Top 10 Family Spring Break Vacations
School's out for the week, and spring break is a great time for family bonding. Whether you're looking for a blast of sunlight to recharge your soul until summer or outdoor winter fun, here are Travel Channel's picks for an unforgettable spring break.
Atlantis Paradise Island Resort
The legendary underwater world bearing the same name has nothing on this Bahamian resort that beckons children and their parents with luxurious resort surroundings and outrageous kids' activities. Kids can choose their own adventures at the stellar AKA (Atlantis Kids Adventure) program. Aspiring chefs can twist pretzels or make pizza in culinary classes and budding architects can don their hard hats and get building in the Lego Construction room. Wizards? Check. There's a cozy tree with perfect nooks for reading the latest magical tale. Extravagant tea party? Atlantis has this one covered, too, in the life-sized Victorian dollhouse equipped with the highest quality in pretend kitchens. There's gaming systems galore, a performance gallery complete with costumes and equipment to make movies, and arts and crafts to rival the best art institute. If the kids ever choose to leave the club, parents might squeeze in a fast family meal before the wee ones are off to the water slides, river rides, rock climbing or marine habitat.960 1280
Smuggler’s Notch Resort
Sure, school is out, but the kids won't mind being students enrolled in the ski programs at Smugglers Notch. Aspiring snowboarders can learn the ropes on Burton snowboards equipped with a softer flex and beveled bottom that help with the learning curve. Cross-country skiers can hone their skills on the bumps and play area at the mini terrain park. The staff is so confident in their students at Snow Sport University that there's a refund if participants don't learn or improve. When class is out, kids can tackle a new hill -- the 22-foot giant double lane slide and the rest of the inflatable fun at FunZone. Indoor pools, dog-sledding, ice-skating and art classes are available to keep the entire family busy.960 1280
Rancho de los Caballeros
Saddle up for a unique spring break at an old-school dude ranch in Arizona. It's like sleep-away camp for the entire family, but with better food and cozier accommodations. Rancho de los Caballeros has been giving families an insider's look at cowboy life since 1947, so it's no surprise they've mastered the art of the family vacation. The children's club starts at 8:00 a.m. with breakfast before a ride on the trails or around the corral for the mini cowboys and girls. The kids are busy with swimming, crafts, hiking, sports and scavenger hunts while parents can spend some time relaxing or playing golf. After lunch, the family is reunited for some together time and more horseback riding or just horsing around in the pool. Then come dinner time, the kids are back to the club and a campfire while mom and dad enjoy dinner in the dining room. It's the best of both worlds and, best of all, most activities in the children's program are free of charge.960 1280
Sandy LaneSandy Lane Resort is a spring break destination to aspire toward with chauffeured luxury cars, palatial suites and chilled, scented towels on arrival. This exclusive resort is pricy, but a worthy investment if you're looking for a refined resort atmosphere with plenty of engaging activities to keep the little ones happy. Parents can enjoy a few rounds of golf on impeccably manicured fairways or slip into the spa for a massage or the moisturizing Rose Hydrating Cocoon. Kids will dig the Treehouse Club with themed events and activities like nature walks, sports, crafts and carnival days, complete with stilt-walking. Teens chill in the Den with pool, air hockey, video games and organized pool parties and water sports. The whole family will love swimming with the rare Hawksbill turtles in the reefs located just off the shore. 960 1280
Steamboat SpringsSteamboat Springs is a dreamboat for families with great children's ski instructions and a bundle of après-ski activities. The Kid's Vacation Center is the starting point for families with a streamlined check-in process and a spacious facility to prepare your young ones for the cold. Lessons are available for kids starting at 2.5-years-old, and there are 5 kids-only slopes where little ones can master the art of the wedge before moving on to the kiddies terrain park. The Rough Rider Basin is a nod to the Old West with teepees, a log-cabin playhouse and snack areas. The whole family will enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Great Rockies followed with a soak in the area's natural hot springs. Kids Fly Free domestic packages coupled with Kids Rent Free and Kids Ski Free all reduce the price of one cool family vacation. 960 1280
