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Day trips, staycations, all-inclusive fun: Ideas for a family spring break

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 12: Visitors look at the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel from Wilmington, DE, where it is docked in the Inner Harbor as part of the Star Spangled Spectacular September 12, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States' national anthem, Baltimore's Inner Harbor is hosting tall ships, fireworks displays, concerts, historic tours and other events. The anthem's lyrics come from 'Defence of Fort M'Henry,' a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key after he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships during the War of 1812. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — If this brief stint of springlike weather has you yearning for patio dining, evening walks and warm weekend escapes, you’re not alone.

True, it won’t be long before chilly temps return — an unwelcome reminder that it is still winter, and will be for several weeks — but you don’t need to wait for spring to start planning your spring break.

From action-packed day trips to all-inclusive packages, family and travel writer Guiomar Ochoa has a few suggestions to help you get a jump-start on spring travel.

Staycation

If a whole week of vacation is too expensive for your budget or too impossible for your work schedule, Ochoa said even one night away can do wonders — and you don’t need to venture very far.

For those in the D.C. area, Ochoa recommends booking a hotel downtown for a change of scenery. Spend a day at the museums or an evening out eating. And consider access to an indoor pool if you have little ones. This time of year, especially, the water provides hours of entertainment.

“Just get away from your normal environment,” Ochoa said.

All-inclusive family fun

For a longer escape with an emphasis on all-inclusive activities and family bonding, Ochoa recommends the lakefront resort Woodloch Pines in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains.

The nightly rate includes lodging, food and an endless list of entertainment options — snow tubing kayaking, rock climbing, cooking competitions and more.

“The whole family participates, from little kids to teenagers,” Ochoa said.

“And I have to say, the food is fantastic.”

Because the drive takes about five hours from the D.C. area, Ochoa recommends staying at least two nights. When the weather is warmer, water sports are a focus at the resort. There’s also a spa, a golf course and games targeted toward teens.

“You really have this family vibe,” Ochoa said.

 

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Destination Delaware

About two hours north from D.C. is Wilmington, Delaware, which Ochoa said is a great option for those looking for one or two nights away. The city has a river walk lined with shops and restaurants — plus, there’s a children’s museum, a history museum and a replica of the Dutch-built Kalmar Nyckel ship, all within a few blocks.

This photo shows one of a series of birdhouses on the Riverwalk along the Christina River in Wilmington, Del. The birdhouses were created by artist Thomas Burke, who drew inspiration from houses depicted in paintings by the late Andrew Wyeth. The Riverwalk also offers a meandering stroll with benches, rail reeds, water views and signs about various aspects of local history. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)

Wilmington’s biggest attractions, however, are the DuPont mansions. Touring estates and gardens may not sound like a fun time for kids, but Ochoa said these destinations cater to children. Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library has family programs for visitors of all ages, plus an “Enchanted Woods” fairy-inspired garden, where kids are free to run and explore.

“It has all these underground passages that kids can play in,” Ochoa said.

Longwood Gardens is another safe bet for kid-friendly tours and K-12 programming. And not far from downtown Wilmington are the wineries of Brandywine Valley — perfect for an afternoon of picnicking and relaxing.

 

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Day trip to Baltimore

There’s a reason our neighbor to the north is known as “Charm City” — and all of that charm is just a short drive, or train ride, away.

The start of spring means the beginning of baseball, and a trip to Camden Yards is always a good time. Fells Point is a go-to neighborhood for shopping and dining, and tours of Fort McHenry will please history lovers.

This June 7, 2014 file photo shows a street in Fells Point, a historic neighborhood of Baltimore. The neighborhood dates to the 18th century and some of its tiny brick homes are on the National Register of Historic Places. The tidy, quiet, narrow streetscapes are just a few blocks away from the busy waterfront, crowded with tourists, pubs and souvenir shops. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

“Obviously the aquarium is a big hit in Baltimore,” Ochoa said — but so are a few other museums.

The B&O Railroad Museum showcases an impressive railroad collection, plus there’s a kid zone and train carousel. And Ochoa said don’t forget about the American Visionary Art Museum, even for little ones.

“They have little scavenger hunts that they can do; it’s a really beautiful museum, and kids will actually love it. This is not just an adult museum,” she said.

Those looking to stay more than one day can find luxurious rooms at The Pendry, which Condé Nast Traveler readers named the best hotel in the country. Ochoa said the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court is a great option for families looking in a more modest price range.

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