No plans for spring break yet? Don’t panic. There are still some great deals, no matter your budget or family vacation preference.
Sweet-smelling history lessons – Washington, D.C.
Take kids to the nation’s capital to learn U.S. history and breathe in the sweet smells of cherry blossoms in bloom. Cherry-pick any of 11 Kimpton hotels in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia for a Blossoms and Bubbles package. At check-in, children receive a bottle of bubbles and grown-ups get a gift of hand-crafted cherry blossom soap. After a day of touring the Smithsonian and Lincoln’s Memorial, parents will appreciate the hotels’ hosted complimentary wine hour, held nightly from 5 to 6 p.m. while kids jam out on Guitar Hero (in select hotels). Prices start at $135 and include a $30 daily credit for use on hotel goods and services. See hotel list at Kimptonhotels.com.
Scavenger hunt safari – Chattanooga, Tenn.
Sleuth for hidden clues at various Chattanooga attractions this spring. Take photos of your finds as proof of your efforts in exchange for prizes. Scavenger hunt locations include Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City Gardens, Southern Belle Riverboat, Chattanooga Zoo, Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga Choo Choo and more. Four participating hotels offer packages that include attraction admission tickets and other extras like meals, totaling up to 35 percent total savings. Learn more at Chattanoogafun.com.
Midwestern chillcation – Chicago
Head to Chicago’s John Hancock Observatory for indoor ice skating on faux ice more than 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile ($6 for skating plus admission to observatory). Afterward, check into one of four Hilton Hotels offering Chillcation packages with hot cocoa for warming up, sleeping bags for a slumber party feel, and indoor swimming pools for splashing. Pricing starts at $149 per night. Learn more at Chillcation.com.
Horse lovers holiday - Tucson, Ariz.
Named by the Arizona Republic in 2012 as “The Best Dude Ranch in Arizona,” Tanque Verde Ranch offers hiking, biking, swimming, fishing and kids camps in addition to riding. Discounted room rates start at $525 per night for two people ($99-$175 per person for additional guests) and include all meals, horseback trail rides and lessons, fishing and other outdoor activities. Receive a $299 airfare credit when you stay four or more nights. Minimum riding age is 4.
Southern California dreamin’ – San Diego County, Calif.
San Diego County boasts miles of beaches and plenty of kid-centric attractions. The Hotel La Jolla’s spring break package starts at $245 per night and includes four tickets to the nearby Birch Aquarium, a one-hour surf lesson for two kids, complimentary bicycle rentals and more. Or, head a bit further north to Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad, located across the street from a gorgeous stretch of sandy beach. Starting at $179 per night, the Hilton’s package includes complimentary breakfast and 15 percent off tickets to LEGOLAND California and the San Diego Zoo when purchased through the hotel. Nearby, the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch bloom in giant swaths of color each spring, providing family photo opportunities and kid-friendly activities (March 1-May 12; $6 kids 6-11, $11 adults).
Camping and pic-a-nics with Yogi Bear – Multiple locations
Rent an RV and head to one of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. With 28 locations open all year throughout the U.S., you are likely to find a spot that suits your family. At northern Jellystone campgrounds, there’s snowmobiling, ice skating and skiing. At southern campgrounds, families enjoy hay rides, kid's Olympics, cooking competitions, bingo, and laser tag. You might even see Yogi, Boo-Boo, Ranger Rick, and Cindy Bear during your stay. With rates at their off-season lowest, you can nab a campsite for as little as $30 per night. View campsites.
Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor of TravelMamas.com.Her new book,“The Travel Mamas’ Guide,” will be available April 2013.