Spring Break is right around the corner, and for many of us, it's a much-needed reprieve from our daily routines. We've worked hard (and so have our kids!) and we all deserve a little rest, relaxation, and fun. If you don't have your spring getaway planned just yet, don't fret! It's not too late to plan a trip that the whole family will enjoy. Major metropolitan cities make for great vacations!
We at Zeitgeist Gifts love the urban life and we want to inspire you with some fun city trip ideas. If you're forgoing the beach-trip this year for a city experience filled with culture, food, and rampant activities, check out these 5 cities for vacations the entire family will remember forever. And hey…even if you’ve visited these places before, we might just have a few suggestions that’ll surprise you!
5 Great US Cities For Your Family’s Break
1. New York, NY
For the full-blown city experience, New York can't be beat. While the Big Apple certainly has a certain charm during the holidays, it's during the spring and summer that it truly comes alive. For the best of the best on stage, catch a Broadway show and enjoy the spectacle of Times Square. If shopping is more your style, the shops along 5th Ave are some of the best in the world. Visit the American Girl store or the Lego Store and the kids can get in on the shopping action also. With parks galore, you can spend days just visiting them all. Central Park never disappoints, and in the spring and summer there are activities happening daily (many of them free). Take a stroll on the High Line, a former rail line turned Park-in-the-Sky, and view the hustle and bustle of the city from tranquility high above. Or spend a day at the world-class Bronx Zoo or Botanical Garden. You'll never run out of things to do in New York!
FOR SOMETHING UNIQUE: Dine at Ninja New York. At this Tribeca restaurant, the waiters are—you guessed it—Ninjas! As they serve you, they perform magic tricks, jump through walls and do card tricks. Some of the dishes include special effects—like fire and dry ice. The kids will love it!
2. Chicago, IL
Chicagoans come alive in the spring after the brutal winters, and their joy can be felt by all those who visit. Plan a trip to the beautiful city and enjoy the friendly Midwesterners who are intent on making sure you love their city as much as they do. Take a boat ride on the Chicago River that cuts through the city and marvel at the architecture that makes the city great. The kids will love the games and activities at Navy Pier! For a unique experience, head to the beach at Lake Michigan. You'll feel like you're spending just a normal day at the beach, but what makes it special is that you’re in the middle of the city with the skyscrapers towering over you. Millennium Park always has an event going on to check out, and don't forget to try Chicago's famous deep-dish pizza!
FOR SOMETHING UNIQUE: Catch the Blue Man Group at the Briar State Theater. Their new show has a little of everything—comedy, science, art, music and visual effects!
3. Charleston, SC
For a lesson in history and southern hospitality, few cities compare to Charleston, South Carolina. If southern comfort food is what you seek, look no further than Charleston for seafood, biscuits, and mac n cheese. Charleston also has a rich US history, and much of the city is exactly how it was in the country's early years. For kids who don't scare easily, the city is known for their ghost tours. While you likely won't see any actual ghosts, you'll hear all about the local legends and learn the history of several key locations and events in Charleston's rich history. Take the family to the South Carolina Aquarium for a day, or if the beach is more your style, some of the Carolina's finest beaches are just a short drive away.
FOR SOMETHING UNIQUE: Visit The Black Fedora for some one-of-a-kind comedy/mystery theater. This interactive theater allows you to volunteer to play a character, or simply sit back and enjoy the show. Check out their website for a show most-suitable for the age of your children and get ready to solve the mystery and laugh a lot!
4. Los Angeles, CA
For the LA-bound, you'll never run out of things to do. For the movie-buffs, no city can compare if you're seeking movie history and spectacle. Take a tour of a movie set or stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Plan a surf lesson with the kids, or spend a day on the rides at the Santa Monica Pier. Disneyland isn't far away if getting your Disney fix is what your family seeks. And keep your eyes peeled for celebrities! If you can think it, L.A. probably has it, so for an action-packed family vacay, L.A. can't be beat.
FOR SOMETHING UNIQUE: Go Whale Watching! Pacific Gray Whales migrate past L.A.’s beaches in December – April, so if you’re heading to L.A. for Spring Break, book a Whale Watching boat ride! There are many different companies that offer rides from various beaches! Spotting a whale could be the highlight of your whole trip!
5. New Orleans, LA
New Orleans isn't just for Mardi Gras, it's also known for some of the finest cuisine in the USA. For unbeatable culture and history, New Orleans is a US city that can feel like you've traveled to a foreign country. If you’d like your children to be exposed to new cultures and Creole cuisine, plan a trip to New Orleans. Take a ride on the classic street cars and try a famous beignet! Or visit the Audubon Zoo which is home to thousands of animals including the rare white alligator. Take a horse and carriage ride around the French Quarter or tour the National World War II Museum. New Orleans has something for everyone!
FOR SOMETHING UNIQUE: Listen to live Jazz at Preservation Hall. This family-friendly venue is non-smoking and no alcohol is served so all ages can experience the beauty of jazz. Even better, it doubles as an art museum and photo studio! It’s a great way to show your family what New Orleans’ Jazz is all about!
So, you've picked a spot, now how are you getting there!? Whether you're flying or driving, we've got you covered.
Tips for the Plane-Bound...
- Book wisely! Don't just book the first flight you see but plan your trip around the best days to fly. The cheapest days to fly are Wednesday and Saturday, while the most expensive (and busiest!) are Friday and Sunday—so consider altering your trip to arrive and depart on Wednesday or Saturday. The early morning flights or the really late ones are typically the cheapest and the most expensive flights come in around dinner time.
Don't book too early! For those of you planning summer travel now, don't assume that the best rates come if you book way in advance. Track flight prices using Google Flights which will allow you to save prospective flights for later so you can track the prices over time. For domestic flights that aren't on a holiday, the cheapest prices are available 1-3 months before departure.
- Get creative! If you happen to live near multiple airports, flying out of one and returning to another can save you big money. Check Google Flights and toy around with the different options. They'll show you every airline and allow you to adjust what time of day you prefer to fly out.
- Get entertained! Once you're at the airport, keep the family entertained with fun travel games and toys like these fun pencil cases, or car tape games. If a crying baby on your plane is keeping you from sleeping, bring along fun ear plugs to get some extra shut-eye.They also make a great pre-trip gift to get your children excited for their upcoming trip!
Tips for the Car-Bound
To save money on the road, get a gas card. Many have unexpected rewards and depending onhow far you drive, you might rack up points quickly.
Road Trips are one of the best ways to see middle America and get a feel for how people in different states live, so embrace the travel! Don't keep to a rigid plan and allow extra time if a certain sight catches your eye. The largest ball of twine, anyone?
Converse with the locals as you encounter them. There's no one better to pinpoint you towards can't-miss restaurants and fun experiences.
Keep it fun! Car rides can drag on and on...keep the are-we-there-yet’s to aminimum with fun games and car toys. You’ll leave your mark wherever you park your car with these funny car sun shades, and your kids will get a kick out of watching for people’s reactions to them. Mad Libs are a great way to keep the whole family involved in the fun while driving too, and you can't go wrong with the road trip classic—20 Questions!
- Use apps like Waze to avoid unexpected delays—like traffic or accidents. They'll help you choose the quickest route and save you time you can better spend on fun family activities!
With a few tips, tricks and organization, you can guarantee a fun, memorable city break for you and your family. It's these trips that will help open your children's eyes to new experiences and ways of life, and together, you’ll create memories you’ll cherish forever.