As much as we would love to go on an extravagant vacation every year when our kids are on Spring Break, that’s just not reality for our family. If it is for you, AWESOME! But, if you’re like us, you probably need to come up with a more low key plan for this break from school.
Lucky for you, I’ve done the research for you! I know, I’m a giver. Haha! Obviously, I live in the Midwest, so I’m not going to be able to provide examples that relate to every location in the country. However, you can take the general ideas that I’m providing below and do just a little bit of research to see how each fits for your locality. I’m sorry. I promise it’s just a tiny bit of pre-Spring Break homework for you to do.
1. Go Camping
This one is obviously going to depend greatly on your location and the type of weather that you have at the end of March. For us, because we live in the Midwest and I’m kind of (okay a lot of) a cold weather wimp, this one probably isn’t going to be an option. But, hey, sometimes we get some freakishly warm temperatures in March and could take advantage.
Either way, camping could be a great option for low key family time. There’s just something about connecting with nature that also seems to help families connect as.
And, if you don’t go camping often and don’t really want to invest in all of the gear, check with your family and friends. It seems like every social circle has at least one person who loves camping and has a huge stash of goodies. We don’t go often, so we really don’t have much, but my parents do. So, when we decided to take our kids to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer, we made it a big family trip and took Nana and Papa along. It was so much fun and we were able to relax and just be together.
2. Indoor Waterpark
If you’re not the outdoorsy type, that’s okay, there are plenty of indoor opportunities to take advantage of as well. Indoor waterparks are one of those options. And, they are great because you can stay in the attached hotel and go back and forth to the waterpark at your leisure. This is definitely a favorite for our family.
We live within driving distance of Wisconsin Dells, so there are TONS of options available to us. But, you don’t need a big waterpark hub near you to take advantage of this type of vacation. There are many big name (i.e. Great Wolf Lodge) and one-off waterpark hotels all around the country.
Prices can be a bit higher during times like Spring Break, so make sure to do your research. There are usually deals that you can find online. And, if you’re feeling lucky, you can wait until closer to trip time to find one of the last-minute deals that the resorts use to fill empty rooms. The risk is that they may book up and not have anything available if you wait too long. So, have a backup plan in place if you wait to book until the last-minute.
3. Scavenger Hunt Road Trip
Road trips are always a nice option for a low key family vacation. You can explore areas within driving range of your home, move at your own pace, and add in stops for places that you discover along the way. Personally, I’m a big fan of road trips.
One way that you can make it more “planned” or interactive for your family is to make it into a scavenger hunt. This is a great way to keep the kids from getting bored during the car ride portions of the trip.
The great thing about creating a road trip scavenger hunt is that you can put as much or as little work into it as you want. You can go all out and research specific landmarks that you’ll see along your planned route to have your kids look for. Or, you can go more broad and have the kids look for things like farmhouses, highway signs, rivers, RVs, etc. The second option reminds me of this road trip BINGO game that I had as a child that kept me busy for hours on our many family road trips.
The point of this idea is to stay engaged with your family and have fun as you explore the areas within driving distance of your home.
4. Take Advantage of a Popular Vacation Spot Near You
This one isn’t really going to be relevant if you don’t have any popular vacation locals near you. But, if you do, take advantage! I feel like when we live near these popular spots, we tend not to really take advantage. If you do, more power to you. But, I know that we are really bad about it.
For example, we live in the far southwest suburbs outside of Chicago. When I was younger and lived in the city, I loved doing all of the touristy stuff. I couldn’t get enough of the museums and Navy Pier and Grant Park. Now that I’ve become a suburbanite, we RARELY ever go downtown. We go downtown maybe once a year to meet my parents and grandparents (from Michigan) for a weekend shopping trip. And, we do try to ge to at least a few White Sox games in the summer. But, that isn’t really taking advantage of our wonderful city. It’s just driving to Sox Park, enjoying a ball game, loading up on grilled onion covered hot dogs (my favorite part!), and driving back to the ‘burbs.
Think about where you live. Do you have a popular vacation spot within driving distance that you could take advantage of? Some examples I thought of are the California Redwoods, Charleston South Carolina (one of my very favorite places in the world), Gatlinburg, San Diego, and the many historical landmarks that we have all over this great country.
5. National Park Junior Ranger Program
Do you have a National Park near you? National Parks offer so many opportunities for learning and exploring and there’s a good chance there is one near you, no matter where you live! You can find out which parks are near you by checking out the US National Park Service website.
The Junior Ranger program is an activity-based program offered at almost all National Parks. It’s a wonderful way to get kids aged 5-13 involved in learning more about nature. The motto is “Explore, Learn, and Protect!”
I love this program because there are so many different nature related activities that kids of a wide range of ages can participate. My kids get so excited about the program that they ask if we are near any National Parks any time we go on vacation. In an age of cell phones and tablets and not a lot of outdoor activity, it’s nice that they still get excited about “the simple things.”
6. Explore the Country by Train
For a really low key adventure, take a family train trip. This option is nice because no one has to worry about driving. Your entire family can be together, in the moment, enjoying all of the wonder available outside of your train window.
Train tracks have been constructed through some of the most beautiful, often inaccessible, corners of our country. You can sit back, relax, and watch the world go by. Some of the wonders that you can discover include lofty trestles, long tunnels, rivers, and canyons. It’s just such a dreamy, Americana type of trip to take with your family.
Do a quick search to see what fun train tours may be available near you. And, a little advice for the littles, make sure to bring activities (i.e. books, toys, games, cards) because they may not always get as excited about another rusty bridge as you do.
Even if they don’t get as excited as you hope, I think these types of experiences are still so important because it helps our children learn about our country. They will remember these activities when they are older, and (hopefully) appreciate that they were able to have these experiences.
7. Explore Where You Live
This is otherwise known as the staycation. I know this is an idea that is often thrown around when talking about low key and inexpensive vacation ideas. But, hear me out. You don’t have to just hang out at home. There are so many fun activities that you can do at and around your home to make your Spring Break family time special.
Some of my favorite staycation ideas include:
- Spa day – at home or at the salon
- Family craft project
- Try a new recipe every night
- Camp at home in your backyard
- Neighborhood movie night with treats, blankets, and a projector in your backyard
- Check out a local baseball game
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Look up free days at your local museums
- Take a lesson as a family – cooking, surfing, etc. (check Groupon for ideas)
Spring Break doesn’t have to be extravagant or exhausting. There is so much you can do within driving distance of your home. Just remember, no matter what you do or don’t do, the most important part is cherishing this time you get to spend with your family all together.
Do you have plans for this Spring Break yet? We’re still narrowing down our options, but I do know it will be something from this list!