The at-home getaway: Spring break doesn't have to break the bank

Allecia Vermillion

How can we entertain the kids on a budget?

Gabe Saglie, senior editor of travel site Travelzoo, says attractions across the country are pushing locals-only incentives to keep visitors coming during tough times. Check your local theme parks or museums for two-for-one deals, coupons to admit parents at child rates, and other specials. Travelzoo recently launched a feature on its site that tracks deals in your area, including concerts, museums and hotels. Find it at www.dealsnearyou.travelzoo.com.

Can spring break at home still be a learning experience?

For many families, “spring break may become an opportunity to rediscover your backyard,” Saglie says. Chances are there’s a museum or historical site in your town you never got around to visiting. Perhaps the kids would be up for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, or trying to make their own ice cream. The Web site www.monkeysee.com has loads of instructional videos that can help parents and kids acquire skills ranging from break dancing to growing an herb garden. This week could also be the perfect time to tackle projects around the house. You may not sell the kids on helping you clean the gutters, but family members can work together to make a photo album of old family pictures, or paint a fun border in a child’s bedroom.

How can we unplug and relax if we’re not leaving home?

Some vacation rules still apply, even if you don’t leave the house. Turn off your cell phone and stay away from your e-mail. If sitting around a messy house doesn’t sound relaxing, head to the nearest indoor pool. Family hikes or bike rides are physical, scenic and free. Consult your state’s parks department Web site for trail suggestions and maps. And whether you hike all morning or just drive to the park, a picnic lunch is an easy getaway activity.