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Spring break is good timing for dude ranches in Arizona, which typically shut down during the heat of summer months. Imagine horseback riding, the Great Outdoors, home-cooked meals, cookout under the stars, and maybe a massage and spa treatment. While rustic working ranches do still exist, 21st-century dude ranches have trended to resort-style luxuries. Many also have kids’ programs.
Rancho de Los Caballeros is an authentic guest ranch that has been welcoming “tenderfeet” since the late 1940’s. Located just outside of Wickenburg, Arizona (aka: the Dude Ranch Capital of the World), this place is all about families and horsebck riding. Guests can also enjoy resort activities including golf and a beautiful spa.
In northern California’s Bay Area, San Francisco has plenty of sightseeing for families. Moving south, the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay has a scenic spot on bluffs above unspoiled coast. Monterey Bay is home to a major aquarium, and a good place to see sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters; March and April are whale-watching months as well. Halfway between SF and LA, San Luis Obispo has low-cost attractions plus free fun at beaches with tide pools, or piers, or sand dunes. There is also a free night-time farmers’ market with live music, and bouncey houses for kids. California offers skiing too, in the east of the state: for example, Mammoth Mountain is a great place for spring break skiing, and is in the Sierra Nevada range.
With its long beaches on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Florida has plenty to offer families in addition to theme park mecca Orlando which is in the middle of the state. Remember, though, that Florida beaches are hugely popular for college spring break partying. The best strategy for families may be to choose destination-type resorts with private locations, rather than beach towns.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
This popular destination has average highs in the 70s in March and April, and a range of lodgings, from upscale gated resort communities to vacation home rentals, with a lot in between including a Disney resort. Kids’ programs in this area are mainly summer-only, but some are offered during spring break too.
Located near the town of Lahaina, Kaanapali Beach is a top beach in Maui, with a three-mile stretch of gentle shore, beautiful western views at sunset, and good snorkeling at one end.
The family-friendly Kaanapali Beach Hotel has had its prime spot on this beach since 1964, and it remains a relaxed resort today, with park-like grounds, a modest pool, open-air restaurant and bar, and small stage for hula that’s put to use every night.
The Kaanapali takes pride in being Maui’s “most Hawaiian hotel”. Free Hawaiian cultural activities are scheduled daily, such as lei-making, hula, lau print-making, or playing the ukelele; kids and adults are welcome, and kids have an “Aloha Passport” that gets stamped with each activity. Story telling about Hawaii’s history is scheduled too, and every guest receives a departure lei presented in a graceful little ceremony. All in all this is a unique resort that’s cherished by many return guests, and the price point is good as well.
Locations with Indoor Water Parks
Wisconsin Dells is still the indoor water park capital of the world, but some of its major players — especially Great Wolf Lodge, and also Kalahari Resort — are building more water park resorts in other towns. Great Wolf Lodge Poconos is just one of nearly a dozen other Great Wolf Lodge properties, each with signature indoor waterparks and other entertainment. See signature features at Great Wolf Lodge resorts. Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark made waves as the first indoor water park resort in New York state. Meanwhile, Sandusky Ohio — famous in summer because of ‘coasters at Cedar Point amusement park — has a cluster of indoor water park resorts.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
South Carolina is the #2 state for tourism after Florida, and Myrtle Beach draws a lot of these visitors. Myrtle Beach is 98 miles north of Charleston and has a sixty-mile stretch of beaches called the “Grand Strand”); Myrtle Beach also has amusement parks that kids will enjoy. Note, however, that Myrtle Beach is a mecca for college spring break! Families may want to visit other times of the year, or at least check a hotel or resort carefully to make sure they won’t be surrounded by springer breakers.
If you’re planning your spring break in Orlando, start withWalt Disney World — a “world” the size of Boston, with four theme parks, two water parks, Downtown Disney entertainment zone, and twenty-two themed resorts. And you’ll want to know about Universal Orlando which has the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one of its two theme parks, plus three nearby resorts and the CityWalk entertainment zone. But there’s also SeaWorld and Discovery Cove and Aquatica Water Park, and a chance to see performances by Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group…