10 of the best spots for families to visit this spring
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Spring is arguably the best season for families to travel to many of the world's most popular places. Springtime temperatures in many destinations are mild and comfortable, while the crowds of tourists are noticeably reduced -- especially if you avoid travel during Easter and spring break. (We realize if you've got school-aged kids and don't want them to miss class for a trip, you're locked into certain travel dates.)
Airfare, hotels and cruises are often discounted during much of the spring season, and if you choose to travel then, you'll be rewarded with some excellent options. From a wondrous volcanic archipelago to charming seaside towns and vibrant cities, here are TPG's 10 best destinations for family travel this spring.
The weather in Costa Rica tends to be relatively consistent during this time of year. Temperatures fluctuate between the 70s and 80s. The majority of Costa Rica is sunny, with little precipitation and low humidity, in March, April and into early May, with a higher chance of rain kicking in by the end of that month. Just know that things may not look very green in some areas until the rains arrive around May, but the sunny days certainly have their advantages.
Related: The best times to visit Costa Rica
Known for its tropical beaches, mountain ranges, lush natural reserves with abundant wildlife and biodiverse marine ecosystems, Costa Rica has a bit of everything for a family seeking an exotic springtime vacation.
Costa Rica has marvelous resorts, with Andaz Costa Rica being one of our personal favorites for families. Beach-lovers or surf-seeking families looking to bask in the sun should look to visit the Pacific coastline beaches in the region of Guanacaste. Playa Tamarindo in the Guanacaste region is perfect for travelers seeking a popular beach town. Families can take surfing lessons or swim in safe, calm waters while enjoying other activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing.
Visit Arenal Volcano National Park and witness Costa Rica's most active and picturesque volcano. Go in the early morning to avoid the hordes of tourists. Adventurous families can fly through the trees among wild monkeys on a zip-lining excursion or visit the Rio Celeste Waterfall at Tenorio Volcano National Park, known for its hypnotic sky-blue waters.
If all these outdoor activities seem too extreme for your crew, crack open a book and relax by the pool or on a beach towel at one of Costa Rica's many striking beaches.
For the Guancaste region, fly into Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIJ) in Liberia. Other international airports include those in Limon (LIO), Alajuela (SJO) and San Jose (SYQ). TPG has reported on spring break airfare deals to Costa Rica for as low as $121 per person round-trip.
- Related: Take the family to Costa Rica to see volcanoes, monkeys, jaguars and sloths
- Hotel review: The Fuselage Suite at the Hotel Costa Verde
If visiting the land of Pharaohs has long topped your bucket list, the best time to visit Egypt, weather-wise, is spring. Throughout the country, days are usually warm or hot and nights are cool. Egypt has only two seasons: a mild winter from November to April and a hot summer from May to October. Despite the only moderate variations in temperature, prevailing winds and sandstorms known as khamsin blow across the country from the south in late winter and early spring.
Still, the months of March through May provide a respite from the summer heat, comparatively speaking.
Although the most impressive tombs are in the Valley of Kings just outside Luxor, the Great Pyramids of Giza (the sole survivor of the original Seven Ancient Wonders of the World) remain an absolute must-see when visiting Egypt's capital and most populous city, Cairo. Families with school-aged children will want to visit the iconic Tomb of King Tut, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and marvel at the 66-foot-high Great Sphinx of Giza sculpture, all on the same site.
If you're ready to explore outside of Cairo, the magnificent temples along the Nile in Luxor, beach towns by the Red Sea and luxury cruise-offerings on the Nile are incredible additions to any Egyptian vacation. From renowned historical monuments to world-class attractions and natural beauty, Egypt has something for everyone.
Most visitors to Egypt arrive at Cairo International Airport (CAI).
- Related: Mistakes travelers make when visiting Egypt
- Hotel review: Living at a Hilton in Egypt on points
- Flight review: EgyptAir 787-9 business class, Cairo to New York
Florida Gulf Coast
The beaches along Florida’s Gulf Coast are some of the most popular in the United States, with TripAdvisor naming Clearwater, Siesta Key and St. Pete as three of the top six beaches -- with Clearwater Beach at the No. 1 spot. Throw in an assemblage of fresh seafood eateries, a surplus of entertainment options and stunning sunset views, it’s easy to see why snowbirds and families flock here year-round. The area is served by two international airports: St. Pete-Clearwater (PIE) and Tampa (TPA).
