photography of seashore during sunset

11 of the Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

Spring break is not only an excuse for college students to blow off steam and party. It is an excellent opportunity for families to shake off cabin fever and make memories together. We outline eleven of the best spring break destinations for families. Whether you want a relaxing beach vacation, theme park fun, city exploration, or outdoor adventure, we have spring break ideas for your family.

Theme Parks

If you want an entertaining, action-packed family spring break trip, consider taking your family to a theme park destination. You can enjoy smaller crowds and lower temperatures than in summer.

Orlando

fireworks in Disney World
Fireworks at Disney World. Photo credit: Brian McGowan

Many consider Orlando the theme park capital of the world. If you desire a spring break vacation that provides non-stop entertainment for your kids, you cannot go wrong with Orlando.

Disney World typically garners the headlines regarding theme parks, and with good reason. Your family can embark on different adventures daily within Disney World’s four primary parks:

With family rides, thrill rides, character meet-and-greets, parades, shows, and more, smiles and laughter abound day to night. Even if your children do not watch Disney shows or movies, Disney World parks provide plenty of fun and entertainment. If your kids love a particular Disney character, this trip will be a dream come true.

During spring, Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival presents beautiful flowers, gardens, displays, iconic character topiaries, and specialty food and drink items. Epcot offers a unique experience where your kids can see what it feels like to eat in outer space at the Space 220 restaurant. Do not overlook Epcot. It has a lot to explore.

Universal Orlando Resort houses two fantastic theme parks with family rides, thrill rides, shows, character meet-and-greets, and more. Many attractions utilize theming from popular movies and entertainment properties. You can find plenty of entertainment, rides, and treats in the Harry Potter-themed worlds. These areas alone can entertain your family for two or three days.

If you still need more than these parks, you can visit other attractions in this part of Florida, including SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, zoos, and water parks.

Anaheim

people walking on street during night time
Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land. Photo credit: Leila Bandringa

Although smaller than Disney World, Anaheim harbors Disneyland, where you can experience lighter crowds and less humid weather. Disneyland gives you two parks:

  • Disneyland Park
  • Disneyland California Adventure Park

Visiting Disneyland will bring smiles to the kids and leave mom and dad feeling like kids again. The parks deliver top-notch theming in all the rides, attractions, shows, and characters.

Everything is convenient in terms of getting around. The Downtown Disney District, which houses shops and restaurants, nestles between the two parks. You can easily walk between the two parks and the shopping district. If you choose not to stay at a Disney resort, you can find many hotel options within walking distance of the theme parks. 

Anaheim harbors some unique themed lands that Orlando does not:

  • Cars Land
  • Avengers Campus

Both areas deliver excellent rides, attractions, and dining experiences based on the related themes. 

With superb entertainment and convenience, Disneyland is everything a theme park should be. A spring break trip to Anaheim is sure to delight the whole family.

Beaches

Perhaps you prefer sand between your toes as you listen to waves gently rolling ashore. Something about the smell of salt in the air and sunshine on your face induces calm. Are you ready to relax?

San Diego

city near body of water during nighttime
San Diego skyline. Photo credit: Lucas Davies

Nestled on the southern California coast, San Diego is the perfect spring break destination for that relaxing family getaway. The city boasts 70 miles of an alluring coastline, lovely parks, delicious food, and consistently warm weather. March and April yield opportunities to spot migrating gray whales.

You will quickly notice how the air feels less muggy than the beach towns in the southeastern United States. It is so comfortable you will not want to leave. 

San Diego harbors many beaches. Here are some of your best options for a family vacation:

  • Coronado Beach is renowned for strolls with a view of luxurious homes and the famous Hotel del Coronado. 
  • Imperial Beach has a reputation as a family beach with a wooden pier for walks, sunset views, and fishing. 
  • La Jolla boasts great morning runs or walks along the beach. It is an excellent area for kayaking and has nearby grassy areas, ideal for a picnic. 
  • Mission Beach, known for its bustling boardwalk, houses Belmont Park, an amusement park that will entertain the kids. Note that Mission Beach is also a popular hangout for local college students.

