From snowy slopes to island getaways, spring break offers diverse options for family fun. And with spring break just around the corner, now is an ideal time to start planning your family vacation. Here are a few ideas for fun things to do with kids in California, New Mexico and Washington State.
Mammoth Mountain www.mammothmountain.com/
June Lake junelakeloop.com/
When it comes to spring skiing, Mammoth is king, often staying open until July 4. By April, hotel and lift ticket rates drop while temperatures rise, inviting lightweight clothing. Slather on sunscreen for a morning on the slopes followed by hiking, biking or fishing in the afternoon. Nearby, scenic June Lake provides a quiet getaway for fishing, hiking and picnics. If staying in June Lake, the Double Eagle Resort & Spa makes a good home base.
Borrego Springs www.borregospringschamber.com/
A sleepy little town in east San Diego County, Borrego Springs is surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and is a designated Dark Sky Community. It’s among the best places in the world to see a star-studded sky. In spring, the desert blooms with wildflowers and cacti. Make your first stop the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center to watch a short video and see exhibits about the area. Then explore the park hiking and on guided jeep tours through slot canyons. A unique attraction is Galleta Meadows, composed of about 140 life-size metal sculptures of animals dotting the desert landscape.
Stay at the family-friendly La Casa del Zorro, which has numerous pools with underwater lighting. There’s also a shallow children’s pool with beach balls.
Catalina Island http://www.catalinachamber.com/
Since summer is peak tourist season, spring and fall are best for visiting Catalina when the weather is usually warm and the island isn’t crowded. 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 mostly car-free island, drive a golf cart around town, enjoy an array of water sports and land activities or simply bask on sunny shores. Kid-friendly activities include zip lines, snorkeling, kayaking, boat tours, fishing and hiking.
Santa Fe, New Mexico http://santafe.org/
With its narrow, pedestrian-friendly streets, Spanish-Pueblo adobe buildings and zesty southwestern cuisine, Santa Fe has a lot of character. The official state question – red or green?- refers to chili sauce served over New Mexican dishes. Try them separately or together at yummy places such as Tia Sophia’s (whose owners claim to have invented the original breakfast burrito) and Il Piatto, a cozy Italian Farmhouse Kitchen. Walkable downtown contains art galleries, museums and restaurants. Get good deals on locally-made turquoise jewelry, bling cowboy boots and concho belts. Kick back in charming central plaza and listen to live music. Nearby, artsy Canyon Road is home to galleries and specialty shops, like the yummy Kakawa Chocolate House. Worth a short drive is the Railyard neighborhood’s Tuesday and Saturday Farmers Markets featuring bunches of bright red chili and freshly prepared dishes. There’s also a park and children’s play area. Just south of Santa Fe is El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum depicting18th and 19th century life in New Mexico.
Downtown lodging options include historic La Fonda Hotel and Eldorado Hotel & Spa.
Washington State www.visitseattle.org
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, packed with fresh fish stands, produce, ethnic groceries and restaurants. Families love 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.
San Juan Islands www.visitsanjuans.com/
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 Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. Alpacas are cousins to llamas, but some people say they’re cuter!
Photos by Mimi Slawoff. Top photo by Young-Wolff.