The annual spring break holiday is a fantastic way to re-connect as a family, particularly after several dreary months spent busy with school and work. Here's where to go in the US to make the most of your much-deserved spring vacation. 

Young girl with large sunglasses sits in a lounge chair on the beach in Clearwater, Florida
For a beach vacation, Clearwater, Florida, has one of the best in the US and is packed with fun things to do when you want to get out of the sun © Cavan Images / Getty Images

Clearwater, Florida

Set on Florida's idyllic Gulf Coast, Clearwater is a fantastic spring destination for families thanks to warm, crystal-clear waters. Not only does white, sandy Clearwater Beach rank among the best beaches in the United States, but it's home to Clearwater Marine Aquarium – a leading animal rehabilitation center. Here kids can visit with Winter the Dolphin, who was rescued and uses a prosthetic tale to swim. Winter is the star of the wildly popular Dolphin Tale movies. 

Take the ferry across the Gulf of Mexico's emerald green waters to Caladesi Island State Park for scenic nature trails and superb shelling. In the evening, Pier 60 is the place to be for vibrantly colored sunsets and nightly festivals with local artisans, magicians and live music.

Where to stay: Settle in steps from the beach at the stylish Hotel Cabana Clearwater Beach.

Wigwam hotel in Arizona.jpg
A road trip on Route 66 through Arizona is full of kitsch, beautiful scenery and interesting history © Carolyn / Getty Images

Arizona's Route 66

Get your kicks on Route 66 as part of a family road trip across Arizona. Start in Las Vegas and make your way east to Arizona to pick up Route 66 near Kingman, home to colorful murals and the Historic Route 66 Museum, which tells the story of Arizona's segment of the storied highway through photographs. 

As you continue driving, snap photos of Giganticus Headicus, a 14-foot Tiki style head in Seligman, as well as Meteor Crater in Winslow. In Holbrook, explore Petrified Forest National Park (you can't miss it, the highway cuts right through the park). 

Where to stay: Spend a night at the Wigwam Motel, a classic motel from the 1950s. 

Related content: Don't overlook these magnificent outdoor destinations in the Southwest

Kids jumping around at sunset in the tide pools in La Jolla, California
San Diego has a surprising number of fun activities for families and the weather is nearly always perfect © Stephen Simpson / Getty Images

San Diego, California

San Diego is a year-round favorite among families, thanks largely to the average 266 days of sunshine this coastal destination receives each year. Spend the day at Balboa Park, which boasts multiple nature trails, playgrounds, a world-renowned zoo and kid-friendly museums, like the San Diego Air & Space Museum. A free park tram can shuttle you around the park.

Just over the bridge from downtown San Diego is Coronado Central Beach. Kids will love erecting castles from sand that glistens due to the glittery mineral, mica, that's mixed in with the sand. Walk along the beach to revel in historic mansions.

Where to stay:  Bed down at the majestic Hotel del Coronado, the inspiration behind Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian.

Related content: Oh the places you'll go in San Diego with your kids 

Family of four kayaking in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Between Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island, there is something for everyone © Image Source / Getty Images

Coastal South Carolina

There's a lot to love about Coastal South Carolina as a spring vacation destination. In Myrtle Beach, stroll the boardwalk then take a spin on the 200ft Myrtle Beach Skywheel for delightful bird's eye views. Given Myrtle Beach is the Mini Golf Capital of the World, it's a must to get in at least one round at a popular course like Jungle Safari Mini Golf

Alternatively, you can go to Hilton Head Island, which is better known for outdoor adventures, like kayaking, treetop canopy tours, crabbing and horseback riding. Hilton Head is bike-friendly, so rent a bike to cycle on bike paths across town, even on the beach. The two destinations are just four hours apart, so it's very doable to do both in one week.

A girl rests on a snowy hill with her snowboard
Learn something new as a family and spend a day on the slopes in Lake Tahoe © Ersler / Getty Images

Truckee, California 

For a cold weather family vacation, look to Truckee, California. Situated just north of Lake Tahoe's spectacularly beautiful shores, there's plenty to do for outdoor-loving families. Spend the day tackling the ski trails at Northstar or strap on snowshoes to hike to the summit of Eagle Rock in nearby Tahoe City for dreamy lake views. 

You and your kids will never forget the crystal-clear waters and snow-dusted pine trees at Sand Harbor State Park. On Lake Tahoe's south shores, savor panoramic views across Emerald Bay and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains aboard the 500-passenger M.S. Dixie II paddle wheeler.

Where to stay: Book the ski-in, ski-out Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.

Child points out constellations on a black globe at the Kennedy Space Center
Just a stone's throw from the Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach offers the chance to get outside and learn something too © Kara Kurtis / Getty Images

Cocoa Beach, Florida 

Home to the original Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cocoa Beach is widely considered the surfing capital of the east coast. It's also the place to learn to ride the waves on a longboard. Sign up for lessons at School of Surf, then wander the acclaimed Florida Surf Museum. At the Brevard Zoo, paddle along the Nyami Nyami River past rhinos and giraffes on a guided kayak tour.

Situated on Florida's Space Coast, Cocoa Beach is a stone's throw from Titusville, home to Kennedy Space Center. Stroll the outdoor Rocket Garden to get up-close to more than a half dozen gigantic rockets. Check the rocket launch schedule to see if one will take off while you are in the area.

Where to stay: Next to the famed Cocoa Beach Pier at the Best Western Cocoa Beach.

Related content: 3-2-1: how to experience a rocket launch on Florida's Space Coast

Girl points to a shark at the Chattanooga aquarium
Right on a river, Chattanooga offers kayaking, hiking, exploring waterfalls and even a renown aquarium © Vstock LLC / Getty Images

Chattanooga, Tennessee 

A spring vacation in Chattanooga begins with an exploration of Rock City, which sits atop Lookout Mountain and wows with picturesque views across seven states. From here, go several hundred feet below the earth's surface for massive caverns and a 145-foot waterfall. The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway takes you to both attractions in a fun trolley-style car.

Rent bikes or walk across the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, the world's longest pedestrian bridge, spanning nearly 2400ft from North Shore to downtown Chattanooga. Nearby, the Tennessee Aquarium and Creative Discovery Museum are favorites among families.

Where to stay: Settle in at The Chattanoogan, which awes with gram-worthy views of Lookout Mountain. 

Family in paddle boat Orlando.jpg
There is more to Orlando than theme parks. Check out the rest of the city if the crowds aren't your thing © Glowimages / Getty Images

Orlando, Florida

While many families already flock to Orlando for Spring Break vacations, there's more to Central Florida than theme parks. The International Drive section of town wows with kid-friendly attractions like Arcade City, SEA Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds, all of which can be found at ICON Park, along with the massive 400-foot tall observation wheel.At nearby WonderWorks, kids can lie on a bed of nails, blow gigantic bubbles, simulate an earthquake or navigate a glow-in-the-dark ropes course. The nightly Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show wows with all kinds of wacky how'd-he-do-that tricks. 

Where to stay:  CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park for twisty slides, dumping buckets and water cannons.   

Related content: Theme parks and beyond: Making the most out of Orlando

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