It can seem nearly impossible to come up with unique spring break ideas for families. That is because every year, spring break rolls around and most people head to the beach or go on a cruise. While the beach always makes for a great vacation, sometimes you want to change it up. That or maybe you are looking for spring ideas for families that have something more to offer than just the beach. Whatever you are looking for, these 6 unique spring break ideas for families are sure to have something for everyone.
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St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg is a must-have in spring break ideas for families because it has some great things to offer. On the gulf coast, St. Petersburg, known to most as St. Pete, is a quick 20-30 minute drive from the Tampa International Airport in Tampa Bay. If you do not mind walking some, a car is not required, so using a ride-sharing service to get to downtown St. Petersburg is a great option.
While St. Petersburg is on the gulf coast and you can walk down to the harbor and see the ocean or hop on a boat and go for a cruise, there is not much of a beach for swimming here. If you are looking for a little time on the sandy coast, take a day trip to St. Pete Beach, voted Tripadvisor’s #1 Beach in the U.S. in 2021.
There are a number of places to access the sand here that are worth spending the day like Upham Beach Park, which is fairly close to the bridge over from St. Pete. There are bathrooms and outside showers to wash off the sand and a little grill that sells food and drinks.
Besides a day at the beach, and the reason St. Pete is great to consider in your spring break ideas for families, there are some fun things to do right in St. Petersburg. Spend an afternoon at The Dalí Museum. This art museum is dedicated to the renowned artist Salvador Dalí who is known for his iconic mustache and his highly unusual paintings. Outside the museum, you will find a gigantic sculpture resembling Dalí’s mustache, a fun hedge maze garden, and a foutain of youth to explore.
Inside the museum, besides having an incredible permanent collection that includes 2,000 pieces of the artist’s work, the museum features rotating exhibits of all kinds that are phenomenal. Some pieces in the permanent collection that the kids will love include a phone that’s receiver looks like a lobster, a painting that looks like a woman looking out the window when you are standing up close but then looks like a portrait of Abraham Lincoln when viewed from far away, and lots of paintings that feature melting clocks. Dalí’s work is mostly avant-garde and out of the ordinary, so there are lots of things to have fun discussions about no matter how old your kids are.
There are also a number of other museums in St. Pete if that is something your family enjoys. Check out the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts or the Chihuly Collection, a permanent exhibit of exquisite glass sculptures (maybe not a great place to take little ones!), if you like to explore local museums when you travel.
Some outdoor spring break ideas for families here include the St. Pete Pier, which offers fun for people of all ages, including a splash pad, playground, walking paths, art installations, an open-air market, a nature discovery center, Spa Beach and a number of dining options. Or, just north of downtown is the Sunken Gardens, a 100-year-old attraction where visitors can walk through an ever-changing landscape of blooming trees and plants.
Finally, no trip to St. Pete is complete without seeing the Tampa Bay Rays play a game of baseball in Tropicana Stadium. The town offers free shuttle rides from a shuttle stop downtown to the stadium before and after the game. You do not have to worry about rain canceling your plans or it being too hot outside, because “The Trop” is a closed dome stadium. Do not skip the Rays Touch Experience where you can touch real rays in a large touch tank that overlooks center field. Just watch out for home run balls!
Consider Lake Tahoe in your list of spring break trips for families because it offers hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, dozens of beaches, world-renown downhill and nordic skiing, snow sports of all kinds, and amazing blue clear to enjoy. It is home to all sorts of events including music and food festivals, concerts, and sporting events each season. The lake itself is more than 1,600 feet deep, making it one of the deepest lakes in North America.
You can find beautiful and unique communities dotting the shores of the lake and the surrounding mountainsides. Add the amazing hiking trails and biking opportunities to your list of spring break ideas for families visiting Lake Tahoe. Rain, late-season snow, and beaches beckoning sun-bathers with warm sands are all part of the epic spring experience. Beaches dot the region, some with easy access, and others that you can hike to and find private coves and unique spots.
