10 Family-Friendly Spring Break Destinations to Add to Your List
Tired of booking a run-of-the-mill escape for your family’s spring break, year after year? Well, I’m about to solve that dilemma for you. Why? Because I know it can be a serious challenge to decide on one the entire family will enjoy while ensuring it’s genuinely a family-friendly destination (you know, sans 20-something college kids running around like crazy people).
From an old-school dude ranch in Arizona to a “swimming with flamingos” dream-come-true in Aruba, you’re bound to find a place out of this list of my ten favorites that’ll make this year’s adventure one for the books. Enjoy & happy decision-making!
1. Captiva Island, Florida
Located near Fort Myers, Captiva Island—the sister to larger Sanibel Island—dishes out weather that’s warm enough during spring break months so you and your family can enjoy the beautiful beaches. All without paying for an out-of-the-country plane ticket. Best of all, this dreamy beach town offers plenty of magic and adventure to be enjoyed at an island life kind of pace.
For starters, Sanibel Sea School for Kids provides seasonal ocean learning opportunities for your kids (ages six to 13) right outside the door of your home away from home. From half- to full-day courses, it’ll serve as a memorable field trip while on vacation to explore the wonders of the marine world. Just be sure to check out the course calendar (depending on your travel dates) to register in advance!
Not to mention, there are plenty of ocean sports available to you so you can get out on the water. From waverunners to parasail rides, kayaks, standup paddle boards, and even banana boats, you and your family are bound to have some serious fun.
Where to Stay: South Seas Island Resort, a 330-acre resort with spacious two-story suites, along with a plethora of family-friendly activities. Thanks to Skully’s Interactive Center, home to the ScoutAbout headquarters, you and your travel crew can get your scavenger hunt on to set your sights on all the island has to offer. Oh, and how can I forget the mermaid and pirate-themed photoshoots?!
2. Sedona & Flagstaff, Arizona
Is your family filled with adventure seekers and outdoor lovers? If so, the place to be for your spring break is Arizona—either Sedona or Flagstaff (or both!). Hey, each hotspot offers its own unique southwestern experiences! Starting with Red Rock Country, take your pick from a plethora of outdoor activities, from a hike along red dirt trails to a Pink Jeep tour, hot air balloon ride above the awe-inspiring rock formations, and a dip in the cool waters at Slide Rock State Park.
Then, if you’re up for it, travel just an hour down the road to Flagstaff. From there, you can take the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona (30 miles south of Flagstaff) to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s honestly an unforgettable 2 hour 15-minute ride as the crew shares folklore and tales. All while soaking in the surroundings that exist just outside the train’s windows. A few additional must-dos during your visit include a stop at the Petrified National Forest to walk one of the many trails that leads you to a view of the Painted Desert.
3. Oceanside, California
Looking to combine a beach vacation and amusement park vacation for the ultimate spring break? Look no further than Oceanside, California. This quaint, laid-back surfer town gets you as close as you can get to the stunning California shoreline so you can park your towels in the sand and dip your toes in the water. And, it’s just a quick 45-minute drive to the bustling town of San Diego!
Nicknamed “America’s Finest City,” you’ll have a wealth of amusement parks and hotspots at your fingertips. From the San Diego Zoo (& Safari Park!) to LEGOLAND California (hello LEGO pits for the kids and happy hour at the bar for the parents!), which also offers SEA LIFE Aquarium. Here, your kids can interact with the underwater creatures via a touch pool while working their way through the attraction’s Quiz Map. Once they complete the questions, they can turn it into the gift shop for a small prize.
Make your way to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, just 35 minutes north of San Diego to continue venturing along the coast and start a spring tradition. The fields open in March for six to eight weeks, showcasing the vibrantly blooming Ranunculus flowers. Visitors can also enjoy tractor rides, mazes, the orchid greenhouse, rose garden, and much more throughout the ranch’s 55 acres.
Where to Stay: Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort or Loews Coronado Bay Resort, making kids and teens feel right at home with club activities, water sports, surfing classes, and gondola rides through the Coronado Cays canals.
