From Buckingham Palace to the Eiffel Tower, from Honolulu's Waikiki Beach to California's Disneyland, the tourism wonders of the world are more often than not the targets of family vacations. But as spring crowds begin to hint of summer hordes, consider ways to escape the commonplace, with only a bit of effort. Whether you're seeking a taste of Old World flavor in Europe, a fairy-tale fantasyland or a wilderness escape, the possibilities include:
Hawaii: On the Big Island of Hawaii, just a short flight from Honolulu's teeming sands, a family can stay in its own Polynesian-style cabin called a hale at the small Kona Village Resort, a recreated native village. There's traditional fun on the beach at this isolated enclave, but opportunities, too, to explore the legends of the island's first inhabitants. Just a few minutes' walk leads to mysterious rock carvings.
California's Sierras: In late spring, California's hillsides and mountain slopes are ablaze in wildflowers. Before the crowds arrive, book yourself into one of the lodges or tent camps in Yosemite National Park. Plan day hikes in Yosemite Valley to see the waterfalls, which tumble spectacularly during this season.
Zermatt: Another mountain destination, this famous Swiss resort also welcomes families with a variety of diversions. Once the ski crowds have gone and the snow has melted -- at least from the lower slopes -- climb the trails on comfortable day hikes for glorious views of the Matterhorn. Just getting to Zermatt is fun aboard the cog railway. Skiers can spend an afternoon on the highest slopes even in late spring.
Greece: A fascinating country any time of the year, Greece is especially beautiful in spring when the fields are green and the flowers in bloom. Rent a car and explore the ruins at Delphi, Corinth and Olympia while studying the ancient myths that surround them. En route, you're likely to have to slow down for herds of sheep blocking your way.
Bangkok: Thailand's Grand Palace -- a city within a city of opulent spires and strange creatures -- is a child's fantasyland come alive. If you're looking for a Disneyland-like ride, board a small, family-sized boat for a tour of Bangkok's floating market.
Venice: This is a city for lovers, true, but it is also a delight for youngsters, who can scramble across its countless bridges and sample pastries and ice cream, sold everywhere. And what a treat to board a city bus that is really a boat, plying the ancient city's canals.