You see the news stories. You hear about all the craziness at beach destinations around the country. Understand this, Spring Break is not only for college kids. While many college students take advantage of the week-long break in March, families have discovered that it is easier — and often cheaper — to get away in the spring than in the summer when camps, summer jobs, not to mention work schedules and the peak travel season can cause problems with family vacation planning.
For those of us in Texas, we're lucky. Lucky because we live in this great state, but even moreso when it comes to trip planning as we are located in the middle of the country. With that in mind, here are five destinations you might possibly consider for this Spring Break.
#5 – Galveston, Texas (Recommended Ages: 7 & Up)
Sticking close to home, Galveston is a dynamic destination of family entertainment throughout the year. The top Spring Break attraction in Galveston is Moody Gardens, an original complex blending animal exhibits, a science museum, a botanical garden and more. Visit one of the largest aquariums in the country, explore a tropical rainforest, “swim” with the dolphins and take a paddle boat cruise all in the same day.
#4 – Cocoa Beach, Florida (Recommended Ages: 7 & Up)
Escaping to the beaches of Florida isn’t just for the college kids, provided you know where to look. A little further up the coast from Miami, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches you’ll find Cocoa Beach, a smooth kind of beachfront getaway that is remarkably well-suited to children. The beach itself is a central attraction, but lifeguards can be sporadic so choose your spot carefully. On land, check out the Kennedy Space Center (always a kid favorite), Cocoa Beach Pier, and with a short drive, Jungle Adventures Nature Park & Zoo.
#3 – Washington, DC (Recommended Ages: 12 & Up)
Washington, DC is a fascinating destination at any time of year, but with the slower crowds of the early part of the year, Spring Break is actually the best time to visit with cherry blossoms in full bloom as well (see photo). Vacations in Washington, DC are all about two things: sightseeing and museums. Start with an area tour, just to get a feel for things, then head back to investigate whatever piqued your interest. If at all possible, leave yourself two days just for museums. The rich Smithsonian museums are impressive at any speed, but are far better when not rushed.
#2 – San Diego, California (Recommended Ages: All)
What is amazing about San Diego is how it manages to stay “real” despite the staggering tourism numbers. Whether you’re looking for something simple and fun, or educational and experiential, San Diego is likely to have just the thing. Top attractions include the magnificent San Diego Zoo, Belmont Park, SeaWorld San Diego, the Fleet Science Center and Mission Beach.
#1 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Recommended Ages: 7 & Up)
Myrtle Beach is a sleeper destination. A cozy collection of beach communities along the Atlantic coast, Myrtle Beach doesn’t get a lot of press, you don’t see many advertisements, and it doesn’t often make travel destination lists, but that hasn’t stopped nearly 15 million people from rolling in with their shades and their sun block all year long, many of them families who know how to have a good time. Along with the beach, of course, great family attractions include Family Kingdom Amusement Park (free admission), Ripley’s Aquarium, as well as the Ripley’s Attractions at Pavilion Park.
NOTE: This is an especially good beach destination for the over-protective parent, because thanks to an unusual law, “thong” bathing suites are illegal to wear on the beach. Go on, save that loss of innocence for the Internet. You can thank us later.