When families look for spring break destinations, a lot of thought goes into the process. Budget, location, activities, and weather all play a role. We’ve partnered with family travel writer Kirsten Maxwell of Kids Are A Trip to share everything you need to know about some great spring break destinations for families that might not be on your radar!
Zion/St. George, Utah
Want a sunny destination that’s perfect for outdoor exploring with kids? St. George, Utah could be the answer. Just ninety minutes from Las Vegas, St. George has easy access to four state parks and Zion National Park. With its location in the Mojave Desert, the city enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year. Families looking to spend days outdoors in nature will think the St. George area is the perfect spot.
Snow Canyon State Park just outside St. George has many easy hikes for kids and a variety of landscapes from desert to volcanic cinder cones. Sand Hollow State Park is 20,000 acres of pure recreation. The beautiful Sandy Hollow Reservoir provides kayak and swimming opportunities while the red sand dunes are perfect for ATV adventures. Zion has the Riverside Walk which is lovely with young children. There is a lot of wildlife spotting from mountain lions and elk to bighorn sheep. The park’s tram makes transportation easy for visitors who want to access different trails throughout Zion. Visitors who don’t want the outdoor adventures will enjoy the restaurants and museums of St. George and exploring nearby ghost towns.
Golden Isles, Georgia
The Georgia coast stretches over 100 miles and has 15 barrier islands. Each one is beautiful in its own right, but the ones referred to as “The Golden Isles” are some of the most popular (and stunning). The Golden Isles lie midway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida and include: St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and the city of Brunswick. Families are drawn to the area for its beaches, but the Southern hospitality, local history, and luxury properties keep them coming back for more.
Each island has a different personality, allowing families to explore one or multiple islands during a visit. St. Simons Island is known for moss draped oaks, historic lighthouse and antebellum plantations. Little St. Simons is virtually undeveloped, with 10,000 acres of marshlands, beaches, and forests. The island is a haven for bird watchers, cyclists, and beach goers. Jekyll Island has beautiful beaches, including the very unique Driftwood Beach, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, cycling, and horseback riding. Sea Island is known for its exclusive resorts: Cloister at Sea Island and The Lodge at Sea Island. The Cloister is known for its world class kid programs. Brunswick is the mainland port that links all the islands. There’s a charming old town, fantastic seafood restaurants, and year round festivals. A family could spend a few days in the Golden Isles or an entire week and never get bored.
Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
If your family loves amusement parks, then Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is the place for you. This is home to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, the Titanic Museum, and WonderWorks Indoor Amusement Park. Ironically, it’s also the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which provides the opposite experience.
One of the best ways to enjoy the area is a healthy balance of over-the-top entertainment mixed with outdoor exploration. Take the family to a few of their favorite theme parks then plan some outings to the Great Smoky Mountains. There are three entrances from Gatlinburg, and each one explores a different section of Appalachia. Inside the National Park families can ride bikes, have a picnic, explore log cabins, ride horses, and even float in a tube along Deep Creek. No matter your adventure style, the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area fits the bill.
Kiawah, South Carolina
For families wanting the ultimate beach escape, head to Kiawah Island, just 45 minutes outside of Charleston. This resort community is often found at the top of many “Best of” lists, not only for its golf and beaches, but for its wildlife as well. Kiawah is not the destination for families seeking roller coasters, but those wanting outdoor thrills will find everything they need on the island.
Kiawah has ten miles of flat beaches with shells and the occasional sand dollars strewn across the sand. Bike paths meander around the island, providing visitors access to scenery they wouldn’t see by car. Adventurous families should take a kayak tour of the island to see the salt marshes and local bottle nose dolphins. There’s something for all ages on Kiawah.
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
The Shenandoah Valley is an easy two hour drive from Washington, D.C. and offers families endless opportunities for outdoor fun. The area is home to Shenandoah National Park, featuring over 200,000 acres of hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife viewing. Take a drive on Skyline Drive, a 105-mile loop that runs through the park and has pull-offs every so often to take in the breathtaking views of the Virginia mountains.
The nearby Shenandoah River is perfect for a mellow ride on a kayak or canoe. Luray Caverns will entertain families for hours with its 10-story tall limestone rooms, adjacent hedge maze, and Car and Carriage Museum. The area is rich with historical sites, but start with the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester for an overview of the area and local families. Belle Plantation shouldn’t be missed as well as the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield Historic State Park. This area will appeal to families who love outdoors and history buffs too.
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