Spring break guide: Destinations, deals, tips

WASHINGTON Spring break is right around the corner, and if your calendar is still clear, it’s time to plan the week.

Whether you’re looking to fly the family off to warmer weather, or prefer to stick close to home, two experts share their favorite destinations and insider tips for spring break travel:

In this Jan. 20, 2016 photo, various shops line the street in Carytown a quaint neighborhood a few miles west of downtown Richmond, Va. Restaurants offer a range of ethnic cuisine and clothing stores range from formalwear to second-hand shops.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Mini-trips: Richmond If you can’t spare a full week off from work, or want to avoid crowded airports, travel and parenting blogger Guiomar Ochoa said there are several great spring break options close to home — starting with the Commonwealth’s capital city. Just a few hours south of D.C. is Richmond, a historic city filled with great food, drink and family fun. Ochoa highly recommends visiting The Science Museum of Virginia, where little ones can interact with exhibits that cover everything from pollination to travel technology. About a mile away from the museum is Carytown, a charming strip filled with local restaurants, boutiques and businesses. Maymont is another great spot to spend time outdoors — either in the park’s gardens or at the children’s farm. A surprisingly family-friendly activity is Richmond’s Beer Trail. Ochoa said many of the breweries have great food and games for children. If you’re still hungry, she recommends checking out The Fancy Biscuit for breakfast and Charm School Social Club for an afternoon scoop of ice cream. Hotel tip: Ochoa said The Graduate, near the VCU campus, has “family rooms,” equipped with a king bed for parents and bunk beds for the kids. (AP/Steve Helber) (AP/Steve Helber)
The tops to the PPG Tower spires, left, and the Fifth Avenue Place rise above the Andy Warhol Bridge in the Pittsburgh skyline, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Mini-trips: Pittsburgh There’s a reason why Visit Pittsburgh dubbed the city KidsBURGH. Ochoa said this western Pennsylvania city offers a number of activities for children. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh pays homage to the city’s PBS heroes, including Mr. Rodgers and Daniel Tiger, and Just Ducky Tours gives visitors a view of the city by land and water. The Pittsburgh Zoo provides natural habitat settings for its animals and also houses an aquarium — making it a two-for-one kind of activity. Less than four hours from D.C., this destination is perfect for a long weekend getaway. Hotel tip: Ochoa recommends the Homewood Suites in downtown Pittsburgh for families. The rooms have kitchens and there is coin-laundry — a true amenity when traveling with children. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) (AP/Keith Srakocic)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Flowers are placed on a table in the main lobby to The Greenbrier resort and spa Tuesday, July 31, 2007, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. As part of a $50 million renovation aimed at attracting the next generation of luxury traveler and a more sophisticated diner, The Greenbrier has gone modern. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)
Mini-trips: The Greenbrier Checking into a resort takes the pressure off planning if you don’t have the time or desire to research spring break travel and activities. About three and a half hours outside of D.C. is The Greenbrier, a historic mountain resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. With on-site activities such as swimming, bowling, horseback riding and ziplining, Ochoa said it’s a great destination for kids. There’s even an adventure center where parents can drop kids off with trained staff while they golf, dine or relax in the spa. “They have carriage rides, and in the winter, they have sleigh rides. They have ice skating, they have a beautiful playground — and if you need a little bit of alone time, they have great babysitters that you can book,” Ochoa said. “It’s kind of like a one-stop place; you don’t have to think about anything.” (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jeff Gentner)  (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jeff Gentner)
This undated photo shows a "NOLA 300" sculpture in Washington Artillery Park in New Orleans. The 7-foot-tall structure is one of several on display around the city in honor of New Orleans' tricentennial, which is being celebrated throughout 2018. (Paul Broussard/New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation via AP)
Popular destinations: New Orleans The Big Easy is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, and Travel Channel’s Oneika Raymond said there’s never been a better time to visit — even with the kids. “It’s not only a party town or party city. There is a lot of history, there is excellent food, and there are a number of activities that are family friendly,” said Raymond, a Travel Channel digital contributor and host of One Bag and You’re Out and Big City, Little Budget. See the sites of New Orleans via a Segway tour, or test out the famous cuisine on a food tour. “You can’t leave without having a beignet or po’boy, and these food tours give you a lot of opportunities to sample all of the local fare,” Raymond said.  (Paul Broussard/New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation via AP) (AP/Paul Broussard)
This Jan. 4, 2018 photo shows a view from the deck of the Seabourn Sojourn cruise ship in the port of Miami. A panel of cruise experts from CruiseCritic.com, the Miami Herald and the Cruise Lines International Association gathered on the Sojourn in a forum moderated by The Associated Press to discuss issues and trends in the cruise industry with a live audience of cruise passengers. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
Popular destinations: Hit the seas There’s a resurgence in family cruise travel as ships add activities for travelers of all ages and interests, Raymond said. Plus, you can’t beat the view. “It’s really easy to fly to a port city in the U.S., like Houston or Miami, and then hop on the boat and have a fantastic time. It’s the most perfect way to escape the winter doldrums,” she added. (AP/Beth J. Harpaz) (AP/Beth J. Harpaz)
