Spring Break is just around the corner. Got plans? Never fear…TravelingMom.com is here. (That sounded like Superman). Anyway, I’ve complied a list of my Top 5 Spring Break Destinations. Maybe one of these amazing locales will have you packing your bags and making your reservations.
One of David Letterman’s most popular bits was his Top 10 List. I won’t be so ambitious, so I’ll just go with a Top 5. Five can be plenty, especially when it comes to honing down a list of Top 5 Spring Break Destinations. Cue dramatic music! (Think Mission Impossible or better yet, Jeopardy!)
Sure, I have a bucket list the length of my arm of places I’d love to go for Spring Break. I’m thinking the Grand Canyon for starters. But since I didn’t make my plans a year ago, I figure I’ll have better luck booking my Spring Break for there in 2017. In the here and now, I’m going to choose my Spring Break-worthy locations based on the following scale: best diversity of opportunities; how easy is it to get there (for us East Coasters); and which locations best allow us to leave it all behind and just focus on being a family.
So without further ado… (and in no particular order):
Top 5 Spring Break Destinations
(according to the Melodious TMOM’s family)
1. Charleston, South Carolina and the South Carolina coast
This locale will always have a gravitational pull on me. My family once owned one of the homes on East Bay Street (it’s the pale pink one in the photo), so I feel a connection to Charleston in a deep way. Plus, as far back as I can remember, the beaches have been my place to recharge and reconnect with what is really important. Some of my most formative memories are on Kiawah Island biking and exploring and savoring the beauty and majesty of the ocean.
Fast forward to pre-kids, and Sullivan’s Island became our go-to spot for adults and our dogs to kick back and relax! Nowadays, you can find us at Wild Dunes (on the Isle of Palms) spinning around the island on my parents’ golf cart. Between the beaches and the plethora of activities, restaurants, and sights in Charleston, this region is a MUST DO for all families. Naturally, my horse-loving teen adores the horse-drawn carriage rides with history lesson about the city, while my tween son prefers the ferry ride to Fort Sumter National Monument, the site of the beginning of the American Civil War. Educational AND fun? Absolutely!
2. Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line
The fact that I would pick Disney here is not shocking since I’m a Disney nut! But it’s totally true that you can have the most amazing vacations at Walt Disney World and onboard any one of the ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet.
Between the endless hours of fun at one of four Disney theme parks, two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), Disney Springs for shoppers and foodies alike, the possibilities are endless! For those wanting a little down time, you can book a spa treatment. Or kick it up a notch by parasailing or renting a SeaRaycer to take a spin on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Feeling international? Then travel the globe by trekking around the 13 countries at Epcot.
And for those who have their sea legs, leave the landlubbers at home and take a cruise with Mickey and pals–it will be a vacation you won’t forget! My kids still talk about our cruise on the Disney Dream from 2011 with a wistful tone, citing the amazing onboard shows, the Animator’s Palate restaurant, and Castaway Cay. Two of our favorite Disney Dream activities were our stingray encounter at Castaway Ray’s Stringray Adventure and our onboard sleuthing as detectives with the Midship Detective Agency. Naturally, my son will say his absolute highlight was sliding down the AquaDuck! Meanwhile, my husband and I may cite our couples massage at Serenity Bay on Castaway Cay as the ultimate decadent moment! The Disney Fantasy is our Spring Break destination this year, so I’m sure I’ll have much more to add.
3. Washington, D.C.
A historic MUST SEE and an international mecca for cuisine, the District of Columbia is a place all kids should experience, preferably when they are old enough to absorb the information housed in one of the many Smithsonian Museums. Our most recent visit was our first official tour of the U.S. Capitol, which can either be booked online or through the office of your Representatives or Senators. We got to travel on the Capitol subway system, which my kids thought was too cool for school. I also highly recommend the National Archives to truly grasp the importance of these multi-centuries old documents (and imagine just how impossible stealing the Declaration of Independence would be despite what the movie National Treasure would have you believe!).
The main drawback to this trip was being outside of the city at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, Maryland and having to rely on shuttles. So my recommendation if you are staying at the Gaylord is rent a car! Several years ago, National Harbor was a fledgling area with a few restaurants and lots of possibilities. We returned there in 2014 to find it bustling with restaurants, shops, and a ferris wheel! Now that the area has been developed, it feels less isolated and more of a destination that is worth the shuttle ride into the city. While you’re at it, be sure to check out Five Ways to Unplug in Washington, DC.
4. New York City
OK, let’s just get one thing straight: New York is expensive. I mean, really, this was not a cheap vacation. But it was something my kids still GUSH about. We saw two Broadway musicals (Phantom of the Opera and Wicked); had more delicious and varied food than you can imagine (from pre-show sushi to Indian to authentic Mexican, not to mention the food trucks and super slices of pizza); and we couldn’t resist selfies at the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. The highlight for me was the private photo session we had with Marc of Photo Trek Tours—the photos are priceless and it was like having our own tour guide to show us all the ins and outs. Heck, he let us in on the gem of a food court known as The Plaza Food Hall. Who knew?
My kids LOVED Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. In fact, my son couldn’t stop taking photos and videos at the museum. By the way, those are great for the kids to share with their classes! And the only drawbacks were that 1) Ellis Island was still closed from damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy; and 2) we totally covered too much ground one day and my kids nearly melted down because I insisted we go see the 9/11 Memorial. We crammed so much into this trip, and yet it feels as though we barely scratched the surface. Hey, makes an excellent excuse to go back, I say! We chose to stay at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Times Square and really loved being in the center of all the action. Surprisingly, the rooms were very quiet!
5. San Francisco
As the saying goes, “I left my heart in San Francisco”–well, not literally, but when my daughter was 3, we had an extraordinary visit here. I would have to say that the afternoon tea at the Fairmont San Francisco was a highlight with our little princess.
Other notable experiences included Chinatown, riding the cable car, and meeting excellent street musicians! Sure, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square are tourist must sees, but when you are traveling with a 3 year old, sea lions, carousels, and ice cream are about as perfect a day as you can find! My fellow TravelingMom Leslie shares her Top 10 List of Things to Do in San Francisco with Kids.
It helps we know a couple who live outside the city who gave us excellent pointers about where to eat and stay, and they have also hosted us on their sailboat as we spent a day in the San Francisco Bay and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. Hard to top THAT! Our home away from home was the Prescott Hotel, a lovely Kimpton boutique hotel with a separate living room area that doubled as our daughter’s bedroom. We were in heaven!
So, what would you add to this Top 5 list—it’s tricky to limit it to just 5, right? Share away–I need to travel more!