5 Family-Friendly Spring Break Destinations in the U.S.

You don’t need to travel far to find the best places for a spring break 2023 family vacation.

Wooden walkway over sand dunes leading to an uncrowded beach iStock

Just the words spring break can bring to mind crowded beaches and partying college students. But kids get time off from school too, and spring vacation is a great excuse to get away with the whole family. Here are five great spring break destinations that provide fun and sunshine for everyone in your crew.

St. Augustine, Florida skyline and Bridge of Lions at dusk iStock

Enjoy a unique family vacation in St. Augustine, Florida.

Visit America’s oldest city, where you can enjoy pristine beaches, a charming town center with cobblestone streets and a host of activities for families to enjoy.

Things to do

Marineland Dolphin Adventure

Swim with dolphins and see sand tiger sharks at this oceanarium, a unique oceanfront aquarium. Marineland offers a variety of up-close and hands-on animal experiences.

Old Town Trolley Tours

Get to know St. Augustine in style by taking a tour in a motorized “old-fashioned trolley.” Choose from themed and seasonal tours such as Nights of Lights, Ghosts & Gravestones and The Old Jail After Dark, where you may see paranormal activity.

Where to stay

Holiday Inn St. Augustine-Historic

Make the modern AAA Three Diamond Holiday Inn St. Augustine-Historic your base for a family vacation while you explore the wonders of the city. In addition to offering an outdoor heated pool and a hot tub, free parking, Wi-Fi, and a 24/7 fitness center, this hotel is located in a serene setting with a small lake and beautiful trees and scenery.

Where to eat

Florida Cracker Cafe

Located on historical St. George Street, the Florida Cracker Cafe is a pet-friendly eatery beloved by locals and tourists alike for its welcoming vibe and fresh-from-Florida menu. Favorites include fried local shrimp, a fried green tomato BLT and the catch of the day.

Aerial shot of Destin and Miramar Beaches in Florida iStock

Bustling beaches and sites await in Destin, Florida.

This jewel of the panhandle has everything you need for a fantastic family vacation: great accommodations and long sandy beaches, plus nature trails and even sand dunes.

Things to do

Henderson Beach State Park

Unplug where warm Gulf waters meet a pristine shoreline anchored by 30-foot-tall, sugar-white sand dunes. Take long walks on the beach, grab a bodyboard or head inland to explore the unique vegetation known as coastal scrub.

HarborWalk Village 

Stroll to the docks and experience the heartbeat of Destin. Here is where charter boats from the famed Destin Fishing Fleet haul in their daily catches, and seafood lovers enjoy fresh pier-to-plate dining at waterside restaurants.

Where to stay

Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin

Home2 Suites by Hilton Destin is a pet-friendly AAA Three Diamond hotel just minutes from public beaches. It features standard rooms as well as suites with sofas and kitchens.

Sunny and colorful, with all the conveniences of home, it offers a daily hot breakfast, free Wi-Fi and a laundry room. At the end of the day, guests can wind down at the sprawling outdoor pool and the fire pit.

Where to eat

The Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House

The Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House serves up fresh-from-the-Gulf seafood along with the best beach views around. House specialties include Snapper Almondine, pan-fried with toasted almonds and meuniere sauce, and Blackjack Tuna, blackened and topped with roasted peppers and onions.

Riverwalk along the waterfront of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina iStock

Hike, surf and more in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Sometimes called “Wilmywood” because of all the television shows and films that are shot on location here, picturesque Wilmington offers plenty to see and do, from island beaches to its storied Riverwalk.

Things to do

Wilmington Riverwalk

The nearly 2 miles of boardwalk stretched alongside the Cape Fear River are lined with markets, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.

Battleship North Carolina 

Self-guided tours of this refurbished World War II vessel wind through nine levels of living spaces, mess decks, gun turrets and more.

Island beaches

A short drive from Wilmington takes you to three delightful beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. Simply take your pick and spend the day playing in the surf and sun.

Where to stay

Hotel Ballast Wilmington

The perfect base for your family vacation is the AAA Three Diamond Hotel Ballast Wilmington, which sits right on the waterfront. Upgraded rooms offer views of either the Cape Fear River or downtown Wilmington.

