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!
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! Then cool off at Oasis Water Park at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. From the insane eight-story slides to the giant wave pool and 25-person hot tub, the kids won’t want the day at this seven-acre water park to end. You can either stay at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, Arizona’s only AAA Four Diamond resort, or purchase day passes from ResortPass.
Hiking trails abound around 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.
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and Sheraton Grand Wild Horse Pass are some family-favorite resorts in the greater Phoenix area. For a city escape, stay at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, which is freshly renovated and within walking distance to many downtown amenities. With a rooftop pool and breezy lobby, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown boasts modern amenities, like work spaces to take a call or tackle to-do’s without the kids climbing all over you.
Stroll over to The Churchill for an open-air, shipping container courtyard with food and drink vendors, seating and local shops. 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.
Copper Mountain, Colorado
If your active family likes to ski, snowboard or skate, where better to tackle snowy terrain than Copper Mountain Resort, an Official Training Center for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team, that also recently opened a Western Territory expansion dedicated to beginner skiers. A two-drive from the Denver airport, Copper Mountain’s 2,507 skiable acres are open for winter exhilaration until April 16.
Half-day or full-day lessons are an excellent way to build or expand your skills. “A good foundation is the most important thing, especially for those new to the sport,” says Beth Remington, certified ski instructor. “Be patient with the process and have fun learning something new.”
Play time includes more than skiing, as families can snow tube, zip down the mountain on an alpine coaster, ice skate, snow shoe and jump on super-bouncy trampolines at Woodward Copper Barn. The tubing hill at Copper Mountain’s East Village includes four curved lanes for an hour of fun sliding down snow banks. Reach speeds up to 25 mph riding 5,800 feet of track through the alpine forest on the Rocky Mountain Coaster. Ice skate in Center Village or snow shoe around West Village. Athletes practice their tricks at Woodward Copper Barn, an indoor trampoline, foam pit and ramp park that kids love to bounce around. Copper’s three villages cluster dining, shopping and equipment rentals in walkable areas around the resort.
Stay in slope-side condos, townhouses or Element 29, Copper’s first hotel, opened in March 2021. Enjoy Rocky Mountain views from bubbling hot tubs or snuggle around crackling fire pits. Delicious eats are outside your door in a short walk around each village. Toast & Co. serves up tasty breakfasts and barista-made coffees. Lunch at Downhill Duke’s shouldn’t be missed. Soak up the sunshine on their heated patio, where you can watch others shred powder while you devour salads and sandwiches in a pup-friendly environment. Sawmill Pizza and Taphouse is a new pizzeria where you can grab a slice and go, or savor your meal with some brews in the dining room. JJ’s Rocky Mountain Tavern buzzes with live entertainment and delicious homemade drumsticks.
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 opens March 11. This 1880’s theme park in the heartland of America boasts record-breaking coasters and old timey enjoyment including 100 demonstrating craftsmen. Time Traveler — the world’s steepest, tallest and fastest spinning coaster at the time of its opening in 2018 — will definitely take you for a loop. Shows, festivals and dining make for great days at Silver Dollar City.
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. Experience first-hand what it was like in the world’s most famous luxury liner. 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. Stand on a replica of the grand staircase, then see if your passenger survived in the Titanic Memorial Room.
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 55mp 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you find yourself falling in love with the island’s rich history and quaint charm, take it a step further by dining 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.
When it’s time to get some rest, you will have a variety of options on where to stay. 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.
Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.