January 25, 2016
Tucked between the pricey winter holidays and the crowded summer ones (or vice versa in some parts of the world), vacations between February and April can be easier on your budget and easier to plan.
These days, you likely will find more families—often with grandparents in tow—than college kids, whatever you want to do.
Does your gang want to ride roller coasters all day? Maybe the grandparents want you to join them on a cruise. Maybe your idea of a perfect Spring Break getaway is cheering on your favorite baseball players at Spring Training games in Florida or Arizona or showing the kids great sites abroad— less expensive than in summer, the hotel megasearch site www.trivago.com notes. Flights can be cheaper as well.
We are joining our colleagues at Family Travel Forum to recommend getaways that are guaranteed to please, whether you’re planning a reunion of several generations, a wild time with a bunch of friends, or some “we” time with loved ones, we hope you’ll find this roundup of the top adventure, beach, resort, cruise, festival, city, historical and international short breaks a helpful starting point.
SPRING BREAK BEACH & WATERSPORTS GETAWAYS
Beach vacations remain the most popular choice for all age leisure travelers, you don’t need to track sand into the room when you choose one of the dozen Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark resorts. Great Wolf Lodge Southern California opens in Garden Grove on February 19 – just in time for spring break! The company’s largest resort features a 105,000 square foot indoor water park and 603 suites. Currently, the resort is featuring its Grand Opening deal, featuring a discount up to 20% on stays through November 30. Enter promo code: GRAND And that same savings can be applied on multi-night stays at the other 12 resorts in North America on stays through March 17. Enter code: MOREFUN,
But if salt water is your thing, there are some alternative towns where you’ll find temperate weather and better values.
Pack wet suits for the kids if you’re headed to Mission Bay in San Diego, a popular beach area for surfing and sun. Fortunately, there’s more to do after you pack up your beach umbrella. At California’s world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to three rare, home to three rare panda bears, there is an add-on option to enter the zoo before opening to experience an Early Morning Visit with Pandas while they eat breakfast. This two-hour event also includes a zoo tour kids will love with up-to-date information on the zoo’s conservation efforts. Check out my Kid’s Guide to San Diego for more ideas!
Managed by ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals, TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort is consistently ranked among the top tennis resorts in the world.
Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin is a popular spring break destination with its clear, green waters and soft, white-sand beaches. One of TripAdvisor’s top 2016 Destinations on the Rise, Destin has tons of family-friendly activities from fishing and scuba diving to pristine beaches and year-round golf courses. Voted “Best Vacation Rental Service Firm” by Emerald Coast Magazine, Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers the largest selection of professionally managed vacation rentals in Northwest Florida through its ResortQuest brand. Ideal for families and large groups, the properties offer extra space, multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, washers and dryers and more. Wyndham’s Vacation Rental Bill of Rights guarantees each unit is professionally managed and inspected.
Travelers can choose from a range of properties from a full-service resort such as TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort, which has one of the top tennis programs in the U.S., to gulf-front villas and spacious private houses that can sleep up to 26!
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is offering up to 25% OFF this spring, making your vacation an even better one! Known for its beautiful and clear emerald green waters, Sandestin’s 2,400 acres features 1,300 deluxe accommodations, seven miles of beaches and pristine bay front, four championship golf courses, world-class tennis courts, swimming pools, marina, fitness center, spa and The Village of Baytowne Wharf. From sunrise to sunset enjoy a full slate of complimentary events and activities that take guests from day to evening and beach to bay in style. Enjoy daily events such as breakfast buffets, ice cream socials, beach volleyball tournaments, evening Luaus, Pirate Dinners, movies at the Marina, putt putt, croquet, Wednesday night concerts, Boomin’ Tuesdays and so much more. Visit www.sandestin.com/fam or call 877.319.9961 to start planning!
Vroom! to Daytona Beach in central Florida. Rev those engines and get set to take your rental car for a spin on the beach, at the place called home by the Daytona International Speedway. As one of our reporters found out on her spring break in Daytona, the speedway -– currently being expanded in this revitalized town -– has a fascinating history. Twenty-three miles of pretty beaches and fine food add to the local fun.
