Enjoy Your Spring Break! Ideas for Destinations and Staycations
Children attend school approximately 180 days of the year for around 6.5 hours a day. While there are many benefits of schooling children, it’s important to recognize the amount of responsibility and stress that comes along with it. Typically occurring during the middle or end of March, Spring Break provides students with a bit of reprieve from their hectic schedules and obligations before finals and the last half of the school year. We’re going to dig into this tradition, why it’s important, and share some ideas for how to spend the time with your family in a fun and nurturing way.
The History of Spring Break
Believe it or not we can trace the history of Spring Break all the way back to the mid-1930s. A swimming coach at Colgate University in Upstate New York took his team down to Florida for some early training and a breath of warm air. Soon other swim coaches took note and followed suit. Through the 1940s and 1950s there was an influx in students migrating to southern beaches more and more. As recently as 2013, Panama City Beach was drawing 500,000 people a year to their serene shores. The tradition spread and grew from there seeking to give students a chance to relax and recharge.
Though the recent downturn in the economy has reduced the amount of flights and lavish family vacations, it hasn’t diminished the desire to kick back and have some fun. Here are some ideas for your family to celebrate this break together, whether you decide to head out of town or enjoy the time off on a budget at home.
Why is Spring Break Important?
While most people relate Spring Break to just parties and trips, there are actually many mental and physical health benefits.
This time off allows for mental decompression and time to focus inward. Sleeping in is definitely a favorite activity for kids on break, but enjoying a leisurely breakfast, helping their parents cook dinner, and spending time outside are all beneficial to mental health.
Aside from the mental health, this break can also be very positive for children’s physical health. When your mind is at ease the body naturally relaxes as well. Spring Break is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather by taking walks with the family dog, shooting hoops with neighborhood kids, or riding a bike.
Let’s Get Out of Here!
If you are planning on packing your bags and flying somewhere fun, whether it’s a beach or a new city, there are many great locations to choose from to suit your family. When booking your vacation be sure to consider the length of the stay, the availability of kid-friendly activities, fellow spring-breakers, and budget.
- Consider a Cruise: Boarding a cruise is a great option for families who want to visit a new destination each day, pay a flat fee, and enjoy on-ship amenities such as pools and dining.
- Valencia, Spain: Known for their blissful Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, and delicious cuisine (paella was created here!), Valencia offers the best bits of Madrid but in a smaller, more affordable package. Rent bicycles for the family and cruise through the leafy surroundings of Túria Park all the way down to the futuristic playground of science museums and interactive arts spaces in the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
- Copenhagen, Denmark: Here you’ll find Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest amusement park in the world, and it was inspired by Walt Disney himself! The Copenhagen Zoo is full of springtime energy as the animals come outside and become more active (they even have pandas!) Plus, Spring is the start of festival season.
- Guanacaste, Costa Rica: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cloudy day here, as they experience sunny weather year-round. Family activities include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, jet skiing, fishing, surfing, and sailing. A favorite beach, Playa Avellanas, doesn’t see the usual influx of visitors that other beaches do, and offers great spots to surf, swim, and enjoy local food and drinks. You might even get to meet their resident beach piglets, Ave and Ana!
- Geelong, Australia: Spring is the perfect time of year to jet over to Australia to visit their beautiful waterfront in the bayside town of Geelong. This is a very popular destination for families to vacation as you will find something for everyone to enjoy. With a carnival-like atmosphere, you will find ice cream trucks, a giant ferris wheel, and a historic carousel.
- Colorado Springs, Colorado: This local treasure features some of the most breathtaking natural red rock formations at Garden of the Gods. After your hike, head over to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo where you can visit with over 800 animals that live there, and even feed a real giraffe! For a truly unique experience, go for a ride on the Royal Gorge Route train and experience breathtaking scenery, learn about the history of the train and route, and nosh on some food freshly prepared right on board.
- Orlando, Florida: This one may seem obvious, but there is much more to Orlando than Mickey Mouse. Of course Walt Disney World and Universal Studios are amazing spots to make memories, but don’t sleep on visiting Gatorland, a zoo home to hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, and other animals, or the Kennedy Space Center, for fascinating tours, G-force rides, and chats with real astronauts.