Florida Gulf Coast's unspoiled barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva, aka the "Shell Islands," are the perfect spots to find white-powdery beaches and quiet, family fun. Shell-lovers worldwide head to these islands to beachcomb, as they are considered the best shelling spots in North America. Golfers and fishermen rejoice, too, in the abundance of world-class golf courses and fishing marinas up and down the Gulf coastline.
If you're seeking a livelier scene, head to 5th Avenue in Downtown Naples -- a premier entertainment street filled with boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors. Visit Gumbo Limbo, a casual oceanfront seafood eatery located at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples -- the perfect spot to cozy up with a cocktail in hand and admire the alluring sunset while the kids play on the white-sand beach. The Florida Gulf Coast offers that charming "Old Florida" ambiance that is not to be missed.
For Sanibel and Captiva or Naples, fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers.
The Galapagos is one of the most unique destinations on the planet, but getting there requires, at minimum, two flights. The fabled Ecuadorian islands are more than 600 miles away from Ecuador's coast and departures directly to the islands only leave from Quito and Guayaquil. Nonstop direct flights are available from Miami, New York and Dallas; otherwise, you can connect from your home airport through one of these cities.
The abundance of amiable wildlife makes the Galapagos Islands a perfect destination for animal-loving families. Visitors will be impressed by the tolerant manner in which the animals perceive humans. In fact, many animals in the Galapagos have no fear of human interaction, which allows guests to get up close and personal in their natural habitat. A real highlight for children is visiting the giant tortoise reserves on Santa Cruz Island.
Families with older children can witness fascinating species such as whitetip reef sharks, sea lions, turtles and penguins on a snorkeling excursion, or rent a kayak and glide alongside spectacular volcanic landscapes. If you’ve had enough water-based fun, there are also plenty of opportunities for kid-friendly hiking such as the 165-foot hike up to the lookout on Bartolome Island, with views that go on for days.
- Related: Use your World of Hyatt points to book a Galapagos expedition cruise
Affectionately referred to as "The Valley of the Sun," Phoenix can get scorching hot in the summer months, with temperatures rising to 106 degrees in July. From March to May, the weather is the mildest, the desert is in bloom and visitors can take part in all the outdoor adventures Arizona is well known for.
Kids will love spending the morning at the Desert Botanical Garden, where children of all ages and their families can investigate the natural world through hands-on opportunities. If visiting a top-notch zoo is your deal, the Phoenix Zoo is near the botanical gardens and offers loads of exhibits and kids’ programs. If the moderate heat is still too much to bear, take the family to Oasis Water Park.
February and March bring Major League Baseball teams into the Phoenix area for spring training, and the Arizona Diamondbacks starts its regular season at the tail end of March.
While it's not one particular destination, traveling on a cruise ship to the Caribbean in the spring (not including Easter weekend or spring break) can result in substantial vacation savings. The cheapest time to cruise the Caribbean is typically in late summer and early fall because of hurricane season, but you can often find bargain sailings earlier in the year -- especially in March, late April and May.
Early May is the sweet spot for spring cruise bargains. With spring break over, crowds lessen and you will see lots of capacity from major cruise lines with ships departing popular ports in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, California and New York. The Caribbean waters also start to warm up more, making it perfect for swimming and exploring at port stops.
After mid-May, prices skyrocket as the Memorial Day weekend holiday approaches and you hit the start of the summer cruising season.
- Related: The best Caribbean cruise for every type of traveler
- Cruise ship reviews: Disney Wonder and Disney Dream
While no longer an absolute bargain it was at one point, Cartagena remains a cost-effective destination for visitors wanting to explore Colombia's charming port city. With its colorful street life, colonial history and the warmth of the Colombian people, Cartagena is an exciting destination for the whole family -- especially in spring.
There's no better way to get to know Cartagena than walking the cobblestone streets of the old town, inside the city walls. Admire the handmade souvenirs sold by vendors, visit the massive fortress of Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, once the largest Spanish colonial fortification in South America, and take a quick break to enjoy a tasty arepa stuffed with cheese.
If your family needs some Vitamin D, consider a day excursion by boat to the unspoiled and stunning Islas del Rosario, 30 miles west of Cartagena. Here you will find picture-perfect Caribbean beaches -- think white sand, sparkling blue waters, palm trees and total relaxation. Families can also kayak through the mangroves around the islands, visit the natural aquarium at Isla de Pajarales and enjoy the fresh catch of the day at any of the island's restaurants.
