When it comes to beating the winter blues and getting some extra sunshine, nothing beats midwinter and spring break family vacations. Not only do they give you and your kids the chance to take advantage of time away from school and work, but fantastic travel options abound south of the border.
For one-of-a-kind hospitality, natural landscapes, and abundant wildlife-viewing opportunities, look no further than these incredible destinations.
1. Mexico: Whale Watching in Baja
Few places in the world offer a greater abundance of marine wildlife than Baja, Mexico. From California sea lions to brown pelicans, dolphins, orcas, and gray whales, you and your kids will be enthralled by the parade of sea life just beneath the surface of these Pacific waters. The Sea of Cortez also offers refuge to more than 900 species of fish and five of the seven endangered species of sea turtles left in the world.
What’s more, there’s no better time for whale watching in Magdalena Bay and Laguna San Ignacio than February and March. Each year, gray whales migrate more than 10,000 miles between the Arctic, their summer feeding grounds, and the coastal lagoons of the southern Baja peninsula. Laguna San Ignacio is one of three areas off the southwest coast of Baja where they winter. They also use these shallow, protected, warm waters as calving nurseries.
California gray whales predominate here. These gentle giants often provide breathtaking up-close encounters that will teach your children more about the importance of conservation in five minutes than many hours spent in a classroom.
2. Costa Rica: From Sarapiqui to La Fortuna
See firsthand what the “pura vida” lifestyle’s all about during a midwinter or spring break family vacation to Costa Rica. From delicious, fresh cuisine to the sunny optimism of locals, you’ll find plenty to fall in love with while touring this stunning Central American gem.
Since multigenerational travel is the norm here, your family will appreciate the plentiful kid-friendly amenities and many warm welcomes along the way, too.
Costa Rica delivers big when it comes to families who prize adventure, nature, and culturally enriching experiences.
The nation’s dry season occurs from December through April, which means optimal weather conditions for family travelers and pleasant 70-degree temperatures. The fantastic weather encourages a variety of outdoor activities from whitewater rafting in Sarapiqui to ziplining in La Foruna’s nearby Arenal Volcano National Park. Besides ziplining, enjoy picturesque views of La Fortuna Waterfall with its natural pool. Because of the area’s volcanic activity, natural hot springs dot the foot of the mountain and include the thermal Tabacón River.
In Manuel Antonio National Park, located along the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, enjoy a true jungle paradise. From stunning beaches to lush jungle hiking trails, your family will find plenty of outdoor activities in “one of the most beautiful parks in the world” according to Forbes magazine. Although the smallest park in the nation, it proves abundant in wildlife. So, keep your eyes open for iguanas, sloths, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, and more.
3. Brazil: The Amazon Rainforest
When it comes to the best Midwinter Break and the best Spring Break destinations for families, the Amazon rainforest ranks at the top of our list for many different reasons.
The rainforest ecosystem teems with life. It contains thousands of tree species and upwards of 50,000 other types of plants. Each tree supports hundreds of species from mosses, orchids, and bromeliads to birds, monkeys, and sloths. What’s the best way to see it? A family-friendly Amazon river cruise.
A river cruise is perfect for families seeking an immersive, safe, one-of-a-kind adventure that’s also surprisingly affordable. It offers an opportunity to unplug and reconnect as a family, and you’ll enjoy plenty of activities (e.g. swimming, fishing, paddle boarding, hiking, etc). Yet, the river’s leisurely pace also invites relaxation, as do the stunning river beaches along the way.
As its name suggests, the rainforest receives plenty of precipitation year-round. The wet season spans from January through April in most places. That makes midwinter through spring an excellent time to visit. River levels are getting higher, making accessibility to and navigation of the rivers easier. At the same time, there are still beaches uncovered and you and your family might get a chance to release baby turtles as part of our conservation efforts in the area, Showers are brief and powerful, and you’ll also enjoy cooler temperatures and plenty of chances to observe wildlife.
