Spring break ideas for families with kids By Mimi Slawoff
Kids enjoying springtime in California (Flickr: John Morgan)
Lounging on a beach, exploring an exciting city or skiing on powdery slopes are among diverse options for a fun-filled spring break ideas for families in California, Washington State and Oregon. And since spring comes early to many western states, you can even combine trips.
For example, in southern California, it’s possible to ski in the morning in Big Bear (a two-hour drive from just about anywhere in SoCal) and by mid-afternoon hit the beaches in San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles.
Mammoth Mountain/June Lake
Spring skiing is king in Mammoth, which often stays open for snow sports until July 4. By April, the resort is less crowded, spring deals abound and warmer temperatures invite lightweight clothing. Ski in the morning and hike, bike, fish or golf in the afternoon. Nearby June Lake is beautiful and a hot spot for fishing, hiking, picnics and camping. Vacation rentals, hotels, resorts and cabins are among lodging options in both posh Mammoth and laid-back June Lake. The Westin Monache Resort in Mammoth has in-resort ski & snowboard rentals and a kids club. If staying in June Lake, the Double Eagle Resort & Spa offers many family amenities. Bring sunscreen and dress in layers.
Catalina Island, California (Flickr: Mark Roland)
Since summer is peak tourist season, spring and fall are best for visiting Catalina, which has a Mediterranean climate. Getting there is half the fun. Look for dolphins on the scenic one-hour boat ride to the island, located 22 miles from LA. On the island, enjoy an array of water sports and land activities or simply bask on sunny shores. Fun family activities include zip lines, snorkeling, kayaking boat tours, fishing and hiking. Find an assortment of vacation rentals, hotels and inns. Bring sunscreen and a light jacket.
Seattle, Washington (Flickr: Tiffany Von Arnim)
Situated at the inland-most end of Puget Sound, Seattle is a fun, bustling port city. Shop and eat at the nine-acre Pike Place Market (among the oldest in the US), packed with fresh fish stands, produce, ethnic groceries and restaurants. There’s lots to do at Seattle Center, a 74-acre urban park home to several attractions and outdoor festivals.
The 605-foot high Space Needle, built for the 1962 Seattle World Fair, has an observation deck with 360-degree views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. The Pacific Science Center features exhibits, a Saltwater Tide Pool and two IMAX theaters. The Seattle Center Monorail is a convenient and fun way to travel from the center to the picturesque waterfront.(Tip: The Seattle CityPass can save you a bundle on popular attractions.)
Kid-friendly hotels in the city include the conveniently-located Monaco Hotel, which offer kid-friendly amenities like babysitting services, and Westin Seattle, which features beautiful views of the city and a kids club.
San Juan Islands
Cascade Lake, Moran State Park in Washington State (Flickr: Dan Nevill)
It’s just a 30-45-minute flight from Seattle or an hour ride on a ferry to reach the scenic Orcas, Lopez and San Juan Islands. Wildlife viewing, tide pooling and hiking are among the many outdoor activities available. On Lopez Island, look for bald eagles and ride bikes. Hike, bike, swim and explore at Moran State Park on Orcas Island. San Juan offers the most activities, which include whale watching and kayaking. Unique attractions include the Pelindaba Lavender Farm where you can make your own crafts and the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm.
(MORE: Find more kid-friendly attractions in Washington state for your Spring vacation.)
Oregon Zoo in Portland, Oregon (Flickr: Eric Kilby)
The pedestrian-friendly city is filled with family-friendly restaurants and attractions. Visit animals at the Portland Zoo, explore hands-on activities at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, skate and enjoy thrilling rides at Oaks Amusement Park and shop for goods at the Portland Saturday Market. Located in the heart of downtown is Pioneer Courthouse Square. Drop by the visitor center for maps and grab lunch at one of the food carts.
From outdoor to cultural activities, Cannon Beach is an art town with many options for family fun. Hike, ride horses on the beach and explore tide pools at Haystack Rock, a protected marine garden rising 235 feet from the sand. Have a picnic at Ecola State Park, boasting the best views of the Oregon Coast. Lodging options include vacation rentals, hotels and B&Bs.