When it comes to spring break family vacations, it’s easy to follow the pack and head for a popular amusement park or beach where you’ll find crowds, lines, and high prices to go with both. Happily, the United States is a big country with many fun and fabulous destinations that fly under the radar when it comes to spring break fun. Here are five fantastic and family-friendly spring break destinations that you might not have considered.
Pacific Grove, California: As one of California’s most beautiful beach towns, this peaceful Victorian seaside town makes an ideal base for a family vacation. Walk to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best places to see marine life in the country. At Asilomar State Beach, you can get up close to sea otters in a rented kayak, explore tide pools, or surf. The famously scenic 17-Mile Drive runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach and is accessible by car or bike.
Nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea has a pristine beach with a surf school, equestrian center, beautifully restored mission, and adorable shops like Cottage of Sweets (Ocean Ave. between Monde Verde & Lincoln Sts.), which looks like it came right out of a fairy tale.
Eastern Shore, Maryland and Virginia: Washington, DC may get all the press with its cherry blossoms and museums, but the nearby eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay is also a great destination for a family vacation. Chincoteague, Virginia is known as a summer beach town, but the Chincoteague National Wildife Refuge is open year round, offering a chance to spy the wild ponies made famous in Misty of Chincoteague in their natural habitat. Bicycles and binoculars are both a good idea, as they help kids explore the abundant wildlife on the island. Just outside Chincoteague, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Flight Facility is a great place to learn about the rockets that are launched mere miles away (open Thursday to Monday in the spring).
Across the peninsula in Saint Michaels, Maryland, you’ll find the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which tells the story of the bay through the various industries it has spawned, from oystering to sailing. With its flat terrain and country roads, the surrounding area makes a great spot for a family cycling trip. Make Baltimore your final stop and you’ll find lots of family-friendly fun including the Maryland Science Center and the B&O Railroad Museum. For a treat, don’t miss the cannolis at Vaccaro’s (222 Albemarle St.).
Asheville, North Carolina: About two hours east of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville is a fun and funky small city with a thriving arts and food scene. Springtime here brings changeable but relatively warm weather and a panoply of wildflowers and dogwood blossoms.
A few miles from Asheville, The Biltmore is billed as the largest private home in the United States, offering myriad opportunities for family fun including tours of the house itself, acres of gorgeously landscaped property to explore, a…