4. Argentina: Lake District & Perito Moreno
From the cosmopolitan flair of Buenos Aires to the sublime beauty of southern Patagonia, there’s something for visitors of all ages in Argentina. Although Argentina remains synonymous with tango and asado (Argentine barbecue), the country’s natural scenery is also diverse and breathtaking. From vast green plains to glaciers and alpine lakes, you’ve got many awe-inspiring choices on a trip to Argentina.
What’s more, there’s no better time of year to visit Argentina than mid-winter or spring. Temperatures are still somewhat warm and you can enjoy the end of season discounts in March and April. This means greater access to the country’s natural wonders, from the shores of Lago Argentino (Argentina’s largest lake) to the alpine vistas of Bariloche, which transition from winter skiing hotspots to wildflower-laden slopes.
Visit a local estancia, colonial style working ranch, where you’ll learn about gaucho (Argentine cowboy) culture and enjoy expansive views of “La Pampa” from horseback. Explore El Calafate in the Patagonian steppe to see the world-renowned Perito Moreno Glacier. Sail Mayo Channel before disembarking at Toro Bay to hike through the Patagonian forest.
Enjoy plenty of nature and adventure in Bariloche, where you can hike, zipline or go white water rafting, but also visit the land of a Native American Mapuche community to share breakfast and learn about their unique culture and traditions; a truly immersive and personal experience.
5. Chile: Torres Del Paine, Patagonia
In Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chilean Patagonia, you’ll visit some of the most pristine wilderness settings in the world and come face-to-face with sublime landscapes that will make you feel both awestruck and insignificant. From snow-clad granite peaks to turquoise lakes, lush forests to massive glaciers and exotic wildlife.
The rugged beauty of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve rivals any destination in the world with its sharp rock pinnacles, massive glaciers, intensely blue lakes, and exotic wildlife. When it comes to things to do in Chile, Patagonia offers almost endless chances for adventure. For example, you can hike and explore the majestic Torres del Paine before or sail through Ultima Esperanza to visit stunning glaciers.
End of season travel to Patagonia comes with fewer crowds, particularly along the most popular trails. It’s also an optimal time to scope out the region’s diverse collection of rugged mountains, cobalt blue lakes, and glacial peaks. You’re also more likely to see elusive wildlife such as pumas, foxes, and guanacos during the winter and early spring months.
6. Peru: From the Sacred Valley to the Amazon Rainforest
If you’re longing to visit the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, then midwinter and spring are optimal times. Why? Because Machu Picchu off-season means contending with fewer fellow travelers. The Inca Trail is closed in February, and trekking to Machu Picchu proves tricky throughout the rainy season because the trail often washes out. But this works to the advantage of families who take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (a.k.a. Machu Picchu Pueblo). The two-hour ride cuts through stunning landscapes and provides convenient access to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
March and April mark the end of the rainy season: there’s more sunshine, the cloud forest surrounding Machu Picchu is still lush, and you can beat the summer crowds. What’s more, Peru’s rainfall in April comes down to a mere 1.5 inches in the month. Although this is a lot more than June and July (.1 inches), they’re by no means rain-filled months. You’ll also enjoy a warmer climate and verdant green landscapes. For family travelers on a budget, it’s a great way to cut down on costs associated with flights and accommodations, too.
Visiting Peru during the off-season also represents the perfect time to visit Peru’s Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. Temperatures are cooler during the rainy season, and water levels increase, which means even more opportunities for kayaking and canoeing down the river. You’ll also enjoy increased accessibility while exploring larger waterways by boat, the ideal way to see the broadest range of plants and animals possible on a kid-friendly rainforest trip.
Midwinter and Spring Break Family Vacations Your Family Will Love
From gray whale watching in Baja to an Amazon river cruise in Brazil to hiking in Patagonia, Midwinter and Spring Break family vacations to Latin America come with many excellent advantages, from fewer crowds to more chances to observe wildlife. Although travelers might initially shy away from the idea of visiting places like the Amazon during the “rainy season,” the added precipitation makes the rainforest even more accessible and navigable.
At Our Whole Village, we create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its people, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for adventure-seeking families just like yours.