Spring break is the quintessential time for family vacations for many people across the country. The question is, of course, where do you go? While some snowed-in northerners might want to head for sunnier skies and sandy beaches, skiing is also an option for those with a penchant for the mountains. Families can also consider trips abroad, not just to the Caribbean or Mexico, but also to Europe, which has become more and more affordable, thanks to cheap trans-Atlantic flights on budget airlines and a strong U.S. dollar. Here, we round up 10 of our favorite family-friendly hotels that are perfect for spring break.
Disney is, without a doubt, the master of family-friendly vacations. But guests don’t have to head to its main properties in Orlando and Anaheim in order to have a magical experience. Families looking for a tropical paradise (that isn’t the Caribbean) should consider Hawaii, and more specifically, Disney’s Aulani resort. The Disney brand is less obvious here than in its theme-park properties, with the resort focusing more on Hawaiian culture, though characters still roam the grounds. Kids are the focus here, and they will likely enjoy the lazy river and waterslides, while adults can escape to the Ko Olina Golf Course or the Laniwai spa (there’s even a special teen spa, so the kids who are “too cool” for Disney can enjoy the adult side of the resort). Though it’s not particularly close to Oahu’s main attractions, like Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and the Dole Plantation, guests can take day trips to visit them.
For a West Coast spring break, the Hotel del Coronado is an excellent family-friendly choice. Its iconic red-roofed building is a National Historic Landmark, and many tourists visit the property just because of its historic value. Everything you might need can be found on the property, from acclaimed restaurants and bars (not to mention a poolside ice cream parlor), two swimming pools, beach access, a spa, on-site shopping, free yoga and surfing lessons, a kids club that offers everything from crafts to sports, and more. It’s perfectly situated on an island just across the bay from downtown San Diego—a two-mile bridge connects it to the mainland—which means the city’s attractions, like the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Air & Space Museum, are easily accessible.
Another all-inclusive star, Beaches in Turks and Caicos is a sprawling 65-acre resort that has virtually limitless activities for guests. There’s a 45,000-square-foot waterpark, 10 pools, a Sesame Street Camp, an Xbox Games Garage, a DJ-spinning academy, a teen nightclub and lounge, 20 restaurants, 12 bars (five of which are swim-up), free land sports (soccer, volleyball, tennis, and more), free watersports (kayaks, snorkeling, windsurfers, and more), free scuba diving, a Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, a massive spa complex, a fitness center, and a 7,000-square-foot shopping center, among other amenities. The resort is split into four villages—Caribbean, French, Italian, and Key West—each with its own set of pools and dining options, though resort guests are welcome to explore the entire property. With so much to do on-site, there’s really no need to leave the resort, but the world’s only conch farm and the Provo Golf Club are both only a 10-minute drive away.
If you’re looking to take the family overseas for a cultural experience, consider visiting Barcelona. The Mandarin Oriental is known for its luxury, but it also caters to travelers with children, too. The hotel provides toys, books, crayons, and child-friendly snacks (like popcorn and cookies) upon request, and its restaurants offer children’s menus. The hotel is located right on the main thoroughfare, the Passeig de Gracia, which is lined with high-end shops and restaurants, and is only two blocks away from a metro stop, making the entire city easy to explore. During the day, guests can venture to famous landmarks—children will likely enjoy the colorful mosaics in architect Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell. Parents can make use of the hotel’s babysitting services in the evening to explore Barcelona’s famous nightlife.
Spring break can also be a great time to ski. Families will likely enjoy the offerings at the Four Seasons in Vail, whose main draw is skiing, of course (note that the slopes are a 10-minute walk or a short hotel shuttle ride away—the property is not ski-in ski-out), but there are fun on-site activities as well. The outdoor pool is open year-round, and there is a kids’ club and a teens’ club, the latter of which includes air hockey table, video games, and a foosball table. The hotel is only an eight-minute walk to downtown Vail Village, which is filled with restaurants, and shops, and a seven-minute walk to the Colorado Ski Museum. Adults will likely enjoy the renowned spa, which features treatments specially designed for the high altitude.
The American Southwest is another great spring break destination for families. The Arizona Grand Resort is home to six restaurants and a seven-acre water park (which opens in early spring), with attractions like a lazy river, an eight-story water slide, and a wave pool. Four passes are included in the resort fee. There are also adult pools, a spa, and an 18-hole golf course for parents. Outside the resort, there’s great hiking in nearby parks (it’s a 20-minute drive to Papago Park), and the Phoenix Zoo (also a 20-minute drive). Ambitious guests can take a day trip to the Grand Canyon, which is about a 3.5-hour drive away.
Idaho might not be the first spring break destination that comes to mind, but the Coeur d’Alene Resort is a great active vacation spot for families. It’s situated right on a lake in the heart of downtown and is the perfect home base for the area’s activities. The hotel has its own cars and buses to shuttle guests around, though all of downtown is walkable from the property. The Silverwood Theme Park is a 30-minute drive away, and there are ski resorts just about an hour’s drive north. The ROW Adventure Center is only a block away, and it offers activities like whitewater rafting, biking, and fishing. On-site there are an 18-hole golf course, a spa, five restaurants, both indoor and outdoor pools, watersports, and VIP children’s program.
Iceland is the latest travel hot spot, and it would make for a memorable spring break experience. The Radisson Blu Saga Hotel Reykjavik is located a 15-minute walk from the city center and offers themed suites for families, which come with gifts for the kids, in-room toys, and a DVD player. One of the on-site restaurants has a children’s menu, an ice cream bar, and a children’s play area. Iceland’s nature is what calls tourists to the country, so it is best for guests to head out on excursions, whether on guided tours or via a rental car. Whale-watching cruises depart from the marina downtown, while plenty of tour operators offer day trips to some of the nearby attractions, like the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the Strokkur geyser. At night, the Northern Lights may be visible in the countryside just outside of Reykjavik.
For a Florida spring break that doesn't have to do with Disney, head to Hollywood, just south of Fort Lauderdale. This nearly 1,000-room beachfront resort completed a major renovation in 2017, which saw the redesign of rooms and public spaces, as well as the addition of new restaurants, including Point Royal by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Children will likely love the kids' pool with water slides, watersports on the beach, the kids' club, and the Candy & Cones sweets shop (which is opening soon). Adults can enjoy a respite at the spa, tennis courts and a golf course, yoga on the beach, and the canal-side beer garden.