San Diego has many tasty culinary options but has a reputation for excellent Mexican cuisine. The historical Gaslamp Quarter has tons of history, including ghost stories and tales from the wild west. You can find great restaurants here, but note it is a hotspot for nightlife.

Balboa Park comprises 17 museums, many gardens, and the San Diego Zoo if you need entertainment for the kids. The city’s zoo consistently ranks as one of America’s best. 

If you desire a unique, fun experience for the whole family, head to the USS Midway. It is a historic aircraft carrier with over 30 restored aircraft, a climb-in plane, and a flight simulator.

Hilton Head

docked boats near lighthouse in Hilton Head
Hilton Head. Photo credit: Camylla Battani

Loaded with family-friendly activities in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region, Hilton Head Island is an excellent spring break destination for families. You will find beautiful beaches where you can walk, play, and relax. The area is renowned for its golf courses and tennis courts. If mini golf is better for your family, you can also play that.

Hilton Head feels less touristy than your typical beach town. The local business owners love the island and take pride in their work. They are some of the most friendly people you will ever meet.

The island comprises many plantations, giving you plenty of places to explore. Beyond the beaches, you will discover shaded areas with palm trees, pines, and live oaks. 

Many visitors ride bicycles. It is the best way to get around the island and makes a great family bonding activity.

Hilton Head boasts excellent nature preserves, where you have opportunities to spot alligators and various birds. The fresh scent of pine fills the air in the preserves, making for a beautiful nature walk. Here are two of our recommended nature areas to explore:

  • Sea Pines Forest Preserve
  • Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

Harbour Town has an iconic red and white striped lighthouse, a playground, boutique shops, and eateries. You found the spot if you want a lovely evening of shopping, dining, and observing boats along the water.

Hilton Head has some excellent restaurants and coffee shops where you can grab breakfast to start the day. For lunch and dinner, restaurants serve everything from pizzas and burgers to delicious steaks and fresh seafood. Remember to have a slice of key lime pie for dessert.

Most visitors love Hilton Head Island so much they return for future vacations.

Fort Walton Beach

a person carrying a surfboard on a beach at sunset
Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier in Fort Walton Beach. Photo credit: Michael G

Famous for its white sand beaches and emerald waters, Fort Walton Beach sits in the Florida Panhandle, a 1.5-hour drive from Panama City Beach. It is one of the best places for kid-friendly activities. You can walk, swim, play, fish, and more in the area’s beaches and parks.

Fort Walton has many great restaurants, with some of the best seafood in all of Florida. That is unsurprising since Fort Walton and neighboring Destin Beach offer excellent fishing. Many residents and visitors fish from the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. You can often observe fish, rays, dolphins, and sea turtles from the pier, where the vibe is very casual, and the local fishermen are friendly.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is one of the area’s top attractions. It is an aquarium, tourist attraction, and scientific research center. You can tour the animal habitats, watch presentations, and participate in training demonstrations and animal encounters. The aquarium harbors dolphins, seals, rays, sea turtles, reptiles, penguins, and more.

A short drive to Destin yields many entertainment options, including shopping, dining, and mini golf. One of the area’s best attractions is Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, where the entire family can enjoy a fun day on water slides and floating in a lazy river.

Morning and evening beach walks are an absolute delight as you take in the sights and sounds of the Gulf of Mexico. The kids can play in the sand and search for shells. You will often observe someone fishing from the beach during your stroll. With a beautiful setting, friendly locals, excellent seafood, and a few entertainment options, Fort Walton Beach has all the makings of a memorable trip.

Cities

Although less relaxing than a sunny beach, exploring a city is a fantastic way for your kids to learn about history, art, and culture. Plus, your family will bond as you tackle exciting new adventures.

Washington, DC

Washington Monument behind The White House
Cherry blossom petals on the White House lawn with the Washington Monument in the background. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Our nation’s capital is an excellent spring break destination for families. There are many things to see in Washington, DC, including government buildings, historical monuments and memorials, and museums. Best of all, many of these are free.

