6 Sneaky Spring Break Destinations For Families

I don't know about you, but this time of year, my family is a little restless. 

There's been one too many snow days, way too many weeks of being cooped in the house, and an endless amount of gray days and early evenings. All together, with work and school and kids underfoot, the combination equals one thing: a family in need of a break. Maybe it's the gloominess of the weather or just the relentless march of school and work, but whatever it may be, it's clear that spring break exists for a reason–because we all need it. 

And the great thing about spring break is that it's a much-needed break from the moronity of life, but the bad thing about spring break? Pretty much everyone has the same idea as you to get away. So all of those dream destinations suddenly get a little crowded with tourists from all over. To avoid the not-so-fun experience of overcrowding, but still have the fun of getting away and taking a break, try one of these sneaky gems of spring break destinations for families. But shhh, keep the secret to yourself! 

St. Petersburg/Clearwater – Florida 

Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Image via Clearwater Marine Aquarium

OK, so we all know that Florida is the destination to be during spring break, but you can go against the grain by skipping the popular cities of Miami and Orlando and instead, head over St. Pete/Clearwater. Home to some of the best beaches in the U.S., according to TripAdvisor, the Bay area offers 35 miles of white sand beaches and boasts the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where kids can meet Winter and Hope, the stars of the major motion pictures “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2.” There is so much to see and do, from the St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail with over 20 craft breweries to swimming with horses (yes, you read that right) to the legendary Dali Museum. It might not be Disney, but it will be a heck of a lot less crowded, I can guarantee that. 

Southwest Florida

Image via The Beaches of Ft. Myers and Sanibel

We did say Florida is the destination to be, right? This time of year, the weather just can't be beat! If you're a family who loves the water, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel might be two sneaky destinations to fit in a lot of spring break fun. The whole family can book a fishing exhibition and then prepare your freshly-caught fare at the local restaurant The Fish House. You'll be hungry after a day at sea! 

You can also plan a visit to Sanibel Sea School to fit in some serious educational experiences and get lost combing the island's beaches–dubbed the “shelling capital of the world” for seashells. And if you're ready to get your sea legs on again, you can brush up your skills at  America’s #1 Sailing School, located at the Westin Cape Coral Resort.

The Homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Image via Ingalls Homestead

Are you screaming with excitement like I am right now? As an avid childhood reader of every single “Little House on the Prairie” series, this destination sounds like everything my heart has ever dreamed about. You and your family can travel on a Wild West adventure through South Dakota, straight back into life in the 1880s when Laura and her family first settled in De Smet, SD. Your kids will have a blast exploring old towns, and enjoying pioneering activities, just like Laura would have done. 

When you've had your fill of life on the prairie, Historic Deadwood offers plenty of Wild West action for young (and old) cowboys. This real-life Gold Rush town lets visitors see history come to life through reenactments and of course, mining for gold. 

The Happiest Place on Earth

As long you're heading West, keep going, all the way to California, where you'll find Costa Mesa, the place to stay to visit the theme park literally dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth.” I guess you can't get much better than that, right? Costa Mesa is minutes away from the ocean, but tucked beneath the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Be sure to hit Taco Maria for dinner, then stroll the OC Night Market before bedtime for some souvenirs. 

 Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa

 Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa
Image via Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa

The Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa basically has one goal: to make sure parents on “vacation” actually get a vacation. (You know, unlike all the other types of vacations we take.) They are accomplishing their goal of relaxed parents with their brand-new Family Selection program which specializes in serving their Very Important Kid (VIK) guests. 

The VIK guests get special amenities such as in-suite mini bathrobes and slippers, a prepared bubble bath with water toys, cookies and milk turndown service, a personalized mini-bar with special beverages, and even in-room video game requests. There are also tons of hands-on ways for the whole family to be entertained together, from arts and crafts to cooking classes. The Family Selection program will launch at the newly renovated Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico on June 1, 2018 and at the brand-new Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa opening on November 1, 2018. Because the services are so new, you are getting one of the first looks at the program, so hurry and take advantage of it before word gets out! 


Image via Visit Nicaragua

For the really adventurous family, Nicaragua offers an affordable and off-the-beaten path (read: totally not overrun with tourists!) vacation full of beautiful emerald waters, unique jungle wildlife adventures, gorgeous beaches, and even volcanoes to explore. Nicknamed the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” Nicaragua is not as far away as you would think: it's only a two-hour flight from Miami or a three-hour flight from Houston, with direct flights from carriers like AA, Delta, and United. It's also considered to be one of the safest countries in the Americas by the United Nations.  

The country offers some truly one-of-a-kind experiences, from sand boarding boarding down a volcano at Cerro Negro to surfing some of the best waves in the world to the “Coffee Route,” where you can see and experience firsthand the coffee production process from the farmers that grow the beans. Everything you can think of, from kayaking to cycling to paragliding to fishing to zip-lining over a volcano (yes, seriously) is available and there are ample educational opportunities for the whole family to learn at one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in the Americas, Granada, founded in 1524. 

Where do you dream of getting away this spring break? 

What do you think?

6 Sneaky Spring Break Destinations For Families

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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