Alternatively, take a flight to Montego Bay and you will be in the heart of Jamaica’s second largest city, near the island’s famous beaches and attractions such as Dunn’s River Falls. This is the gateway to family-favorite all-inclusives and other luxury resorts like Half Moon, a Rock Resort ,the chance to vacation in a staffed villa and a unique program that enables you to connect with locals
CITY BREAKS, MUSEUMS & COLLEGE TOURS
We all know that travel is educational. Experts report that students who traveled in their youth tend to have higher school grades and test scores than those who didn’t.
With college kids away on spring break, it’s the perfect time of year to plan campus visits. Make a vacation out of visiting the coveted surf schools in southern California, the action-packed ski schools in Colorado, the Ivy League schools of the Northeast, and major universities in and around many great cities.
With more than 100 colleges in the Greater Boston area, there are plenty of options for college touring along with a slew of Boston activities and attractions for the whole family in Beantown. If you’re really into fossils, don’t miss the Harvard Museum and the New England Aquarium. Our Kid’s Guide to Boston can help younger kids lead the way!
Mixing up the college visits with local activities will de-stress the experience.
Book ahead for weekend campus tours so you can take advantage of lower rates at city hotels — at the family-friendly Omni Hotels, you can relax in comfort and even enjoy a romantic getaway with a bottle of Chandon Sparkling Wine, romantic turndown (after the kids go to bed), and a $100 cuisine and cocktail credit.
Book CityPASS prepaid ticket booklets have a 95% approval rating from families who have saved up to 50% on admission fees to the top attractions. Our favorite thing about using them? CityPASS tickets get you front of the line access in 12 North American destinations: New York City, Southern California, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Toronto — all day, every day. In one of our top spring cities – New York – the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will join the New York CityPASS program on March 1, saving visitors 42% off the total combined tickets prices at attractions and museums.
Don’t let “museum” become a dirty word; museums today range from those which make sense of the visual arts –– to hands-on, interactive displays about history and more. In fact, New York’s American Museum of Natural History now has the biggest dino ever found—122 feet long, 30 feet longer than the blue whale in a display so big it couldn’t be contained in a single room.
SPRING SEASON CRUISES FOR KIDS, TEENS, COUPLES AND GRANDS
Cruises are always a good bet for relaxing reunions because meals and accommodations are pre-arranged and paid for, and there’s no worrying about getting to the next destination. If grandparents are along, the supervised programs for infants, tots, kids and teens – not to mention the scheduled bridge games – keep everyone in the family busy. In our Family Cruise Section you’ll find many reviews of the major cruise lines. Alternatively, you can visit a travel agent near your home who is a cruise expert by looking at Cruising.org, the website of the cruise industry’s trade association.
AdventureSmith Explorations Founder and President Todd Smith with his family in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. AdventureSmith offers family-specific itineraries in Alaska and other destinations around the world.
AdventureSmith Explorations facilitates family travel on small capacity, adventure-oriented ships around the world. Sail aboard yachts and expedition vessels in Alaska, British Columbia and Oregon, as well as more far-flung locales like Baja, Costa Rica, Australia and the Galapagos Islands. They can steer you to special family sailings, deals and travel resources.
Company founder Todd Smith helped pioneer the concept of wilderness cruising that combines the comforts of a small cruise ship with the adventure of sea kayaking, hiking and exploring remote wilderness areas seldom associated with more mainstream cruise itineraries. Smith frequently travels with his two young sons, and has published numerous resources on the AdventureSmith website to assist in planning travel with a family focus. The company also has launched a carbon-free cruising initiative and offers dedicated family itineraries as well as substantial savings, including $100 off per person on select land-and-sea combo trips and special youth rates.
What’s New: AdventureSmith is celebrating the National Parks Centennial in 2016 by helping families Cruise a Park. Our small ship cruises provide 18 Ways to Cruise a National Park, from Alaska’s stunning Glacier Bay National Park, a muse for John Muir, to Washington’s Olympic National Park. Spring is an excellent time for families to visit the Galapagos Islands as the ocean waters are at their warmest, allowing for more time in the water snorkeling and interacting with the abundant marine wildlife. Contact our experts today to start planning your spring break aboard a small ship!
