If you’re ready to spread your wings, here are some spring break ideas that offer exciting outdoor activities in fun, family-friendly destinations. Sunshine on the skin and a break from school and work will definitely put a smile on every family member’s face!
See the solar eclipse Indianapolis, Indiana
A total solar eclipse is expected on April 8, and Indianapolis is in the path of totality. This scientific phenomenon is when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and there are minutes of temporary darkness. The Circle City has a full roster of celebrations planned around this event, which won’t happen again until 2044. White River State Park will be buzzing with food, Newfields will be rocking with live music and Conner Prairie will host a Hoosier astronaut.
More things to do with kids in Indianapolis:
- The Children’s Museum is another fabulous reason to visit Indianapolis. Five floors provide innumerable opportunities for kids to play and learn all day like digging for dinosaurs or spinning around on a carousel.
- Fowling (a mashup between football and bowling) is a phenomenal way to have fun with kids ages 10 and up. Toss footballs at opposing sets of bowling pins and see how fabulous it feels to knock them down at the Fowling Warehouse.
- Hotel option: Stay at Hyatt Place Downtown for the walkable location across from Bicentennial Unity Plaza, free breakfasts and swimming pool.
- Kid-friendly restaurants: You’ll need reservations in advance to visit RH Indianapolis‘ 151-acre estate filled with luxury home furnishings and exquisite dining room. Garden Table is sensational for breakfast with fresh juices and delightful blueberry hotcakes. Top the day off with milkshakes and burgers at Baby’s, and you’ll hear absolutely no complaints.
Dance at family-friendly foam parties in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
The twin-city beach destination of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, is a 14-hour drive from Chicago for 32 miles of sugar-sand beaches that squeak when you walk on them. Sun, fun, food, alcohol-free beaches and clear waters call families for a classic spring break. Note: Booze has been banned on the beach from March 4-April 24, discouraging college parties, so that families can savor the Gulf Shore without distraction.
More things to do with kids in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
- Book a session with Sand Castle University to have an expert guide you on how to build knockout sand creations, with towers, walls, arches and moats. You’ll be so proud and have so much fun along the way!
- Go fishing, parasailing, diving or take a dolphin cruise. Our family was thrilled to glide in helicopter tours over Orange Beach, where we saw pods of dolphins swimming below.
- Classic entertainment like mini golf and go-karts abound, yet have an absolute blast at a family-friendly foam party. The Hangout is so much more than a restaurant, with live entertainment, contests, dancing, hair braiding, henna tattoos, a large sandbox and foam bubble parties. Watch as toddlers up to kids-at-heart go crazy as a foamy avalanche of soapy bubbles pours into the party.
- Hotel option: If you’re looking for an eco-friendly resort with a Gulf of Mexico-facing infinity pool, The Lodge at Gulf Coast State Park is just the place for your family to stay. Fresh-water fishing and 28 miles of trails are only steps away.
- Kid-friendly restaurants: Other memorable eats include Lucy Buffet’s (sister to the legendary singer) Lulu’s. This family-friendly beach restaurant jams with live music, an arcade and a ropes course for the kids, plus a detailed allergy menu and an allergen-free branch to their kitchen. Top it all off with an Instagram-worthy milkshake at The Yard Milkshake Bar, an awesome shop featured on Shark Tank.
Get outside without too long of a drive in St. Louis
Weather temperatures can be about 10 degrees warmer in St. Louis than Chicago, which makes a big difference in spring. Spend more time with your crew outside in the city known as “The Gateway to the West.” Stroll the national park around the Gateway Arch, then take a tram up to the top of the tallest monument in the United States for magnificent views.
More things to do with kids in St. Louis
- Go underground at Meramec Caverns, where it’s always 60 degrees. Explore the cool cave, pan for gold and zipline. Who doesn’t love zooming through the air at 50 mph?!
- Visit the Endangered Wolf Center to learn about the vital role these apex predators play in a healthy ecosystem, as evidenced by reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park.
- Grant’s Farm is another great place for animal lovers. More than 900 animals roam the vast property around the Busch Family Estate. See beautiful Clydesdales, feed baby goats, then feed yourselves German fare. Parking is $15, but entry is free and two free beers are included for guests over age 21.
- City Museum is definitely something your kids will want to experience. It’s more like an eclectic playground of repurposed materials than it is a museum. Swing, jump, climb, spin, slide and crawl on both indoor and outdoor exhibits.
- Take a spin around the Wheel at Union Station, visit the aquarium (with a dazzling train-themed entry) and watch the Fire & Light show with awe.
