The best spring break travel ideas

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What's your goal this spring break? Whether you want to relax and enjoy the sun or enjoy an exciting adventure, these destinations will become a joyful spring break memory
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Where are you going for spring break?

Let me just start by saying that this article is intended for parents wanting to take their kids somewhere for spring break. If you're a college student looking for the hot spots, check out the best beaches for spring break.


Where do you look for spring break travel ideas? With so many excellent choices here in the U.S. how do you choose one spot? It partially depends on what your goal is. If this trip is all about the kids having fun, there's one type of choice. If you want to kick back and relax, there's another; and if you want the trip to be fun but educational, a third set of destinations crop up.


Get Schooled


Let's start with educational trips. Our nation may be relatively new, and you won't find 2,000-year-old buildings, but there's still plenty of history and other educational things to see.


Washington, D.C.

One of the very best cities for an educational experience is Washington, D.C. All you have to do is walk along the sidewalks to see famous historic buildings, such as the Capitol, the White House and, of course, the towering Washington Monument. Famous structures abound and are all within walking distance.


Another great thing to do in Washington, D.C., is visit the Smithsonian Institute. It's jam-packed not only with great American history, but also with artifacts from all over the world, including the world's largest, most beautiful diamonds and most impressive gemstones. My favorite? The airplanes and spacecraft at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.


Washington, D.C., is only one of the many historic and educational destinations around the country. New York is another destination that's packed with history and art. All within walking distance of each other in Manhattan are Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Broadway, tours to the Statue of Liberty and more.


There are sure to be impressive landmarks somewhere near your home. Whether it's the massive arch in St. Louis, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Niagara Falls in New York, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Hauser Geode Beds in the California desert, the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats of Utah, or some other destination, there is most likely some place educational and awesome near wherever you live.


Relax and Hit the Beach


If your idea of a perfect spring break is to relax, there are destinations that fit the bill.


One of the best places to simply relax is the beach. One formerly little known secret I love is Fort DeSoto beach in  St. Petersburg, Fla. One part of Fort DeSoto is relatively untouched by the things of man, including shops and tourist attractions. There's only sand and water. There may be plenty of people there, but it's not 'busy' in a hectic way like Clearwater or Daytona beaches. 

I've been going to this beach since I was born, having lived in the area at the time. Back then in the 60s and 70s, it was truly pristine. In recent years, it's been voted the number one beach in the nation several times, so it's not quite as much of a 'secret' as it used to be - but it's still a great beach.


Another fantastic beach destination is Sandestin in northern Florida. There are plenty of golf courses there, which always attract a more 'mature' visitor, so there's not so much commercialism here as with beaches more popular with young people. The most stand-out feature of this beach is the pure-white sand.


The last quiet beach destination I'll mention is also the most exclusive and therefore the most expensive of the three, but still not a 'break your budget' kind of place, if you're careful. That's Sanibel Island, near Fort Myers and Naples, a bit further south on the Gulf Coast. Sanibel is a magical beach where the water is a spectacular greenish blue. If you walk into the water just past the sand dune, you can dig gently in the sand and easily pull up shells, sand dollars and starfish.


Theme Parks


As far as spring break travel ideas go, most people just want to have fun. A theme park (or two or three) may be right up your alley. There are plenty of theme parks out there and unless you're in the middle of a huge, sparsley populated state like Minnesota, you're probably within a two- to three-hour drive of one, if not closer. If you are willing to travel some distance, however, there are a few that stand out above the rest.


First, there's Cedar Point in northwest Ohio. Keep in mind that Cedar Point does not open until May, so it's good only for late spring getaways.


Cedar Point, part of the Cedar Fair company that owns other famous parks like Knott's Berry Farm, is the crown jewel of coaster parks. If you're into roller coasters, it doesn't get any better. This one single park has a world-record 17 roller coasters. And that's not its only world record. Cedar Point doesn't only have the most coasters, it also has the best coasters. It's broken the world speed and height coaster record several times, usually beating itself out before anyone else can top it.


To date, its tallest and fastest coaster, the Top Thrill Dragster, is an insane 420-feet-high and launches at a blood-curdling 120-miles-per-hour. Not all of the coasters are so intimidating though, and there are plenty of other rides and attractions for all ages at this park.


There are also several other attractions nearby, including Kalahari, currently the largest indoor water park in the world under one roof. Also nearby is Put-In-Bay, an island only accessible by ferry which boasts, among other things, the world's largest known geode, one so large you can actually walk inside it. Take a ferry over and rent a go-cart to putt around in on this wonderful little island for a more relaxing day after your wild and wet ride at Cedar Point and Kalahari.


Head to L.A.

Theme Parks

Los Angeles is a great area to visit for the family. This area boasts beaches, theme parks and Hollywood. What more could you ask? As for theme parks, L.A. has two of the most famous in the world: Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. Both are located in Orange County, which is just south of L.A. proper.


Shop 'Til You Drop

If you're not into theme parks, there's a great upscale outdoor mall nearby called the Irvine Spectrum Center. This shopping center is anchored by Target, Macy's and Nordstrom. It boasts a large number of shops, both 'regular' and upscale, as well as a movie theater, a wide array of restaurants and - most impressively - a full-size ferris wheel.


Catch a Star

Head north for a day or two (about an hour) to Hollywood and Burbank to see the many famous studios, such as Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Disney and others. As you're walking along Hollywood Boulevard, you'll run into the famous Mann's Chinese Theater where there are always costumed characters around. 


Just across the street is another famous theater, the El Capitan. Also right there is the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards and parts of "American Idol" are taped. You can walk along Hollywood Boulevard for hours, seeing the names of thousands of stars of screen, radio and stage that have been honored forever in stone.


L.A. also boasts Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Place and many other famous streets, and hopefully you can get a glimpse of a star or two shopping or eating. If you want a really unique, memorable vacation, L.A. is a good choice.


Orlando has it All


Theme Parks

Orlando is my first choice for a spring break destination. This town's got it all. If you're into theme parks, Orlando is king. Orlando is home to several, including Walt Disney World, EPCOT Center, Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM Studios), Disney's Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Seaworld, Seaworld's Discovery Cove, Seaworld's water park Aquatica and several other water parks.


Kennedy Space Center

In addition to the theme parks, Orlando is close to the Kennedy Space Center, which has its own theme park of sorts, as well as tours where you can see rockets, launch pads, the huge crawlers that carry the shuttles to their pads, the almost unimaginably huge VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) and possibly even a space shuttle launch, if you time it right.


Beaches, Golf and More

There are also myriad beaches less than an hour from Orlando, including the famous Daytona Beach. There's fine art, a dizzying array of restaurants to choose from, and some of the biggest shopping centers and outlet malls in the world.


Orlando also boasts some of the finest golf courses in the world and is the home of Tiger Woods. The town is the number one destination for both tourists and business travelers worldwide, so it is well equipped to handle your vacationing needs.


If you're looking for a place to go for your spring break where the whole family can have a blast, Orlando is it!


Hopefully these spring break travel ideas will help you prepare for your spring trip.

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