4 ways to plan a fun spring break for the family

Wild Dunes Resort offers a range of lodging from rental homes and hotel accommodations and special spring break activities.
Courtesy of Peter Frank Edwards

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Wild Dunes Resort offers a range of lodging from rental homes and hotel accommodations and special spring break activities. Courtesy of Peter Frank Edwards

As the pandemic lingers, Atlanta families are getting creative about how to spend time off.

Alexandra Barraza and her husband would normally have taken their kids to visit family in Chicago over spring break. With a steady accrual of airline miles, the family usually isn’t shy about hitting the skies, whether to unite with extended family or enjoy a little R&R near a beachside. But of course, COVID. This year will mark a second spring break inside the pandemic. Though the family is opting not to travel, the mother of two still welcomes the break — she’s just doing things a bit differently.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked Barraza and a few other parents how they are spending time on their spring break. Here’s what they plan to do — and what you can do, too.

Create a simple agenda

“I’m starting to feel like ‘Pinky and the Brain,’” Barraza jokes. “Every day starts to feel like you are doing the same thing.”

Even though her family will still be in their home, Barraza has decided to use the break from virtual school to also “break” up the monotony of pandemic home life. But even that doesn’t have to be an ambitious undertaking. Acknowledging how stressful it can be for today’s parents to tackle day-to-day routines, she recommends finding ways to have family fun without all the pressure.

“Sometimes less is more,” says the mother who works from home while balancing virtual school with her elementary-aged kids. “Do things that perhaps you normally wouldn’t do or didn’t have time to do, like a walk as a family [in which you just] talk to your kids. Do a family challenge together like learning a new language, building backyard projects together or taking online classes together that encourage you to stay healthy as a family.”

Barraza, who is also a metro Atlanta-based certified Zumba Kids instructor (Zumbalex on Facebook), says she’s planning to host a parent-and-kid Zumba class to give other families a fun and easy option over the break.

“Other activities I would suggest are looking for virtual kids yoga classes. Maybe even a virtual cooking class depending on your child’s age,” she says. “And if you are up to the challenge, maybe create an obstacle course either at home or in your backyard, now that the weather is getting nicer.”

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Alexandra Barraza and her kids dance to a Zumba Kids workout. Courtesy of Alexandra Barraza

Credit: Handout

Alexandra Barraza and her kids dance to a Zumba Kids workout.
Courtesy of Alexandra Barraza

Credit: Handout

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Alexandra Barraza and her kids dance to a Zumba Kids workout. Courtesy of Alexandra Barraza

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Book an in-person or virtual camp

Many in-person camps are back and up and running this year with a few COVID-19 precautions in mind. For example, the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Georgia, will be offering a spring break camp (April 5-9) that limits class sizes to 10 students. Masks, temperature checks and social distancing are also required for the camp, which offers age-appropriate sessions for grades 1st through 12th.

“Theater is a wonderful outlet for children to express themselves,” says Eddie Gillot, a metro Atlanta dad who signed up his kids for Staycation at Aurora: Spring Break Camp. Having attended Aurora camps in the past, our children are excited to spend the week meeting new friends and learning more about theater. Whether being on stage or members of the audience, our kids love Aurora Theatre.”

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Aurora Theatre offers a spring break camp for grades 1st through 12th. Courtesy of Aurora Theatre

Credit: Handout

Aurora Theatre offers a spring break camp for grades 1st through 12th.
Courtesy of Aurora Theatre

Credit: Handout

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Aurora Theatre offers a spring break camp for grades 1st through 12th. Courtesy of Aurora Theatre

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Similarly, girls in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades will have the option to participate in the Girls on the Run Atlanta spring break camp, held April 5-9. The camp’s COVID-19 policies state that all coaches are instructed to organize a daily camp schedule to “begin, stay and end outside whenever possible.” And the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is hosting a virtual spring break camp, held April 5-9, that invites 5th through 9th graders to build ancient Pompeiian and Herculaneum structures in Minecraft.

Head out of the metro

Last year, Ashley Young canceled her family’s spring break vacation to Tulum, Mexico. This past December, she rebooked. But as the trip drew near, she began to second-guess those plans, too.

“I thought I’d be confident and that we’d see a drastic reduction in the number of cases. When the CDC announced in January that you needed a negative test to get back in, I didn’t know if we should chance getting stuck out of the country,” Young says.

She is now shifting her plans to a domestic getaway.

“At this point, I think my kids just want to do something,” says the working mom, whose 13 and 14-year-olds have remained in virtual learning since last March. “My kids’ mental state is: ‘Can we just go somewhere?’ So, I have to be super-mom and figure out what that is.”

If you’re like Young and are looking to stay a little closer to home, there are quite a few drivable destinations welcoming metro Atlanta’s spring breakers. Wild Dunes Resort in the Isle of Palms, South Carolina, offers visitors a range of lodging from rental homes and hotel accommodations and special activities like crafts, games, and Easter programming for kids and adults. LaGrange, Georgia’s Great Wolf Lodge, another driveable option, is enticing spring breakers with family-friendly activities and heightened health measures at their waterpark.

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Ashley Young and her family plan to look into a domestic getaway after canceling their international travel plans. Courtesy of Tamara Crockett

Credit: Tamara Crockett

Ashley Young and her family plan to look into a domestic getaway after canceling their international travel plans.
Courtesy of Tamara Crockett

Credit: Tamara Crockett

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Ashley Young and her family plan to look into a domestic getaway after canceling their international travel plans. Courtesy of Tamara Crockett

Credit: Tamara Crockett

Credit: Tamara Crockett

Enjoy a staycation

Sometimes just a change of environment is enough of a getaway — without going that far. Mercer University professor Pamela Larde says she’s opting to take her 14-year-old and 24-year-old to a lake house rental. Larde, who is also an author, business owner and certified life and relationship coach, frequently helps her clients find their joy and balance. In her pursuit to practice what she preaches, she divulges that rental homes have been her go-to option to break away from the daily grind during the pandemic.

“Taking a break from the norm is extremely important because we need moments of fun to release the tension of sitting in front of a screen for much of the day. We need activities that invite exercise and get our bodies moving. And we need to find ways to create moments of joy,” she says.

For parents looking for a local amenity-rich retreat, the Omni at the Battery flaunts an impressive outdoor rooftop pool that overlooks the stadium of the Atlanta Braves (who host their home opener on April 9). Omni guests can enjoy features like tours of the Atlanta Braves stadium, dining packages with C. Ellet’s Steakhouse and a family-friendly scavenger hunt game around the Battery. The Battery itself has alluring programming such as weekly yoga and barre classes in their outdoor plaza. Plus, adults may enjoy an afternoon libation at Superica or the recently opened Fat Tuesday daiquiri shop, in which patrons are invited to grab a drink and roam the Battery thanks to the compound’s open container laws.

No matter what you choose to do over your spring break, Larde says the goal for an enjoyable and restorative break is to be purposeful with your time.

“We have to be intentional and make these moments because they don’t always happen naturally. No matter what your budget is — large or small — the key is in creation,” she says. “What can you create for yourself and your children that will bring a reprieve, peace of mind, movement and joy?”