by Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency, February 21, 2019
Sand or snow? Maybe your gang would rather explore a new city.
Whether you have just a long weekend -- perhaps tacked onto a business trip -- or a week, whatever your budget, there is no better time to get away than during the kids' spring break. In fact, it may be easier to carve out some vacation time together than during the summer when the kids' have different schedules, not to mention jobs, sports and theater camps and everyone you work with wants time off.
It's not too late to plan either. Nor will you need to bust your budget to get away. To help you plan, my partner, Family Travel Forum, and I have created Spring Break Ideas to Meet Every Family’s Wish List -- which offers 24 fresh destinations and ideas.
Orlando will be less hot and humid in spring than in summer with plenty of attractions guaranteed to please and discounted hotel deals. If you have young kids, LEGOLAND Florida Resort is opening "The LEGO MOVIE World" land on March 27 with three new rides, eateries and themed rooms at the LEGOLAND Hotel. Take all of your junior gardeners to Walt Disney World's Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March 6 to June 3, 2019), featuring millions of blooms, life-sized topiaries of favorite characters, concerts, outdoor kitchens and more.
Thanks to massive snow dumps (more than two feet in just a few days in Colorado mid-February) snow lovers will have plenty of spring skiing destinations and deals to choose from. Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, for example, has already announced it will be open until Memorial Day and ski-in, ski-out Beaver Run Resort has plenty of March Magic and beyond deals.
Here are five more ideas:
Enjoy the cherry blossoms and Washington, D.C. The National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 through Apr. 14) includes a special Blossom Kite Festival on March 30 and more free attractions than in most other cities. Washington is also a great base to explore programs at the 20 colleges and universities in the area. If you come later in the spring, the popular Spy Museum with the world's largest collection of international espionage artifacts reopens in a new, larger space with reimagined, immersive exhibits and activities. Have tea with Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, just outside of Washington, on select dates from January 9 through March 9. The new edition of my “Kids Guide to Washington DC” will help the kids lead the way!
Gather the gang for a cruise reunion. You have more than 20 ports to choose from, everywhere from New York and New Jersey to ports in Texas, Florida and California. For those thinking of a Caribbean cruise, Holland America, long popular with multigenerational groups, debuts the 2,666-guest Nieuw Statendam, which offers purpose-built staterooms for families and solo travelers in February 2019. It will be sailing the Caribbean this spring, featuring BBC programming, the line's luxurious amenities and 19 different workshops presented with "America's Test Kitchen" so guests can hone their cooking skills.
After a nearly $200 million bow-to-stern makeover of Carnival Triumph, the totally transformed ship renamed Carnival Sunrise will re-enter service with a variety of voyages in the spring of 2019 and programs, including Seuss at Sea, Hasbro, The Game Show and the WaterWorks water play area. Our Family Cruise Guide has reviews of the major cruise lines and their family offerings.
Denver is more than Rocky Mountain high. Denverites are perplexed that family visitors don't spend more time in Denver before heading to the mountains, especially with so much sunshine and green space everywhere. The Denver Art Museum offers kids' activities in most every gallery and free backpacks to borrow with more interactive games inside. The overwhelmingly popular art and wardrobe exhibit Dior: From Paris to the Worldhas been extended through March 17 (kids love the family audio guide). At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science you can virtually climb one of Colorado's famous "fourteeners," mountains that are more than 14,000 feet high, or conduct experiments in the Science Kitchen. Hipster parents love The Maven hotel, two blocks from Union Station and adjacent to the Dairy Block, offers plenty of local eats with takeaway and dine-in options. (Skip the car while exploring Denver and take the 37-minute train back and forth to Denver International Airport.) You can also skip the bumper-to-bumper traffic by taking the train on weekends back and forth to Winter Park Resort for a day on the slopes!
Play ball! Take your baseball-crazed kids to see their favorite teams play during spring training, a mainstay at small stadiums in Florida that host the Grapefruit League, and at Arizona's Cactus League parks. In Peoria, Arizona, spend the afternoon watching the San Diego Padres or Seattle Mariners get into form. Tickets start at just $9. These are only two of the 15 Major League teams playing more than 200 games between Feb. 21 and March 26 in and around Greater Phoenix. The city has plenty of great family resorts and the kids will love a night-vision Jeep tour of the starlit desert and its nocturnal creatures. You'll find lots of affordable hotel packages like these in Scottsdale.
Lace up your hiking shoes and head to a national park in spring before they are packed during the summer. The Grand Canyon is celebrating its centennial this year; Bryce and Zion in Utah are always good spring breaks. Some families make a tradition of visiting Yosemite at Easter time. This year, thanks to the Every Kid in the Park program, fourth-graders and their families can visit all national parks, designated lands and waters at no charge. Order your parks pass online and help the national parks reach their goal of attracting 500,000 children this year. And make sure the kids sign on to become Junior Rangers!
Ready to start packing?
(For more Taking the Kids, visit www.takingthekids.com and also follow "taking the kids" on www.twitter.com, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.)
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