SPRING TIME HISTORY & CULTURAL JOURNEYS
Teens are looking for meaning on vacation, according to Family Travel Forum’s 2015 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship Trends Report, which found 12% of applicants cited “Heritage” and 21% “Cultural Exploration” as motivation for their travels
Kansas City, Missouri was the site of our recent TMS Family Travel Conference, and we were excited to get to know it better—especially the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum that teaches important history lessons and of course the chance to sample plenty of BBQ . KC is home to the fascinating collection of documents, art and memorabilia known as the Black Archives of Mid-America and boasts many special events during February, Black History Month. Any time of year, the historic 18th & Vine District is fun to visit. The American Jazz Museum puts on regular Open Jazz Rehearsals so visitors can watch musicians practice and talk about their artistry. The Crown Center is the place to make free crafts projects at Hallmark’s Kaleidoscope workshop, buy souvenirs at Taste of Kansas City, watch your burger arrive by elevated train at Fritz’s or have a colorful family dining experience at the Crayola Café. If you miss the annual Restaurant Week, count on a great meal at the classic Jack Strong or one of the hundred other barbecue joints in every Kansas City neighborhood.
Introduce the kids to the Victorian era in Galveston, Texas, which has prospered as a cruise ship port and used those resources to clean up its historic district. The Pleasure Pier built in the style of the 1930’s adds a fun amusement park where a wristband will buy the kids all the rides they like. The large glass domes at Moody Gardens support different habitats that range from rain forest to penguins to sharks, with a small palm-fringed waterpark for toddlers, three movie theatres and even a paddlewheel boat. Want Texas style culture? There’s an Oil Rig Museum so when you’re done making sandcastles in view of the rigs, you can head inside and learn more about them. Note that the amazing Schlitterbahn Waterpark is open year round and is much less crowded than in summer.
Spring is a terrific time to visit Washington, DC where some of the nation’s finest museums and annual festivals are totally free. My Kid’s Guide to Washington, DC can help the kids lead the way! March 20 through April 17, 2016 is the period for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which even includes a special Blossom Kite Festival. And don’t forget that Washington, DC has more free museums and attractions –including the National Zoo where you can pay a visit to the giant pandas and their babies—than most cities, more than 100. See the National Mall with DC by Foot, a walking tour company that gives free, kid-friendly tours (gratuity recommended).
Always include a stop at historic sites in major resort areas, too. There’s plenty of colorful history at the Alamo in the city of San Antonio, and the famous battleship Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Such places bring famous battles to life and encourage grandparents to connect with younger generations through stories only they can share.
The 10th Annual Sacred Mayan Journey, the re-creation of a pre-Hispanic ritual to honor of the goddess Ixchel takes place in Cozumel in May. The ceremony is organized under the aegis of Xcaret, a cultural nature park in the Riviera Maya that combines animal and natural elements with a focus on Mexican culture. If you wish to observe or participate, check their site for information, and to learn more about all their fabulous attractions.
OUTDOORS IN THE SPRING
A family vacation at Vista Verde Ranch is a unique way to experience the snow away from the crowds of the slopes. Located 25 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Vista Verde offers all-inclusive vacation packages in a secluded setting on over 600 acres of winter wonderland, surrounded by millions of acres of the Routt National Forest. Guides take guests on a variety of outdoor adventures such as backcountry skiing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, tubing (with a snowmobile ride back up the hill), and sleigh rides. There’s a kids program too, cooking classes, yoga , even the chance for a massage. All meals are included as well as beer and wine for the adults. Getting to the ranch is easy in the winter with multiple direct flights right into the Steamboat/Hayden airport and transportation to and from the airport provided by the ranch wranglers. March is the time for Spring Break getaways, and the ranch is open until March 24 for those looking for a snowy Spring Break.
Family fun at Vista Verde Ranch
If sports rule in your household, this is the time to take your team to spring training, a mainstay at small stadiums in Florida and Arizona. You’ll find special lodging packages close to every stadium; Kissimmee Florida, for example, is a great place to catch the Houston Astros in training followed by an afternoon at the nearby Orlando theme parks. In Peoria, Arizona, spend the afternoon watching the San Diego Padres or Seattle Mariners get into form, then head out after dark to do a night vision tour of the starlit desert and get to know the region’s nocturnal creatures.