Loews Coronado BaySan Diego is an ideal pick for families looking for spring break fun with loads of diversity. There's the beach, of course, but there are also great parks, cool museums and 2 fantastic zoos. The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is a sprawling and hilly enclave made up of 9 unique zones spread out over 100 acres. Plan on spending a few hours checking out the polar bears, elephants and gorillas, and hop on the guided bus to learn about the animals and give your legs a rest. The Wild Animal Park, 35 miles outside of the city, provides a safari experience as you traverse the 1,800-acre park in an open bus perfect for viewing the herds of wild animals like rhinos and giraffes in a more natural setting. The Loews Coronado Bay resort makes kids and teens feel right at home with club activities, water sports, surfing classes and gondola rides through the Coronado Cays canals. 960 1280
Kauai Surf School
If you can swim, then you can surf. At least that's what the folks at Kauai Surf School believe. Families can arrange for group sessions so the whole crew can wipe out and encourage each other to hop back up again. Group lessons maintain a ratio of 4 students for every instructor, ensuring that everyone has ample time to catch some waves. Parents must accompany children under 12 in group lessons. The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is a family-favorite with an outrageous pool complex including saltwater lagoons and freshwater pools with waterfalls, grottos and a 150-foot slide. Parents don't need to feel guilty about dropping off the keiki, or kids, at Camp Hyatt where kids ages 3-12 can learn the hula, meet the resident parrots or make cool cultural crafts.960 1280
Kalahari Resort Wisconsin DellsWisconsin is king of water parks, and these monstrous slides aren't limited to the great outdoors. Families can save on the sunscreen and splurge on the fun at this indoor water wonderland made up of 125,000 square feet of slides, lazy rivers, wave pools and whirlpools. The Master Blaster uphill water rollercoaster and family raft river rapids are not to be missed. If you can get the kids out of the pool, there's an indoor theme park with a Ferris wheel, indoor go-carts, bowling and arcade games. Admission to the water park is included in the price for on-site accommodations, which include standard hotel rooms and roomier family suites. 960 1280
South Seas Island Resort
In the midst of hectic resorts and crowded beaches, Captiva Island feels like a secret spot where families can turn it down and enjoy a retreat from the everyday. Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the area has unspoiled beaches and unique wildlife that can be encountered while kayaking through the quiet estuaries or touring the freshwater ponds. It's also a great spot for collecting seashells, so bring along a bucket. But don't confuse a bit of peace and quiet with boring -- there's plenty to do at South Seas Island Resort from sailing in the harbor to playing in the lagoon pool complex or sliding down the waterslides at H2Whoa!960 1280
Club Med Dominican RepublicThe beauty of an all-inclusive vacation is that you can put your wallet away and relax once you reach your destination. The Club Med Punta Cana caters to families with oceanfront family suites and even simplifies your packing by making baby essentials, like bathtubs, strollers and even baby food, available for your use. There are activities galore for parents and kids to enjoy together including infant classes at the Baby Gym and catamaran adventures. Supervised camps are included in your package price for kids over 4 and are available at an extra cost for babies through preschoolers up to 4. 960 1280
Wildwood Discovery ParkThe long tufts on this furry cat’s ears are a definite standout at Wildwood Discovery Park. Located in northeast Kent, England, the 40-acre park is home to over 200 species of animals, including this captivating Eurasian lynx, indigenous to the British Isles. 960 1280
London ZooReach out and touch a penguin. In 2011, the London Zoo, known as “the world’s oldest zoo,” unveiled a penguin beach exhibit, topped by this large underwater pool. Now the zoo boasts a new title : Home of England’s biggest penguin pool. 960 1280
Central Park ZooThese adorable snow leopards make their home at NYC’s Central Park Zoo. Only 6.5 acres, the zoo is small in size but big on star attractions: More than 150 species of wildlife from around the world can be found here, from mammals and birds, to reptiles and amphibians. 960 1280
Bronx ZooWhile in New York, don’t forget the Bronx Zoo, either. Make sure to bring your walking shoes; the 265-acre zoo is the world’s largest metropolitan zoo, home to some 6,000 animals, representing 650 species.
