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10 Last Minute Spring Break Ideas

Posted on 3/23/2015 8:42 EST

It's probably too late to book a cheap flight to Cancun, but you don't have to travel to the Caribbean to have fun this spring. Here are a few budget-friendly ideas to help you make the most of spring break.

spring break activities
Photo by nito/shutterstock

Head to the Country.

If you live in an urban or suburban area, spend part of your break somewhere with a slower pace. Unlike last-minute spring break trips, staying on a farm or ranch is often an inexpensive option. What could be more fun for kids than farm animals and better for parents than a week away from chaos? Visit Farm Stay U.S. to find accommodations in your state.

Bring the Beach to You.

If you don't live near the beach, bring the sand to you. Use kinetic (or "magic") sand to build sand castles and sculptures. You can buy kinetic sand online for about $20, or make it yourself for less. If it's warm enough, set up a water slide in the backyard for your kids, activate the sprinkler, and let them enjoy a week of outdoor play. For food, channel the boardwalk by making hot dogs, candied apples, and grilled fish tacos. Enjoy it with a cold beer on your patio, or look up recipes for fruity cocktails for a tropical boost.

Try Something New.

Take a class at a discounted rate through Groupon or Living Social. Recent classes on Groupon include cooking, painting, photography, and even a coffee class at a local roaster. It all depends on what you feel like doing and what's available through the deal websites. Be sure to check the daily deals in the morning.

Expand Your Palate.

If you're tired of making the same meals, enjoy an intimate dinner party at a local chef's home. Startups on the scene include EatWith and EatFeastly, which offer unique menus depending on location and desired cuisine. Feastly is available in four major cities in the United States, while EatWith is in more than 150 cities worldwide. A seat at the chef's table ranges from $20 to $65, but you'll be getting a homemade dinner alongside new company and a spectacular cook. If you're open to having people over to make a feast at your place, plan a dinner through Chaos Cooking.

Go on a Road Trip.

Explore a new area without spending a fortune on airfare. Use Gasbuddy to find the cheapest place to fill your tank and take a ride to a nearby city or state. Check out some other free travel apps from our recent roundup to help you save even more. Hotel Tonight can help you find the least expensive last-minute accommodations.

Take a Hike.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, it's time to venture outdoors. Walk the trails at a nearby park, and add some adventure by sending your kids on a scavenger hunt. The National Wildlife Federation provides instructions and sample lists. If you're feeling really outdoorsy (and it's warm enough), campground fees are often lower this time of year and you're less likely to need an advance reservation. For nighttime entertainment, try one of the many mobile apps that help you locate stars and constellations in the night sky.

Go on a Field Trip.

Many museums have free admission days, which are usually during school and work hours. Take advantage of your family's time off and visit nearby museums and historical sites gratis. Look for half-price admission and other deals online.


Teach your kids what it means to give back to the community. Consider dividing your time among different organizations. One day you might spend time with senior citizens at the local nursing home, the next you might help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Visit Serve.gov to find where you can make a difference in your community. DoSomething.org can inspire your kids to contribute to nationwide campaigns, or even plan a campaign for when they're back at school.

Hold a Film Festival.

Add some depth to your screen time by watching great movies organized around a theme. Learn all about Hitchcock or spaghetti westerns, silent films or horror movies. Pick a director, a time period, a country, an actor, or a genre and see all the great works. There are plenty of "best of" lists to consult online. For contemporary films, use the website FestivalAtHome to pick the best movies from recent film festivals around the world.

Smile for Family Photos.

Take advantage of your downtime and schedule that family photo shoot you've been putting off. Spring means blooming flowers and blue skies, a nice backdrop for a photo shoot in your backyard or local park.

by Olivia Lin

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