MM Blog 2/24: What to do for Spring Break
There are really four types or levels of vacations: Staycation, close-in driving, more distant US destination or international. A staycation is the name given to when you have time off from work but do not leave your hometown. This doesn't mean your week off becomes like a normal weekend. Make the most of it. Plan a different activity each day -- the zoo, aquarium, water park, museum, bike ride, skiing or other fun things in your area. Then in the evenings each night make a meal you haven't done before, as if you were going out to dinner -- Mexican one night, Italian another, Chinese another. Have fun with it and make it memorable.
If you can afford to spend a little more, do what I call the "get to know your surrounding area" trip. A trip where you add in a hotel bill and gasoline, but not airfare. From Cincinnati this would look like two days in Louisville, two days in Indianapolis and two days in Columbus, Ohio. If I still lived in my hometown of Newburgh, NY this could look like two days in Philly, two days in NYC and two days in Providence, RI. Find a few cities/towns/areas within 2-3 hours of your home and go explore them. Google the city and "what to do" and find out the hottest spots.
From the "local" drive vacation you can step up to a further US get-away that you can drive to within a day. Head to Disney world, Washington DC for an educational trip, a larger city to spend a week exploring, kids friendly areas like Branson, Missouri or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. If you are trying to escape the cold weather head to the beach. If you love the cold head to a ski mountain. Three ski areas outside of Denver rank in the top five for family friends: Vail, Copper and Steamboat. Some of these places have all inclusive deals so try to find them online.
The easiest type of trip to take with kids of any age is an all-inclusive vacation. If you live near a larger city, most of them have companies that operate out of their airports. In Cincinnati Apple Vacations and Vacation Express operate. You can also fly any carrier to locations that have Beaches or Club Med resorts. These are a bit more expensive, but offer many more amenities for the kids. All inclusive vacations may seem expensive at first glance. But when you add up the cab fare or rental car to get to your destination, three meals a day plus snacks, airfare, entertainment and more they are a steal in many cases. If you know the week you have off, and are a bit of a gambler, waiting until the last minute often saves you a lot of money. Also, if you are willing to drive to a larger airport/city to fly out of the prices are even better and they go to significantly more destinations.
The last option which is another "all inclusive" is a cruise. Cruise ships were the first real all inclusive vacation and are terrific for families. Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney rank highest for cruise lines that cater to families. Be sure to find a ship that has all the activities you need, this is more important than the ports you will stop in, particularly if you have young children.
Wherever you go, have a great time, take tons of pictures and remember the sun screen (even on the ski slope).