Family-Friendly Spring Break Vacations
Alistair Berg/Getty Images

35 Family-Friendly Spring Break Destinations

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Family-Friendly Spring Break Vacations
Alistair Berg/Getty Images

KEEP CALM AND CARRY YOUR SUITCASE

It’s been a long stretch since the holidays, and spring break has never looked sweeter. For some much-needed time off from work and school, there are plenty of family-friendly spring break destinations stateside and abroad that exist outside of the college party scene. From bohemian art towns to mountainous getaways and tropical locales, here are 35 vacation spots that have a little something for everyone and won’t leave you broke.

Flagstaff, AZ
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FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA

This Route 66, high-country-mountain city is a convenient home base between Sedona and the Grand Canyon. It’s also a relaxed college town without the party vibes. There’s a robust culinary and brewery scene, and plenty of hiking trails in the Coconino National Forest. One of Flagstaff’s best attractions is its charming downtown shops and the historic Lowell Observatory, which has reduced admission prices on Sundays.

Santa Fe, NM
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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Santa Fe is a Southwestern art mecca that blends the old with the new. While no trip is complete without exploring the historic Santa Fe Plaza stores and Canyon Road’s free art galleries, also worth visiting is Meow Wolf, a 20,000-square-foot, immersive art installation that appeals to folks of all ages. After you work up an appetite, grab lunch at The Shed for affordable, classic Southwestern dishes and margaritas.

San Diego
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SAN DIEGO

San Diego’s laid-back attitude and sunny beaches make for a relaxing vacation. Families can go on Torrey Pines State Reserve’s free docent-led tours and then fill up on cheap tacos at the city’s many taquerias. It’s free to stroll around Balboa Park’s 1,200 acres of gardens and museums, and watch seals sunbathe at La Jolla Cove. Even some breweries are family-friendly, like Second Chance Beer Company.

Oahu, HI
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OAHU, HAWAII

Island vacations might not come cheap, but once you get to Oahu, there are plenty of activities that’ll run under $10, like a tour of the Dole Plantation, which is best finished with an tasty Dole Whip cone. For some outdoorsy adventures and history, hike to Diamond Head for spectacular views, watch surfers shred at North Shore, and visit parts of Pearl Harbor for free.

Tokyo, Japan
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TOKYO

It’s hard for families to get bored in Tokyo since its attractions are so exciting and unique, from hot springs, to cat cafes, and DisneySea. Time your spring-break trip right with its cherry blossom season and you may get a chance to picnic under the flowers at Yoyogi Park. Despite its reputation for being an expensive city, there are ways to enjoy it for free, such as visiting Meiji Shrine, Tsukiji Fish Market, and the Nakamise Dori souvenir shops.

Hong Kong
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HONG KONG

This energetic metropolis is a mecca for art, history, and beautiful vistas. Must-dos include a funicular ride up to Victoria Peak for panoramic views of the city skyline and harbor, and a visit to Lantau Island for the over 100-foot-tall Tian Tan Buddha statue. Hong Kong also has a bevy of museums that are free on Wednesdays, and affordable night markets and dim sum shops.

Rome, Italy
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ROME

It’s easy to fall in love with Rome, an ancient and magnetic city full of history, architecture, and seriously good food. Luckily for budgeting families, even the most inexpensive wines, gelato, and pizzas are delicious, and many of its attractions, like the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps can all be visited for free. Get a feel for the city by strolling through its bohemian Travestere neighborhood and get lost shopping in the cobblestoned streets of Via dei Coronari.

Philadelphia
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PHILADELPHIA

Learning about American history in Philadelphia sure beats reading about it in a textbook. Families can explore historical attractions like Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center for free. Theme parks like Sesame Place are perfect for the young’uns. And for the adults, no trip is complete without a bite into a Philly cheesesteak from John’s Roast Pork or a visit to an iconic movie location for a run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, like Rocky Balboa.

Bali, indonesia
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BALI, INDONESIA

Luckily for spring breakers, April is the end of Bali’s rainy season and right before its high season. While this lush island isn’t overcrowded with tourists in the spring, families should still avoid Kuta and its wild beach parties. Instead, head over to Sanur for a relaxed beach experience, and since it’s protected by reefs, the waters are much calmer and safer for kids. Must-do activities include paddle boarding, snorkeling, Balinese cooking classes, and budget dining at local warungs and night markets.