4. Pensacola, Florida
As a traveling family, we all want a stress-free escape. While all of these destinations shared here today offer just that, I don’t think anything can quite compare to Pensacola, Florida. With beaches as beautiful as those you’d find in the Caribbean, free open-air trolley service to get you from point A to point B, beachfront restaurants with play areas, and calm ocean waves and lifeguards on duty, this uncrowded, unspoiled beach town serves up the perfect recipe for a spring break getaway.
My family and I venture here every year, and have definitely collected a prime list of our favorite must-visits during our stay! To start, let’s focus on the good eats in the area. Flounder’s Chowder House and Peg Leg Pete’s are our preferred family-friendly restaurants thanks to the playground areas and live music. Everyone in the family can have a fun, laid-back kind of night out on the town! As for the tourist hotspots you can’t miss, make your way to Fort Pickens, a historic United States military fort; Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum, home of Flight 19; and Blue Wahoos Ballpark in downtown Pensacola to catch a baseball game.
Where to Stay: Portofino Island Resort, featuring two- and three-bedroom luxury sanctuaries, along with an on-site spa, dining, shopping, watersport rentals, water park, and weekly activities.
5. Smugglers Notch, Vermont
Mother Nature offers the family of outdoor enthusiasts some of the best days on the slopes during springtime in Vermont! After all, the ski and ride season usually runs through the second weekend in April. Sure, school is out for a bit. But, the kids won’t mind being students enrolled in the ski programs at Smugglers’ Notch.
Aspiring snowboarders can learn the ropes on Burton snowboards equipped with a softer flex and beveled bottom, which certainly help tackle the steep learning curve. Additionally, cross-country skiers can hone their skills on the bumps and play area at the mini terrain park. And, most importantly, the staff is so confident in their students at Snow Sport University that you’ll get your hands on a refund if your kids don’t learn or improve during their schooling.
Then, when class is out, kids can look forward to tackling a new hill—the 22-foot giant double lane slide and the rest of the inflatable fun at FunZone. Lastly, whenever anyone in the family needs to give their snow legs a break, indoor pools, dog-sledding, ice-skating, and art classes are available to stay busy and entertained.
Where to Stay: Wyndham Vacation Resort – Smugglers’ Notch, your mountain-top home away from home in spacious condo-style units.
6. Wickenburg, Arizona
You might be wondering what exactly Wickenburg, Arizona has to offer. But, the truth is, it offers a lot—especially if you’re into the wild, wild west life! Located just 1 hour from the Phoenix Airport, you can merge the past with the present to inspire the inner cowboy (or girl) inside of you.
Make a stop into the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, home to more than 400 works of Western art and unexpected treasures. Not to mention, the “Out on the Ranch” exhibit made for children of all ages! Additional things to do in town include:
- A tour of the historic Vulture Mine, a gold mine and abandoned settlement
- A hike along Vulture Peak Trail for some fresh air
- A visit to Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream, where it’s understood you don’t eat your dinner until you finish your dessert
- A lantern-lit stroll with Wickenburg Legends and Ghost Tours to learn more about the area’s history
Where to Stay: Rancho de los Caballeros, an old-school dude ranch in Wickenburg. It’s like sleep-away camp for the entire family, but with better food and even cozier accommodations! With a children’s club featuring breakfast and a horseback ride on the trails to crafts, swimming, hiking, golf, and even a campfire with mom and dad. It’s the best of both worlds. And, most activities offered via the children’s program are free of charge.
7. San Antonio, Texas
Craving an escape from the wintery temperatures that linger well into March and April? San Antonio is the place to be with warm temperatures, abundant sunshine, history, and amusement park fun for your vacation crew.
At the top of the list of must-dos is a visit to The Alamo, an important piece of Texas history. For the most educational experience, it’s recommended you and your family take the informative guided 1-hour tour (children 8 and under can do this for free!). And, once you soak in all that history, you can take a quick stroll to the River Walk for a bite to eat, and even some shopping or a river taxi ride. The hustle and bustle of this “American Venice” is something you’ll walk away remembering forever
Next up on the list is some play time at the area’s noteworthy parks—Six Flags Fiesta Texas, SeaWorld San Antonio, and the San Antonio Zoo. No matter which attraction you choose, the entire family will have plenty of fun (and be in need of a nap at the resort of your choice!).
