Should you be thinking about Spring Break already when the New Year is still weeks away and Thanksgiving is right around the corner? Short answer: Yes! Savvy travelers know to book early since many of the most coveted vacation rentals will already be rented by the time the calendar hits 2019. Plus, seeing all your out-of-town family members over Thanksgiving is the perfect chance to plan your next get-together … but where will this one take you? Here are six winning destinations for a family Spring Break vacation in 2019.
What to do: Tulum is a laid-back alternative to Cancun, and with the kids in tow, you’d be smart to avoid the influx of college kids that populate the latter’s beaches around this time of year. Instead, head to the quieter Tulum, an ancient Mayan city with plenty to explore. If Tulum is known for one thing, it’s likely the underwater caves and sinkholes they call cenotes. These ancient sites often date back millions of years, but today can be swam through (refreshing!) and snorkeled. The best way to experience one is a guided tour. AGI Tours experts bring you to Coba where you’ll discover three cenotes — Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha, and Multum-Ha — and at the same time, equip you with historical background so you leave there not only refreshed and exhilarated, but more informed too. While Tulum is quickly becoming a travel hot spot in Mexico, it’ll be popular among families for spring break this year, providing a nice balance between relaxation and exploration.
Where to stay: Luxury Retreats villas in Tulum line the coast from the beautifully unspoiled Tankah Bay to the northern end of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, a natural attraction and World Heritage Site popular among eco-conscious travelers, revered especially for its diverse wildlife that includes hundreds of species of birds, fish, and mammals. Our Tulum homes accommodate families of any size and are staffed with teams that may include housekeepers, maids, and chefs for maximum pampering. Direct beach access and private swimming pools are just the beginning with these homes. For inspiration, have a look at this ocean-facing rooftop terrace or the exquisite 20-person dining pavilion here.
What to do: To spend a spring break on the mountains, Vail is a top choice — it’s America’s third largest ski mountain with more than 5,000 acres offering near endless runs for all skill levels. Vail’s signature is its bowl skiing, a type of skiing done on wide bowl-shaped slopes. Vail has seven official Back Bowls — though some would argue there are eight — and each one is steep and ungroomed, not exactly meant for beginners. But if you’re looking for your first bowl experience, Vail’s newest addition, Blue Sky Basin, is a good place to start due to more mellow moguls and lower-angle terrain than most other hills at the resort. Have a camera with you because the elevation makes for a picturesque landscape view. Another perk at Vail for a family trip: The resort’s ski school is one of the best thanks to some of the most experienced instructors. Their expert teachers use games to teach beginners in group or individual classes, and groups are segmented by age so kids can learn together while making new friends.
There are several options for good après-ski. Head to Vail Village for the classic après-ski experience at the Red Lion, an upscale tavern which has live music most nights of the week, or stay slopeside at Los Amigos, a Mexican restaurant with an outdoor deck that provides stadium seating for watching skiers (and often wipeouts) down below. But to après like an insider, take the off-piste Minturn Mile trail — you’ll have to ask a local since this route is not on the map — which is by far the most adventurous way to get to the hundred-year-old Minturn Saloon, where you’ll find out exactly what Colorado cuisine is. (Hint: Quail and duck are among the menu’s popular items.)
Where to stay: Travelers to Vail are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury accommodations. Vacation homes are sprinkled throughout Vail Village. Choose a penthouse at the base of the mountain with direct lift access or a serene retreat where you can ski straight onto the long, intermediate Born Free trail. Many Vail Village ski chalets are multi-story, close enough to walk to a gondola or provide shuttle service into town, and enjoy stunning mountain views where world-class skiing is at your fingertips.
Turks and Caicos, Caribbean
What to do: Turks and Caicos is one of those places where you don’t need to do anything — you could easily spend spring break enjoying its sunshine, gorgeous beaches, and stunning views. But for active types, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of sun, beach, and views while also keeping the blood flowing — beginning with its famously calm waters which make watersports a big draw on the island’s many beaches. Hookup with SURFside Ocean Academy, whose experienced experts lead in-depth island tours by standup paddleboard (also known as SUP) that include a remote pirate cave hike and a snorkeling lobster search. (The tours are fun for families, but if you want some time alone, they offer nanny services and babysitting.)
On land, cycling offers a completely new perspective of the beautiful, largely unspoiled corners of Turks and Caicos. Bicycles aren’t the most popular mode of transportation due to lack of infrastructure, so booking a tour with Caicos Cyclery is a smart way to go at it. With them, gear is provided for sightseeing at a relaxed pace, and you can even take a ferry ride with bike in tow. Plus, their experts ensure the routes you take are safe and provide the most beautiful scenery.
