Spring break is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get away for a few days with the kids. Today, we’ll dive into fun and cheap spring break getaways for families, mostly centered in Arkansas. After a long winter, everybody’s in the mood for some fun in the sun! However, for many of us, the purse strings are a bit tight this year. If you’re looking for ways to vacation without breaking the bank, that means staying local. Educational road trips, staycations in The Natural State, and some budget-friendly bigger trips are all on the agenda. Let’s get to it!

Cheap Spring Break Getaways at Home – Staycation in Arkansas!

Reflecting pool against modern structure of Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville Arkansas
Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville

One of the easiest ways to save money this spring break is to explore your own backyard, and what a beautiful backlawn we have folks! Did you know that staycations are on the rise nationally? According to a survey conducted by Radical Storage, the rate of American families taking staycations has grown exponentially in recent years. While some of that is due to COVID-19, the trend doesn’t seem to be dying out. Projections estimate the global staycation market to double by 2033. Arkansas data is right on trend too, as the state tourism industry reported a generation of $9.2 Billion in 2022, with over 48 million visitors!

For most schools in AR, spring break is March 18-22, 2024. Late March in Arkansas can be tricky when it comes to weather. We definitely get some storms now and again, but if the old adage is correct, March should go “out like a lamb.” Hopefully, this year will be nothing but blue skies and cool temps, perfect for exploring the Natural State. Just in case, we’ve thrown in a few destinations with some indoor attractions as well!

1. Go camping in Jasper.

If you’re looking for a slow way of life, access to waterfall hikes, and epic vista views, then you can’t beat the gorgeous scenic highways around Jasper. Located in North Central Arkansas, Jasper is smack dab in the middle of the Ozark National Forest, and it is the perfect getaway for nature lovers. Not only is the little town of Jasper adorable, but you have access to some of the prettiest spots in the state.

Check out Hemmed-in-Hollow Falls, or take a short kayak on the Buffalo River. Gorge yourself on Southern cuisine at the Ozark Cafe or The Cliff House Inn (temporarily closed). Check out the views over the Arkansas Grand Canyon and hike the Roundtop Mountain Trail of the Koen Interpretive Trail. Finally, make sure to enjoy some horseback riding and zip lines at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

Within an hour of Jasper, you can also find Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag)—one of the most amazing viewpoints in the region, Triple Falls at Camp Orr, and the Glory Hole Trailhead. Long story short, this area is the perfect spring break destination for an active, outdoorsy family.

Cheap Stay: Consider booking one of the adorable cabins at Dogwood Springs Campground. It’s quaint and quiet with a fun pool and slides for the kids. Cabins start at just $65/night.

2. Take an Arkansas Legends Road Trip.

Did you know that Elvis got a pretty famous haircut at Fort Chaffee? You can still visit the barbershop museum. Oh, and Johnny Cash’s childhood home is in Dyess. John Grisham (another Arkansas native) wrote A Painted House about his childhood in Lepanto, and you can still visit the house today. You can also tour The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, where Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms, in Piggott. Let’s not forget the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and the Douglas McArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock.

3. Go trout fishing on the White River.

March is peak season for trout fishing on the White River. The waters below Beaver Dam are teaming with the colorful beauties, and local guides are available to help you find the best spots. Guided trips are approximately $550 per day, but after one day of guided fishing, you can take to the river the rest of the week on your own!

4. Take a kayak trip on the Buffalo River.

Kayaking on the Buffalo is a staple for all Arkansan outdoor adventurers. March is a good time too, when the waters are high. If you do the entire stretch of the Upper and Lower Buffalo, you can spread it out over a few days and camp along the way!

5. Explore adorable Eureka Springs.

From Victorian architecture, harboring cute cafes, to funky thrift shops and haunted hotels, Eureka Springs is Northwest Arkansas’s quirkiest town. The whole village is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s home to the “most haunted hotel in the United States,” the 1886 Crescent Hotel. They host ghost tours every evening!

Wildlife lovers will the big cats at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Stroll to the famous wooded Thornecrown Chapel. Peruse the quirky rock shops, marvel at the giant Jesus while strolling through the Holy Land at Christ of the Ozarks, or catch a play at the Intrigue Theater!

