10 Under-the-Radar Spring Break Family Vacations

Get ready for a totally different spring break adventure this year.

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Family Surf Camp

Skip lolling around at the beach and head to Costa Rica for a week-long Family Surf Camp with Peaks 'n Swells. By day, families enjoy yoga, waterfall hikes, horseback riding through the jungle, and of course, surfing. Thanks to a 2:1 student to instructor ratio, everyone will be up and comfortable on a surfboard before the end of the camp. As a bonus, a snap-happy professional photographer is included in the camp fee to get all the best action shots of you and the kids while you’re out catching waves.

Guided Backpacking Trip

For families eager to go camping over the spring break, but aren’t quite ready to plan out a week on their own, look to an outfitter like Wildland Trekking, which organizes guided hiking vacations. Wildland Trekking offers family trips to destinations that range from Colorado to Ecuador to Iceland, including four-day family spring break tours in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and Havasu Falls in Arizona. Sign up for a portered tour and have all your gear carried and transported to your campsites, allowing for hikes with only light daypacks.

Small Ship Adventure Cruise

When families think about cruise vacations, the big cruise lines often come to mind. Many have fantastic children’s programs, but small ships can offer family experiences that go beyond typical shore excursions. UnCruise Adventures has a variety of family-friendly itineraries, like the seven-night Baja’s Bounty adventure cruise that hops about the islands in Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, making stops for snorkeling, whale watching, desert hikes and burro rides with local rancheros. AdventureSmith Explorations also offers kid-friendly adventure cruises to destinations like the Galapagos Islands and Panama.

Family Cycling Vacation

Cycling is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and explore as a family. Even better, there are several outfitters that have cycling vacations tailor-made for families. Trek Travel offers a four-day guided bike tour of Zion National Park in Utah, which includes cycling, of course, up to 21 miles per day, as well as hiking and sunset-watching over the canyon rim. Some tour operators, like VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, make electric pedal-assist bikes (e-bikes) available to riders, which can make climbing elevations more comfortable and less challenging.

Escape to a Tiny House Village

As the tiny house movement continues to sweep the country, why not spend a week in a tiny house. Petite Retreats offers unique family getaways at tiny house villages around the country, from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest to the red rocks of Sedona. The houses may be small — from 175 to 260 square feet — but some sleep up to five people. Even better, all of the tiny houses have names, like Atticus and Scarlett. Mt. Hood Tiny House Village, less than one hour from Portland, Oregon, has six tiny houses adjacent to Mt. Hood National Forest.

Ski Resort Getaway

For many, sunshine and palm trees first spring to mind when thinking about where to go for a family spring break vacation, but why not consider snow and pine trees. It’s hard not to love bluebird days in the mountains when there’s fresh powder, blue skies and warmer temperatures. Not a skier? No problem. Dan Sherman, CMO of Ski.com, notes that most ski resorts offer much more than skiing. Families can enjoy tubing, cross-country skiing, even dog sledding and ice skating. Top picks for families include Keystone in Colorado and Park City in Utah.

Week at a Guest Ranch

There’s something special about a stay at a guest ranch. Explore the landscape on horseback by day, then dine under a sky full of stars at a chuck wagon dinner at night. Kids love Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona because there’s so much to do, like naturalist-guided hikes, mountain biking tours, horseback trail rides and fishing. Or unplug at Mayan Dude Ranch in Texas. A typical day at the ranch starts with a Cowboy Breakfast cookout and ends with a Texas-sized steak. In between, there’s plenty of time for horseback trail rides, country music, even a Cowboy Olympics.

Family Rail Vacation Tour

Choo-choo, all aboard. Start your journey in Chicago as you and the kids board an Amtrak train bound for the Grand Canyon along the Southwest Chief route. This six-day tour with Vacations by Rail offers incredible views of the changing landscape as you cross five states before arriving at Williams Junction in Arizona. Take it all in at scenic overlooks across the South Rim, like Mohave Point and Hermits Rest, then settle in for the night at a park lodge. A second rail trip that’s great for families is the four-day Coast Starlight Experience between Seattle and Los Angeles.

Active Multi-Sport Adventure

Kick your family spring break vacation up a notch with Backroads or REI Adventures, both of which offer curated biking, walking and multi-sport adventure itineraries just right for outdoor-loving families. REI Adventures offers spring break departures that range from a seven-day family adventure across the Greek Islands to an action-packed eight-day vacation in Mexico’s Baja California that includes kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, swimming with sea lions and deluxe camping right on the beach. As a bonus, kids receive a free REI day pack that includes a travel journal, games and a t-shirt.

Family Scavenger Hunt

For lovers of scavenger hunts, look to Cluventure, which organizes custom scavenger hunt vacations. Travelers solve puzzles and clues that lead them to and through their vacation destinations, allowing for a truly interactive way to vacation as a family. Trips run up to 10 days and are personalized based on the needs of the family and may depend on how much or how little participants want to do each day. For a summer adventure, try Competitours, which also uses clues and surprises, but during pre-set dates and locations.

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