Grandparents, on the other hand, may find it perfect weather to introduce the grandkids to their passion for golf, possibly at its best in Arizona, Hawaii and Palm Springs resorts. Myrtle Beach is another popular springtime golf destination, with more than 100 local courses, many of which let kids play free. From there, it’s a day’s drive to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, only one of the many national parks that are much less crowded in spring than in summer.
Last year, almost 293 million people visited America’s national parks; this year, celebrate the Centennial of the National Parks together. Use the new site FindYourPark.com to plan a trip during National Park Week (April 16- 24) when all 409 parks and monuments are free for all ages. Fourth graders and their families get admission free to all the parks through the summer thanks to the Every Kid in a Park program; those traveling with grandparents can take advantage of their lifetime $10 Senior Pass that gets the entire car in to the parks. Many National Park Service properties organize free, ranger-led hikes and nature walks; others have safe areas to bike or canoe and don’t forget the Junior Ranger programs!
Family portrait at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with O.A.R.S.
Celebrate the National Parks Centennial this year on a family adventure vacation with O.A.R.S. Since 1969, O.A.R.S. has offered VIP access to Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton and five other National Parks and more than 10,000 families have trusted the company with their vacation in the last 10 years alone. Be one of the first to book your 2016 family adventure and save up to 10% on most trips! Request your free copy of the 2016 O.A.R.S. Family Adventures Catalog today.
Many families make it a tradition to spend the Easter holidays at Yosemite; At Yellowstone National Park, guests can traverse the snow-packed trails to Old Faithful on private Snowcoach tours, or check into lodges to snowshoe, snowmobile or go ice-fishing before everything melts. In the Pacific Northwest, Olympic National Park has tide pools, some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country and mountain vistas, three major ecosystems to explore. Visit the John Wayne Marina near the Dungeness Lighthouse; it was a favorite sailing area for the cowboy star and is the place to rent boats so you can get up close with this striking lighthouse.
SNOW PLAY IN THE SPRING SUNSHINE
How many websites do you have to visit to plan the perfect family ski vacation? The short answer is one! Ski.com has everything you need to put together the ideal itinerary for a family ski vacation at 120 resorts worldwide, including the largest inventory of mountain lodging, the best lodging and lift ticket deals, intuitive tools like the new Resort Finder, and comprehensive destination guides with family-travel tips. All these resources are backed by 65+ Mountain Vacation Specialists who average 28 years in the ski travel industry and specialize in booking the perfect family ski vacation.
See our annual roundup of the Top Family Snow Sports Resorts for more reviews and destination ideas.
Spring skiing is awesome in Colorado, where snow has been falling in buckets all winter. Kids 12 and under ski free at Keystone Resort every day of the 2015/16 winter season without any blackout dates. (Families must stay two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous owned and operated accommodations.) Keystone has given out more than 100,000 free lift tickets to kids since the program started. Check out the daily Kidtopia activities and don’t miss the huge ice fort at the top of the mountain.
With big mountain skiing and riding for all abilities – including a green trail from the summit of southern Vermont’s highest peak – learning zone with a covered Magic Carpet and renowned instructional programs for children, Stratton is a great choice for the family getaway. Add a full menu of activities including snowshoe tours, Kids Night Out programs, snowmobiling, dogsledding a fitness center with indoor saltwater pool plus shopping and dining in the slopeside Village. Lodging options include condominiums ideal for cooking up the kids’ favorite meals, enjoying a movie by the fire, and even drying the ski clothes. The new Base Lodge New Base Lodge offers fresh new fare plus live music for apres and evening (there is a list of babysitters!)
The YMCA of the Rockies will hold a family winter mountaineering weekend Feb. 26-28 to prepare guests with the skills they need to enjoy Colorado, such as backcountry skiing, winter survival skills, and tips for hiking with children. Rates begin at $79/night per room; see the YMCA of the Rockies schedule to book.
Proximity to the Salt Lake City Airport makes Utah mountain resorts convenient for a spring break getaway. The luxurious Snowbasin Resort, about 35 miles north in Ogden, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. They are participating in Ogden ‘s new Ski3Pass that enables visitors to buy 3 lift tickets for use at Snowbasin, Powder or Nordic Valley for just $159. We like their innovative Burton Dino Riglet Park, a specially groomed beginner area that uses terrain based learning combined with special equipment to get kids ages 3 and up riding and doing tricks on tiny snowboards.