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Explore over 60 miles of beautiful beaches in this sunny piece of paradise. For some amazing views head over to the Skywheel, spend the day at Ripley’s Aquarium and ride the glide through the tunnel, or go for a hike at Myrtle Beach State Park.
- Moab, Utah: For the adventure-loving families this is one of the best spots for spring break! A popular activity is to wake up before sunrise and make your way to Arches National Park to witness the sun rise over the mountains and rock formations at Balanced Rock.
- Washington, DC: Spring Break is the best time of the year to visit Washington DC as it’s the peak of cherry blossom season! The 3,000 trees, donated by Japan, carpet the city in floral confetti. You could also spend your time wandering around the incredible Natural History Museum or check out the Air and Space Museum!
Let’s Stay Home and Make the Most of Spring Break!
Don’t worry if you don’t have the time or budget to splurge on a destination Spring Break vacation – you can have just as much fun and make just as many great memories at home. Here are some creative ideas to make the time off an adventure in your own backyard.
- Plan a Backyard Campout: Blow up the air mattresses, pull out the sleeping bags and flashlights, and head to the backyard for some at-home camping fun. Tell spooky stories, make s’mores by the bonfire, and look for constellations. The best part? Indoor plumbing is only a few steps away.
- Go For a Picnic in the Park: Pack up the picnic basket or cooler, roll up a big blanket, and head to your favorite local outdoor spot to enjoy some snacks in the sun. Try incorporating fun games like “I Spy” or a nature-themed scavenger hunt, and make sure to pack sunscreen!
- Plant Your Own Dinner: Head to the backyard and scope out the best spot to grow some vegetables. Involve the kids when choosing what to plant, and let them dig, plant, and water. Enjoy their delight as they watch the seeds sprout into delicious homegrown vegetables.
- Get Your Hands Dirty in the Kitchen: Grab the aprons, rolling pins, and mixing bowls! Work with your kids to choose a fun, new recipe and make it together. A popular choice is homemade pizza, if you’re feeling adventurous you can even make your own dough!
- Bond at the Local Bowling Alley: Lace up those bowling shoes and make fun bets on who gets a turkey first! Make up silly names for the score screen and share a snack from the concession stand. Maybe your bowling alley even has some arcade games to try!
- Did Someone Say Spa-Day? Grab face masks, nail polish, hair spray, and fancy lotions from your drugstore and get out those robes. Turn on relaxing music and light a candle to really set the relaxing atmosphere. Take turns giving each other makeovers.
- Visit the Local Library: Get the kids their own library card and let them choose some books to bring home. Don’t forget to check the library schedule as they often host activities and events especially for children.
- Host At-Home Movie Nights: Let your kiddos pick their favorite movie and turn your living room into a theater. Pop some popcorn and let everyone pick out their favorite sweet treat. Grab the blankets, change into pjs (you can’t do that at a public theater!), and enjoy the time together.
- Create Your Own Storybook: Take turns passing the book around the family and have each member write one page. Once the story is outlined, pass the book around again and have each person illustrate each page. Read it together at the end for a hilarious result!
- Build Your Own Birdfeeders or Birdhouses: Fill the houses with little treats to entice the birds and get a birdwatching book to identify who moves in. Crafty and resourceful!
- Set Up a Backyard Obstacle Course: Use household items such as string, chalk, boxes, and trivia stops to get their minds and bodies moving! Consider adding hopscotch, army-crawls, and other fun ideas.
- Paint Some Rocks and Decorate the Neighborhood: Unless you’ve been living under a, well rock, odds are you have seen examples of fun, smile-inducing rock art around the neighborhood. Pick up some paint from the local craft store, scour for rocks in your own yard, and encourage your kids to get creative – you’ll see them paint everything from minions to monsters!
Take the time during this break to enjoy and bond with your family. Trying new activities, exploring new places, and making new memories will last a lifetime. There are so many ways to celebrate and have fun with your family, while giving everyone a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of life.