10 Sunny Spring Break Spots That Will Please the Whole Family
Family-friendly vacations you and your kids will love.
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Your Next Spring Break Vacation Spot
We all know that Mother Nature offers no guarantees when it comes to weather. And if you’re craving Vitamin D as intensely as I am, you might not want to take any chances by booking something with average temps below 65 degrees for your family’s spring break this year. If you’re ready to fly south for the season, we’ve got nearly a dozen trip ideas that will definitely give the whole family something to look forward to after a bleak winter.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The newly renovated Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa is offering a spring break deal starting at $323 per night (use promo code ZJL) that includes: an ocean-view room with balcony, a buffet breakfast with local favorites like made-to-order chilaquiles, a city tour for two adults and a 30-minute agave syrup salt scrub per person. What makes this location so great for families is that adults can enjoy a tequila tasting of the resort’s special blend or a spa treatment — or even just hang out at the pool — while kids ages 4–12 are fully entertained in the kid’s club. Your little ones will be obsessed with the club’s indoor and outdoor play areas, pottery painting, folktales, Mexican cooking and culture lessons and a healthy dose of Spanish instruction. When the urge to explore hits, check out downtown Puerto Vallarta with its shopping, galleries, nightlife and old town area.
Montage Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
A trip to this village-like resort near Hilton Head, SC, remains one of my kids’ favorite spring break trips. First of all, the property has three ambassador canines that rotate daily during check-in time in the lobby. Families should pick up a merit badge sheet from the concierge, which allows kids to earn a pin each time they complete a task like climbing a treehouse (there are two on the property), roasting a s’more (a s’mores cart loaded with flavored marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate squares and skewers appears nightly near the firepit), spotting a dolphin (the property sits on the May River) or getting a bullseye in archery (a thrill at any age, frankly). The resort offers outdoor family movies, biking trails, a peaceful and safe place where kids can run free, a family pool with an adjacent hot tub, a bowling alley, boat trips into the nearby town — I could go on. This is a family paradise.
Spring is pretty much the perfect season to visit the metropolitan area that’s often referred to as the Valley of the Sun.
“February and March are probably the prettiest times of year, after you get all that January rain,” says Troy Haviland, owner of The Stables at Fort McDowell.
This time of year, you can still catch sunset balloon rides with Hot Air Expeditions, which only offers early morning flights during the hottest months. Stay at the family-friendly Wigwam resort to enjoy their pool with a slide, tennis courts and lawn games. Try nationally renowned pizzas at Pizzeria Bianco, and meander through the outstanding Desert Botanical Garden. Even buy Southwestern tchotchkes for folks back home in Old Town Scottsdale.
Even the most jaded Washingtonian usually feels a bit like a kid again when they spy an abundance of cherry blossoms during their morning commute. This year, the peak bloom time is expected during the first week of April (but remember, it really depends on Mother Nature) and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade will take place on April 13. Aside from petal peeping, families will want to sign up in advance for tickets to the new-ish National Museum of African American History and Culture, which garners rave reviews from locals and tourists alike. Also try popping into as many Smithsonian museums as possible before the kids stage a mutiny. But when they do, hop in the car and head down I-395 to The St. James, where kids can go rock-climbing, trampoline-jumping and Nerf-gun-raiding while parents sip smoothies in the cafe or get a massage at the spa.
Coral Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas
This recently renovated resort sits on a car-free island in the Bahamas and offers 38 spacious beachside cottages or bungalows for large families. Located 50 miles east of Nassau, the island resort also boasts access to a private pink sand beach, heated freshwater infinity pool, game room and a staff ready to arrange family activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, beach picnics, biking and boat rides. Those who don’t want to leave their fitness regimens at home can make use of the gym, yoga studio and tennis courts. Once peak quality time with the kids has been achieved, the resort will arrange for a babysitter so parents can indulge in a date night. Surfing aficionados will want to check out the wave situation on the nearby island of Eleuthera, and in-suite massages will help you settle into the vacation vibe.
San Luis Obispo, California
Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this small and sunny coastal town could either be the perfect pit stop for a Route 1 excursion with the family or a chill home base for day trips. Notable nearby spots include Hearst Castle, the aquarium and the Point San Luis Lighthouse near Avila Beac; or, watch sea otters play in Morro Bay. Stay in The Kinney SLO, a newly opened 100-room boutique hotel located fairly close to the historic district, children’s museum and weekly farmer’s market. Kids will love the vintage pastimes like Skee-Ball and shuffleboard, as well as the retro life-sized games like Lite-Brite and Scrabble found near the firepits and bean-bag chairs in The Quad, one of the hotel’s communal spaces. Plus, there’s a heated pool, which is pretty much at the top of every parent’s hotel requirements.
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, Mexico
When planning a spring break getaway for the family on the fly, there can sometimes be no sweeter words than the phrase “all-inclusive.” Situated at the very tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos offers everything one would hope to find in an oceanfront resort — including a kids club, a massive, heated infinity pool right on the beach and nightly live performances for the whole family — all surrounded by the Sea of Cortez, desert dunes and picturesque rock formations peeking out of the ocean. There’s also an adults-only pool with a swim-up bar for those times when the kids are happily occupied in the waterpark that’s outfitted with five slides and two water-dump buckets. Optional add-on services include spa treatments on the beach and private cabanas, but all-you-can-eat is a pretty compelling draw when you’re dreading the inevitable cry of “I’m hungry!”
Fort Yargo State Park, Georgia
Among Georgia’s many state parks, Fort Yargo is particularly suited to families looking for a more outdoorsy and less pricey spring break option. Located about an hour northeast of Atlanta, you’ll find family yurts that are perfect for those who can handle temps in the high 60s or low 70s, depending on how spring shakes out this year. (Other accommodation options include cottages, campsites and cabins.) Take advantage of the biking and hiking trails, swimming, fishing or boating on the 260-acre lake, and diversions like disc golf and geocaching. City dwellers will appreciate seeing a night sky full of stars, and kids ages 6–12 can work toward earning Junior Ranger status by picking up a booklet at a state park office and completing the tasks.
Clearwater Beach, Florida
Dolphin sightings in Florida aren’t exactly rare, but what if you could wow your kids by taking them to see Winter and Hope from the “Dolphin Tale” movie? That would probably make you parent of the year — and you can do just that at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Add white sand beaches, kayaking excursions, a 90-minute drive to Disney World once or twice and ample opportunities to get into and out on the water, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty epic spring break. Folks flock to Pier 60 each evening to celebrate sunsets surrounded by artisans, street performers and free weekend movie screenings. Families will want to check into the Sandpearl Resort, which aims for a home-away-from-home atmosphere — if your home was a four-diamond hotel sitting on a pristine beach on the Gulf of Mexico, that is. Suites feature washers and dryers, a full kitchen and oversized tubs, and an educational kids club keeps the young’uns engaged with fun and nature — including watching rehabilitated marine animals being released back into the ocean on the resort’s beach.
Amelia Island, Florida
There are beaches where you plunk yourself by the water all day and don’t expect much more than that. And then there are beaches that offer stunning natural beauty, history, art and adventure. That’s the case with this beachy paradise just south of the Georgia state line, where nature can be appreciated via bicycle, Segway and kayak tours offered through the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort’s nature center. You can even ride horses on the beach! Families can also take in the sights on a river cruise and by hiking through Fort Clinch State Park, and if you’re lucky, you might find evidence of sea turtles nesting and hatching. Stay at the Omni to take advantage of Camp Amelia and family events like beach fires, luau games and dive-in movies.