Where to stay: When it finally is time to do nothing, Turks and Caicos villas are built to make you want to spend your day at home. Hang in your private double-edge infinity pool with a swim-up bar at this beachfront gem in Providenciales, or find unmatched serenity at an ultra-secluded villa at the tip of the island. For a relaxing island getaway, look no further than the collection of luxury beachfront homes on Grace Bay, Turtle Tail, and Long Bay.
Park City, Utah
What to do: As America’s most accessible major ski town — just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport — there’s no question what the main draw is in Park City. And while you’ve been looking forward to thrashing through PC’s white gold since the first day your children started school, you’ll love the idea of strapping into your skis within hours of stepping off the plane. Then maximize your time on the “Greatest Snow on Earth” — Utah has actually trademarked that phrase — by hopping aboard the King Con lift, a high-speed chair that serves more than a dozen intermediate runs and can help you have the most efficient day on the slopes.
Step away from the slopes for even just an evening for an adventurous and relaxing experience for the whole family: an old-fashioned sleigh ride through the private Garff Ranch. The best way to do it is at night, in darkness. Because the mountain ranch is secluded, 10 minutes from Park City, there are no city lights to disrupt the night sky full of stars. Hot beverages and dinner can be provided, depending on the type of tour you select, and round trip transportation can also be arranged by the tour group All Seasons Adventure.
Where to stay: There’s no wrong way to do Park City, so whether you opt for a stylish unit on Main Street or a spacious home in a quiet community further afield, you’ve made a good choice. Should you go for the former or the latter? Rentals on the Main typically have a balcony or rooftop terrace for prime people-watching, while the villas set in residential neighborhoods are more likely to be elevated on the hillside for panoramic views.
Palm Springs, California
What to do: If there’s one destination on this list where you’d want to leave the kids behind, it would be this one. Exploring this romantic desert city with just your spouse can make for a relaxing vacation filled with museum tours and art exhibits. First stop: the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center, which profiles the town’s most famous architects and itself is housed in a mid-century structure. But even with school-aged children, Palm Springs is a blast in the springtime. If the little ones are golfers, then you’ll have your pick of more than 100 fabulous golf courses designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Palm Springs is a golf hotbed for a reason — the San Jacinto Mountain backdrop and naturally rolling terrain certainly helps make places like Cathedral Canyon and Desert Dunes truly memorable.
Still can’t get enough of Palm Springs’ desert landscape? Get up in the air — way up. Explore new heights on a hot air balloon flight over the city. Drift into the sky with Balloons Above, which has new, accessible baskets with doors so that you don’t have to climb into them. Then, it’s all spectacular views over the Coachella Valley.
Where to stay: When we think of Palm Springs, what immediately comes to mind is the mid-century modern style of architecture and design that put Palm Springs on the map in the middle of the 20th century and continues to delight. The home that started it all is The Harold Lloyd Estate, named after the silent film star and decorated with photography from his personal collection. Then there’s Twin Palms Sinatra Estate, built for Ol’ Blue Eyes in the late 1940s and still adorned with many of his original fittings. This spring break, don’t just live in homes reminiscent of the celebs that used to frequent Palm Springs — live in their actual homes.
Whistler, British Columbia
What to do: Why not spend your vacation north of the border this year in a Whistler Wonderland. If the Great White North calls to you, make your way to beautiful British Columbia, where the Olympic ski town 90 minutes north of Vancouver (and just another hour from the Washington state border) boasts 8,000 acres across two mountains: Whistler and Blackcomb. For snowboarders especially, Whistler’s an ideal choice; it was one of first resorts in the world to welcome boarders when the sport became popular in the early 1980s. Today, Whistler-Blackcomb remains a snowboarder’s paradise for Whistler’s open bowls, allowing for wide, sweeping turns, in the Harmony area and Blackcomb’s three terrain parks.
Did we mention British Columbia was beautiful? There’s nothing like a sky-high view over the mountains to convince you, so spice up a day of skiing by making a grand entrance: Take a helicopter adventure with Blackcomb Helicopters. Seeing the mountain range from what feels like the top of the world is a memory you won’t soon forget, and carving down those mountains that from that bird’s-eye view looked so tiny is quite the trip.
Where to stay: Take up residence in an elevated chalet that makes it easy to brave Whistler’s brisk winter weather thanks to an outdoor hot tub and heated deck. Or, make yourself at home less than 200 feet from the slopes, where a wine fridge and outdoor fireplace make this villa the only après-ski you’ll need. You’re at one with nature in Whistler, especially at one of its many ski chalets surrounded by pine trees and snowy mountains.