Families that are comprised of those who live to ski and those who prefer not to will find it all at Ski Santa Fe. Located only 16 miles from Santa Fe’s cultural attractions in and around The Plaza, and nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it is among the highest ski areas in the US at 10,350 feet and provides lessons for all ages.
There’s lots of news in the ski industry, including better snowmaking so your spring skiing adventure is guaranteed to have better quality snow and grooming. That means even New England resorts, where some travelers might head for spring golf, fishing, hiking and mountain biking will be able to keep their runs open.
Mountain resorts know how to enjoy spring in the snow, and even dude ranches provide some horseback riding, good meals and a relaxing time in spectacular country whether in Arizona, Texas or Colorado. Some ranches and mountain destinations organize local dogsled tours, a great way to get babies and toddlers out into the woods on very cold days. These operators provide all the clothes and gear you’ll need; in fact at the Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge in Ely, Minnesota you can climb aboard and travel for several days of adventure; The Appalachian Mountain Club’s New England lodges are ideal for families with all of the gear you need available to borrow and guided activities. .
THEME PARKS IN THE SPRINGTIME
Family spring breaks are all the rage at the major U.S. theme parks, where all ages can find thrill rides, themed attractions and live shows to their liking. The parks are especially welcoming for those with special challenges too.
Visitors and Florida residents can now choose from a variety of new admission products for the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens family of parks that provide more value and flexibility. This new ticket offer is available now and has no end date. Guests can create their own favorite theme park adventure from these four parks: SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island Tampa Bay.
Penguins up close at Seaworld Orlando
When tickets are purchased in advance, online, special prices are as low as two visits to any of the parks for $99; For the ultimate adventure deal – the new Length-of-Stay ticket provides 14 consecutive days of unlimited adventure to all four of the parks, along with free parking at each, for one low price of $139. For a limited time, Seaworldwill offer kids ages five and younger a FREE Preschool Card valid for unlimited admission through December 31, 2016. Cards must be registered online and redeemed in the park by May 27, 2016.
On February 6, LegoLand in Carlsbad will premiere the new “The Lego Movie 4D A New Adventure.” Featuring popular characters such as Wyldstyle and Unikitty from last summer’s hit film, it will be shown exclusively at Legoland Parks and Discovery Centers; check the website for all opening dates. Nearby at SeaWorld San Diego, new online pricing includes all-day dining with an adult themepark ticket for only $89. If you’re staying a few days, a Fun Card costs $79 and is valid all season long.
Disneyland’s 60th anniversary festivities continue with Star Wars: Seasons of the Force ; You’ll find plenty of Star Wars action at Disney World too. No worries if you need a light saber. You can make one at Disney World or Disneyland!
The big news at Universal Studios Hollywood in California is the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter April 7 where just like in Orlando, you now can explore Hogwarts castle, visit the shops at Hogsmeade, join Harry on “the Forbidden Journey” and practice your wand skills.
Two and a half million visitors makes Orlando, Florida one of the country’s top Spring Break destinations. If you can, go to Orlando after the few weeks of spring and Easter break, and before mid-June, for the best deals, or wait until September when prices drop again. The city’s website offers discounts on everything from attractions to accommodations and restaurants.
Walt Disney World Resort will complete its multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs with double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues—more than 150 in all and two new acts added to La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.
Couples with babies in tow can take advantage of the Rider Switch policies at major Disney and Universal theme parks, which allow one parent to wait with baby at the head of the line while the other one rides, then switch without waiting again. The latest attractions at Disney World’s New Fantasyland even have a play area where families can romp while waiting to be notified of their turn by electronic pagers.
For the baseball fans in the family – don’t forget the Atlanta Braves Spring Training, in town from March 4 to April 4.
Remember: central Florida is not as hot and humid as in July. Just an hour from Orlando is the Space Coast and the Kennedy Space Center, whose space camp and astronaut encounters allow everyone’s imagination to take flight. Ready for a Shuttle Launch Experience?
