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Affordable spring-break travel
It’s not too late to plan a fun and affordable getaway during spring break. Although it is considered a peak time for travel, there are ways to get to your destination affordably.
Pick places that aren’t so touristy, and destinations that can stretch your vacation dollars. Not all spring-break vacation spots must be sunny or snowy. Tours, family activities and rustic accommodations can create lasting memories and enjoyable downtime to recharge from work or school.
If you’re interested in avoiding the heavy partyers of the college crowd, these spring-break destinations might suit you better.
St. George, Utah
Unplugging and escaping to the epic landscapes of Utah’s acclaimed national parks is the perfect destination for families looking for an affordable spring-break getaway. St. George offers a home base for exploring the region’s popular national parks. St. George is a red-rock paradise nestled under crimson cliffs.
Roxie Sherwin, director of the St. George Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, has an insider’s tip for those looking to explore on a budget. Purchase a national parks annual pass for $80 instead of paying $25 per park. From St. George, you can travel easily to more than a half-dozen national parks or monuments, including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Grand Staircase-Escalante, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs and Glen Canyon. This pass will offer savings all year.
In addition to some of the nation’s most sought-after national parks, the area boasts an outdoor Broadway amphitheater and 200 million-year-old dinosaur tracks and a new children’s museum.
Dana Point, California
Perfect for parents looking for spring-break destinations that will leave kids enriched and entertained and parents relaxed and pampered, Dana Point is a Southern California beachside city offering views of rocky cliffs and waves. It also is a destination for a vacation full of adventurous, eco-friendly activities.
Offerings such as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, golf and more make this spot on the Pacific fun for everyone in a travel group. Dana Point has been called “the whale capital of the world,” and the city doesn’t disappoint. Captain Dave’s Whale Watching and Dolphin Safari aboard a catamaran is a unique experience. Excursions include viewing pods on a boat where youngsters can watch dolphins swimming below the sea’s surface.
Adults and families can enjoy immersive activities and eco-minded adventure expeditions via Dana Point’s Ocean Institute, which boasts an opportunity to dissect marine life in labs or sail out to sea to watch whales.
Matthew McNally, director of destination services for The Resorts of Dana Point, says there are a number of family friendly luxury and comfort resorts, equipped with splash zones, spacious pools, full-service spas and gourmet restaurants. Parents can tailor their vacation to their budget and interests, with many properties offering ocean views.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Many family-friendly attractions in Charlotte beg to be explored. According to Lauren Litaker, spokeswoman for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, families can enjoy an aquarium and rain forest at the city’s Discovery Place and watch a bald eagle take flight at the Carolina Raptor Center, which also offers flight shows and up-close viewing of the birds.
Guests of all ages and most skill levels can ride the rapids in the largest man-made recirculating river in the world at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers 700 acres of nature with zip lining, kayaking, whitewater rafting and paddleboarding.
“From young to young at heart, Charlotte offers a variety of attractions that will engage and entertain the entire family,” Litaker says.
For auto racing fans, don’t miss the NASCAR Hall of Fame, an interactive attraction providing high-octane fun.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Choose San Juan for an affordable tropical escape. Direct flights are offered daily to Puerto Rico from 20 U.S. airports, making travel affordable and accessible, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. website says.
Because it’s a U.S. territory, no passports are needed, the dollar is the currency and English is widely spoken. The temperature averages 82 degrees, according to WeatherBug.com.
There is a free trolley to get around Old San Juan, a beautifully preserved Spanish colonial city. Visitors can take in one of Puerto Rico’s most famous architectural attractions, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, for $5 (free for ages 15 and under), according to the National Park Service website.
Hit one of the many idyllic public beaches. Or sip some Puerto Rican rum on a Casa Bacardi tour for $12.
About 30 minutes from San Juan, explore more than a dozen hiking trails and waterfalls at El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Forest Service. A guided nature walk costs $5 for standard admission, or $3 for children under 12 and senior citizens, according to the National Park Service.
Don’t be discouraged by long lines at theme parks or misconceptions about peak travel hotel rates or airfare. The tried-and-true principles of economics apply: supply and demand. There are so many lodging options in Orlando and the surrounding region that budget-seeking travelers can find accommodations and itineraries to fill their sunny days without breaking the bank. Flying to Orlando midweek is a wise way to save on airfare.
Walt Disney World’s public relations arm advises visitors to set a plan on what theme parks they want to visit and purchase “hopper passes,” which allow them to go from one Disney park to another. Another tip: Carve out downtime during a trip to stroll Downtown Disney.
Walt Disney World Resorts offers 31 resorts that vary in price, allowing guests to pay for only the amenities that are important to them. Moderate, deluxe and deluxe villa resorts are available for guests who prefer additional amenities during their stay.
Not far from downtown Orlando is Winter Park, which offers great shopping and restaurants. Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando’s public gardens, is free the first Monday of the month.