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7 nonstop flights for nearby family getaways


*Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared in Tampa Bay Parenting magazine.

Summer is here and the cabin fever is real. Halfway through 2021, many Tampa Bay area families are tired of staycations and yearning for the real thing while still wanting to stay close to home during these still-uncertain times.

Need some ideas? Here’s a list of seven cities all less than a 3-hour nonstop flight from Tampa International Airport with beautiful weather and lots to do—and yes, you can bring the kids!

Charleston, South Carolina on Breeze Airways or Silver Airways

Named a “Top City in the U.S.” for the last 10 years in a row by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Award, Charleston is known for its southern charm and prime location. The city is surrounded by water and located just miles from no fewer than five beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches, so pack the floaties and towels. Forgot your sunscreen? Visit the Children’s Museum of the LowCountry or the Charleston Aquarium instead. Picky eaters, fear not! This city is filled with an eclectic blend of cuisine from crawfish and crab for mom and dad to juicy fried chicken and mac ‘n cheese for the little ones.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Breeze Airways (beginning July 1) or Southwest Airlines (beginning Sept. 11)

Oklahoma City is home to museums, memorials and so much more fit for family fun. Stop at Bricktown for a trendy bite to eat at the Collective, the city’s first food hall, or watch a beautiful sunset at Lake Hefner. The city’s seasons are apparent, reaching high temps in the mid-90s during the summer and lows dipping into the 20s in winter months. While you’re visiting, be sure to grab an onion burger – a burger with caramelized onions in the patty – which is known as an Oklahoma City specialty.

Norfolk, Virginia on Breeze Airways

Looking to take the kids on a trip filled with maritime history? Norfolk, Virginia makes the perfect spot as it is home to the world's largest naval base. The city is located less than 30 minutes from Virginia Beach and under an hour from Williamsburg. It has been voted one of the Top 10 Booming Destinations in recent years. If you’re headed for a visit, be sure to check out the Virginia ZooBattleship Wisconsin and the Nauticus Maritime Center.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina on Delta, JetBlue or Southwest or American Airlines (launching Nov. 2)

Home to the Videri Chocolate FactoryFrankie’s Fun Park and the Marbles Kid’s Museum, Raleigh, North Carolina makes the perfect destination for family vacation. This city is ground-zero for museum lovers with the Museum of ArtMuseum of Natural Sciences and the Museum of History all within city limits. Each of these is open and accepting visitors. Just bring your mask for some educational fun.

San Antonio, Texas on Southwest Airlines

With attractions like Six Flags Fiesta TexasSea WorldLEGOLAND and the San Antonio Zoo, this Texas destination is fun for the whole fam. The city also happens to be stunning, thanks to the many botanical gardens and the Natural Bridge Caverns that offer caves, fossil mining and zip-lining. The San Antonio River Walk makes the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll or trolley ride alongside colorful shops, restaurants and big Texas culture.

San Juan, Puerto Rico on JetBlue, Southwest or Spirit

If you’re looking for beautiful beaches, resorts and a history lesson or two, book your next flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, a city is bustling with culture, art and historic architecture like 17th-century fortresses and castillos from the 1500s! Any animal lovers in your crew? Visit one of the many animal sanctuaries just outside of the city or stop by El Yunque National Forest – Puerto Rico’s famous tropical rainforest. Don’t forget to enjoy some delicacies like mofongo or a tripleta (kinda like a Cuban, but dare we say better?).

Savannah, Georgia on Silver Airways

Last but not least, Savannah, Georgia, is small but mighty with plenty to enjoy and lots to eat. Ice cream-lovers will thrive in this city as this frozen treat can be found on every corner like Starbucks in Manhattan. Check out Leopold’s Ice Cream shop, known for its “award-winning, homemade super-premium ice cream” or have a scoop of vanilla atop some warm, finger-licking peach cobbler from the famous Sisters of the New South. Walk off those vacation calories by strolling on cobblestone along some of Savannah’s 22 squares or take the kids to Tybee Island for 5-miles of sandy beach lined with historic forts.

The only thing standing between you and your next real vacation is a quick and easy flight. Be sure to check with the local health department and your airline on any requirements or regulations before flying.