By David Barclay | October 4, 2023
Spring break is a popular time for families to travel, but the timing can challenge trips to many parts of the world. March & April are transitional seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres, which can mean colder and rainier weather in many popular travel regions. To assist you as you think about your next spring break trip, I decided to create a guide outlining places I think are wonderful to visit in March & April.
For those looking to limit travel time and remain relatively close to home, there are many great options within a few hours flight time of most major U.S. cities.
Hawaii has always been a popular vacation destination. While flight times from the Midwest and East Coast can rival travel time to Europe, for travelers who live in the western states Hawaii can be a great option. The recent fires on Maui severely impacted the popular Lahaina Town, but the island has bounced back and resorts north of Lahaina Town and in the Wailea area are fully open and hosting visitors. The Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai are also great islands to visit. The Four Seasons resort on the island of Lanai is wonderful for those looking for a little more seclusion (there are two Four Seasons on the island, but one is adults only). For families with spring breaks in April, Hawaii can be especially nice as this is the start of the off-season when the islands will be less crowded, and prices will moderate a bit.
Florida has always been a popular spring break destination. While the Orlando area around Disneyworld and Universal can be very crowded, the 1,350 miles of coastline provides many other great places to vacation without the theme park crowds. Both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of this state have something to offer travelers looking for some R&R sprinkled with casual adventures.
The Caribbean provides a plethora of options for spring break and is sure to offer a week of fun to any spring break traveler. For those who don’t want to deal with passports and immigration control on their vacation, Puerto Rico is a great place to visit and many large cities in the lower 48 have direct flights to/from San Juan. Travelers wanting to limit their flight times might want to look at the Bahamas or Turks & Caicos. Those able to travel a little farther might consider the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic or Jamaca (known for its all-inclusive resorts). The Leeward Islands are also a favorite destination for many U.S. vacationers. The Virgin Islands (both US and British) are popular for boat charters, and a catamaran or motor yacht can offer a great spring break for families with up to 12 travelers. The other Leeward Islands, while a little harder to get to, each offer visitors a unique experience and there are many great 4- and 5-star resorts to cater to travelers.
For those wanting to visit many locations in the Caribbean, a luxury cruise can be a great option. Many cruise lines add kids’ clubs during this season due to the larger number of families. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ships have full-time kids’ clubs on board (the Ritz-Kids Club) for guests 12 and under.
Mexico is another popular destination for U.S. travelers, given its proximity, great weather and reasonable prices. While the beach resort areas of the Riviera Maya (south of Cancun), Cabo San Lucas & Punta Mita (north of Puerto Vallarta) are very popular destinations, other parts of Mexico are also welcoming to vacationers. Mexico City has emerged recently as a popular destination, with visitors exploring the UNESCO city center and venturing south to the archaeological sites of Copilco and Cuicuilco, and the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco.
Costa Rica is well known as a great vacation destination (it is the most visited country in Central America). A spring break trip to Costa Rica can be a combination of many different travel experiences (from relaxing downtime to soft and hard adventure activities). Visitors usually combine a visit to the mountains & rain forests with a trip to the Pacific coast. In the mountains, vacationers can ride ziplines through the forest canopy, view steaming volcanic craters, hike, white water raft, and return to their hotel to soak in hot spring waters. At the beach, guests can relax or participate in many water activities including snorkeling/SCUBA, sea kayaking, sport fishing, and wind surfing.
While a little farther away, traveling to South America has the advantage of staying in a very similar time zone, so jetlag tends to not be an issue. This can be a big benefit for families that only have a week for spring break and want to hit the ground running the moment their flight lands.
A trip to the Galapagos Islands can be a fun family trip and appropriate for kids of all ages who will marvel at the unique wildlife. There are many options for visiting and exploring this region of the world. Several cruise lines sail the Galapagos, most itineraries are 7-days long (weekend to weekend) which requires about a week and a half total trip time. For families with less time, a 3-6 night stay at one of the island-based camps with day trips to several of the other islands can fit into a weeklong spring break.
While spring break might not provide enough time to fully explore this wonderful country, it does provide enough time to hit a few highlights and create a desire to return some day. The weather tends to be mild with temperatures in the 70’s. With a weeklong spring break, guests can visit Buenos Aires and spend a few nights outside the city at a cattle and horse estancias (“ranches”). Adventurous families can skip the estancias and travel either to the Iguazú Falls, the Bariloche high lakes district, or Patagonia (March is the end of the summer travel season in Patagonia). Families with one and a half weeks can easily combine Buenos Aires with two other parts of the country.
While parts of Europe will still be in the last throes of winter or just starting to transition to early spring, areas around the Mediterranean can provide a wonderful option for spring break.
One of the most popular countries for travelers in general and a great country for families, Italy has a lot to offer for a spring break trip. Rome is a must-see destination, and a week could be spent just exploring the city and surrounding area. With a weeklong break, travelers could add in a stop at Venice to the north or Naples/the Amalfi Coast to the south (with visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum for history buffs). Italy’s train system is very efficient and travel times between Italy cities are reasonable. With a week and a half, vacationers could start in Venice, visit Naples, and end their trip in Rome.
Spain offers a lot to travelers and can be a great option for a week of travel. With 7-8 nights, visitors can visit either Madrid or Barcelona along with Sevilla. With 9+ nights, guests can travel to all three cities. Or they can visit Sevilla and either Madrid or Barcelona but add on Lisbon at either the beginning or end of the trip to get a quick taste of Portugal and its similarities to and differences from Spain.
For a slightly more exotic trip, Morocco is a great option (and yes, it’s not part of Europe but should be in the same consideration set as my European suggestions). Spring break is a great time to visit Morocco, as visitors avoid the heat and the crowds common during the summer months. With a week, visits to Casablanca and Marrakech are possible. With a little more time, a third stop can be added, and the options abound. Those interested in history can add Fez and compare/contrast to Marrakech or visit the capital city of Rabat. Those looking for a little downtime can visit a seaside town such as Agadir, though the water temperatures (averaging 17C) will likely be too cold for all but the most adventurous
Norway or Iceland
Greece can be a wonderful spring break option, especially in April. Visitors can avoid the heat of the summer and find off-season deals on accommodations and activities. With a week, travelers can visit Athens and two of the islands. With more time, guests can extend their stays in these locations or add on a 3rd island stop. Some cruise lines start sailing through Greece in March & April and that can be another good option, though few offer round trips out of Athens so likely a cruise would entail embarking or disembarking in a different country.
For a completely different spring break experience, travelers can embrace the cold of winter and visit Iceland or Norway. These countries offer excellent winter activities and guests would still have a good chance of seeing the northern lights. Vacationers will also find the pricing in these very expensive countries more reasonable in the off-season of March & April.
While there are many countries in Asia that are wonderful to visit in March & April, the travel times combined with limited spring break vacation days make them less than ideal for a spring break trip. However, I do have one suggestion for those wishing to travel far to the west for their break.
Japan is my one exception to avoiding Asia for a spring break trip. While better for a family with a week and a half break, the plethora of direct flights to Tokyo from many major U.S. cities means a trip can be squeezed into a weeklong break. While it doesn’t provide time to explore the far north or south of this country, visitors can explore Tokyo for a few days, then travel by high-speed train to Osaka and from there take day trips to visit Kyoto and other historic Japanese cities. And if you are lucky, you will arrive during the famous cherry blossom season!
Owner, Barclay & Company Travel
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