As spring break comes into view, the question of where to take the family becomes a common debate between parents and kids. East Coast or West Coast? Disneyland® or Walt Disney World®? The Santa Monica Pier or Daytona Beach Boardwalk? Join us as we explore which destination fits into your family’s spring break plans.
Tournament of Theme Parks
While known for the sand and sunshine, the iconic theme parks of Los Angeles and Orlando alone have millions flocking each year from all over the world. Plan ahead to make sure your kids meet their favorite heroes, princesses or cartoon characters at these world-famous theme parks.
Universal Studios Hollywood™ – Located in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County, Universal Studios Hollywood™ is a must-see destination for all movie fans. Although Universal Studios Hollywood™ features only one park, it makes up for it with a variety of unique attractions that can only be found on the West Coast. The World-Famous Studio Tour, which first opened in 1964, takes you through action-filled sets and actual sound stages where some of your favorite shows and movies have been filmed. The park also features The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, Springfield U.S.A. and Waterworld®. Best of all, Universal Studios Hollywood™ can be explored within a day, so you can fit more activities in your travel plans.
Disneyland® Resort – Located just a short drive from Los Angeles, Disneyland® Resort is an unforgettable experience well worth the drive. Home to two parks, Disneyland® and Disney California Adventure®, this attraction stands as the original template for the modern theme park experience. Explore each park filled with a variety of attractions including modern rides such as the new Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission Breakout! or the classic adventures like the spinning cups of Mad Tea Party. Disneyland® Resort can be fully explored in two to three days, making it a perfect addition for short vacations.
Knott’s Berry Farm – Home to an award-winning theme park and refreshingly cool water park, Knott’s Berry Farm is in ideal destination for spring break vacationers. Located in Buena Park and just minutes from Los Angeles, Knott’s Berry Farm is a great addition to your trip and only takes up one or two days to explore. A major upgrade from your classic carnival rides, Knott’s Berry Farm houses familiar rides, heart-pounding roller coasters and a series of rides based on beloved cartoons. Where the other parks may focus on dark rides and indoor shows, Knott’s Berry Farm hosts most of its attractions outside, making it easy to achieve fun in the sun in California.
Universal Studios Orlando Resort™ – With two theme parks and one water park, Universal Studios Orlando Resort™ becomes a major part of any Orlando vacation. From its more-expansive version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ to the iconic E.T. Adventure™ at Universal Studios Florida™, a variety of attractions, colorful characters and spectacular shows await you at the resort’s two major theme parks. You may need two to three days to explore the entirety of both parks and an additional day to make a splash at the brand-new Universal’s Volcano Bay™.
Walt Disney World® Resort – Hosting four different theme parks and two water parks, Walt Disney World® Resort isn’t just part of the vacation, it is the vacation. From the new Pandora - World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® to the classic Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom®, Walt Disney World® Resort brings your family’s favorite stories to life. Plan to visit each park within the resort including Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, EPCOT®, Magic Kingdom®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon® and Disney’s Blizzard Beach®. From meeting with classic characters to riding exciting thrill rides, there is plenty to do here every day of your spring vacation. Each of the theme parks host a nighttime spectacular such as fireworks and lightshows, so you may need an entire day for each park.
SeaWorld® Orlando – Filled with a variety of aquatic animals and thrilling rides, SeaWorld® Orlando is a welcoming mix of conservation and coasters. From the thrilling new Infinity Falls to high-speed Kraken Unleased, the park offers a variety of rides to excite your adrenaline-hungry family. Also located within the park are a series of animal experiences including the Pelican Preserve, Shark Encounter and a Manatee Rehabilitation Area.
Battle of the Beaches
Taking in the sun-kissed sands and rolling tides is the best way to spend your vacation on either side of the country. Both cities are just a short drive from several beaches, each with a unique view and setting. From popular beaches, home to sun and surf, to secluded areas where you can lazily let time fly, nothing says spring break like a trip to the ocean.
Will Rogers State Beach – Located in Santa Monica, Will Rogers State Beach blends scenic ocean views with ample ways to have fun. The 103-acre beach is the perfect place to sunbathe, swim and surf. Other family fun activities located on the beach include sailing, wind surfing, fishing and sand volleyball. In between theme park adventures and educational museums, find some time to slow down and take in the view at this nearby beach.
Manhattan Beach – Chances are you’ve seen this beach on TV shows or in the movies. Take in The City of Stars from Manhattan County Beach, home to a picturesque backdrop and exceptional surf. Whether taking in the sunset from the pier or letting your toes wiggle in the sand, Manhattan Beach is the perfect way to spend your time in Los Angeles.
Laguna Beach – Within Orange County is the wildly popular Laguna Beach. This iconic beach is home to warm sand, cool waves and plenty of sunshine. Whether planning on soaking up the sun or exploring the nearby sights, Laguna Beach is the perfect place to take the family. Located nearby are Crystal Cove State Park, Mission San Juan Capistrano and Heisler Park.