Melbourne ZooHead to the Land Down Under to catch a glimpse of this ring-tailed lemur. The Madagascar native, with a striking black-and-white tail, joins more than 5,120 animals who call the Melbourne Zoo home. Find the 55-acre wildlife wonderland in the center of Victoria’s capital city. 960 1280
Zoo BerlinThe Berlin Zoo is the oldest zoo in all of Germany. Opened in 1844, the grounds are home to an incredible collection of wildlife: 20,500 animals, representing 1,500 species, are housed here, making it the most comprehensive collection of wildlife in the world. Not surprisingly, the zoo is Europe’s most visited. 960 1280
Philadelphia ZooCity kids love the Philadelphia Zoo. The zoo -- the oldest in the United States -- boasts something sure to delight visitors old and young: a children’s zoo and family education center. Kids and adults alike can pet miniature horses, sheep and goats. 960 1280
Sao Paulo ZooWhen in Brazil, check out the country’s largest zoo. Located just south of Sao Paulo, the Sao Paulo Zoo spans 204 acres and is home to more than 3,200 animals. The zoo opened in June 1958; in the decades since, it’s focused on preserving Brazil’s endangered species, such as lion marmosets, Neotropical felines and miniature blue macaws. 960 1280
The Singapore ZooJoin in the family fun and feed the elephants at the Singapore Zoo. Billed the “World’s Best Rainforest Zoo,” the grounds rest in a heavily forested nature reserve. Inside, visitors can see exhibits like "Elephants at Work and Play.” We’re betting snacks from visitors are part of the “play.” 960 1280
Edinburgh ZooWant to see the UK’s only giant pandas? Hop aboard for a tour at the Edinburgh Zoo. Opened in 1913, the zoo features many unique attractions. In addition to 2 pandas on loan from China, Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in Britain to house koalas. The zoo was also the first in the world to house and to breed penguins. Today, visitors can see Gentoo, rockhopper and king penguins. 960 1280
St. Louis ZooLocated in Forest Park, the St. Louis Zoo features animal attractions like Sea Lion Sound, the Insectarium, Big Cat Country and Bear Bluffs. See black rhinos and sun bears at River’s Edge; red pandas and gorillas in The Wild; meerkats and tree kangaroos at Discovery Corner; amphibians and reptiles at Historic Hill; or stingrays and sea lions at Lakeside Crossing. The Zooline Railroad, Children’s Zoo and “Ice Age: awn of the Dinosaurs” 4-D Motion Simulator are few other must-see attractions at this zoo located in St. Louis, MO. 960 1280
Toronto ZooHome to more than 5,000 animals representing over 450 species, the Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada. The 710-acre zoo is divided into 7 regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, Americas, Tundra Trek, Australasia, Eurasia and the Canadian Domain. We recommend heading to the zoo’s Africa region to see hippopotamuses, hyenas, sable antelopes, olive baboons and the world’s largest indoor gorilla exhibit. 960 1280
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & AquariumRanked “World’s #1 Zoo” in 2014 by TripAdvisor, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium features the largest cat complex in North America; “Kingdoms of the Night,” the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp; Lied Jungle, the world’s largest indoor rainforests; and the Desert Dome, the world’s largest indoor desert and world’s largest glazed geodesic dome (larger than Montreal’s Biosphere or Epcot’s Spaceship Earth). 960 1280
Beijing ZooLocated in China’s Xicheng District, the Beijing Zoois one of oldest zoos in China and it has one of the largest animal collections in the country, which includes the Giant Panda, golden-nosed monkey, South China Tiger, white-lipped deer and Tibetan gazelle. Home to 14,500 animals, the 220-acre zoo is a center for zoological research that studies and breeds rare animals from various continents. Visitors should also check out the zoo’s classical Chinese gardens with flower beds, stretches of meadows, small streams, rivers, lotus pools and pavilions. 960 1280
World's Best Zoos 16 Photos
Goliath (Six Flags Great America - Gurnee, IL)Following up Silver Dollar City's opening of Outlaw Run in 2013, Rocky Mountain Construction is building yet another world record-breaking, wooden roller coaster for Six Flags Great America. Goliath will be the world’s fastest, tallest and steepest wooden roller coaster, plunging 180 feet at 85 degrees and traveling at 72 mph. 960 1280
Banshee (Kings Island - Mason, OH)At just over 4,124 feet long, Banshee will be the world’s longest inverted roller coaster. Riders will hit 7 inversions, where the track will turn adrenaline junkies upside-down and then right-side up. This ride will reach top speeds of 68 mph. 960 1280
Helix (Gothenburg, Sweden)Right in the heart of Gothenburg, Sweden, Liseberg amusement park will open the multi-launched roller coaster Helix in 2014. Riders will travel more than 4,530 feet of track and 7 different inversions. Mack Rides developed this coaster and built Blue Fire, featured on Insane Coaster Wars Season 2. 960 1280
