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& Keri Stooksbury
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It’s time to say goodbye to winter and ring in the arrival of spring with a family vacation. There are so many destinations within the U.S. perfect for spring break family adventures, from U.S. national parks to cultural haunts, theme parks, and more.
March and April are excellent times to travel abroad, with fewer crowds frequenting top cities, beaches, and attractions worldwide. You may find amazing deals on award redemptions for flights and hotels, especially if you travel on off-peak spring dates (not Easter).
These are some of the best family-friendly spring break destinations to check out this season, whether traveling with the kids, teens, or grandparents or just wanting a more sedate spring break.
Much of the continental U.S. still faces cold weather or even snow when spring break rolls around, so it’s normal to want to escape the freezing temps for some family fun in the sun. Here’s where you should go if you’re hoping for a sunny spring break.
One of the best all-inclusive spring break destinations for families, it’s easy to enjoy a relaxing, fun-filled vacation in Punta Cana without having to constantly organize. With numerous all-inclusive properties in Punta Cana, you can book your hotel and have access to meals and activities without spending hours planning what to do, where to eat, and other logistics.
Some of our favorites include the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, where you can burn those hard-earned Hyatt points to enjoy amenities like an on-site water park, swim-up pool bars (parents, we’re looking at you here), a kids’ club and teen lounge, and plenty of games, activities, and entertainment. The Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is another family-friendly, all-inclusive hotel for families wanting to spend spring break with SpongeBob or even get slimed.
If you want to get off the resort for something a little different, consider a day trip to Saona Island, a tiny tropical spot with magical white sands and transparent waters.Hot Tip:
The Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana is a stunning property, but this Hyatt hotel has recently gone up a category. The Category E property now requires a minimum of 35,000 points per night. To bulk up your Hyatt points stash, apply for a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, with which you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt.
Or, if you’re paying cash, consider paying for your Hyatt stay with The World of Hyatt Credit Card. Not only can you get up to 9x points on Hyatt charges, but you also get World of Hyatt Discoverist status, among other benefits.
Florida is one of the most obvious choices as a spring break destination for young families or families with toddlers. More specifically, the Florida Keys offers beautiful sunshine and plenty of activities for those who want to enjoy nature and wildlife. Although many families may prefer Orlando for its proximity to Walt Disney World Resort or Cocoa Beach (ideal for slightly older children who want to explore the Kennedy Space Center), Key West and the other Florida Keys win when it comes to marine life, water sports, and historical sites.
While you really can’t go wrong with any Florida destination over spring break, the Florida Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S., turtle rescue and dolphin research centers, and 10 state parks in a 125-square-mile radius. Families love snorkeling in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, spotting American crocodiles in Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, and kayaking from Islamorada to explore the Indian Key Historic State Park, a hidden gem with blissful beaches that are often crowd-free.
While Cancún may be best known for hosting a party-centric spring break, the Mexican tourist hub has many family-friendly, all-inclusive resorts with on-site water parks. The Riviera Maya stretches south from just outside the city along the coast, starting in the town of Puerto Morelos (a less touristy area) through Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Sian Ka’an Biosphere. While travelers who want a more traditional, all-inclusive vibe might opt for Cancún, families ready to discover wildlife, culture, and nature (all while getting sun) should head south of the city.
Snorkelers can enjoy spotting fish and other marine life in the National Reef Park of Puerto Morelos. The town also has a main square that comes alive each evening with cultural activities and stalls selling wares and snacks. Further south, the mangroves and marshes of Sian Ka’an are ideal for boating or kayaking. You can also take guided tours of nearby cenotes and Mayan ruins.
Have an exotic and sunshine-filled family-friendly spring break vacation without ever leaving the country by heading to Hawaii. Honolulu, on the island of Oʻahu, is a top spring break destination for families. It’s still part of the U.S. (and one of Hawaii’s most developed islands), especially ideal for families that want a vacation that feels far-flung but also has the currency, language, and facilities the mainland U.S. has.
O’ahu is for curious families eager to learn more about Polynesian history and traditions. It’s home to a Polynesian Cultural Center and the Bishop Museum, both dedicated to preserving Pacific culture. Waikīkī Beach has some of the most popular hotels for families (and you can spot the Diamond Head volcano in the distance from Waikīkī — older kids will enjoy the hike up). The island is also home to Pearl Harbor National Memorial. A trip there can encourage children to learn about the nation’s important historic moments.
Some of the most fun spring break destinations for families embrace the great outdoors. Kids can run free, parents can soak in the beauty of nature, and you might even get your teens and tweens to look up from their devices.
Outdoorsy families love Yosemite National Park. The spring months of March and April are ideal for exploring the park sans crowds. Families should take advantage of the shuttle bus that connects key destinations within the Yosemite Valley. Certain shuttles, like the Mariposa Welcome Center shuttle to Mariposa Grove, are seasonal (this one opens on April 1, 2024). You can also drive through the park. Because Yosemite isn’t super close to a main airport (the nearest is in Fresno), this might be an ideal destination for road-trippers.
