Best Places to Live

2013 10 Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

To make our 2013 picks for the best spring break destinations for families, we focused on finding the best quick getaways to make the most of the short time spring break offers.  

Travel expert Marybeth Bond, founder of, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and mother, says cities with plenty of parks, hotels with swimming pools, and attractions like zoos, aquariums and museums can be just as rewarding as (and often more affordable than) a typical spring break on the beach.

Budget, time and activities that appeal to both parents and children top the list of priorities for most families when planning spring vacations, Bond says. To make the vacation more affordable, she advises travelers take advantage of city and state parks, free attractions and bike rentals. Even with a short spring break travel window, Bond says an ideal two- to three-day stay in a city still gives children a chance to become familiar with their surroundings, enough time for the family to explore the area and flexibility to change plans should bad weather enter the mix. Most of all, remember it's a vacation, she adds.

"Rest and relaxation should be high on your list of activities, too," Bond says. "Plan quiet time or naps. Picnics are a great way to slow down."

With those tips in mind, we analyzed's city list for places that have temperate climates along with lots of attractions, parks, natural areas, affordable hotels and kid-friendly restaurants. We researched travel sites and contributor reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and Yelp to find highly rated indoor and outdoor activities in these cities that appeal especially to school-age kids.

After browsing our picks for 2013, check out our list of the Top 10 Spring Break Destinations for Families in 2012, for which we chose our best cities for beach, ski, adventure and amusement vacations.

Ranking Criteria
Family-friendly attractions like zoos, aquariums and museums
Kid-friendly restaurants
Parks and natural areas for recreation
Additional budget-friendly activities
  • 10

    Cincinnati, OH

    Population: 297,397
    Photo: Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau

    With one of the top-ranked and oldest zoos in the country and a spread of other family-friendly attractions, Cincinnati, OH, makes a great spring break trip packed with things to do.

    Many attractions are free including the Cincinnati Art Museum, 21c Museum Hotel and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. Parents can browse the IKEA store, which has a free supervised play area for kids. Well worth the price of admission, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden educates visitors about approximately 500 animals in habitats across 85 acres. Colorful fish entrance children at the nearby Newport Aquarium. Cincinnati's restaurants range from soulful to chic, with everything from chicken 'n' waffles to chateaubriand. Downtown alone has more 190 restaurants. Parks such as Eden Park near the Ohio River, and Ault Park, which has a plethora of playground equipment, give families great, free options for fresh air, recreation and exercise.

    Spring Temperature Range:

    High: 66, Low: 33

    Must-Do Activities and Attractions:

    Enjoy the view from the Carew Tower Observatory

    Tour the Cincinnati Museum Center

    Ride the Cincinnati Railway

    Peruse the plants at Krohn Conservatory

    See the signs at the American Sign Museum

    Visit the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum

    See where Cincinnati's main library ranked on our list of Top Libraries for Children.