In exactly 7 weeks, I will be heading to Florida for spring break with my family. Today I Googled spring break destinations. The destinations suggested were Key West, New Orleans, South Padre, TX, Las Vegas, Dayton, and Panama City. Um-mm…no. Not exactly what I was thinking, so I added “for families.” Much better results. I decided to focus on destinations in the U.S. mostly because I have a family of six and that’s a lot of plane tickets.
Though my plans are set for this year, there is no harm at looking for options for next year. After reviewing blogs from U.S. News and World Reports, Trip Savvy, and more, there are destinations that by consensuses make the cut. Lucky for me, I have been to a few of these hot spots. Here are three of the top spring break destinations for families in the U.S.
1. Orlando, Florida
Of course, how could Orlando not be the number one spring break destination for families? Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld are the top attractions. I am going to have to tell you straight-up, I am a Disney girl all the way! So that is going to be my focus. I often have people ask, “Is there enough to do at Disney to spend a full seven days there?” Absolutely. You can spend at least a day at each park. My family would argue that you can spend a day and a half at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. There is so much to do. Disney World was created by Walt Disney, for family fun.
If you are headed to Disney get online, there are hundreds of blogs dedicated to making your trip the best possible. The Huffington Post’s blog, 11 Tips on How to Plan a Fun Disney World Vacation for the Whole Family, is a great place to start. From my many trips to Disney, the two best pieces of advice I can give are, first, make reservations for meals you want to eat at the park. This eliminates time looking for a place and prevents any arguing about where to eat if you have a large group. Second, use the fast pass system. If you are going during spring break this is a must if you don’t want to miss out on the most popular rides.
To stay on-site or off-site? I have done both. It is convenient to stay on-site because you can take advantage of the bus system. If you are heading back to your hotel or the park at peak times it may be faster to drive your own car, especially if you are headed to Downtown Disney in the evening. If you have little ones, staying on-site is a must! It is a 24-hour-a-day Disney experience, even if you are staying at a less expensive Disney resort. Everything they see will be Disney. Another perk to staying at Disney World – extended hours, which is a huge advantage to getting on popular rides during high volume times.
There is not a more magical place than Disney World. From 9 to 21 years old, my kids still love everything Disney.
2. Washington DC
Ok, I am going to do a little bragging so if you find that annoying skip ahead to the next paragraph. My 21-year-old daughter is a dance major. When deciding where she wanted to go to college she liked a smaller college with a growing dance program. It felt like family. Her fear? That she wouldn’t develop as well at a smaller school. Wrong. In college you dance and perform at dance festivals. At these festivals a few colleges are asked to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It is a huge honor for college dance programs to receive this invitation. Long story short, my daughter’s “little” dance program beat out the “big” programs and off we were to the Kennedy Center. Bucket list…watching my daughter dance at the Kennedy Center…check.
Over 20 aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents traveled to Washington DC. This is a huge group, but we had an amazing time. Washington DC is a great place for families. There is so much to do, you will never see everything! Huge tip…wear comfy shoes. We tracked how far we walked. 10 miles in one day. From 7 years old to 74 years old, this trip was an all-time favorite for all of us. My husband enjoys planning trips, he had an agenda and dinner reservations made for every day. I highly recommend this so you don’t miss out on any top tourist sites. The one time we had to pick a restaurant as a group, I thought a war was going to break-out. We always use TripAdvisor to find restaurants, we have never been unhappy!
A great way to start your trip is to do a red bus tour of the city, we did this at night which was beautiful. It is great way to get your barrings. We spent an entire day at museums, I think everyone’s favorite was the Holocaust Museum. The kids have read about the Holocaust, but the museum did an amazing job of bringing it to life. Make sure you buy tickets ahead of time. We were only able to get in because my father is a veteran.
We also were able to meet-up with our local congressman and get a personal tour of the Capitol. I would strongly recommend this and most congressman enjoy tourist from their hometown. We were even able to see congress in session.
Other must sees, the monuments on the National Mall, White House, Arlington Cemetery, and Mount Vernon. We went in the summer, but if you go between mid March and the beginning of April you can take part in the National Cherry Blossom Festival. My family wants to travel to DC again to see everything we ran out of time to see. Make sure you pack warm clothes for a spring break. Even in June, the evenings were a little cool.
3. Sanibel, Florida
I have not been to Sanibel, Florida, but I have friends that go and love it! It is definitely on my short list for future spring break trips. If I go to Florida, I want to go to a quiet beach with no college or high school spring breakers in sight. I want to stroll down the beach and enjoy the view in peace and quiet. Sanibel, Florida fits the bill.
Sanibel is known for it’s quaint stores and great restaurants. Periwinkle Way has a host of galleries, shops, and restaurants. A sister island, Captiva Island, is a little more eclectic and a great place to head for dinner after a day of lounging at the beach and by the pool.
Most famous for shelling, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island are know for the shells of many types and sizes. Shells are often found with a technique called, the “Sanibel Stoop.” Shellers will get waist deep in the water and dig in the sand with their feet uncovering shells.
If shelling on their own isn’t enough for your kiddos, you can also visit the Bailey-Mathews National Shell Museum. In addition to displays, the museum also organizes beach walks to learn more about local shells and shelling.
This blog reminds me how much I love to travel. In next week’s blog, we will highlight some great new arrivals to get your special girl’s suitcase ready for spring break. I am sooooo ready for some sunshine and warmer temps!