It's not too late to plan a spring getaway and still get a great deal, whether you've got just a few days or an entire week to spend. To get you started, here are six great getaway ideas.
I love spring training getaways in Arizona and Florida because the kids might actually get an autograph, plus you can sit closer to the action. Tickets are so cheap (lawn tickets to see the Chicago Cubs play at Mesa's HoHoKam Park are just $8 apiece) that you won't feel guilty if the kids—or you—can't last all nine innings.
There are plenty of hotel packages (check Visit Florida or Arizona Guide) and plenty else to do whether you are in Phoenix (our pick: The Musical Instrument Museum, which features such iconic instruments as John Lennon's piano) or central Florida (where you can explore the Everglades, the largest subtropical wetlands in the U.S., by airboat, kayak, or canoe).
Mickey, Spider-Man, and More
Orlando now has the distinction of being the first city in the country to welcome more than 50 million visitors annually. The weather is a lot more pleasant in spring than in summer. If you have young kids not yet in school, wait until after spring break, when the prices come down. There are plenty of new attractions, including Legoland and its soon-to-open water park. There's also Disney's expanded Fantasyland, which will include SeaWorld's Turtle Trek 3-D (open later this spring) and Universal Studios' Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man attraction at its Islands of Adventure theme park. Whether this is your first or 10th time visiting Orlando, you can't see it all—not nearly—so relax and enjoy yourselves!
For accommodations, opt for a house with a pool by renting directly from the owner on VRBO, or choose a hotel with a great pool complex like the new Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, which comes complete with a 10-acre lake, family-friendly rooms with bunk beds for children, and a second flat-screen television. (Rates start at $179 per day and include breakfast for a family of four.) The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is touting a Love Your Family deal that includes a 1,000-square-foot executive or grand suite with two bathrooms, $100 resort credit per stay for use toward on-site character dining, swan paddleboat rentals, unlimited beverage cups, souvenirs, and more. (Rates start at $399 per night.)
Hit the Slopes
These days there is as much to do off the slopes as on, no matter which destination you choose. Go to Park City's Utah Olympic Park and sign up for a bobsled ride on the Olympic track, or take the younger ones to the Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort. Interested in Vermont? Stowe, with its Ben & Jerry's factory, is always a draw, but try out the smaller stops of Bolton Valley or nearby Burlington. Big Sky in Montana offers a zip-line high above the trees; spend the morning doing hands-on activities at the Museum of the Rockies in nearby Bozeman. Or go to Snowmass and learn about the Ice Age mammoths that have recently been discovered there. Need a rush? Go snowmobiling at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, Michigan. You can find plenty of kids-free deals, too: Ski.com can put together a well-priced package with air, lodging, and lifts.
Sun and Sand
Opt for a different kind of beach getaway and book an eco-adventure. Kayak with Baja's baby whales with Sea Kayak Adventures, or explore Belize or Costa Rica with Wildland Adventures. See how the 1 percent lives by being waited on hand-and-foot at a private Bluefields Bay villa in Jamaica, where even a nanny can be provided so you can get to know locals in the small town. (It's more affordable than you think; prices in the Caribbean typically drop in April.) Share a condo or villa with another family and you'll save even more. If all-inclusive is your style, Beaches Resorts offer exemplary programming, including offerings for infants and toddlers—check out the Sesame Street-themed activities—as well as for tweens and teens.
Turn on the City Lights
There are great deals to be had in major and smaller cities, especially on weekends, when the business travelers are gone. Introduce your kids to New York City and explore Broadway, tour the 9/11 Memorial, or shop till you drop at the American Girl Store. Explore the biggest children's museum in the world in Indianapolis. Or check out San Francisco; you can ride bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge, visit a fortune-cookie factory, talk to a farmer at the huge Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, or see how much fun science can be at the Exploratorium.
Across the Pond
See London all gussied up for the Summer Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Opt for a multiday London Sightseeing Pass; it saves you money and lets you bypass lines to many major sights. Encourage your teens to practice their French in Paris by booking a free tour with a local via Parisien D'Un Jour. Or make ancient history come alive in Rome (opt for a guide for the Vatican and Coliseum from a company like Nancy Aiello Tours—we thought they were great!)
Spring is a good time to visit international cities—fewer crowds and cheaper airfares! To save even more, consider trading your house on Home Exchange, or rent an apartment to experience a foreign city like a local via FlipKey (a SmarterTravel sister site) or Airbnb.
And above all, have fun!
For more Taking the Kids, visit Eileen Ogintz's Taking the Kids website. Also follow "Taking the Kids" on Twitter, where she welcomes your questions and comments.