Where are the most family-friendly destinations to enjoy spring break?
As the springtime brings warmer weather, more sunshine, and flowers begin to bloom, you may start dreaming of a spring break vacation to enjoy with the family. Whether you travel abroad or stay in the US, there are a lot of factors to consider. Many destinations are cheaper to travel to earlier in the year, and visiting Hawaii in March will likely not break the bank as much as a trip would cost in summer.
From the cost of international flights and family accommodation to safety concerns and child-friendly restaurant options, we wanted to explore the most budget-friendly destinations to make your money go further during spring break. There are many romantic destinations that are also popular with families, and visiting Mexico with kids could provide all the fun and adventure as it would traveling further afield.
We will explore the best spring break destinations in the US, as well as in Europe and further afield. Our research could help you discover destinations you may not have considered before, such as visiting Cancun as a family.
We will also consider environmental factors, such as air quality and light pollution, revealing the cities with the cleanest air and clearest skylines, making them excellent stargazing spots.
The Best Spring Break Destinations in the World
If you choose to travel abroad during spring break, you may be wondering which cities offer the most value for your buck when it comes to traveling with children.
These cities scored the highest:
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Destination Score: 10 out of 10
The beautiful and historical city of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, topped our list of the best spring break destinations. The island of Puerto Rico is known for its warm hospitality and long beach fronts, as well as its array of colorful colonial buildings and 16th-century landmarks including El Morro, with its iconic fortress and spectacular ocean views.
Puerto Rico is located about a thousand miles from Florida, making it a relatively short trip for a spring vacation, and flights are cheap, costing around $239 for a connecting flight. Known as the oldest European-founded city in the Americas, San Juan is extremely child friendly, with 406 family restaurants (5.27 per mi²), and 88 activities suitable for children (1.14 per mi²). San Juan has extremely clear skies and low light pollution (2360 μcd/m2) and very good air quality (4.8 out of 100).
Destination Score: 9.79 out of 10
Edinburgh, Scotland’s hilly capital, claimed second place for the best spring break destinations. Edinburgh is known for its famous castle which is home to Scotland’s crown jewels, as well as the royal botanical gardens and the National Museum of Scotland. Springtime in Edinburgh is one of the driest periods in the year, with long sunshine hours during April.
Flights to Edinburgh are relatively affordable, with a connecting flight from Atlanta costing around $773. The Scottish city scored highly for its good air quality (5.2 out of 100), as well as its low light pollution levels (3730 μcd/m2). Edinburgh also had among the lowest crime index scores, at 30.9 out of 100.
Destination Score: 9.58 out of 10
Florence is the capital city of Italy’s Tuscany region, and is home to masterpieces of renaissance art including one of its most iconic sights, the Duomo, and Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. Springtime in Florence offers mild temperatures, with a chance to explore the city’s palaces, chapels, museums, and blooming nature.
Despite Florence’s small area size, the charming city offers over 1,000 child-friendly restaurants (12.12 per mi²), as well as plenty of accommodation with family rooms (0.41 per mi²). Crime in Florence is low, with a crime index score of 38.4 out of 100. Light pollution levels are also low, with artificial brightness levels at 5310 (μcd/m2) making it a wonderful stargazing spot.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Destination Score: 9.38 out of 10
Chiang Mai, a city in mountainous northern Thailand, is home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh. Chiang Mai offers a warm climate all year round, but be aware that weather during April and May are the hottest, with temperatures reaching 99.8°F (37.7°C) in mid-April.
The Thai city offered among the highest number of child-friendly restaurants (17.06 per mi²) and activities (4.48 per mi²). Crime in Chiang Mai is very low, with a score of 24.5 out of 100, and light pollution is low (2330 μcd/m2). Flights to the Chiang Mai International Airport are amongst the most expensive on our list, costing around $1,827.00 for a connecting flight from Atlanta.
Destination Score: 9.17 out of 10
Reykjavik, the capital city on the coast of Iceland, is home to Iceland’s Viking history, which is showcased in its National and Saga Museums. Reykjavik is known for its mountains surrounding the Icelandic city, especially Mt. Esja and the legendary Snæfellsjökull glacier. In springtime, which begins in March, the days are longer with higher temperatures and by April the snow begins to melt, making room for its stunning greenery.
The city scored well for its low flight costs ($478.00 from Atlanta) and also its safety, with a crime index score of 23.8 out of 100. Reykjavik is known for its clear skies, with an air quality score of 6.4 out of 100. The Northern Lights, which can be seen when the sky is clear and dark may appear in Iceland. There are also many great options for family rooms in Reykjavik (0.47 per mi²).