6. Delve underground in Blanchard Springs Caverns

Just outside of Mountain View, Blanchard Springs Caverns features massive limestone formations stretching for over six football fields. The developed cave has lighted walkways and offers a plethora of guided tours from accessible historic tours to wild caving adventures. The surrounding area features a campground, numerous hiking trails, a well-stocked fishing lake, and a large natural spring, so you’ll have plenty to enjoy all week long!

7. Mine for diamonds in Murfreesboro.

You probably know that Arkansas has the only active public diamond mine in the United States—Crater of Diamonds State Park. You and the kiddos can dig for diamonds all week long, and you may come out richer than you went in! For all the details take a look at “Gem Mining in Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park!”

8. Study gangster lore in Downtown Hot Springs.

Hot Springs is one of the most important cities in Arkansas. From gangster museums to historic bathhouses, Hot Springs has everything you need for an adventurous and educational spring break. You’ll peruse beautiful architecture, visit a slew of museums, hang out in the historic Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, take glorious hikes, bathe in ancient thermal waters, and enjoy some of the best restaurants in the state! To plan your trip, take some cues from our “Ultimate Guide to Downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.”

9. Spend a few days in the capital city.

Don’t underestimate the idea of an urban adventure for your family spring break! Our state capital is loaded with fun attractions. Get cultured at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, visit the Old State House Museum, or take a tour of the Capitol Building. Stroll the fun Riverfront area or take the trolley through historic Argenta. Pop into the Little Rock Zoo for a bit or get your wiggles out at the Museum of Discovery.

Visit the Clinton Library, learn about the Civil Rights Movement at Little Rock Central High School, or wander the frontier structures at the Historic Arkansas Museum. You could also relax in the Wildwood Park Botanical Garden for a spill. These are just the tip of the iceberg for fun family activities in Little Rock!

10. Chase waterfalls at Petit Jean State Park.

Probably the most famous waterfall hike in Arkansas, the Cedar Falls Trail at Petit Jean State Park is a must-do in March. With the spring rains, the waters are at peak flow, and their most stunning. Since there won’t be a water park in the state open on spring break, you can brave the pool at the base of the falls if you wish! Aside from waterfall hikes, Petit Jean offers incredible views, Mather Lodge, multiple cabins and campsites, two swimming pools, boating, fishing, and miles of hiking trails. It’s the ideal spot for a relaxed getaway in the woods!

11. Learn the art of birding at Lake Chicot State Park.

Lake Chicot is not as well known as some of the other parks on the list (unless you’re a bird enthusiast that is)! Lake Chicot is actually the largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest oxbow lake in North America. It’s also situated on one of the largest flyways in the nation, hence the birdwatching. The park offers frequent birding seminars and also features 14 cabins, 85 campsites, and a plethora of boating and kayaking rentals. Cabin rental for a family of four starts at $135/night.

12. Get in touch with the past at the Ozark Folk Center.

During spring break this year, the Ozark Folk Center will be hosting their Spring Folk School Classes. Try your hand at Broom making, copper forming, tinsmithing, pottery making, stain glass, or knife forging to name a few. Experts craftsmen and teachers will be onsite to guide you through each activity. Register for classes at the park’s website. You’ll need to register two weeks in advance. Call 1-800-264-FOLK (3655) to book your room.

13. Rent a houseboat on Greers Ferry Lake.

While the waters will be a bit cold for swimming in March, that doesn’t mean you can’t put around the lake on your own luxury houseboat. There are a few places to rent houseboats in the state (no surprise since we have 2,340 lakes and reservoirs). Lacey’s Marina offers luxury houseboats available from Monday to Friday for $3495. While that’s a steep price, it comes with 6 bedrooms, fits 12 people, and features all the amenities you could want for a floating vacation. You could definitely split it between a couple of families!

14. Brush up on some culture with a museum-hopping tour.

Believe it or not, Arkansas has some pretty awesome cultural institutions. If we happen to get bad weather this year, spend your vacation museum hopping. Bentonville alone boasts Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Scott Family Amazeum, The Walmart Museum, and the Museum of Native American History!

We’ve gathered all the top institutions, grouped by region in “The Best Arkansas Museums for a Cultural Family Fun Day!”

