Spring break is right around the corner, and with the kids off school, this is the perfect time to plan a family vacation. But not every family can afford the high price tag of flying off to a beach resort in the Bahamas (don't we wish!). Fortunately, there are lots of great family and budget-friendly vacation destinations that are just a road trip away for us families in the eastern U.S. -- and still plenty of time to plan your fun!
Whether you're in the mood for a little history, some high-flying adventure, or some simple relaxation and laid back fun, we've put together our list of the best last-minute spring break road trip destinations for families in the eastern U.S. that won't break the bank!
1. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau
You may have never thought of visiting Chattanooga for spring break, but it is a great spot for families. Every year, the city hosts the Chattanooga Spring Break Safari & Scavenger Hunt. This year, the event takes place from March 9th to April 7th. It is completely free, and it takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every single day. Families can pick up a free safari guide from any of the spring break attractions and follow along with the scavenger hunt. Families are encouraged to explore the city while completing the scavenger hunt at their own pace. Simply follow the clues to see the sights! If you need a hint, there is always someone nearby who can help.
While you are in the city, there are plenty of attractions to see. You can take the kids to the Tennessee Aquarium, which is home to all kinds of sea life. Lookout Mountain is the site of a famous Civil War battle, and there are also caves and trails to explore. If your family is into hiking, venture over to Rock City Gardens, which has some incredible scenic views.
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
The Historic Carousel at City Park in New Orleans
Once Mardi Gras is over, New Orleans is a great spot to take the kids. Springtime is actually an ideal time to visit before it gets too hot in the summer. There are so many attractions in New Orleans that you really need to plan your trip to do everything. Some of the best things to see include:
- The Historic Carousel in City Park
- New Orleans Historic Train Garden
- New Orleans Museum of Art
- Storyland in City Park
- Louis Armstrong Park
- Big Easy Bayou Kayak Tour
- Crescent Park
- St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
- Preservation Hall
- Faulkner House Books
- Jackson Square
One of the best things you can do with your kids in New Orleans is go on an alligator-seeking bayou tour. The tour guides are very friendly, informative and sometimes come prepared with marshmallows to feed the alligators. If the big alligators are too overwhelming, they also bring a little gator on board for everyone to hold or pet. The tour can be as hands-on or hands-off as you like. You never know what you might find in the swamps. This is a particularly great activity if your kids are fans of the hit film The Princess and the Frog.
3. South Walton, Florida
For families in Alabama and Georgia, South Walton is a great destination. It is a perfect beach spot if your kids want to go to the beach, and far enough away from the craziness typically associated with Florida during spring break. South Walton is home to miles of beaches, so your kids can take a dip in the ocean, build sandcastles, and enjoy a fun family beach trip. You can even pack lunches and take a boat out to enjoy a relaxing afternoon having a picnic on the water. You can also rent some gear to go fishing. Don't worry about bringing anything with you because you can rent it all nearby. Whether you need bikes or kayaks, you can get everything for a one-of-a-kind experience while there.
One great attraction you will find near South Walton is Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone. This dinosaur-themed park is perfect for children of all ages. Your kids can swing some balls at T-Rex Island Adventure Golf or watch a dinosaur reach out of the screen at the 4D movie experience. Wild Willy's also houses an arcade with 65 games in a state-of-the-art facility called Redemption Arcade. Your kids won't ever forget this dino-rrific vacation!
4. Lee, Massachusetts
It may be spring break, but that doesn't mean your kids have to stop learning. Take them to the Animagic Museum of Animation in Lee, Massachusetts, a free museum that specializes in special effects and film animation. It is by appointment only, so make sure you contact the museum ahead of time. Your family will learn all about the special effects used in The Matrix and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you can sign up for a workshop while there. This is a great vacation idea for older kids.
The Berkshires in Massachusetts are incredibly scenic, the perfect place to take a hike on one of the many trails. You can find glorious landscapes, including Monument Mountain. No matter which trail you take, you and your kids are sure to remember it.
5. Manchester, Vermont
Northshire Books in Manchester, Vermont
Kids may not want to hear about history on their spring break, but they will undoubtedly get a kick out of visiting Hildene, the former summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln and Mary Harlan Lincoln. This exhibit brings the Lincoln family to life while sharing the core values of Abraham Lincoln, including civic responsibility, perseverance and integrity. Hildene has been preserved and cherished over the years, and even has a working farm and goat dairy.
Manchester is also home to the Northshire Bookstore. Many people consider this to be the FAO Schwartz of bookstores on the East Coast! In fact, there is an entire floor dedicated to children’s books. Your kids can find chapter books, classics and picture books. They can pull out up a comfy couch and read for a bit. There is also a great selection of puzzles and games if your kids feel like playing, and a café in the store, so parents can get some coffee while the kids explore.
6. Catskills, New York
Located two hours outside New York City, the Catskills though seemingly laid back, offer a bunch of fun adrenaline-inducing activities! One of these is Zoom Flume Water Park, where your family can enjoy the resort in all its glory and jump into some incredible rides, including The Black Vortex, Typhoon Twister and Lagoon Activity Pool.
Another exciting activity you can do nearby is the New York Zipline Adventure Tour located at Hunter Mountain. The New York Zipline Adventure Tour is the second longest zipline in the world! Tours start at only $119 per person for you and your family to soar across beautiful forests. This zipline will be sure to give your kids enough adventure for one spring break!
For more ideas to enjoy spring break with your family, check out The Best Pop-Up Museums and Experiential Art Exhibits to Visit With Kids in 2019.
CertifiKID was founded by a mom with a passion for helping parents provide the best experiences for their children on a budget. From outings to adventures, classes to camps, theater to sporting events, amusement parks to getaways, CertifiKID provides the best family-friendly experiences at unbeatable prices. Sign up for family-friendly deals in your area and start saving!
Explore More Categories
Mom Review: How to Make the Most Out of Atlantis Bahamas With Kids
Happy 11th Birthday to CertifiKID
5 Reasons to Save with a 529 Plan (+ Enter the Invest529 Tuition + $10k Giveaway!)
Things to Do
STEM Fun: Make Ice Cream in a Bag in Just 15 Minutes
Work With Us: CertifiKID and Macaroni Kid are Hiring Now!