From Canada to Cancun: 7 Spring Break Vacation Destinations for Families

Jan 1, 2019

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Spring. You can almost smell it in the air. OK, yes, winter just started, but still. Whatever the weather is like in your neck of the woods, spring break isn’t all that far off and it is a great time for rejuvenation. Even better, a school-break getaway makes so much more sense than having the kids fight off a serious case of cabin fever by Day Three of the break. Why not try out one of these warm destinations and get a sneak preview of spring?

Orlando, Florida

Why visit Orlando? Two huge reasons: Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Potterheads will love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, and you’ll need to set out enough time to take in Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and more at Walt Disney World. If the weather gets too hot, you can always cool off at SeaWorld or even Disney’s water parks. Budding astronauts will love a visit to nearby Kennedy Space Center.

For more earthbound activities, checking out alligators by airboat tours is always a hit with the family. Need more reasons? The city is studded with family-friendly restaurants and hotels such as the Orlando World Center Marriott, a Category 5 hotel in the Marriott Rewards, has a splash pool and game center for kids. The Hilton Orlando Resorts, which participates in the Hilton Honors points program, offers a s’mores-making fire pit and a water park with a pool and lazy river for about 45,000 points per night.

Image courtesy of hotel
Image courtesy of Hilton Orlando

If you don’t find airfare prices you like, you can fly your family to Orlando on American Airlines from just 7,500 British Airways Avios or on United Airlines from just 7,500 miles each way. Remember that LifeMiles is a new transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

To research your Orlando vacation, check out these resources:

The Best Points Hotels Near Disney World in 2018
TPG‘s Ultimate Guide to Disney World
How to Use Points to Buy Disney Tickets
The Best Restaurants in Disney World in 2018
How to Eat Healthy at Disney World
Is the Universal Studios Orlando Annual Pass Worth It?
10 Things No One Tells You About Orlando

Cinderella Castle
(Photo by Ryan Wendler / Walt Disney World)

San Diego, California

Beaches, parks, animals, museums and great weather — San Diego really seems to have it all. Fly to the San Diego Airport and make sure you have plenty of time for the dizzying variety of offerings the city presents. The famous San Diego Zoo has petting stations and interactive exhibits and even a Safari Park for an African-themed adventure. Kids can root out plastic dinosaurs in the city’s Botanic Garden and check out a variety of marine animals at SeaWorld.

(Photo by Savs via Unsplash)
(Photo by Savs via Unsplash)

Beaches such as La Jolla Shores Park offer plenty of opportunities for soaking in a few rays. San Diego is well-served by family-friendly hotels, including Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina (15,000 Hyatt points per night) or bookable with a Category 1 – 4 award available with the World Of Hyatt Credit Card. The Hilton San Diego Bayfront (55k – 60k Hilton points per night) and the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina (50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night) are also options. Last but far from least, you could go all-out at the Hotel Del Coronado that costs 95,000 Hilton points per night, or would make for a tremendous use of a Hilton weekend anniversary award night available with cards such as the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Hotel del Coronado
Image courtesy of Hotel del Coronado

When pricing flights for your family to San Diego, keep in mind that Tijuana is another viable option that is easily accessible via the Cross Border Xpress. 

Keystone, Colorado

OK, so you’re not really a fan of warm weather or you really love to hit the slopes. You can rent a car from Denver Airport (we’re partial to Silvercar’s Audis for mountain driving) or take a bus — Colorado Mountain Express and Epic Mountain Express are popular choices.

The approximately 2.5-hour drive to Keystone will be well worth it. The wide slopes are great for beginners and intermediate skiers on the trails, and snow forts and playgrounds offer tons of wintry fun for families. Depending on the weather, go snow tubing or try ice skating. You can use your World of Hyatt points to stay at the Hyatt Place Keystone (15k points per night or a Category 1 – 4 award) or you can check out the Hampton Inn & Suites Silverthorne, which is part of Hilton Honors and bookable from around 45,000 Hilton points per night.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)

London, England

If you’ve got a Harry Potter fan in your family, you really must head to the birthplace of it all. Kids can visit Platform 9 and three-quarters at Kings Cross Station to take off for Hogwarts. Check out the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which may be easier to get tickets to in London than in New York. Visit the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and catch the Changing of Guard near St. James’ Palace. The British Museum is home to priceless pieces of art, including the original Rosetta Stone, and is a must-see.

