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.
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.
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 WashingtonMonument. 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 SpaceMuseum.
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 GulfCoast. 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.