Spring-Break Vacations for Retirees: Bring the Grandkids

January 26, 2016 — 2:00 PM EST

The words “spring break” may conjure images of college students partying away their days and nights at the shore (remember?), but a spring holiday is a good idea at any age. It's an excellent time to shake off the winter doldrums, grab a dose of Vitamin D and enjoy some family time. Summer gatherings can be hard to coordinate given all those summer-camp schedules. A multigenerational holiday in the spring is easier, as most school-age children will be out of their classrooms for a week to 10 days, typically sometime between mid-March to mid-April, depending on their school district.

If you are thinking of taking a trip with grandchildren, you are in good company. The 2014 Portrait of American Travels study conducted by MMGY Global in 2014 found that 26% of grandparents took at least one vacation with a younger family member, up from 21% in 2013. It also found that 23% of grandparents traveled for leisure with one of their grandchildren. Whether you are planning on traveling with just the grandchildren or with their parents, too, here are seven spring-break destinations far from the rowdy college crowds.

Washington, D.C.

OK, you might run into crowds here, but they are more likely to be clutching maps of the Capitol than Coronas. Washington, D.C., has a plethora of things to do that appeal to a wide age range, from historical monuments to the Smithsonian Institution, which includes 19 museums and galleries, including the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of American History, plus the National Zoo. Be warned that hotels near the National Mall destinations may be pricey, so check for senior discounts. And just think of the money you’ll save on entertainment – there are more than 100 free attractions in the city, including the ones mentioned above.

Beaches Turks & Caicos 

You’ll have to fly there, but it might be worth the price of the plane tickets. This extremely family-friendly resort (its mascots are all characters from “Sesame Street”) contains a 45,000 square-foot water park, 12 miles of beaches, 20 restaurants and six swimming pools, plus two more especially made for the kiddies. If you take the grandkids solo, don’t despair if you find yourself in need of help. There are nannies for hire and nurses on call night and day. 

San Diego, Calif.

Want the sunny California sun? Skip the lines at Universal Studios in Los Angles and consider a trip to San Diego. Book a room at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa, a private 44-acre island in Mission Bay, and you can spend some days exploring downtown San Diego and others lounging by one of five swimming pools. Private water taxis will ferry guests to and from the mainland to SeaWorld. There are plenty of onsite amenities, including a mile-long beach, a surf school for kids and a golf course. This spring, according to its website, Paradise Point is offering a special rate for families. Book soon and save up to 30% off on the family-friendly, 650 square foot Bayside Bungalow rooms located on the ground floor, which can be helpful for older seniors and toddlers.

Copper Mountain, Colo.

Many seniors still enjoy skiing, and spring break is a great time to get your grandchildren onto the slopes. Copper Mountain is a self-contained ski village where even the youngest kids can have fun. There is an interactive play space called Critterland for ages six and under, plus ski lessons for all ages, if you aren’t up to the challenge of teaching them yourself. Retire to your one-, two- or three-bedroom apartment-style condominium, townhome, or upscale private home in one of the three “villages” at the resort after you’ve enjoyed the nightly s’mores by the fire pit.

Smugglers Notch Resort, Vt.     

Stay in a family-friendly condominium and enjoy activities beyond the slopes. Smugglers Notch Resort has an indoor pool, a family fun zone complete with miniature golf, ping pong tables, obstacle course and giant slides, plus ice skating and winter walking paths. All that activity can work up an appetite, so choose from nine onsite dining options. Seniors get a discount on lift tickets, and kids age five and under ski free.

Savannah, Ga. 

Spring break in Savannah is a good choice for those with older grandkids. There are countless things to do, including exploring the city’s 24 famous squares, taking a riverboat cruise, and dining at the Pirate’s House, a historic restaurant rumored to have swashbuckling ghosts. A rental car will come in handy if you want to explore those barrier islands reachable by causeways (others are only accessible by boat). Visitors should also take the city’s trolley tours. Use your senior discount at many of the hotels, both chain and boutique, in the historic district.

Disney World, Orlando, Fla.

Spring break at Disney can be a mob scene, but the Walt Disney Company wants your business, so it is offering incentives for spring breakers. If you book your room by Feb. 28, you can save up to 25% on Disney-owned resorts from March 15 through June 11, 2016. If this is your first trip, make sure to pick up a copy of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2016” before you go. (For more, see How to Save Money on Your Disney Vacation.)

The Bottom Line

Spring break is just a couple of short months away, so get your plans into shape. If you are a member of AARP check its travel site, because you may be eligible for discounts on lodging, car rentals and tickets to theme parks. AAA offers similar incentives to its members. Don’t forget to take note of the age restrictions and limits listed on hotel websites, theme parks and ski resorts when calculating prices. Sometimes age 50 is a senior; sometimes it’s 70. And “children stay/eat/play/free” can mean nearly any age. Check the fine print before you make a purchase. (For more, see Top Resorts for Multigenerational Vacations.)