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- With the ongoing pandemic, many families are seeking safe domestic spring break destinations.
- Airbnb is a great lodging option since it offers a socially distanced stay where families can spread out.
- We found family-friendly spring break destinations across the US, plus top family rentals for each.
It’s been more than one year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended family life, changing the way kids learn, parents work, and how we all spend our leisure time. Needless to say, many American families are eagerly awaiting a change of scenery with the onset of warmer spring weather and more daylight hours. It seems, in other words, like we could all use a spring break.
AAA Travel experts advise would-be spring breakers that things will look very different than the last time many took a vacation. “The entire travel experience has been transformed by COVID-19. If you’re considering travel sometime this year, it’s more important than ever to do your due diligence ahead of any trip to ensure it is safe and enjoyable,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.
Most families this year will be continuing to seek out safer vacation options like road trips and closer-to-home domestic getaways. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up domestic spring break ideas for families in locations where enjoying socially distant and outdoor activities is easy, from uncrowded mountain towns to beach getaways where you can have your own private boardwalk.
One other way to have a safer spring break? Choose a vacation rental instead of a standard hotel. According to HomeToGo, the world’s largest vacation rental search engine, vacation rentals for families are already up by nearly 30% over last year, and it’s easy to see why.
Vacation rentals provide an attractive option to stay in a private and spacious setting with convenient amenities like full kitchens, and fun perks like pools and game rooms. Even more importantly right now, experts and the CDC say private home rentals are safer than hotels due to the lack of interactions with any staff or other guests.
However, keep in mind that there’s still no guarantee of safety when it comes to travel right now. We always advise following CDC guidelines, practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing a mask in public spaces. Additionally, consider your family’s risk factors and take extra precautions if you plan to travel to or from a hotspot area.
We chose top spring break destinations and family-friendly Airbnbs based on the following criteria:
- All are domestic locations with plenty of outdoor family fun for a safer, socially distanced getaway.
- Each rental is for the entire home, per current expert recommendations.
- Every Airbnb listing has a high rating of at least 4.88 or above.
- Rentals are especially great for families, with multiple bedrooms and cool, kid-friendly amenities.
- We kept affordability in mind, but chose options at varying price points, ranging from $98 to $489 per night to start.
Here are the best spring break destinations in the US for families, plus where to stay at each.
According to Trip Advisor, Tennessee is the top searched for family-friendly destination so far in 2021. And Pigeon Forge, at the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is one of the top destinations for families within the state thanks to its stunning natural areas and easy access to Dollywood and Ober Gatlinburg mountaintop ski and recreation area.
Where to stay: Spacious cabin with views, $489
The three-story, newly built Bella Vista vacation home delivers jaw-dropping views from a double-high wall of windows. Inside, you’ll find a gourmet kitchen, a nine-seat screening room, and a 10-foot indoor climbing wall that kids will go nuts for. A game room provides even more opportunities for some friendly family competition with an air hockey table, pool table, and video games galore.
Outdoors on the multiple-level deck, you’ll also find a large private hot tub where you can literally soak up the views.
Long Beach, California
On the coast between Santa Monica and Huntington Beach, Long Beach is especially ideal for families with small children. Thanks to a breakwater off the shores here, there are no large waves, a boon for beginner swimmers. Traveling with your family’s dog? Long Beach is also home to Rosie’s Dog Beach — the only legal, off-leash dog beach in Los Angeles County.
Plus, you’ll find the newly expanded Aquarium of the Pacific here with 11,000 water creatures ranging from sharks to jellyfish.
Where to stay: Cottage one mile from the beach, $98
This shore-themed cottage close to the beach is set in a quiet neighborhood. It’s a super kid-friendly setup, and even comes equipped with a stroller and pack’n play. The kids will go wild for the private playground jungle gym set in a large sandy area in the yard.
There’s also an outdoor grill and firepit, and indoors plenty of games, books, kid-friendly kitchen gear, and even a foosball table. The beach theme is elegantly incorporated throughout the home via nautical pillows and quilts, and the bold red kitchen features a lighthouse painted over one of the shelves.
Between the Southern culture, amazing outdoor experiences like rafting down the James River — public art, and historic sites, there is something that will make every member of the family happy to explore the charming Richmond area. April is a particularly beautiful time to visit with the destination’s gardens in full bloom and miles of hiking and biking trails to traverse with kids.
