(Spring) Breaking Away in Woodbury

If you're traveling for spring break, easy does it.

As a kid, spring break meant TV dinners on TV trays in front of… you guessed it. The TV. Those were good times. Endless cartoons paired with Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and a brownie in a divided aluminum tray that prevented food from touching.

Traveling during spring break was something people on TV did. Not something I did. But I didn’t grow up in Minnesota with its seemingly endless winters and brutal subzero temperatures.

When considering our move to Minnesota 13 years ago, I phoned a colleague who lived here and asked how he liked it. He said he loved the Twin Cities and all that it had to offer. I asked him why then did he move to Chicago.

“I’ll be honest. Winter in Minnesota seems longer,” he told me.


We came anyway. But with the intention of switching our typical summer travel to an annual winter getaway. When our kids started school, that winter getaway morphed into spring break vacation.

Our regular destination is Palm Desert, Calif. It’s perfect for relaxing by the pool, playing golf or tennis, hiking, shopping and dining. Plus, the average temperature in March is 81 degrees with less than a half an inch of rain. There’s also local theater, a children’s museum and the Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Once when our plane landed in sunny southern California and we rolled our baggage outside, my young son gawked at the swaying palms and asked, “Are those vacation trees?”

If you enjoy the smell the sea salt and the crashing waves of “vacation water,” Palm Desert is about a two-hour drive to the Pacific Ocean. It’s also two hours to multiple family fun locales: Disneyland, SeaWorld, Knott’s Berry Farm and Legoland. Maybe I sound like a travel agent, but I do love it there.

Last year, we decided to forego California and check out Disney World in Florida. We were warned that Disney World during spring break would be busy. That’s an understatement. Don’t get me wrong. We had fun. But it’s a more labor-intensive trip.

I researched travel guides, made detailed daily schedules and woke the kids at 0’dark thirty each day to get to the parks when they opened. Seems uptight, I know. But it wouldn’t have worked otherwise.

My husband would sometimes have to dash to obtain fast passes for one ride while the kids and I waited in line for another. If he didn’t, fast passes would have run out and we would have missed some of our most anticipated Disney attractions.

One afternoon, we went back to the hotel to rest. That backfired because the kids wanted to swim in the pool. When we returned to the park, we were already exhausted. By fireworks time, we were all in tears and snaking through the crowd toward the exit, stopping periodically to glimpse the spectacular fireworks show behind us.

It’s back to Palm Desert for us this year. No theme parks. No meal plans. No schedule. Just me, a book and a pool chair while the hubby and kiddos swim, golf and goof around. Maybe I’ll serve TV dinners one night while we’re there.


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