Hiking is also an optimal way for families to explore the park. Just know it may be chilly, especially as you ascend. Or you can bike around the park (adult and child-size bikes are available to rent). Families visiting in March can also ski at Badger Pass if weather conditions permit.
Montana is one of the best U.S. spring break destinations for families that want to avoid crowds. Some people prefer snow to sand, and ski season runs through April in Big Sky, Montana. Kids can enjoy an event that marks the closing ski season for Whitefish: the annual Pond Skim, where participants hilariously attempt to cross a pond full of booby traps.
April is a gorgeous month to visit Montana to admire and appreciate the changing seasons. The snow begins to melt, and you can see floral buds and the beginning of greenery. It’s also high season for fly fishing. If you’re comfortable braving the cold, you won’t have to fight the crowds when visiting Glacier National Park. However, most of the park’s concessions and services won’t fully open until May, so keep that in mind when visiting.
Sedona is another U.S. spring break destination for families that want to avoid crowds, as most folks prefer to visit in the summer. Outdoorsy types can take advantage of warmish daytime temperatures but still cuddle by a fireplace at night. Save the waters of Slide Rock for summer, and instead take some child-appropriate guided nature walks, bird walks, and hikes through Red Rocks State Park, which also has an annual Earth Day celebration that features wildlife presentations, contests, food, games, and more. Families with teens ready to tackle the colder temps can take guided moonlight walks through the park.
If your kids are too young for long hikes, consider a ride with the Verde Canyon Railroad in nearby Clarkdale, where you can ride a restored vintage train 40 miles through Verde Canyon. The ride is 4 hours long, but the train cars feature comfortable seating, restrooms, snacks, and iconic views of red rock buttes, canopies of blooming foliage, and even wildlife spotting if you’re lucky.
Sustainable family travelers should visit Costa Rica in the dry spring season. Although it’s a popular time to go, you avoid storms, mosquitos, and other bugs that tend to thrive in the wetter weather. While many associate Costa Rica with jungle adventures and surfing, families can also show younger kids where food comes from with visits to banana, mango, and chocolate farms.
Kids can visit sloth sanctuaries or spot them in the wild at Manuel Antonio Park. And if you do want to experience the traditional zip lining and surfing in the country, there are plenty of kid-friendly options. Families that love the thrill of camping should also check out the Nayara Tented Camp (one of our top glamping recommendations), which sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano.Hot Tip:
Depending on where you go in Costa Rica, you might want to rent a car. Consider renting a 4×4 vehicle, which will allow you to get off the beaten path and explore many beautiful waterfalls, mountains, and beaches that are only accessible via dirt roads.
If you’re on the hunt for a more educational adventure, cultural escapes can be some of the best not-the-beach spring break destinations for families. Destinations with activities, events, and attractions like spring festivals, free museums, and foodie tours are places the whole family can enjoy.
Teens and tweens may best benefit from a trip to the U.S. capital since they might also be learning about civics and the destination’s history at school. With the National Cherry Blossom Festival covering nearly half of March and April (March 20 to April 14 in 2024), families that want to take in the nation’s capital lined with colorful buds should visit in spring. Kite-flying parties, parades, and music make the event ideal for the whole family.
Families on a budget can also enjoy Washington D.C.’s many free museums, such as the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Castle, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and others. Just make sure to check online to see if you need to reserve a timed entry.
One of the best international spring break destinations for families, Rome is ideal for parents who want to expand their kids’ palates or enjoy cooking. Food markets, cooking classes, culinary demonstrations, food tours, and traditional farm stays can introduce the whole family to different flavors and textures and explain where and how food is sourced. Your children will be talking about that amazing pizza-making class for years to come. And if not? Well, there’s plenty of never-ending pasta for even the pickiest eaters.
Although Rome isn’t necessarily known as the foodie capital of Italy, the urban hub has all sorts of things to do when you get tired (or full) of foodie tourism, with family-friendly attractions such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It’s easy to get to from many U.S. hubs, and visitors can expect mild weather in the spring, not too cold or hot for sightseeing.
For a colorful, vibrant spring break, introduce your children to Cartagena, Colombia. The bright hues of the UNESCO-listed walled historic center and street art of the lively Getsemani neighborhood appeal to the whole family. Stories of pirates, street food carts, animated music, and traditional dancing keep town squares abuzz from day to night. Artsy parents will be drawn to the Fernando Botero status and art galleries scattered around the city, while kids will be wowed by the palenqueras — women in traditional dress who balance fruit on their heads as they roam the streets. All members of the family will likely enjoy exploring the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a 16th-century Spanish fort that overlooks the bright, blue sea.
