The words “Spring Break” bring to mind images of sandy beaches, poolside drinks, and palm trees. Spending a week in paradise does sound appealing, especially after the heavy weight of winter and the dreaded “polar vortex.” For some families, however, jetting off to a tropical location just isn’t possible.
But what if you still crave a change of scenery? A weekend road trip might be the perfect solution for you and yours.
One of the advantages of living in the Iowa City area is that many large metro areas and attractions are only a few hours away. And although spending the weekend in Chicago (for instance) isn’t the same as basking under the sun in Cancun or a trip to Disney World, it’s still a great way to recharge your batteries with some family-friendly fun. All it takes is some careful planning and a dose of perspective to create a memorable weekend road trip with your family.
Keep it Simple.
You really don’t have to shoot for the moon when planning a Spring Break weekend getaway. Most of the time, just staying in a hotel with a pool is plenty of excitement for kids. One year we visited the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. Although some of the trip’s content was over our kids’ heads, there was still plenty to keep them entertained. In fact, I’m pretty sure the simple picnic lunch we had at a small local park was one of their favorite parts of that trip.
Plan One Big Thing.
When planning weekend getaways, a mistake my husband and I used to make was trying to do too much. If you choose to visit a city like Chicago, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the options. We discovered that if we over-filled our itinerary, we became rushed and stressed. So instead of blasting through all three museums on the Museum Campus for instance, we chose just one and spent a whole day there. Since you’re working with a limited window of time, choosing one highlight attraction is a much better use of that time and energy.
The last time we had a Spring Break getaway, our “one big thing” was Shedd Aquarium. Aside from that, we kept our plan somewhat loose. We didn’t want to be rushed, and we wanted to make sure the kids had enough rest. We slept in, we ate great food, and we shopped, allowing the kids to choose some stores to visit on Michigan Ave. If we strolled by a park we stopped and let the kids play. And it just so happened that on the weekend of our visit the weather was nice enough for some impromptu splashing in Lake Michigan. I hadn’t packed swimsuits, but I let them take off their shoes and play in the water anyway.
Regardless of where you go or what you do for spring break, the most important thing is that you actually take a break of some sort if you can. Even a short deviation from a regular routine can provide a welcome burst of energy for your family. And while glittering beaches and trips to Disney are certainly fun, you and your kids will cherish the memories of your family’s adventures no matter where they occur.