INTERNATIONAL SPRING GETAWAYS
Paris, of course, is wonderful in the spring and we need to show solidarity with the Parisians. Shop, eat and explore the magnificent museums. Take a special family tour of the Louvre ; sign on for a free tour with those who live here. Take a cooking class with the kids. Eat until you can’t eat anymore baguettes, cheese, crepes, frites, chocolate…
According to Trivago.com, hotels are less expensive in major European cities in early spring than in summer.
Amsterdam is also very popular and it isn’t only because marijuana is legally served (to those over 18) in the city’s famous coffee shops. It’s because you can get around by bike or boat, the architecture is so picturesque, and there are the first-rate museums such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Anne Frank House. There is also plenty for younger children to do in Amsterdam, where all ages will benefit from IAmsterdam Card access to museums and a host of other discounts.
Croatia especially has become a destination for small ship cruising with many beachside towns and small ports that are easy to tour on foot.
SPRING BREAK ADVENTURES & VOLUNTEERING
Many families take the opportunity to give back wherever they are traveling, even just for an afternoon.
Join the families on board Carnival’s new Fathom brand and you can volunteer in the Dominican Republic or immerse yourself in Cuba. On board you’ll practice Spanish and learn more about the customs of the countries you will visit and the projects you will be involved with. For a Limited Time Only: Buy One Get One Cruise to the Dominican Republic. As a Fathom traveler, you’ll work alongside established partners and local residents on projects designed to improve the economic well-being and health of Dominican families. From bringing clean drinking water to local communities, improving English skills to help create new employment opportunities, or participating with women’s co-ops, your time and energy can be the difference that transforms how the Dominican people see themselves, their families, their communities, and the world.
There are budget eco-adventure trips that include giving back to the destination you are visiting. Many non-profit organizations organize volunteer vacations; groups like Together for Good can lead a “Cruise4Haiti” or share resources for multi-day or even half-day give back opportunities at most resort areas.
Even college students can benefit by considering an alternative spring break – groups like Projects Abroad organize housing and one-week volunteer opportunities in the US and abroad so students can help local communities during their time off.
Some of the most memorable outdoors and wilderness trips are best undertaken in our spring, or autumn in the southern hemisphere. Perhaps where eco-tourism began, features land vacations in unique eco-lodgings. Guests explore each region’s biodiversity, learn about efforts to preserve natural resources including animal conservation, and become reinvigorated by its peaceful beauty. Long at the forefront of sustainable tourism, Costa Rica is working towards becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021.
With all the attention on Antarctica and its melting icecap, some well-heeled adventure travelers are sailing south to explore this little known region. One of our favorite trips for families is a cruise through Patagonia aboard an Australis ship, known for its comforts and knowledgeable, multilingual guides. Couples as well as families who’ve followed “The Hobbit” on all its journeys will appreciate the fjords of Milford Sound, New Zealand. One of the many stunning natural locations for the recent Peter Jackson trilogy and for “Lord of the Rings,” it’s one of the world’s top adventure ecotourism destinations. Grandparents may want to consider a guided spring or summer tour for the whole family where the tour operator provides extra support for all ages to enjoy themselves.
Costa Rica is the original adventure travel destination, one where families can rough it or not, depending on your needs and interests. The new J. W. Marriott in Guanacaste, recently reviewed for Family Travel Forum, is a good example of a luxury resort with plenty of on-site activities and kids programs, yet wild adventures at the doorstep. When more than a quarter of this forward-thinking country protected within the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), it’s not surprising that there’s a Guanacaste National Park with a UNESCO World Biosphere designation. Located just 35 kms from the international airport at Liberia, it’s a known migration route for a large number of birds and animals. If you decide to stay longer and move into local lodging, both SINAC and the non-profit Sabatica offer many volunteer opportunities such as park maintenance within the country and its preserves.
Roughing it adventures are never cheap, but there are many budget trips where you will roam beyond your comfort zone and help the destination you are visiting. Many non-profit organizations organize volunteer vacations; groups like Together for Good can lead a “Cruise4Haiti” or share resources for multi-day or even half-day give back opportunities at most resort areas. Even your college students can benefit by considering an alternative spring break -– hotels like the Rosen Resorts of Orlando give college students housing and volunteer opportunities if they commit time to help local communities during their time off.
We look forward to hearing where you dream of spending your spring break and where you actually end up enjoying some time off. And if you can’t get away just now, remember, summer’s almost here.
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