Families in the U.S. have a long weekend holiday on the third Monday in January, commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the visionary Civil Rights leader who continues to be an inspiration decades after his assassination in 1968.
Some schools extend the long weekend into a week-long "winter break". Below are a few ideas for family getaways.
Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Events in Washington, DC
Washington DC is a top destination for family vacations at any time of year, with iconic sightseeing in the nation's capital, plus the many Smithsonian museums (the National Museum of Natural History, National Air & Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and more) and the National Zoo -- all free. This family-friendly pricing help make DC a relatively affordable destination.
Washington celebrates Dr. King's holiday with a number of special events. About.com's Guide for Washington DC has details about the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, a special performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2013), wreath-laying at the Martin Luther King Memorial, and more.
Atlanta: Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
This Historic Site draws over 1M visitors a year and is a multi-building complex spread over 23 acres, located in a preservation district that's meant to conserve the historical nature of this Atlanta neighborhood. Visitors can learn about Dr. King's life and times and legacy; admission is free, and most of the Site is meant to be visited on a self-guided basis. Kids can join a Junior Ranger program.
The National Park Service Visitor Center is a good place to start, and has exhibits and films about Dr. King and about the Civil Rights Movement. At the King Birth Home -- restored to the era of the 1930's-- visitors can take a 30-minute guided tour, but visits are on a first-come first served basis so register early: see tips. The
Ebenezer Baptist Church is the church where Dr. King was baptized and where he later served as co-pastor, and planned many of his non-violent civil rights strategies; his funeral also took place here. Other buildings include Dr. King's Tomb and a Peace Plaza. Read more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site at About.com's Southeast Travel site, and at the National Parks website, which suggests a tour route.
Check out some other top Atlanta attractions to visit, including the Georgia Aquarium.
New York City: Take A (Sheltered) Tour
NYC is a top destination for family vacations, especially with kids of teen or tween age who are old enough to recognize some of the city's cultural landmarks (even if that sometimes means the settings of favorite tv shows.)
January, admittedly, is not the best month for weather. But consider these two ways for visitors to sightsee and learn some city history while being more or less protected from the elements. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises has boat tours of the harbor that range from 75 minutes to 3 hours; the boats sail rain or shine and have interior areas that shield visitors from any cold wet weather that might be happening. Meanwhile, two bus tours offer a way to get around the city in relative comfort (unless your kids insist on riding on the open-air top deck of the bus.) These Double Decker Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tours, are a great way to sight-see, as families can hop off and tour a museum, get a meal, make a bathroom stop, etc.
Check out lots more things to do in New York City with kids.
Snow Vacations: Skiing or Boarding (Or Not)
January is of course a prime month for snow vacations, and while with some families the whole gang loves to get on the slopes, in other cases not everyone wants or is able to ski or snowboard. Fortunately there are other ways for the whole family to enjoy the snowy mountain slopes together: alpine coasters, tubing, snow-cat tours, snow-biking... Have a look at fun things to do at ski resorts that don't involve strapping gear on your feet. See also: ski resorts in six regions, and family ski resorts A to Z.
All Inclusive Resorts
And finally: for many families January means exactly that time of year when they most want to flee snow, cold weather, and winter generally. Many families love to head to tropical beach resorts, and especially to all-inclusive resorts where family members can variously enjoy food, drinks, kids programs, evening entertainment, watersports and landsports, all with no extra charges on the bill. Head to All Inclusive Resorts, and if you're keeping an eye on the budget, also have a look at some value-priced options.