Boulder, CO
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BOULDER, COLORADO

It’s no wonder Boulder is one of the happiest cities in the country. After all, this charming destination is known for its scenic landscapes, temperate weather, and outdoor activities. Boulder’s iconic Flatirons can be seen from the mountain hiking trails of Chautauqua Park, and a stroll through downtown’s Pearl Street is an entertaining one for family members of all ages, with shops, galleries, breweries, and live music.

Austin, TX
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AUSTIN, TEXAS

Austin’s warm spring weather goes hand-in-hand with its affordable outdoor activities, like canoeing on Lady Bird Lake and exploring the 351-acre Zilker Park. There are free activities, too, like touring the Texas State Capitol, shopping on South Congress, and watching millions of bats fly from under the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. While you should avoid the drunken crowds on Sixth Street, do get breakfast tacos at Torchy’s Tacos, and splurge on Texas barbecue.

Gatlinburg, TN
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GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE

For a nature-filled family adventure, Gatlinburg is a wonderful gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park, which is free to enter and full of easy trails, is beautiful to visit in the spring because of its picturesque wildflowers and waterfalls. In the city, there are distillery tours and an aquarium to keep family members busy. And don’t forget to visit Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, a theme park with rollercoasters, water rides, and live bluegrass and country music performances.

Washington, D.C.
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WASHINGTON, D.C.

The nation's capital abounds with inexpensive activities. The monuments and Smithsonian Institution museums are always free, and the city takes on a special glow during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival beginning March 20. Free sightseeing nearby includes Arlington National Cemetery, with the Tomb of the Unknowns and John F. Kennedy's gravesite.

Montreal, Canada
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MONTREAL, CANADA

European-style charm can be enjoyed surprisingly close to home. Head up to Montreal and stroll through the city's historic center, featuring cobblestone streets and stunning architecture. One U.S. dollar currently equals about 1.32 Canadian dollars. Free attractions include Mile End, a neighborhood filled with artistic delights; St. Patrick's Basilica; and Tohu, a circus venue with free spring break activities for kids.

Mount Snow, VT
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VERMONT

Vermont is chock-full of ski resorts, organic farms, and maple syrup, a winning trifecta for many vacationers. Farms such as the Sugarbush Cheese and Maple Farm in Woodstock demonstrate how maple trees are tapped and syrup is made. In early spring, biking, hiking, and even horse rides become options, and skiers can find discounted rates.

Seattle, WA
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SEATTLE

The wet season in Seattle typically ends around March, just in time for spring break. One of the most popular destinations in this culture-filled town is Pike Place Market, where more than 200 vendors make browsing just as fun as buying. The Frye Art Museum, a 10-minute drive away and accessible by public transportation, is free.

Nashville, TN
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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

The average temperature in April is in the low 70s, good weather for exploring the city and nearby mountains. The Cumberland River Valley is a popular place to hike. Stones River Bend Park and the Old Hickory Dam provide scenery and natural attractions. At night, it's easy to find dozens of cafes and venues with live country music for a small cover charge.

Louisville, KY
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LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

Best known for horse racing and bluegrass music, this can be a family-friendly destination with sites such as the Louisville Slugger Museum and the city's popular historic district. The Kentucky Derby Museum, where admission includes a walking tour of the legendary Churchill Downs Racetrack, is a must. Admission is $15 for adults with discounts for seniors and children.

Yosemite National Park, CA
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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA

The National Park Service offers free entrance on April 20 for National Park Week, and Yosemite is one of its crown jewels, with epic views of granite cliffs and breathtaking waterfalls. Adventure-seeking families can camp, hike, and climb before the summer crowds descend and take advantage of free shuttle service in Yosemite Valley.

Birmingham, AL
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BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

Explore this Southern city's history and culture at the Birmingham Museum of Art, 16th Street Baptist Church, and Civil Rights Institute (ask about discounts for seniors and students). Head to the top of the tower at the Vulcan Park and Museum for a unique (and cheap) view of the city.

Grand Canyon, AZ
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GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

This bucket-list destination doesn't have to be expensive. A trip of hiking, biking, driving, and camping doesn't cost much more than the price of food and other necessities, and spring sees some of the best weather. Although it gets cold at night and the North Rim is closed until May, the South Rim receives visitors year-round. Reservations are recommended.

