) - As spring blooms, it may be a great chance to escape with the family for an extended weekend getaway. Whether you're visiting relatives for the Easter holiday or taking advantage of the kids' break from school, spring travel
is a great way to celebrate the start of warm weather. But depending on schedules and budgets, spring vacations aren't always very affordable. Save your money for fun events and shopping excursions, not logistics and hotels.
As CEO of CheapAir.com Jeff Klee pointed out, college students flock to the majority of ideal beach destinations, causing airfare spikes and overcrowding. If your heart isn't set on the ocean, Klee advises travelers to consider exciting urban cities like Chicago, or, go rural and relax in a country setting.
Both Valley Forge National Historical Park and the King of Prussia Mall are among the most popular travel destinations in Montgomery County, Penn.; the former as a pivotal site in the Revolutionary War, and the latter as a shopping mecca. The rural area also offers plenty of family fun.
Once you've had your fill of history lessons and sales tags, visit these lesser-known but equally worthy alternatives.
* The John James Audubon Center celebrates artist John James Audubon, preserving his first U.S. home and highlighting its role in his formation as a naturalist.
* Bits of the 18th century live on at Peter Wentz Farmstead, Pottsgrove Manor and Pennypacker Mills. Learn the long-lost arts of weaving, sheep-shearing and hay-mowing through hands-on demonstrations.
* The Stoogeum -- the world's only museum dedicated to the Three Stooges -- has three floors of memorabilia and a theatre featuring short films.
* The Wharton Esherick Studio Museum is nestled in the woods like a storybook cottage, an apt setting for a craftsman-artist who combined whimsy and practicality. Climbing Esherick's hand-carved spiral staircase is a highlight: The banister is made from a mastodon tusk.
* The American Treasure Tour is your grandma's attic on steroids. The collection of musical instruments, store animations, signage, album sleeves, movie posters and classic automobiles is so extensive that you ride in a tram to see it.
* The castle-like Glencairn Museum evokes the age of chivalry, knights and fair ladies. Its 90 rooms hold spiritually inspired artwork from throughout the ages.
If these activities sound too sedate, some adrenaline-pumping alternatives are right around the corner. Spring Mountain Adventures has year-round thrills like skiing, zip-lining, mountain biking and geocaching. Find more spring travel ideas at www.valleyforge.org