Since kids learn about history and government in school, the experiences on this trip will resonate with them. Visiting iconic sites like the United States Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument will stir patriotic feelings. Kids often find the size of these iconic sites astonishing.

Many of the most popular attractions sit on the National Mall. You can navigate the city on foot or by bus. You may prefer to rent bikes or scooters, which is great family fun.

The National Mall houses more museums than you can count. Your kids can learn about American history, natural history, science, art, the Holocaust, African American history and culture, and more. There is even a National Children’s Museum for families with young children.

Depending on the timing of your visit, you can see beautiful cherry blossoms brighten the Tidal Basin and parts of the National Mall. Mom and dad may appreciate this more than the kids, but peak bloom is breathtaking. You will find something for everyone in Washington, DC.

New York City

things to do in New York City - climb the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty. Photo credit: Avi Werde

A trip to “The Big Apple” is a thrilling family experience. Your kids have likely heard about New York but seeing it is entirely different.

The sheer size and number of buildings alone will mesmerize your kids. Seeing so many taxi cabs and rivers of people coursing along the city streets is a shock. New York looks and feels like a different world. And, in many ways, it is.

Beyond the vast numbers of people and buildings, there is plenty to explore. To give your kids a feel for the different parts of the massive city, visit each of the five boroughs:

  • The Bronx
  • Brooklyn
  • Manhattan
  • Queens
  • Staten Island

Take your kids to the Statue of Liberty to instill an appreciation for our freedom and opportunities. To further illustrate this point, visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The city offers many iconic sites such as Rockefeller Center, Trump Plaza, the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Times Square, Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, Little Italy, SoHo shopping district, Chinatown, Coney Island, Radio City Music Hall, Broadway, Madison Square Garden, and Central Park. 

This list barely scratches the surface of all New York offers. You will keep busy during your spring break trip, providing your kids with the experience of a lifetime.

If you want to shock your children further, travel to upstate New York to demonstrate how different the area is from the “big city.” You can show them the surreal natural wonders in some of New York’s state parks, including:

Outdoor Adventure

If you desire to move past your cabin fever by exploring nature, we have some terrific suggestions for a family spring break trip.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon. Photo credit: Omer Nezih Gerek

Due to the weather and smaller crowds, the Grand Canyon is one of the best national parks to visit in March or April. The canyon’s size and beauty amaze visitors of all ages.

Although the North Rim is closed, the South Rim offers plenty of areas to explore. You will gain epic canyon views along scenic drives and hiking trails. 

If you have older children who love lengthy hikes, you can find plenty of challenging trails. Stay calm if your children are younger. The Grand Canyon has many short, easy hiking trails with spectacular viewpoints. Regardless of the trail distance or difficulty, keep your eyes open for elk. The beautiful animals grow much bigger than deer and are exciting to spot in the wild.

After savoring the alluring views, stay for an epic sunset. As the night sky darkens the heavens, stars spark to life. It is quite the sight. A Grand Canyon trip is something your kids will never forget.

If you have time, consider visiting Arizona’s other two national parks. Petrified Forest National Park offers the chance to see the painted desert, stone logs, and parts of iconic Route 66. In Saguaro National Park, your kids can walk next to giant cacti up to 60 feet tall.

White Sands National Park

Playing at White Sands National Park
Playing in the sand. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

A White Sands National Park trip is like a beach without an ocean. Nestled between two mountain ranges in southern New Mexico, the park comprises massive rolling dunes of white sand for as far as you can see. The setting is gorgeous, with mountain vistas and blue skies, ideal for picnics and photoshoots. 

Most beach sands consist of quartz, while the sands here are gypsum. What is unique about that? Gypsum does not absorb heat, so you can walk barefoot without scorching your feet. You can also comfortably build sandcastles, dig, and play in the sand.

Sand sledding, a favorite activity for most visitors, is something the whole family can enjoy. Expect lots of giggles and smiles as your kids ride a plastic saucer down the steep slopes. You can rent saucers at the park or bring your own.

