly San Diego restaurants.
If you prefer smaller cities, head to St. Louis, home to the Gateway Arch and one of the coolest children’s museum anywhere, City Museum. Or try Mobile, Alabama, home to the incredible Bellingrath botanical gardens, where the more than 250,000 azalea bushes are likely to be bloom.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you belong to your local zoo, aquarium or museum, be sure to ask about reciprocity. In many cases, out-of-town establishments will honor your membership with free or heavily discounted admission. Also check for a CityPASS option, which may offer significant savings on a bundle of attractions at your destination!
If your idea of a fab spring break vacation includes donning coats, hats, mittens and skis, then one of these family friendly Colorado ski resorts is the best choice. If you don’t ski, there still are plenty of outdoor activities in these mountain towns, including bike trails, horseback riding, dog sledding, cross country skiing, snow tubing and my personal favorite, apres ski!
If you don’t want to head to the mountains of Colorado, you can find snow in many places across the USA, including Utah, California, New Mexico and Michigan. There are even a surprising number of places to find snow in the south.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Kids can ski free at ski resorts across the country. Check the full list here.
Cherry Blossoms and Baseball
Washington DC is likely the first place that comes to mind when you think about cherry blossoms, with its blooms along the Tidal Basin. That’s the area with nearly 1,700 trees around the Jefferson Memorial.
While the 2022 National Cherry Blossom Festival will be from March 20-April 17, there is no telling exactly when the blooms will peak. Check this website and sign up for email updates to get the latest news.
If you’re a baseball family, head to Arizona’s Cactus League or Florida’s Grapefruit League to catch the tail end of Major League Baseball’s spring training, which ends on March 29.
Arizona for Almost Guaranteed Gorgeous Weather
Speaking of Arizona, this state is high on our list of sunny, warm spots. And there is plenty to please families from Tucson to Williams. The natural wonders of the desert landscape and red rock vistas, gorgeous national parks and monuments, fabulous hiking, haunted hotels and plenty of fun and free things to do in Arizona with kids make the state a great choice for spring break. As an added bonus, the weather is likely to be warm but not yet hot.
If you’re visiting with younger kids, don’t miss a stop at Bearizona, a charming drive-through zoo near Williams. If you’re traveling with teens who like things a little scary, plan a visit to the ghost town of Jerome or stay in a haunted hotel in Prescott.
Arizona is the home of the majestic Grand Canyon National Park; a road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is the stuff family memories are made of. Or stay closer to Phoenix and explore the natural wonder of Watson Lake Park. That’s right — a lake in the middle of the Arizona desert! And it’s an easy day trip from Phoenix.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Try one of these Arizona resorts for family-friendly pampering.
Spring Break Hot Spots Beyond the USA
If you’re looking for almost guaranteed warm weather during your spring break vacation, the answer might be to take the whole family to Mexico or the Caribbean. Home to a wide variety of all inclusive resorts, both destinations offer warm ocean breezes and a southern latitude make it highlight likely the temperatures will be toasty and the sun will be shining.
In Mexico, the beach resorts in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta offer plenty of family fun things to do, including ziplining, mini-golf, parasailing and a wide variety of watersports, from snorkeling to sailing to paddleboarding.
In the Caribbean, there is an island for every family. Choosing the right one is really about knowing what you want to do. Do you prefer a laid back vibe just rotating between the beach and pool? Or is your family more into fun activities such as hiking, rafting and water slides?
Do you want to be in a private place, or a party place? Do you crave the luxury of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas? Or do you prefer a less touristy spot like St. Kitts or St. Lucia?
If you can’t decide on the right spring break getaway, or there’s some reason you have to stay home this year, it can still be a real spring break. But a staycation only counts as a true family vacation if you get all of the spring break benefits of tuning out of the daily grind and planning unique experiences.
If you’re going the staycation route, budget for treats that make it feel more like a real vacation. That means things like having someone in to clean the house. And order in dinner several nights during the week. That way, you don’t have to spend your vacation time cooking and cleaning.
Here are 10 more ways to make a staycation feel more like a real vacation.
More Spring Break Ideas
Ultimately, whatever your family’s desire, there is a spring break destination that will be right. It’s all about knowing what you like to do, whether you’re comfortable in crowds and how much the family budget can afford.
Here are some more spring break ideas:
If you need more spring break ideas, join the SheBuysTravel Facebook Community and post your questions there!