Where to stay: Two-story tree house, $267
Opt for a unique accommodation here, like this Trailside Trailhouse that lets families live out their “Swiss Family Robinson” dreams of camping in a tree house. Climb up into this two-story treetop abode for a memorable overnight. Relax on the outdoor decks and enjoy the rustling trees while you swing on the hammocks (or perhaps even sleep in one), or let the kids stretch out in the nest-level bunkbeds.
Another important kid highlight: There’s a slide from the first floor to get you down to ground level. Other standout features include a firepit and lawn games for when you’re not up in the trees. From this central spot by the river, you can easily explore forest trails on foot or with the bikes that are part of the rental.
You want a relaxing Florida vacation. The kids want Disney. You want to stay somewhere without crowds or COVID-19 fears. The kids want Harry Potter. You wouldn’t mind visiting Orlando very quickly, the kids want theme park availability round-the-clock. If that sounds like you, your family wants Kissimmee.
You may not know the name, but if you’ve been to the Orlando area, you’ve probably driven through this Mickey-suburb. You can get all the Central Florida sunshine, hang out by the pool, perhaps dip your toe into actual theme parks, but also enjoy some of the area’s natural wonders, like Wekiwa Springs State Park where you can kayak with manatees.
Though, if you do prefer to be closer to all the theme park action, we have Orlando Airbnb options for you too.
Where to stay: Themed family home, $429
Kissimmee is full of cool rentals kids will adore, including this one called R U Incredible Parents. The answer will surely be yes if you book this home that’s big enough to bring the whole crew and then some. Every single room is more over-the-top themed than any of the “real” Disney or Universal properties.
There’s a Harry Potter bedroom, a Frozen room, an Avengers room, and a Mickey and Minnie-themed retro diner area for the kids to eat in. There’s even a Jurassic Park-style eigh-foot dinosaur in a cage outside that you pass on the way to your private pool.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Located three hours outside of Denver, Steamboat is a cowboy ranching town at heart and an off-the-beaten path winter destination known to many as Ski Town, U.S.A., for having produced more winter Olympians than any other spot in all of North America. Steamboat Ski Resort is renowned for its six peaks of champagne powder, and the resort stays open all the way into mid-April, so you can get your kids on the slopes for a fresh-air, snow-filled spring break.
Where to stay: Mountain chalet, $428
This family chalet has spectacular views of the mountains, a huge entertaining space including a pool table, a large television lounge, a full custom bar (that you can fill with juice boxes if you’d like), and a convenient walkway out to a private hot tub with views across the valley.
The spacious sitting area features soaring wood ceilings, a cozy fireplace, and numerous plush couches for lounging. Parents will also like that the master bedroom has its own fireplace and a jetted soaking tub. The furnished deck also includes a firepit so you can warm up and roast marshmallows in the evenings.
According to Travelocity, the Gulf Coast beach town of Galveston in South Texas is one of the five most popular family vacation destinations reserved on the site so far in 2021. That’s really no surprise with its sugary white sand beaches and aqua waters. Another classic family draw is the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, which provides some old-school entertainment via carnival games and its 100-foot “Galaxy Wheel” Ferris wheel.
Where to stay: Beachfront home with private boardwalk, $193
This beachfront gem faces the Gulf and provides stunning views of the water through floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s plenty of space to spread out inside the contemporary home, and one of the bedrooms features bunkbeds just right for young kids. A fireplace, a wooden deck with lounge chairs, a massive open-concept kitchen, and a spa-like master bathroom with a deep Jacuzzi tub are all appealing amenities.
But the beach is calling, and you can get there on a private boardwalk that delivers you right from your door to the waves without ever hitting blacktop. It’s great for kids to use a scooter or skates without fear of cars getting in their way, too.
For a quintessential country getaway, it’s hard to beat the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. There are lakes for kayaking, swimming, and boating; adventure activities such as ziplining and alpine slides; small historic towns like Great Barrington with shops and farmstands; cool, kid-enticing art at Mass MoCa; and hiking along the Appalachian Trail. It’s also a great place just to relax and enjoy some quiet and fresh air.
Where to stay: Woodland home, $450
This beautiful Berkshire family house is nestled in the woods just off the Appalachian trail. The listing features an outdoor grill and a spacious screened-in porch. The interiors have a chic cabin feel thanks to exposed wood beams, a potbelly stove, and a soaring pitched roof over the huge living area.
The sprawling wooded yard comes complete with swings, hammocks, and a firepit and offers kids plenty of room to roam in a safe environment. Even though you’ll have ample privacy, you’re only five minutes to the village with a local store, as well as a nearby swimming lake with a sandy beach and lifeguards.