A visit to London gives young kids a taste for faraway adventures and travel while still being immersed in a somewhat familiar environment. Connections to London’s Heathrow Airport are plentiful and there are plenty of ways to do London on points, though things get tougher when booking for a family of four. Families of four can stay at the London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch for 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night plus 20 for a family room with two double beds.

Those with Radisson Rewards points can book a family room for four at the Park Plaza Westminister Bridge for 85,000 points per night. If you want to use IHG points, the Crowne Plaza London – Kings Cross isn’t fancy, but is often available with two double beds for 35,000 IHG points per night. You could also use the annual award night available with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Using Hyatt points, Mommy Points loved her family’s stay in a suite at the Hyatt Churchill in London, but be aware that standard rooms are only rated for two adults and up to one child.

Churchill Living Room Suite
Suite at the Hyatt Regency Churchill (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Here are some of our favorite ways to use miles to cross the Atlantic and our favorite family-friendly international airlines.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)

Cancun, Mexico

Luxurious and endless beaches, crystal-blue waters, family-friendly activities and margaritas by the water await families heading to Cancun. There are dozens of reasons to visit this popular spring break destination in Mexico, especially if your spring break doesn’t coincide with college ones. Go snorkeling, pool hop, see the Captain Hook pirate show and dinner —  a fun and welcome diversion. Fly into Cancun Airport, and cash in your World of Hyatt rewards to stay at the fantastic all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun with an included kid’s club! Or enjoy the nearby Riviera Maya and swim in cenotes, see Mayan ruins and zip line through the jungle while you stay at the 20,000 points per night Hyatt Andaz Mayakoba.

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Stay on the lookout for flight deals to Mexico from 12,000 miles round trip.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a paradise for snorkeling and related activities. Families love the country for several reasons, the first of which is a chocolate museum. (The DR is a big producer of cocoa beans.) ChocoMuseo shows families how chocolate is made, and you can even bring some home. Plus, there’s the Ocean World Adventure Park, Outback safaris, caves for a different kind of adventure and the Damajaqua Cascades with 27 waterfalls.

You can fly into the Punta Cana airport and stay at Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village for 17,500 Marriott Rewards points per night, or take things up a notch and enjoy the Westin Punta Cana for 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night (one of our top picks for a Marriott 35k award certificate). Later in 2019, the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva and Zilara properties are supposed to open in Punta Cana. But for now, you can use Wyndham Rewards points to stay at some all-inclusive properties.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Courtesy of Shutterstock
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – Image by Shutterstock

For flights, keep in mind that Southwest Airlines operates flights into Punta Cana, so check their award and cash rates when pricing options.

Banff, Canada

Calling all outdoor adventurers! Offering skiing, hiking, horseback riding and snowshoeing adventures, Banff is a great destination for active families that love nature and the outdoors. About two hours by car from Calgary, Banff provides a great taste of the Canadian Rockies. Drive along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and visit Moraine Lake for arresting scenery. You can also go whitewater rafting or horseback riding on Lake Louise.

Banff National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Banff National Park. Image by Shutterstock.

The Delta Hotels Banff Royal Canadian Lodge is a Marriott Rewards property bookable for points per night that makes for a terrific and affordable home base for families, though award availability for rooms with two queen beds is tight during some parts of the year.

Image courtesy of the Delta Royal Canadian Lodge
Image courtesy of the Delta Royal Canadian Lodge

However, we can’t mention Banff without throwing in the idea of staying at the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs. This property is not cheap, but if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express you can book your stay using the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program and enjoy extra perks like daily full breakfast, late checkout, an included lunch or dinner and more.

Fairmont Banff Springs, Canada. Photo courtesy of Fairmont Banff Springs.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Canada. Photo courtesy of Fairmont Banff Springs.

Since many airline award programs group Canada in with the Lower 48, you can often fly to Calgary for about 12,500 miles (or less in some cases).

Bottom Line

For spring break this year, your family can stay on the beaten trail somewhere like Disney or the beaches of Cancun, or step off the traditional path a bit more and explore Banff or even enjoy a show in London. If none of these locations are striking the right cord, here are some great spots for families to consider around the world.

Featured image by Basic Elements Photography / Getty Images

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