9 Last Minute Spring Break Vacation Ideas Around the South

East Beach at St. Simon’s Island

Spring Break is around the corner. You need a getaway for the kids and adults, and something that won’t break the bank.  We’ve rounded up nine Southern spots for Spring Break! You may have procrastinated on your vacation planning, but these selections still hold the promise of family fun.

Atlanta, GA – Never underestimate the fun in a stay-cation; relax in a downtown hotel, free from the stresses of home, and take in what Atlanta has to offer.  Consider a CityPass as an affordable way to see the sights you haven’t previously had time to share with the family. This 9-day pass will save you 43% off regular admission and allow you to skip most ticket lines, always a plus during Spring Break. See the Georgia Aquarium; World of Coca-Cola; Inside CNN Studio Tour; Zoo Atlanta or Center for Civil and Human Rights; and Fernbank Museum of Natural History or College Football Hall of Fame.

Beech Mountain, NC – Only a gas tank’s drive from Atlanta, this family-friendly ski town offers something for kids of all ages.  In addition to skiing, families can try the sledding hill, hike, toy around at the recreation center, or play in the snow. Stay at Pinnacle Inn and enjoy a heated pool or movies by the fire. Beginning March 4, the Ski Resort provides weekend lift tickets at weekday rates. This town is within 30 minutes of Hawksnest, which has great tubing opportunities, and Sugar Mountain, another ski resort.

Escape from Atlanta: Beech Mountain, NC

Money Saving Ski Vacation Tips for Atlanta Families

Pine Mountain, GA – Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA is an oasis of fun for a family, and it is not too far from home.  You can stay in the newly refurbished rooms at Mountain Creek Inn, or enjoy a more “home” like feel at the Southern Pine Cottages, which include kitchens, fireplaces and screened porches. The family can take a bike ride, tour the butterfly center, take in an animal show, zip through the trees, go fishing, and the list goes on! Right down the road is the Wild Animal Safari that is fun for all ages.  If you’re making an extended stay then consider a day trip from Callaway to Macon, GA to visit the Air and Space Museum.

Chattanooga, TN – Chattanooga is rich with kid-friendly attractions and adventure.  Downtown Chattanooga is a beautiful city with the Creative Discovery Museum for kids, the Tennessee Aquarium, and the Chattanooga Zoo (which is very affordable).  The Chattanooga Nature Center boasts a tree house and live animal encounters. Visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo and take a trolley ride, or visit the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and venture out on an hour-long train ride. Add Rock City, the Towing Museum, a Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Riverboat to fill a full week with exploring.

Itinerary: 3-Day family trip from Chattanooga to Atlanta

Weekend Escape from Atlanta: Chattanooga, TN

Golden Isles, GA –Activities for children young and old abound in this beachy southern town.  At St Simon’s Island you can watch the dolphins play at the pier, get ice cream in the village, take a Trolley Tour, climb the lighthouse or fly a kite on East Beach.  At Jekyll you can visit turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center or the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center, take a history tour, ride bikes along the paths around the island, or play at the beautiful Driftwood Beach.  Brunswick offers kayaking and hiking, and the opportunity to taste the original Brunswick Stew.

Great Wolf Lodge (Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, and 8 other locations) -A waterpark draw for the entire family that is accessible all year. For toddlers, or “wolf pups” as they are dubbed here, there are interactive story-times, activities and crafts at Cub Club, and special water slides just for the “48 inch and under” crowd. The whole family can enjoy family-friendly bowling alleys, mini-golf, arcades, and even a kids’ spa. Wolf-ear adorned and howling, munchkins and their families delight in the lodges interactive game MagiQuest™. Families embark on journeys throughout the property, up and down stairs, as they seek the answer to riddles and find items along your quest. We were shocked at how quiet the halls were in the morning, and conjecture that MajiQuest™ was a possible reason!

Merrit Island, FL – 140,000 acres of National Wildlife Preserve await you to explore Florida in it’s natural state. Check out the visitor’s center and boardwalk; hop in the car for a tour around Black Point Wildlife Drive, a seven-mile loop road that you may catch a glimpse of some of the over 500 species of animals that call it home. Don’t miss the chance to view manatees, in the wild, at the Haulover Canal. From the Canaveral National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on Florida’s East Coast, you can spy something else that calls Merritt Island home – NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Check NASA’s website for schedule of rocket launches. There is an Atlas rocket launch scheduled for March 12, 2015 at 10:44pm EST. Night launches are a unique experience. If you can’t see a rocket launch, you can check out all the adventure through tours, IMAX, and other hands-on options at Kennedy Space Center. Stay in neighboring Titusville for a low-key launching pad to all the activities, or spice up the adventure with a stay ocean-side in Cocoa Beach at the Ron Jon Resort.

Memphis, TN – Memphis is an adult Mecca of food and music, but did you know there is a great deal of fun for kids, too? Visit Graceland, the best city zoo, per Trip Advisor, and the Pink Palace Museum.  Enjoy the hands-on learning at the Children’s Museum of Memphis, drive a truck at the Memphis Fire Museum, riding the Trolley along the River, and tour the Gibson Guitar Factory. There is so much to do, but don’t leave without sampling the BBQ and visiting the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.

Outer Banks, NC – This laid-back beach city is perfect for basking in the sun and enjoying some seafood.  If you need a break from playing in the sand or watching the wild mustangs on the beach, you can climb the lighthouse, or go off-roading on the sand.  Visit the Wright Brothers Memorial or Roanoke Island where settlers landed 30 years prior to the Pilgrims. Schedule your arrival during daylight hours so your kiddos can enjoy crossing to the island in the ferry!

Article written in collaboration between Lori McMillen Brown and Lesli Peterson, and originally appeared on Expedition Mom on February 18, 2013. Updated March 10, 2014.

About Lesli Peterson
Lesli Peterson is owner of 365AtlantaFamily.com, believing every day is an adventure. You will rarely find her at home. She is always on the go with her husband and their four kids – down the road, across the country, or around the globe.