March and April in Colorado are, you know, fine. They can be wintry or springlike, and bike season is just a bright dot on the horizon. The skiing is OK, if you’re willing to dodge Texans like pinballs and wait in the season’s most atrocious lines. The kids have a week off school, which means you’re fielding work emails while keeping the minions entertained (One more episode is fine, you say for the fifth time). On second thought, maybe it’s best to get outta Dodge.
Unsure where to go? We can help. Read on to find five destinations for skiers, bikers, families, and couples—all a non-stop flight away from Denver International Airport.
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Colorado is known for its many seasons. Still, some can be more deceiving than others. pic.twitter.com/gt3CVq2zoK
— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) February 18, 2023
- Best for skiers: Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
- Best for cyclists: Healdsburg, Calif.
- Best for families: Toronto
- Best for learners: Sioux Falls, S.D.
- Best for (childless) beach goers: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Direct flight to Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM)
Best for: The traveler who hasn’t yet gotten their ski fix
Because: Anyone looking to ski over spring break comes to Colorado—which is exactly why you shouldn’t. Book a non-stop flight to Redmond, Ore., and just 60 minutes after touch-down, you’ll be whizzing down the slopes of Mt. Bachelor. The sixth-largest ski resort in the U.S., this Ikon Pass–affiliated destination boasts more than 100 runs, 4,323 acres of terrain, and 360-degree descents from a volcanic peak. Yet because there aren’t any main highways to link Oregon’s metropolitan areas to Mt. Bachelor, the resort remains relatively crowd-free. For the most part, you’ll be sharing the mountain’s bevy of blue runs (don’t worry, there’s expert and extreme terrain to be had as well) with the friendly locals. Expect them to offer up restaurant recommendations as soon as they notice you’re skiing on rental gear.
Make sure to jump aboard the Summit lift when you can—windy conditions may close her down—to snag a selfie from Mt. Bachelor’s 9,065-foot apex and the bragging rights that go with skiing off the top of something that once blew up. While you’re up there, look out to the north to see a cluster of fellow volcanoes, the Three Sisters. Legend has it, those sisters fought over their neighbor, the “bachelor,” giving the volcano its name.
Traveling with some non-skiers? They can spend the day exploring a lava tube or enjoying a Shoes, Brews, and Views Snowshoe Tour with Wanderlust Tours. The group naturalist will dig the mix of wildlife, local history, and art on display at the High Desert Museum.
Where to stay: Unless you’re renting a rig and sleeping overnight in Mt. Bachelor’s parking lot (which, yes, is allowed—and 20 spots in the West Village lot have electrical hook-up capability), you’ll want to book a few nights in nearby Bend. Our pick: The Oxford Hotel, which positions guests right in the heart of this bustling, mini-Boulder. This eco-chic, four-diamond hotel offers rooms with plush bathrobes, a comfy seating area, and fresh-ground local coffee. Organic mattresses and a complimentary pillow menu (choose from foam, feather, and other neck support options) ensure you’re well-rested for your next day on the hill.
What to eat: Boasting around 20 breweries within city limits (and lots more nearby), Bend is rightfully known for its beer culture. And while yes, you should après at least once at a watering hole like Deschutes Brewery, don’t miss out on Bend’s foodie scene. For a casual ambiance with high-class eats, opt for the Drake. We recommend sharing a slew of starters (Bang Bang Shrimp, anyone?) and saving room for the to-die-for ricotta donuts. Plan another night around cocktails at the Lady Bird Cultural Society. The sexy, French-inspired ambiance (think: black, tasseled light fixtures and gilded mirrors) pairs well with a gin-forward Boujee Bijou and Duck Malfadine.
Direct flight to San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Best for: The traveler eager to get their bike season started
Because: We’re jonesing to get our two-wheelers out of storage too, but mountain bike trails will be sloppy for a few more months and the roads are still covered in winter grit. Healdsburg, here we come.
Roughly 90 minutes north of San Francisco, Healdsburg is a small town with a big cycling reputation: The roads nearby ranked among Bicycling Magazine’s seven greatest rides on Earth in 2011. The town is located in the heart of wine-rich Sonoma County, which means rides offer a mix of gentle, rolling terrain and challenging climbs along roads flanked by vineyards and, in the spring, lupine, California poppies, and other wild blooms. (Yes, it also means A+ après.)
While you could rent a bike from Spoke Folk Cyclery and set out on your own, we recommend booking a group ride through Mill District Velo. The five-year-old cycling hub takes advantage of the world-class road riding at its doorstep with a robust roster of group rides, many of which are led by wife/husband cycling dynamos and Cannondale-sponsored athletes, Ted and Laura King. If your schedule allows, plan your trip around one of the Cycling Chef Series rides (hosted April 1, April 30, and May 7), which include a 40- to 60-mile ride followed by a meal prepared by a Michelin-starred guest chef.
Where to stay: Get a taste for downtown Healdsburg with a few nights at the H2 Hotel. The locally owned, LEED-certified Gold lodging option offers a simple-yet-refined aesthetic with bamboo floors, a solar-heated pool, and complimentary continental breakfast. Rooms are all 360 square feet or larger and feature a private balcony or patio area. Throughout the hotel, guests can experience numerous art displays, including an array of colorful glass sculptures in the lobby, as well as signature piece, “Spoonfall,” in which 2,000 suspended espresso spoons bob up and down as water drips across them.