Cocoa Beach – Referred to as the Space Coast, Cocoa Beach hosts a scenic sun-kissed backdrop and the Kennedy Space Center. Just a short drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is the perfect place to surf, sun bathe or swim. After a day of thrill rides and adventure, the laid-back vibes of this oceanfront city will have you relaxed in no time.
Daytona Beach – Located an hour from Orlando, Daytona Beach welcomes you with rolling tides, swaying palm trees and sun-kissed sands. From the neon-lit boardwalk and pier to the unique events that roll through town, Daytona Beach is hours of fun in the sun. Soak up the sunshine from the sand or explore the array shops and restaurants just steps away.
Canaveral National Seashore – Discover a natural beach setting, perfect for the entire family, at Canaveral National Seashore. Whether looking to catch a wave or tan in peace, this national park and beach is the ideal destination for a secluded spring break. Canaveral National Seashore welcomes guests to experience the natural beauty of The Sunshine State.
Competition of Culture and Art
From educational to entertaining, museums are a hub of information, art and culture that fit perfectly into any vacation. A trip to a museum offers a refreshing break between theme park adventures or trips to the beach. From hobbies to dessert-focused exhibits, the offerings go beyond your average museum expectations.
The Broad – With interactive exhibits and colorful, oversized art pieces, The Broad is the perfect way to introduce your kids and teens to the wonders of modern art. Take in the artistic styles as a family and enter an all-white building, home to galleries featuring famous names such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. Be sure to plan ahead and get free tickets to the uniquely memorable exhibit, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum – Walk through time and discover the ancient giants that traversed through Southern California 50,000 years ago. From creatures lost in time to the immersive 3D theater, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum brings education and entertainment to one easy-to-access location.
Happy Place – By no means a traditional museum experience, Happy Place is an exhibition brimming with joy. Bored teens on their phones will be enthralled by unique exhibitions that scream Instagram-friendly. Book your tickets ahead of time and find your happy place.
Orlando Science Center – Learn and discover in the Orlando Science Center, home to an array of exhibits built to inspire curiosity and exploration in guests of all ages. From digital presentations to the prehistoric displays of dinosaurs, the Orlando Science Center blends education and entertainment together.
Randall R. Tuten Orlando Fire Museum – Located within a former fire station, The Randall R. Tuten Orlando Fire Museum chronicles the long history of firefighters. Home to several artifacts ranging back to 1883, the museum provides an educational tour of how firefighters started and how they currently combat fires in the city of Orlando.
Chocolate Kingdom – If your family has a sweet tooth, Chocolate Kingdom is the perfect place to learn about the classic confection. Walk along a guided tour that shows the process of how chocolate transforms from bean to bar. Afterwards, a shop filled with sweets and deliciously creamy chocolate bars await you.
Skirmish of the Local Scenes
Taking in the atmosphere and ambiance of a new city is a quintessential part of any vacation. After a fun-filled day, the last thing you want to do is randomly Google places to eat, only to be disappointed by your options. Get to know the areas surrounding the cities you plan to visit. Whether looking for a destination filled with famous sights or a hidden hot spot in town, the local scenes of Los Angeles and Orlando offer various things to do and places to dine.
Downtown LA – From street food to Cirque Du Soleil, Downtown Los Angeles hosts a plethora of uniquely popular attractions and adventures. Immerse yourself in the scenic skyline, dine in the variety of restaurants, and shop the various boutiques and stores in the area. Also near the downtown area are the educational and entertaining exhibits of the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Hollywood – The capital of entertainment, Hollywood is an exhibition of glitz and glamor. A must-see for first-time visitors and returning travelers, this part of town is brimming with things to do. Hike up to the Griffith Observatory and snap a photo with the Hollywood sign, or walk Hollywood Boulevard, home to unique stores, the famous TCL’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Santa Monica – Just a short drive from LA, Santa Monica embodies the vibes of a modern beach lifestyle. Visit Pacific Park, located on the Santa Monica Pier and enjoy the array of carnival games and rides with a scenic ocean-side backdrop. From the pier along Ocean Avenue to Palisades Park, take in every minute of your vacation from this family-friendly beach town.
Thorton Park District – Exuding the definition of Boho-chic, Thorton Park District hosts a plethora of local events and lively dining destinations. From brunch spots and burger bars to outdoor murals and happy hours, it’s the perfect hot spot for vacations with your grown-up kids.
International Drive – Located near a variety of theme parks, International Drive is home to plenty of family-friendly fun. From themed dinner shows to indoor go-karting, I-drive is the perfect destination to spend the day or an evening with the entire family. Ensure you visit all the destinations your family desires with the convenient and cost-effective I-RIDE Trolley.
Milk District – Located near Orlando’s Main Street, the Milk District is home to live music, art and culinary adventures. After days at theme parks or beaches, slow down and enjoy a filling brunch in one of the many restaurants, catch a concert in a venue with your teens, hit the bowling alley or stop by a local coffee shop.
Ready to pack your bags? See more of Los Angeles, Orange County and Orlando while spending less this spring break when you book your airfare, accommodations and rental car through Vacations by Marriott.