15. Knock out the ultimate state park road trip.

If you want to see three of Arkansas’s best state parks within a short drive of each other. Take a road trip from Morrilton to Paris. You’ll venture through Petit Jean in Morrilton, Mount Nebo in Russellville, and Mount Magazine State Park outside Paris. All three epic locations are within 1.5 drive of each other and offer great camping and hiking options.

16. Spend the week in the trees.

Arkansas has some super fun and unique accommodation options. Fulfill all your childhood dreams (I mean your kid’s dreams) by booking a few nights in a luxury treehouse! From Eureka Springs to the Ouachita Mountains, these babies are everywhere, and they feature insane amenities like hot tubs, slides, napping nets, outdoor kitchens, and much more!

17. Conquer Arkansas’s peaks.

Want to conquer the greatest heights in the state? You’re going to take the M-M road trip, that’s Maumelle to Mena folks. You’ll start with the Pinnacle Mountain, where you can take the easy West Trail or the tougher East Summit scramble. Either way you enjoy killer views over the Arkansas River Valley. From there, head to the tallest peak in the state and conquer Mount Magazine’s Signal Hill Trail. From there, move on to Queen Wilhemina State Park in Mena for the second-highest (and much more scenic) summit in the state, Rich Mountain.

18. Smash the mountain biking trails of NW Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas has built quite a name for itself in the mountain biking community in recent years. From total beginners to Double Black Diamonds, the area boasts 250 miles of trails for every age range and skill level. There are far too many trails to list here, but beginners like the Good Vibrations Trail in Bentonville. Intermediate riders may choose Fitzgerald Mountain in Springdale, and pros can tackle Dragon Scales in Bentonville. For a full list of NW Arkansas trails, check out OZ Trails!

19. Try your hand at glamping!

We’ve talked a lot about outdoor adventures in this article, but if roughing it in a tent isn’t your thing, perhaps a yurt will do? While DeGray Lake offers some basic yurts, StoneWind Retreat has luxury yurts for adults only, and Eureka Yurts and Cabins has some fancy cedar ones with all the amenities! These rent for as little as $150/night, but they sell out fast, so book ASAP.

20. Splash on the ATV Trails of Fairfield Bay.

March is often a muddy month in Arkansas, so take advantage of it. While there are ATV/UTV trails all over the state, the Fairfield Bay area boasts over 90 miles of trails ranging from easy to challenging. The region is popular with retirees and campers. It has a plethora of great hiking trails, wooded campsites, and fun caves to explore as well!

Cheap Spring Break Getaways for Families: Educational Road Trip in the U.S.

Vintage Route 66 road sign against a cloudy sky

Here at Arkansas Frontier, we do love to shove a big whopping dose of learning into our activity suggestions. When trying to save money, have some fun, and get in some untraditional education while you’re at it, you really can’t beat a themed road trip! You could peruse the quirky roadside attractions of Route 66 on a fifties-themed trip. Follow the Trail of Tears for a stretch and visit important Native American sites and active pueblos. Perhaps, you want to expand your literary knowledge by designing a trip to visit the hometowns of America’s most famous writers. You could even do a presidential homes road trip or take a Western-themed trip to a family dude ranch. The options are endless!

Want to keep it within the state lines? There are some great options in the Natural State too! Are you a foodie? Do you enjoy perusing the delights of a small town, or do you like a bit of the paranormal? Check out our list of “12 Family-Friendly Arkansas Road Trip Ideas” to help plan your perfect spring break road trip! From waterfalls to quirky roadside attractions, it’s got a little something for every kind of adventurer.

Affordable Spring Break Family Vacations

If you want to branch out of Arkansas, take a look at these cheap spring break ideas for families that get you a bit farther from home. These spring break trips will take a bit more planning, but with thorough research, you can find a budget-friendly stay in any of these areas! At the time of writing, round-trip flights to all international locations listed can be purchased for under $500. For an even better deal, buy tickets now for next year’s spring break getaway!

Sunset view over the Blue Ridge mountains, one of the best cheap spring break getaways for families
Blue Ridge Mountains Views

1. Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains are world-famous for their epic overlooks, scenic byways, and cultural attractions. Spanning several states, you could spend months in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but most of the more popular attractions are at the confluence of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.