Emme Germanos, 2, at right, reaches for the start button while her four-year-old sister Arielle watches the puppett characters from the Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood display at the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2001. Fred Rogers, the 71-year-old host of PBS' "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" taped his last new show in Pittsburgh Dec. 1, but his staff insists that he is not retiring. That show will air on PBS in August this year, and his nearly 1,000 episodesin 33 seasons will continue to air in repeats for years to come. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Tips for traveling with kids You may have heard parents refer to family travel as a “trip,” not a “vacation” — and there’s a reason for that. Long drives, layovers and unfamiliar surroundings can do a number on little ones. Raymond’s best piece of advice for parents traveling with kids is to stay flexible. “Give yourself time. I think when we travel as adults, we’re very set on our itineraries and we have a very strict timeline, and as soon as you have a group trip — and especially a group trip that involves children — you have to let those time constraints go,” she said.   If the days are packed with tiring activities, let the kids sleep in. And when you’re booking dinner reservations or guided tours, build in some extra time. It might take longer than you think to get from Point A to Point B. “You want to ensure that your children are feeling well-rested and less irritable. You will be so much better for it and you will have a way better time,” Raymond added. (ASSOCIATED PRESS/KEITH SRAKOCIC)  (ASSOCIATED PRESS/KEITH SRAKOCIC)
In this photograph taken Dec. 6, 2016, Temple I, also known as Temple of the Great Jaguar, is seen during a sunny day in northern Guatemala's Tikal National Park. The sprawling park in northern Guatemala is one of the country's top travel attractions, showcasing the Mayan civilization's engineering feats. (AP Photo/Manuel Valdes)
Budget travel If you’re hoping to save a few bucks on your spring break travel, Raymond said the best thing you can do is be flexible. For spring break travel, parents don’t have much flexibility with dates — “so I would implore you then to be really flexible with where you are going,” Raymond said. Guatemala is one emerging destination that’s great for budget travel. Raymond said in many ways, it’s comparable to Mexico. “Central America is really wonderful in terms of the history and the culture and the food, and Guatemala has all of those things ruins and an amazing history and exceptional cuisine. But, it’s a little bit cheaper and easier on the wallet.” (AP/MANUEL VALDES)  (AP/MANUEL VALDES)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25:  A Southwest Airlines jet leaves Midway Airport on January 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.  Southwest Airlines said that fourth-quarter profit jumped to $1.89 billion as the recent changes in the tax law reduced the company's deferred tax liability. The changes are also expected to boost 2018 earnings.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
When should you book? “Now” is Raymond’s answer. “Time is on your side. Make sure that you at least book airfare or transportation to wherever it is that you would like to go,” she said. “The reason I say this is because spring break is spring break. You don’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of the dates, nor do many other people, and so it will be a very busy time. It is high demand in terms of travel.” Raymond recommends websites such as airfarewatchdog.com and secretflying.com for scoping out the best deals and destinations before you click and commit.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) ((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images))
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In this Jan. 20, 2016 photo, various shops line the street in Carytown a quaint neighborhood a few miles west of downtown Richmond, Va. Restaurants offer a range of ethnic cuisine and clothing stores range from formalwear to second-hand shops.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
The tops to the PPG Tower spires, left, and the Fifth Avenue Place rise above the Andy Warhol Bridge in the Pittsburgh skyline, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **Flowers are placed on a table in the main lobby to The Greenbrier resort and spa Tuesday, July 31, 2007, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. As part of a $50 million renovation aimed at attracting the next generation of luxury traveler and a more sophisticated diner, The Greenbrier has gone modern. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)
This undated photo shows a "NOLA 300" sculpture in Washington Artillery Park in New Orleans. The 7-foot-tall structure is one of several on display around the city in honor of New Orleans' tricentennial, which is being celebrated throughout 2018. (Paul Broussard/New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation via AP)
This Jan. 4, 2018 photo shows a view from the deck of the Seabourn Sojourn cruise ship in the port of Miami. A panel of cruise experts from CruiseCritic.com, the Miami Herald and the Cruise Lines International Association gathered on the Sojourn in a forum moderated by The Associated Press to discuss issues and trends in the cruise industry with a live audience of cruise passengers. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
Emme Germanos, 2, at right, reaches for the start button while her four-year-old sister Arielle watches the puppett characters from the Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood display at the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2001. Fred Rogers, the 71-year-old host of PBS' "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" taped his last new show in Pittsburgh Dec. 1, but his staff insists that he is not retiring. That show will air on PBS in August this year, and his nearly 1,000 episodesin 33 seasons will continue to air in repeats for years to come. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this photograph taken Dec. 6, 2016, Temple I, also known as Temple of the Great Jaguar, is seen during a sunny day in northern Guatemala's Tikal National Park. The sprawling park in northern Guatemala is one of the country's top travel attractions, showcasing the Mayan civilization's engineering feats. (AP Photo/Manuel Valdes)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25:  A Southwest Airlines jet leaves Midway Airport on January 25, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.  Southwest Airlines said that fourth-quarter profit jumped to $1.89 billion as the recent changes in the tax law reduced the company's deferred tax liability. The changes are also expected to boost 2018 earnings.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


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