Despite all the cold weather around the country in recent weeks – spring break is quickly approaching!
For a fresh perspective on where we can still go at this last minute, I spoke with a fabulous travel agent whom I have recommended to some of my BFFs, and now HE is one of THEIR BFFs!
Luxury travel consultant and family vacation planner John Clifford, President of International Travel Management.com shared with us his picks for the best under-the-radar, family Spring Break getaways. ,
He says : “Spring Break 2010, will offer unprecedented bargains as the global economy continues to improve, while new hotels open in popular destinations and the travel industry seeks to entice holiday makers with bargains galore.”
“Families traveling this year stand to gain the most as discounts for adjoining rooms, value added amenities like free meals and upgrades abound.”
Forget Vegas, Florida and overdeveloped, mass-market destinations overrun with breaking revelers. John says savvy families this year will be enjoying such locales as….
Santa Fe, NM
The city is celebrating its 400 year anniversary this year highlighting the city’s rich tri cultural heritage and designation as the oldest continually inhabited capital city as well as the highest in the U.S.
Aside from being an art mecca, Santa Fe boasts Indian markets & pueblos, historic Spanish colonial sites along with an amazing bounty of outdoor activities from ballooning to canyoneering mountain climbing and more.
Not only did artist Georgia O’Keefe call this place home, but today, the city boasts family favorite museums, one featuring O’Keefe’s works, and others such as the Museum of International Folk Art and the Wheelright Museum of the American Indian which are favorites to kids and families.
But wait, kids actually get their own museum here, the Santa Fe Children’s Museum (www.santafechildrensmuseum.org) full of interactive exhibits & special events.
Hop aboard the Santa Fe Southern Railway (www.sfsr.com) and ride a vintage rail car to the abandoned, ghost town of Lamy.
Or take in the Casa Grande Trading Post a combination, kitschy petting zoo and turquoise mining museum.
Don’t miss an excursion 45 minutes from town to Bandelier National Monument (www.nps.gov/band) to experience ruins and cliff dwellings, ceremonial caves & petroglyphs of the Anasazi culture that was thought to have inhabited the area seven or eight centuries ago.
Insider’s Tip: www.sfaol.com/books/littour.html Families love local writer and bibliophile Barbara Harrelson’s 2-hour walking tour of downtown Santa Fe which explores the history, personalities, the legends and the lore of the area through its stories and its literary landmarks.
The Mayan Riviera, Mexico (Tracy’s pick also! Want to go!)
No matter what you think about the Mayan Riviera, it is not Cancun. It’s the anti-Cancun. So close and yet so far. Even though this stunning, Caribbean coast starts just south of the 17-mile SoBe like hotel zone, The Riviera Maya is anything but.
With a slew of new resorts welcoming families from all inclusives to boutique gems, powder white beaches and unrivaled history, this locale never fails to impress.
From ancient Mayan sites & pyramids to underground rivers offering tubing exploration like those at Rio Secreto, to colonial Spanish towns such as Valladolid, it’s a treasure trove of discoveries with a MexiCaribbean flair!
Water sports galore delight young and old along with a coastline that is full of natural beauty including the Mayan ruins of Tulum, built atop the ocean’s bluff, still standing today as well as the UNESCO’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
Insider’s Tip: www.alltournative.com/tours-products/maya-encounter Families love the all-in-one adventure run by tour company/conservationists, Alltournative who work with Mayan communities to preserve their heritage. The “Maya Encounter” excursion, includes whizzing through the jungle on a zip line, rappelling into a cenote (deep water filled sink holes), and kayaking on a lagoon.
After the elders offer a ceremonial blessing, village women serve a full lunch rounding out with a trip to the ruins of Cobá.
Don’t let the exotic name, or flip-flopped seasons fool you. The Northern Hemisphere is starting Spring, while Costa Rica is enjoying the last of their Summer, which is the driest overall, lasting through April.
That being said, the country is a tropical paradise boasting one of the 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world.
Though it seems a world away, it is closer to the mainland U.S. than Hawaii and boasts incredible value and endless family friendly activities, sites, resorts and destinations.
Though the Pacific & Caribbean coasts are lush and tropical, the real excitement takes place in its many National Parks and wilderness reserves, which span over one third of the entire country. Young & old will be mesmerized by the stunning variety of flora, fauna and landscapes with diverse microclimates and untouched wildlife viewing. Numerous species of birds, monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, insects & amphibians abound.
A live volcano? Yes, Vulcan Arenal is one of the most spectacular, active volcanoes in the world, and the locale alongside Lake Arenal is sublime and exciting.
Active adventures dot the map from cave exploring to horseback riding, river rafting, zip lining, canopy tours amidst the tree tops, and off road exploration through virgin forests.
Many who visit believe it is a paradise like none other on the planet, making for lifelong, family memories.
Killington, VT aka “The Big K” at Ramshead (If watching the Olympics got you in the mood to ski..we like this suggestion)
Killington Vermont boasts the largest ski area in the state, as well as Eastern North America. Unknown to many, it also offers the longest ski season in Vermont which can last as long as May, sometimes June.
Families love a winter break here, with 200 trails, 31 lifts, and the new Skye Peak Express. They’ve even got a ski and snowboard school for all ages.
Insider’s Tip: www.killington.com/winter/mountain/lodges/ramshead/index.html. With an entire lodge dedicated to families & kids, Ramshead, you can’t go wrong, especially with record snows this year.