Where should you go for spring break if you don't want to hop on a plane? Buckle your seat belt and get ready for takeoff — in your car.

This region holds many great options for a classic week of family fun. And because this year's break falls later than usual — in April, for many — a nearby trip won't necessarily be devoid of sunshine, either.

Want to replicate a seaside vacation close to home? Drive no farther than Wisconsin Dells, Wis., with a pick of expansive indoor water parks where you can rent cabanas and spend your days in warm waters. Wilderness Resort has a 70,000-square-foot tropical wannabe called Wild WaterDome, with a wave pool and a glass ceiling that lets the sun's rays shine through.

Have you always wanted to hit Badlands National Park in South Dakota, but never managed to squeeze the trip into your summer rounds? This may be the year to go in April to experience its dramatic landscape, with steep canyons, towering spires and striated rocks. Cedar Pass Lodge won't open until April 15, but you can choose from many hotels in Wall, S.D.

Chicago will also charm. Here you can walk through the Lincoln Park Zoo and cross over a bridge to get your feet wet in the waves of Lake Michigan in one stop. For an immersion in other watery worlds, head to the Shedd Aquarium.

There are lots of places closer to home, too. Duluth is a treasure trove of brewpubs, hiking and biking trails and lake views. A drive along the Mississippi River could include a climb up a bluff in Red Wing, watching eagles eat their lunch at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha and a stop at the kid-centered emporium of Lark Toys in Kellogg, where you can play mini-golf and ride on a carousel. Bring your bikes to quaint Lanesboro and pedal along the Root River.

Who needs airplanes with options like these? (If you do, look to page G3 for ideas.)

Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.