Family Travel Ideas for Spring Break 2016

Even though this was one of the few years Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, we know there’s still a long way to go before we’re clear of winter.  With President’s Day around the corner, many families and kids are getting cabin fever and itching for a change of pace.  Below are some of the ways our family has enjoyed the vacation in the past.  For even more spring break 2016 ideas, check out this detailed list from our friends at Family Travel Forum.  Don’t see your favorite mentioned?  Please share your own spring break travel ideas in the comments below.

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida, photo by Dave Parfitt

Warm Water: Beaches and Water Parks

One of our favorite beach destinations is Sanibel Island, Florida, and it doesn’t hurt that grandma and grandpa are snowbirds who spend their winters hibernating on the beach.  It can be a little crowded during spring break, but there’s still plenty of space to spread out your beach blanket and hunt for seashells.

If traveling to the beach is not possible, how about an indoor water park?  There are now 12 Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park resorts in the U.S. and Canada, and one more opening in Southern California on February 19, 2016.  There’s sure to be a Great Wolf Lodge just a short road trip away, where you’ll always find it a toasty 84 degrees.  Let the kids swim, slip, and slide while you sit in the hot tub and thaw out.  In addition to swimming, you’ll find a whole host of activities at the family-friendly all-suites resorts including MagiQuest, Scooops Kids Spa, Elements Adult Spa, bowling, mini-golf, and even a Howler’s Peak Ropes Course.  You’ll have no need to shovel snow, scrape the windshield, or brave the elements at all once you tuck into your fireplace suite at Great Wolf Lodge.

Slideboarding at Great Wolf Lodge

Theme Parks

We just returned from Universal Orlando and their third annual Celebration of Harry Potter event, and our Potterheads were thrilled to finally step into Diagon Alley.  In addition to Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort celebrates Mardi Gras with parades, beads, Zydeco music, headliner concerts, and Cajun cooking every weekend through April 16.  Just down the road, you’ll never find Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park prettier than when it’s dressed up for the International Flower and Garden Festival (March 2 – May 30, 2016).  There’s a riot of blooms, whimsical topiary displays, and butterfly gardens – what says spring more than that?  Fan of Star Wars?  Walt Disney World has added new Star Wars attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park including Star Wars Launch Bay, a Force Awakens scene in Star Tours, and character meets with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca.

Kylo Ren at Disneyland

Regional Road Trips

Our family doesn’t have any big trips planned for spring break yet, but we may hit the road and explore our region here in the northeast.  Easy day trips from our home in the Finger Lakes region of Rochester, New York include Buffalo, Niagara Falls, the Corning Museum of Glass, and much more.  If we feel like having an overnight stay we could head to the mountains of New York’s Adirondacks or Pennsylvania’s Poconos.  Baltimore, Maryland is gearing up for its inaugural Light City event, the first large-scale international light festival in the United States. The free seven-day Light City festival is a celebration of light, art, music and innovation featuring 28 illuminated art installations, 50 concerts, and 100 performances along the 1.5-mile light art walk.  Couple Light City with a visit to the National Aquarium makes a perfect regional spring break destination for our family.

National Aquarium - Baltimore, MD

National Aquarium – Baltimore, Maryland, image by Dave Parfitt

Alternative Break Service Trips

For the past six years, I’ve led groups of college students from upstate New York for an alternative spring break at Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Florida.  During our volunteer work in the Village we bring smiles to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, as well as plenty of smiles to our own faces.  These types of volunteer experiences are a great way for families to give back while not “giving up” their entire vacation.  Another type of volunteer vacation is with Fathom Cruises to the Dominican Republic or Cuba.  Fathom combines travel with service on Caribbean cruise vacations with impactful cultural immersion programs.

Give Kids The World Village

So whether you’re hitting the road or staying close to home, spring break is the perfect time to for family adventures.  Let us know what your plans include.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.