If your family enjoys hikes, the park offers everything from a boardwalk stroll to an intense hike that involves scaling dunes. Unlike many parks, the giant sandlot does not have traditional trails. Thankfully, the park implements an excellent trail marking system.

Many visitors enjoy searching for animal tracks before the wind blows away the evidence. The park houses wildlife, but sightings can be a challenge. Your best chances are near sunrise and sunset. Speaking of sunsets, they are glorious in White Sands. Park rangers offer guided full moon hikes one day before the full moon. Observing the desert under the moon’s glow is a unique experience.

If your schedule allows, you can easily visit two other national parks on your vacation. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is approximately a 3-hour drive and is renowned for mountain views and rewarding hikes. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, about a 3.5-hour drive from White Sands, hides a massive underground world that will fascinate your kids. The three parks offer something different, creating a fulfilling week of exploring nature.

Shenandoah National Park

View from Big Run Overlook on Skyline Drive
Big Run Overlook on Skyline Drive. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

The Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park provide a welcome mountain retreat for your family. Spring rolls out a flower carpet across the mountains, providing a beautiful landscape to admire and explore. Many of the park’s waterfalls become lackluster in the dry summer months. In spring, you will discover bountiful, gushing waterfalls.

The park offers two primary means of exploration. To make the most of your journey, try both. The first is by car on the scenic Skyline Drive, a gorgeous 105-mile drive that spans the park’s entire length. It offers 75 overlooks to savor the views of forested mountains and heavenly wildflower-covered meadows.

Hiking is the second way to see the park. It houses more than 500 miles of trails, including the famous Appalachian Trail sections. If you have young children, Shenandoah National Park has many fun and easy hiking trails that deliver alluring views. You will find plenty of hikes to meet your family’s needs, whether you want a strenuous challenge or a nature walk.

The southern end of Skyline Drive runs directly into the Blue Ridge Parkway. Extend your journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway if you want a road trip with tons of beautiful scenery and many unique places to stop. 

The 469-mile drive yields more than 200 overlooks and 26 tunnels, eventually spilling out at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can explore hiking trails, waterfalls, mills, bridges, lakes, and more along your journey. It is a dream come true for nature lovers.

Hike the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive junction. It takes you through an old railroad tunnel that is nearly a mile long. If your kids like tunnels, this will be a thrill. Be sure to bring your flashlights. It is dark.

Everglades National Park

close view of a purple gallinule in Everglades National Park
A purple gallinule runs across lily pads in Everglades National Park. Photo credit: fblanco7305 via Deposit Photos

A trip to Everglades National Park is like visiting a zoo without barriers. The park is a slow-moving river of grass that teems with wildlife. If your kids love animals, it will be a memorable spring break.

Alligators and turtles bask in the warm sun near the park’s trails as you explore the park. Birds fly overhead in search of food. It is both beautiful and scary at the same time.

Many birds inhabit the park. Your kids can see firsthand how different species go about finding food. It is entertaining and educational.

The crystal-clear water yields views of gar and turtles swimming underneath lily pads. Purple gallinules walk across the river on the tops of those lily pads. The whole scene is surreal.

Visitors occasionally spot manatees and crocodiles in Flamingo, the park’s southern district. That area is also renowned for gorgeous sunsets. In the north, you can take an airboat tour. Your kids will love this thrill ride that zips along the river at high speeds as you search for gators. In the park’s west region, you can kayak through a maze of mangrove islands. It is fun but mentally and physically challenging.

Many people envision the Everglades as hot and muggy. The park has two seasons, wet and dry. March and April make up the final two months of the dry season. So, the timing of your visit is good. You will experience comfortable weather, more wildlife, smaller crowds, and fewer mosquitoes.

Wrap-Up: Spring Break Destinations for Families

Whether you want to relax on the beach, scream on thrill rides, or explore a big city or nature, we have a spring break destination for your family. There is still time to cure your cabin fever and make memories with your family.

Featured image credit: Richard Pasquarella

Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey

Scott And Julie McConkey

After 30 years, Scott and Julie McConkey left the corporate world for a life of travel and adventure. What started as a gap year became a second act, and they are now full-time travel bloggers!
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