The Everglades, Florida
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EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, FLORIDA

The nation's largest subtropical wilderness is enjoying its dry season during spring break, with comfortable temperatures and few biting insects. For $30 a car, a family can spend up to seven days exploring mangrove swamps, cypress forests, and all the wildlife in between. The park is home to crocodiles, manatees, and more than 350 species of birds and 300 species of fish.

Indianapolis, IN
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INDIANAPOLIS

Attending a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is expensive, but a bus tour of the track and entrance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum cost much less. Museum admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 15, and free for children 5 and under. Indianapolis also boasts a famed children's museum.

Baltimore, MD
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BALTIMORE

Baltimore's popular and active Inner Harbor area offers live entertainment, concerts, fireworks, parades, and an abundance of restaurants and shopping. The Baltimore Museum of Art, Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, and Little Italy are free to visit. The Maryland Historical Society museum and library is an all-day trip that costs $9 for adults and $6 for children.

Minneapolis, MN
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MINNEAPOLIS

One perk of visiting a city that welcomes the cold weather is there are things to do year-round. Perhaps the best known is the Mall of America, which is packed with activities including an aquarium, movie theater, and Lego store, along with traditional retail stores. An all-day, unlimited-ride wristband for Nickelodeon Universe is $2 off online.

Gettysburg, PA
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GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

The Gettysburg National Military Park and its famous battlefield are free to visit. The onsite history museum, with a film narrated by Morgan Freeman and a cyclorama painting program, costs $15 for adults and $10 for kids 6 to 12. The landmarks and monuments are perhaps best explored via 4- or 10-mile hiking trails.

Portland, OR
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PORTLAND, OREGON

For foodies looking for new sensations, this is a unique and affordable destination. Street food has become a phenomenon in the City of Roses, making interesting and inexpensive meals easy to find. Coffeehouses and microbreweries are plentiful and provide restful pit stops between trips to the farmers market, city parks, and free museums.

Historic Charleston, South Carolina
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CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Picture cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, an open city market, and the site of the first shots of the Civil War. Charleston is a charming destination that can be explored on a budget. Free Tours by Foot offers walks through the city with ghost, historic, Civil War, and architectural themes.

San Antonio, TX
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SAN ANTONIO

The Alamo museum is free to visit, and audio tours cost just $7. Nearby and also free of charge are the 11-acre Japanese Tea Garden, with a waterfall and elaborate koi ponds, and the city's famed River Walk with its shops and restaurants.

Niagara Falls, Canada
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NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA

The U.S. and Canadian sides offer different perspectives on the breathtaking falls, which spectators can take in for free from dry land on either side of the border. For visitors with passports, Canada offers a glitzier tourist experience and a direct view of the most spectacular falls.

Sandusky, OH
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SANDUSKY, OHIO

The shores of Lake Erie offer walking trails and unique architecture, and the local Sandusky Maritime Museum teaches about local shipwrecks, wetlands, and commercial fishing. Admission is for $7 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under, or $18 for an entire family.

Asheville, NC
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ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Asheville is one of the warmer destinations on this list. Depending on the dates, there may be wildflowers and dogwoods in bloom, as well as more than a dozen farmers markets ready to enjoy. Check out the downtown art district and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which has been named one of the top scenic drives in the country.

Point Pleasant, NJ
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POINT PLEASANT, NEW JERSEY

This waterfront town about 70 miles south of New York City boasts an energetic boardwalk and an amusement park that traditionally opens by Easter weekend. An Easter sale April 19-21 includes 2-for-1 deals for ride passes and its ropes course. In the springtime, hotel rooms are typically a third of the in-season price.

Savannah, GA
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SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

After road tripping to this coastal city, park the car for good and tour by foot to appreciate cobblestone streets lined by mature oak trees. In spring, the azaleas begin to bloom and River Street comes alive. It's free to visit the McDowell Nature Center and Preserve and hop on a ferry to Hutchinson Island. The ride lasts only two minutes each way but provides gorgeous views of Savannah's historic district and Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

Outer Banks, NC
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OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

If the average temperature of almost 70 degrees in April is too cold to surf the waves, it also keeps a lid on crowds and prices. Between the Northern Beaches, Southern Shores, and Hatteras Island, there's still plenty to do. The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and Duck Town Park and Boardwalk will help fill the time for free. The area also features the Wright Brothers National Memorial.