Gorgeous beaches, impressive colonial history, great food and warm hospitality -- Cartagena is a sure-fire, must-visit tropical destination year-round. Book your flight to Rafael Nunez International Airport (CTG) in Cartagena.
- Related: How to book a trip to Colombia using points and miles
- Hotel review: Conrad Cartagena
There are hundreds of wonderful family-friendly things to see and do in San Antonio. Spring tends to be the best time to visit thanks to comfortable weather (before the unbearably hot and humid Central Texas summers) and lower hotel rates.
Take a 35-minute river cruise on San Antonio's famed River Walk and learn about the city's history while admiring beautiful bridge architecture, artwork, plants and wildlife. Once done, grab a bite to eat at one of the dozens of restaurants with outdoor patios surrounding River Walk.
No visit to San Antonio is complete without a stop at the Alamo (located just across the River Walk). Admission is free, but an audio tour (recommended for older kids) is offered at a minimal cost that helps you fully understand the history and purpose of the attraction. If your brain is fried from all the fascinating history, take a short drive from downtown to visit the amusement parks, such as Six Flags, located just outside of San Antonio in the Hill Country area.
San Antonio is lovely any time of the year but during springtime, the wildflowers in nearby Hill Country blossom. This city is great for families looking for a long weekend break.
If you're not driving to San Antonio from other points in Texas, fly into San Antonio International Airport (SAT).
San Diego, "America's Finest City," is known for its wonderful climate year-round, characterized as always comfortable with dry summers and mild winters.
A good first stop in a family's San Diego agenda is a visit to Balboa Park. A cultural oasis in the heart of the city, the park includes 17 museums, breathtaking gardens, a carousel, miniature railroad and the esteemed San Diego Zoo. History buffs or just hopeless romantics can head just two miles southwest from Balboa Park to the U.S.S. Midway Museum where the iconic "Embracing Peace" statue stands just steps from the historic naval aircraft carrier.
Families can also spend a full day at Coronado Island, a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike and just minutes from downtown San Diego. Enjoy Coronado Beach with its gentle waves and pay a visit to the iconic seaside resort Hotel Del Coronado, a Curio Collection by Hilton property. (So be sure and stock up on some Hilton Honors points.) Families not staying at the hotel can purchase a day pass and cruise on a rental bike along the beach, book a beach bonfire (kids will love roasting their own s'mores) or dine at one of the hotel's delicious restaurants.
Gorgeous weather, jaw-dropping coastlines, diverse restaurants and endless activities make sunny San Diego -- with the conveniently located San Diego International Airport (SAN) -- a fantastic family destination.
- Related: Planning a family trip to San Diego
Families love Washington, D.C. in spring for its impressive (and mostly free) museums, enjoyable weather (though some springtimes can be chillier than others) and kid-friendly attractions -- including the National Mall, Smithsonian's National Zoo, grand monuments and so many other amazing things to see and do. The cherry blossom trees are without a doubt the stars of springtime in D.C., with the Cherry Blossom Festival running from late March into the first week of April.
Dozens of monuments and memorials are scattered throughout the city, yet it's easy to navigate between them all. After visiting the National Mall and one or more of its glorious Smithsonian museums, grab an ice cream at the refreshment stand in front of the Air and Space Museum and enjoy lovely views of the U.S. Capitol building and the Washington Monument.
If rain spoils your outdoor plans, head to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (it's cooler than it sounds) where your family can take a free tours to see how our paper currency is designed and printed. If the kids require more fun, head to Pinstripes in D.C.'s entrancing Georgetown neighborhood ---a bistro, bowling alley, and bocce court all in one.
A trip to D.C. in the spring not only rewards families with pleasant weather but offers a large number of free attractions that won't burn a hole in your pocket. If you're flying, you have your choice of arriving at Reagan (DCA), Dulles (IAD) or Baltimore/Washington (BWI).
If you want to try out a new hotel, you can redeem Hilton points at the Conrad Washington DC. Another solid option for families is the Grand Hyatt Washington DC, where you can even redeem a Hyatt Category 1 - 4 award from the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
There are plenty of destinations across the globe that are ideal for a springtime getaway. Where does your family usual vacation during this season? Tell us in the comments section below.
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