What to eat: Make a reservation for SingleThread Farms (spots are released on the first of each month), a Michelin-rated restaurant that ranked among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year. Their 11-course tasting menu highlights homegrown bounty prepared with Japanese cooking methods. For lunch, go for a Sumac Roasted Carrot or Saucisson sandwich from the Troubadour.
Direct flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Best for: The traveler planning a fun-filled family vaca
Because: When you hear “family-friendly spring break,” no doubt a Magic Kingdom, gaggle of princesses, and jolly mouse spring to mind. But trust us, there are plenty of other kid-focused trip ideas that don’t involve standing in line for an hour for a three-minute Dumbo ride and shelling out $15 for a balloon (which apparently is one of the least expensive souvenir options). Head to Toronto instead.
Any trip to the city known as 6ix (a reference to the six municipalities that formerly comprised Metro Toronto) should begin with a glass elevator ride 1,465 feet (or 447 metres, if you will) up to the SkyPod, the highest level of the CN Tower. Look out over Toronto’s full cityscape, catch a glimpse of Niagara Falls nearly 100 miles away (if it’s clear), and pay no mind to the swaying you feel. It’s just the tower moving with the wind.
If heights aren’t your family’s thing, then get your bearings on Toronto with a visit to the Legoland Discovery Center. Among its numerous attractions is Miniland, a map of Toronto built with more than 500,000 Lego bricks. From there, snap a pic with the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame, watch your favorite wizards in action at the Mirvish Theater’s production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and visit the nearly 200,000-square-foot castle, Casa Loma.
Where to stay: Book the Family Fun Package at Hotel X Toronto (located on the Lake Ontario Waterfront) and get a Signature Guestroom with two queens, child-size plush robes and slippers, one keepsake item per child, and tickets to the Disney Animation: Immersive Experience (so you can get your Mouse fix after all).
What to eat: In a city the size of Toronto, there are plenty of options to appease even the pickiest of eaters without succumbing to the convenience of fast food. Try Pizzeria Libretto for Neapolitan-style pies, Barque Smokehouse for laid-back barbecue, and Ed’s Real Scoop for small-batch gelato.
Direct flight to Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD)
Best for: The traveler determined to give their kids an educational experience
Because: Cram some experiential learning into your kids’ week “off” with a trip to Sioux Falls, S.D. Up first: Math class at Falls Park, the town’s namesake geologic feature. Here, around 7,400 gallons of water plummet over the 100-foot terraces each second. So kids, how many gallons gush down in a minute? Walk among more than 800 free-flying butterflies and gently touch a sea anemone at the Butterfly House and Aquarium for a hands-on biology tutorial. Yoga at the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History will make for a memorable phys ed session, especially if you follow it with a tour of the Asian Cat exhibit (yep, there’s a snow leopard!). Finally, art class involves a stroll past more than 65 bronze, marble, and stainless-steel displays on the SculptureWalk, including the signature Arc of Dreams.
Where to stay: If all you need is a reasonable rate, comfy bed, pool, and free breakfast, book a stay at Hyatt Place Sioux Falls or the Sioux Falls Clubhouse Suites. Or, opt for the Historic Victorian Inn (built in 1888) to sneak a history lesson into your lodging experience.
What to eat: What’s a trip to South Dakota without experiencing, chislic, the official state nosh? You’ll find these tasty cubes of fried meat on many local menus, but try Urban Chislic for a chance to choose your meat and sauce or rub. Try Rack XXX, which has “enough heat to ruin your day,” if you dare.
Direct flight to Sangster International Airport (MBJ)
Best for: The traveler who wants to relax sans small people
Because: Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. And sometimes, “it all” includes your kids. So, call in the reinforcements (also known as grandparents), and book two tickets for Montego Bay, Jamaica. This newly offered flight from Frontier Airlines transports travelers to within 40 minutes of your final destination: the all-inclusive resort, Excellence Oyster Bay.
Situated on a private peninsula with the Caribbean Sea to the north and blue-green waters of Bush Cay to the south and west, the adults-only resort offers privacy where you want it and top-notch service when you need it. Two miles of white sand beaches surround the resort, providing ample opportunity for splashing in the surf, but if you get sick of the sand, opt to post up on a lounge chair along one of the resort’s five pools instead.
While there are stand-up paddleboard yoga classes, treatments at Miilé Spa, cooking lessons, and more to keep you entertained on-site (and many of those activities are included in the overall price), set aside an evening for a tour of the nearby Luminous Lagoon, where millions of dinoflagellates emit an otherworldly neon-blue glow when disturbed—including when you hop in to swim with them. Guests can also book deep-sea fishing excursions or guided scuba diving trips through Excellence Oyster Bay’s concierge service (both require an extra fee).
Where to stay: Excellence at Oyster Bay offers a range of lodging options from 950-square-foot suites with a private plunge pool to 1,510-square-foot beach villas that come with a private stretch of beach. All options include unlimited meals, snacks, beverages, non-motorized water sports, a Bob Marley Tribute and other nightly shows, and more.
Where to eat: With nine different restaurants and 11 different bars all on hotel property, the question isn’t where to eat, it’s where to eat more than once. Globally inspired cuisine ranges from hand-rolled sushi at Spice to French favorites like the seven-hour confit pork belly at Chez Isabelle. Don’t miss the Jamaican Jerk Chicken at Caribbean Grove. For casual bevvies, swim up to the bar at Blue, located in one of the main oceanfront pools. The rooftop X-Lounge, on the other hand, pairs a sophisticated atmosphere with seemingly endless views out over the Caribbean Sea.