Stays in Cartagena range from budget to luxe, though even the fanciest, big-brand, high-rise hotels in the Miami-like neighborhood of Boca Grande are relatively affordable. Get the kids pumped for a Cartagena trip by watching Disney’s “Encanto,” set in Colombia.
Whether it’s food, culture, tours, attractions, rides, parks, history, beaches, or something a little extra, these top family spring break destinations have endless activities for active families obsessed with filling their spring break with plenty of learning, adventure, and fun appropriate for all ages.
Las Vegas isn’t just for adults, partyers, and gamblers — there are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas with kids. Many of the most famous Las Vegas hotels have endless activities for kids, from Treasure Island’s pirate ship to the Big Apple Coaster, part of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. Children, teens, and tweens can go to shows like Blue Man Group or Cirque du Soleil. Most Vegas hotels also have massive pools, so enjoying the spring sunshine is an enjoyable way for the family to kick back and splash around after a day out on the town.
Las Vegas also has the Discovery Children’s Museum and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. The whole family can view the sparkling lights of the Las Vegas Strip from vantage points like the Tower Observation Deck at the Stratosphere or the High Roller Las Vegas Strip Observation Wheel. This Nevadan hub is also an excellent base for outdoorsy day trips such as rafting by the Hoover Dam or boating around Lake Mead.
San Diego is a kid-friendly destination that boasts welcoming spring weather and has numerous kid-centric activities. The San Diego Zoo is one of the world’s largest, and there’s also the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld. Balboa Park (where the zoo is located) is also home to museums, hiking trails, and other fun, family-friendly activities like a miniature train, carousel, butterfly garden, and more.
LEGOLAND California is nearby, and so are Sesame Place San Diego (a Sesame Street-themed water park) and the beachfront theme park Belmont Park. And if you’re looking for something more affordable? San Diego is home to 31 beaches that feature more than 70 miles of coastline.
Manhattan is excellent for families at all times of the year, but in spring, when the trees in Central Park sprout buds and spring-inspired events like the Welcome Spring Festival at Wave Hill go down, it gets even better. Family sports enthusiasts can catch baseball games when the Major League season starts up again. Theater fans can see child-friendly shows like “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “Wicked,” and “The Lion King.” And all members of the family will enjoy those quintessential New York City attractions like the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and the Staten Island Ferry. Plus, let’s not forget about relative newcomers like Hudson Yards or the High Line.
Family-friendly museums in New York City include the American Museum of Natural History, the 5-floor Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the Jewish Children’s Museum, and the Staten Island Children’s Museum. And if you’re in the market for the best luxury spring break destinations for families, New York City is the answer, complete with fancy hotels, restaurants, and shops — some of which cater directly to kids, such as the famed toy store FAO Schwarz. The Peninsula offers Peter Rabbit storytime and afternoon tea, and The Plaza has a dedicated Eloise Suite.Hot Tip:
NOLA’s warm temps and lively culture are perfect for families looking for history, music, culture, and lots to do. Families flock to the haunted city tours that delve into the city’s spooky, voodoo-inspired past. Toddlers can delight in the bands that march around the French Quarter, playing buoyant jazz music. Kids of any age enjoy riding the city’s iconic streetcars into the Garden District, while parents can admire the historic mansions that line the boulevards. Not far outside the city, swamp tours and riverboat and airboat cruises along the Mississippi River allow visitors to experience the area’s unique flora and fauna, from crocodiles to otters and more.
Older folks often enjoy New Orleans‘ exuberant culture, too — so bring grandma and grandpa along. After dark, adults of any age can enjoy jazz clubs and bars from sophisticated to rowdy. Foodies can sample low-brow, indulgent delights like po’boys, muffuletta sandwiches, and crawfish platters, take Cajun cooking workshops, and discover fine dining at French restaurants.
Whether you prefer to take your teens to hike Yosemite, your siblings to New Orleans, or your toddler to Rome, there are plenty of great spring break destinations for families to fit a range of interests and budgets. If you plan to book spring break travel, book soon for the best prices and availability, especially for larger families. Vrbo suggests booking spring break travel by February 8 for the best selection of available properties.
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Popular destinations for Americans to visit on spring break include spots like Cancún, Mexico; San Diego, California; Florida; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. For more information on where Americans travel during spring break, we gathered the data, state-by-state.
If you’re looking for sunshine and warm temperatures, U.S. destinations like Florida, New Orleans, southern Arizona, Southern California, and Hawaii are all ideal spots.
International destinations like Mexico or the Dominican Republic are some of the most affordable destinations to go on spring break with families. In the U.S., many national parks are usually affordable places to visit, although some charge fees.
San Diego is one of the top places to travel this spring for families. With endless activities for families from budget (lazy beach days) to expensive (theme parks like SeaWorld and LEGOLAND), this Southern California destination also has sunshine and warm temperatures in months like March and April.
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