From Canada to Cancun: 7 spring break vacation destinations for families

Feb 25, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new vacation information for 2020. It was originally published on Jan. 1, 2019.

Spring break — that long-awaited pause in the school calendar — is just around the corner and there are plenty of ways to escape the winter routine when the kids are out of school. There’s still time to plan a family getaway so we’ve put together a list of destinations with lots of sun and snow.  You choose:

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In This Post

Orlando, Florida

Orlando is always evolving, so there is plenty to do, even if you’ve been there before. Of course, there’s Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Harry Potter fans will love The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, and you’ll need to save enough time to take in the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and more at Walt Disney World. If you haven’t been to Disney lately, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge may be new to you, the Skyliner gondolas are flying high and there’s the new Disney Riviera Resort to try. (If you’re heading to California, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad attraction opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in early March.)

Disney
Disney’s Riviera Resort. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Pro tip: Consider renting Disney Vacation Club points if you want to save money on Disney World lodging. Although spring break availability is likely already tight, watch out for last-minute opportunities to snap up a reservation someone else may no longer need, potentially at a discount.

Related: New happenings at Disney World in 2020

And Legoland Florida has added more rides and attractions.

If the Florida sunshine gets too hot, you can cool off at SeaWorld Orlando or at Disney’s water parks. Budding astronauts will love a visit to the nearby Kennedy Space Center. For a more earthbound activity, multiple companies offer airboat tours to check out the alligators.

The city has plenty of points hotels. Check out these resources for more details:

Related: How much does a Walt Disney World vacation cost?

Universal Studios (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Universal Studios in Orlando. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

San Diego, California

Beaches, parks, animals, museums and great weather — San Diego has it all. Fly to the San Diego Airport (SAN) and make sure you have enough time to take it all in. The famous San Diego Zoo has petting stations and interactive exhibits and even a Safari Park for an African-themed adventure. Kids can hunt for plastic dinosaurs in the city’s Botanic Garden and check out a variety of marine animals at SeaWorld San Diego.

Related: Things to do with kids in San Diego

(Photo by Savs via Unsplash)
(Photo by Savs via Unsplash)

La Jolla Shores Park offers plenty of beaches where you can soak up the California sunshine. San Diego is well-served by family-friendly hotels, including the Category 3 Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina (12,000 Hyatt points per night) or bookable with a Category 1–4 award available with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

The Hilton San Diego Bayfront (35,000 to 60,000 Hilton points per night) and the Category 6 Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina (50,000 Marriott points per night on standard dates) are also options.

You could go all out at the Hotel del Coronado in the Curio Collection by Hilton that costs 95,000 Hilton points per night. It also would be a tremendous use of a Hilton weekend anniversary-award night available with cards such as the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Hotel del Coronado
(Image courtesy of Hotel del Coronado)

When pricing flights for your family to San Diego, consider flying into nearby Tijuana, Mexico, which has easy access to San Diego via the Cross Border Xpress.

Keystone, Colorado

If you want to hit the slopes, make Keystone, Colorado, your spring skiing getaway. You can rent a car from Denver Airport (DEN) (we’re partial to Silvercar’s Audis for mountain driving) or take a bus — Colorado Mountain Express and Epic Mountain Express are popular choices.

The approximately 2.5-hour drive to Keystone will be worth it. The wide slopes are great for beginners and intermediate skiers, and snow forts and playgrounds offer tons of wintry fun for families. Depending on the weather, go snow tubing or ice skating.

Keystone Kidtopia Ice Fort (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Keystone Kidtopia Snow Fort. (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

You can use your World of Hyatt points to stay at the Hyatt Place Keystone (15,000 points per night or a Category 1–4 award-night certificate) or you can check out the Hampton Inn & Suites Silverthorne, which is part of Hilton Honors and bookable from 39,000–50,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Related: Colorado ski resorts for families

While you are in the area, you should also make the drive into nearby Dillon, Colorado, to see the ice castle. Be sure to buy tickets online in advance.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

London, England

When prices spike for spring break destinations in the U.S., look farther afield. If you’ve got a Harry Potter fan in your family, you could head to the birthplace of it all in London. Kids can visit Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station where Harry left for Hogwarts. Check out “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on stage, which may be easier to get tickets to in London than in New York City. Visit the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and catch the Changing of Guard near St. James’s Palace. The British Museum is home to priceless pieces of art, including the original Rosetta Stone, and is a must-see.

Related: 6 must-sees at the Harry Potter Studios tour near London

A visit to London gives young kids a taste for faraway adventures and travel while still being immersed in a somewhat familiar environment. Connections from Heathrow Airport are plentiful and there are plenty of ways to do London on points, though things get tougher when booking for a family. Families of four can stay at the London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch for 50,000 Marriott points per night plus 60 pounds (about $70) on standard dates for a family room with two double beds.