- Hotel option: Rest at Angad Arts Hotel, where you can pick a room color to match your mood, walk the impressive hotel galleries and dine on the rooftop. Talk about a memorable spring break!
- Kid-friendly restaurant: Eat amazing dishes from 17 St. Louis restaurants in one place at City Foundry food hall.
Get slimed on at Nickelodeon Resorts & Hotels, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Take your family vacation to the next level when you stay at the first Nickelodeon resort in North America. SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Blue, Dora and other characters abound at Nickelodeon Resorts & Hotels in beautiful Riviera Maya, Mexico. This five-star resort opened in 2021 and includes oceanfront pools, gourmet food and drinks and interactive game shows.
Service is exceptional and the enigmatic energy of the staff as they dance, sing and announce games draws everyone in. You’ll feel like you’re on a Nickelodeon show as you toss water balloons at contestants and giggle as green slime is oozed all over you. Splash the day away at the six-acre water park, filled with slides and activities from adrenaline-inducing to simply soaking in the sun.
Kids clamor to visit the playhouse with themed activities and character meet and greets. Pajama Jam Character breakfast? Yes, please! You can also enjoy cooking classes, yoga and Pilates, dance classes, immersive theater, spa services and so much more. Say cheers to a fabulous vacation with green slime drinks that taste like a frozen pineapple sensation topped with whipped cream and candies.
Explore the desert oasis in Phoenix, Arizona
Visit the Valley of the Sun for year-round warmth and desert landscapes. Spend your days hiking, swimming and exploring. Amp up your adrenaline off-roading through the Sonoran Desert with a Stellar Adventures ATV tour. Fill a four-seater utility terrain vehicle with the fam and climb sandy trails through the rocky desert. Talk about feeling wild and free!
More things to do with kids in Phoenix
- For a nearby and not-too-challenging trek, try Hole in the Rock at Papago Park. A short walk up the sandstone formation rewards with impressive views, especially at sunset.
- The Musical Instrument Museum is a must-see for families looking for hands-on opportunities to try instruments from all over the world. The Artists Gallery at the Musical Instrument Museum is also incredibly impressive with videos and memorabilia from music icons such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Maroon 5.
- The largest aquarium in the southwest, OdySea Aquarium, is also one of the newest in the country. Journey through several exhibits in moving theater seats with OdySea Voyager. Be sure to make a bathroom stop to see why OdySea Aquarium won America’s Best Restroom (hint: there’s a huge aquarium window by the sinks).
- One of the top three children’s museums in the nation, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, and Crayola Experience are a few additional ways to keep the little ones entertained.
- Hotel options: Cool off at Oasis Water Park at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass are some other family-favorite resorts in the greater Phoenix area. For a city escape, stay at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, which is within walking distance to many downtown amenities.
- Kid-friendly restaurants: Nosh on Freak Brothers Pizza, Provecho Mexican cuisine or InFruition acai bowls and smoothies. Down the street, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana is a casual contemporary spot to grab an authentic Italian soft-crust-style pizza and gelato. Superhero aficionados will want to chow down at ComicX, a restaurant with statues, screens and video games to delight fans of Batman to Harry Potter.
Go on a ski adventure in Copper Mountain, Colorado
Copper Mountain Resort, just a two-hour drive from Denver and an Official Training Center for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team, offers 2,507 skiable acres plus a new beginner area. Beyond skiing, the resort features snow tubing, an alpine coaster, ice skating, and the Woodward Copper Barn for indoor trampoline and foam pit fun. With lessons, various winter activities, and convenient village amenities, Copper Mountain is the ultimate destination for family snow adventures until mid-April.
More things to do with kids in Copper Mountain
- Kid-friendly restaurants: Toast & Co. offers delicious breakfasts and coffee, while Downhill Duke’s is perfect for sunny, dog-friendly lunches with views of the slopes. Sawmill Pizza and Taphouse presents casual pizza dining with craft beers, and JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern features live music and tasty drumsticks.
Chase rollercoasters in Branson, Missouri
In the Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri, Branson is brimming with live entertainment, theme parks, museums and outdoor activities. Head south for warmer weather and classic family fun. Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-themed park, opens in March with record-breaking coasters, craftsmen, and the Time Traveler coaster. Enjoy shows, festivals and dining for a memorable experience.
More things to do with kids in Branson
- Soak in the joy of tubing without snow at Snowflex Park at Wolfe Mountain, the country’s largest synthetic tubing run. Ride the magic carpet up the mountain, then giggle the entire 400-foot slide down. The best part is the warmth and sunshine that surround you in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
- The Titanic Museum Attraction will absolutely absorb you into all things Titanic. Upon entry, each guest is given a boarding pass with the name of an actual passenger or crew member. Touch a real iceberg, see how long you can keep your hand in 28-degree water, shovel “coal” in the boiler room and be absorbed by the 400 artifacts on display.
