How to Have a Big City Spring Break Vacation for the Whole Family


Spring break is a great time for families to recharge with a vacation getaway. But traditional spring break destinations tend to be crowded and expensive. Instead of flocking to the beach or the theme parks with everyone else, consider a big city vacation instead.

Tips to plan a budget-friendly big city vacation

Spring Break Family Vacations

Select a city within driving distance

Driving, despite the recent gas price hikes, is cheaper than flying. When considering a big city vacation, choose a city within a day’s drive to keep costs down.

Choose a city with a convention center

Big cities with convention centers have a large hotel inventory. More available hotel rooms means the hotels compete for guests, keeping prices down. (The one exception is if a major convention is in town.)

Check the CVB site for discount tickets and packages

The goal of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVB) is to bring guests to town. Most offer vacation discount coupons, hotel and attraction bundles for special interests, or “city passes” to be used citywide. Some offers must be bought in advance (or are cheaper when purchased online).

Use Groupon, Living Social or for more savings

Online discounters like Groupon provide lodging, dining and activity discounts. Sign up for Groupon or Living Social for the specific region to receive moneysaving offers.

3 Budget-Friendly Big City Destinations

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville offers a great variety of hotel options, activities and entertainment (not just country music), and fabulous food. Hotel options in Nashville include everything from budget chains, to Opryland, to The Hermitage, a one of a kind, five star hotel in the heart of the city.

Family activities include great open park space, a fabulous riverfront, the Adventure Science Center and the Parthenon, a full-size replica of the original Parthenon in Greece. The city offers a “Music City Total Access Pass” which offers visitors discounts on attractions throughout the city.

A trip to Nashville, with or without country music, offers a great vacation in the heart of Tennessee.

Columbus, Ohio

More than 60% of the US population and over 50% of the Canadian population live within 600 miles of Columbus, Ohio, making it a great road trip destination. Columbus, Ohio’s distinct neighborhoods offer unique shopping and dining experiences.

Family activities in Columbus are both plentiful and affordable. Some “must see” destinations include the Columbus Zoo, COSI (the Center of Science and Industry) and The Topiary Park. The city is also home to a professional hockey team, minor league baseball team, and college athletics. The city offers something for everyone in the family.

Tampa, Florida

Tampa may be overshadowed by other Florida cities, but it’s a great city for a budget-friendly family vacation. Tampa has invested heavily in tourism in recent years. Most hotels in the city offer free shuttle service throughout downtown, saving guests gas and parking fees.

The city’s aquarium, history museum, and arts museums and theaters offer something for every interest. The city’s beach and parks provide outdoor recreation space. The manatee viewing area, which is free and open through April, allows guests to get close to the beloved sea creature. The city hosts the New York Yankees during spring training, including preseason games throughout March.

When considering spring break plans, consider a big city vacation instead of traditional spring break destinations. Keep costs down by traveling closer to home and using online discount resources. Reconnect with the kids without breaking the bank.