While the spring offers plenty of warm days, there is still plenty of snow to be found in the spring here. Lake Tahoe has the largest concentration of downhill and cross-country skiing in North America, making it a perfect ski destination. North Lake Tahoe holds plenty of other options if you want to try snowmobiling, sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and even snow biking. Plus, in Tahoe South, you can shred down a mountain from 10,067 ft. at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
On the list of unique spring break ideas for families is none other than the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. That is because it is an ideal destination for families, but one that you might not have considered for spring break. While other people are flocking to the beaches, take advantage of all the cool sights that DC has to offer. During the end of March and in early April you can see the cherry blossoms bloom around the Tidal Basin, so spring break is the perfect time to visit the nation’s capital.
Obviously, you have to hit all the outdoor spots like the monuments. The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial are must-see spring break ideas for families in Washington. If you have the opportunity, visit the Lincoln Memorial after dark. The inner chamber of the monument is lit up at night so you can see the giant statue of Lincoln from quite a distance, and the view looking out on the Reflecting Pool and the World War II Memorial from the top of the stairs is amazing.
Spend a day walking around the National Mall and checking out a few of the museums. Good spring break ideas for families include the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (this is the one featured in Night at the Museum) and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (kids can see a real moon rock and the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong during the moon landing). There are so many other museums that you should check out if you can – The International Spy Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and more! Many of the museums are free, so this trip is totally affordable.
Another thing you have to put on your list of spring break ideas for families when visiting DC is a visit to the National Zoo. Here you can watch the zoo’s giant pandas eat bamboo, play, and climb trees. There are a number of spots where visitors have the chance to see Asian elephants close up. The zoo is also home to lions, tigers, red pandas, cheetahs, gorillas, and so many more. You may even spot an orangutan overhead making use of the orangutan line hanging above the walking path that allows the orangutans to travel between their two habitat areas.
Visit Ford’s Theatre where President Lincoln was shot. The theater is still operational, so if you are lucky you may have the opportunity to see a play here while you are in town. Visit the U.S. Capitol. Take a walk to The White House. Take the Metro to Georgetown and explore. You can even spend an afternoon exploring the United States Botanic Garden. There are so many things to do in DC that you can easily be busy for your entire spring break.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
If you do want to head to the beach this spring break but are looking for something different and something a little special, add North Carolina’s Outer Banks to your list of spring break ideas for families. The Outer Banks are a string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland. The beaches here are gorgeous and unlike anywhere else along the east coast.
Vacationing on the Outer Banks is a relaxing change of pace from most spring break beach destinations. There are no cities on these islands, just small towns and villages with hundreds of miles of beautiful shoreline. Because the Outer Banks is a region and not one set place, you have a charming mix of towns to choose from for spring break ideas for families. Most of the Outer Banks is connected to the mainland by bridges, although a few areas require a short ferry ride if you want to get even more remote.
The most northern section of the Outer Banks is the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. There are gorgeous beaches, plenty of wildlife and the Currituck Lighthouse in this northern section of the Outer Banks. Just south of Currituck National Wildlife Refuge is Corolla. This is one of the fun and unique spring break ideas for families because it is home to a herd of wild horses that roam freely on several beaches on the Outer Banks.
The middle section of the Outer Banks is home to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills where the Wright Brothers achieved the first successful airplane flight. Here you can visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial to see a replica of the plane that made that first flight and stand in the place where the brothers first took that historic first flight. Across the sound from Nags Head is Manteo and Roanoke Island, home to one of the original English settlements in America.
Further south lies the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where you can visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Here you can either turn around and return up the coast to get back to the mainland, or you can take an hour ferry ride to Ocracoke Island. Ocracoke is one of the few spots in the Outer Banks that is only accessible by ferry, but it boasts the most beautiful beaches in North Carolina. Here there are plenty of spring break ideas for families like visiting the small herd of wild ponies, a cute little lighthouse, and the site where the notorious pirate Blackbeard was captured.