- Shephard of the Hills is an entertainment park with live theater, ziplines, a ropes course, farm and mountain coaster. Enjoy an outdoor rendition of historical novel The Shepard of the Hills in a rustic theater under the stars. Reach speeds up to 55mph on the highest zipline in Missouri, Vigilante Extreme Zip-Rider. Erupt in endless giggles on the Copperhead Mountain Coaster, Branson’s longest downhill mountain coaster, which opened in May 2021.
- Interactive games entertain at Beyond the Lens, where even tweens won’t tell you that they’re bored. Play Pac Man and Skee-Ball, take selfies in elaborate backdrops or search for Big Foot. Soar more than 22 national parks from your seat on FlyRide “Take Flight Across America,” an immersive theater experience with motion, wind and mist.
- Spin around on the Branson Wheel, Navy Pier’s former Ferris wheel, which offers views of Branson’s entertainment corridor and the Ozark Mountains. Also at The Track, you’ll find go-karts, batting cages, mini golf and more. From the glittering Giant Pacific Octopus mural out front to the 5D Submarine Adventure ride, the Aquarium at the Boardwalk will wow you with eye candy exhibits like the Jelly Infinity Room.
- Dogwood Canyon offers 10,000 acres to explore, including waterfalls and wildlife. Spring is also a great time to ride a Branson showboat. Savor lunch or dinner and a variety show while cruising Table Rock Lake on Branson Belle. Stay at Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa & Convention Center. You can rent a boat or WaveRunners at their marina or go fishing with a guide.
Enjoy the outdoors at Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
For a closer-to-home escape, resort to Wisconsin Dells, where outdoor options like duck boat rides, mini golf and an educational petting zoo are sure to put a spring in your kids’ step. Feed deer by hand at Wisconsin Deer Park.
More things to do with kids in Wisconsin Dells
- The Original Wisconsin Ducks, the world’s first amphibious vehicle tour, opens in mid-March, weather permitting. Beautiful Wisconsin scenery and history comes to life with tour guides who crack family-friendly jokes. Putt your way through 90 holes of mini golf at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf.
- Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin’s most popular state park, rewards with view-tiful hikes around quartzite bluffs on the Ice Age Trail. Kayak or canoe around Mirror Lake State Park. Thrill seekers will feel alive with heart-pounding adventure at Bigfoot Ziplines and Bigfoot Ropes Course.
- Those ages 10 and up can see if they hit the mark at Asgard Axe Throwing and Underground Arcade.
- Feel like you’re flying over Hawaii in Take Flight’s “Flight of Aloha” cinematic adventure at Wilderness Resort.
- Hotel options: Many of the resorts in Wisconsin Dells showcase indoor water parks and theme parks, where you can ride go karts, play arcade games and avoid chilly days.
- Kid-friendly restaurants: Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. satisfies cravings for pizza, burgers and beer. Put on your moose antlers and have a great time. Kids will go ga-ga over Goody Goody Gum drop, the largest candy store in Wisconsin, with 1,000 different kinds of candy.
Ride along Mackinac Island
It may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you picture an island getaway, but Mackinac Island is an ideal vacation spot for families looking to decompress from their busy schedules and relax. The entire island has a charming old-timey feel, complete with car-free streets, horse-drawn carriages and classic Mackinac fudge shops.
More things to do with kids at Mackinac Island
- To begin exploring, rent a bike and take to the streets. You can explore the entire outer rim of the island on an 8.2-mile ride, or take a shorter detour and visit Arch Rock, Skull Cave or Sugar Loaf.
- Learn the history of Fort Mackinac and the beautiful Marquette Park, or spend the afternoon discovering the religious history of the island at Sainte Anne’s Catholic Church museum.
- Hotel options: Mackinac Island has lodging for every family’s unique lifestyle, whether you’re interested in a classic bed and breakfast, a private condo rental or a fun-filled waterfront hotel that’s ideal for families who are interested in water sports. Splurge on an exceptional stay at the Grand Hotel, or stay at the Mission Point Resort, home to Lakeside Salon & Spa and the Greens of Mackinac golf course.
- Kid-friendly restaurants: Dine at the elegant Mackinac Island Tea Room at the Grand Hotel or the old-style Island Slice Pizzeria. Not a fan of outdated spots? Check out the island’s trendy downtown dining options, including its only craft brewery, Great Turtle Brewery, or Patrick Doud’s Irish Pub, the island’s newest gathering spot serving up a full food menu and Irish and Michigan beers.
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