Here’s our full list:
The Best Spring Break Destinations in the US
Many cities in the US offer some of the best options for spring break vacations, meaning less travel time and lower flight costs.
Destination Score: 10 out of 10
Orlando, a city in central Florida, is home to more than a dozen theme parks, including Walt Disney World and EPCOT, making it a fun-filled vacation for kids and adults of all ages. The city attracts around 60 million visitors annually, who come to enjoy the warm climate, shopping malls, and golf courses.
Flights to Orlando cost around $84, for a direct flight from Atlanta, and the destination offers 1,193 family restaurants (10.79 per mi²), as well as 452 hotels with family rooms, the highest on our list. Orlando has a moderately low crime index score of 51.5 out of 100 and offered the most activities for children (2.69 activities per mi²).
Marco Island, Florida
Destination Score: 9.79 out of 10
Marco Island, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off Southwest Florida, scored second on our list of the best US destinations for spring break, with a score of 9.79 out of 10. Known as a prime tourist destination thanks to its stunning beaches and natural spaces, Marco Island records very warm temperatures in April. If your idea of a fun spring break involves lounging on a sandy beach, Marco Island is a fantastic choice.
Despite the island being small (12.16 mi²), there are plenty of activities for children to enjoy (6.91 per mi²), and family restaurants (4.77 per mi²). Light pollution levels in Marco Island are among the lowest out of all US destinations (801 μcd/m2) despite its proximity to Florida.
Destination Score: 9.57 out of 10
The City of Boston is the capital and largest city in Massachusetts and claimed third place in our top spring break destinations in the US. As one of the most historic cities in the United States, it is known as the “Cradle of Modern America,” the birthplace of the American Revolution. There are many attractions to enjoy in the Boston springtime, including the beautiful Arnold Arboretum which springs alive every year with cultivated flowering and bushes. The Boston Esplanade is also a great way to stretch your legs and enjoy the sights of its blossoming cherry trees.
Boston is a safe city with a criminal index score of 39.4, and also has great air quality. There is a variety of restaurants for children, with 550 establishments (11.38 per mi²), as well as kids activities (2.46 per mi²), among the highest on our list.
Destination Score: 9.36 out of 10
Aspen, a ski resort town up in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, came in fourth place in the ranking for the best US spring break destinations. Home to high-end restaurants and boutiques, it is an excellent place to enjoy warmer temperatures and some downhill skiing. Aspen offers many other winter outdoor activities including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking.
Despite Aspen being a small town, it offers 34 child-friendly restaurants (3.40 per mi²), 26 activities (2.60 per mi²), and low light pollution (56.7μcd/m2), making it a magical stargazing spot. The air is fresh and clean (5.9 out of 100) and has low levels of pollution.
Destination Score: 9.15 out of 10
Miami is another Florida city within our top five spring break destinations, with a score of 9.15 out of 10. The coastal metropolis is popular for its warm weather, pristine beaches, and deep-sea diving sites. Miami’s colorful architecture and sparkling white beaches make it a wonderful tropical destination to enjoy with kids.
Miami offers a variety of restaurants for children to enjoy (5.06 per mi²) and a wide variety of family accommodation options (1.85 per mi²). The air quality is good and crime levels are moderately low (52.6 out of 100).
We started our research by creating a list of popular holiday destinations from the USA, collated from listicles and online blogs about popular travel destinations.
Skyscanner was used to find the cost of flights for a family of four from April 17th to April 21st, 2023, coinciding with the spring break dates listed here. Although, it must be noted that spring break varies by school in the United States. The “best” figure for flight prices was taken, which refers to the cheapest flights without layovers, changes, or longer routes. This data is accurate as of 28/02/23.
Tripadvisor was used to find the number of restaurants that were child friendly. The same was done to find the number of activities that were good for kids. This data is accurate as of 28/02/23.
Booking.com was used on the same dates as the flights, to find the total number of accommodation options for a family of four, using the filter to find family rooms.
Numbeo was used to find the crime index score of each city.
Each city’s artificial brightness in the city center was taken according to LightPollutionMap.info. This data is accurate as of 28/02/23.
Each city’s annual air pollution rating was taken from IQAir’s 2021 world’s most polluted cities data.
All factors were combined to receive a normalized score out of 10. The scores are relative to one another, which is why the global and US destination’s top result scores 10 and the bottom scores 0.