8. Playa Mujeres, Mexico
You can’t ever go wrong with escaping the states to venture to Mexico, am I right? There’s just something about being on that plane ride and seeing the blue waters below you that takes your vacation up a few notches. Only 30 minutes north of Cancun, Playa Mujeres is the place to be as it offers white sands, turquoise waters, and quiet beaches for you and your mini-mes to enjoy.
We’ve taken the ferry to Isla Mujeres before—a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea. From there, you can rent a gas-powered golf cart and explore the island or swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Discovery. You’ll make dreams come true here, that’s for sure!
Where to Stay: Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, an all-inclusive resort located in a privately-gated community outside of Cancun. Its suites are designed to fit your family comfortably, and it’s loaded with family-friendly fun (onsite water park, a teen zone with dance parties, gaming stations, sports courts, and more!). Also worth mentioning, a supervised kid’s program for your younger travelers.
9. Quepos, Costa Rica
Costa Rica?! Yes, Costa Rica. In fact, Parents.com wrote an article about why this destination “rocks” for families. And, we couldn’t agree more. With rainforest adventures, waterfalls, sandy beaches, and laid-back vibes, you can’t go wrong with this Central American hotspot.
If this one makes the cut on your spring break list, be sure to hit up Manuel Antonio National Park, a small nature reserve with trails easy enough for little kids to manage. Most importantly, there are excellent guides on staff who’ll point out a sloth sleeping overhead or giant iguana camouflaged by the trees! And, a bonus feature? White sandy beaches exist on the outskirts of the park, allowing you the opportunity to snorkel through schools of tropical fish, sign your kids up for surf school, or have a picnic on the beach and watch squirrel monkeys try to sneak up and steal some of your lunch.
Additionally, whether you’re taking in the sights from a zip-line swing through the treetops of the rainforest or riding horses on the beach, Costa Rica has outdoor activities for everyone. Most of the adventure outfitters will let kids as young as four go on a slow-paced nature hike, or strap onto the zip line with you or a guide. You can find out age recommendations and sign up for these excursions through your resort or a tour operator like Memorable Costa Rica.
Where to Stay: Si Como No Resort & Wildlife Refuge, which sits on top of one of the most picturesque hillsides in Manuel Antonio. The suites that offer room for a family of 4 are some of the best values we’ve found at $415/night during Spring Break season. Many of the other “luxury” resorts are upwards of $750-$900/night for oceanfront rooms in this same area of the country. And, the reviews for service and experience don’t rank nearly as high.
Aruba, a tiny Dutch Caribbean island located off the coast of Venezuela, boasts dry, sunny weather, some of the best beaches, and excellent dining options. Best of all, you can finally see those divi-divi trees and flamingos in the flesh!
Swimming with the flamingos is offered on Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino’s Private Island. While they do sell a limited number of day passes to those who are not guests of the resort, they aren’t always guaranteed. So, if seeing the flamingos is a must (as it should be!), stay at least one night at the resort to enjoy a free water taxi over to the island.
Where to Stay: Hotel Riu Palace Aruba, our all-inclusive resort pick. It’s definitely affordable for families! Spoiler alert: This is my family’s spring break pick this year! We’re spending two nights at Renaissance and five at Riu. Plane tickets were not cheap during our travel times, however. We paid about $1,600 roundtrip for our vacation week as a family of three. But, because Riu is so affordable and includes all meals, the trip was going to cost about the same as if we went to South Seas on Captiva (our runner-up). And, while there, we would’ve had to pay for meals and drinks separately.
Phew, what a list of spring break picks! We did all the heavy lifting for you so you can sit back and enjoy a simpler conversation with your family about where to next on the affordable travel bucket list. We hope you’ve found it helpful and look forward to a memorable getaway in the near future.
If you’re looking to book accommodations at an affordable price to any of the resorts shared here in our resort portfolio, give your travel BFFs at Tripbound a call at 1-888-816-5214. We’d love to assist you with your upcoming travel needs and book your next home away from home.
We want to know: which destination do you plan on making your family’s spring break pick this year? Share it with us in the comments section below!