Where to eat

Sweet N Savory

Feeling French toast or biscuits and gravy for lunch? No problem. Breakfast is served until 2 p.m. at this AAA Approved local favorite.

Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria

This AAA Approved eatery from chef Vivian Howard serves up wood-fired thin-crust pizzas, along with pastas, salads and desserts like ricotta cheesecake.

Groups of people enjoying the sunrise in Hilton Head, South Carolina iStock

You’ll find beaches, golf and more at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina:

Scenic, ethereal Hilton Head Island is known for its 12 miles of beaches and tremendous golf courses. Bring the whole family and enjoy a vacation spent on island time.

Things to do

Daufuskie Island day trip

Ferry across Calibogue Sound to explore the Palmetto State’s southernmost inhabited island. Trot along the pristine coastline on a Daufuskie Trail Rides horseback adventure at Haig Point. If history is more your jam, the Daufuskie Island Gullah Heritage Society offers three-hour tours.

Adventure Hilton Head

The daredevils in your crew (10 years and up) can soar on a zip line through the treetops at this adventure park. You can also zoom around in go-carts or try out a ropes course.

Boat tours

Many operators are waiting to take you on a family-friendly boat ride. Go crabbing or fishing, spot dolphins, and catch a glimpse of other wildlife all around the island.

Where to stay

Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa

The AAA Three Diamond Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa sits right on the beach and offers all the amenities your family could want. Rent bikes, enjoy the outdoor pools or—just for the grownups—book a relaxing massage at the full-service spa.

Where to eat

Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana

This AAA Three Diamond restaurant has been bringing old-world trattoria flavors to Hilton Head Island for more than 20 years. Aiming to practice your culinary chops? Make a reservation for a chef-led cooking class.

The Old Oyster Factory

Enjoy a seafood tower while taking in the gorgeous view of Broad Creek at this AAA Three Diamond restaurant. Beyond the half shell, there are plenty of finned fresh catches to consider, along with delectable choices for palates that lean more toward turf than surf. 

Man surrounded by driftwood at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia iStock

Visit the serenely unique Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Golden beaches, sea turtles, and a relaxed and peaceful setting are just a few of the reasons to plan your family vacation on Georgia’s Jekyll Island.

Things to do

Ride the waves

With local outfitter Turtle-Tides, guests can join a small-group kayaking tour to explore the shoreline (and maybe spot dolphins), book a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) lesson or try SUP surfing in the gentle waves.

Carriage tour

Explore the island’s historic district in Three Oaks Farm’s vintage horse-drawn carriage. A local historian will explain the highlights, including the Rockefeller and Goodyear cottages, the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort and more.

Ranger walks

The island is home to varied natural habitats including 10 miles of shoreline, marshes and more than a thousand acres of maritime forest. Join an ecotour led by a local park ranger, and you just might spy a bald eagle, egret or sea turtle.

Where to stay

The Westin Jekyll Island

The Westin Jekyll Island is a AAA Four Diamond hotel that features oceanside accommodations paired with luxury amenities. Enjoy the outdoor pool and indoor and outdoor eateries. Plus, you get easy access to local attractions and walking paths.

Where to eat

The Wharf

This casual eatery on the pier is an undisputed favorite for locally caught seafood (fried Georgia shrimp and crabcakes are must-order dishes), spectacular sunsets and live music. Bring your patience during high season because they don’t take reservations (except for large parties). 

Driftwood Bistro

Named for its location just minutes from the island’s famous—and hauntingly beautiful—Driftwood Beach, this Lowcountry restaurant serves Southern staples such as fried okra, Georgia shrimp creole and blackened catfish.

Here’s a spring break idea: Bring the pets along.

Looking to bring your fluffy friend along on the family vacation?  More than 13,000 AAA Diamond properties from coast to coast are pet friendly, and airline bookings for pet passengers are on the rise. 

If you’re driving to your destination, learn more about how to prep your pets for the ride. No matter how you choose to travel, make sure you have pet insurance. If there’s an incident, don’t assume your pet will be covered by the places you stay or the planes you travel on.

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