Related: 9 points hotels in London with rooms that sleep 4

Those with Radisson Rewards points can book a double room at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for 70,000 points per night. If you want to use IHG points, the Crowne Plaza London – Kings Cross isn’t fancy but is often available with two double beds for 40,000 IHG points per night. You could also use the annual reward night (worth 40,000 points) that arrives on the anniversary of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

If you’re using Hyatt points, Mommy Points loved her family’s stay in a suite at the Hyatt Regency Churchill in London, but standard rooms with a king bed or two twin beds are only rated for two adults and up to one child. (Ask for a rollaway.) Redemption rates are 25,000 points for standard rooms and 33,000 points for a room with club lounge access.

Churchill Living Room Suite
Suite at the Hyatt Regency Churchill in London. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Here are some of our favorite ways to use miles to cross the Atlantic and our favorite family-friendly international airlines.

Cancun, Mexico

Luxurious and endless beaches, crystal-blue waters, family-friendly activities and margaritas by the water await families heading to Cancun. There are dozens of reasons to visit this popular spring break destination in Mexico, especially if your spring break doesn’t coincide with college breaks. Go snorkeling, pool hop, see the Captain Hook pirate show and dinner.

Check out TPG’s Mexico hub for everything you need to know about traveling to the beaches, ancient ruins and inland destinations.

Rivera Maya (jopstock/Getty Images)
Riviera Maya in Mexico. (jopstock/Getty Images)

Fly into Cancun Airport (CUN), and cash in your World of Hyatt rewards to stay at the fantastic all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun with an included kids club. It costs 25,000 Hyatt points per night for double occupancy plus 12,500 points per child over 2 years old. You can enjoy the nearby Riviera Maya and swim in cenotes (freshwater swimming holes), see Mayan ruins and zip line through the jungle while you stay at the Andaz Mayakoba for 25,000 World of Hyatt points.

Related: Redeem points at these 9 family-friendly resorts in Cancun

Stay on the lookout for flight deals to Mexico from $162 round-trip.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a paradise for snorkeling and families love the country for, among other reasons, its chocolate museum. (The Dominican Republic is a big producer of cocoa beans.) ChocoMuseo shows families how chocolate is made, and you can even make your own chocolate bar to bring home. Plus, there’s the Ocean World Adventure Park, Outback safaris, caves for a different kind of adventure and the Damajaqua Cascades with 27 waterfalls.

You can fly into the Punta Cana airport (PUJ) and stay at Four Points by Sheraton Punta Cana Village for 17,500 Marriott points per night on standard dates, or take things up a notch and enjoy The Westin Punta Cana for 50,000 Marriott points per night on standard dates (one of our picks for using at Marriott 50,000-point award certificate).

You can also use your World of Hyatt points to book the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana in Punta Cana. It’s 25,000 points per night for double occupancy and kids older than 2 cost an additional 12,500 points each.

Related: Fly in a lie-flat seat between the U.S. and the Caribbean

Fun in the sun in Punta Cana (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Fun in the sun in Punta Cana. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Banff, Canada

For outdoor adventurers who want to ski, hike, ride horseback or go snowshoeing. Banff, Alberta, is a great destination. Depending on when your spring break falls, Banff may still be a bit chilly. It’s about two hours by car from Calgary and provides a great taste of the Canadian Rockies. Drive along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and visit Moraine Lake for arresting scenery. In the warmer months, you can also go whitewater rafting or horseback riding along Lake Louise.

Lake Louise is a glacial lake located in Alberta Canada which freezes over completely every winter. (Photo by Piero Damiani/Getty Images)
Lake Louise is a glacial lake, which freezes over completely every winter. (Photo by Piero Damiani/Getty Images)

Consider staying at the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs, part of Accor. This property is not cheap, but if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express you can book your stay using the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program and enjoy extra perks like daily full breakfast, late checkout, a $100 food and beverage credit and more. And, you can even book through Amex FHR and pay with Membership Rewards points.

(Photo courtesy of Accor Hotels)
(Photo courtesy of Accor Hotels)

Because many airline award programs group Canada with the Lower 48 of the U.S., you can often fly to Calgary for about 12,500 miles in some airline programs — or less in some cases.

Bottom line

For spring break this year, your family can visit Disney, the beaches of Cancun or head to the Canadian Rockies to explore Banff. You might even think about crossing the pond to enjoy some theater in London. In addition to these suggestions, here are some other great spots around the world for families to consider.

Featured image by Basic Elements Photography/Getty Images

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