Besides the beautiful beaches and quiet towns, the Outer Banks is home to five lighthouses spread out along the coast and a number of national parks. No matter which of the spring break ideas for families you choose on this stretch of islands, you will have something to explore besides the beaches.
Memphis, Tennessee is full of great spring break ideas for families that are not your run-of-the-mill spring break spots. First off, no visit to Memphis can be complete without a trip to Graceland. Here you can explore Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland Mansion, and immerse yourself in his life and legacy. You can see Elvis’ sequined jumpsuits, his gold records, and check out his private planes and some of his prized cars. The tour of the Mansion includes the living room, his parents’ bedroom, the kitchen, TV room, pool room, the famous Jungle Room, his father’s office, the Trophy Building, the Racquetball Building, and Meditation Garden.
The Memphis Zoo is another amazing attraction you should put on the list of spring ideas for families if you are visiting Memphis. The zoo is home to 4,500 animals, including lions, cheetahs, gorillas, hippos, giant pandas, elephants, and giraffes. They offer some really fun activities for kids like Zoo Strolls for your youngest kids where you can walk through the zoo before it opens and visit a specific area of the zoo and have the chance to meet one of their animal ambassadors! Or take a Twilight Tour and explore the zoo at night.
Other top attractions include Sun Studios, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Botanic Garden, and the Children’s Museum of Memphis. You can even visit the Memphis Pyramid. Formerly an entertainment venue, it is now home to a Bass Pro Shops megastore, complete with shopping, a hotel, restaurants, a bowling alley, an archery range, and an outdoor observation deck near the point at the top. Plus, there will be no shortage of amazing places to eat in this town!
There are all kinds of fun things to do on a spring break trip to Boston. First, you have to take in a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park. At one hundred years old, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League park in the country. If you are a Red Sox fan or just a fan of baseball, consider adding a park tour to your list of spring break ideas for families in Boston and you will get a behind-the-scenes tour and learn about all kinds of cool history about the ballpark.
Another fun place to visit in Boston is the New England Aquarium. Home to thousands of aquatic animals, from northern fur seals to a giant Pacific octopus and African penguins, the aquarium has a wide range of exhibits for aquatic animal lovers. The New England Aquarium is home to the largest shark and ray touch tank on the East Coast and the Giant Ocean Tank, which is a four-story coral reef in the center of the aquarium that visitors walk around in a spiral until they reach the top!
Other spring break ideas for families visiting Boston include a visit to Boston Common and the Public Garden. The first public botanical garden in America, the Garden is full of gorgeous tulips and flowering trees in the spring. There are fountains and sculptures throughout the park, including the iconic Make Way for Ducklings sculpture that is based on Robert McCloskey’s 1941 bestselling children’s book titled Make Way for Ducklings. In the center of the Garden is the lagoon, where you can take a swan boat ride.
If your family loves history, Boston is full of it. Consider visiting some of the historic spots along the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a unique collection of 16 nationally significant museums, churches, meeting houses, cemeteries, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution. It is marked by a red line along the ground and runs two and a half miles through Boston. You can walk around Boston and see the sights yourself or take a guided tour.
A few other good spring break ideas for families in Boston include the Science Museum (so fun!), the Boston Public Library (it is like a museum inside), and the Boston Children’s Museum. And do not forget to take a ride on the T, Boston’s public transportation system that resembles the Subway in New York.
It is likely that one of these unique spring break ideas for families piqued your interest. Maybe more than one of these spring break ideas for families sounds perfect for you. In that case, plan a trip for spring break and then maybe another for summer or a quick trip this fall. If you cannot quite take that many trips in one year, just save the others for spring breaks in the years to come. Whatever you decide, get to booking the best spring break trip you and your family have ever had.
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