If you are, like me, averse to spending your kids' spring break on crowded beaches filled with rowdy college kids, take heart. There are plenty of family-friendly destinations that would make for a memorable -- and often surprisingly affordable -- family spring break destination. Check out these five "alternative" spring break spots.
*All prices were taken from TripAdvisor listings and/or hotel websites Feb. 28, 2013.
If you don't mind colder temps (the average daily high in Reykjavik in March is 36 degrees), a family trip to Iceland will give your kids the chance to view some truly unforgettable natural phenomena. The Northern Lights might still be visible, depending upon when you visit, and the country's glaciers, geysers, steamy solfataras, and geothermal baths are sure to make even the most jaded 9-year-old put down the iPad. What's more, a nonstop flight from New York is less than six hours. The Castle House Luxury Apartments, the No. 2 hotel in Reykjavik on TripAdvisor, offers rooms from $79 per night in March.*
Montreal is the perfect destination for families who'd like to expose their kids to a different language but don't have the time or funds to go all the way to Europe. It's another chilly place (average high temp is 36 degrees, just like Reykjavik), but you'll find plenty of indoor, kid-friendly attractions like the Biodome and Insectarium. Introduce your kids to local foods like Montreal-style bagels and poutine, a plate of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Le Petit Hotel, TripAdvisor's No. 1 hotel in Montreal, offers rooms from less thanr$200 per night in late March.
If you're craving hot weather, why not venture south to Guatemala with your family? March is one of the hottest and driest months there, so it's perfect beach season. TripAdvisor travelers recently named Playa Blanca in eastern Guatemala one of the Top 10 beaches in Central America in the Travelers' Choice Beaches awards. And if you're into surfing, you'll find excellent waves on the Pacific Coast. And it's affordable. TripAdvisor's top hotel in Guatemala, the Hotel Cirilo, offers double rooms from just $109 per night in late March. (It's only for older kids, though, age 15 and up.)
If you have an outdoorsy family, check out Bryce Canyon. By visiting in spring, you'll miss the winter snow and the summer crowds. Beautiful rock formations, gorgeous views and excellent hiking trails await. The Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, a favorite of TripAdvisor travelers, offers rooms from less than $110 per night.
Panama is full of natural and man-made wonders, from monkey preserves to beautiful beaches to, of course, the Panama Canal. Tropical weather (average daily high in March is 89 degrees), affordable hotels (the Toscana Inn, ranked the No. 1 in Panama City, has rooms from less than $130 per night), and exciting activities like nighttime rainforest safaris make Panama a great choice for adventuresome families.