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom - Orlando, FL)A new breed of family thrills opens at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in 2014. The masterminds behind this homage to the 1937 flick Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will offer a new element never before seen at any Disney park. The mine cars on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will swing and rock back and forth as the cars navigate the track to simulate being in a real mine shaft. 960 1280
Kentucky Kingdom Reopening (Louisville, KY)After several attempts to revive Louisville's Kentucky Kingdom, Ed Hart, the former operator of the amusement park, and a group of investors will reopen Kentucky Kingdom in 2014. A $7 million steel roller coaster and expanded Hurricane Bay waterpark will be added to the remodeled tourist attraction. 960 1280
Falcon's Fury (Busch Gardens - Tampa Bay, FL)It might just be the most terrifying drop tower ever created! Falcon’s Fury will lift riders 300 feet into the air, tilt them 90 degrees, and give them a clear view of the ground before dropping them at 60 mph. This ride is going to be absolutely insane! 960 1280
FireChaser Express (Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, TN)Dollywood’s tagline for this family-friendly coaster is "Heroes come in all sizes!” FireChaser Express climbs nearly 80 feet and launches riders back and forth. With a height restriction of 39 inches, this thrill ride is where the entire family can scream together. 960 1280
Medusa Steel Coaster (Six Flags - Mexico City)With the success of Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 2013, Rocky Mountain Construction will work its magic again, transforming the wooden coaster Medusa at Six Flags Mexico. The remodeled coaster, Medusa Steel Coaster, will be one of the tallest, fastest hybrid roller coasters in the world, showcasing elements like an inverted first drop -- a feature never seen on any hybrid coaster. 960 1280
Ratatouille (Disneyland Paris)Like Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, Ratatouille is a newer breed of ride, using modern trackless vehicle technology. You won't see any track on the ground, and the maneuvers this ride is capable of doing are unbelievable! If this attraction turns out anything like “Pooh” or “Manor,” Disneyland Paris Resort will have its own popular ride for Disney fans! 960 1280
Flug der Dämonen (Heide Park - Soltau, Germany)This new coaster is sure to become one of Europe's best steel coasters in 2014. Built in the Transsilvanien-themed section of Heide Park, Flug der Dämonen is expected to be one of the most impressive wing coasters built to date. Similar to X-Flight featured on Insane Coaster Wars Season 2, the ride has passengers sit on the outside of the track, while the train barrels through some impressive twists and turns. 960 1280
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Studios - Osaka, Japan)Universal is keeping the details about this amusement park attraction quiet, but rumors are that a new theme park will open in Japan similar to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, including Hogwarts Castle and the Forbidden Journey. 960 1280
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley (Universal Studios - Orlando)In what could be the most expansive theme park attraction ever, the new Harry Potter expansion will link Hogwarts at Islands of Adventure to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida via the Hogwarts Express. The new development will feature an attraction with a Gringotts Bank theme, accompanied by new shops, restaurants and nearly everything any Harry Potter fan would want in a multi-destination theme park experience. 960 1280
Zumanjaro - Drop of Doom (Six Flags Great Adventure - Jackson, NJ)Don’t hop on this ride if you have a weak stomach. When Zumanjaro opens this year, it will be the world's tallest drop tower at a record-breaking 415 feet. Built on the side of the world's tallest roller coaster, Kingda Ka, this new ride has riders pause at the top for a few seconds before plummeting to the ground at 90 mph. 960 1280
Cinecitta World (Rome)A fascinating new $700 million theme park is rising just outside of Rome. Cinecitta World will be a beautifully detailed park featuring roller coasters, thrill rides, family rides and movie sets based on the 3,000 movies and television shows that have been produced by Italy's Cinecitta Studios to date. 960 1280
Baby Meerkats at London ZooZoo keeper Suzi Hyde poses with a pair of hand-reared baby meerkats named Lia and Roo at the London Zoo. Suzi has been hand-rearing the meerkats since their mother abandoned them. 960 1280
Marriott's Aruba Surf ClubThere are few hotels this nice on Aruba, with immaculate rooms, a large beach with water sports and a modern fitness center. And the Surf Club has family-style figured out: ping pong tables by the pool, a Nintendo Wii lounge for teens and a Lazy River -- a long, slow-flowing pool that carries rafters from one side of the property to the other.
