Spring has sprung and before you know it, summer will be just around the corner. High schoolers are prepping for their AP Exams and finals, college students are about to come home and hopefully land their big internships, and our younger ones are all getting excited for camp or an entire summer spent at home driving mom and dad crazy.
Most people often think of the holiday season as the biggest “family time” (and it can be, considering it’s usually the only time you’ll see Cousin Jimmy who lives on the other side of the country). But right now is probably the best time to grab your whole gang and get in the car (or hop on a plane) for a long weekend adventure. You'll beat the crowds - and the prices - plus there are plenty of short-term get-aways to be had just before the craze of summer sets in and everyone’s out from school.
Get your whole gang together to hit one of these great family vacation spots just before everyone else starts going. Maybe you'll plan to ring in Mother’s Day on May 12th, Memorial Day on the 27th or Father’s Day on June 14th. No matter what early-summer weekend you choose, be sure to pack your bags (just don't forget your toiletries!) and check out these 6 great destinations up and down the East Coast of the US for sunshine, sand or a little spring fever.
The Vanderbilt family used to call them “summer cottages” but in reality, these gigantic mansions would be a great place to take the fam. Teenagers will probably enjoy touring around some of these lavish homes and it can also double as a college trip. Post-adventuring around the Gatsby-esque grandeur, why not bring the family for a stroll along the Cliff Walk? It's a great 3.5-mile paved walkway that sits on Newport's shoreline (and if you find dog-friendly accommodation, your fluffy friend will love it too) .
Micky and Minnie Mouse claim this Floridian city as their home, and really, is there ever a bad time to visit Disney World? It's the perfect place for children of all ages. Even Dad who still loves roller-coasters a little too much. You can visit Universal Studios and check out what the latest happenings are at Harry Potter world. It's a classic family vacation spot for a reason. Sometimes classics never go out of style.
As things are warming up for us, they also are up north. Real north. You could always drive across the border head for Montreal or Toronto. If you’re looking to do something a little different and maybe crave the taste of French food but don’t have the budget or the time to get to France, why not head up to Montreal for a few days of hiking, exploring and feasting with the whole fam? Get yourselves a family-sized bowl of poutine. The kids will love the gravy.
Or, if you haven't ticked Niagra Falls off the bucket list yet, checking it out from the Toronto side will add to the sense of adventure.
Your kids can rent a few bikes, make some rope bracelets and try a pop-over or two. In Maine, the sea-food is almost fresher than the air, the natural landscapes are amazing and Acadia National Park will offer plenty for the family to do. You can schedule a few animal spotting tours, as whales, seals, and puffins are often common creatures to spot in this northerly state.
While it may not be the cheapest option on this list, it certainly offers the most to do, no matter what your family is in-to. Art lovers, sports fanatics and comedy geeks can spend way more than a weekend around the Big Apple. The best and newest thing in town that’s family friendly is also along the waterfront: bring your kids to check out the new Vessel sculpture over in Hudson Yards (it's free!). Afterward, take a walk down the Highline abandoned train rail turned elevated nature park and go grab a pizza downtown. Your kids will be so tired from all the walking around that you're all bound to get a good night's sleep.
It's more budget-friendly than it's easterly neighbor (although if you're based East of NYC you can visit any of Long Island's Hampton alternatives like Montauk or Greenpoint on the North Fork). The Jersey Shore has many seaside towns that will allow you to get a little sun and surf if the weather's warm enough. And if not, it's still nice to stroll the boardwalk.
So what are you waiting for? It's time to get planning! Happy Travels!