When I was growing up, spring break meant a break from school and little else.
We were not the family that flew to the beaches every March. I think I might have been in college the first time I traveled during spring break, actually.
But now that I’m a parent, I’ve embraced this week as an opportunity to get away. And as I look at travel ideas and itinerary suggestions in my social media news feed, I can’t help but feel the nag of this pandemic’s reality as it rubs against my desire to travel. While the promise of vaccinations has brightened this long, dark tunnel we’ve all been living in, our need to adhere to public health guidance still drives and informs my family’s choices.
But it’s been a long haul. And I’m looking at you, spring break, for a little opportunity to get away.
I’m desperate for a change of scenery, and I still want to heed the guidance from my public health official friends who remind us that any additional travel inherently increases your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
With that in mind we’ve bounced around three potential pandemic-friendly spring break ideas:
1- Staycation. I know, I know. We’ve been ‘staying’ since last March. But there are great things to do in the Cedar Rapids area to help entertain everyone in your family. Hiking in the area is a good way to get outside (but check ahead to make sure the trails aren’t closed due to weather or derecho damage.) Go on a photoshoot with a llama. Try a new restaurant (have you seen the explosion of new flavors in CR? Grab carryout and let your kids try Indian food, or at least expand your go-to list to include a new pizza place.) Or embrace some tried and true favorite parks and destinations in the area.
2- Explore Another Corner of Iowa. If you’re not ready to stay in a hotel quite yet, there are lots of day trips available from the Cedar Rapids area. I’m partial to a quick trip to the Quad Cities. I grew up in Bettendorf, and my kids think it’s a big deal to make the quick trip over for a visit. The Family Museum is open, requires face masks for kids ages 2 and older, and was a favorite with my kids when they were preschoolers. Drive across the I-74 bridge and go for a walk along the Mississippi River on the Ben Butterworth parkway. Top it off with local favorites: a sub sandwich from The Hungry Hobo, carryout from Harris Pizza, and ice cream from Whitey’s, and you’ve got a fun day trip.
3- Road Trip. After debating our options, my family has landed on a road trip this spring break and will be driving south to a private cabin near the Smoky Mountains. We will get our meals to-go and only visit places that require masks. My family will be skipping some of the bigger, more touristy attractions that feel a bit risky with COVID still lurking about, but we’ll plan our route with a promise for a return visit another time when we can comfortably be in closer proximity to other people.
I’m looking forward to showing my kids areas of the country we’ve not visited together.
Spring break, after all, is just another opportunity for our family to make memories together. In the end, it won’t matter how many miles we drive. We’ll remember the fun along the way.
What ideas do you have for a pandemic-friendly spring break?
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