See Hotel Review. 960 1280
Majestic Elegance Punta Cana
Opened in late 2008, the 600-room Majestic is newer, cleaner, and more modern than most all-inclusives on the island. Its giant pool, soft-sand beach, great beds, nightly entertainment, and fun kids’ club make it a popular choice among families on spring break.
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Argonaut HotelThis nautical-themed hotel is whimsical yet elegant, with well-kept guest rooms, a restaurant that serves delicious fare and a free nightly wine reception. The hotel sits along Fisherman's Wharf, the city's family-friendly stretch of waterfront with a trolley-car terminus, the ferry to Alcatraz and plenty of shops and restaurants.
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Atlantis Paradise Island ResortBrimming with activities for kids and teens, Atlantis is a true Caribbean playground. The resort has 11 spectacular pools (including several kids' pools), a 141-acre water park, a speedway for racing remote-control cars, a rock-climbing wall and a marine habitat with sharks, stingrays and dolphins -- and that's just the beginning.
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Dreams Punta Cana ResortA megaresort with uniquely attentive service, Dreams Punta Cana will appeal to kids and adults alike: The Explorers' club offers a full schedule of activities for young children (like nature tours), and teens will love organized sporting events and the teen disco at night. A huge pool and a name-brand liquor for adults' is a really great deal.
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Hilton Hawaiian VillageThe largest resort in Hawaii, the amenity-packed Hilton Hawaiian Village has more to offer families than any other property in Hawaii: 5 pools; tons of animals on the grounds, including parrots and penguins; and calm, coral-reef-protected waters at the beach. Thanks to the Penguin Club, which plans field trips and activities for kids, you can relax sans kiddies.
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Hotel Casa Del MarOne of Los Angeles' only hotels directly on the sand, the beautiful Casa del Mar is home to spacious, luxurious guest rooms, a classy pool overlooking the ocean and an excellent spa, gym, and seafood restaurant. If that isn't enough, the amusement-filled Santa Monica pier is just a 15-minute walk away, and a 22-mile bike path passes by the hotel.
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Loews Miami Beach HotelIn a central part of South Beach and directly on the beach, the extravagant Loews boasts one of the area's biggest, best pools and a popular sushi spot as well as six other restaurants and lounges. Families will love it here: Enthusiastic counselors host beach tours and Nintendo Wii competitions at the Kids Camp, the Toy Library loans out beach shovels, and the hotel can even send DVDs and PlayStation games up to your room.
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Rose Hall Resort and SpaOne of Jamaica's best hotels, Rose Hall's modern features, professional service and huge on-site water park make this relaxed, beachside golf resort popular with families. The waterslides, waterfalls and swinging bridges of the Sugar Mill Falls water park are bound to be a hit with the kids, but a high-tech gym, a quality spa and 6 tennis courts make Rose Hall popular with parents, too.
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Trump International Beach ResortThe centerpiece of this beachside hotel may be its grotto-style pool, but the accommodating, genuine service truly adds to a stay here. And families will feel right at home: The large, family-size rooms all have kitchenettes, and many suites also include washer/dryers. Plus, unlike at other Miami hotels, the Kids Club at the Trump is free. Fees apply for meals and some art projects.
See Hotel Review. 960 1280