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10 Spring Break Ideas for Families on a Budget

A family spring break vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of fantastic destinations to take advantage of that offer plenty for everyone, from tiny tots to teens and adults. Near and far, you’ll find everything from seaside escapes to exciting cities, all at more budget-friendly prices.

Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach vacation in Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is home to nearly 30 miles of beaches, with something for everyone, whether you’re looking for peace and tranquility, partying crowds or fun in the water like surfing. There are three miles of boardwalk to stroll and a wealth of exciting attractions too, like the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, which showcases marine life like sharks, rays and sea turtles, along with plenty of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Seaside, Oregon Home of the final stop on the Lewis and Clark expedition
Credit: Home of the final stop on the Lewis and Clark expedition by cdrin via Shutterstock.com

Seaside, Oregon

Seaside is located on the northern Oregon coast, and while sunny skies aren’t guaranteed, there is plenty of fun to be had here with its array of top attractions. A one-and-a-half-mile-long paved promenade edges the three-mile-long expanse of soft sands for walking and biking. Visitors can also enjoy surfing, fishing, building sandcastles, kite flying, searching for sand dollars and more. Right along the waterfront, the Seaside Aquarium houses sea lions that perform tricks on their own, hoping for someone to toss a fish their way (available for sale). Downtown hosts an arcade with video games, pinball machines and more, along with a wealth of shops and eateries.

New Orleans, Louisiana Saint Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter
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New Orleans, Louisiana

With Mardi Gras over, New Orleans makes an ideal spring break destination for families. There may be no beaches, but there are plenty of other delights that can be enjoyed for free or at a relatively low cost. Stroll charming cobblestone streets, explore the French Quarter, and visit the zoo, an outstanding aquarium or the children’s museum. The kids are sure to love the city’s famous beignets as well as an especially unforgettable swamp tour with opportunities to safely witness alligators as well as turtles, herons, egrets, owls and more.

Hilton Head, South Carolina Biking in Hilton Head
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Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head often enjoys especially pleasant temperatures in the springtime for taking advantage of its beaches, while azaleas in multiple vibrant hues are dotted across the landscape. Spring break is ideal for outdoor activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, horseback rides, and golfing, with over a dozen championship golf courses as well as more than 50 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails. Plus, there are a good number of value-priced hotels.

Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.
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Washington, D.C.

Spring Break is an ideal time to bring the family to Washington, D.C. It’s a great way for the kids to experience the country’s history through fascinating museums, and it often coincides with the period the cherry blossoms are in bloom. There are many museums that don’t charge admission, including The National Air and Space Museum, with the world’s largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft, including the Wright brothers’ original 1903 flyer. The vast National Museum of American History, with Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” and Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe, is free too. If you stay just outside of the city, taking advantage of the area’s metro system, cheap accommodation is available as well.

Amelia Island, Florida Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Credit: Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island by Madison Y Photo/shutterstock.com

Amelia Island, Florida

Just off the northern coast of Florida, Amelia Island features plenty of family-friendly activities with over a dozen miles of beautiful white sand beaches that are free from big spring break crowds, which provide a more tranquil atmosphere. Ride a bike on the miles of paved trails, go horseback riding on the sand, golf, sail or paddle through the tidal creeks and marshes. Fort Clinch State Park offers something for history buffs with one of the best-preserved 19th-century forts in the nation, as well as hiking and biking trails. In Fernandina Beach, you can take a tour of the historic downtown in a horse-drawn carriage.

Puerto Rico Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Credit: Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico by © Ivan Kokoulin | Dreamstime.com

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is ideal for enjoying the Caribbean vibe without shelling out big bucks. You’ll get to enjoy an exotic vibe with pristine sandy beaches and lush tropical rainforests filled with wildlife. Kids will especially enjoy searching for little coqui­ frogs and lizards, as well as colorful birds like the Puerto Rican parrot, one of the ten rarest birds on the planet.

South Padre Island, Texas Blanca County Park on South Padre Island
Credit: Blanca County Park on South Padre Island by bigstock.com

South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island is famous for a cheap spring break vacation with lots of inexpensive vacation rentals, including some beachfront properties. It sits on the tropical tip of the Lone Star State, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay, offering a wealth of fun in the sand and sun. There are more than 60 miles of driveable beach along the Padre Island National Seashore, perfect for fishing, wading, dolphin watching, sandcastle building, beachcombing and more. It’s not all about the beaches, though. You’ll find plenty of other attractions like the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center and Sea Turtle, Inc.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin Mt Olympus Theme Park, Wisconsin Dells
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Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Some say Wisconsin Dells is the spring break capital of the Midwest. Thanks to its many indoor water parks, it doesn’t matter what the temperature is outside. Although when it’s warm enough, there are plenty of ways to play outside too. Enjoy Mt. Olympus Water plus Theme Park and Noah’s Ark Waterpark, which offers a practically overwhelming array of aquatic rides, like two wave pools, a surfing simulator and 51 slides. Scorpion’s Tail is a favorite among those looking for heart-pounding thrills in the water, propelling riders down a nearly vertical slide into an inclined loop.

Dominican Republic Playa Rincon, Dominican Republic
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Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is famous for its great Caribbean deals, and there are lots of relatively inexpensive kid-friendly resorts too. Enjoy the postcard-perfect white sand beaches edged by crystal-clear azure warm waters, and explore Los Haitises National Park, where you can paddle out through the lagoons and mangrove canals in kayaks while watching the leatherback turtles and pelicans. There are waterfalls to visit, including tranquil pools below for freshwater swims, an aquarium, historic sites, caves to explore and more.

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