Take a ride on the Blueridge Scenic Railway or visit the largest home in America— Biltmore Castle. Spend a day at Dollywood Amusement Park or go white water rafting and enjoy a Bavarian escape in Helen, Georgia. Spend a few days camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or make the hike to the top of Mount LeConte. With tons of free or nearly free activities and reasonable campsites, you can escape to an adventurous spring break destination without killing your wallet!

Ocean view from Spanish fort in San Juan Puerto Rico, one of the best cheap spring break getaways for families
Spanish fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico

2. Puerto Rico

Technically an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is one of the only Caribbean getaways you can enjoy with a passport. It’s also typically a cheap flight from mainland USA and features tons of fun activities for kids and adults alike. Grab an affordable Airbnb in San Juan and use the nifty tourist trolley to explore the historical military forts and Spanish Colonial history of the city.

Spend a day in El Yunque National Forest—the only tropical rainforest in the United States, where you can chase waterfalls, climb historic towers, and go ziplining! Beach hop on PR’s numerous perfect white sand beaches, or visit the wild horses on the nearby island of Vieques. Puerto Rico is an affordable spring break idea, with great tourist infrastructure and plenty of family-friendly amenities!

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah one of the best cheap spring break getaways for families
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

3. National Parks of Utah

For nature lovers, there is no place quite like Utah. Home to five national parks and some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the country, Utah is a fantastic spring break destination! It won’t be too hot in March. You won’t spend peak summer prices, and if you’re lucky, you can still catch some snowy slopes in Park City! By purchasing an America the Beautiful national park pass you can get all the occupants of your vehicle into all five parks for the $80 fee. Children under 15 are always free.

Happy couple on a golden beach in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, one of the best  cheap spring break getaways for families
Couple on beach in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

4. Puerto Morelos, Mexico

If you’re looking for a family-friendly spring break beach destination, look no further. Just 30 minutes by taxi from the airport in Cancun, Puerto Morelos is a darling beach town full of cute boutique hotels, beachside restaurants, and excellent adventures. While it has grown immensely in recent years, PM still has a family vibe. You can book snorkeling tours to see the world’s second-largest reef system, take ATV tours into the jungle to swim in Mexico’s famous cenotes, or just enjoy the vibes on a bicycle tour!

Volcanic eruption and Volcano de Fuego in Guatemala outside the city of Antigua, one of the best cheap spring break getaways for families
Eruption of Volcano de Fuego outside Antigua, Guatemala

5. Antigua, Guatemala

While you wouldn’t want to take a family vacation to Guatemala City, a quick Uber ride to Antigua is a totally different story. Antigua is a Spanish Colonial city nestled in the volcanic mountains near Lake Atitlan, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Here, you can take traditional cooking classes, make your own chocolate from scratch, and explore nearby waterfalls on a guided tour. You can relax in fabulous guesthouses for little to nothing, and book boat tours on the stunning Lake Atitlan. There’s a hobbit attraction, a guided overnight camping trip to see an active volcano, and tons of ATV tours too! Antigua is a safe and beautiful city that the whole family will enjoy!

Catarata del Toro waterfall in Costa Rica surrounded by lush jungle
Catarata del Toro, Costa Rica

6. La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Last and probably the most expensive on the list, La Fortuna Costa Rica is the perfect spring break getaway for families. The area boasts scores of wildlife safaris, jungle zipline adventures, natural hot springs resorts, and a strong tourist infrastructure. Booking tours and finding reasonable accommodation is very easy. Driving in this part of Costa Rica is a breeze as well (though you can also book a door-to-door shuttle from the airport in San Jose).

Time to book your spring break getaway!

This year has been hard on a lot of folks, and if you can’t swing a spring break trip this year, there’s no shame in that. However, if you do want to get away, even for a couple of days, we hope we’ve provided you with some viable options. Arkansas residents are blessed to live in a state with so much to do! Don’t take it for granted. Get out there and explore some of these cheap spring break getaways for families. Enjoy your spring break guys!

For more at-home adventures to do with your children this year, check out “Exploring the Natural State With Kids: 60+ Fun Attractions in Arkansas!”

Get Our Monthly Educational Activity Guides to Traveling Arkansas
Get our Monthly Educational Activity Guides to Traveling Arkansas