These vacation options will please the whole family.
Hey, working mom, spring break is right around the corner, and we’re betting you and your brood could use a reprieve from the daily work-school-winter-grind right around now. We know, though, that sometimes planning a family vacation may take a backseat to, say, that super-important presentation to the board of directors. Never fear; help is here. We’ve rounded up getaways around the nation that won’t empty out your bank account, but will give your family a vacay that feels far away, even if it’s just a short hop from home.
A hidden vacation gem that combines pristine beaches with unparalleled protected parkland in the northwest corner of Florida, this Gulf Coast beach destination is close to both Georgia and Alabama, making it a great drive destination from much of the south. It’s also the perfect spot for families looking for a kid-friendly beach vacation, since South Walton is home to 16 laid-back seaside villages along 26 miles of sugar-white sand that fronts the turquoise water of the Gulf Coast, which is happily warm enough for swimming in the spring. Hop over to the nearby Village of Baytowne Wharf to check out the family-friendly Adventure Zone, which features a zip line, ropes course, arcades, a carousel and a playground.
Where to Stay
Located directly on the beach, the The Hilton Sandestin offers day- and nighttime kids’ programs, childcare, plus indoor and outdoor pools. (Tip: Use code PBFFP1 to get free breakfast and WiFi for the whole family during your stay.)
This Southern charmer, nestled between a river and a mountain range, is so sure that you’ll want to spend spring break here that they’ve created a Spring Break Safari & Scavenger Hunt for families that turns the entire city into a kid-friendly adventure zone through April 9, 2017. After you’ve finished your safari quest, explore on the river by adventure rafting or more relaxed Duck Boat tours, take a mountain hike or visit the aquarium, the zoo, kid’s museum or the railroad museum. Of course, you could spend your free time sampling the amazing barbecue, which could be an eating adventure in its own right.
Where to Stay
Thomas fan or train buff in the family? You’re going to want to pull directly in to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, a historic converted railway terminal, where you can stay in a converted Pullman car (so cool!). Rates start at less than $200 per night.
Mardi Gras may be over, but that doesn’t mean that the Big Easy shouldn’t be on your spring break list. The weather is beautiful in New Orleans before the heat of summer sets in, and there’s still plenty to keep the family busy in NOLA. Two top choices: a gator-seeking bayou tour (which should especially be a hit with Disney’s Princess and the Frog fans) and City Park,, where you’ll find kid-size fun at Carousel Amusement Park, the Storyland fairytale-themed playground, plus Big Lake for fishing and water fun. Don’t forget to take a beignet break at Café du Monde and to hop a ride on the open-air trolley cars through the Garden District.
Where to Stay
Set along the banks of the Mississippi River and just a short walk to the historic French Quarter, Hilton New Orleans Riverside welcomes families with special spring break itineraries with insider recommendations for restaurants, live music, shopping and outdoor activities, like airboat tours, starting at $183 per night.
The heart of Texas offers big outdoor fun for families in the spring. Get a taste for the city along San Antonio’s colorful Riverwalk where you can take a guided boat tour or paddle a kayak. Then, visit the city’s five UNESCO Spanish colonial missions and the city’s famous Alamo, tour Natural Bridge Caverns’ rock formations and colorful cave ribbons, or rent bikes to soak up the city’s 50 miles of bluebonnet-filled trails. The kids will also enjoy a trip to a theme park; both Sea World and Six Flags are right on San Antonio’s doorstep, as is Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25-acre former quarry, now “the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals,” which offers inclusive rides, attractions and shows for everyone.
Where to stay
The Omni San Antonio at the Colonnade has family suites and a complimentary Kids Crew program that includes a backpack full of games and activities, plus milk and cookies first-night room-service delivery, not to mention a pool with nightly “float-in” movies, all starting at $159 per night.
The central coast of California is a nature lover’s, not to mention bargain-lover’s, paradise with some of the best gray whale watching opportunities in the country, plus the chance to hike through the magnificent redwood forests, and drive along scenic Big Sur, all nearly free activities. There are also super kid-friendly Monterey Aquarium to visit, Hearst Castle to explore, and plenty of chances to play on the beautiful, un-crowded West Coast beaches to keep you busy.
Where to Stay
Located in the heart of Monterey, Portola Hotel & Spa is situated along the colorful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and just steps from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and has rates starting from $169 that includes their complimentary “Portola Pirates” program that offers perks for kids 3 to 12.